Archive for August 2012

One issue in most MMOGs is the lack of storage space. The game expects you to collect dozens of different objects, but gives you only a couple of dozen slots in your bags so you’re continually having to run back to a town to sell junk or put it in the bank.

Guild Wars 2 has the ‘sell junk’ button which saves time, but you still have to get to a merchant. What I hadn’t realised is that the inventory window has a ‘deposit collectibles’ option on the tools menu, which will automatically deposit any collectible items (ore, wood, plants, etc) in the bank from anywhere in the game. So after you’ve been running around for an hour and gathering all the resources you passed, you can send them straight to your bank from anywhere in the game and then access them from any crafting location.

Just another thing they’ve got right.

I picked up my Transformer today to check whether the Jelly Beam update was finally available in Canada. And it wouldn’t turn on, even when I put it in the keyboard dock.

Turns out that ‘standby’ means ‘burn up all the battery, just at a slower rate’ rather than ‘go to sleep until I tell you to wake up’. Then it won’t turn on until the battery has been charged to a few percent.

Which is unfortunate because if you power it off, it takes about three times as long to boot as my netbook does… which rather defeats the point of having a tablet.

Now that the GUI has an FPS display, I was able to try the different options last night and see what made a difference to performance. The answer is: not a lot.

I switched every option down from high to low, and only one made more than 1-2 fps difference: sampling. Supersampling halved the frame rate, dropping from 15-16 down to 8. Subsampling (rendering at half resolution and scaling up into a blurry image) increased it by about a third.

So I’m not quite sure where the bottleneck is. Clearly the GPU is limiting the game to some extent because rendering to more pixels slows it a lot and rendering to less speeds it up somewhat, but the main limit seems to be CPU. Reducing LOD distance to low made little difference so it doesn’t seem to be graphics geometry.

Interestingly, I noticed last night that my Norn character is getting 20-25fps whereas the human gets 15-20. There must be something different about the two zones.

Neil Armstrong died, but by now you probably know.

As I said elsewhere, the sad part is not just that the first man to walk on the moon has died, but before long we may be in a world where no man alive has walked on the moon. What a huge step backward for the human race.

Guild Wars 2 is up, and has been since 10pm last night. I had my first character created within about fives minutes to ensure I kept my name, and I’ve now reserved all the ones that I really want.

No big issues so far other than some lag early on when everyone was level 1. They’ve added an FPS readout on the options menu, and my laptop is getting around 16 FPS with everything on high other than sampling.

And Guild Wars 2 must be popular, because one single post on the subject was hit with a dozen spam comments overnight.

Starts around midnight tonight. So I doubt I’ll get much writing done this weekend.

I’ve come across a strange theory a number of times on the Internet lately. It goes something like this:

  1. In the future, robots will be capable of doing almost anything a human can do.
  2. Most people will become redundant as factories can produce anything without human labour.
  3. Rich factory owners will discover that no-one can afford to buy their products, so they will have to give money to unemployed people so they can buy their products so they can make money.
  4. Most people will sit back on their lazy ass and spend the money that the remaining few workers give them.

The amazing part is that anyone takes this seriously. I presume they’re the same people who believe ‘Henry Ford paid his employees better than his competitors so they could buy his cars‘.

Hopefully you can see the blatant logical fallacy, but in case you can’t, I’ll elaborate.

Suppose I have the last factory on Earth and all the money. No-one can afford to buy my widgets because they have no money. So I give you $20 to buy a widget, which costs me $10 to make. Thank God, you do, and my factory stays open.

Let’s look at that. I started with $20, I gave it to you, you gave it to me for a widget, I spent $10 making that widget. I now have $10.

Far from making money, I just lost $10. If I continue giving people money to buy from me, pretty soon I’ll have $0. Over time, it’s a guaranteed way to go broke.

Because they’ve never run a business and have no concept of economics, these people believe that keeping the factory open is an end in itself and the owner will do anything to achieve that. The reality is the factory is just a way to make money, and if it’s losing money then you shut it down. If I have all the money and no-one can afford my products, I close it down and retire.

The argument then usually moves on to ‘if you don’t give me money, I’ll burn down your factory and kill you.’ The factory is worthless, so that’s hardly a threat, and if I have all the money and human-level robots I have little to fear from a mob who don’t.

It doesn’t work. It won’t work. And it gets much, much worse when you consider the upcoming resource wars of the 5th Millenium (something to cover in a later post).

Our house came without a screen door, so we’ve always had problems with bugs flying in if we left the back door open for ventilation while we’re home. We bought one of these at a show stall recently and it seems to work pretty well: Magic Mesh.

It attaches to the door frame with velcro strips so it can easily be removed in winter, and magnets hold the two sides together. It was a slightly tricky fit on our door because the frame is narrower than the mesh, but I had it up there in about fifteen minutes and it hasn’t fallen off yet. Either way, it has to be much better than leaving the door open with nothing to stop bugs flying in.

I’ll be interested to see how well the velcro survives the first major rain storm. The glue seems pretty tough so I’m hoping it will hold together. If not, we can always buy new strips to replace them.

Space Nazis is out:


And The Carbon is available in print:


The Carbon probably hit a top ten in Germany; I grabbed this screenshot a few hours later so I have no idea where it peaked.

The Carbon


Another week, another stress test. I didn’t really notice much new this time other than a lot of lag which I didn’t see in earlier events. The devs said there was some kind of internet problem, so hopefully it will be fixed before next time.

So the insane Curiosity landing design actually worked. Well done!

Is in the middle of Mars entry. Or, more precisely, has already either landed or crashed and we’re just waiting to find out which.

We’ll know in a few minutes…

In just over five hours we find out whether Curiosity can land safely or it’s a complete disaster. Let’s keep our fingers crossed:

I logged into today’s four-hour stress test for a couple of hours; one thing I wanted to try was setting all the graphics to maximum on my laptop. I was unsurprised to discover that it was unplayable in that configuration, but by turning off supersampling and leaving all other settings on their highest level it was still quite playable; it was obviously chugging some, but not enough that I couldn’t play the game.

For the record, the stats for the laptop are:

  • Intel i5 2.27 GHz (not sure which model)
  • Nvidia GT330M graphics with 1GB Video RAM
  • 6GB RAM
  • Windows 7 x64 Home Premium
  • Video resolution 1366×768

For the released game I suspect I’ll be turning one or two settings down from maximum (e.g shadows, which don’t seem to make much difference) and keeping the rest high.

Lion’s Arch

And in stereoscopic 3D:

Lion’s Arch 3D

Something worth considering for print books are QR codes on the cover to provide easy access to the book’s web page on a mobile phone or tablet. Ubuntu has ‘qrencode’ which takes a URL and generates a .png file of the relevant image, Windows must have something similar.

For example:

qrencode -o emg.png -s 6

Tartarus QR code

I’m going add them to the new Createspace cover and see how well they work. At 300dpi they may need to be a bit larger to be easily readable, but the web consensus seems to be not to go much smaller than half an inch, and these would be about 0.75″.