Friday, February 25, 2022

Technology Levels - in Mneme and Cepheus Engine musings - and youtube video rabbit holes

 the development of a technology or a paradigm shift doesnt immediately mean its actively being used or changing the industry, it takes a lot of time. 

What if TL is measured by adoption of a technology? Then i run into the problem of "By what percentage?" and its not possible to get a census of medieval farmers or people what technology they are using. 

Working back, we want TL to tell us what's available and used. It should tell us what technology do we find when we arrive on a world, setting, or era. 

What's interesting is that DEVELOPMENT - access to technology and tools which multiply the most basic unit - cannot be seperated so easily from TL. if we seperate serf using cultures and slave using cultures - they are almost the same except that the risk is better passed on to the serf from the owner. 

Development - access to tools and techniques. Eastern Roman agriculture discussed in the Appendix of the De Agriculture with notation about the 9-15C agriculture talked about each Eastern roman farmer having better tools but western farmers had crop rotation and better techniques evening out (If I recall correctly; the section was written in the 19C and discusses how 19C outputs per arable land is comparable to roman outputs). 

Isnt Infra also a TL aspect? It takes Tech to have Infra to distribute good tools, while new techniques are advances in TL. Access to tools and techniques are important in Context of TL. a 17C Homesteader and Settler which had more freedoms than slaves and serfs of the same era - definitely had a difference in Tech, Wealth, and Access. Aqueducts, dams, weirs, Water/Wind Mills, etc... are access to power - arent they a matter of TL? 

There are a lot of low hanging TLs, but adoption and access deal with a lot of economic and social forces - particularly development. Remembering that smaller developed countries can easily adopt and deploy new tech and social changes vs larger distributed countries and peoples. When writing TLs, there is the limits but then again its more like painting and there is a color spectrum in water color and we are dabbing technology on points in a line changing the color. Its not a Number Line its a Water Color Paint line.   

Whats weird is that to address the misconceptions of TL it would take a whole lot of writing, pictures, or a 6 minute youtube video - and probably 1-2 mins per Tech level, and 1-2 minutes per Cultural and Development context of a Tech level. Misconception that we hear from new players and old players, that prevent some basic assumptions. misconception like Cutting and Bleeding edge technology and their access - reliability of these technology and the reliability of established technology. Heck - just plain reliability being a FACTOR of tool use. 

I can imagine a Tech level discussion that would be several parts in 8 mins budgets (4 min at x2 speed) drawing from the Crash Courses model of hank and john green. I could probably write the outline but require an editor to polish my script. Each data point having a particular visual structure tied in and working backwards from the Main Concepts of the 8 minute take away.  

I can imagine how much production and work it would take and how little it would earn - how long to run in the red before break even and even when its break even managing expectations that it takes a while to really break even and SHIFT the infra and debts and the financial position of the members. Ordering PCs, setting up Rendering Accounts, lining up script outlines and reviewing them 2-3x a week as project members prepare a backlog of Scripts and Art. 

But it would be Overkill - but a series of videos illustrating the Key Concepts and Generic and universal elements would help break down a pretty robust and universale system like Cepheus engine for new players - making the entire community benefit as they need to just Illustrate the differences. Especially when the pictures and graphics are creative commons and made available. CE vs MNEME TL and the TL of the other settings. 

But then I realize a high youtube consuming audience is typical of a "Millenial" audience able to absorb more stories in video narration and illustration. 

Then I think about the youtube videos of my son which are engineers to distract and scatter their attention because of their structure. It cannot compete - any structured Crash Course is meant for an audience born in the 2000s and not for an Audience born in the 2010s. Unless a parent can shelter their kids from developing the attention problems of the attention fragmenting videos the videos produced for a 2000s born audience will not work on a 2010 born audience... and wondering what would be the 2020 born audience with tiktok 30 second meme videos rabbit holes. Imagining tiktok as mature and immense as youtube with more socially engineered algorithms - ugg 

that fear has to be put aside as we go back with TL and imagining the future and how we changed from written to video to an uncertain learning method.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Google Tasks for Writing Projects - what 4 videos failed to explain; Progress Update

 I watched about 4 Google Tasks Videos and they never explained they can open and VIEW DOCS or SHEETS INSIDE of Gmail along all the TASKS.

