Not surprisingly, this is on my "order as soon as it's available" list.
While I'm very aware there will be a multiplayer game mode in FS2, while looking at the way the game is structured and architected what I really want is a drop-in/drop-out co-op mode where multiple people can join a city in progress and pick up either a created faction which they initialized at the beginning of the game or one that the AI has been managing for the duration. Also allowing for the AI to take over for someone who needs to drop out seems like a no-brainer. In that kind of environment, you could have what almost could be described as a third-person strategic RPG, which is something that definitely speaks to me.
Regardless, FS2 is looking fantastic and if this looks even remotely like something that excites you or just makes you curious you probably owe it to yourself to check out the previous dev updates from them and learn a little bit more. I think you'll be excited.
Can you think of any more clear and obvious suggestion or observation that Chicago policing sucks?
How then could anyone of sound mind look at the state of politics in Chicago, the absolute wreckage of what used to be – at some point in the distant past – a self-sufficient city guided by principles which empowered individuals, and turned it into the Democrat-dominated, victim maximized, social cesspit that cannot be successfully or even notionally policed by an organization which has chosen to fail at every possible opportunity? Would not an enlightened man gaze upon the situation and realize that the market in his hand, the ability to change the world by a simple expenditure of funds, could do exactly that?
Of course, it would. Of course, he would.
And the inevitable next step is calling out such actions, such actions as define personal responsibility, as somehow undercutting the power of the State to continue ignoring the problems in the community just as they have all along. Despite the races of the actors in this little passion play, they will both be called racists, and they will both be implicitly accused of doing business with the enemy.
Because the individual citizen can no longer be trusted to put his faith and his life in the hands of someone whom he chooses, both in the ability to do this thing and in assuming the costs of doing this thing. Individuals are no longer considered to have the power of agency over their own lives, and only the State may be allowed to choose how the citizens' life may be risked or spent.
Follow this story and learn much of what those who think themselves better than you allow you to think you should be capable of.
By popular request! Okay, it was by request of one guy. But that's not necessarily bad.
I took the opportunity to sit down and write up the thoughts that went into designing this piece, why I made the decisions that I did in terms of how I put it together, and as usual provided a link where you can have one for yourself.
Orbiter 2016, just released for the best price ever – free. Yes, absolutely free.
Have you ever wanted to fly a complete space mission yourself? Do you enjoy games like Kerbal Space Program and Rogue System? Have you ever wanted to experience complete information overload in a critical moment in the final stages of a docking procedure with the ISS?
Admit it, you're already halfway to the website to pick up a copy.
Did I mention it's free?
Go. Go! What are you waiting for? Go!
Firstly, in order to recognize the surface you need to put down a specially patterned tape on it. There's no real definition in the video of how densely that tape needs to be put in order for the Origin to recognize where the surface is in a contiguous manner, but in terms of process that's a big deal – not because putting it on is hard, quite the opposite, but because however much you need to put on you will then need to take off, and that could be a significant amount of time depending on how sticky that tape is and what kind of service you're working on.
Secondly, while I absolutely appreciate the idea that there is essentially a 5-inch tablet built into the top of this router that will do the surface cut visualization, it does sort of beg the question of how do you decide where the cuts should be in the first place? I imagine it's fairly straightforward to tell the desktop software what size stock you're working with, whether it be a 3 x 5 sheet of half-inch plywood or something a little more exotic, but that might be something that is worth talking about. Downloading designs are where things might be the most complicated, especially if the cut out designs are made into a specific stock size. Using the tool itself to do your cut out layout is actually quite clever and makes use of the idea that the tool knows where the surface is and how it is moving in relation to the surface. I would actually like to see that particular aspect being used to get a feel for it.
The big deal with this part is that at least in this video Shaper doesn't make any effort to suggest that the cut outs can or will be re-arranged on the stock – and anyone who's ever worked with CNC cut-out-style machines knows that one of the hardest but most fruitful parts of doing a cut out design is making it maximally efficient. Getting all the pieces you need with the minimal amount of cuts and the minimal amount of wasted material. You might think that such things would be no big deal in an era of cheap and easy computational power, but maximal density layouts require some serious math to automatically calculate. Industrial processes still struggle with that. It would be nice for Shaper Origin to suggest it might give you some assistance with that. In fact, at no point do we see it suggested that shapes can have a shared perimeter, which is one of those things that you really need to have for maximal layout density; each piece is shown as separated from another by a bit of stock.
