Extra Random Thoughts on Weber’s Open Source ch3

So, Weber has these 8 Principles…

  1. Make it interesting and make sure it happens
  2. Scratch an itch
  3. Minimize how many times you have to reinvent the wheel
  4. Solve problems through parallel work processes whenever possible
  5. Leverage the law of large numbers
  6. Document what you do
  7. Release early and often
  8. Talk a lot

And opensource.org has these 5 Pillars…

  1. Open exchange
  2. Participation
  3. Rapid Prototyping
  4. Meritocracy
  5. Community

Weber’s principles are functional. They deal with the “how” of FOSS.  In contrast, the pillars are descriptive and explain the “what.”  As such, the principles can be seen as demonstrations of the pillars.

  • Principle 1 demonstrates pillars 1 and 5, as communities form around making cool stuff and talking about it.
  • Principle 2 deals with pillars 2 and 5, as people come together naturally to solve problems that they encounter themselves.
  • Principle 3 is best viewed through the lens of pillar 5, as one should rely on the community’s efforts to avoid doing that which has been done already.
  • Principle 4 is pillar 3 in motion, but draws on the advantage of pillar 2. With enough prototypes and branches, progress is made in an evolutionary way.
  • Principle 5 to me is purely an expression of pillar 2. The law of large numbers is basically used here to show that when a lot of people work on a project, more bugs are found and more progress is made. Pretty simple.
  • Principle 6 may be hard to relate to the pillars for some, but I’ve found it to be closely related to pillar 5. Documentation is like the constitution of an open-source project. The understanding granted by it is a unifying factor in its community.
  • Principle 7 is the pure form of pillar 3 and is a strange phenomenon, akin to a carefully moderated, intelligently designed evolutionary process. Basically, it’s iterative development. Fail a lot, then profit.
  • Principle 8 is the fuel for the community (pillar 5). Communication is the lifeblood of a community (hence the same root). If developers didn’t talk, nobody would be able to get a feel for what is going on or what needs to be done.

Steven Weber drew heavily upon the analysis of Eric Raymond, specifically his essay “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” which is closely related to Fred Brooks’s “Conceptual Integrity.”


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Thoughts on Steven Weber’s “The Success of Open Source” (chap 3)

If you’re interested in the part that I’m talking about…


Published 2005

The chapter is called “What is Open Source and How Does it Work?” and that basically describes it. It breaks down the process of open-source development as well as the problem it tries to solve.  Basically, it’s a primer for open-source, explaining its inner-workings in a functional manner.

The Good

  • Focuses on process, not product
  • Points out misconceptions about open-source development
  • Provides modern-ish examples of open-source communities and sites

The Bad

  • Spends a long time mulling over graphs of estimated numbers of Linux users
  • Spends a bit too much time on software-development in general (not open-source specific all the time)
  • Generally a bit too verbose at times

I’m still wondering…

  1. What does a failed open-source project look like and how does it work?
  2. How does a project transition into open-source development?
  3. What do current open-source trends say about where the movement is going?

What I think…

This chapter is pretty well-written. If you’re curious about open-source development, read it now. Seriously, stop reading this review and read the chapter.  It starts chronologically, getting into the history of Linux and continues to reference Torvalds periodically throughout the chapter.  This works well, as he set a fine precedent for open-source developers in both practice and temperament.

After that, Weber starts knocking out topics one-by-one.  He covers the fundamental problem that open-source sets out to solve, and does a good job of providing examples and principles to simplify his explanation.  He can get a bit caught up in explaining software development as a whole, which may bore those already familiar with that.  However, that’s better than not explaining enough.

Another good title would be “The Open Source Process Explained.”  He frequently answers the question of “How does an open-source team deal with/do _____?” which is very helpful no matter what type of software you’re willing to develop.

Overall, this is a great entry point to learning about open-source development.  Read this if you’re curious at all about it.

In short: 5/5 (Awesome)

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Making 2D Dogfights Interesting

Oxymoron?  Yeah, probably.  Basically, I’m noticing yet another issue with my current project, Project Fly.  The issue: aerial dogfights seem to suck in 2D.

