The Artificial Ape a.k.a. Once You Start Seeing Parallels in Virtual Environments, You Can't Stop

There may, in fact, be a choice to be made. Although Robin Torrence is right to contrast the flexible responses of people in resource-rich, unpredictable environments with the highly logistical survival routines of those in high-latitude, harsh environments, the correlation is only general. As the archaeologist Everett Bassett has pointed out, the farther north or south you get, the more risk-reduction strategies are forced to diverge. The orthodox strategy is to become ever more specialized, going big on sleds, kayaks, harpoons, fall-traps, summer gear, winter gear, big-game gear, small trapping gear, and so on. As things become harder to find and hunt, water and wind get colder, and light and dark shift from a twenty-four-hour cycle to a twelve-month alternation. Investment in the insulating, adaptive technology is attractive. This is the "life-pod" approach, where getting food and staying warm are guaranteed by technological fixes at every point. The alternative strategy is a dramatic opposite and involves extreme opportunism. It is unorthodox, because in such demanding environments you need to be really good, divesting yourself of every encumbrance for maximum flexibility, weighing energy costs with potential risks at every moment. In the orthodox case it can be fatal if the gear fails, in the unorthodox case, if you do.


Perhaps this explains the expedient technology of the Tasmanians. Instead of sitting down for a long time to make a complex tool that you might lose or damage, you hardly break stride to knap a sandstone blade edge and deal with that seal. The Tasmanians were highly skilled land hunters, yet they used neither spear thrower nor stone-tipped projectiles. They did not have ground stone tools because grinding stone is very laborious, whereas efficient knapping can be a matter of a few highly skilled strikes. Everything was quick, and replicable. If a blade was lost, you made another one, or picked up an old one and refreshed the edge. Being without clothes reduced your other possessions, so that what you owned was yourself. Entailment was minimized. This was Hermann Buhl's logic on Nanga Parbat: not naked, but with an absolute minimum of gear. It could be described as reverse entailment.

The Artificial Ape
Timothy Taylor

The basic premise of The Artificial Ape is that technology has evolved us, as much as we've evolved it. The technologies we've come up with present a third force, together with environmental/natural selection, and culture, that are even now changing how humans evolve. We're smaller and weaker than our ancestors, simply because with the technologies we have at hand now, we don't need to be larger, or stronger, or even the same as they were. It's a fascinating book, and very persuasively argued.

However, as nuggets are wont to do, this is where I tangent off from what Taylor talks about. Reading the two quoted paragraphs above, I couldn't help but feel as if he were describing World of Warcraft (orthodox) and Guild Wars (unorthodox) in anthropological terms, with going big on specialised technologies being the veritable smorgasboard of add-ons available for WoW, vs GW's very, very minimalist, pared-down system. The statement, 'In the orthodox case it can be fatal if the gear fails, in the unorthodox case, if you do.' was the nail in the coffin - or the icing on the cake, if you prefer.

The second paragraph also rings very true for me when juxtaposing these two MMOs. Many's the WoW-player I've heard lament in GW that 'there's nothing to DO at 20!' There is - but it's all about yourself. What you own is... yourself. There's no sense of, 'Oh I should be raiding now, I need more stuff so I can get more stuff...' GW gives you an immense amount of freedom in terms of deciding what you want your endgame to be about - and it's that exact freedom that can lead to people not knowing what to do, just like how it's easier to create a project if you're told the goal and purpose, rather than being just told to go and do whatever you like.

I'm not trying to say that one type of design is necessarily better than the other - just that they're different, and work along different lines.

I hope ArenaNet remembers that, while they develop Guild Wars 2.

And I Thought Spending US$4,000 on a Virtual Pet Was Bad...

I Jaden (that 1 gold piece in the image) is 1 USD. Yup.

500USD mounts.

And that 999USD item? It's one-use. For ONE piece of gear. Ayup!

...worship PWE's rapacity!

The best part being - the lotteries (0.50USD each) associated with each of the 500USD mounts.

The legendary Fire Phoenix, once only found in the depths of the Bonus Shop, can now be yours through the use of the Phoenix Fruit pack!

So no matter what players do (short of not buying at all), PWE rakes in the cash. Absolutely brilliant.

Allods? *point* *laff* NOOBZ!

This is how it's done. *shudder*

P.S. Perfect World Entertainment's 2010 First Quarter results here. They've really got something going.

Nugget Cooking Iz MMO Crafting!

I came to the rather disturbing realisation this morning that my style of 'cooking' is almost exactly like MMO crafting.

  1. Get raw chicken (or cow, or piggy, or ... whatever)
  2. Add assorted herbs that I like (lotus seeds, fake cordyceps, polygonatum rhizona, lily flowers, whatever)
  3. Mix the entire mass together in a large-ish bowl, with spices from a premixed spicepack
  4. Pour water in rice cooker (about half the cooker's capacity)
  5. Put bowl in rice cooker
  6. Turn on and close rice cooker
  7. Press down button
  8. Wait till done
  9. NOM!

In other words, collect ingredients in backpack, press button and wait. O.o

The funniest thing is, with the right spicepack choices, this actually produces delicious (if not particularly aesthetic) food!

>.> <.< Advanced crafting requiring skeelz? >.> <.< Pah!

P.S.: One can even craft ginormous muffins this way.

GDC Vault - MUD: Messrs Bartle and Trubshaw's Astonishing Contrivance

Video of Bartle's presentation at GDC

Wonderful talk. One of the things Bartle repeatedly mentions is that when designing, you need to know WHY you are doing it in the thing that YOU are designing.

