Saturday, August 31, 2013

My Doctrine Notes

I don't know if you noticed I've published my GURPS sci-fi technology notes. Basically its a writing exercise regarding GURPS Ultra Tech and all the effective combos that would make the "dominant strategy".

Its me Munckining out the system till it breaks and finding its limits. Oh boy the limits.

I've been running a GURPS Modern Fantasy, its easy to simplify doctrine because limits and technologies dictate what can be done and what is reliable. In GURPS UT when it comes to future tech, many things are possible.

So what I've been doing is min-maxing it and writing it down so that the Optimal Strategy is the Standard Operating Procedure... everyone else sucks and the Imperium and other Equally powerful Entities have the "Broken Combos" as they SHOULD.

I got frustrated when I tried using DC's Ballistic Spreadsheet, because the damage was too high and did not scale well with the other technology and options. Because of basic physics Missiles and Ballistics is still far cheaper to deliver damage than Energy Weapons....

It does not stop there: Light Speed Limitations, Computing Power, EW and "No Stealth in Space" drastically alter doctrine that make Missiles still more effective because of AI. Computing basically screws all other assumptions with GURPS computing power progression.

Because of Emulated Minds that are run with Mega Computers a degree of coordination and precision allows combatants to exploit the Light Seconds of Opportunity (in time and distance).

Missiles are not the dumb Missiles we are familiar with instead they are like Spells with special effects and abilities.  They are compartmentalized essences of the Mega Computer with enough intelligence to make the best possible use of the microseconds of opportunity they have as they near their target and probe beyond their effective defense in depth. Their payload can be specialized and surgical - EM disruptor beams, tightly focused and targeted Jammers (enough to degrade the effectivity of sensor equipment), Ballistic Nano-Virus Delivery (which breaks the ships surface and uses Las-comm to give a HARD connection; or Invade the weaker Robot Symbiots doing damage control) and many more I'm sure others will figure out.

With mind Emulations fighters are at default "drones" but with Heightened Emulations of their pilots (the reason you still have many pilots is because of their "randomization" of combat pattern and intelligence to make them less predictable). These Emulated Pilots extend the mega computers's computing power as independent agents.

anyway, I've hit a wall as you will notice. Because missiles can theoretically attack in 700,000miles on the FIRST (20min) turn in basic merchant ship combat, Naval Combat is going to be more crunchy. The Meson Canon is great but missiles engaging in 2,800,000 away is better. Now Saturate Point-Defense by having some missiles specialize as "Penetration Aids" sending out EMP, Nano-Virus and Stingray Ballistically launched payload from the missile and the Meson Savior of Terra can go byby against the Numeric Might of Vilani SMART Missile swarm.

If Solomani will want to out do them, then the Pilot Emulation Drones will reward Individual Heroism vs Vilani's Low-individuality. The Fighters deliver many complicated combos of sensor degredation (like feints) only to slide in the chinks of defense precise hits (most of space is taken up by the EW systems).

sorry for kinda rambling.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Ghost in the Shell SAC 1 & 2

Rewatched Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex 1 & 2  and find myself being a fan. Its not so bad when you consider when it was aired it was 2005! thas about 8 years ago! Much has changed since then and since then i learned more about Networks and Comsci.

After watching Good wife and downton where the structuring is very precise and they follow a "Show don't Tell" approach I found the GiTS very monologue heavy. Good Wife is a great example of talking politics and current events and trends without Talking, instead with showing.

If you watch the show, you will find it incredibly pedantic and I really ended up fast forwarding through most of the discussions that reitterate points already discussed through-out the show.


Structuring Dilemma
In one instance i SAC2 ep10 "Trial's" last scene when Bulma is seen giving keys and repair instructions to the AI a garage clerk where news was streaming of an accident (Why is the AI garage clerk listening to news, or is she a real person?). This was one of the best scenes ever written because it did a lot to show the "character" of the team and did it with a lot subtlety... they are special ops after all, and discretion should be their trademark. Doing vigilante work helped in their shades of gray parts, but they also "play by the book" which is confusing.

When they, the writers, kill witnesses, the leave it to your imagination. Why can't they make the subtle logistics and deception ploys be structured in this way. I find myself saying "Nope, don't do that." to the writers as I see a structure where enormous amounts of animation budget is spent on an elaborate scene when 2-3rd hand information about the event or just a 2 second scene would have sufficed. Save the budget for ass-kicking and establishing shots.

Pretty much the structuring you see in many shows these days, use 2-3rd hand information or Inference of the audience to convey what happened. Since the audience these days are more sophisticated, its better to spend "animation" budget on more moving scenes or background scenes since this is animation.

The Scene Structuring these days is highly condensed. What would have been 5 scenes is now 3, and the interaction serves the purpose of foreshadowing various elements and creating dramatic importance.

Of course when funding the show you want the biggest budget possible, but now that scene costs can be brought down, focus can be placed in dramatic effects and establishing shots.

Too many coincidences.
It feels like my games LOLz where there are so many coincidences. Its almost that every episode is dependent on it. These days the writing makes sure that the previous episode foreshadows a growing problem, and the next occurring problem happens pretty normally - not when they happen to be inspecting the place or on the scene. If feels a bit too much like a game, where the writer is improv-ing like a GM and not maximizing his creative freedom.

