Uncategorized

On Being Pranked

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Being unemployed in a city you find yourself answering all sorts of job adverts. This particular advertisement offered $25 for a 20 minute interview about a new web series with an extra $75 if they use the bit.

My writer’s instincts kicked in, I could be a face with an opinion, an expert.

So I go. I’m ushered into an office with “Sarah” who has flawless makeup, very well dressed but in the back of my mind I was thinking “this isn’t where I’d hold an interview”. I wanted to ask her who furnished the office, I wanted to comment on the hyper-reality vibe her office gave off.

But I didn’t, my “interesting” statements have got me in trouble before so I kept my mouth shut.

She leaves. The prank occurs.

Cut to me on the floor scrambling to pick up 50 tampons.

I get rushed by “Sarah” and the crew who do the point-to-the-camera bit and the (what seems like the entire) crew congratulate me.

I’m embarrassed, my palms are sweaty and I’m flushed. My first thoughts are “this wouldn’t happen to Sherlock”. But then I realized that Sherlock would never get that extra $75. He wouldn’t have that human interaction he’s too smart.

What I realized is that the best way to live your life is to just be genuine.

Don’t try to mask your reactions they could be worth an extra $75.

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Uncategorized

5 reasons why you need to calm down about Facebook buying Oculus Rift

This piece was originally appeared on Screenrobot.com which you can find here

Micheal Winner

A full year after his death Micheal Winner is still the most calming man in Britain

We gamers are a polarised bunch. Having grown used to the anonymity of the internet, it’s easy to instantly judge something as the best or the worst without fear of backlash. There has been a predominantly negative and hugely emotional response from the gaming community surrounding the acquisition of Oculus Rift by Facebook. Whilst understandable, the issues appear to be based around two key facets: the first being that Facebook  is an evil, evil corporate giant that makes money selling personal information, and the second being that VR will no longer be a future gaming platform due to Facebook’s meddling. Let’s all take a step back and look at five reasons you really shouldn’t be as annoyed as you are.

#1 Facebook has resources

Money_Cash

The true inventor of the Oculus Rift: Benjamin Franklin – Image: Wikimedia Commons

Facebook generates several billion dollars of revenue a year. Granted, the Oculus Kickstarter made 10 times more than it needed to fund the project, but that still pales in comparison to what boons Facebook can grant the device.

The sheer power of capital means that the Oculus Rift team can buy the best staff and the best tech, so logically this would suggest that the Rift will either ship to retail faster or be a better product overall. At this years Mobile World Congress Zuckerberg was asked about Facebook’s recent acquisition of WhatsApp, he responded:

“If they [WhatsApp] did this as an independent company they would have had to focus on how to build the company out, to scale it, but now they can focus on how to connect the one to two billion people.”

Zuckerberg understands that Facebook has the ability to nurture new and upcoming tech companies and that Facebook has the ability to share it’s wealth to improve a product overall.

#2 John “I invented Doom” Carmack

John Carmack

Slavery in American is to music what John Carmack is to video games – Image: Wikipedia Commons

John Carmack, the chief technical officer of Oculus Rift, is one of the most influential people in gaming. He helped develop Wolfenstein 3D – the first ‘true’ FPS, Doom – the first time ‘deathmatch’ as a term was used, and Quake – the first FPS with online multiplayer. The game engine that Carmack helped develop for Quake was used to make the Half-Life and the original Call of Duty. John Carmack is directly responsible for what we know as the First-Person-Shooter today.

Carmack understands games – the fact that he quit id Software (which he co-founded) to focus solely on the Oculus Rift, and the fact that Facebook are keeping him as Chief Technical Officer for the Rift should fill you with confidence. Carmack even addressed the issue on Twitter saying:

#3 A true second life (without the flying dicks)

pill

No thanks mate, last time I did pills I thought I was leading the human uprising against the machine overlords – Image: Paul Dineen via Flickr

Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement: “This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.”

Unbounded spaces? Entire experiences and adventures? Imagine ‘Facebook: The Game’ where profiles were not pages but actual structures to explore with a TV playing a video you uploaded/posted or your favourite Spotify playlist coming through virtual speakers.

We’re not talking the Matrix yet but in terms of actual Virtual Reality Facebook is arguably as close to the Rift in terms of “player immersion”. The Rift brings the tech and Facebook brings the data and player base.

#4 It’s not just about games anymore

ONR explains Project BlueShark.

Oculus Rift has allowed the Navy’s “Giant Hand” weapon to be launched, coming to War Zones near you – Image: Navy Page via Flickr

Facebook’s acquisition of the Rift has given the technology a huge publicity boost and the platform to promote VR to a wider audience. This means that we could see other practical applications for the hardware in the near future. Mark Zuckerberg announced in a Facebook post: “After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face.”

Zuckerberg clearly has big plans for the Rift that go far beyond gaming. His statement suggests that he sees the Rift as a new way for humans to communicate, interact and consume media.

#5 The keyboard warriors come out to play

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Marcus “Notch” Persson has never overreacted about anything EVER – Image: Daniel Jurena via Flickr

The immediate and sudden vitriol spewing from keyboards and onto screens is amazing. Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift has turned the Rift into a pariah in the gaming community. Most notably is Marcus Pearson, of Minecraft fame, pulling out from developing Minecraft for the rift because: “Facebook creeps [him] out”.

