Firefox 29.0.1

Among other things, Firefox 29.0.1 is a shitty UI update; I'm waiting for 30.x to see if it makes the new UI functional. However, it turns out turning off updates in Firefox either doesn't work, or specifically doesn't protect against 29.0.1.

In case any of you are having the same problem, I've put and into my HOSTS file; these are the domains listed for the Firefox update process. The HOSTS file in Windows is at C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\Etc\HOSTS and I assume that path is inspired by the *nix path. Just add these two entries at the end:

to disable it for now.

I have checked this in subsequent days, and it appears to work. In the meantime, you can reinstall Firefox 28 for English Windows from here:

For other OSes and languages, presumably change the URL as appropriate.

  • Current Music
    This Will Be The Day - RWBY
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Sandbox Vs Theme Park, Content Vs Focus

There's something of a divide among players, and to a lesser extent among games, between the sandbox style and the theme park style. Some people want to be led, and prefer theme parks; others, like myself, want to wander off, and prefer the sandbox style.

However, not all divides are created equal. This general point was brought up in regard to WildStar; it has a system of "player paths", like Settler and Explorer, which map to the Bartle types. However, using the Bartle types to classify players requires some fluidity; most players have a "primary" and a "secondary" Bartle type, and many(I don't know how many) want content from all four types. In WildStar, you pick a path. (Possibly one per character, it's still in development.)

Well, I'm used to looking for sandbox play in games, whether designed to be a sandbox or not. Many games that aren't primarily sandboxy still support sandbox play. But in reading about WildStar, it seems the devs were assuming they were exclusive — a divide with negative overlap, every bit of content being either sandbox, theme park, or failed. This was somewhat jarring. I still don't think I've fully thought it through, but here's a model which I think describes both play styles, and the nature of the overlap.

Extreme sandbox players don't want a story in focus, and less-extreme sandbox players are still less interested in a "foreground". One of the descriptions often given for sandbox play is "make your own story", and when you're making a heavy-sandbox game you need to focus more on providing tools to build with and a space that supports multiple stories. Support for sandbox play requires a "background", and letting the player leave your foreground behind in order to poke around and build on that background.

Similarly, theme park players are more interested in the foreground. For them, the background exists to support the foreground. If you present them with an interesting foreground, they will actively pursue it, and extreme theme park players will only explore the background when the foreground involves it, or when they can't find the foreground.

As a sandbox player, I don't normally think of what I do as "making stories"; however, that's more a difference of emphasis than one of type. And when you think of sandbox play that way, it becomes clear that many of the same tools needed by the sandbox player are also needed by the story developers. That is, "second-party stories" and "first-party stories" are built on the same base.

If your goal is to support both sandbox and theme park play styles, in the same way that most MMOs have some mix of all four Bartle types, it seems that the answer is to treat them as layers, the sandbox being a space which stories arc through. The classic quest model provides an easy way to do this, with stories built as quest chains, strung through a big procgen world. (I'm sure more modern tools can do it better.) Players are good at pursuing their own interests, enjoying the story or wandering off to enjoy the space.

  • Current Music
    Tik Tac - CP Project
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Galaxies And Zero-Point Energy

Something that bugged me when I first learned about the zero-point field is that spawning particle-antiparticle pairs which promptly annihilate produces the same energy as the normal annihilation of those particles. So you get a bunch of photons flowing out of space itself; in effect, space glows. I then learned this is exactly what the zero-point field is about.

Cosmologists looking at the early moments of the universe have long wondered why galaxies seem to have existed as far back as we can look. A bit ago, one of the "gauge viscosity" discoveries was that black holes create matter around them, and therefore galaxies were probably created by the black holes at their centers.

Well, maybe the zero-point field is that creation. Zero-point pairs are a sign of gauge turbulence from a nearby black hole.

From this, we'd expect the zero-point energy to exist in a spherical density map around black holes, especially the big galactic black holes - which actually matches the gravity distribution of dark matter. Further, this would mean that the zero-point energy available to drive the expansion of the universe would be reduced, using just the volume of galaxies(in some sense), rather than that plus the volume of the space between - possibly to the value actually observed.

I can't find any sign of this contradicting what we know, and it kind of ties things up neatly.

Of course, this may be exactly what they meant by black holes creating matter, but whether I discovered or rediscovered it, it's pretty darn nifty.
  • Current Music
    Gift Of A Thistle - Braveheart
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Pheromones And The Drift Of Language

There is disagreement in the scientific community over the technical definition of the word "pheromone".

