Abernathy - Garland Etc. Genealogy

Friday, March 29, 2019

(Latest) Top 10 Best Highest Paying URL Shortener To Earn Money 2019

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    One of the best thing about this site is its referral system.They offer 10% referral commission.You can withdraw your amount when it reaches $5.
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  5. BIT-URL: It is a new URL shortener website.Its CPM rate is good.You can sign up for free and shorten your URL and that shortener URL can be paste on your websites, blogs or social media networking sites.bit-url.com pays $8.10 for 1000 views.
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  6. Adf.ly: Adf.ly is the oldest and one of the most trusted URL Shortener Service for making money by shrinking your links. Adf.ly provides you an opportunity to earn up to $5 per 1000 views. However, the earnings depend upon the demographics of users who go on to click the shortened link by Adf.ly.
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  7. Clk.sh: Clk.sh is a newly launched trusted link shortener network, it is a sister site of shrinkearn.com. I like ClkSh because it accepts multiple views from same visitors. If any one searching for Top and best url shortener service then i recommend this url shortener to our users. Clk.sh accepts advertisers and publishers from all over the world. It offers an opportunity to all its publishers to earn money and advertisers will get their targeted audience for cheapest rate. While writing ClkSh was offering up to $8 per 1000 visits and its minimum cpm rate is $1.4. Like Shrinkearn, Shorte.st url shorteners Clk.sh also offers some best features to all its users, including Good customer support, multiple views counting, decent cpm rates, good referral rate, multiple tools, quick payments etc. ClkSh offers 30% referral commission to its publishers. It uses 6 payment methods to all its users.
    • Payout for 1000 Views: Upto $8
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    You can paste it into your website, blog, or social media networking sites.They offer $5 for every 1000 views.You can also earn 20% referral commission from this site.Their minimum payout amount is only $1.You can withdraw from Paypal, Payza, and Payoneer.
    • The payout for 1000 views-$5
    • Minimum payout-$1
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    • The payout for 1000 views-$5
    • Minimum payout-$5
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  10. Short.am: Short.am provides a big opportunity for earning money by shortening links. It is a rapidly growing URL Shortening Service. You simply need to sign up and start shrinking links. You can share the shortened links across the web, on your webpage, Twitter, Facebook, and more. Short.am provides detailed statistics and easy-to-use API.
    It even provides add-ons and plugins so that you can monetize your WordPress site. The minimum payout is $5 before you will be paid. It pays users via PayPal or Payoneer. It has the best market payout rates, offering unparalleled revenue. Short.am also run a referral program wherein you can earn 20% extra commission for life.

Press Release: DRAGONS AND THINGS OFFICIALLY PARTNERS WITH PAIZO

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DRAGONS AND THINGS OFFICIALLY PARTNERS WITH PAIZO


REDMOND, WASHINGTON (January 29, 2019): Paizo Inc. has welcomed Two Kings Entertainment LLC into its international fold of licensed partners, where the team will continue to produce epic fantasy tales on their actual play live stream, Dragons and Things, now in its second season. They can now expand their schedule with new and innovative content using the Pathfinder and Starfinder roleplaying games. 

"We were drawn to Dragons and Things because it embodies the core of what tabletop gaming is all about: good friends, wild stories, and high-fantasy adventure. We look forward to working with them as they bring Pathfinder and Starfinder to life through vibrant characters and officially licensed RPG hijinks," said Jim Butler, Vice President of Marketing & Licensing at Paizo.

"Jim Rodehaver and I have always loved creating epic fantasy stories both at the tabletop and on the screen. What started years ago with his dad as GM has now grown into a tabletop experience that includes friends and loved ones, and extends to fans across the world every Friday night on Twitch. We're beyond excited to be partnering with Paizo on the next part of our adventure and very fortunate that they share our love of fun, memorable, and sometimes loud storytelling involving dragons and things. The team is looking forward to making 2019 just the beginning," said founder and CEO of Two Kings Entertainment, Adam Rady. 

Dragons and Things isn't just about rolling dice while the internet watches. The cast chats with the audience live every week. Fans influence the game itself in a dynamic story that leaves even the GM guessing what might happen next. It's a community experience that keeps old fans coming back and welcomes new fans with open arms.

Dragons and Things streams every Friday night at 6 p.m. (PST). Find it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon with the @datdragonshow handle.

About Two Kings Entertainment LLC
Two Kings Entertainment has been streaming live every Friday night since January of 2018 on
twitch.tv/datdragonshow with its flagship show, Dragons and Things. It is also responsible for Bedlam and Discord, and is set to release a brand new podcast to Patreon supporters this year. Get access to this exclusive content and more on patreon.com/datdragonshow and stay up to date on all the latest from the Krag Krew @datdragonshow on Twitter and Instagram. 

About Paizo Inc.
Paizo Inc. is one of the world's leading hobby game publishers. Since 2002, millions of players have joined the goblin army by playing the Pathfinder® and Starfinder® roleplaying games across tabletops, at conventions, at their favorite local game stores, and digitally on virtual tabletops. Paizo.com is an online retail hobby destination for millions of gamers that carries the latest products from top hobby game publishers. Players can also find accessories, like dice and maps, miniatures, T-shirts, goblin plush toys, and the newest releases to quickly replenish their adventuring supplies for the next dungeon run.

CONTACT INFO:
     Aaron Shanks                                           aaron.shanks@paizo.com
     Public Relations Manager                        paizo.com
     Paizo Inc.                                                 7120 185th Ave NE Ste 120
     (425) 250-0800                                        Redmond, WA 98052-0577
     Fax (425) 250-0801                                 Images available at http://bit.ly/paizopr


### 




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Rise Of The Video Game


Rise of the Video Game is a five-part series which examines the evolution of the video game and its cultural impact on the world of entertainment today.