So Nicco and I were having problems organizing the to do list. So I decided to hit two birds in one stone and to test my limits to LEARN A NEW software add on. I asked my self "Am I still curious or too set in my ways?" even if I encounter problems it would still be ok. Also my IT staff needed better instructions so I needed to level up our organization. 

1) So you can Open Docs and Sheet in Gmail and you can view and edit the doc/sheet while in gmail. 

Go to Gmail and go to your SPACES an choose a file you set up or shared in this space. It will open. 

2) We discovered SPACES has a weird bug no one talks about:

 I can add Nicco or Nicco can add myself BUT 50:50 chance we will not be automatically added to a space. 

If we are added thats BAD, I can just add someone without their PERMISSION. which is weird and dangerous. So basically I can add other people and a 50:50 chance they will be added without their permission. We noticed that when you CREATE a space it will send a JOIN option in the email but if you add people after creation they will be 50:50 automatic join. You can remove and add them back to create more email alerts if they missed it. 

BUT if we cant... we didnt know we can go to our Email Updates and look for the Invite to Join. 

We had that evening just troubleshooting and deciding on the workflow. He was using his personal gmail and I was using my Game in the Brain google workspace - i bought it in 2015 hoping one day I will start a gaming company lolz. 

3) BUGS and CONS: 

a) some tasks disappeared. I had about 3 other tasks that just disappeared as soon as I closed the window. What is worse is I cannot copy the tasks to the GDOC to easily copy it back. What would be good is that I can keep it on both and there is Traceability. I hate this kind of issue: it feels like "gaslighting" or "false memories".  Tasks are not governed by the same version controls as Gdocs and Gsheet and the other apps. 

b) I cannot SUBTASK or CHILD tasks unlike regular Google Tasks, for PERSONAL.  This would organize things better. Its harder to see Critical Path and Chain without dependency trees. 

c) Trade-offs. Not much of a CON reall, its just the reality of the design. I cannot access comments but I have access to Tasks.

4) Why use Tasks: Pros and Features. 

a) Tasks are beside the OBJECT OF DISCUSSION. if the object of discussion is a document. We havent tried Google Draw or Slides but that would be next. 

b) Tasks appear on calendars with schedules/deadlines.  so it appears in my notifications. Nicco and I agreed just to check it off when done and we will review done tasks. In our mon and thurs meetings. 

c) We didnt need to share screen anymore. Because the tasks appeared on the tasks lists and the Gdoc Updated we didnt need to share screen as much. Which means we can share screen images and other things if needed and just focused on the body language and non-verbal communication of the webcams. 

5) Update on Progress.

The world building spreadsheet (which requires javascript for dice and to populate ranges of data) which is also Critical to the Experience will not make the March 31 deadline based on what I started seeing now that I started calendaring the deliverables. It would be April 30 with the spreadsheet. I'll have to add that to the budget. 

6) Outline 

a) World Building Differences with CE. Goals and Limitations (differentiate real science and what trade offs exists) 

b)   Definitions. When we say planet we actually refer to something that is not a star that can be 80 jupiter masses to an Asteroid which can be arbitrary in size - there is no technical limitation what is an asteroid or a meteor... definition in Mneme world gen defines it so that you can say how many Asteroids, Planetoids, Minor Planets etc... is detected or being talked about. These Technical Terms Gives the Players and Referees more tools to describe the solar system and what is encountered. So it would be weird when Players Jump into a NEW solar system only to discover late in the game a Brown Dwarf 60 Jupiter masses  10AU existed all along. something they could not detect would be something like Planet 9 which is 200-300 AU. 

c) How solar Systems are develop. this will help understand why the mechanics work the way they do and what is Unusual or a process of the immense scale of time of a solar system (Billions of Years). 

d) MAIN WORLD building mechanics. human centric - this is what the main world would be given a human-like inhabitant. 

e) Stellar Creation. what sun are we talking about if thats not already a given. this determines the ZONES of the solar system. Zones are a mix of the gravitational pull of the sun against its solar radiation pushing outwards and the centrifugal forces of orbit.  

f) INHABITANTS building mechanics. a Fractal system that allows for creation of Inhabitants.  this system applies solar system wide and can be applied to smaller and smaller chunks of the inhabitants for detailing. 

