Frontier Pop Issue 5: Working

FRONTIER POP: Frontier Pop Issue 5 - Future video games, video game scapegoats, iPad news, Freedom: The Lie.

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Balancing work between Frontier Pop and our affiliated sites. Passinault explains how the new publishing schedule will work.

WORKING: Current Issue, Issue 5, Volume 1, for Tuesday, August 17, 2010. New Issue published every Tuesday, and updated throughout the week. Next issue due online August 24, 2010.


081710-0800 - Passinault: Hey, even with all of the crazy work that I'm doing, I now have a schedule! We'll be alright, although most of the features of Frontier Pop will go the Advanced Model route, and will now be updated on a monthly basis.

082010-0856 - Passinault: Spent a lot of time fixing things on Frontier Pop, as well as adding a ton of content. The good news is that, with issue 6 on Tuesday, I should be caught up. This means that most of the site content should be current with the next issue. I've also adjusted my schedule so I can get extra time if the site needs it. My main sections need more content, too, and they should be up within a week.



We’re working all over the place... and most of that work, although it is not on Frontier Pop, is seen as an extension of the Frontier Pop site.
So, with all of that going on, you may be wondering, why, or why, should we be checking out Frontier Pop?
Allow me to answer your inquiry.
Frontier Pop Issue 5: WorkingThe answer is simple, it seems. You see, not only is Frontier Pop a weekly online magazine with monthly main features, it also serves as a marketing and lead-in site for all of my web sites, but focusing on my DJ, event planning, stage production, talent resource, photography, design, advertising, blogs, business sites, Tampa Bay Film, and the Frontier Society sites. Wow.... I certainly do have a lot of web sites.
The idea, it seems, is to print up a ton of marketing material and business cards for Frontier Pop, hand them out, and allow the people to find what is relevant to what they are looking for.
Also, with all of this work going on, the main features of Frontier Pop are going to be monthly, at best. So, my weekly online magazine, which will be updated weekly with a new “issue”, is actually, now, a monthly online magazine with a weekly blog issue. How’s that for a hybrid?
Why not just make it a monthly online magazine? Well, there is a reason. Frontier Pop will eventually become a weekly online magazine with lots of features. I want to keep it consistent, however, and have the archive framework to fill it out when we have the chance. So, when we add articles and feature content to the content-relevant sections of the Frontier Pop web site in the future, I’ll go back to archived issues and add content to them to fill them out, as well as links to the new content.
So, yes, the site is lean now, but it can be expanded in the future. That’s good news.
Now that I’ve addressed all of this, I will state that Frontier Pop has to have priority, and if one day a week is not enough to do the job, I’ll take two, if necessary. I’m already starting to get complaints, and with the site being brand new, first impressions are important. Concerning the shoddy, glitchy updates, I am sorry. I accept full responsibility. At the time of this writing, we’ve been doing extensive work to the supporting content, and the new archives, of Frontier Pop, and things will get better effective immediately.
You see, Frontier Pop is very important to us, and it is my most important site. Therefore, time has to be put aside to get this done. I’m serious about this, and within the next issue or two, the starting pains will become history, I’m sure.
I also have some interesting content for this issue. I have a rather extensive thesis on the future of video games, and another piece addressing morons who make video games a scapegoat for all of the evils of the world. I also write about taxes and toll trolls, as well as something about the iPad, and what’s this.... a smaller version of the iPad? Read on, faithful readers!
Let mistakes stay in the past. The future begins now.

IN THIS ISSUETampa modeling portfolios, model testing, and modeling portfolio photography.

Future Video Games
I wrote the following as a response to a question which a reader posted on my Frontier Pop Facebook profile wall. He inquired about the possibility of future video games incorporating a level of detail of the characters having bones, organs, and other features.