Here are some facts:

  • The deal just happened
  • No one can predict the future

Similarly Facebook’s track record of giving autonomy to companies it buys is solid. Despite being an industry behemoth and having some controversial opinions on privacy, Facebook is still a new company and appears to understand that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Zuckerberg said: “Immersive gaming will be the first, and Oculus already has big plans here that won’t be changing and we hope to accelerate”. Similarly Palmer Luckey (Co-founder of Oculus Rift Inc.) said: “Very little changes day-to-day at Oculus, although we’ll have substantially more resources to build the right team.”

Look at Facebook’s involvement with WhatsApp and Instagram. WhatsApp and Instagram have stayed autonomous but with the addition of more man power and financial resources.

Just take a step back and have a think about the situation before rushing to judge. And when all is said and done I’ll come find you in your virtual home, stare into your virtual face, smile and say: “See? I told you it’d all be OK.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Blog

Wasn’t This Supposed to be Easy

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I’ve been in Australia for seven months now and not a single second of it has been simple. I remember 8 months ago telling my Father how easy (in a David Copperfield-esque fashion) it is to find a job in Australia, the lack of effort it would take to earn big bux.
Guess what kids, life ain’t simple in any time zone.

So I’ve been in Melbourne 25 days and managed to earn $0. Yes it is stressful. Yes I am looking for work. No I don’t feel confident or worthwhile.

To fill my time I’ve been writing for a couple of websites, selling
advertising space for a magazine and doing some online university courses (www.coursera.org). These activities lure me into feeling like I’m an active member of society but (and imagine a desperate Jerry Maguire) SHOW ME THE MONEY.

Whatever struggling writers with no money are sexy… right?!

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Games, Review

Hoplite Review (Android)

Confession: I’ve only owned a Smartphone for 3 months so my ideas about what a “good” mobile game may yet be well defined.

The Google Play store is a nice-looking mess, the sheer scale of games, tools, books and music that Google tells me I want is overwhelming and the majority of the time useless. So when it recommended me Magma Fortress’s Hoplite I was shocked at how Google Play had recommended me something good.

THE SPIEL

“Hoplite is a turn-based strategy game focusing on tactical movement around small maps.

The game features roguelike gameplay elements such as procedural generation and permadeath while avoiding the traditional roguelike “bump-to-attack” combat in favour of movement based attacks.”

– Magma Fortress

Cept…it’s not. In reality the second sentence is mostly pointless. Yes there is procedural generation in the maps and yes there is permadeath but to call this game a Rougelike is a huge overstatement. An arcade turn-based strategy would be significantly more appropriate. The procedural generation doesn’t mean much when there are two tile types (stone and lava or safe and dangerous) and up until level 10  is the presence of lava any sort of issue. Similarly the fact that each time you progress a level the only real change is that another pre-set demon appears in the new stage means that after a few playthroughs you’ll know exactly whats coming next. The permadeath would also mean something if there were any real stakes in the game, it feels like Gradius where upon dying you just have to start again without the upgrades. Each playthrough is so short that I don’t care that my character died as I’ll be in the exact same position in another 10 minutes.

THE GOOD

It’s amazing how deep Hoplite feels considering how simple it’s mechanics are. You’re armed with three moves; a shield bash that knocks enemies back, a leap to close the gap between enemies or escape, and your spear for ranged attacks. The strategic element comes in with the bash having a cool-down after use, the leap draining energy and, most interestingly, the spear needs to be picked up before you can attack again.

The enemy design is also deceptively simple. Surprisingly with just four enemy types Hoplite presents you with a myriad of complex and challenging scenarios and the rule-sets for each demon compliment each other. For example the standard demon footman will always close down on you limiting where you can go whilst the archer’s constantly try to line up shots to take a precious life.

Finally the upgrade mechanics give the game another tactical edge. Every depth has an Alter to be prayed at which can either; restore all your life and energy, provide an additional heart, or provide an upgrade to one of you moves e.g. more leaping energy or more knockback on the bash. The added layer on top of the upgrade system is that some require you to give up life in order to “purchase”. The philosophical nature of the question (more security vs. more offensive capability) made me feel a level of tension which I wasn’t expecting in a mobile game.

THE BAD

Whilst the mechanics are great I found the spear throwing move to be all but useless in most circumstances. It may just be my play style but having  to waste several turns before you regain the ability to attack just wasn’t worth the trade-off. The lack of use of the spear also meant that often choosing which upgrade I wanted wasn’t really a choice, just focus on upgrading leaping or bashing and, as the Aussies say, She’ll be right.

The end-game is disappointing. After retrieving the fleece you replenish a heart each time you complete a stage but every stage after floor 16 doesn’t have Alters. No more Alters means no more upgrades so at that point your just in it for score and with no leaderboards or score really meaning anything it all feels…pointless.

IS IT WORTH PREMIUM?

Maybe. The furor surrounding this game is justified but you don’t really get that much more game for your two bucks. For premium you unlock achievements, going deeper than floor 16 and “legacy graphics” (the art style it had when it was a mere 7 day game jam entry). With achievements unlocked you get more stuff to do and completing the achievements gets you more upgrade options such game-changingly useful (such as using a turn to return your spear) to useless (your spear stuns those around you) and whilst their welcome additions most of the upgrades are too expensive (TWO BLOODY HEARTS).

But really it’s only two dollars and the creator (Douglas Cowley) made a solid game, he deserves your cash.

4/5

 

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