In Ace Combat, aerial dogfights are awesome.  In 3D, you have so many options for movement and getting the enemy off of your tail becomes much more interesting.  In 2d, it’s either left or right.  Boring.  That’s what I thought at first anyway.  Then again, why can’t left and right be interesting?  In Ace Combat, you can move in MANY directions, but only in ONE way.  All you do us shift your angle by altering pitch and yaw.  Weak-sauce, this is 2D-Town and we do whatever we want.  Heck, this is a fantasy game, we can take whatever liberties we want with anything.  The player has an energy bar used for firing weapons, why not let the player use energy to make movement more interesting?  There are quite a few options.

For example, the player can use energy to execute an instant 180° turn.  This totally takes an enemy by surprise, and works well if the player sees an incoming enemy on the map.  Of course, this maneuver also requires some guts and determination to be used well.

There could also be a side-shift maneuver like in the newer Wipeout games.  This allows for tighter turns or quick adjustments to avoid enemy fire.  It wouldn’t cost very much either.  I can envision players constantly side-shifting while being pursued by enemies.

Thinking about the possibilities just makes my brain giggle. Anything from quick boosts to backward teleportation. I’m sure that these maneuvers are the spice that 2D dogfights need.


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Desire-Based AI

So I’m learning that none of my previous video game AI work is relevant anymore.  Project Fly (my team’s current project) is in real time, so I need to approach AI in a new way.  I pulled out a lot of hair, and finally had a thought.

Yes, one thought.

“What does an enemy want?”  Before this game, I always worked with turn-based AI.  It was all very “computer-y” in the sense that the enemies were interesting to compete against (sort of, but they achieved this state in a way that is very non-human.  For example, in The End Begins, my previous game, the enemies categorize player actions and react based on their running list of player tendencies.  This fails in real time and isn’t how most humans play.  On top of that, the AI in The End Begins doesn’t really change much between enemies.  There’s hardly room for variety.

So back to my epiphany-question.  Why is it important?  Well, I think that humans play this way.  See, I had the issue of enemies in Project Fly either being useless or too perfect.  They either had hardly any AI or followed the player perfectly, so I thought “what makes it so that I can shake a human player off of me?”  It has to do with conditioning.  No, not the hair kind.  If I let my opponent pursue me and get close (assuming they want to be close), he will become complacent and his reaction time will become dull.  Then, I pull a sharp turn.  My opponent is taken by surprise and I escape pursuit.

By this logic, an enemy has its own unique set of things that it likes and dislikes.  For example, the Kitsune is an enemy in the game.  This enemy loves lower speeds and keeping its energy low (constant attacks).  Kitsune are easily agitated but also prideful.  This means that the way to beat one, you must play with it a bit.  Engage in a slower chase and let the Kitsune feel good, then pull an advanced maneuver and surprise it.  Its reaction time will suck and it will start to flee.  Now, this means it will go fast, which it hates.  This will cause it to become sharper and eventually go on the offensive again.  And so, the cycle continues. 😀

Reaction time will also scale slightly with health, so some enemies just naturally become duller (or sharper) as health declines.

I’m hoping that this system will be both effective and easy to implement.  Thoughts???

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Enter: Project Fly

Ikaruga got Ace Combat pregnant, and my team is delivering the baby.


Vampires+Mythical Beasts+Ghosts and Spirits+Eastern Mythology

AND Customizable ships

Oh yeah, we made a Prezi about it 😀

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I’m ALIVE!!!


I’ve been gone for a while.  Winter break + game in progress + lots of work = very busy dude.

OK, no more excuses.  I’m back and I have a game in the works and a load of ideas and other assorted brain-candy.

For now, I leave you with the FUTURE OF GAMING!

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Gamification is a buzzword.  I see and hear it all the time nowadays when talking about the game industry’s impact on other areas of society.  I hate buzzwords.  Now watch me contradict myself and call more attention to a buzzword. This one gets special privileges though, because I like the idea.