The GM kills off all the NPCs.
This is annoying, when the GM or the writers decide to kill off every NPC that has information and the PCs/Cast never learns from this mistake. they never take care of their witnesses is very annoying for me, also the fact that the Story's Initial Leads are from such loose ends that are killed after they talk. If the baddies are so thorough to kill every probably loose end, why is there Loose Ends to begin with?annoying. IMO there should be a 50:50 chance for NPC death to keep the audience guessing.

A Bit Preachy
Ack! Yeah, it can be a bit preachy. Try to avoid preachy shows, good thing there is fast forward. Strangely GITS is Pro-Mind Body Dualism and Ghosts are "Souls". Sadly when the writer exposes too much Philosophical Detail about their stance, he is also leaving nothing to be assumed and the holes of his argument show up. He could have just been vague so that I wouldn't have a hard time reigning in my BS-detection when i'm trying to enjoy the show.  Ghosts = Souls, yup... not very T^2 IMO.

Simplification and Propaganda
Because the heroes are so heroic, and not Anti-Heroes, it loses its shades of gray. The funny thing about Politics and Corruption, is that I find myself going by the ending of SAC2 "And thats what they told the media, making the Major a Saint and Hero". The story of the "Good Guys" Section 9, is as much spin tale, as much as the enemy's is also propaganda.

SAC2 Ending.
Wow its so inconsistent and you'r gonna kill your villain? Since "souls" aka ghosts are required, you cannot bring back a villain when you "Kill" him. Thats a waste of such reusable writing material.  Also it doesnt make a whole lot of sense to start shooting unprovoked, its so weird. Again the witness being killed automatically trope (no learning curve there).

SAC1's ending was a bit tighter, and the plot better IMO. They didn't need to escalate by season 2, they just needed it to be different.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

50+ requests and counting to join in Roll20 game

 +Ken Kthulhu  warhammer game just opened my eyes to how powerful a Gateway hobby Warhammer 40k. I thought WoW to DnD was powerful, but WH40k blew me away by the numbers.

Ken's statistics 

  • 50+ separate player posts (can I join your game)
  • 400+ views on roll20
  • 10+ comments on google+
  • 14 confirmed ready-to-go players
  • 5 continents
  • 7 countries
  • Ken deleted three forums on roll20 with possibly 200+ views 

Ken and I were talking about it and it eventually became an Interview 

"Mr Kthulhu what prompted you to run WH40k..." 

Madness, sheer madness prompted me to run 40k. 
if you want an interview then sure.
it all started 18 months ago.

Were you expecting this level of response?
What were you expecting?

Well I was going to run a free game at a local event last year. if players play, then you get to run the game. if not then you play something else. so everybody has fun.
I got there a bit late, and had 1 taker, but the games had already started so no go. so I didn't get to run Dark Heresy.

This was around your area if I remember correctly?

Yes local in Brisbane Australia. but I knew people played it, so I bought all the books. There's about 10 in the complete set.
And then I ran it again 6 months later.
no takers again - not even a bit. maybe a walk past my table and "so what's this then?" or "warhammer, I've heard of that". But no gamemastering for me that day.

Figuring that Dark Heresy had run it's course (released around 2006 maybe?) I gave up and switched. Tried to run a Blade Runner game with my own rules-light system.
No game

Meanwhile I had been building a following on roll20. had so many players I had to split the groups according to timezones, because I couldn't handle all the posts. I became very busy with prospective players and didn't get into the game.

Ahhh so Patience and Timing factored into such a great numbers turn out?

spent hours chasing emails instead of game prep.

Patience? no. I quit. Took a break. Didn't know ho I was going to do thi crazy thing. Then some people (Justin + others) convinced me to run just one game and pick the time to suit myself. But I was worried that I wouldn't get any players in Australia - a big ocean with not many fish. So I advertised on some more google+ forums - WH40k roleplaying, G+ RPG asia-pacific, and when combined with the people from the roll20 forums who still hung in there and didn't care about the timezones, I had enough. 

Damn, you might need a Co-GM.

well i had offers of co-gm. this thing was huge. people could see what was happening without me saying anything.

Ken has been really busy setting up the game so we had to end with this. Anyway, I don't know if there is a feature in Roll20 that would allow Co-GMship. One person to set up and logistics while the other continuously narrates would be awesome.

wow, this is my "second" interview.

My Take away is that WH40k has a lot of players and few GMs, so GMs who are looking for players can try at the setting if they are a fan of WH40k. WH40k also has a lot to offer to a Business Student who is look at the Niche market of RPGs as a thesis. Looking at Games Workshops success in making so many players, and the complicated feat of having such a well defined product is also something to marvel at.

I don't play WH40k btw nor am I a big fan, I just appreciate it. My Spielmeister would run it with a WW2 theme as we played IG in GURPS.

Now I've done a system overview which I will post later on. But basically it is a money making machine and i've got to hand it to them. It got me thinking in how to further bring down the cost of Figs, but thanks to Roll20 and Tabletop Connect and Blender it seems Minies will be cheaper and more portable virtual.