"From the early days of Pong to today's ever-popular Halo 2, and from Atari 2600 to Nintendo to PlayStation, this Discovery Channel special tells the story of the people, the ideologies and the technology behind video games and how they have exploded into a cultural phenomenon."

Level 1: part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4 - part 5

Level 2: part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4 - part 5

Level 3: part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4 - part 5

Level 4: part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4 - part 5

Level 5: part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4 - part 5

Knowing YouTube, the videos are probably in the process of being removed even as you're reading this.

Forza Horizon 4 | The Kind Of Open World Racer Game You Want | Review, Trailer, Release Date.



   Quick Facts :

  • Platforms: Xbox One X, Microsoft Windows (We've tested both, and buy for one and you get it on both via Windows Store)
  • Initial release date2 October 2018
  • DevelopersPlayground GamesTurn 10 Studios
  • Modes: Single-player video game, Multiplayer video game


Forza Horizon 4 holds nearly everything that made Forza Horizon 3 the best racer in its class and heats it into a diversion that doesn't ever need you to quit playing. The dazzling visual quality and sound outline, the gigantic exhibit of autos, and the broad and totally customisable vocation mode that have progressed toward becoming signs of the Horizon arrangement are on the whole here. What's new is exactly the amount all the more successfully Forza Horizon 4 urges us to return on account of its moving seasons, routinely revived difficulties, and constant flow of remunerations.









Planes fly low, sight-seeing balloons hang free sky and the diverse seasons instantly add another edge to dashing. Be that as it may, as each season is reasonably unmistakable, it's additionally far from England in reality, which has been serving up reliably disillusioning shades of dark for a large portion of my life.


Forza Horizon 4 is worked around seasons. In its opening minutes you drive a McLaren Senna crosswise over pre-winter nation streets, race a Polaris RZR over a solidified winter lake, slip through mud in a Ford Fiesta in spring, before jumping once more into the Senna for an excursion on a reasonable summer's day. It's a montage of the arrangement's trademark optimistic play area, here custom-made to expand the contrasts between its regular movements. 

Some portion of my reverence is that there's simply such a great amount of stuff here. Forza Horizon 4, for those new to the arrangement, is an open-world racer closer in tone to Test Drive Unlimited than Burnout Paradise, with the abundance of substance on offer in this emphasis ruining me for decision. Your most loved auto is without a doubt here, be it a 1997 Lamborghini Diablo, a few unique models of Subaru Impreza or the notable Warthog from shooter Halo.

Glimpse Of All Four Seasons.

There's a look at all four seasons amid the four-to five-hour presentation stage, however once the introduction's first "year" is over seasons will pivot week after week (on the web or disconnected). It's been Autumn all through the greater part of this survey and it may very well be my most loved season. There just is by all accounts such a great amount of detail, from the range of hues in the trees as their leaves cease to exist at various rates, to the soaked roadside puddles that hold on in a domain that is winding up excessively cool for them, making it impossible to dissipate. Winter is phenomenal, as well. In the event that you've played Forza Horizon 3: Blizzard Mountain, you'll have a fundamental thought of what's in store. It's not simply the world turned white; the scene goes up against a totally new character.


I can't exactly vouch for the more granular points of interest of the condition that Playground Games nailed so well in Forza Horizon 3 since I don't live in Britain, however in general Horizon 4's Britain is simply amazing. It's a place loaded up with interesting little towns, calm homesteads, and winding nation streets fixed with supports and disintegrating stone dividers. Prattling rivulets, thick woodlands, a wide shoreline, rough peaks, mansions, and different hundreds of years old structures are scattered all over the guide. There likewise more life to it, with deer, rabbits, chickens, and some incredibly spry sheep in home. 

First light and nightfall specifically are mind boggling exhibits for Horizon 4's lighting, and it's these seasons of day I most appreciate for some more delicate cruising. The obvious refinements between zones aren't as unmistakable as they are in Horizon 3's Australia, which shifts from limits like dry orange desert to damp rainforest, however a huge increment in rise contrasts compensates for that. Having Horizon 4's streets twist over such a significant number of slopes results in additionally intriguing driving. There's additionally a more extensive distinction between street composes, which go from wide, present day motorways to limit rear ways and particular intersections that could've been outlined many years previously the creation of inward burning.



Obviously, We're here for the autos, however. These autos, many them, are tossed at you as remunerations for your execution, through an in-diversion sales management firm, in the amusement's shop, by means of free plunder box-esque 'wheelspins' and even inside outbuildings covered up in the diversion world. They're the genuine star of the diversion, and each one of them is reasonable inside Playground Games' personified vision of Scotland. They're almost flawlessly demonstrated, and huge numbers of them accompany body packs and redesign ways, giving you a chance to tune and change to your deepest longing. On the off chance that you don't extravagant that, you can get the diversion do it for you, putting down a lump of progress to head out with an auto at the execution level you need. 

There is an absurd measure of fan-benefit in the amusement, which implies I can have an auto horn that plays the Halo subject or the Windows XP shutdown clamor. A pre-arrange extra means I can drive the Lotus Elise from Bond great You Only Live Twice, and the diversion evades the exemplary auto amusement figure of speech of making me furrow around in a Honda Civic for a few hours previously I get the chance to play with the huge young men. Except if you pick the Ford Focus as your starter engine, yet that is your post.














The Verdict.