g) PLANETARY SYSTEMS. Creation of other WORLDS and Disks (like Kuiper belt and asteroid belt) to populate the solar system. with the disclaimer this is what can be detected at different star system and at upon arriving. 

h) Special Features. the Economic and Strategic value or non-value of the solar system and what elements should be and the vacuum that will need to be filled if its not in equilibrium.      

i) Hex Map of Orbits. for campaigns or adventures that need moving Orbits. We will provide one of SOL and to follow based on our sale goals. 

j) Blender Tools to generate Worlds and 2d Terrain Maps. these tools will let the player quickly generate maps with blender so that the world is not stuck merely on a procedure but after buying this and setting it up start churning out worlds. 

k) World  Building Spreadsheet. The idea is buy this book and access the google spreadsheet so they can start producing the worlds and systems THEN judge the mechanics after as well as its usefulness. its easier to start clicking generate than reading the book and learning the system and seeing if the product is worth while. 

Other Goals. 

Sales Goals for other Products. What we produced is the minimum viable product we hope people will like given our limitations and strengths. there are things we wish we can do for it, but we have to be reasonable on the amount we will sell. the Mneme Combat system only sold 30 copies which I am very grateful for. Given the cost of the product we hope X number of sales to commission more materials and details.   

I dont mind the loss and even hope for a break even. I just feel privileged and lucky I can participate in a life long dream (to make games). 


Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Significant Milestone: the Terrain Generator using Blender and Presentation/Power Point Template.

Planet Generator Blender File

A significant milestone that is very visible is the Terrain Generator. This takes a Icosahedron in Blender and allows blender to make it a 3d Planet for Render OR to Bake the proceedural terrain on it and import that image into a terrain map. 

The World Building Book will provide the File, Templates, and Workflow and Nicco and I will make desktop recordings of us making it for ease of follow. 

The target is that it takes 5 minutes to figure it out the first time following the tutorials and <1 minute to set it to "Bake" (Generate the UV map) and a simple motion of getting the file and placing it on the Presentation Template. 


  1. Redering it 2k or 4k (2048x2048 or 4096x4096) varies from computer to computer.
  2. We will come up with a more Detailed Map later on as we get more sales and feedback. What you see so far is the first versions reminicent of some other Map making software tools. 
  3. We cant make it a simple all in one package. 

You will notice Nicco is helping me finish this even if I'm busy with a Migration of Accounting, Purchasing and Warehouse from a manual system to ERPNext (Open Source ERP). I have to rely more for him for help these days because of my duties as a Dad and Work. 

Target is End of MARCH. 

Other Milestones

  1. Final Draft of Gravity. The sad thing about the system is that to be realistic it may be unplayable, but the methods will be a section still. Basically since MASS is the main variable getting the gravity from the mass is one of the hardest parts. Its a 5 step process vs just creating a Table of Rolling Gravity Randomly (which still includes a way to calculate the Radius based on the Mass and Gravity). 
    1. EASY PROCESS: roll Rocky (Terrestrial) World from 0.001 Earth mass (Dwarf Worlds like the Luna and Jupiter Moons) to 10.0 Earth mass THEN > Roll gravity. Gravity table is not tied to the World's mass its possible to roll 0.3G for the largest Earth Mass of 10. 
    2. HARD PROCESS. Roll EARTH Mass > Roll Earth Density (Density of the world as compared to earth with earth's density being 1 at 5.5 tons/cubic meter) > Convert to Earth Volume > Convert to Earth Radius > Derive Gravity. This is an optional system that will be there. 
  2. Changes to Main World. So the "Main world" is going to be either a 10 Earth mass world to 0.01 Earth mass World or a Moon/Luna Sized Terrestrial World. 
    1. HABITATS TL8-9 are possible main worlds and we roll the VOLUME in cubic meters (Noted as Volume Tons as 1 cubic meter is 1 volume ton). THis affects the population roll. 
  3. 1st Draft of Positioning. It just needs polishing and proof reading by Nicco. Nicco will also do the layouting. The formula for Positioning: Where planets are positioned based on their Traits. Starting from the MAIN WORLD, then everything else. 
  4. Planetary Systems.  I just need to finishing the write up of about a page, Nicco will clean it up for me after. What remains is the detail works of generating the planetary systems. You will notice that I'm kinda particular about the workflow as the GM. 
  5. Outline of INHABITANTS. so the outline of the Inhabitants are done. I have already started to detail it with definitions but as for a clear coherent system I've not yet detailed. Then nicco will polish it. 
  6. The Major Art is done: Solar System Formation and Vortexes. 
We will do this in Word and Google Docs.  Google docs first, then Nicco will polish it in Word. Hopefully it doesnt really distort reuploaded to Gdocs. then PDF, then I need to use the tutorial to give it a pdf outline. 

