The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.
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4:52pm on Tuesday, 21st May, 2013:
I've been buying the same toothbrushes for years. They work, they have no gimmicks, I like them. This time, though, there was a difference. This time, there were two in the pack instead of one:
When I say "the same toothbrushes", that means the same colour, too. Augh! Why can't they make packs that have two the same colour in them?! Don't they know there are people who don't like getting their toothbrushes mixed up with those of other people? Don't they know what fury we're capable of?
We are legion, Reach, and we're coming for you.
Or I could be over-reacting, I guess.
12:05pm on Monday, 20th May, 2013:
Hmm, it looks as if the machine used by Google Books isn't completely reliable.
2:21pm on Sunday, 19th May, 2013:
After coming a very respectable not-last in the Eurovision Song Contest yesterday, I wonder how we could improve on that? Obviously having a decent song sung by someone a third of my age instead of 9 years older would help.
OK, Adele: what would it take for you to perform our entry in 2014?
1:30pm on Sunday, 19th May, 2013:
The rhetoric justifying the coverage of what you can pay for in otherwise free-to-play MMOs is gradually changing.
When most MMO players were achievers, developers could sell anything that had no tangible, gameplay effect: costmetic-only "vanity" items (such as fancy pets) and services (such as name changes). Since last year (in the West — the Far East got here a while ago), when the tipping point was reached and socialisers asserted their dominance, the floodgates have opened. We're now seeing charges for goods and services across the board, in multiple dimensions. Three of these dimensions seem to be of particular appeal.
The first such dimension is whether what is sold has any gameplay effect or not. There are gradations of this, including:
The second main dimension is how long the effects last. Popular ones are:
The third main dimension concerns probabilities:
Achievers are fine with no-gameplay or deferred-gameplay effects, although the deferred-gameplay would have to be relatively short (a month at most). They are agnostic about how long effects last. They're OK with the first two kinds of probability, but would need to be persuaded that the second one genuinely was equal.
The other player types are fine with all the options, at least in terms of playing for fun. They may dislike them for other reasons, such as expense (if they feel they're being nickel-and-dimed), fairness (if they feel their experience is being deliberately crippled to make them pay to uncripple it) or morality (if they feel that a grab-bag mechanism is just plain, simple gambling) however they won't object to any of them for spoiling the game. Achievers will object. Achievers regard anything too far along the gameplay or probability dimensions as being pay-to-win. The only way they would accept it is if the total amount any player could spend on such items per character were capped per month — in other words, if it were a subscription or similar.
Now the shift we've seen of late is in the attitudes of longer-term players who used to be achievers but are now pretty well socialisers (which is what achievers transition to in the main sequence of player type development). They still consider themselves to be achievers, but now find themselves wanting to buy things that previously they wouldn't have done. They accept the argument against pay-to-win in player-versus-player, because that's pretty clear-cut — it has competition. However, the shift lies in their attitudes to player-versus-environment, which is now not seen as being competitive.
Well, PvE is competitive — if you're an achiever. If you're not, well of course you won't see it that way. If you are, though, you'll compare your progress and achievements to those of other players and you'll resent it if those players "cheat" by paying for advantages. If you can easily identify players who are (in your terms) losers, you may be able to stomach it , but only if everyone else doesn't treat them as winners; unfortunately for you, non-achievers will do just that.
So, what we're now seeing with MMOs is the effect of the natural evolution of achievers into socialisers. Most long-term MMO players have made the transition or are making it, so there's lots of money to be made here (at least while they consider their money well-spent). There are two long-term problems with it. though.
The first, which isn't all that great, is that MMOs are losing gamers. People who actually like games aren't going to stick with MMOs. These are mainly individuals who are transitioning from player to designer. They're going to be playing other games (mainly single-player RPGs, I suspect), perhaps coming back to a new MMO as a content locust for a short while before leaving it. These people aren't going to make a dent in MMO numbers because amortised across all MMOs there aren't enough of them; however, they're important because they are the cutting edge. They embody the future of games, because they understand them. Addressing their needs may be expensive in terms of what a developer gets back directly, but the reward lies in what spins off.
The second long-term problem concerns new achievers. If you're a newbie achiever looking for an MMO that suits your needs right now, you're going to have trouble finding one. You'll try one of the big names, find it's "unfair", and after a while give up. You're going to become lost to the MMO industry. You'll get your games kicks elsewhere. All those P2W-uneasy achievers who 5 years from now were eventually going to transform into P2W-accepting socialisers aren't going to do so because today they were put off while they were achievers. MMOs will become things their parents played, but not what they play — rather like how today's players regard MUDs (those of them who have even heard of MUDs, that is).
Oh well, short-term gain always wins over long-term vision, so this comes as no surprise. What I expect will eventually happen is that there'll be a design revolution as the gamers create something for all those would-be achievers who are treading water waiting for something to play. Either that, or MMOs will be developed that are sustainable using non-P2W (in achiever terms) F2P to pick up all those loose achievers.
Yeah, right, like that happened in Korea...
6:12pm on Saturday, 18th May, 2013:
We went to Norwich today. It's not the same as Colchester.
12:43pm on Friday, 17th May, 2013:
I had a pleasant surprise yesterday: one of my students gave me an end-of-teaching-year gift. Normally before the exams I'm worried I'll be hunted down by angry mobs, but not this time. I was given four of these:
There are only two in the picture because the other two were eaten yesterday. You boil up a cup of milk then dissolve the chocolate in it. Well, that's the plan: if you're my wife, you just use the milk to melt the chocolate then you lick it like a lollipop.