I'll generally have a monstrous weakness for the down under joys of Forza Horizon 3, however open-world hustling has never looked comparable to it does in Forza Horizon 4. So, guess what? I revere it. Forza Horizon 4 is conceivably the best hustling diversion I've ever played as far as the sheer measure of stuff and how much fun I've had. However, let me reveal to you I am not a major dashing diversion fan, so I'm not going to state it's the best hustling amusement ever, yet I can state totally that it's the dashing amusement I will contrast the class with in my mind, moving advances.

Trailer : Is It Good?

Have a look, and tell me how's it?


    Thursday, March 28, 2019

    3 Super Monkey Ball Alternatives - Open Sphere Rolling Games


    Marbles have fascinated the population of the blue marble for centuries. Today, we take a look at three digital variants that are open source and playable cross-platform.

    Veraball




    The newest addition to the group of open source ball-rolling games is minimal and was made using the Godot engine.

    Rock and jazz music accompanies your through the only two levels so far. None of them are super hard, making Veraball the most beginner-friendly game of the bunch.



    Windows (both portable and installer) and Linux releases are available but since Godot Engine runs on Mac OS X, you can play it on that platform as well using the source.

    irrlamb



    A magical engine powers the blue sphere from the inside, allowing it to roll and jump without reasonable explanation. Its goal is to touch other glass balls filled with yellow light by balancing towards them.

    You steer the blue sphere. But to what end? Deliver the coup de grâce to failed experiments? Free trapped spirits? Harvest sleeping souls to grow in power? Is it a grim prognosis about the effects of future commercialized space travel and interplanetary colonization?

    Welcome to irrlamb. The atmosphere is mostly dark and dungeon-like, sometimes abstract, always at least a bit magical. The two skater parks feel clinically sanitized (no graffiti).


    There are around 20 levels starting from beginner-friendly to absolutely insane.

    There have been two releases this year (0.2 and 0.2.1). Most of the changes were usability improvements and bugfixes, although some levels have been added as well.

    irrlamb 0.2.1 is available for Linux and Windows. Windows users have to manually install OpenAL.

    For creating own levels, there is an export script available for Blender.

    Neverball




    Neverball has been around for a while. There are easy levels, there are hard levels, there are levels that were apparently made to challenge the game's developers.

    Many levels take place in space, on grass squares floating under the sky, above the sea or above a city at night. Of our three games, this one is least suitable for those with acrophobia.


    There is a lot of content (326 maps minus Neverputt levels) and only a small part of it is accessibly due to my lack of balancing skills. So I present to you the most and least favorite aspects of Neverball, as seen by a player with newbie skills:

    Best: 1. The oh so many levels! 2. Different ball models available, some have character (by containing characters), making it easier to have some kind of emotional connection to the game. No animated cute animals though unfortunately.

    Worst: 1. The old looking non-baked textures of the basic levels 2. The camera (does not allow you to zoom, moves in disturbing ways) and consequently the controls.

    Conclusion


    "If only projects X, Y and Z could join forces instead of trying to re-invent the wheel!" - what an annoying thing to say, don't you think? I hope you got the chance to play irrlamb, Neverball and Veraball - and if not I hope this review brought you closer to them - so that you can appreciate the different feels to the gameplay and scenery.

    All I really want now are video tutorials for creating new levels...

    Are there any open source games with similar mechanics that I missed? Are there proprietary games that developers should consider taking inspiration from other than Super Monkey Ball? Please let us know in the comments!

    Monaco (Understanding Games #2)

    This is the second article in a series documenting my "Game Camp for Grownups" at Williams College introducing humanities faculty to the medium of video games. [Previous article in the series: #1 PAC-MAN DX]


    Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine (2013)
    Designed by A. Schatz and A. Nguyen
    Developed by Pocketwatch Games
    Published by Majesco Entertainment for Windows, OS X, Xbox 360, and Linux

    Monaco is an indie video game that combines the elegance of the "PAC-MAN" game with the theme of the Ocean's Eleven movie. It is best experienced with four players on a couch cooperating to execute heists...which invariably go wrong.

    An early version of Monaco won the 2010 GDC Independent Games Festival  Excellence in Design and Seumas McNally Grand Prize awards. The McNally award for independent games is comparable to the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for independent film.


    Advice for Playing

    Monaco doesn't have a great tutorial on the controls and strategy...it is an indie game that expects more literacy and perseverance than we might have for our second game ever. The actual gameplay is accessible, you just need some advice:

    Controls


    • Use the left stick to move
    • Hold the left trigger to sneak, so that you don't alert the guards. (Other noises such as healing and the Mole digging will also alert guards!)
    • Use the right stick to aim when you have a gun
    • Use the right trigger to use your current item: shoot a gun, launch a smoke bomb, plant explosives, etc.
    • The A button selects on menus. The B button cancels or returns to the previous menu. This is most important on the character selection screen.
    • The A button brings up the HUD for a short period of time. It displays your character's inventory and health around the character and the current objective on the lower-right of the screen.
    • The start button swaps between online and local play on the main menu
    • Pressing continuously against a door brings up a timer. When the timer completes, the door is unlocked and you can walk through it. Some doors lock behind you.
    • You can also "open" bushes and hide in them, unscrew light bulbs, activate computer terminals, and take other actions to affect the map.
    • The Mole's digging mechanic is the same as opening a door, but he can use it on most (but not all) walls.
    • The Cleaner just runs over an unalarmed guard from behind to use his ability