Remaining Tasks. Other than the Tasks above for me what remains are the following

  1. The Cover will be Last before publishing. 
  2. I want 2 weeks to proof read and to send it out to a different proof reader I have in mind. I'm lucky to know 2 physics graduates (one former professor and one who is working in media)
  3. SOL SYSTEM will follow the Creative Common of Beinahegut where we will build on this - the goal is that when people buy it they can start playing in a SOL based adventure - like the Expanse.  
  4. the HEX solar system method.  Hex map of Sol and how to make hex maps of other sytems. as mentioned this may follow but we will have SOL to follow after march 31 deadline. We will add earth and other Planetary systems for such games that just focus on 1 planet system.   
  5. Google Spreadsheet tools will follow once the system is complete (Target March 15 onward). 
    1. So I learned a bit of javascript/appscript for this and I'll be teaching Nicco the scripts how create the Google Appscript Sheet that will generate Systems proceedurally with all the details. A place to Cut and Paste the output in a Player Friendly manner. 
    2. The Basic Main World Creation can be done. My main problem is creating the other worlds -which is either additional Columns or Additional Rows - which would mean the MACRO/appscript will begin to population and position other Worlds. As well as how much detail we will have of these worlds.   
    3.   Main world means Rolling the Main World + Habitability + Gravity + Position + Primary Star + Star Class and Qualities + Disks + Other Worlds + Inhabitants (in Aggregate) + TL + Development + Power Structure + Power Source + Star Port.
    4. Not included in the basic Spreadsheet are the Planetary Systems + Qualities and Position.  
Final Outcome
The book's world building is kinda more intense than the Original CE system.  People may read the Definition and may find it useful in their game. the Audience can either Go straight to the Spreadsheet and Roll for the Main World and Star and Inhabitants OR they can go straight to the Blender tools to details worlds in their game. They can also start detailing the other Planetary systems in their existing solar system. 

The Gitlab/Github of the Spreadsheets and Book itself will be available to buyers. So they can modify the system as they see fit. Nicco's art there are creative commons. 

I have budget for the following: 
1) Nearby Stars - so basically will link to nearby space drivethru rpg and give sample stars detailed with the system. We will not provide a map so that people will buy nearby space.
2) Hex map of Earth System, Jupiter System, and Saturn System. For games that will just travel between all these. There is about 2050 to 2500AD of Sol history that happens within Sol. With Mega Structures - Kilo habitat Stations, Space Elevators and Solar Swarms (self replicating mirror satellites that manipulate gravity and solar radiation to move around and provide reflected light to either cool or heat up areas of a planet - like earth, venus, and mars. I imagine them as solar butterflies as 2-5m wing diameters weighing 70-200kg).   

What I want 

So this level of detail is not as Intense as the other Harder Scifi, I made it for people who are like me - slowly learning harder scifi using games. the Definitions and the formulas are great for a beginner and enthusiast. If I look at other harder scifi games its not very popular but we suffer the Chicken and the Egg problem. I believe Game Recordings, Tools to make the complexity accessible, and Summary Material are important to making this accessible. 

So many things need to happen for it to succeed or to sell very well. 1) people have the availability to try this kind of game out. which is why we made it a plug-in able system. 2) one doesnt need to read a lot of wikipedia articles and all the articles studied for the game is linked in the doc. 3) The role of Maps in World Building - if the world builder needs more detailed solar system. 

Limitations of the work. 

1) Cant be too technically complicated because I can't handle too much complexity as a part time job and my own personal budget as a Filipino IT head doing this part time. 
2) I have to abstract a lot and while science allows us to have more precision I cant afford to developers to make software from this. I probably will figure out and find Indian developers who can help make software for this but that would be YEARS off.  Example is the Hex for the Orbits. 
3) How the GM prepares and organizes is up to the GM. the workflow of a GM is unique to the GM. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Hex Orbits Prototype - future project.