Not because someone else has done it, not because everyone ELSE is doing it, but because it has a definite purpose in YOUR system.

Also has a great rant towards the end about how people don't do things better, because they don't realise that they can - that they're allowed to.

Some great quotes:

I won't be telling you how great text is over graphics, because that's an argument I've won many times... and still lost.

I won't be telling you how great permadeath is - God uses it, it can't be bad.

It behooves you all to understand WHAT you are designing, and WHY you are designing it.

What we wanted to do was say unpalatable things about the real world - within the protective frame of a game.

You must understand what's in the paradigm - then you can throw it away.

We put in the level system because it let you OUT of the (British social) class system!

Much of what he says isn't specific just to game design, but to learning and perfecting any craft.

Pink Day in Lion's Arch 2010!

Earlier today, I switched to International District to sync Vizunah Square with someone, then, like most senile people, forgot to change it back.

A couple of hours later, I wandered over to Lion's Arch, and found a whole bunch of pink-clad people bouncing around, dancing and whatnot. Now, spontaneous strange dancing does happen (I think) in every MMO where there IS a /dance in the first place. However, spontaneous strange dancing of people all dressed in varying shades of pink is... not so common. Add this to the fact that random people kept asking when the 'Pink Dye Guy' would show up, only to be told, 'In 8 hours', I decided to investimagate!

And this is what I found. O.o


Well, guys and gals, it's about that time of year again. Saji here and I'm going to give you a little information about this year's, Pink Day in LA.

We're going with the theme that, "Gamers Care Too." Why? Well, with all the recent news stories about how people who play video games, especially violent ones, are bad people, and when a crime is committed, such as a shooting, you will no doubt hear about how the person was playing the newest Grand Theft Auto game, or some other violent game. But, obviously, not everyone who plays games is violent or bad. We're doing this event this year to show others that an online community with players from around the world can get together and support a worthy cause. We want to show the world that GAMERS CARE TOO!

Now, remember last year, where I gave a little speech on the subject of Breast Cancer? Well, it was awkward, trying to get people's attention with others constantly spamming. So, this year, there won't be any big speech on the subject, but instead, DRGN is making a site dedicated to informing gamers about Breast Cancer risks, treatments, and more. Check it out over at the Pink Day in LA Website.

"But what about in-game?" - I hear you ask. Well, to show support, like last year, we want everyone to get their armor decked out in brilliant pink. We want to see everyone in the district wearing pink, but, you'll have to supply your own dye! Sadly enough, last year we had many people take the free handouts of dye for granted, along with the fact we had rude players who interfered with other aspects of the event (such as the end photo-ops).

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reply to this post or email me at, or you can reach me on AIM or Yahoo IM at, Tooker311

And they've done it for 2 years already. O.o

As a former WoW player, all I can say is... wow. Not without respect for BBB's Raid from the Heart recently, I never saw anything even vaguely like this when I was playing WoW. Player-run events, sponsored by guilds, for no other reason than they find something important. Just... wow.

I think it helps greatly that in GW, as opposed to WoW, you can switch servers whenever you like. So there's no, 'Oh I would love to but I'd have to organise it on MY server, or I can't make it on YOUR server because I don't have a toon there that's high level enough, that can get there, etc'. I had a poke around another player-run event earlier this year - Mantlecon, which was rather fun as well.

Somewhat related is GW's Canthan New Year, where alliances will sponsor districts... just because. They'll go farm up all the stuff the chefs need, so all people have to do (if they don't want to / care to / haven't farmed enough to help) is stand around and chatter and get presents.

This is one of the things I really love about Guild Wars, that I don't think I ever experienced in World of Warcraft.

It's strange, really. How is it that an MMO where you can choose to spend almost all your 'gaming' activity time with your own AI encourages so much more player-run social interaction than one where people are forced to group with each other? Or did I just answer my own question?

400 Pigs in a Poke (and a Dig at Warhammer Online)

From the comments to EALouse's rant about what went wrong with Warhammer Online.

From this comment:
Raykahn says:
October 13, 2010 at 3:40 pm

It worked great in eq2 actually. There is personal housing and guild halls, and they let players have a lot of creative freedom.

For example: I bought a house and filled it with 400 pigs that would roam around it.

<image link to bacon heaven went here - replaced so posterous doesn't put it in again>

There is so much you can do with player housing, especially when it can be customized by the player. Some people play eq2 just to mess around with housing, its like The Sims but way more fun.

Suddenly EQ2 looks more interesting...

In Which Gevlon Succinctly Sums Up the Essence of the Holy Trinity of Tank/Heal/DPS

Tank and healer needs SOME skills. Not much, but still. DPS doesn't need ANY skills. 5-mans from RFC to HC-HoR can be done even if 1-2 DPS are facerolling in ungemmed-unenchanted gear. And that's exactly what they do. If they would be tanks or healers, the group couldn't get past the first trashpack.

The game consist of
10% tanks
10% healers
30% DPS
50% Utter crap who queue up as DPS.


A comment from Tobold's post Nobody Wants to Play With You!

~_o The goblin strikes!

Guild Wars 2, please don't break my heart. :(

Scaling | Kill Ten Rats

If you hit for 5 damage each time and your opponent has 100 hit points, you are weak and low level, and combat is slow. If you hit for 500 damage each time and your opponent has 10,000 hit points, you are powerful and high level, and combat is epic. I hypothesize that most people have trouble conceptualizing division.