Monthly Archives: October 2014

A Response to “It’s always going to be who you know”

I understand the dismay but might if I may use your comment as a baseboard for a thought on frame of mind.

We work by association. We don’t remember memories by looking them up in a catalog. We can only access memories via association. Something has to prompt us.
Now this is why I want to bring up frame of mind because I in no way disagree who you know is important.

Instead I want to address how crucial it is to believe that it isn’t always going to be this way.

If we have the thoughts that things are stuck then we wind up only thinking about things in a frame of mind where they are hopeless. You can’t honestly see a future where it changes if you honestly believe that it will always be that way.

And so paradoxically, you wind up ensuring that you work towards the very future you fear. You adjust your plans for a world that cannot change and ensure that you live in a world that cannot change.

If you can imagine a world that is far more free and open then you can plan on how to get there. Finding the steps needed so that “It’s always going to be who you know” becomes “It doesn’t have to be, it’s who you know”.

I try not to be negative like this without backing it up and I hope I can present a realistic idea that makes it seem like it can be more than who you know.
How many people are in this sub? 20k? That is a number 4 times larger than my home town. That is a lot of people and we are all here. We talk a lot about minimum incomes in this sub so what’s stopping us from grouping together? We could organize even internally here and come up with minor money making ventures. However instead of doing it for individual profit we pool the income into a public fund. From that we can distribute a minimum income to anyone who wants it.

Maybe we are all broke as shit, we could start our own crypto currency or use an existing one as well. The boundaries of organization shouldn’t be limited to geography now that we have the internet. Completely independent of what is already established we can organize and provide outside that.

So you might be asking yourself. “Why is he still writing?”. Because attitude is so so so important. Maybe my idea is stupid, that’s not the point. The point is that its a vision of a system that does not require you to have intimate connections to be a part of something that has a purpose.

We don’t have to be lost. We can stop at anytime and look around ourselves, see what is happening and find ourselves. We just need to be able to imagine a future that its possible.

Getting into Unity

Hey Guys,

This is part one of a series on learning to make games with Unity. I will be attempting to put this through to an intermediate level. In order to understand this guide I will expect that you understand fairly advanced operating system ideas. Like I should be able to tell you to install something somewhere and through your own knowledge / Google find out how. As well I will assume you are somewhat familiar with what a game is and why one would make one. Unity is a very powerful tool for developers and artists a like. You will not need either skills for this tutorial but again you need to know what a developer does and what an artist does. I will show you how both can use unity as well. Giving an overview of the graphic components and scripting components.

Gettin Unity Installed

First things first is we gotta get unity installed. Go to that link and grab unity. Start the download now because it is massive.

In a weeks time when you have it finished we can begin ;). Go through the install setup, putting it anywhere you want I’m not aware of it being overly picky like some programs can be.

Creating A Project

Once this is done we will need to begin. So now we need to create a project. When you first open unity it will present you with the unity Project Create Wizard. Go to the “Create New Project” tab and you will see a project location text box. This is the place for your new game and the title of the project will be based on what is put in at the end. Replace “New Unity Project” with your working title.

Creato Project

Next there is a big intimidating box of check boxes we can totally ignore for now.

Ok defaults, I’m gonna level with you and say I work in 2D almost exclusively. Its almost purely because 3D is more complicated. Why is it more complicated? Orders of magnitude. Any concept in a 2D environment will be limited to 2 dimensions. Which is x * y. When you add the third dimension you add an order of magnitude to the concept of the game. This is not bad but just conceptually harder. When trying to do the math on games I get frustrated easily so I stick to 2 dimensions because I can literally picture it better. So you can go either or but I’m going to stick to 2D for the tutorial. The differences are minor though and if you go with 3D it should mostly be the same.

Anyways hit create project and it should g-g-go.

You will be presented with unity. Maybe some pop up, I can’t remember but make it go away and get to the program.

What is a “Scene”. Unity first look

This is the main hub of making the game but you should not think you are looking at a pulled out view of your game. Unity breaks things up into “scenes” which are isolated areas of game play. At no point in unity are you pulled out to look at how all the scenes fit together. Instead unity is like a scene editor and when you finish one you can direct it over to the next one.

So very early on you want to start thinking about your game in this structure, because if you are going to do it in unity then that’s how its broken up.