Just thought about it today. making it creative commons just in case. 

Basically how to make a hex map of a solar system so that moving orbits can be factored. 

  1. Set MAIN WORLD Orbit. set the AREA of the orbital band - circumference in AU divided by hexes. Position the MAIN WORLD or main worlds PRIMARY (if main world is a moon). 
    1. Do this for the other worlds getting their circumference by getting its distance from the Sun as the radius = 2*pi*R.
    2. Circumference / Hexes. 
  2. then set the OTHER WORLDS relative to the movement of the MAIN WORLD. if main world is ORBIT 4 and for every hex move (or fraction of a hex move) of the main world, how many hexes the other worlds move.  
  3. Create a Legend of the Conversions of the PRIMARY world to Other worlds, you can also make the conversions back to primary world. 
  4. You can apply this FRACTALLY in PLANETARY systems like Jupiter, Saturn, Earth etc and its MOONS (Or space stations) with the PRIMARY being the center and the Satelites being in their own rings. 

I'm going to commission Nicco for this along with a comprehensive guide to some of our pregen Solar System based on the wikpedia sample  by Beinahegut 

the art will be creative commons as well for ease of sharing (so that nicco can also get commissions). 

Nicco can also do the calculations and knows his basic astro science which makes it a very good partnership. 

After the Ship Building (target September-Nov) Hope to make scenarios reminiscent of Children of the Dead Earth. Players travelling for Weeks to a destination where they can see where they're going but have so much SPACE that if something were to intercept them it would calculate their Delta-V budget and send drones to eliminate all their Delta-V budget options. The strategy comes in how much of the ships profile is knowable and what hidden counter measures the ship has in store. 

Monday, February 7, 2022

The world you land in - Different ways at looking at World Generation

 One of the reasons I shifted from the classing World Building system to TL, Development, Power Structure, Power Source, instead of Gov't and TL was because as a Developing world Person - when I traveled to HK, Taiwan, SG, US, and EU - that was the first thing I Observed and felt when I arrived. 

I wanted to shift from the Old model to the Model I Noticed. It doesn't matter what the "Gov't" called itself - are the people empowered, disempowered, apathetic, optimistic, etc... You can see it aggregated - Idealism and optimism eventually create a kind of tragedy of trying to do what is good, vs the pessimism of never trying and the death spiral and self-cannibalization of so risk-averse that nothing can be tried. 

The world and people can call themselves "Austere" "Holy" "Democratic" "Virtuous" etc... but in the end of the day when we measure their quality of life we see something we can see when we land on the planet and deal with its people. 

Wanting to do good with Imperfect information will always lead to tragedy, errors, mistakes. Uncertainty is not a very argument for not trying. 

Its like Mono-climate/geography Planets in our scifi - its a wrong idea that we got used to. World don't work that way, unless the world is really small the range of temperature, atmosphere, and conditions can very much vary.  

Now that a generation of gamers and storytellers grew up, loving the old but learning it can be better - why not gamify these concepts we learned in our various Professional Ideas but simplified in a way that its accessible. 

To improve on a system is not saying what came before was bad. The way I cant say that the morales of the next and previous generation is a certain way without the CONTEXT of the circumstance. With the Context of the Information Age, the accessibility of new and better mental models make it only inevitable that some bunch of gamers say "Hey that's Gameable!" with stuff they learn in their professional, practical, and academic studies.


Saturday, February 5, 2022

Developing Worlds - in World Building Mechanics

My biz experience being from the Philippines reflects how I make the mechanics for developing and underdeveloped worlds in Cepheus Engine.  

As a child that was carried along by parents to witness the Edsa Revolution, be a history nerd and learn the Economic and Memetic changes undergone by philippine society, and being a TRPG gamer that grew up with Old School gamers with younger brothers and their peers of the transitioning generation of gamers. 

Particularly how the Cost and Reliability of Transactions in Underdeveloped and Developing Worlds as compared to developed, mature and ancient worlds. Being able to simulate a Developing and Underdeveloped world and the value of Potential as compared to a Developed World. 