Thirdly, and this goes back to the previous point in a way – this is a router. It may do its own self-drilling to penetrate the material in the first place, but it's a router. It's a router whose intent is to cut through a surface where you know tape has been applied along the way. Anyone that's ever used a router knows what happens when you cut through a surface with tape on it. The tape remains sticky, it sticks to the cutting surface, sometimes it rips off and little bits and sticks, it can work its way up into the mechanism and gum up the whole works. This is, in the parlance of my people, considered "bad." Maybe they've got some special glue formulation, maybe it's intended that the tape never is in an area of the stock that needs to be cut, but that would seem to add even more limitation on what you can work with.
Lastly, perhaps most importantly, this thing is going for $1500 – in preorder. Expected retail is going to be a little more than $2000. I don't know about you, but $2000 for a hand tool, no matter how cool that tool is, is extra ludicrous. For $2000 you can have a really, really nice FDM printer. For that much, you can have a really, really nice 3-axis CNC machine that not only does routing but a multitude of other things, and all without the danger of catching your clothes or fingers in the machinery.
I just don't know who the market is for this. People who have trouble following lines traced on the surface of plywood (or balsa wood, or whatever) aren't actually people who are going to drop $2000 on a tool that mostly does smoothing of their tracery. In fact, I'm wondering if you couldn't build a far more robust system that replaces the 3-D interpolation part of this architecture with a simple downward camera that looks for a contrasting line on the surface of the work and shifts the cutting tool to follow it just as this one does, but with a much tighter, more direct feedback loop.
I'm a great believer in advancing technology just for the heck of it, but this thing doesn't really pass the sniff test for me.
A world where you can't enjoy Ass Goblins of Auschwitz is a world that no one should want to live.
I mean – I own arguably everything ever produced in the last 40 years with a Lovecraftian bent. Lovecraftian horror was my first serious RPGing GMing experience and probably set the tone for at least 15 years of my RPG life. That's kind of a big deal. Some would say that everything I've done since then, no matter the ostensible genre, has been in some sense an homage to cosmic horror in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft; no small thing.
Let's be honest, of course I do. For two reasons:
1) This is more Lovecraft, and I can resist that out about as easily as I can resist schoolgirls. It's unthinkable.
2) This is THW, of which I buy pretty much everything they produce because I find the way that they work with the underlying mechanics truly interesting as they represent an approach to RPGs originating from the wargaming side of the world, very much in line with the original concepts that led from Chainmail to D&D.
And, like all Lovecraftian games, it gives me one more sanity mechanic to tinker around with, the value of which can never be underestimated.
Too many developers have absolutely no concept of business operations and think KS is a market for projects; we can't really hold them in too much disdain for not understanding one of the basic underpinnings of crowdfunding, but we can be mildly annoyed at how resistant they are to learning. Nevertheless, will give it one more try.
For those who are interested in understanding how Kickstarters work from the consumer point of view because you are the consumer in the Kickstarter architecture, this is also good for you.
Let's start with the basics: Kickstarter is not for preorders. Kickstarter is not for fishing around for free money to throw at your game/product idea.
Kickstarter is a market for venture capitalists, where those VCs are part of the overall audience for the kind of products that creators and developers are putting up. Rather than demand that the VC get involved with a minimum investment of $10,000 each, Kickstarter allows creators to enter into that venture capital investment for as low as a dollar in some cases, but on average for game-type investments more usually $25-$50.
The crowd on Kickstarter recognizes that money is not in exchange for your product. That money is invested with you with the expectation of a certain amount of risk that that product will never, ever come to be. If that product never comes to be, and a sufficient number of people gambled on the possibility of it doing so – they lose their money. Creators are under no obligation to return money from a completed Kickstarter that never delivers. Any potential investor/consumer who has been involved with backing Kickstarters in the past has experience with this (and if they have done so in the videogame or RPG communities, probably multiple times).
A Kickstarter VC/consumer is not buying your product. They are investing in your company or you with the expectation and hope that your success will bring them a copy of the product that they're backing as well as signal to the market at large that they want more of this sort of thing.
Stretch goals, and why they can actively sink a project, are probably outside the bounds of this discussion, but to touch on them briefly – when taken as greater lures to bring in more venture capital but which requires the assumption and consumption of the base level of already invested capital to make happen, developers and creator set themselves up for a death spiral where the cost of creating the stretch goals aren't worth the ever diminishing returns provided by those goals in terms of more funders, the ever increasing costs associated with meeting those goals, while this incentivizing backers to get involved with the product or a project early when they can have the most effect and instead encourages them to wait until the last possible minute to see what the maximum stretch goals will be.