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Triforce Remix

So, Ganondorf is the bad guy.  That’s pretty set in stone.  He’s like Bowser, everyone knows he’s the evil one, just like Link is always the hero and Zelda always has a knack for being easy to kidnap.  Something about this bothered me.  See, the Triforce has three parts (duh): Power, Wisdom, and Courage.  Ganondorf represents power.  Ganondorf is evil.  Is power evil?  Can’t wisdom be evil?  What about courage?  I’m not saying that there’s something wrong with the way things are, and I understand why Nintendo isn’t messing with the formula.  The formula works.  It’s just that I can’t help but imagine a different Zelda universe.

I can see an evil Zelda.  She’s royalty, and that can lead to corruption.  What if she abused her power to gain control of….well, Power.  She could drain Ganondorf of his power and use it to extend her tyrannic reach.  Ganondorf wouldn’t be evil, he’d be a leader of a less powerful nation.  This event would cast him from his throne, and he would seek the only other individual with the power of the Triforce: Link.

Don't you just wanna hug him?

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Current Project: The End Begins

It recently dawned on me that I haven’t actually posted anything that has to do with my academic life.  It’s not that I feel like I have to prove that I’m a student or anything, but I do think that some of the things I do in my classes qualify as relevant content.  For example, I happen to be working on a game in my Game Software Development class.  I call it The End Begins.

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Video Game Songs That Play in my Head #2

So I figured I’d justify the “#1” in the previous post by posting another VGSTPimH (next-level acronym, hater).  This one’s not a happy one.  I was woefully reminded of this theme as I attempted to register for winter classes here at RIT.  As a freshman, I was essentially a tertiary scavenger, below even the lowest of course-seeking vultures.  I scrounged for enough classes to barely qualify as a full-time student.  Even after acquiring a few classes, the ending was bittersweet.  I was left feeling powerless and defeated.

All the while, the song of failure echoed in my mind.  This track probably isn’t very well-known, but I remember it: the theme of mission failure from Front Mission 3.  It isn’t like other game over themes I’ve heard.  The game doesn’t try to forcefully drive home the fact that you failed.  Rather, the feelings of inadequacy creep in, slowly becoming more prominent as you watch your situation steadily deteriorate.

Sometimes life hits hard, and you lose.  Just remember to get back in your Wanzer and try again.

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Just Press Play: Episode 0

Most people never read the “About” sections of blogs, so I’m going to assume that you don’t know anything about me.  I happen to be studying Game Design and Development at Rochester Institute of Technology.  Never heard of it?  Don’t feel bad, if it wasn’t for the nationally ranked GDD program, I’d be just as clueless.  However, RIT is getting some press recently due to a new initiative called “Just Press Play,” sponsored by Microsoft.  It’s being dubbed “a game layer for student success,” and it’s being beta tested by students in the School of Interactive Games and Media only.  The whole shindig launched on October 13, but I can’t start until October 17 because I need a “Play Pass,” which I’ll explain later.

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The Case for Co-Op

My brothers and I, we weep.  We long for the days when there was rage in the streets; days of entrusting the safety of our cities to a motley crew of heroes.  We punched hoodlums and kicked ninjas, all on the same city block.  Arcade machines sucked pockets dry as we mashed buttons.  Poor player three, he gets Hawkeye.  Poorer player four gets stuck with Vision.  Those were the days.  Just punch a trash can, there’s turkey inside.

If that all sounds like nonsense, you may not have much experience with the “beat ’em up” genre.  Games like Streets of Rage and Final Fight cemented my perception of what cooperative gaming should be like, and I know I’m not alone.  Yet, when I go to websites like Co-Optimus, I’m frequently disappointed.  The selection is so scarce.  Wanna play on the same screen?  Sorry.  Offline?  Pfft, good luck.  Oh, you want a cooperatively focused game, not a competitive online shooter with a crappy co-op mode?  Sucks to be you.  My major problem is that co-op is becoming a marketable feature now.  Players just don’t expect it as much, so it becomes a special add-on.  Are we so content with killing each other?  Are developers just to lazy to make AI that is challenging to a group of humans working together?  Don’t make me bring up Monster Hunter again…

Ninja Baseball Batman. There is nothing left to say.

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Monster Hunter: Why U No Want Hunt?