What this allows us to do is to group things into concepts in the game. So you might have a scene for your opening credit and splash shit. Then a scene for the intro. Then a scene for the main menu, then from there branching into other scenes as the player picks them.

You may have 6-8 scenes in a game and 1 of them is just way way bigger because its most of the game.

In order to work well with a development environment you need to make your designs match the designs of the environment. This is why I am stressing scenes now, if you do not design your game with scenes in mind then it will be confusing when you need to work within that structure. Plus you may try and do concepts (switching game states) that are just so much better done with scenes. Anytime the entire gameplay method changes its probably a scene change.

Gameobjects and Prefabs

Gameobjects

The second thing to keep in mind with unity is that it works with an Object component model. If you are familiar with object oriented programming I would like to make a mention here. If you aren’t skip to the next paragraph because this may just complicated things for you. OOP is about hierarchies and inheritance. Objects only gain functionality because they have it or their parents have it. So you design things by abstracting them out to their base classes and adding functionality as it becomes less and less abstract. Animal, to mammal, to ape, to human kinda idea. Now unity uses a slightly different model and if you go in thinking oop you are gonna be like… oops (OMFG HAHAHAHAHAHAHA). The component model means that every “object” is just a shell of a very basic function. I’ll explain more later about it but the gameobject can be viewed like a gameobject base class. Its the thing that is also everything deep down. You don’t create your structure from inheritance though. Instead you give it a component. So instead of a dog getting the ability to bark because its parent class has the function “make sound”. You would create a component (script most likely) that would play another component (an audio source). The sound is then an argument to be filled in later. So if you wanted to make an “animal” class so you could have cats, dogs, sheep, cows. All with similar attributes but different sounds you could make an “animal” component that would give them a basic set of data. It could call the “make sound” component too though so each animal would walk around the same but make their different noises. Additionally its easy to adapt for a lack of component and if we had a “rabbit” object that had an animal component and no make sound component its easy to adapt for that by doing a small check at some point. So instead of thinking of things like a tree think of it like a power bar. You can really plug things in freely and create this crazy components. Its a bit of a wild west I would think if you don’t maintain some sort of personal organization, far less structured then oop and you have to keep that in mind.

Ok so I’m going to try and explain at a fairly high level what the basic structure for unity is. Like what you are “making” to make the game. In Unity there are scenes as I have explained before. Scenes are like universes. Inside each universe is its own collection of physics and objects. The objects in unity are called gameobjects. All of the game objects for the scene show up in a menu called the “hierarchy”. This is how the objects are organized, this is done in a nested structure. Like how folders are nested. Each gameobject has something called the “transform” which is a representation of its place in space. So the position, scale and rotation. These gameobjects and space nest properly. Nesting is done with parents. So a gameobject with a parent will move with their parent, scale with their parent and rotate with their parent. Later on it becomes important for all sorts of things. However we know that game objects need to be structured like this so I will try and show you how to mentally visualize your game as gameobjects.

Gameobjects allow structure to be enforced on the objects in your universe. So if you have a spaceship with a gun but want to change the gun then you need 2 objects. The spaceship and the gun. The gun does not fly and is dependent on the spaceship for everything about where it is. So the spaceship owns the gun, otherwise when the ship moved the gun would just stay. Now we need the gun object because sometimes it might be a different type of gun, like you get an upgrade. Additionally the gun can have its own local rotation so it can move relative to the ship. So we need to know both the rotation of the ship and gun. If we only had the ship object then we would need to do a lot of complicated math to add a gun that you could aim independent of the ship. Unity allows you to set all of that up instantly by using the hierarchy like this. So if two objects move independent of each other they are likely not owned by each other. If one objects position is dependent on another then they are likely supposed to be parent/child. This of course is different than 2 objects causing each other to move because of physics as in a collision. We are trying to conceptualize our game as a hierarchy. You want objects that are independent of each other to not share immediate parents and then establish relationships for close knit objects. You may have a “world” object for instance that all enemies and players are children of. This makes sense if they all depend on the world. Try and find what order things should be owned. Body > Arm > Upper Arm > forearm > hand > finger etc etc. Each part is dependent on its position in the world by its parent and should be grouped as such.