    Strategy


    • This is a game about map traversal, not primarily about twitch. Remember what you learned in PAC-MAN.
    • Monaco is primarily a stealth & strategy game. Move slowly, keep the team together, and plan your movements from safe zone to safe zone.
    • You will very rarely use guns. They are distributed sparsely and have little ammo. Save them for a desperate moment, or a carefully planned attack.
    • This is a role playing job...everyone has to pick a good combination of roles for the map, and then actually play them. Let the Locksmith open doors, wait while the Cleaner runs out and neutralizes the guards, have the Mole strategically create new passages for you, etc. Do not "Rambo" and run off on your own.
    • When one player is in a bush or the exit, it is held open and others can run in without a timer.
    • When one player has unlocked a door and is standing in its doorway, the other players can run through it. Have the locksmith open doors and then hold them open so that others can go through.
    • You can hide in the exit, a bush, or a catwalk until things calm down, and then leave it again.
    • You can't hide in a bush while a guard is watching you...break line of sight first
    • Guards display their state with icons, which slowly fill up as they change state:
      • ZZZ (Sleeping): you can sneak in front
      • No icon: you can sneak past behind
      • ?: the guard is looking for you, but not yet alarmed
      • !: the guard is alarmed and actively seeking you to attack
    • When you're going to "die", run to some place that will be easy for the team to revive you. Avoid dying right in a patrolled hallway or in a bank vault covered with laser trip wires because it will be hard for someone to stay there long enough to heal you.
    • You should be able to complete most levels in 5-10 minutes one you have a good plan. Assume that your first play through on each level is just to explore the map and make a plan, and that you'll have to play each one twice.

    Concepts

    Some high-level ideas to consider as you play Monaco are:

    • Implicit design
      • Player communication + cooperation as a mechanic
      • Time as a resource
      • Fiction explains the rules
      • Fiction in place of (vs. requiring) assets; the game in the mind
    • Emergence
      • Complex scenarios from simple rules
      • The players' experiential stories vs. the games' explicit narrative
    • Minimalism
      • Complex interactions from simple controls
      • Less-is-more graphic design
      • Dynamic and tiny user interface for significant state


    Cooperative Multiplayer

    Each player in Monaco controls a character on the (cooperative) heist team. As in cooperative games such as Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress, and Overwatch, each character has a specific role created by their unique abilities. This increases cooperation through interdependence.

    Aside: this style of game is sometimes called an "action role-playing game" (ARPG) to distinguish it from theatre-exercise style "role playing" of inhabiting a character; "pen-and-paper role-playing games" such as Dungeons & Dragon use "role" in both senses.

    For example, the Redhead charm enemies and the Mole can break through walls. All characters can perform the basic functions of manipulating weapons (which are sparsely distributed), picking up loot, and opening doors.

    As with the Left 4 Dead series, the mechanics of Monaco particularly reward teamwork and make players feel dependent on one another. Many levels are best accomplished with a plan and each player filling a specific role. Player characters can't be killed...but they can be knocked unconscious and must be revived by each other. Player communication is one essential mechanic for the game, and it interestingly is a mechanic that is implicit instead of coded in the game's rules and software.

    Monaco's style of multiplayer fits the game's theme and has a specific socially valuable effect. It was also chosen intentionally. There are many different kinds of multiplayer game. Some elements that affect the style of play are:

    • Are the players physically in the same space, as I recommend for Monaco, or in different locations connected by the internet?
    • Cooperative vs. teams vs. everyone-for-themselves competitive
    • Are players sharing a screen? Some mobile and "LAN party" games are intended for players on different computers who are still in the same physical location. This allows private information for each player.
    • If the players share a screen, do they also share a view, or are there multiple small viewports on the screen (e.g., as in Halo)?
    • Do the players have distinctive roles?
    • Are the abilities of opposing players/teams symmetric or asymmetric?
    • How many players are in a game? Halo co-op supports two, Monaco supports four, Rocket League supports eight, Overwatch supports twelve, Battlefield 1 supports 64..., EVE Online supports tens of thousands.
    • Is play real-time or turn based? If turn based, is it synchronous or asynchronous?
    • Can artificial intelligence ("bot") players be substituted for humans?

    Cooperative play in Monaco

    Fiction

    We know from "PAC-MAN DX" that the game medium relies primarily on mechanics to create the experience, with visuals, audio, story, and characters in supporting roles. These supporting elements are broadly called "content" or "assets" by game developers during production.

    For analysis purposes, the content is often referred to as the "fiction," "frame tale," or "theme" (in the sense of "theme park", not literary theme) of the game.

    Monaco has an overarching narrative motivating each game level, which is primarily explained by loading screen text. The writing and music are superb. This fiction serves its traditional game roles:

    • Make game mechanics concrete and intuitive (we pick up "gold," use "weapons" to attack, are slowed in traversal by "doors," etc. which need no explicit explanation compared to abstract "points," "powerups," and "zones")
    • Provide a MacGuffin (artificial and irrelevant motivation) for in-game goals
    • Draw together
    • Enhance engagement by stimulating more senses and modes of thinking

    This is our first game with human characters. Each has a distinctive personality appropriate for their ability that is brought out on the loading screens. The storyline and characters are banal. That is intentional, and not a flaw.

    For a game with complex mechanics and emergent gameplay like Monaco, the players' attention needs to be on the mechanics and strategy. (This will be taken to an extreme by XCOM later in our series.)

    Ocean's Eleven (1960)
    The cliched story and characters allow players to instantly understand the motivation, key game elements, and setting so that the game can get underway. If the game instead dropped players into a complex and novel narrative, they would not have enough information to make choices without significant exploration of the game world...it would become a game about discovery, and not a game about strategy and rapid tactical maneuvers.

    Even ensemble movies, TV episodes, and plays have a protagonist whose storyline and viewpoint frame the experience. One interesting aspect of Monaco's couch-multiplayer, coop, shared-view approach is that there really is no protagonist. The viewpoint and story are shared. The story elements introduce the Locksmith as the protagonist, but this isn't mirrored in the mechanics and gameplay.