Japan loves Monster Hunter.  This is technically an opinion, but c’mon,  can you really disagree?  I love the series myself, and it always confuses me that Americans are not typically aware of the glory that is Monster Hunter.  I’ve heard arguments that it is the generic title, or possibly not enough marketing.  Some even say that the game is too hard for Americans (not sure if I’m offended by that).

It kinda looks like this...

I have a different theory. Let’s think about what Monster Hunter is.  It’s a game in which players fight powerful monsters, monsters which are usually much more powerful than the player.  Players must make many calculations for things like weapons, armor, location, and monster hit-zones.  No, I’m not saying Americans are too dumb for this.  I happen to be one.  My point is that the difficulty of Monster Hunter is deceptive.

How about a story?  Everyone loves stories.  When I first played MH, I was absolute trash.  I couldn’t even kill the Giadrome, a monster which is so weak, it doesn’t even count as a boss monster. I could have given up, but I didn’t.  I turned to the community.  You see, the Monster Hunter Community is a sort of strategy guide in itself.  You can effectively google any monster’s name along with a weapon and find a video tutorial to help you.  Monster Hunter is hard, but it’s a community effort.  Eventually, I killed the Giadrome and its other “drome” cousins.  Now I sit at rank G3 in Monster Hunter Freedom Unite.  Thanks, MH community! 😀

Why is this so hard for Americans to understand?  Well, think.  How many games developed and released in America are known for extreme difficulty?  We are trained to expect difficulty in the form of skilled players.  As a Monster Hunter fan, I understood the game as something normal, but honestly Monster Hunter is weird.  No narrative?  No competitive multiplayer?  No leveling up?  All I do is kill stuff with friends?


Seriously, I now understand why Monster Hunter is so foreign to players.  It’s not a hard concept to grasp, just a hard concept to think of as “fun.”  This must be what it sounds like:

“Hey, wanna play chess against this super high level AI?”

“Um, no.”

“Aww c’mon, you can play with up to three friends!”

“OK, maybe.”

“But the board is different, so prepare for that….and the AI has more pieces than you…..and you don’t get a trophy or plaque for winning.”


What isn't appealing about this?????

But there is merit in the Monster Hunter system.  The game rewards skill, not the amount of hours logged in.  On top of that, there are so many weapon and armor options to choose from.  Players are encouraged to be self-motivated.  Most of all, Monster Hunter encourages cooperation.  I miss co-op.  People tell me it still exists.  I don’t believe them.

Monster Hunter is a startling example of multiplayer gold.  Maybe developers will see this and try cloning MH instead of Call of……

Nah, I doubt it.

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MMORPGs: Class is in Session

Point. Click. Wait. Does this seem familiar? This formula seems to pop up everywhere in the world of MMORPGs. I know this because I have played many MMORPGs. Now, don’t confuse this article as some sort of boredom-fueled rant about how the genre needs a revolution. I’m not going to yell at you in caps lock about how there are too many generic MMORPGs, too many three-kingdoms based MMORPGs, or too many games in the genre in general. I simply want to talk about one thing: potential.

When you play one of these games, you generally must choose from a variety of jobs or classes for your character. What are you really choosing? In many cases, your choice represents a series of armor sets. There are usually a dedicated set of skills for each class. Sometimes certain quests are only given to certain classes. After these distinctions, the differences become quite superficial. This system is easy to develop for. The classes all play in the same general fashion (click, spam hotkey sequence, repeat). This makes it easy for developers to create new content. The problem is that no matter how interesting the content may be, the gameplay is still the same between classes. Why create such an arbitrary choice? I don’t think the issue is that there aren’t unique classes, the tools are all here already. Developers can take the common MMORPG classes and make them truly interesting and different from each other.

Does it even matter?

Now, zoom out for a bit. Broaden the scope of your mind to include all genres. When I say warrior, what genre do you think of? I tend to think of the action genre, and I think about games like God of War. Kratos is a warrior, I would never doubt that. Warriors in games tend to care about certain things and handle problems in ways specific to them. Kratos would be a horrible Black Mage. Mages have different cares and concerns, and they certainly have different methods of dispatching foes.

These two could never switch games.