Hustlers or high SOC are what is found because it's a full time job to Socialize and Network vs more developed worlds that automate these and try to break up social network monopolies and some of the "early" centralizations of power.   This is because the infra, culture, trust, and systems are lacking in an Underdeveloped world as compared a more developed world. 
The cost of Information gathering is HIGH in underdeveloped countries as the infra in both physical and social institution doesnt allow greater bandwidth of transactions. 

These Developments dont have to be in a familiar western model - these can be divergent models of asian, middle eastern, african, south american etc... and alien models. What is important is there is a well understood system that everyone can figure out. 

Communications Infra and stable process make it that low SOC can thrive - that high Edu and Int can participate in the market.  

If trade leaves most parties better off. Anything that increases the transaction rate makes a society able to better be better off.  
Even if trade moves in inches per year or very tiny improvements per decade. 

As the PCs are in a less developing world - finding HIGH Edu and Int is harder. Access to goods with less middlemen or with economies of scale is the challenge.

They arrive and they deal with the customs and gate keepers. These are people who have to keep things as secret as possible. Information assymetry is important and is the main element of the game. As a society becomes more developed systems and the aggregate of the society takes over - and systemic issues become more of the main driver of unrest.  

As they arrive in more developed they worlds systems take over and in older and ancient worlds the system is the tyrant. 

Diaspora is how societies can be reborn back to its optimal form - their ideal growth-to-stablilty ratio.

 You want a society or world - not too unstable to work and live in and grow - but not too stable that its calcified and people are trapped. Systematically Oppressed people leave to found new societies and try again to correct it only to discover the new blind areas of their systems as their societies develop. 

That human development will take millennia and filled with experiments discovering limits of a new system. That every ideal world has a blind spot and that blind spot, people systematically harmed, will find a place to repeat the social experiment and try to improve on the past - only to fail and discover a new mutation and variant of society that was unexpected. 

Mutant Outlier Societies - Variants - and social experiments would be very interesting. Especially if we go by the Ancients/Precursor set up that they seeded worlds with humans to maintain some of their infra thousands of years ago. 

World Building - if Automated and Procedural - allowing the GM and Players to work with uncertainty and challenging their comfort zones can be as source of development for the gamer in a skillset that allows them to better look at systems of behavior and society. To be able to observe GM and player behavior given these options and see if the challenge feels like something they can take on to see if they can make themselves try something a little bit outside their comfort zone. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Objectively Moving the Story Forward

 what is the objective measure of pushing a story forward in an enjoyable way? 

Pulling back the veil I realize in storytelling I realize the traditional scene is the GM set up and the Players decision. The scene stalls when the players decide on a path that leads to no escalation, the story or plot doesnt move, or when the whole scene is scrapped. 

Mechanics like in 2D20, Fate, and other Storytelling mediums Push the scene to the Players and the GM becomes an editor - correcting the scene if it lacks Risks/Threats, Tension, Stakes, Clear Conflict, Engagement for the other Players etc... 

GM "Yeah ok, so your going to go to the Kings Court/ Dragon/ High Priest with this? Ok what are the stakes and risk?" 

Ideally the players DONT WANT the rewards handed to them. That there is a cost to what their PCs want and its in this Trade Off where character development happens. 

One of the weird things where the people who Play TRPGs need to align are "Your PCs motives are that they want X - but they have other Conflicting fellow PCs and they cant just get what they want for nothing right? What development and trial will the PC's go through? What will make the Player want to experience some set backs for catharsis? 

The Dice is to determine if Unlikely or Likely events happen. That what would be unusual or usual happen to the character. It is to organically create the setbacks that build up the story. 

In fact if the challenge is very overpowered to the PCs, we wont beleive the PCs are over their head unless the dice statistics show that and their strategy show that. That our own ability to judge the story for engaging is being able to accept the likeliness of the events. 

What objectively moves the story forward - is the mutual agreement of the Parties invovled that there was Tension and Catharsis. That we have Tools in the game system that allows us to take on my Tension (Risk and Obstacles) for Catharsis. 

In storytelling - Failures are the backdrop of what would be a High Stakes scene! 

That the Players agree in a criteria where they will have something to modify the Odds as they take on setbacks. So that the setbacks are not indefinite.