So – taken as a venture capital marketplace, there is the one most powerful and most influential portion of the market that very few devs and creatives apparently have the capacity to imagine: that the market actively judges risk and recognizes that risk is a cost that they are not willing to pay for. More accurately, some investors are more interested in riskier investments than others. There are fewer of them than there are risk adverse investors.
You can see this to be very true by looking at which projects get what kind of activity. Kickstarters that are very much in the "preorder vein," backed by an unknown company, with all of the production work done already, and effectively just crowdsourcing marketing can afford to have very low engagement bids for a limited number/limited time VC funding cycle. The Kickstarter backers act as folks paying for that last round of marketing in exchange for what should be a lower price for access to the product and almost a zero risk of the product changing into something that they didn't want or never showing up. That's a good deal; people will generally always go for that.
Compare this to the "traditional" vision of KS as an "early capital investment round," that is for projects which have maybe a plan, maybe a prototype, but need funds for their initial project creation. That idea may be sufficient for VCs to want to become involved in the project and pledge their money to it, and early project KS do find backers. But there's an entirely different investment profile going on here – because these are high-risk investments. The majority of projects created by anyone, anywhere, fail early. In fact, a good entrepreneur knows that the best time to fail is early because it means that you can go on to your next project that might succeed. KS investors also know that projects can fail early. Part of the way that they mitigate that risk is to look at what the "successful Kickstarter" total is. If they feel it's too low, then they will feel that the KS is geared to grab a chunk of money and then probably fail. That's too high risk for quite a number of backers. If the goal value is high, you can see in effect where backers will pledge entry-level (or even at the $1 barely-involved-in-this-thing level) with the understanding that they lose nothing if the value isn't reached. Of the two, you would rather be seen as a project creator as the latter.
These are very different investment opportunities, and they have to be seen as such by the developers and creators in order to understand what Kickstarters bring to the table. But lately, I've seen a lot of unhealthy unawareness of how Kickstarter actually works. Some people have complained that other developers and creators are effectively using it as "crowdsourced advertising" and "pre-orderers," and that kind of use of the platform tends to have much lower prices of entry than high-risk speculative projects.
Well, yes. And people will more aggressively and more cheerfully invest in a project that is almost done that may only need a few bucks to do its first round of advertising or is treating Kickstarter as that round of advertising and offering a slightly discounted product to the people that invest in that completion.
That's the way it works. That is what they're doing. They are investing in a sure thing. Now, are the developers and creators of those particular types of projects probably leaving money on the table because investors in a low-risk fund are by and large willing to pay more? Oh yes – but they're taking that theoretical loss as part of the advertising budget, or the marketing budget, or as the cost of generating public buzz.
By and large, those projects have low threshold goals which are met quickly and easily, and the product is almost guaranteed. That puts a strong time limit and interest limit and sometimes even accessibility limit for Kickstarters with escalating ladders of basic support.
Creators with much riskier investments have to take into account the fact that the audience must be treated as an investor, not as a pre-orderer, and not as a patron – as a venture capitalist who has a certain risk profile that they are willing to engage with. Creators with largely uncompleted projects are high risk, and as such are going to have to ask for more money from the potential pool of backers. They are not going to bitch about the fact that largely complete projects can ask for lower individual investments just because they're all in the same marketplace. If they want to be able to compete on the level of individual investments they are going to have to appropriately set the expectation of risk for investors by increasing their total goal value. A low buy-in and a low goal value must absolutely be connected with a low-risk investment. If it's not, you won't get backed.
Let's talk about risk assessment for a moment by a community. Reputation matters. The ability to engage with the community matters. People are giving you their money in exchange for seeing this project complete, they are investing in you. You want to reduce the appearance of risk as much as possible because anyone that's been through at least one Kickstarter appreciates even if they can't articulate that the big deal is managing risk.
I've been involved with the RPG industry and peripherally the videogame industry for a long time. There is one consistent truth that I can expect: creators and developers know jack shit about doing business. They are terrible at making decisions which move the business of doing business forward. They don't understand pricing, they don't understand why or how the market – whatever market that they happen to be in – works, and they don't care that they don't understand. They make predictions which aren't in accordance with observable reality, business reality, and they cling to the understanding and belief that led to those predictions in the face of their clear invalidation. When they're exposed to a different approach to doing business that actually predicts what and how markets, buyers, and investors work together out of individual interest and does so accurately, they actively don't want to believe.
