Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Fixing Cepheus Engine Space Combat Rules - Roll 20 tests.

I have a working model and I will create a Roll20 Public Campaign so people can copy it and run the scenarios when I'm done. 
GOAL: Fun scenarios for people to learn to run CE Space Combat. Finish by end of May. 

  1. I recently analyzed my CE SRD by running it through Hugging Face's ChatGPT-PDF chatbot. The analysis cost me about 0.40 USD from my OpenAI account, but it was worth it. I discovered that there are no Space Movement Rules that I overlooked, and I used the AI to find any other rules that I might have missed. This will improve my CE Aid booklet that will come with the 2-Parsec Stand Alone. It's not just my imagination!
  2. I'm testing the ERGONOMICS of the mechanics draft, but I haven't received any feedback on our design philosophy or how we prioritized our design resources. By "ergonomics," I mean how complicated it is to run the scenario and use that as a limit to how complicated the rules should be. I want it to be possible for the GM and players to run this in one hour at most, and when skilled, be tempted to run multiple engagements (we are designing a way for multiple encounters in the design) so that the most action-packed adventure can be run.
  3. My target is to finish a draft and scenarios for testing by the second week of May. The impact and simplification will take longer. It's supposed to be an aid and not violate the RAW, but it's hard to avoid internal conflicts. For example, using bands instead of open-ended range raises questions like "If I can fire distant targets at difficult, what is the limit of my shot?" or "Missiles can easily cover distances greater than distant, how does that work?"
Overall, I think the analysis and testing will improve the mechanics draft, and I'm excited to see how it turns out.

  • Aura Helps find Friendly/Enemy Ships in a LARGE MAP. 
  • 25x25 map can work for most encounters. 
    • Note that failure to detect is that engagement is at Short 1000km at Planetary Engagements and Long 25k km in Interplanetary encounters.
300px ships since all the ships have a license. This is a procedurally generated ship. anyone can use this. the asterix is for the "Front" so its easy to tell which is the front. 

25x25 Hex(H) 1,000km/hex

50x50 hexes 1,000km per hex.


Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Character Models - for drawing aids.

So nicco finished the workflow for the characters. We hope this will raise the quality of our human made art. I'm learning a lot about Focal length. The character face is Rodrigo from our Ridiculous GURPS game which Mike Dulay runs (GURPS modern day kitchen sink setting). He was made in "This person doesn't exist" before it became commercial, actually a lot of NPCs were made there and now I can give them a face and model them in the suit. Then draw it with Procreate.   

IVA suits. 

Sunday, April 16, 2023

2-Parsec Stand-Alone Progress

Cleaning up 2-Parsec was a challenge since I’m coming from Google Docs1. I learned a lot of problems of MS Word2. It took a while to fix. The GAP, what remains to be done are the following: 
  1. Creating an Outline of the Missing Items for running the Adventure if you have CE SRD. 
  2. Interim Mechanics and Fixes for CE SRD Ships and Space Encounters. 
    1. Stakeholder Identification: these mechanics are for who? 
    2. Problem Statement: What will be their problem (in fact, what are MY problems with it?)? 
    3. Solution Overview: Delta-V budget  
    4. Solution Methodology:  
  3. Interim Equipment Mechanic - same as above the outline. Solving the problem of the missing equipment of a setting with TL from 6 to 16 can be present. Focusing on TL10-11 and some TL14 equipment. 
  4. The Bill of Quantities of the Pictures and material for easy upload for VTTs. 
The target time for the 2-Parsec Stand Alone: End of May. I always underestimate the work involved hoping something complex is actually simple, why dont I ever learn that it's complex - if it was simply someone would have already solved it. 

The target cost for 2-Parsec is 5usd. (I hope to break even, at the very least, I know I’ve learned a lot about the book creation and planning process).  

