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Monthly Archives: August 2013

OK, so it happens. Here you are, on Tuchanka, being all bad ass and having the best possible match of your entire life, rocking it as a Turian Ghost, spamming and shooting all the things with your trustee Harrier…and just generally kicking a lot of butt. When your Dad calls, he needs to do something on the TV. You panic, wondering what to do, you can’t pause the game! So you either keep fighting, or find a quaint corner of the battlefield and hole up for a little while.

If you have any experience with multi-player games then this, (or some variation there of) has probably happened to you. You are playing along, minding your own business, when someone interrupts your playing time with some emergency…and there is no pause button!

Well, I may have just the solution for you!

During E3, I actually watched some of the press coverage for E3, I was able to wath some of the Forza press conference. Aside from the usual demonstration of graphics, tracks, game play features, and the description of the multi-player component came one interesting tid bit of information.

Using the Cloud and their Cloud servers the presenter for Forza claims they can develop and even use their Cloud Based servers to store your online information. Then they use that information to build a profile of you, your driving habits, how fast you go, etc. Then this profile, when you are offline, can race for you and build in-game credits and rewards and race against other people’s avatars and real life drivers.

Now I am not a fan of racing games, or at least haven’t been in a long time, nor am I really a fan of this whole Cloud thing. Not yet, not with what is going on with the NSA and hacking and all sorts of other things.

But I am excited about this. Because it has the potential of solving the defining issue of our times, as far as video gaming is concerned. Because if the gaming industry is so bound and determined to go in more of a multi-player direction, and they seem to be with the advancement of several MMOs coming out for even next generation consoles, then this is the problem. Simply, how do you pause something, and abandon your team mates, when you have an emergency or something very simple like someone wants to check the sports scores…or something.

Well my proposal is similar to the Forza one.

When you hit the pause button on your game, or just leave the match for something a AI takes over your character. Taking your class, your level, your weapons, and your abilities into account. Taking your fighting style and your combat record and accomplishments and fighting for you, till the end of the horde mission or the quest or the dungeon or whenever.

Then I believe you should be able to set your profile in order to have the AI fight in a certain way. Say ‘Conservative’, ‘aggressive’ or ‘balanced’…all depends on how much you trust your AI avatar to get the mission done.

And if you fear Big Brother and Big Brother Corporate invading your privacy with this technology, you should be able to turn it off, and then you can just create your profile based on what weapons and technology and powers you use. Of how this online avatar will fight.

They wouldn’t fight for you when you are off-line, I believe, but you will not really abandon your team, and you will get whatever bonuses you would have gotten had you stayed with the team, or at least whatever the AI can gather. And then you disappear to lala land ready for you whenever you can jump on and play again.

So what do you think? Good idea, bad idea, practical or unpractical? Will people abuse this? If you believe in this then spread it around, or share with me companies who are already doing this so I can give them a proper nod of respect.

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One of the reasons why fiction is such a powerful tool for education and learning is that it can draw on real life events and circumstances and apply them to new worlds and times and events. Teaching the lessons of history in the stories of wars against other planets and through the eyes of a boxer winning over a crowd. But the allegory is one of the most risky things to try, ridiculed by authors, because people often confuse the general, with the specific.

For an allegory to be effective I believe it needs to stick to general lessons. Of the moral principles behind the actions and not the specific actions themselves. After all, especially with science fiction or today’s military technology, or in comparing mutants to certain groups, the risk is always that there is some fundamental difference between what you are trying to portray, and the actual event itself.

Spoilers for Star Trek Into Darkness to follow.

In Star Trek Into Darkness Kirk has to go hunt down Khan. He has to do so behind enemy lines, inside Klingon space, an action that will surely cause a war, an action which leads him to fire on the Klingon Home world to try to take out this one man.

Without a trial, without bringing him in first, without going through the proper jurisdiction procedures of what they believed at the time to be an Earth citizen. Without even trying to play nice. So, in essence a targeted assassination… from space.

This brings to mind the current drone programs, and our own battles with jurisprudence and our principles. Whether it is right or wrong for us to be killing Americans without charge. Specific, easy to understand principles. Though all the explosions and death a lesson worthy of any science fiction.

But yet some people chose to compare it to… the Iraq War. Which granted is all apart of our current problems but its the specific event that is triggering the debate, and the larger ‘war on terror’.

But specifically it just does not fit.

Iraq, while powerful militarily, was a small nation with limited resources and was by no means a ‘super power’. They didn’t have the technology, the professionalism, or the soldiers to put up much of a fight against the Federation of Planets… erm I mean Coalition of the Willing.

While the Klingon Empire is the Military super power in the Star Trek universe. They have the technology, they have the ships, they have the manpower, and they are an empire, so they are anything but small. It implies just the opposite. They have been on the Galactic Stage for centuries.

While Humanity at this point is relative new comers. Not military strong in the least. The comparison does not hold up to scrutiny.

So this is my advice, when writing, when making an allegory, you can use a specific event for inspiration. But in the long run use general cases and principles to set things up.