If we can agree on this, then why do the classes play so similarly in MMORPGs? Pointing and clicking works well for using magic, but if I’m a warrior, I want to attack multiple targets fluidly. It makes more sense for a warrior in an MMORPG to play like a warrior play in an enjoyable action game. What about summoners? It seems like they would be better off with the controls of an RTS. It simply makes more logical sense that way.

MMORPGs are virtual worlds. Character classes can easily become virtual lifestyles. So, what about professions? Do warriors care about herbalism? Maybe not, but I’m sure they have knowledge of weapon crafting and maintenance. Perhaps a rogue can tell you if that mushroom you’re about to eat will kill you or not.

I'd eat that.

Obviously this is a hard system to implement. It’s almost like creating multiple games. Developers would have to test new content individually for each class. Even so, this explanation is very extreme. Nothing stops a developer from taking a few extra steps to make the classes actually play differently. It would certainly open up the genre to a new audience. Players would choose a class based on how they want their character to live and move, not a set of numbers and animations.

Maybe playing a priest will finally become interesting….

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Walking = Adventure

To most, walking is simply a means of transit.  In fact, most would call it a last resort, only utilized in the absence of a vehicle.  I laugh at this concept.  Allow me to take you on a journey, an EPIC JOURNEY OF WALKING (basically, trying to not be late for class)!

Before my quest, I must use the elevator.  Please forgive me, as my legs have not yet evolved to the point which allows me to traverse 90 degree angles or fall from 7 stories.  If it is any consolation, I spend my elevator time scolding my legs for their weakness.

Upon emerging from the vertical-moving metal prison, I stealthily maneuver between the crowds of inexperienced pedestrians, but not all are so green.  You see, some of these beings possess remarkable crowd-traversing abilities.  I spot a fast-walker, and quickly move in close behind him.  His trail becomes mine, but there are risks.  He skirts dangerously close to the left, where people walk the opposite way.  I can’t rely on him anymore, but there is a predicament.  The guy to my right is attempting to flirt with a female (with little success).  Normally this is not an issue, but this display of failed masculinity moves abnormally fast, and I can’t shift to my right because of it.  I must not make physical contact, lest I draw attention to myself and my awesome walking legs, only to be taken to a government research station and have my legs extracted for further study.

Suddenly, hope arrived.

There was a small gap in the oncoming lane.  Most people would not have even noticed it, as it was so brief.  If I waited, there would be no other chance.  I summoned my ki, and also my chi.  Then I charged some chakra.  I also loaded up on MP, SP, AP, TP, and other types of points which contribute to one’s ability to be awesome.  With all of this, I blasted forth into the dangerous left lane, immediately looking for a chance to shift right.  There were few gaps, but an intersection was coming up.  Being in the left lane filled my boost gauge, so I accelerated into position, then I used the wall of people as a shield and executed a flawless barrel roll to the right.

After that, I used a boost to get through.  Class reached, mission accomplished.

Real G’s don’t just walk, they make it an art form.

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So, apparently this company named Euclideon is claiming that they have a graphics engine which uses virtual atoms instead of polygons.

Let that simmer in your mind for a bit.  Atoms.

I won’t go into the specifics of it all, because the info is in this video…

This blew my mind, especially the part about scanning real objects.  This revolutionizes character creation.   If scanners could be created for average consumers, you could actually be yourself in a game.  3d concepts can be sculpted and immediately imported into the game.

I don’t have the technical expertise to effectively assess the potential of this technology, but I don’t need to be an expert to say that this will surely change the way we look at games (literally).

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Video Game Songs That Play in my Head #1

This happens a lot, hence the “#1.”  Sometimes my brain spontaneously plays a song for me.  I play an enormous amount of games, so it’s no surprise that many of these songs come from games that have had an impact on me.

This particular song plays fairly consistently.  It usually happens as I’m walking out of a classroom.  I feel the satisfaction of conquering another class.  My mind is swelling with knowledge.  Slowly, an 8 bit harmonica begins playing its tune (at least I think it’s a harmonica).  It is the ending theme from Megaman 3 aka “Protoman’s Theme.”  I don’t know why this song penetrates me in this way.  Just listening to it (which I am doing while writing this) makes me feel so cool.  In fact, I no longer even hear the original version in my head.  I hear this version.  This song is the ultimate epilogue to any session of hard work.