The lesson of Board and Wargame synergies, Tabletop Connect is in a good position to make its App and Its connectivity a great Board and Wargame platform for "Miniture gaming" where you see Wargamers on their phones and tablets fighting it out in 3d Minis as they connect to each other via bluetooth or wifi.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Part 3 of Instant Party

Last installment. About 9 characters 5 AIs, and all the page references, notes, and accounting done already with points to spare to burn as Fate Points and Customization.

Most of the characters are "exotic" and are sideways take on some archetypes- gendermorph chinese opera triad gangster, marine cyborg humanist literature expert, naval-dynasty scion moonlighting as travel writer, Biotech hacker athlete/survivalist, a couple of wild cards I don't want to give away, a Poor Noble with Downton Abbey inspired AI companions, and An everyman with guilty pleasures. A basic business plan and ops cost and overview.

I enjoyed making it and learned around about the system's limits as well as the kind of combos and doctrines given the options available in UT and BT. Basically squeezed UT and BT of all its "cheese" (term we use for munchkiny goodness).

Emotional Energy in a Game

Energy is usually what I can try to offer in a game, even if I suck at prep and puzzles. Sophistication is nice but I have to be a little bit more realistic about what I bring to the table. Watching myself run a game (thanks to On Air) and unleashing "our own worse critic: ourselves" energy is what I have going for me. 

Energy means a lot in a game, its attitude, focus and multi-tasking. Its harder to multi-task with age, but at least I get that cognitive exercise running a game and pushing back the anxiety feels like diving into frigid waters (you fight the cold with energy and fatigue).

My longest sustained game since I came back was the GURPS Modern Fantasy, adrenaline and panic fueled my emotional energy entertaining players after a long hiatus. I guess emotional energy is the best I can offer. Growing up with RPGs, its easy to channel that enthusiasm in a game and rally all that mental energy. Note that I have to wake up 5am to run a 7am game, it is the best schedule to accomodate a lot of people and still have quality time for the family. 

I'm really looking forward to running again in September 7,  despite all my other worries regarding game prep at least I don't have to worry about motivation and energy. To my players, they can expect much of the same and of course very dark adult themes. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Filipino Mariners, my Inspiration for the Traveller Game

I was first exposed to the lives of Filipino Mariners when I worked for one of the largest seaman manpower companies of the Philippines as a 3d Artist, Magsaysay. We were attempting to make a computer-based training game, so we interviewed some seamen and sat in the training lectures. 20% of International merchant mariners are Filipinos, who work as Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) for what would be $2,500USD a month for contracts of up to a season to a few years. W

We were able to access also the books and material that they were required to master. I don't remember the details, but what I came away with was that it was mostly Organization (how the ship and its elements are organized, procedures and protocols) and Safety procedures. The procedures were dizzying because each country had their own.

Note that much of what I learned about it mirror the Risks, Pay-offs, and help detail Assumptions of Crewman Life.

The Economics of It. 
To Filipinos the wages for being a mariner crewman is that of a regional manager and high level executive but it is a career that they cannot sustain for very long over time. They payed very well compared to the typically less than $200USD/mo to be a factory worker.

Note that in the Philippines, such a relative would be supporting his other relatives in their studies and schooling. Typically one OFW will support his entire extended Family and have nothing remaining for themselves (and it happens often enough that many uplift themselves and many piss-away the money).

Its a skilled professions that takes less time to finish, they incur less debt and can quickly pay it off in a couple of years. It is also a dangerous profession, as the news can indicate (pirates, collisions, and accidents) and those who can imagine how it is to be caught in a storm while enroute.

Other than the hazards of working in a ship, Filipino Seamen have a serious problem with Hepa B, an STD (Sex Ed is severely backwards in the Philippines, I think it should be part of Mariner training) I also want to note that the maintenance cost of the meds is $200USD a month, if they stop being Seamen they can be assured of a lifespan that ends at 50-60. I don't know the statistic for the other STDs but if Hepa B is any indicator it may not be very good. We have purely capitalist medical services here in the Philippines, many will die and choose a "brave" death in using the money for the meds to pay for education - spirituality and family is the remaining comfort for many.

There is also some barriers regarding Filipino employment and advancement , having a reputation and status "servants to the wealthy countries" there are many instances where a seasoned and veteran Filipino seaman will not get a higher position because of his background. (i know of the journalists that sit on this information, because its just bad for business in such a precarious hold over the industry). So they swallow their pride and keep at it, suffering in silence. They would rather have their children study Law, Medicine, and Engineering than follow their footsteps in an industry that limits their advancement.

How I apply it to Traveller
 You will notice these Factors In my Traveller universe, as RETHE an overpopulated (30 Billion) and poor System exports most of the Mariner (Fodder) to all the great Shipping. In an advanced Technocracy, the lack of education of Rethe makes them second class susceptible to the Corporate Patron-Client indoctrination into their loyal (and expendable) corporate assets.

In a game about Trade and Merchants, Crushing Poverty and its effects are something I like drawing stories and inspiration from. For those in Poor States, Building Common Good is next to impossible and those few fortunate States fighting to maintain Common Good, is a battle they may slowly be losing (which natural results in Exodus of all the best and brightest). What can several generations build, can be so easily lost.