Key 2500AD Features - this is the default timeline as it allows the most Space-opera-like experience. 
  • Solar Swarms - these gravity, ion, and light sailing satellites come in many sizes - from 100-kiloton behemoths to single-ton butterflies with the surface area of a small town. Swarms that reflect and redirect and concentrate sunlight for terraforming and sustaining the space elevators. These are human-aided evolving into self-sustaining, replicating tools for terraforming and energy management. They have a symbiotic relationship with Trees of Life (Space elevators). 
  • Space Elevators and its “cousin” technologies.  Space elevators are Trees of Life, evolving into huge self-sustaining mega systems and becoming self-replicating and sustaining.  
  • Ring Habitats - the same manufacturing that allows for the creation of Space elevators allow for thousands km long spin habitats and Disk Worlds. The disks are what it appers to be as many graphene cables stretch across the ring like a dream catcher, cables that move storage and counterweights along this network to balance the ring as it spins as well as holding solar panels for energy collection. Allowing for the mass and inertia of huge transit systems to spin along it. 
  • Tethers - with the same material as Rings, the graphene-bonded flexible alloys that make the tether, with a counterweight, manipulate kinetic energy - storing and releasing it to aid escape a gravity well or to slow objects or ships or cargo down to their desired delta-V. 
 Good luck to our Team. 

(1) Comming from Google Docs - we migrated because of the Formatting and Layouting limitations of a browser-based book. Particularly, Google Docs had a hard time…
  • …2-page spread maps. 
  • …Flow Charts with a lot of Text inside. 
  • …80+ pages and 30k words is too ram intensive for 8GB Ram. 
  • …the Layouting is not what people expects with books (with AI being integrated, hopefully, this can aid in layout). 
(2) Problems with MS Word
  • Text with a Hierarchical heading appears in the end of the Document when converting to PDF. This creates problematic artifacts in the Bookmarks of the PDF. 
  • Cannot find text within Shapes. 
  • Headings in Shapes and Tables dont appear in the Table of Contents. The heading problems required me to create Larger Normal Text and White versions of these texts. 
  • Pictures took a lot of work to manage. Many tricky configurations made the text move and adjust in undesirable ways. 
ERRATA for Mneme World Generator
  • Dwarf Worlds should not be able to have "Dense" atmospheres. The maximum atmosphere they can have should be standard (1 atmosphere). Such dwarf worlds are very dense, mostly metallic worlds. They are on their way to become Gas worlds. I don't know when I can get a

Friday, April 14, 2023

Poirtrait workflow

so it should be no secret we use “this person doesnt exist” (TPDNE) as a reference model. To be honest I have an Asian bias when I draw - I’m trained on East and South East Asian and Caucasian Faces growing up and college. AI images that randomize the ethnicity helps overcome the bias. Of course it has to be transformative, and if You’ve tried to use TPDNE pictures then you will find the face as not enough. In scifi when there are a lot of embedded details that are important - seeing the character with more context. So that now that we finished with the first part of 2-Parsec while I do some house keeping (getting all the pictures arranged to make it easy for the GM to upload or print the portraits and use the maps), Nicco is researching and developing our face workflow. 

Why hand draw 3d Reference models when we can just use AI art all the way? 
I cant use AI given all the legal hurdles and the ethics involved. Its just me and Nicco, I know others can and are using it like cyborg prime and john wats but we’re honestly unable to navigate it. I know there are “ethically sourced” Ai, Nicco and I can possibly make the data training set if we had 2,000usd lying around to set up stable diffiusion with 24gb of GPU-ram 😅 (sarcasm) and then it would be completely ethical. Like one of the data training sets i saw is by ArtGerm - someone i used to follow alot in Deviant Art. I see his style used a lot. 
Its not bad, we plan to make our own Character generator with blender and Godot over time. Using 3d Models in blender, posing them, and creating the 3d assets is part of our prep. Long term we want a soft ghibli color palette for a scifi with the some diesel and steam punk hardware of humans that have spent 500 years in space - the span of many human empires - and beings (AI) with personalities who were developed 500 years ago. 