Maybe it’s stuck in your head now….

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The Genre-Swap Game (or something like that)

I’m noticing a trend in games which involves taking a franchise and “rebooting” it in a different genre.  Usually this means taking a beloved game or series and making an FPS out of it, but I’ll save my angst for another post.  What interests me are the possibilities for this kind of genre-swapping.

Like many of my ideas, this one was born as I was playing around on my computer, specifically in Visual C#.  I was thinking about games like XCOM and Syndicate, and decided to write a simple program to facilitate my thoughts.  I loaded some genres in and basically created the equivalent of a hat filled with genres to pick out of (fancy, right?).  Then, I thought of a game…

My first thought was obvious.  I guess I wanted to strike back at the thought of strategy games becoming FPS, so I chose Call of Duty.  The genre I got was Puzzle.  Call of Duty: Modern Tetris?  Puzzle Fighter: Modern Warfare?  There were a lot of other funny results as well, including a popular action franchise becoming a Japanese dating-sim.

I wonder if Ninja Gaiden: The Dating Game would still be crazy-difficult...

I remember putting “Cooking Sim” in there just for laughs.  It never came up.

Call of Cooking: Modern Mama.  I’d totally buy that.

Try it yourself, you don’t need anything fancy.  Mix up the genres in your favorite games.

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Exploring Exploration

Exploration. It’s simply something gamers do. Sometimes it’s searching every area of that huge castle in town, even when you know there’s really nothing there.  Other times it can be as simple as looking around for extra coins or orbs or whatever else your game keeps telling you to get more of.  To me, exploration occurs when a player purposefully moves to an area that the game did not specifically tell him to go to.  I consider myself to be an explorer.  I always seek “unnecessary” NPCs and my “to-do” list usually ends with the main story objective.  Sometimes I even forget what the main objective is.  That being said, I had an experience that challenged my definition of exploration in video games.

Recently I had the privilege of playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution.  I thoroughly enjoy this game.  It rewards players for exploring.  Each area has a route that is obvious, and the developers award extra XP to players who search for alternatives.  This usually means crawling through an air vent or stacking objects to reach high places, but some areas require more creativity to access.

Ladders usually lead to alternate paths.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with the exploration in DE:HR.  Why not reward observant, creative players?  It just seems like the right thing to do.  Limiting curiosity feels wrong, but is it?  Later that same day, I played a completely different game.  It was Riviera: The Promised Land, an RPG published by Atlus.  In this game, players accumulate Trigger Points (TP) based on how well they perform in battles.  Battles that award TP are limited in a given area.  TP is required to explore points of interest in a room.  Logically, this means that a player has limited exploration.

Hopefully the grass isn't a waste of TP

Is this a good thing to do?  At first I hated the system, but only because it sounded like something a designer shouldn’t create.  However, after a few hours, I discovered the play style that the mechanics of the game wanted me to use.  Exploration wasn’t a challenge of observation anymore.  All of the explorable stuff is clearly marked, and the story based events never require TP.  Instead, exploration became a challenge of prioritization.  “I see flowers.  Are they important?  Maybe they’re magical….nope, not magical.  I just wasted 1 TP.”  These situations forced me to learn from my mistakes and take risks based on what I already knew.

Riviera: The Promised Land taught me that sometimes limiting players is the best thing you can do for them.  It forces players to be intelligent, which I think is amazing.  This system doesn’t belong everywhere, but I’d love to see more games limit actions that players take for granted.

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And so it begins…

Hooray for my first post!

Hopefully this is the start of something good.  Basically, I plan to use this blog to express my opinions on video game related topics, but some other random stuff might ninja its way in.  Hopefully, I say enough interesting things to differentiate me from the other thousands of people speaking on the same topics.

Also, let me explain my name.  I have two older brothers.  For a while, we only had consoles which supported up to two players by default (never had a Playstation Multi-Tap).  So for a long time, I had to forge my gaming identity independent of them, even as they influenced me.  And so, a unique middle-childish-but-not-the-middle-child sort of character is born!

How’s that for an intro?

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