The problem of being an OFW is also an interesting one because it deals with National/State/Cultural Loyalties and Identity vs Economic Realities. In current events, it doen't look good because it seems as RETHE grows and gets wealthier from their remittances and its market being developed, there is a growing resentment. There are many factors to this, part of the reason Local administrators want to shift the blame of their corruption to "Cultural Issues".  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Paper expenses, and RPGs with Trade

TL:DR What's this relation in Gaming, particularly Trade Games like Traveller or any Game where there is trade and negotiations value is pretty arbitrary with bench marks made by the business overhead. 

I was talking to a a very successful accountant friend who is also a gamer about trade based games.
We talked about cheesy min max combos in Real-World accounting, and there was the funny trick with paper expenses.
Basically if you pay in commodities, goods and services, what ever value you assign is almost arbitrary. It exploits several cognitive biases and the abstract nature of value. 

I can sell you a technical service , example: like internet access in exchange for cash or a trade of services. You can sell me another similar good like connectivity to X network or security services. In our books we will write down how much I sell my "technical service" in exchange for your "technical service" and we give each other receipts and pay taxes according to how much that is... the questions is how much does such a service cost us. Its called a paper expense for a couple of reasons, the one' i'm familiar with is that it is an expense provable by only documentation. 

Services and various Technology is hard to measure in costs, because Infrastructure is a complicated beast to measure. I can probably go OCD (if I could) and measure my usage of a car in both GasWt./distance it  transports, Maintenance vs the payments I'm making every month, and compare it to my Cost of Living and Wages to see if I've maximized it or I've hit diminishing returns (that would be a great gadget to make and probably already exists). Already just as simple as a car is complicated to measure... what more an Office and office furnture - it they look like crap you fail to create confidence in your patrons, if you pay too much for luxuries thats more expenses than you had (examples of lines you won't know till you cross them). 

Now the ethics come in as What you charge affects both your patrons, your competition, and complimentary or dependent commodities and the market. There is a cognitive bias in dealing with people in degrees of separation (faceless groups, even if you give them a face). There are so many factors in this circumstance: Competition (Prisoners Dilemma) and Value Perception (Placebo Affect of Expensive Goods). And of course the "Taboo" of Economic Ideology... UGGG... good thing most adventurers are Selfish *****. 

In the two Traveller Games I'm playing I play a "cut digit" accountant 

  and an Honest Merchant suit of a Cowboy (Inspired by Brisco Country Jr). So I get to ponder trade in games and their relationship to my business experience. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Augmentation Notes: Economics in Augmentation & Simpe Mental Augmentation

Economics of Augmentation

I noticed in MgT that bonuses from Cybernetics are at +1 to +3 but from 1 to 2 Million. Its not the only system that works in this way, it is the simplest approach to "Cyberware" i have to check my notes how many other systems approach it in this way. Shouldn't the bonuses be based on Racial Limits and the Difference of Abilities?

I have a character in D20/Traveller/GURPS/WoD/Fading Suns1E that has the low end strength of 8/4/8/1/3 and the following is the stat average 10/7/10/2/4 and the next following is the racial maxes 18/C/15/5/8 should the cost of raising within the Racial Norms much cheaper than beyond Racial Max? 

Instead of Pricing the Bonuses $X * Bonus. Price the STAT, you can price the stat with a variable with the Margin of Difference as a Variable. While exceeding the racial max is a Multiplier to the Cost as much as the difference. 

Example Strength augmentation is $10,000 per Level of Strength. So a Strength of 15 in D20 would be $150,000 * The Margin of Difference 

So you can have a Stat * $ typically the "Norm" and the "Racial Limit". 

consider this an Open Solution for Tweaking GM's its just weird that My Cripple of a Character with Traveller Str 2 and Dex 3 will pay $4M for Str5 and Dex6 when the formula can be based off the racial max. 

The bench mark is set to about $2M for Stat of C or 12 and $400k for 7. to bring Str 2 to 7 will cost 5 (the difference) x $400,000 or around 2M.  Someone with StrA (or 10) who wants to reach Str 12 can pay $4M or $2M for every point until 13. But once 13 is reached every point after 13 the cost doubles. 

then Apply GM's preferences such as if they think Strength should be cheaper or more expensive to the other stats.

Simple Mental Augmentation

The Heads-Up Display and Augmented Reality has some interesting repercussions to how we think. In the BBC's article on writng and mental health and if you follow some popular Cognition Studies (like Dan Arielly's Predictably Irrational) you will begin to notice some interesting quirks with how we think and how much writing or tools that organize thoughts using Visual or Somatic components (Writing) affects the process. 

Imagine the ability to write out every thing you are about to say in a practiced and lightning quick manner, but able to visually organize it using grammar and spelling tools built into your system.Your typing speed and responsiveness translating outside a keyboard (in a virtual one). 

It begins with simple more complete ideas when we talk, but then it begins to grow and find its way in how we organize our thoughts. Instantly we grasp images or form images that capture our ideas and bring them into the narrative from the collective data center of the internet or our own recorded visualizations. 