    Portrayal

    The characters are all white Europeans, and only two of eight are female. One of the female characters has a sexual theme and the other a passive, "den mother" role (the Lookout is the most useful character for the team and the least fun to play). There appears to be some age range, from teenage hacker to the late 50's Gentleman.

    Penny Arcade's interpretation of the Monaco
    characters. The actual in-game silhouettes from the
    storyline are at the bottom with their colors.
    Monaco clearly inherited these sterotypes from classic heist films such as Ocean's ElevenItalian Job, The Great Train Robbery, and Heat, with a dash of James Bond thrown in. The game isn't about the characters and they are represented as a handful of colored rectangles in actual gameplay. So in this case, I think this lack of diversity is a disappointing statistic and missed opportunity more than something worth analyzing further.
    The playable characters in Left 4 Dead 2

    For reference, the Left 4 Dead series that I mentioned earlier provided a more ethnically diverse cast of playable characters that might be easier for more players to identify with. Although there are still only 2/8 female characters, they are not restricted by their gender.

    After Game Exercises

    You may want to look at the PAC-MAN DX responses below before moving on to this week's exercises.

    1. As with any game, analyze the objective state and rules of the game. List these explicitly. Focus on the state of the player characters: health, inventory, position (in 3D, due to catwalks!), and then move on to the map.
    2. Draw the mechanical connections between "PAC-MAN" and Monaco. Can you think of other rich modern games that draw heavily on more abstract 1980's games?
    3. An elegant mechanic in both board and video games is to use time as a resource. Monaco does this in several ways. Name and discuss them. Why is this "elegant" compared to an explicit resource such as ammunition?
    4. Explore the mechanics of a single character. Speculate on why the design has the abilities and restrictions that are present for that character to balance its utility (there is no "best" character) and enjoyment. For example, for example, some walls are unbreakable by the Mole.
    5. Consider the medium-specificity of works. I contend that Monaco is the loose equivalent of The Usual Suspects or Ocean's Eleven as a game. If the designers had pressed a script directly into the gameplay, how would a literal transcription of a heist film into a game succeed or fail in a the new medium?
    6. Stories are essential for human communication, including entertainment. The key for emergent games is to note that the real stories are emergent, regardless of the framing narrative. For example, players don't talk about "the twist right after the Hacker was revealed" in Monaco. They talk about "when I was knocked out right under the laser trap and you walked unnoticed right behind the guard to rescue me, timing it with the trap's phases..." How do the mechanics of Monaco create unique and powerful emergent stories?
    7. Review the different ways that multiple players can engage the same game from the multiplayer style list above. Discuss how Monaco would be affected by changing the style of multiplayer. For example, it could have been asymmetric multiplayer with one team controlling the guards. Why is this mode not offered? (N.B. The game can be played single player and multiplayer using separate computers across the internet. I find these vastly inferior.)

    Recommended Reading

    Monaco does a nice job of minimizing the controls and user interface required for a relatively large number of actions and per-character state. Swink, Game Feel: A Game Designer's Guide to Virtual Sensations, Morgan Kaufman, 2008 is the canonical text on control design and how it affects the player experience. The introduction alone is worth the read, even if you don't get much farther.

    A core idea that most game designers (and probably many theorists) ascribe to is that the actual game exists in the player's mind, not on the screen. The abstract art style of Monaco combined with the evocative fiction allow players to imagine the world of the game more vividly than could be depicted with current graphics. Shell, The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, CRC Press, 2008 explains this concept in the early chapters (see chapter 2 specifically) and then moves on to analyze game mechanics.

    Monaco contains graphic elements and sounds that are clearly "in the world" and observed by the characters (e.g., gold, walls), others which are clearly not visible to characters (e.g., health bars, timers), and some which denote the characters' knowledge but are represented differently to the players (e.g., the map blueprint). This happens in film as well, but less frequently. For example, characters are clearly not aware of voice over, on-screen location titles, and theme music. Juul, Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds, MIT Press, 2011 presents tools for analyzing these different levels of representation and reality in games.

    PAC-MAN DX Responses

    Sample responses to the PAC-MAN DX discussion questions from last week are below.


    1. The state of PAC-MAN DX, organized hierarchically, is:


    • pacman
      • x, y position in pixels [not grid squares...pacman can appear at any pixel on the screen and isn't snapped to the power-pellet grid]
      • moving direction: up/down/left/right/still
      • speed in pixels/second (more likely, pixels/frame)
      • direction to turn at next intersection: up/down/left/right
      • list of previous positions, used for ghosts that are trailing
      • animation frame index
    • maze is a grid, storing at each square:
      • obstructed by a wall: true or false [this is tricky. As in the original PAC-man, walls appear to be two "squares" thick, counting pellets. But the walls actually are drawn pushed forward and back slightly from the real grid]
      • contents: empty/pellet/power pellet/fruit
    • ghosts:
      • x, y position in pixels
      • moving direction: up/down/left/right/still
      • eatable? [you can tell that this is per-ghost state instead of global because new ghosts that spawn after you eat a power pellet are not themselves eatable]
      • awake?
      • animating being sent to the center via bomb?
      • how far behind pacman on trail (0 = not trailing)
      • holding: nothing/power pellet/bomb
      • color
      • ...and some animation and artificial intelligence information
    • game
      • number of bombs left
      • number of lives left
      • index of the current dot pattern on the left
      • index of the current dot pattern on the right
      • speed
      • time left
      • score
      • last ghost score (used for chaining bonuses for eating lines of ghosts)
      • ...plus some animation and collision slow-down information


    2. The choices are interesting. The only literal choices proscribed by the rules for inputs that the player can provide (ignoring pausing and such) are when to push the four direction buttons and the bomb button during the game. If we step back, we see some higher-level choices that are more useful for analysis.