Right now the Quality of the Art is all over the place. As a part time thing, stabalizing the process is where my QMS and Classically Trained Art Background comes in. The Human is there in the process to address what our tools cannot do - create a portrait of a character with enough context that when a Player sees it they can spot details as part of the story. A medium shot (upper torso and arms) with a background context (using our ship and space station modular model packages), and enough details about the face for the Player to differentiate. We hope to have 30-60 minutes of work per character and to be able to produce up to 10 per week if needed, but typically I can churn it out at a rate of 3 per week and nicco can churn probably 3x as much.  

Progress so far: 
1) found a free face modeling tool, that just takes a 2d picture and shapes a face into it. 
2) we are learning to use MB-Lab and Riggify to rig our space suits and model bodies later on. 

Goals or Target Outputs of this project: 
Workflow: from TPDNE + Outfit  (Nice to have)+ BG  (Nice to have)  to portrait and saving the file (if possible give it as part of the package so that GMs. We can have better perspectives of the character.  
1) Be able to draw the characters in more than a Straight-on Face perspective. Head position to convey additional context. 
2) more consistency in quality and a more predictable workflow. 
3) When nicco and I design more Suits: vacc (intra or extra vehicular activity),  hazarodous environmental, and combat dress we can easily incorporate it to the characters. 
4) work with close poirtrait but move towards full body (hi res) that can be used as 2d Tokens or cropped for just portrait tokens. 

190mm focal length according to the App. (Keentools face tool)

210mm focal length camera shot. Simple Glasses model to get reference how the shadows will look. 

35mm focal length

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Using ChatGPT to help me iterate my drafts faster

 How did Chat GPT4 pass all those exams?  So linked is a copy of the discussion I had with ChatGPT and what was shocking was the mistakes - it got a simple 3.16^7 wrong. it was spewing out the wrong values. 

So as you can see I'm using ChatGPT and GPT4 to help me write the new books. Particularly asking it to experiment with rewriting the formula in words (like using bullets in a different structure or parenthesis), as well as checking if it understood my formula. 

The thing is, I don't have anyone to read my writings to tell me if they understood it (other than Nicco and he's working on improving our Art throughput as we integrate Procreate in our workflow) - if my math formula is wrong. I used to have mentors for that, but they were kicked out of the company for being argumentative (lolz). I am an IT project manager relying on soft EQ skills to sense motive and align goals - that's a good chunk of my work - doing mathematical Analysis is unfortunately not part of my work and when it does become part of it - No one can correct me because no one has a clue. Its frustrating when your love for science makes you the WEIRDO in the large social circle at work - and its in your hobby and friends, you can find other weirdos who can correct you (and tell you stuff you don't know).  

So when ChatGPT came along and GPT4, despite being NERFED by MS to make their BING search engine more powerful (By having access to the web, unlike GPT4 that can only answer what information you put in it) it reduced my Excuses and by mental BLOCKs. my mental blocks being - I don't have the mental bandwidth to CHALLENGE my own math and go through where I can get it wrong. 

We had the 9 coins puzzle in Pathfinder beginner box set, and with a generous clue from the GM we were able to solve it, but I love being able to solve this puzzle. Typically I have 4 other friends who can check my math, and I expect it only in games - otherwise i expect to pay for that service (typically our Indian supplier is really good helping us with these kinds of logic puzzles in implementation).  

So I'm writing Hard Scifi Stuff and I'm a WIS spec'ed gamer focused on diplomacy and sense motive because people make up an organization and convincing and demonstrating benefits from a particular course of action. I dream about having a good INT and compensating using note and documentation, and recordings of myself relearning everything over and over again. 

So you can imagine my frustration when MS nerfed the 20usd/mo GPT4 (allowing only 25 responses every 3 hours) and killed the open AI nature of it (a preview if they ever got their hands on Free Software Foundation IP, which allows the IP owner to revert the IP to closed source). Its weaker than the BING GPT4 and I'm powerless to complain about it. (Standfords Llama and Alpaca are my hope now; as if Migrating to nextcloud was already a pain). 