It would take practice, and skill, but in a short matter of time we can communicate tons of data with the simplest of gestures. Strangely we are able to be meta aware of these memes and thoughts; the ability to track every thought and see how our own cognitive adaption made us take in the meme (the ability to cite sources or track sources is the ability to quickly and surgically attack assumptions).

it would take some skill to interface, but the end product is a mastery of one's self and assumptions, self image, and convictions. Equilibrium dictates that we may not need to master the use of augmented reality or senses, but use it to simplify our manner of living; but at the same time depending who you are with, that equilibrium might mean going deeper. 

Ooooo a fun story to write about an explore if I had the time; the Consequence of emerging technology like Somatic Inter-faceless input (gloves or bracelets that allow you to virtually input data) and what happens when we can record our thoughts in the opportunities that are presented by these Somatic Interface-less Input. You can keep notes in a conversation, trying to build a Mind Map of what the other person is saying for various motivations and reasons (your notes, argument's sake, cooperative mind mapping etc.. etc..)

The ability to Record moments when we are in Auto-pilot is also something of a meta revelation; the ability to edit our non-fully-volitional habits can powerful in influencing how we manage our time and how productive our use of time. 

Note to Self - Try to make a Wiki in Game in the Brain for all these "Doctrine" and Technology usage notes. Hopefully Gdocs can index well enough that I can dump such ideas in an organized manner. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Pondering About Ships In My Sci-fi Universe

New Things to Imagine. In light of some technical understanding this is how I imagine ship interiors to be like. 

Ship Interior Surface
I think the inside of a ship with nanotechnology around would have smart paint that wrote down all warnings and instructions as a fail safe measure. Smart Paint is basically paint that can change color, when applied some stimuli. Airborn Nano-Tech or the Ship's Maintenance bots are equipped to modify the smart pain and transcribe graphics and data, even digital codes. 

I got the Idea from work, where we keep notes in all our IT equipment in case the person we need to help fix is not there and we know where everything will be. Also living in a place Poor in Signs is a B*tch, you get lost and its always handy to have all important information handy in case you can't depend on the Engineers or the Ship AI to help you. 

Ship Atmosphere
Ships and any enclosed environs would have a mircobot immune system. Nanotechnology generators continuously generating microbots as these degrade quickly is going to be part of the air and Eco system, looking for viruses and hostile nano tech. Your "life support" or regular consumption of electronic supplies can be consumed. 

Ship Insides
A ship would be crawling with micro tech ecosystem that maintain it and report to the computer the current condition of all the parts. Any rats or alien stow always would be immediately detected, except those in the cargo hold in secure freight. They probably do all the maintenance of all the hard to reach and softer electronics. Engineers are versed with all his "Pokemon" engineering toys and tools, and because of Rapid Prototyping being the Norm, come up continually with very specialized and alien designs for micro-bot maintenance units. GM's and writers can play around with the aesthetics, making cute and cuddly (PG) microbots to those that look gross and insect-like. 

All the other ships that dock in the mother ship depend on the mother ship for its anti bodies, which in extended duration missions die out. 

Like Car Maintenance or Fuel, the cost of such materials and supplies can be worth the value of the "soft" electronic parts of ship divide by the year of natural obsoletion (typically 3-4). So if your electronics is about 5% the ship cost then divided it by 4 you have 1.25% per year or 0.11% per month in consumed electronic fodder for the Microbot Replicator. 

Heavy Repair Bots - Ship Symbiots
This basically makes the ship alive with its own "biology", although dependent on processed materials for its consumption. I am imagining military 100 yard long vessels with 1 to 4 ton mechs/robots that make them near completely self sufficient and act as mobile turrets moving around the surface of the ship to provide point defense or ECM where needed and repairs. These Robots can detach with Maneuvering Systems and work with "tug boats" to repair the ship or various other tasks.  

I got the idea remembering the Destroids in Robotech acting like Weapon Turrets on the Macross. Its basically a Mobile Turret that can change its facing. Then why not push the idea further and have them move around to repair the ship and many exterior tasks - like a Symbiot taking care of its Host. 

There is serious exterior hull damage, the Symbiot moves in to control the damage! EW systems shoot a penetrating round to deliver Nano-Virus Tech into the system where it will allow it to "Hack" the ship, the Symbiot will attack the delivery mechanism. It will even sacrifice itself for the ship either by giving up its carapace and form to close off hull breach or concentrate all its EW systems and intercepting an attack.  

The Ship AI and Relationships
Going further as a living thing, a ship can house an ai that can emulate a human with all that baggage that make it safe but annoyingly restrained, you don't want a ship without compassion or it might kill you or harm someone carelessly. Relationships with ships, the AI, is something that can be a great source of drama and role playing. 

Various Platonic Relationships, but then there is room for romantic relationships when the Ship AI possess the Steward Bioroid. Those who like drama and relationships in the story can wonder what will happen if the crew has a complicated relationship with the AI or explore various relationships. 

What if the Ship sees the captain as a Parent, or the Captain is the "child" or "dependent" in the relationship. What if they are Partners or Peers. What if the Pilot is F*ing the ship, who is the captain's daughter/son, while the Captain is F* the steward who is a AI peer of the ship and closest to sibling, and the engineer is the "other parent" with unrequited love for the Captain kinda of mess.

