Sunday, December 28, 2008

Silver Spires Meltdown

As mentioned before, I have been playing on a persistent Neverwinter Nights server off and on since my friends here at Astromen! have never managed to revive our little role-playing game in cyberspace.

It so happens that the Silver Spire server in England completely melted and they lost everything on the 23rd of December. The community is not enormous but rather fervent in their participation and they are currently debating on the message board whether to simply revive the game with a six month old database or take this opportunity to completely revamp the world when a new server solution is found. (The third option of letting the project and virtual community disband and move on has been heartily opposed.)

I would like to take some of the successful tweaks that were implemented in the Shield Lands and try to get them scripted into the new incarnation of this other, more consistently used game community.

As much as I love the MPOP system, I think it would be too complicated to incorporate into a game world not built specifically for its use and the monster population system should be cherished and used for something interesting and obtuse in art or gaming by Pete and other interested Astromen. I was thinking specifically of using the things that were collected from around the NWVault and programmed together to enhance the general game experience. Specifically: Looting monsters, the improved sneaky ambushing monster AI, removing tiresome and slow magic casting animations, some portion of the much improved Shield Lands economic system . . . etc.

If "Astromen presents, Shield Lands 2: I Win at Nintendo D&D" is not realistically going to happen, I would also suggest joining in this Silver Spires game to get a Dungeons & Dragons fix as it has the benefit of a more robust community where building, programming, administrating, play-testing tasks are shared among many people making everything not so daunting like taking on another part-time job. While total creative control would be unnavailable, at least there is actually a fun game to play whenever you fancy. Player requests and in character role-playing events change this game-world on a regular basis as well.

Either way, at your earliest convenience please send me links or pared down hak packs that I can use, so that I can geek out to epic proportions.

Friday, December 26, 2008

After watching "Planet of the Apes" I was thinking a lot about...

Time Travel
Something specific about time travel though. but, First from Wikipedia...
An ontological paradox is a paradox of time travel that questions the existence and creation of information and objects that travel in time. It is very closely related to the predestination paradox and usually occurs at the same time. Because of the possibility of influencing the past while time traveling, one way of explaining why history does not change is by saying that whatever has happened was meant to happen. A time traveler attempting to alter the past in this model, intentionally or not, would only be fulfilling his role in creating history, not changing it. The Novikov self-consistency principle proposes that contradictory causal loops cannot form, but that consistent ones can.

The following is what I was really interested in though.
However, a scenario can occur where items or information are passed from the future to the past, which then become the same items or information that are subsequently passed back. This not only creates a loop, but a situation where these items have no discernible origin. Physical items are even more problematic than pieces of information, since they should ordinarily age and increase in entropy according to the Second law of thermodynamics. But if they age by any nonzero amount at each cycle, they cannot be the same item to be sent back in time, creating a contradiction unless it is a reproduced item such as a seed, spore, etc. The paradox raises the ontological questions of where, when and by whom the items were created or the information derived. Time loop logic operates on similar principles, sending the solutions to computation problems back in time to be checked for correctness without ever being computed "originally."

I heard a good example that went something like this:
On your 13th birthday, a familiar looking man of middle age gives you a beautifully crafted pocketwatch; what appears to be a priceless antique in pristine condition. He tells you that he is a friend of your father's and he'd want you to have it. So you accept the watch, thank the man and he goes on his way. You never see him again, but you keep the watch in a cigar box and it goes untouched until 35 years later when you finally complete work on your time machine. With the watch you go back in time to meet your former teenage self and give yourself the watch.

So I kind of botched the storytelling, but anyway, where did the watch come from originally? Nowhere?

"Back to the Future" is a good example too. Marty goes back in time and proves to Doc that he's from the future by telling him how he originally got the idea for the flux capacitor when he hit his head. Therefore, Doc must have at that point realized that time travel IS possible and that his plans for the FC would eventually work. What would have been weirder is if Marty went back in time before Doc had even started thinking of making a time machine and gave him the idea and plans to build one. So the plans came from the Doc of the future, who "originally" got the plans when he was visited by Marty in the past. so....

I didn't really have a point to this discussion. I was just thinking about all that stuff and how it could be possible to have objects or ideas (or a person maybe?) without any discernible origin.

Been waiting for this....

For months now I have been anticipating the film adaptation of the "The Watchmen." a graphic novel by writer Alan Moore & artist Dave Gibbons. All those familiar know that the characters relate to no other comic storylines, but have everything to do with the purpose and consequences of idolizing superhero mythology. I don't normally go ga-ga over a superhero film anymore. Superhero flicks are a dime for 2 dozen. Even so, This trailer offers up the source material in such a way that it not only transcends the original framework of comic book narrative, but a refining of the superhero filmmaking tradition as well.

...and personally I'm glad that it gets an R rating. pg-13 movies have been getting on my fucking nerves lately.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Art Fair as Outlet Mall

'MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — The most trenchant comment on the dazzling and enervating spectacle that is Art Basel Miami Beach is written in bold black and white letters on the floor of the Mary Boone Gallery booth. A wall-to-wall text piece by Barbara Kruger, it spells out two quotations. One, from Goethe, observes, “We are the slaves of objects around us.” The other, from a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, reads, “He entered shop after shop, priced nothing, spoke no word, and looked at all objects with a wild and distracted stare.” . . .

The sense of art as merchandise is overpowering. A majority of what you see is portable and palatable. Most galleries offer variety-store-like mixes of works by different artists with the ambience of a sample sale.

Still, events like this do occasion collective soul-searching, especially now, as the art world grapples with recession. What is art for, after all, assuming that it is not just something for sale?'


This article mostly reads like a greatest hits catalog, but I find the introduction intriguing. This tone is becoming more common for critics amidst all the gloomy commercial outlook. Are we here at Astromen! doing our share of penitent soul-searching?

I tend to agree that there is a silver lining if the slate is cleaned of focus on High Concept Investment Speculation as Art(tm) that was increasingly dominating the dialogue, particularly in London and New York - most embodied in the venture capital brands that are Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. If this means that a new focus on financially struggling underground movements actually is emerging, remains to be seen. I clearly have a vested interest in the latter.

Monday, December 01, 2008

A brief talk...

on artists and the educational system. This is a clip found on Shark Forums. This fellow, Peter Schjeldahl, is a senior art critic at The New Yorker and what he has to say about beauty at the end makes a lot of god damn sense.