    First, the player can choose the graphics. These add some variety and some help a little with reading the map, but there's not a significant strategic value there.

    Second, the player can choose the starting speed. This is very significant. Because the game runs on a fixed timer (in the starting modes), a higher speed allows the player to earn more points in fixed time. It also reduces the time to plan and think.

    A player with sufficient knowledge of the map and reasonable experience with the controls should always choose the highest speed if their goal is to maximize points (it is reasonable to have a different goal--playing as a less-stressful pastime--and choose a different speed to better satisfy that.)

    Once inside the game, the player has a strategic choice in the map traversal. I suspect that there is an optimal path to collect all pellets and eat the most ghosts in the least time, and the patterns are predetermined so it is possible to learn this path. Falling short of optimality, there are broader strategic choices such as whether to trail a large number of ghosts or avoid them outright, whether to turn and eat those ghosts at the first opportunity or leave them there to build a larger bonus, etc. There are small tactical choices (which mostly arise when the player fails to execute the intended strategy perfectly) of how to respond to ghosts: bombs, allowing PAC MAN to lose a life, or attempting to dodge.

    Let's not forget the ultimate choice: whether to play at all. For many media, the only choices are whether to watch/read/play the work (possibly: again), the ambient conditions for experiencing it, and whether to finish. Many of the tools of analyzing games can be applied to these choices.


    3. The rules are something like:

       If the player presses a direction button:
           if the direction button is opposite the current moving direction or the current moving direction is still:
                 Immediately set pac-man's moving direction and next turn direction to match the button
           otherwise:
                 Set pacman's next turn direction to match the button

       If pacman is at the center of an intersection:
          change the moving direction to the next turn direction

       If the distance between pacman and a ghost is less than 1/2 the sum of their widths:
          if the ghost is eatable:
                destroy the ghost and increase pacman's score
          otherwise, if pacman has more than one life left:
                destroy all awake ghosts
                reset pacman
                decrement the number of lives
          otherwise:
                game over
        ...

    I'll omit responses to the more subjective critique questions.


    Next in this series: Understanding Games #3: Inside


    Morgan McGuire (@morgan3d) is a professor at Williams College, a researcher at NVIDIA, and a professional game developer. His most recent games are Project Rocket Golfing for iOS and Skylanders: Superchargers for consoles. He is the author of the Graphics Codex, an essential reference for computer graphics now available in iOS and Web Editions.

    Crusader #5


    Wednesday, March 27, 2019

    Bringing Out The Dead (Scorsese, 1999)

    "This is not about New York. This is about suffering, it's about humanity. It's about what our part is in life."
    - Martin Scorsese


    Bringing out the Dead Martin Scorsese

    Barely making it into the top 100 grossing films of 1999, Bringing out the Dead (Scorsese, 1999) has never been one of Scorsese's best efforts commercially as a director, making back just $17 million of its $55 million budget. After Kundun (1997) and Casino (1995), the director returned to both New York and to his screenwriting collaborator Paul Schrader, adapting a semi-autobiographical novel by Joe Connelly about a burned out paramedic, Frank Pierce (Nicolas Cage), working the night shift in New York's Hells Kitchen. Perhaps the fact that it was a film about empathy with a mis-marketed trailer and a low budget was the reason why it wasn't successful upon release, but unlike The King of Comedy, for instance, it has neither enjoyed a re-evaluation. Perhaps now is the time?

    As with all Martin Scorsese pictures, the film owes much to his long time editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, who has said of the film:

    "It's the only one of his [Scorsese's] films, I think, that hasn't gotten its due, It's a beautiful film, but it was hard for people to take, I think. Unexpected. But I think it's great.... it was about compassion, and it was sold, I think, as a car chase movie. When I saw the trailer I said, "Wait a minute! That's not what the movie's about!" I think people were made nervous by the theme of it, which I think is beautiful. I think it'll get its due...I can't tell you how many people talk to me about that movie."

    Scorsese Thelma Shoonmaker
    Scorsese with Thelma Schoonmaker - perhaps his
    most important collaborater of all. 
    Comparisons with Taxi Driver are inevitable, the same low lives and dead beats inhabit the dirty New York streets and still, 15 years on (Bringing out the Dead is set in the early 1990s), The Big Apple is still being effected by a massive social and financial crisis - LoBrutto even argues that spiritually, the film takes place in the 70s (2008: 365), which was the era that Scorsese knew best. Drug dealers, prostitutes and murderers all permeate the environment, which is a cold, dank filthy vision of the city, full of graffiti filled interiors and neon lit shop fronts. Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) and Frank Pierce are insomniacs who wish to cleanse the streets, but while Travis looks down in distain at the people he witnesses whilst driving around, Frank wishes to help them, which is why every street corner triggers a guilt ridden flashback, where he see's the ghosts of people that he has failed to save as a medic. One in particular, Rose, a young hispanic girl haunts him more than any other, and this is as close as the film comes to a real narrative - that Frank is looking for some kind of redemption from the people who have died under his care, 'his spiritual craving is a desire to be released from guilt rather than desire for immortality or godlikeness' (Nyce, 2004: 157). 