I swear I write this post about every six months. Somebody, somehow, will complain about how late stage projects on Kickstarter are able to undercut the bids/costs/buy-in's on early-stage speculative projects and how it's a perfect example of the Tragedy of the Commons – even though it has absolutely nothing to do with the Tragedy of the Commons. Consumers are getting what they want. Creators and developers are actually having to compete on the basis of how they can manage risk, manage engagement with communities, and actually deliver a product. Some do well. Some do poorly. There is no tragedy. There is a steadily more educated marketplace which picks and chooses its risks, which has trends and fads, which delivers to most of the people engaged with it exactly what they expected to get out of it or more.
That's not a Tragedy of the Commons. There is no overgrazing. There are just different things available, and sometimes you're not able to compete – because you have not properly managed risk, or the risk is legitimately high and the market perceives that, or someone else can legitimately produce a product and deliver it more cheaply than you can.
Kickstarter does not exist to provide free money to everyone with an idea for a project. Even if that idea is pretty good. Kickstarter exists to allow creators and developers who need investment partners to fish for them, en masse, and set the threshold at which investments will turn into project effort and gauge interest. That's it. If you think Kickstarter is something else, you're wrong.
Yes, you read that right – you're wrong. You do not understand what you're talking about. You haven't spent the time to sit and actually looking understand what it's a market for and how it functions. That has nothing to do with what it says it's for, it has nothing to do with what somebody in your industry said that it's for, it only has to do with how it actually functions, observably and functionally, and analyzing from that observation.
Kickstarter is a project market for venture capitalists.
In the language of Silicon Valley, Kickstarter is the Tinder of low investment venture capitalists.
And that's the truth.
Go forth and sin no more.
Last year I gave my John Galt speech, where I pointed out that putting in 14 hour days or someone else for six days straight in exchange for the opportunity to spend somewhere between $500 and $1000 so that I could give that level of labor to someone else was stupid on my part and I wouldn't be doing it again.
Last night I had an "I'm not working at DragonCon this year" special dinner of delicious smoked ham, pan-fried green beans, and deviled eggs – just as if it were Christmas or Easter.
On Monday I plan to go out for a "not at the Dead Dog Party" meal, possibly involving one of my favorite Japanese restaurants or something equally appetizing.
In between I'm going to work on my own projects, watch more Gundam Build Fighters (it's all on YouTube), and do whatever I want to for myself all day long, with only occasional mentions of HIPAA regulation, judging whether someone is actually faking a disability because they think that'll get them superior access, and generally enjoy life.
The one drawback is I don't get to hang out with the roughly 5 people at the con who I enjoy associating with. Out of roughly 85,000 people. Noisy, usually drunk, typically irritating 85,000 people.
I'm having real difficulty feeling bad about this.
If DragonCon live streamed their major panels – I'd probably actually get to watch more major panels than I've ever attended in my entire history of going to DragonCon.
Thumbs-up for John Galt!
How about a couple of thousand words on creation and the integral part that recognizing your own failures early and often plays in being a successful creator?
Maybe a walk-through of a 3-D modeler's state of mind and flow of ideas as he reviews a project both to failure and eventual success?
All this and more in today's blog post.
Why a blog post? Simple. I wanted more control over formatting and art insertion than I get with a simple post to Google+, Facebook, or Twitter. Sometimes you just need to manage content a little more tightly.
As always, if you enjoy this content feel free to Like, +1, and definitely, share with anyone whom you think deserves it.
This is been my second experience with having something printed through a local and, frankly, it's been fantastic.
- Gwinnett Technical InstituteAssociate's in Computer Programming
- Atlanta Broadcast InstituteBroadcast Engineering
- Central Gwinnett High SchoolAvoiding Responsibility, Latin
- DJ, Graphic Artist, Voice Over Geek, Games Reviewer, Foodblogger, Disability Services (Dragon*Con), Noodly Appendage WielderYour God, present
- Freelance/Operation BSUDJ, Graphic Artist, Voice Over Geek, Producer, 2007 - 2011
- Hewlett-PackardSoftware Engineering Support for Tru64 Unix running on Alpha hardware, 2004 - 2007
- CompaqSoftware Engineering Support for Tru64 Unix running on Alpha hardware, 1998 - 2004
- Digital Equipment CorporationSoftware Engineering Support for Tru64 Unix running on Alpha hardware, 1993 - 1998
- Wal-MartRetail Sales (Electronics), 1991 - 1993
- FreelanceComputer Operations Tutor, 1989 - 1990
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