It doesn't inspire confidence that MS lobotomized GPT4 so I'm not working with the AI that should be able to test if my explanation is correct. I'm not working with an AI that can pass all those College level tests. I have Grammarly correcting my grammar, and GPT4 was supposed to help me if someone CAN follow my logic and tell me if its wrong. With IT and high uncertainty jobs everything is A theory that needs to be tested and we always have to push the envelope - make this run cheaper, cut costs here and there, etc... and there are the tons of complacent giant corporations that hope you don't figure out the hungrier scrappier competitor is giving better value - as your clients keep expecting more for less.  

So the use of GPT4 is limited to the 2000-word copy-paste cap, and anything else it Hallucinates. So it is mostly helping with Problem Statements, at work Writing procedures, and converting minutes to Actionable Statements. For Writing - testing the problem statement and giving me Leads, and opportunities to check regarding my understanding.  I make it rewrite stuff, well this version of GPT4, is probably different, It used to be able to do Nuance but not anymore. so the technical mechanics of writing can be tested with Chatgpt - spitting out what it thinks is a more coherent explanation of my thoughts. When I write I have missing punctuation, articles, and words I thought I wrote but didn't (as I imagine my mental FPS is winding down as aging is telling my body to lower my metabolism and lower the process cycles my thoughts operate in).  A dumber ChatGPT means I have to compensate - some ideas I cannot rely on it. (If I'm going to correct the AI I'm going to correct an AI that will be open source) 

Growing up my problem with math was I took a lot of patience from my teachers as they explained the logic of the math problem. Now with GPT4 being in khan academy and in chatgpt I can ask it to make more examples and different demonstrations of some key concepts... IF I can trust it.  

Monday, April 10, 2023

the 2-Parsecs from Sol add on to Mneme World Generator is out.

 Its been out since Thursday Night. 
Its usable and I will be improving it, and preparing a bunch of things to ensure that with CE SRD + stuff here would be enough to run a game with everything on hand. 

Another Preview. 

There is still a lot to do. 

  1. Clean up as I find errors along the way. 
  2. The write up I promised: Fixing CE SRD's Ship rules. Now that I have ChatGPT4 helping me with the maths and the NASA databases, and to help me proof and rewrite my ideas - now drafting (going through multiple drafts of my stuff is easier with AI). My main problem is how INTEGRATED the problem is - which is a TEST of my Quality management Systems expertise at work. The EQUIPMENT system, Ship's Physics, Operations, Ship Combat, and Ship Creation RULES ALL interact to create a NOVEL problem I hope to fix - in order to deliver to the small audience on SCI-FI RPGers who want to do harder scifi but a little at a time (Not getting overwhelmed). To the point that eventually it all becomes second nature and we can do some of the science and calculations ourselves. Everytime I start, not 30 minutes into it I find myself finding another problem and get distracted. 

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Lessons Learned: Editing and Proofing 2-Parsec

Shape Flow Charts will be redone
We wont be using the Shapes with a lot of text inside in the future. So we are using shapes with text to visualize the non-linear and branching probabilities progress of the adventures. We are also using MS Word, instead of Google Docs and Libre Office (until I get Callabora and Nextcloud Container working). One of the things we discovered about Shapes and the Boxes of Text in MS word is that - Grammary, Find, and Read-aloud doesnt detect these texts! I have to cut and paste them somewhere else for proofing - By Proofing I listen to the text because of my minor vision problems (which I learned my brother also has). We will still flow chart the Adventure BUT it will be probably a page and use headings to identify the details of the scenario. 

More NPC Poitraits and Diagrams.
As I was reviewing the Adventures, I realized I should give some basic diagrams for those of us who work more visually. One of the projects I have with nicco is improving the workflow for the portraits since I also used to draw.  I'll work with B&W sketches and when we created the workflow (using a Posing Model for perspective, "Thatpersondoesnt exist" to eliminate my bias to the type of faces I will make, and to prepare for the Modeling of Space Suits and Various Hardware we will do.  Blender Posing + Portrait Drawing is ground work to make our own detailed Hardware Library.  

Versioning Copies.
When I converted the files to HTML I thought I BROKE the file, it was purely a VIEW configuration and it would go back to normal. I realized I really should have. WEEK version and then I shouldnt be complacent with MS Word’s Versioning controls. 