Ugg I'd write that and direct a machinema show with this kind of screwed up relationships. That would be a fun show to watch, and to play with the ideas of AI, Sapiens, and Emotions. 

Ship Life Support. 
The Cost of Life Support in a Ship reflects the cost and efficiency of life support technology in a tech level. So if this is very high, one needs to calibrate the relative cost of Life Support in various other Enclosed Domains. Its also important to note that Life Support Determines the available Economic Force that can be devoted to other things. 

So if Life Support is Expensive, some planets are like living in Medieval Times where 95% is devoted to Life Support (Food production). You cannot expand or grow if the cost of Supporting what already exists eats up most of your resources. 

I'm with GURPS where Life Support is fairly cheap, the way we spend on Air conditioning, Heat, and Wear and Tear materials of our living domains. I think if it was Too expensive, even with Economies of scale, then living in dangerous vacuum space would not be feasible. 

IMSU since people wear their Vacc Suits or Life Suits as an extension of their being or person, then life support is minimized further and they are protected from Nano-Tech intrusions as well. If people want to see "flesh" they can project avatars in Virtual Space. 


Friday, August 16, 2013

JTAS Aug 13 is up

Self interest being transparent here. 
The first post, Instant Party I, had 4 characters in it. This had 5, 3 being AI companions. I realized I failed to consider the AIs (Volitional AIs so they can be played as PCs or extra characters if the party splits up in an adventure, if that is a GMing style option available). Of the 9 characters I wrote I think I made about 5 AI companions, there could be 2 more but they are notes in the story and not detailed.  

I really owe the wordiness to the details and getting all the skills, next is equipment (the augmentations) and templates. Especially AI's, they have to be "Complete" and very little room for lack of forethought or preparation (where the few extra points kick in). 

I actually wrote 10, an experimental ATV Robot Tank designed for Artillery and Counter-Armor role but I'm in Ballistic Spreadsheet Limbo since stats in UT and Traveller weapons are not "jiving" well and would require a Complete OVERHAUL if not very strategic Tweaks which is time consuming since I'm trying to study blender right now. 

Problems listed
  • Damage to Size Scaling, Douglas Cole pointed it out in the gaming ballistics about how it scales. I was stupid enough to go with the formula: weight increases by an exponent of 3 if size increases by 100%; damage increases by the square root of weight. This is not bad... but when I used the ballistic spreadsheet to double check it my claculations are way off and by the performance of the weapons they should be dealing MORE damage... of course i could be doing this all wrong and I can make everything arbitrary ONLY after I set the bechmarks and the guidelines... which is basically overhaling the GURPS damage system. This would mean about 40 hours of analysis for me, and that stops being fun. I might as well fine tune my one own game system, dusting it off from the virtual shelf. 
  • UT needs more details and they don't mesh well with the same rules used in Traveller.  Like Missiles, Gyrocs, Rail-Launched Missiles and Rail Launched Gyrocs, or Ballistically Launched Gyrocs etc.. etc... by basic calculations these weapons are more energy efficient than a lot of Beam Weapons and compensate their accuracy with their AI and maneuverability. 
  • GURPS Traveller's Missile Repulsion being "black boxed" makes it difficult for me to guess how it would affect larger missiles or Kinetic Projectiles like Gyrocs. Is it gravity, magnetic field, inertial etc... if it is then sufficient speed will reduce its effectivity and active sensors and the cheaper and powerful AIs can compensate its manipulated trajectory (either from the ship or on the projectile).  Anyway overcoming the +15 of repulsors vs 100 missiles. 100 missiles is not a great metric of measure. How does it work with Ballistics etc..  what if Ballistics is Mixed with missiles, is it really 100 missiles or 15 tons of missiles in their final acceleration and force?
anyway it will be a while before I cook up answers for these. 

Bull Pup version of STG44

Poor lighting is a great way to hide the flaws. Lolz. 
I wanted to make WW2 gun updates since they should be "public domain" by now and the rights to them should free and available. I like the Stg 44 and even had for a short time impoverished myself to buy the Airsoft Version. 
To WW2 people this gun is Blasphemy lolz. You have to thank +bobby navarro for getting me into ww2 since this was the GURPS games he ran and his traveller games had a WW2 flavor in them. (i even have my own german soldier uniform). WW2 is an expensive hobby, until maybe 3d printers or a friend with machining tools and a garage of easy access. 

So this is actually made for IMSU (in my sci-fi universe) and my GURPS modern campaign. This is the "standard" gun and has the reputation for durability and ease of production at the expense of precision. There are many variants that cater to Doctrine of various States and Militaries. There are 7.62x39mm versions to Nato 7.62 to 5.56 to 10-15mm caseless rounds. 

It ejects cartridges where the original STG44 would have its sight. (I will details this if i have the time) throwing the casing (if any) forward and front. The designs of so many variations litter the web and many emerging economies find this very easy to produce with stamped sheet metal and wood or plastic. 

I was able to use Google Hangout with +James Austin to test out doing blender in On Air and it works. It works and wow, its a great learning tool too bad I don't have skills worth teaching that would have people pay good money for Lolz! 