    Ebert argues that there's a simple reason for the film's lack of plot, saying that 'the paramedics days have no beginning or goal, but are a limbo of extended horror' (2010: 316). But there is a kind of neat, episodic routine to the way that the film moves along, albeit in a completely nightmarish sense. Set over three nights, Frank is paired with a different partner, each one more unhinged than the last as they patrol the streets in an ambulance waiting for an emergency call to come through on their radio. There are recurring patients, who everyone in the ER remembers as regulars in the manic, overcrowded and claustrophobic hospital that is a kind of purgatory for the lost souls that are brought in. Most of them are the unwanted drug users and gang members who are on the fringes of society, in this sense Bringing out the Dead is quite a personal film for Scorsese: 

    "Although he grew up in a decent family, they lived in a neighbourhood that was less than a block from the Bowery, and he saw the derelicts, the dregs of society, that is, people who are waiting to die. According to Scorsese, because of the human misery that he witnessed as a child, he has been conflicted by between feeling compassionate for the unfortunate on the one hand, and feeling repulsed by them on the other hand" (Miliora, 2004: 119) 


    Bringing out the deadThis repulsion is characterised by Nurse Constance who chastises the regulars in the ER by questioning why it is that they should be helped, when they're going to go back to their drugs and violent ways to simply end up in the hospital again. At one point Frank also shouts at a homeless man who has tried and failed to commit suicide, saying that the city is full of people who were viciously murdered and just want want to live. Ultimately though, what Frank likes about the job is that he has the ability to save lives ("the best drug in the world"), but the film follows him when he's having a breakdown, suffering because he's wondering whether his job is making any difference at all, he hasn't saved a life in months and is powerless to stop the spread of a new drug called Red Death that's making its way through the streets. In a constant state of oblivion, he mostly saves people such as drug dealers, who have brought about a great deal of pain and death to others themselves. As mentioned, many of the patients are self-destructive "frequent flyers", those who repeatedly find themselves overdosing or passing out to alcohol consumption, they're going to just need saving again in a few days. It seems like a futile job, and he see's himself as a "grief mop", being given training that was useful in less that 10% of situations, most of the time he's required to simply just "show up" to calls. If Taxi Driver is about a man who has a heroic god-complex, Bringing out the Dead is the opposite, or at least it's about a man who must gradually come to accept that just because he has the ability to save lives, he's not god. Frank's third partner, Tom (Tom Sizemore), is closer to Travis Bickle than Frank ever is - disturbed, angry and manic - genuinely wanting to rid New York of the scum through violence. 

    Frank's redemption of sorts comes in the form of a woman called Mary (Patricia Arquette), the daughter of a heart attack victim who is being kept on life support, as he lies in the hospital bed he taunts Frank, telling him to let him die to free him from his vegetative state. It seems like the characters in the film who wish to die are doomed to spend their life in the limbo of the emergency room or the back of the ambulance, while the different suicide cases that Frank attends do are always failed attempts. Mary is a former drug addict and someone who Frank feels that he can save, but whether he knows it or not she's also someone who can save him. She's the closest that he has to a real companion after his first (and only sane) partner Larry (John Goodman) quits. We get a hint that the two of them are going to help each other right at the start, when Frank is resuscitating Mary's father. Here, the lighting keeps shifting in intensity, which cinematographer Robert Richardson did because he wanted to  'emphasize the dual nature of Pierce's experience, he's burned out, and his patient is dying, so Pierce feels like hell, however, at the same time he is seeing a glimmer of hope for redemption in the man's daughter'. Frank is skilled at his job but as Thelma Schoonmaker stated, this is a film about compassion. He knows, as best as he can in such a situation, how to calm the traumatised family down, whilst he's resuscitating the victim, he says that playing their favourite music can help - so the son snaps out of his panicked daze to go and put on some Sinatra. At the end of the picture, when he mercy kills Mary's father, who has been shocked back to life from his ultimately irreversible injuries several times, 'Frank overcomes the temptation to adopt the false transcendence of thinking of himself as god' (Conard, 2007: 154), as he accepts that can't reverse the course of the natural deterioration that is the essential fact of the human condition (Shary, 2013: 125). Eventually, after finally saving two lives on his third night, Frank gets the forgiveness that he's been seeking for the whole film, as he looks on at Mary as Rose's ghost and she tells him that no-one asked him to suffer.

    A third of the film takes place inside the ambulance, but that's not to say that it isn't a hectic picture full of fast and frantic camerawork. This may have come out of Scorsese's research as he rode with paramedics, who after only a few days said he started seeing things in a blur - illustrated by the several sped-up shots of the ambulance driving down the dark streets, giving a hallucinatory look to the sequences as the shop and street lights soften as they whizz by, giving an insight into the unbalanced, sleep-deprived mind of its protagonist. Speaking of this, Scorsese at one point uses time lapse of the city's skyline to shift from early morning to evening - when Frank has to wake up and get back to work, showing us how his moments of solace are brief and fleeting. However, this method sometimes screeches to a halt, when Frank is
    witnessing the ghosts of the dead in slow motion as he stares out the window, it's protracted, painful and drawn out, just as it has been for him in the years that he's been a paramedic. Likewise, as doctors are treating people in the ER, there are lots of long takes, these fluid oners move around the characters which to me is used to demonstrate their skilfulness in their job, and how they effortlessly take everything in their stride as completely routine. The camerawork is also restrained during scenes of quiet conversation, an article on the American Society of Cinematographers states that this was because of the intensely interior nature of the story, Scorsese has agreed: 

    "I didn't want to be distracting, he's [Frank] a complete, utter spiritual wreck.. He's cut off from people. He has a great need for forgiveness, but first he must forgive himself. When you're dealing with that sort of material, you don't want to move the camera, you leave it alone"

    Ving Rhames Bringing out the DeadDue to the episodic nature of the film, by the time we get to the third and final night, Richardson established the shots in the ambulance so that the 'lighting and camera angles become much more extreme', to coincide with Frank basically reaching the end of his tether after he's paired with Tom for the night. The music has also shifted by this point; Van Morrison's slow, blues song TB Sheets which featured prominently at the start of the film is replaced with the Clash's Janie Jones, and he see's even more ghosts of Rose, which seems to manically spur him on and make him desperate to save a life before his shift ends.