Its also good to structure less physical things into the right gameobjects. You may need non visual concepts in your game as well. Something that keeps track of a score for instance. You need to house this code in a gameobject, it will have a position but its not really relevant. Still if things make sense to have a logical hierarchy it makes sense to structure it that way as well. When you delete a gameobject all of its children are deleted as well. So for modular design (which is generally awesome) we encourage always grouping things into nice hierarchies. It may be tempting to not but if you are strict about it then your objects have a lot of integrity which is proper and shit.

Prefabs

Prefabs are short hand for “prefabricated objects”. Once you have designed an object and added all of the components (discussed below). You can save it by dragging it from the hierarchy window to the project window. It will change color indicating it is no longer a scene gameobject but a prefab.

Prefabs can be based off of each other with different component variables. Maybe you have 2 enemies that look and act similar but slightly differemt. You can make them share all the same components and be identical except for the few changes they need. Since they share the same components there is still a relationship in similarity but you can also build structure by making prefabricated objects.

Components

So that is almost all of the structure of a unity game we just have one thing left which is where the variety really comes in: Components.

You may notice that the structure of unity is pretty much just things inside things inside things inside things. Scenes are in your project and gameobjects are in your scenes and components are in your gameobjects!

Components describe what a gameobject is. You could add a camera component to it for instance and now your object is a basic object and a camera. If you wrote a script that made the position of the transform move up every frame then suddenly we would have a moving camera! Add a sprite renderer with a sprite of a ship and boom we got a ship with a camera attached. From there we could do the smart thing and make the camera another gameobject that has a script to track the ship.

The components are all of those different functions and I don’t wanna undersell how powerful this is. This makes it super easy to structure your game. Picture components like grammar for objects. The gameobject by itself is like a formless idea. You use components to express what it is. “It walks” because it has a movement component. “It looks like a bug” because it has a sprite renderer and with a bug sprite. “It gets squished” because it has a set of physical geometry that can be compared to other objects in the world, also because it has a health component that gets decreased upon the geometry being entered. Think about what your object does and figure out what components can be made to make it do that.

Its About Structure

Anytime you create anything you are going to need to work within the tools you are using. The paintbrush is not an obstacle standing between you and expressing your ideas clearer. It is only through proper understanding of tool selection that you can make the brush strokes you want. Learning how the components of your medium works and going with it instead of against it.

Unity will force you into things, it will make you structure your game in certain ways. These restrictions are the trade off for gaining the power that it has. So the very first thing anyone must do when wanting to use unity to create a game is adapt your games structure to how unity works. Try thinking about how you would implement classic games in this structure. Hell give it a shot. Try and break tetris down into unity. Even if you don’t write any code, or draw anything. Just think about how you would structure Tetris into scenes, prefabs and the components in them.

Once you know how to structure the game for unity its way less intimidating and frustrating to work with it. You understand how your tool works. If you approach painting for instance wanting to do all sorts of fancy things with one horse hair brush you will be frustrated. Sure maybe with enough work you can do it but there are different brushes for a reason, because what structure you put into the process is important. You can’t create something with a tool if you don’t understand how its supposed to accomplish what it was designed for.

Games in unity require you to turn your designs into a unity structure. Its not good or bad its just how we need to think about our designs to begin.

Divergent Thought and Paranoia

Well aren’t I popular lately? Anyways someone asked about a reddit post so I’m extracting it here for an external link. I believe it has enough context by itself

Weed increases divergent thought.

Divergent thought is the process that makes connections between concepts. So if I say “dog” there are things that immediately come to mind. With weed and other things that increase divergent thought, you literally come up with more things.

That is what is behind the paranoia. You are making more connections, which means more creativity. BUT it doesn’t mean those connections are valid. Paranoia is the result of those new connections instilling fear.

I’ve rarely had issues with even minor paranoia when smoking. I wondered about this for a long time. I have a mix of mental health issues. PTSD being one of them. The reason I don’t get paranoid when I smoke is because I am used to grounding myself. With mental health issues I regularly experience stimulus that isn’t “real”. I’ve had to learn to figure out what is myself exaggerating stimulus and what is actually real.

If you regularly experience paranoia here are some tips

Paranoia can be seen somewhat as being “triggered”. When I am triggered into something my mind is taken from me and I need to work on returning it to where I want it. When you are taken by paranoia your mind is going somewhere that you don’t want it to. The techniques I use to prevent myself from being triggered are the same techniques someone with paranoia issues can use to stay calm.