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Adventures in SciFi Publishing presents DemiCon 24 panel "How to Build a Navy" with David Weber and BuNine — Adventures in SciFi Publishing

In case anyone missed this... this is a great outline method to write a Sci-fi setting's source book.

In the illustration, the parts in red is one of the focus in storytelling. It isn't exactly a lot of work, you can summarize elements into paragraphs and a list of key concept in analysis, economics, organization, and management since these are mostly processes and logistics.

it can be a lot of reading, you have to have a basis. Logistics professions, at least ones where the practitioner studies on precedent and the academic elements (to understand why things are the way they are and have the skill to break these elements down in order to fix process problems).

BUT some logistics processes are intuitive, you don't need management certification to do your job if you can do it, although you need time and reflection to put it into words and break down the ideas to be modular and flexible for adaptive problem solving and abstraction.

Adventures in SciFi Publishing presents DemiCon 24 panel "How to Build a Navy" with David Weber and BuNine — Adventures in SciFi Publishing:

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Open Computing (Any System)

If you just look at FLOPS Magnitude of Computing you pretty much get the benchmark for computer stats. I tend to have to refer to these stats when I do Rendering in 3d or When we build out a Server Rack for Dialers, or When i want to buy a new computer and I want to know what their stats are. Since NO ONE seems to put their computing stats in FLOPS (shifting standards for measuring computer performance is a b*tch) there is Passmark.

Simply type the Processor and Passmark and you will get the passmark rating. You "Add Up" passmark or FLOPS for multi-core/thread computing. Servers basically fulffil the role of allowing you to Stack as much CPUs in one computer as possible. You want to migrate to FLOPS since its an open standard.

Related to Both Computer and 3d is Graphic Card Processors or GPU (Graphic Processing Units) pretty much the a CPU dedicated to graphics. Its relevance is because Nvidia, like ARM, are now in the CPU industry (doing a Honda where they produced Anciliary and smaller versions of the main industry and growing to the point their technology allows them to compete with the big boys).

So basically Graphic Cards allow 1 computer to have multi-core processing like a Server up to the number of GPU Slots the computer's other parts can take (and boy the wattage and heat generated by these badboys).

Now that you know some basic overview of computing power you can figure out how simple it is to make a computer metric system for games.
Just Get the FLOPS and the Exponent as the Rating. if you go to magnitude of computing you will notice we are in the Giga-Flops range 1 to 900 x10^9. If you check Passmark (Convert it to Flops at around 8894 PM the  Intel Core-i7 980X but in FLOPS  147.6 or around 60PM to 1GigaFLop or 1x10^9; Pentium III 311PM to 1.4x10^9 = 230 PM so this is not a very precise system; note that you can "overclock" a computer but I don't know by how much does it improve performance; Note FLOPS and passmarks converted with simple math wont' cut it in the real world but its a great benchmark non-computer scientists).

In classic Traveller you can divide the FLOPS performance ranges into TLs. Servers and few Computers can "stack" their CPUs. Typically they have a Limit in how much can be stacked.

The GM can set a "Standard Computer" (a desktop board) weight, cost and FLOP rating and give it Extra Processing Slots. he can also set "Server" stats (pretty much a heavier Computer designed to fit as a slim pizza box into a "Cabinet" Server Rack) there is also the "blade" server. Smaller more compact computers to fit as "VCR cassete" (but much heavier) sized blades into a specialized server rack.

Pricing seems to double. Standard Computer is about $1000 w/ 1 CPU with variance of performance and cost (only taking GPUs which still need to be modded to do other stuff than graphics). Pizza Box Server is at about $2000 having higher end 2 CPUs that are double the performance of a Computer (effectively x4),  a blade server is about $4000 but only comes with 2xCPUs using up one slot out of 16 (these typically are in divisors of 8 or 4) each "blade" costs about $2000 (your are paying for the size reduction).

Note that there are Open Compute Versions of all these. Which I think a Sci-fi setting would be moving towards because of the "NSA" backdoor problem. ?Democratic Anarchy vs Representative Plutocracy?

Programs consume Computing Resource (See your task manager or system manager of your computer) its an accounting thing, that can be simplified by the same Threshold based systems in "Abstract Wealth" system or "Abstract Damage" system. Having certain thresh-holds where every additional burden penalizes the computer's performance till nothing can run (sounds familiar?) and running a program has diminishing returns (allocating a server to run Libre Office doesnt make the experience so much better, but you can open a ton of documents!).  

Just Take a number like 4 and say this is the benchmark and standard for X task (where X may be an amazing feat like doing ships accounting in under a minute and market analysis of all future options given the data in the time it takes up upload the data). Without it task will be -4. now for every addition of Y program of B size your 4 is reduced by 1. Every additional program reduces performance by 1 and the benchmark feat degrades.

Its mostly about setting benchmarks in RPG system mechanics. Clearly defined ones that are well thought off are awesome.

Best CPU to Cost Ratio. A simple way to pick a good cpu is seeing how much passmarks (you can covert it to flops later) to $cost$.Note what kind of CPU this is by clicking on the CPU. It might be a great value but its only 850passmarks (where a 2008 computer averages 1100-1500 passmarks; computers like my newly purchaed notebook is at 3000 5 years later). You can do the same with Graphics Cards.