The best-before dates on them were for 1st May, but I don't think there was any intention to poison me.
2:35pm on Thursday, 16th May, 2013:
I had to drive to work through three inches of water this morning:
It was a burst water main at North Station roundabout. I'd have taken a photo of the spectacularly gushing source but there was a police officer there who might have taken exception to it.
2:10pm on Thursday, 16th May, 2013:
Here's today's Daily Brain Games calendar entry:
I got the second one wrong. I thought the odd one out was Fahrenheit because he's the only one who doesn't have an SI unit named after him, but no, it's Faraday as he doesn't have a measurement of temperature named after him.
That's a little unfair, I think.
1:20pm on Wednesday, 15th May, 2013:
I spent a few minutes today looking for a picture of shoes to use in a presentation. Only too late did I realise that I hadn't used an incognito browser window, so I resigned myself to getting scores of advertisements for shoes on any web sites I visit for the next few days.
That's not what's happening, though. Instead, I'm getting ads that seem to have some kind of "true sportsmanship" connection. I've no idea what they're trying to sell because I'm not going to click on them, but they've massed up and come at me out of nowhere.
Oh well, better than shoes, I guess.
2:07pm on Tuesday, 14th May, 2013:
I've been told many times that the digits of pi contain, somewhere within them, every finite sequence of digits. This means that anything that can be encrypted as such a sequence — image files, DNA, digital music — appears somewhere in pi. For example, according to Pi-Search, my favourite number (142,857) occurs at position 335,037 after the decimal point; my phone number is up in the 2,000,000s.
The rationale for this is that pi is infinite and non-repeating, therefore it must be the case that all strings of integers appear in it somewhere. Personally, I don't buy this as a proof: pi with all the 9s removed looks as if it would satisfy the same criterion but it clearly does not contain every finite sequence of numbers. It may be there's an actual proof that pi does contain every sequence, but I haven't come across it if there is.
Let's assume pi does have this property, though. It wouldn't only be pi that had it: there would be an infinite number of real numbers that had it. Pi/10 also has it, for example. The number e is also reputed to have it, using the same argument employed to show pi has it.
Hmm, so that means if you were to choose any finite sequence of numbers it would appear in both e and pi.
The first 6 digits in e are 2.71828 . These appear in pi 33,789 places after the decimal point. This means that if you were to multiply pi by 10^33789 then take the remainder after dividing by 10, the result would be the same as e to five decimal places. Put another way, if you were to shift the digits in pi left 33,789 times and discard anything in the 10s column and beyond, you'd get e correct to five decimal places.
This shift-left works for any finite sequence of integers, assuming that both e and pi do indeed both contain every such sequence. You can shift pi left a finite number of times and it will be congruent with e for as many decimal places as you specify. If you want a longer match, you just shift it left more until you get one. The first 7 digits in e are 2.718281; they occur in pi at position 1,526,800 after the decimal point. The first 8 are 2.7182818 and occur at position 73,154,827. No matter how much of e you want to find in pi, it'll be there: just look further. It's only not going to be there if you want all of e, or perhaps if you're allowed to shift left an infinite number of times.
Yes, since you ask, I am supposed to be composing some slides for a talk I'm giving next month that I've been putting off writing.
1:08pm on Monday, 13th May, 2013:
Here's my Daily Brain Games calendar entry for Friday, which I didn't see until today because I didn't go to my office on Friday:
Frogs, reptiles, yes...
12:11pm on Sunday, 12th May, 2013:
Last year, my wife and younger daughter went to look at the bluebells in Hillhouse Wood. So impressed was I with their photos that this year I decided to go and take a look for myself. Today was the day I went.
Hmm, yes, it is rather spectacular.
9:29am on Sunday, 12th May, 2013:
The FA Cup Final yesterday was pretty good. Wigan were the underdogs, but I used to support Manchester City when I was a kid so I didn't mind if they won, either. About 15 minutes in, though, I began to hope Wigan would win — they seemed to want it more. City were doing a good impersonation of an England squad: lots of individual stars but they lacked passion. The only one of them with any bite was Zabaleta, who let his passion get the better of him and was sent off for two yellow-card offences (another characteristic of England squads).
The refereeing was good. There were a couple of decisions that were only controversial if you scrutinised them from the right camera angle afterwards. Zabaleta did deserve his two yellow cards, and the other two City players who were booked deserved theirs, too; I didn't see the Wigan goalkeeper time-wasting, but can believe that...
So, it was a major sporting occasion, watched on TV by millions, well-refereed. How much was the referee paid?
Have a guess. What do you think the scale of fees for officials states is the amount to be paid to the referee for the final? Hint: it's the same as the assistant referees.
Well, the answer (according to the competition rules) is £375. They also get travelling expenses and a souvenir medal.
That seems a little ... low.
For comparison, the Manchester City captain, Vincent Kompany, is on a salary of £26,000 a day.
11:14am on Saturday, 11th May, 2013:
Moody's decision to downgrade the Co-op's credit rating to junk status seems a little harsh, although not quite at the self-fulilling-prophecy level.
Hmm, I can see how governments might get together to create an agency to rate ratings agencies.
11:02am on Saturday, 11th May, 2013:
From today's Guardian:
It's good to know that these things don't just appear in cheap "test your observation" quizzes in magazines.
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Copyright © 2013 Richard Bartle (email@example.com).