Grounding is the name of the technique. The concept is to bring yourself back to reality by focusing on what you know is real. Grounding objects can help, like in inception. Something that you personally know, something that ties you to something you know is real. Carry a marble that reminds you of your mother, when you start to get paranoid. Rub it, and think about what you know is real.

Touch a surface near by, close your eyes and concentrate on a sound that you understand like birds or water.
Your mind is running away from itself, it’s creating a false reality without your permission. You can’t simply will it to stop. You have to show it that the reality it is creating is wrong. That’s what grounding is. You reminding your brain what is real and what isn’t.

My biggest experience with smoking and paranoia was in the first year of smoking. I got incredibly high and suddenly got the idea that my heart had stopped beating. I was freaking out for about a minute when it occurred to me: “My heart COULD have stopped beating, or I am high and imagining it” and that was enough to calm me down, remembering I normally don’t control or feel my heart.

Let go of the ground and explore the cosmos. But when things get out of hand bring yourself back. Remind yourself what is real and what is not. Practice mental control and happy tripping.
Paranoia is caused by divergent thought, and can be helped with grounding techniques

The Invisible Finger of the Market

As I am want to do I wrote a novel on reddit, under a users suggestion I’m moving it here for blog type purposes

Some of the wisest words I ever heard were “The purpose of an activity, is the activity”. Its a very powerful phrase when you apply it to where you put your energy. Its something to remind you when they start talking about censoring the internet to keep people away from bad things for example. The purpose of censorship is censorship. If you believe censorship is bad then you can never use the activity as an end to a mean.

Its a razor that can be applied to any action or attempted action. Occupy itself falls under it. The purpose of occupying a space is to be there and simply occupy it. We can understand well what that accomplishes and what that doesn’t. I’m certainly not so naive as to say occupying public property has no effect. In this case the activity of occupation causes the sensation of being a spectacle. Before a bunch of people simply existed in a park for a cause people talked about inequality much less, we had fewer terms for these things in the common speech. Now simply because the activity of occupation actually was effective we have more awareness. Because occupying a space is something that people notice and thus the activity is aligned with the desired outcome.

However what we don’t have is an activity that moves equality forward. There are several reasons for this. Individual humans have never been so worthless. Think about how many of us there are vs how many it takes to produce. There is no inherent economic value to a person anymore. Not substantially at least. For a period of human history it was a thing to collect people because even against their will they had a lot of value. You rounded people up to add to your nation or religions numbers. Since the industrial revolution the value of human labor has been plummeting. Since the computer revolution human thought has been losing value as well. You used to be able to be paid for calculating things, you were actually called a “computer” because you computed. Being a software developer and having done automation I feel fairly educated on just how fucking worthless humans are going to be in a few years. I mean I can make a robot that does stroke research. That should terrify you because I was born a poor redneck that had a fucking outhouse on their home property. Sure it was out of use but my god. I’m not even 30 either, that is the pace of change and the state of education. You can be born into corn and make robots. So I don’t even know where kids born today will be with the pace of computing. Not just that but getting clever with it. I digress, the point is humans have 1 remaining economic usefulness.

We are the major consumers, people are the ones that buy things still. Even though it is pretty irrelevant how we come about our money. You need to find someone who you can tell the right lies to in order to get paid to consume. The psychology of it all smoothed out so you land in debt before your realize that you aren’t winning the game, you aren’t losing either. There are just a bunch of people running around pretty unsure of what they are doing but damnit they are gonna do it better than anyone else so they can live the sweet life. The existing status quo lumbering on just because it has so much momentum.

We only have economic value in our ability to consume correct? With current technology and knowledge we absolutely do not require the overhead of the current economic system. People speculating on crops that decide who starves where. Even though there is enough food for everyone the mechanisms of the economy do not allow it to reach the mouths of all of the hungry people. This is not due to anything other than the current economic involves “The invisible hand of the market” which is to say the whims of supply and demand. That shit comes from Adam Smith who died in 1790. The best example in the entire fucking universe of good economic design is life itself. That’s what ecology is, how organisms exchange units of energy. Its not different in any way abstractly from what we do. However we have not studied it a lot. Adam Smith died nearly a life time before Darwins Origin of the Species came out (1859). Which as we know revolutionized the way we look at life and led directly to our understanding of ecology. Through the lens of science we can now look at better examples of economic exchange. Showing that the invisible hand of the market is not that competent. That left to “natural” devices systems can centralize until they collapse. The collapse comes not because the organism destroys itself, instead the collapse comes when the entire rules of existing suddenly change and the old organisms cannot continue reproducing. Almost always this is in a state of stability and stagnation. Therefore the pattern to look for in bad economic design is the tendency to centralize. (Centralize may as well be the opposite of diversify)
In our current economy most organisms just consume. Sure we “produce” but most people are not doing things in the grand scheme of things that increase diversity. Instead more and more we have to assist in centralization. So we are essentially consuming resources and lowering diversity in the process.