    The pitch black humour throughout is akin to After Hours, also set entirely a night - when all the crazies seem to come out. Much of this humour seems to come from the religious Marcus (Ving Rhames), Frank's second partner. At one point, Frank discretely resuscitates an overdose victim (apparently by the name of I.B Bangin') in a gothic night club with a shot of adrenaline, and Marcus uses this as a chance to gather the club goers in a circle and preach to the lord, convincing them that it was god who spared the man, not medicine. This macabre humour is constant and in a melancholic film about the unwanted in society dying, adds to the unusual, nightmarish, dream-like experience of watching it. Sotinel (2010: 72) says that this humour has 'nothing in common with the sadism prevalent in American cinema at the time'. Again - perhaps this is why it failed, because it veers from the straight-faced hellish to the plain bizarre without any warning. Unlike, say Fight Club, released the same year, Bringing out the Dead also doesn't relish violence, but in fact seems appalled by it. 

    Even though it's a relentlessly grim vision of 1990s New York, Bringing out the Dead turns out to be one of Scorsese's most optimistic films. It's certainly one of his most underrated. Damon Smith, writing on the website for New York's Moving Image museum says that it does not need to be rescued from oblivion; it needs to be resuscitated.




    References: 

    Conard, M. (2007). The Philosophy of Martin Scorsese. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press.

    Ebert, R. (2008) Scorsese by Ebert. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    LoBrutto, V. (2008). Scorsese: A Biography. Westport: Praeger Publishers.

    Miliora, M. (2004). Scorsese Psyche on Screen: Roots of Themes and Characters in the Films. North Carolina: McFarland and Company.

    Nyce, B. (2004). Scorsese Up Close: A Study of the Films. Oxford: Scarecrow Press.

    Shary, T. (2013). Millennial Masculinity: Men in Contemporary American Cinema. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

    Sotinel, T. (2010) Martin Scorsese. Paris: Cahiers Du Cinema Sarl.

    'Urban Gothic' Cinematographer Robert Richardson, ASC rejoins director Martin Scorsese for a harrowing look at the life of a troubled EMT in Bringing Out the Dead. American Society of Cinematographers. (https://theasc.com/magazine/nov99/urban/pg1.htm)

    Tuesday, March 26, 2019

    The Trouble With Books

    The Chinese invented printing, but their writing system required a large number of typefaces, which made for very high up-front capital costs to print even a single short book.  Centuries after the slow dawn of Chinese printing Gutenberg in Germany, taking advantage of a concise phonetic alphabet, requiring only a small number of typefaces, invented a printing method that required much less up-front capital than Chinese printers.  The Internet has even more radically lowered up-front capital costs to publish than did the Gutenberg revolution.

    Chinese printed works were vast but rare. European books were smaller but still too long. Internet works are the actual length a reader needs, they are (or soon will be) available practically everywhere, and often readers can interact frequently with the author.

    Most readers don't want to spend most of their time reading verbose works by single author, when a greater variety of more relevant and thoughtfully concise works are available from a much larger pool of thinkers. Prior to the Internet they had much less choice: books were just the way educated people learned and taught.  (And many people still believe that reading and writing books is the sine quo non of being educated, just as many Europeans in 1500 still lauded the superiority of scribal methods and scholastic thought).

    Magazines and newspapers involve smaller form factors, but they still draw from a very small pool of authors.  These authors can only write in detail about a wider variety of subjects by pretending to know things that they don't: they take human institutions far more complicated than a single human can possibly comprehend and boil them down to a series of hypersimplified theories, what in less authoritative contexts we'd call ideologies or conspiracy theories.

    Instead of being forced to read a vast number of words each from a small number and variety of authors, already widely read by many other people (making your reading of them often quite intellectually redundant), on the Internet you can read much less per-author text (and thus, potentially at least, far more thought out per word) from a much greater number and variety of authors.

    The Internet also can be more interactive with more select groups than the old face-to-face + snail-mail + books regime— providing much more opportunity for Socratic dialog, glossing, and other intellectual processes that were too often neglected after Gutenberg.  And while the Internet can produce far higher amounts of garbage,  mixing up thoughtlessly popular haystacks with thoughtfully rare needles, search engines and links often make wading through these vasty spaces much easier.  The Internet allows you to meet people who share your specialized interests and dialog with them, making possible specific interactions that rarely happened in the old regime.  However, without actually reading the content, i.e. while initially searching for it, it is hard to distinguish thoughtless (even though textual) content from the thoughtful content -- a big reason why at least for the moment book-literacy retains its aura of intellectual superiority over Internet literacy: scholarly publishers with their monetary incentives often take the time to select the most thoughtful works for our consideration.  Nevertheless, they lack the knowledge needed to select the most relevant works to match the wide variety of interests and knowledge of their readers, or to judge well among works outside their specialties.

    Much as more efficient and speedier transportation networks enabled labor and natural resources to be brought together in a much greater variety of ways, so does the Internet by providing more direct and speedy connections between minds enable a far greater division of knowledge than was possible with in the face-to-face+snail-mail+books regime. However, in contrast to the economy of things, that division of knowledge is largely (so far, at least, and still mostly for the foreseeable future) unmonetized: the information economy is a vastly different beast than the economy of things.

    That said, there is a good book(!) that covers much of this (along with of course a bunch of introductory material redundant for most readers, as well as the typical trivial or thoughtless text added to pad it out to books size):  Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson.

    tl;dr if you thought this blog post was too long, why would you ever pick up a book?