Redoing the Headings format. 
MS words headings are more counter intuitive than Googles or LibreOffice. In Google these are already intuitive hotkeys ctlr+shit+ 1 to 0 can be configured. With a very simple set of 3 steps to set up the headings and hotkeys. In LO accessing hotkey customization was 4-5 steps. In MS WORD holy crap its like 5 steps AND it was hard to find the commands. Also the previews kinda sucked - unlike Google where it was easy to see the Preview MS previews had a SIZE limit and at a certain size, like 24 and up you can’t fit the text in the preview so you’d have to remember. 
Also there were WEIRD formatting artifacts - instead of defaulting to DEFAULT or NORMAL MS word would have old formatting in blank spaces in the document. I think reformatting and applying headings was a big time consuming aspect in MS word - in terms of workflow optimizaiton. 

Hyperlinking is such a PAIN in MS word.   
Unlike my previous books written in Google Docs, hyperlinking was as simple as Ctrl+K and Google will recommend based on headings in the document, MS office was a difficult hunt and peck UNAIDED by any search. I have not experimented with Find-Replace-All Hyperlinked loaded text. When I would write in Gdocs both at Work and for games, I would hyperlink templated rules and terms (one of my lessons from WOTC D&D 3.0) so that there is a structure and consistency. It helped reinforce MY memory of the things I already said, BUT often in the books I’ve read this is a typically weak area. Often the writers suffered from misremembering things they wrote and created rules conflicts. I cant fault them, I grew up with WOTC templatized rules which changed SO MUCH of D&D - which made me chafe with OSR - Its weird when OSR also meant keeping the poor organization - templetize the rules - its going to make PROOF READING and editing SO MUCH EASIER!!! Editing Mneme Combat was So much easier because of the hyperlinking both helping me as an editor and writer. 

Hyperlinking at work. I dont search my google drive (taking 2-3 steps and waiting 10+ seconds, these days, for gdrive to load), I type Ctrl+K and it will search my gdrive for relevant docs as long as I write a string of words with enough keywords and since i use 6 digit date codes can recall the date of the thing i did. 

I cant wait for the ChatGPT or AI plugins which Nextcloud and Collabora will offer that will do these tedium for me. “Please link this term to its respective heading”. One of these days, probably people would have their Document and a CHAT BOT that will answer inquiries about the document. One of the PAIN points of editing with my weaknesses is my visual processing where i need the text read to me, and my cross referencing. Especially with my other books and CE.  (scrounging up 600usd for setting up a GPT3.5 at home and the 20+ hours it would take to have it set up).   

Main Pain Points of Editing and Proofing. 
1) MS words strange behaviors - I dont know how to make it run faster. Its on a 2015 VR rated PC lent to me by my friend. I dont know how ot make it more responsive and take full use of the memory as well as monitor throttling. Hopefully a Youtuber will demo how they manage their MS word. 
2) Read-aloud. Getting the system to Read alot a ton of text NOT FOUND in the document because MS word doesnt think Text in Shapes counts. so i have to take the time to cut and paste to a different document to listen to the text. 
3) Headings, CrossReferencing, and Lowering the Working memory needed for the Book. With Good crossrerencing and headings, I can have a SHORT description, broken into a LONG description that has sub sections that people have the OPTION of bothering if they dont understand my explanation in any point. The key for faster comprehension is making Data comprehension follow a Minimum-Viable-Product model. As well as using examples - of course this will create a lot of DOCUMENT BLOAT, that can be rememdied by a good cross referencing system. But that doesnt exist yet - and probably AI will replace that as people will just as an AI that studied the document quesitons. 

2-Parsec is just going Proofing and Editing right now. Due to be BUNDLED in Mneme WORLD GENERATOR as a free add-on. It will later be a stand-alone at around 5usd. We’ve been working on this for a while. 