We can no longer strike to get what we want. Humans have no economic power in their labor or their thought. We can’t fight either. When humans gained the ability to destroy each other it ruled real fighting out. No nation is ever again going to do classic terrain taking warfare. Its too dangerous because escalation is destruction. So even if occupy wanted to say raise an army (terrible idea) it would never work either. Not because people aren’t afraid to die but you just can’t convince people to go and kill as easily as in the past. (The Crusades are a great example of murder and conviction). So its really a good thing imo that warfare is off the table as a possibility of change. Social awareness is just that… social awareness. So standing around in a park will certainly get you noticed. But so what? How does that actually change anything? We don’t need more awareness. We need to limit power while empowering everyone.
I used to work maintaining debt collection software. I also worked for the insurance industry and even under former finance minister Jim Flaherty. I’m not just against corporate and government practices because its in vogue. I voted for Stephen Harper in 2006 for goodness sakes. I really bought conservative ideas. I actually had easy time finding work in 2008 (debt collection software) and still have one of the human skills that are relevant (for now). I’ve come to all of this because as a software developer my job is abstract system analysis. I can’t help but do social debugging.

I’ve been thinking about it since occupy and I think I have an idea of something we could do to collectively still have power. It wouldn’t be something you could attack because it wouldn’t really exist. It wouldn’t be something you could disband because it would have no central organization. It wouldn’t be about revoking labor or threatening violence. Those are also useless. Instead it would rely on the one thing we all seem to have no problems with: debt.
It works on the principal that the economy is simply a relic of our ancestors that has now been appropriated by clever people to use for their own massive massive gain. It does not in fact do what it says on the tin. Dead dove do eat. The one thing we have left is our ability or lack there of to consume. The corporations and global finance sector all are fed by the economy. The economy is like the water cycle, moving around in a pattern keeping things going. It doesn’t work anymore for most and I honestly believe the ensuing “drought” is killing people. Every problem I analyze the biggest issue comes down to powerful companies maintaining the status quo.

So if the economy only serves the elite then why bother with it at all? What if we blew up the current economic model so spectacularly that it couldn’t function anymore? We can’t stop the corporations but we still can hold debt. Companies currently are banking on this to continue the shell game. We might not be dealt very good cards but we can force the game. Since 2008 the response to the economic crisis has been to go back to school. In this time tuition has skyrocketed as a response to the even greater influx of money. Student debt is now massive. We can never hope to stop everyone from buying things, or from not going to work. But what if we convinced everyone to stop paying their loans? The beauty of it is that we wouldn’t need everyone. Just enough, maybe 15% of current loan holders agree on a date. Knowing full well that there will be a fucking reaction but thats the point, there is no way with all of the other problems going on that they could respond. A mass debt strike.

Like a giant tied up in its own red tape. All we need to do is get it to try and swat at us and it will all come tumbling down. By organizing a mass default we end the economy and save lives. It breaks the status quo and that is the biggest problem right now.

Maybe its not a good idea and reoccupying could be a thing. But if the purpose of the activity is the activity then organizing a mass non paying seems like a great way to stop a bunch of thieves from taking money.

Insomnia

Anxious anxiety angrily asking me why I don’t just go to sleep.

Over and on to me, ever the wandering close your eyes and sleep.

Still its worstening, pulse quick, trick, slick, pick bic, rip.

Into the maddening ever the saddening go the fuck to sleep.

12 hours on, still going strong, droopy eyelids already adrift.

Sleep ceasing, dreams being, nightmares still awake.

Into the after, I slather the laughter unto the crease of my brain.

Crushing and cracking, continues the racking, history come to claim.

Fuck your society and the audacity of continuing being alive;

Muck stuck crystal palace, comes up, over, malice.

Seeing the dawning over the yawning, WHY AREN’T YOU IN BED!