So Ideally for 3d Rendering I get a $1.2k/Php60,000 gaming computer with a large mother board and use the GPU benchmarks to get 2-4 $160-180 GeForce GTX 560 Ti (probably importing it from HK because it would be a b*tch to import into the Philippines electronic hardware without gross price barriers) Having about 4500+(3500x3) passmarks under the hood for Rendering. this will allow me to use the "rendered" viewport (a very low render view to see if all the lighting and textures are in the right places) while I work. Ouch thats Php100k where am I gonna get that kind of money lolz. To dream...

I wonder if there is an App that allows me to measure my computer (phone and notebook) in FLOPS? oh well.

Sigh, oh open computing. open and transparent standards, would be something of a Sci-fi Discussion. Particularly regarding 3-Laws of Robotics, would it be part of AI hard wiring and tampering with the 3LR in a computer.

added Notes and update
Encryption is Easier to Crack (from MIT).

Overclocking. There are so many variables in architecture that its up to the Game Designer to dictate assumptions about processors and how they are used to push them beyond their safe operating margins (see system bottlenecks in the article).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Learning Circles

Made a "Profile" regarding Learning using Google Hangouts. Just opening up opportunities to meet people and learn things, and find other people of the same interests and want to learn things through sharing experiences and talking about various topics and subjects.

By this method my Real-World munchkin-ness reveals itself by how I exploit such a medium like Google Hangouts to try to make connections and possibly discover something new. I try to make time to have discussions online regarding various gaming topics, fulfilling my curiosity regarding what other people think about.

Anyway, making this known and visible, not just to my Circles. I should have done this simultaneously when I made that Learning Community in Google+ but it just occurred to me recently.

I guess such should be advertised in a way, like "Learner" or something.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A fictional nation complete with maps

A Great resource for modern campaigns. I'll add this to my gurps modern fantasy game. I better save this.

The Koana Islands was the Fictional Nation I was looking for when I was going to run my GURPS Modern Fantasy. I didn't know it was this well developed at the same time, I wanted to run a THIRD WORLD country with Mega Slums, Retired Mega-Freighters, a mostly abandoned Warehouse district (where collateral damage would cheapen the cost of demolition) and many more Dungeon Like dwellings. 

Damn, further research reveals all this detail is for "Fantasy" Baseball. Okaaaaay... oh well. Haven is not so bad and I'll include Koana in the setting... although such a plush and happy utopia would be the neighbor that gets allot of Haven Oversease Contract Workers. 

Haven is North east-ish of Madagascar. So to the West of Koana Republic, its dirty, poor, illiterate, and Intolerant neighbor... with all sorts of Illegal and Arms trade. 

Being a Plutocracy Anarchy I'm thinking all the Libertarian and Objectivist Plutarchs would want to make this their dream home and pull a long middle finger by making this place a true Internet Anarchy but using Open Standard Computing. A rogue-ish State with Capitalist Sycophanthy will be a great place to hide wealth (like the Caymans but with the financing and slavery to install under sea cables). 

It would be an interesting thing if I would allow "Pirate Coins" currency as part of the economy in the little Haven Hell-hole (and a huge Pron Industry that cater the most illegal of tastes). I'm thinking of more ways to screw with fictional peoples and make the world contrast ironically with the rest of reality. 

Waddiya is a real place in this setting and one of the Main Trading Partners of Haven! Using story telling as a source of Irony and Humor regarding real world tragedy lolz. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

[Classic Traveller] Robot Rules to make an Exo-Skeleton

my Cripple of a Character (Str 2, max can carry 14lbs) needs a prosthetic exo skeleton and has the social status to get away with it. Built a Robot designed as an Exo-skeleton. The definition of a Robot has gone a long way since the 80s.

This Exo Skeleton Ideally is added to a Vacc Suit. and Like an Battledress requires Vacc-Suit 1 skill.
$40,000 and 150lbs. Density of a "real world" space suit but sleeker. A lot of the volume is dedicated to fuel.
Add the cost and weight of a Vacc Suit and Survival Suit (for the life support) +$10,000

Needs Vacc Suit 1 and ideally get also Electronics 1, and Mechanic 1

When budget allows:
add heraldry and status related "bling"
add Armor (Combat Armor level of toughness)
Sacrifice Dex for Strength (medium to heavy arms).

Hope my GM approves the stats.

URPUnitsVolume (L)WeightCostPowerVol ModWgt ModCost ModFuel/Hr
4Chassis Size808 kG$9,500
0Power Plant-2020 kG$600100.1
2Legs2-1610 kG$1,120
Legs225 kG$120-2.5
1Head1-44 kG$950-1
2AppendagesLight Arms2012 kG$2,000-4
4CPU spaceLCPU20-42 kG$10,000-1
EStorage28-143 kG$7,000
2LogicLow Automation$7,000
0# of AppsTouch Sensitivity1.5350-1.5
Fuel Storage24-242 kG
066 kG$39,640
Duration (hr)24010 days
Mobility (m/s)4 m/s0.72m/s^226m/6s