Friday, July 27, 2012

Best Mac documentation at Chicago Sun-Times?

I've been a win-tel user for years (that's Intel processor based Windows systems, for you folks not familiar with the acronym).  I like the idea of open (well "open-proprietary") systems giving us lower prices and more bang for the buck.  On the other hand my first computer was an Apple ][ plus.  I skipped all the Macs (until last month) and hadn't gone back to an Apple product until the original iPod, but I've generally liked Apple products (paying for them is another matter).

I've got an iPhone and iPad now and really love them so I'd thought I give the Mac a try.  I'm just so tired of things not quite working with win-tell based computers.  Bought a MacBook Pro last month with the expectation that the new operating system that was soon to be available would allow sharing files between my phone, table and the mac.

One thing that was worrying me was that Apple tends to make things easy to use, but doesn't tell you exactly what's going on before they do something important.  For instance, when I got the Mac it created a duplicate account based on the one on my pc when I was setting it up.  If I knew that I'd end up with two user accounts, I'd have just copied over the files I wanted.  I've also had itunes copy tons of pictures and music that I didn't want onto my phone, etc, when it didn't make clear exactly what it was about to do.  It's also wiped out files on my iPod, when I didn't want it to (what exactly does the verb "to sync" mean, anyway?).

Anyway, I was trying to avoid another situation where it did a lot of work doing something I didn't want.  I was worried that installing Mountain Lion on the Mac would cause it to upload a ton of files into iCloud that I didn't want.  I wanted to know what it would do and how it would work for the Pages files I had on my iPhone and iPad, and the copies of those (some modified) that I had on the Mac.

I couldn't find a single "official" bit of documentation that would answer my question.  I wanted to know if every file on my Mac (well, everyone one that was iCloud enabled) would be copied up, or how would it work?  Do I work on files on my SSD and they are magically synced, or is there some special way to specify that I want to work on the version in the cloud?

Couldn't find anything official, but after considerable googling I found an article from the Chicago Sun-Times that told me what I wanted to know.  Isn't it odd that I have to go to a newspaper to really find out how some piece of software works?  Oh, here's a link to the article I found useful Mountain Lion and iCloud


Saturday, July 7, 2012

MMO Game Design, the Beginning

As promised, my blog is going to be an eclectic mix of whatever I'm thinking about.

I've been working on a non-fiction book about player versus player game design.  I've got a complete draft which I've edited several times.  My research of a couple of points I had skipped previously is now complete (I created a little spreadsheet simulation for one and looked up some numbers in my chess book for the other).  While editing I've discovered that I don't particularly like my sentence structure, paragraph organization or the overall organization of the book.  I'm also worried that the mix of serious examination of the topic with humor isn't working.  Other than that, it's going great :-).

The problem with organization is that I'm pointing out potential pitfalls without really giving the rules that the examples back up.  Remember the speech recommendation?  "Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them."  Right now I'm just telling once (hmm, and now the ghosts of all the how-to-write books I've read are screaming at me "Show, don't tell!").

Anyway, I think the next task is to fit into the introduction a "here are some design rules" list.  Here's the current list, which doesn't exactly match the examples in my draft.

“Design Rules”
  1. Tedium is not a core game mechanic.
  2. Hero classes, just a bad idea.
  3. Easy to learn, hard to master.
  4. Between frustration and boredom lies fun.
  5. Stealth, an even worse idea.
  6. MMO’s  need to be fun on at least two levels, core mechanics, and character progression.
  7. PvP MMO’s need to be fun on three levels, core mechanics, character progression and for a single match.
  8. Just because you can play with thousands of other people doesn’t mean it’s fun to be required to do so constantly.
  9. It’s good to be king, but only for the king.
  10. No one has ever built a game around middle management, there is a reason why.
  11. The elite will always find a way to game the system, optimize play for the bulk of the players in the middle.