The crazy Vegas-style pool at UT

Butler took me over to the new swimming pool and beach facility they built in the middle of the UT campus. It was crazy! The scene was of the scale and quality level of some of those higher-end pools in Vegas. Inside is one of the nicest and largest gym/workout facilities I have ever seen, and the whole thing costs only $450 for the year. I’m pretty sure my tax money goes to subsidize this, but I don’t want to think about it.

The Pool Part Two

The Pool at UT

Synthetic Worlds mentions our corporation

I read this interesting book called Synthetic Worlds by Edward Castronova on the plane to GDC and I was shocked when I got to chapter 7.

The book is basically about virtual worlds and how they have real economies and the willingness of people to put their real life on the back burner because they consider these virtual worlds to be a more fulfilling experience. I’ve seen all of this first-hand, of course, but it was interesting to read the professorial Castronova’s analysis. Among other observations, he first made notoriety in gaming circles for determining that Norrath (the virtual world inside Everquest) has a real world GDP slighty larger than Bulgaria. That is, the average worker in Bulgaria would be better served playing Everquest all day; they would make more money.
Chapter 7, in particular, talks about the merging of real life corporations and in-game communities. The chapter begins by quoting from me, yes yours truly, albeit while in character as I wrote our in-game corporate website. Although I am not attributed at all (which is strange, but I am not mad), the entire chapter talks about “Taggart Transdimensional” and the corporation we built for the online space-based MMO called Eve Online. There is a previous post about this here. We created this virtual company for a virtual game that was based on a real corporation. We took this approach because of the sophisticated nature of the game itself, which demanded that an organization have various disciplines work in concert: mining, industry, defense, finance, trading, etc. We had to do everything a real corporation does from HR to accounting to recruitment; and the organization was constantly evolving (see high level org chart).

Anyway, it was a very surreal experience to be reading that chapter on the plane and read about Castronova’s analysis of what we built in that game and how it is a harbinger of the real-life merging of out-of-game and in-game organizations.

Synthetic Worlds

Synthetic Worlds

Synthetic Worlds

David Cross came over

We were entertained by the stylings of Smarty Pants yesterday. And yes, that link is worth clicking on. He’s great for kids’ birthday parties and the balloons he made were really amazing. I think he is also available for funerals and Mexican riot pre-parties, but I am not totally sure.

In that second picture, he is sporting a Darth Vader Balloon Mask.

Ethan and David Cross

Ehtan and Darth Smarty

Cranking through Oblivion

I snapped these pictures last night after I played Oblivion way too long. But I can’t wait to get back into the world tomorrow night.

Oblivion Grey Fox

New Raiment

The Red Room (ala Twin Peaks)

Here is a long overdue picture of the living room that we repainted a few months ago. Well, this is actually a picture of some lemons, but they are in the red room. You might remember that during the initial race war, my son almost ignited a race riot in our foyer.

Living Room at Night

Lost in Oblivion

This game is just incredible. I can barely believe something can be both so broad and so deep at same time. Oblivion is by far the best RPG ever made. I am actually shocked at how much I am enjoying playing it on the XBox 360, when I am traditionally a mouse n’ keyboard kinda RPG guy. It’s very nice to lay back on the couch with a blanket and the wireless controller and jam it loud on the stereo. It kind of annoys my family, but not my virtual family in Oblivion.

A Dark Elf Harpist joining the Dark Brotherhood

Maybe I have been playing too much Oblivion, but that is all I can think of when I look back at this picture I took from GDC last week.

Harp Secrets

Cheating in Korean MMPs

Cheating in online games is a fairly significant problem, and there is a new way to do it in Korea. I found this very interesting.

People can buy (or build) “dongles” that attach to their mouse port that contain important macro behaviors to kill monsters automatically, retreat, heal, loot, etc. There are people that just plug this dongle into their computer everyday before they go to work. It’s very hard for the MMP operator to detect because the USB dongle appears to act rather similar to a mouse because the software actually analyzes the video signal and makes “fuzzy” choices.

Maty Weirdness Postmortem

We are still having a bit of trouble explaining “death” to Ethan, who just turned five years old so he is not highly trained in death and taxes. He is obviously sad, and he goes down the hill to the old tree to visit Maty’s grave every day. But we are still not sure he “gets” it.

Here is an example of why we are confused. I am not sure if this is an indication of my son being very creative or very weird, but it certainly is a nice display of orthogonal thinking, which I always like to see. Conversation as follows:

Me (Dad): “Yes Maty is in heaven now.” [pause]

Ethan: [confused, staring out the window]

Dad: “So she can now always watch you.” [pause]

Ethan: [still staring out the window, working things out]

Dad: “And now while she is watching you on your adventures she can protect you.”

Ethan: [creases his eyebrows] “So, you mean if I am walking down the street, and I see a bad guy, then Maty will appear and she won’t have any eyeballs or bones and the bad guy will think she is some kinda alien and then he will run away scared?”

Dad: [confused, staring out the window]

Trey, Ethan, and Maty at Thanksgiving

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