It was originally coined to refer specifically to exchanged biomolecules that trigger an exact and consistent neural response, knee-jerk and lock-step, but linguistic drift has broadened it to refer to exchanged biomolecules that have any hormone-like effect. The original meaning is useful to scientists in the fields where it was coined, but the new meaning is useful to other scientists.

I propose a fork. "Akripheromone" /@'-krih-fehr'-mohn/ refers to an exchanged biomolecule that triggers an exact and consistent neural response, from the Greek akribos, while "ozopheromone" /oh'-zoh-fehr'-mohn/ refers to an exchanged biomolecule that has any hormone-like effect, from the Greek ozo. "Pheromone" shall thus be construed as an inspecific lay term.
  • Current Music
    Dante's Inferno - Shadowrun(Alarin)
  • Tags
    , ,


So I'm lying in bed, trying to get to sleep, and I think I catch the phrase "red-eye" in the song that's playing. It was totally a half-heard mondegreen, but it got me thinking about red-eye.

Not this.

Or this.

But this.

Why is red-eye so bloody hot?!?

In colored contacts, blue is much hotter than red. (A rich tanzanite blue, not a watery sapphire blue like natural blue eyes.) Add a blue or green reflection(like a cat's tapetum lucidum) and it's cool in a Terminator way, but not hot. Add a bloody reflection off the retina, though, and my knees get weak.

Is it just me? Am I the weird one?

In unrelated news, this Planet Karen strip has a point. Preach it, sister.

I'm'n'a get some water and try to try to get relaxed again so I can sleep. Ironically, I was having trouble not sleeping all day, including at the doctor's office(I'm sorry to say I made my phlebotomist yawn), until I ate some chinese food… One more data point, I guess. <SHRUG> Knowledge is power.
  • Current Music
    Face The Music - Conjure One
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D&D 4ed: Coda

So, I picked up D&D 4ed, by which I mean the PHB and DMG.

Sweet goddess, it blows.
  • The organization is haphazard at best.
  • As described previously, they've thrown out balance between levels, and cranked down the flexibility in order to keep people from taking advantage of the lack of balance.
  • Tallness is of the "blind" form - you add half your level to anything that goes up with level.
  • And oh yeah, saves don't go up with level, and are totally different, and aren't explained until about 2/3 of the way through the book, in the combat chapter, after most of the abilities that use the save system are statted out in the classes chapter.
  • They've cranked the "1/3 of the [PHB] was supporting only one class" problem up to eleven; now each class has a completely separate talent tree and set of prestige classes. (Amusingly, the classes chapter is just about exactly 1/3 of the PHB.)
  • They've totally embraced the "spell line" concept and use it throughout; most abilities that could be construed as varying with level are redundant instead.
  • Alignment is… I have no words for how bad the alignment system is. Apparently they didn't learn the lesson of allegiances. This will add fuel to the Alignment Wars.
  • All classes now have uses/day abilities, meaning balance goes haywire if you allow freeform encounters/day, and there's features to make sure that happens.
  • It's complex and patchwork as hell. I don't expect skilled RPGers to handle this well, much less newcomers. And, of course, it's ass-hard to balance new classes and magic items.
  • Class proliferation has been embraced, though the superclassing that worked so poorly in 2ed has been reintroduced. For example, a nonmagical zone that shuts down magical abilities shuts down all of a paladin's fighter-like attacks - because all of a paladin's abilities are defined as divine magic.
  • The virtual tabletop software they provide won't run on any computer owned by any of us in my gaming group(unless Nigel's changed something since last I heard).
  • The HP system is a "worst of both worlds" combination of 3ed HP and WP/VP.
  • The fear of magic is still there.

I'm hybridizing ROTA and the 2ed variant Amy and I did, we'll see how that goes. The campaign I'm designing it for is called Pirates Of Mostly Water.
  • Current Music
    Severine - Ego Likeness
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Dice With A Sink

I had an idea for d20 attribute generation, and a quick Monte Carlo turned up an answer.

You roll 3D6 fifteen times, and take the one lowest value and the five highest values.

In general, your sink will be low, and everything else will be high. You'll rarely get a 9 - sinks will almost always be lower, and everything else will almost always be higher.

The average is very close to the standard system, 12.23 vs 12.24, but the distribution is very different.

I'm not approving this for use in games I GM, I'm just hashing out ideas. Anyway, off to work.