What Do I need to be able to RUN an adventure made by myself and Nicco where everything is fully prepped: 
1) CE SRD ship combat has some serious problems - particularly the section about how movement works and how range is determined (what actions determine a range). We will create a minor rememedy for that for CE but we will also make a Mass-based and Delta-V budget based Ship Combat (Mneme’s Harder Scifi - can I call it firmed or Al’Dente Scifi 😅 (toothsome). We will include CE Ships with sufficient details. 
2) Equipment - CE SRD has very little in terms of Hardware and Gear. Especially when factoring the ECONOMIC aspects of being a CE TL10/Mneme TL14 individual which has the equivalent of about 100x more income and assets. Particularly CREDITS the character earns is both a currency and redeamable for welfare - to be able to retire or do anything with Nation-State subsidized Anagathics and a amazingly high quality of life to our perspective. Sure in adventuring far from our Nation-State Credits are currency needed to pay for stuff, but when we get back home when we earned More credits for our Community they translate to a century of a more relaxed pace of work and civil participation and community building. The economic forces governing people in 2020s is very much different from those in 2520! the same way the economic incentives of someone in the 1520s is different from that of someone in 2020s. 
When people want 2020 economic values and views of scarcity, they are thinking of escaped slaves with 2500 technology and no Support or community. Colonies with 2020 or1950s values used as playthings by an elite with godlike difference in power. 
3) GM Tools. Particularly the flow charts and narrative structure so the GM is a better judge what Costs or setbacks is enough for excitement but not too frustrating to the players. The Management of the Scene and the ability to know what the next scene is that best builds on a previous scene, while being a sufficient change as to create uncertainty and an anticipation of what will happen next. 

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Social Status per world as compared to per society

In the Cepheus Engine SOC (social stat), it can be attributed to either charisma, clout, or social station. In my experience of storytelling, I rarely encounter players who don't want to separate their influence ability from their social station. If a player had a character with a high social station and others felt they had no choice but to obey, players with basic empathy would feel uncomfortable. In D&D, the baseline for characters was typically equal, and charisma was the stat for influence. Charisma was the Intelligence to be credible or to set a mutually beneficial arrangement was preferable over just having social station. Players who knew their station forced cooperation and coerced their lessers played the abuse as part of their character, with the "might makes right" rationalization.

As someone writing about different social levels in different technological settings, I propose using TL (technology level) and SOC for a star system, such as Earth in the 2020s, which is TL7 and TL8 in Mneme. SOC levels below -2 represent those below the poverty line of the world, which is the HDI below 0.6 and those below 2 USD/day by some metrics (such as the UN, IMF, World Bank, etc.). -2 represents the working class of the world, and -1 represents the lower middle class of the world. When using USD as a measure, the Human Development Index can be useful for correlation. For most of the world, 50-100 USD/month in-kind is SOC-2, up to 100-200 USD/month. However, monetary value doesn't always work as some people can barter favors and community credit to get more value than its USD value. SOC-1 is 200-400 USD/month, and SOC-0 is 400-800 USD/month. SOC 1 is considered working class in developed countries, while SOC 2 is considered lower middle class in developed countries, at 1600-3200 USD/year or 20-40k USD per year. Every doubling is considered a higher SOC level, so SOC levels 10-20 are possible.

Of course, the full TL is accessible at SOC 2 and higher. With cutting-edge and bleeding-edge tech options, SOC 10-20 have access to disposable bleeding-edge tech. There are a significant portion of the population at SOC-2, depending how poverty is measured 70% of the world fall at SOC-2 and below. It is possible that of this 6 billion people 1B are what can be considered below SOC-2 - particularly at an exploited state like victims of human trafficking or debt traps.

keeping mind the context of the world tends to oversimplify to the most extreme, its hard to imagine it as a spectrum - like a probability table or ecounter table. Of course when we mentally explore the global circumstance - we look at extremists as their are the symptom of critical mass of some societal problems. They’re tips of icebergs of problems. Looking at the table below with SOC 1 and below representing billions, to SOC 2 and above millions, and highest levels as Elites being hundreds. 

Being a game - we pierce the Legal loopholes and look at Liquidity and Clout, the ability to determine the course and use of resources.

TL7 SOCMonthly Income (USD)Annual Income (USD)