I suppose that it depends upon the level of detail that the scope of the game demands.
Although games with brain-dead NPC "enemies" have their proper place (gameplay patterns to learn and exploit, etc), most of my games will use artificial life as a building block for the game. In computers, there is no such thing as a genuine ability to generate random numbers. Therefore, there will always be patterns in any given game. The key is to make the number of possible patterns so infinite that there is a solid illusion of randomness, and the chance that the player will encounter the same game situation twice is highly improbable.
I like games with levels which have the same “drone” enemy characters following a preset pattern, as these set conditions are a large part of the game. Most of my games will not do this, however. Using artificial life subroutines, with input, output, information processing, character traits which determine the reactions to certain stimuli, limits in sensory perception, and programmed environmental factors, it is possible to set up a complex, organic game which takes on a life of its own. The number of variables, and the complex way that they interact in, would make games which would be highly unpredictable. The game would have unparalleled depth, and the game would be hard to put down just because of a; balanced gameplay, b; exploration of the organic nature, and c; overall challenge.
Of course, the game would have to be balanced, and I’m imagining that it would have to be tested a lot to make sure that the challenge would not be too tough (shortcut cheats, such as the “rubber band” AI band-aid used in Mario Kart 64, would have to be avoided; although, in that case, the game uses traditional patterns instead of what I’d employ). Additionally, game details itself would have to be tailored. The detail in enemy movements would have to be increases so that there were “clues” to what the game was doing. The difficulty of enemy NPC’s would be a result to how much they “telegraph” their moves to the player. Instead of relying upon learned patterns, the player would have to pay close attention to what was going on in the game, and take cues on how to react from those observations.
The result would be a very different kind of video game, and games that would never get old, because they never play the same way twice. Imagine a game that would be fun just to play. Beating the game is one thing, but being able to play around in the game, and tinker with it, would add an entirely new dimension.
My games, too, would also be 100% customizable, with the game created by a game editor
Tampa headshots for talent, actors, and businesswhich would be packaged with the game; I would buy the best levels and scenarios back from the players, and package them in future updates. Regarding the infinite “random” gameplay variations, I’d also include the ability to lock-in scenarios that the player liked, such as a bookmark feature, as the scenario would not likely be experienced again. A lot of the fun would be discovering new variants of the game which arose from the artificial life interactions (and, it should be noted, that the established way of hardwiring Artificial Intelligence in software is both limiting, and backwards. True artificial intelligence only arises pout of using the complex interactions of simple artificial life “building blocks”; the same way that real intelligence in real forms of life works).
This concept of video game design is several decades ahead of what is done now, but can be done with present technology.
I wish that Grand Theft Auto was programmed this way. It’s fun as it is now, but would be ten times better if they used artificial life subroutines to generate the artificial intelligence.
Regarding your virtual organ level of detail with the NPC’s, and even the player character, it would be interesting, but would have to serve a purpose integral to the gameplay, and the scope of the game. For example, the level of detail with internal organs would prove to be useful in determining damage and injuries. Take out a leg, and mobility is limited. A gut shot to the intestines would cause a long, slow, painful death. Damage assessment and action modifiers would be the useful result of such a feature.
Modern computers are mostly underused with current games. The power of the computers is used for better and better graphic, and not necessarily to enhance the game or the gameplay. This is why most current games are a bit cookie cutter, and not much better than the games available in the 1990's.
With modern computers, you could deliver a beautiful, sprite based 2-D game (limiting the gameplay to 2D gives focus to the experience), with 16 Bit graphics, and have tons of computer power left over to manage the AL/AI processes under the “hood”. It’s just too bad that most game developers aren’t doing this, yet.

Morons Scapegoat Video Games
Last week, on Tampa Bay television station Fox 13, there was a news story about a “reformed” video game “addict” who stated that video games are addictive, and that they derived his life of all hope and meaning, and that he almost jumped off of a bridge because of his video gaming “addiction”. Well, you know what? Surprise, surprise, he had wrote a book about evil video games, and he was trying to sell it to other morons. I’m just surprised that a video game addict, who “kicked the habit”, and who “had no control over his gaming” (and professed that he was powerless to control his habit) had, surprise, surprise, some crappy looking online video game (looked like an MMO) installed on a laptop, and had the laptop displaying the game on a large flatscreen while he played it for the reporter. The game looked like it played like sloppy crap, too. Wow, a “real” gamer! I wouldn’t know what one was, if they hadn’t done a story about one!
Hey, listen, I could understand someone getting over an addiction, and limiting the temptation by keeping around a gameboy or something, but when they go through all of that trouble to install a game on a PC, I have to wonder. In my opinion, this guy is a hypocrite looking to cash in on the hysteria over video games, which most morons don’t understand, and therefore jump to conclusions.
This may be wrong, but maybe the world would have been better off if this opportunistic, paste-eating Waldo nerd HAD jumped off of the bridge.
The following is what I sent to a reporter friend in response to the story.

Count me as someone who does not like this story.
I am sick and tired of people who have no clue what they are talking about making a scapegoat out of games (or, in this case, in my opinion, by someone who is trying to sell a book at the expense of gaming). ANYTHING can be overdone, and become an addiction for those rare people who have addictive personalities, and who are prone to addictions. Video games are no more of a risk for addiction than anything else.
One problem that video games have is that people don’t try to understand them, and, automatically, they become a bad thing. Video games are better for you than watching movies. They exercise the brain, as well as the hand-eye coordination. In my experience, video gamers have an advantage in business, and in the job market, too. Their cognitive abilities are enhanced, and they learn things faster.
Ok, so this man has had some issues with addiction. I can understand that. But why, must I ask, does he have a game installed on his laptop, and plugged into a television, when he is a “recovering” addict? So, he has the temptation in front of him, but NOW he is able to put down the “controller”. Also, I love that his book was on the table next to his computer (I spotted that as soon as the package- news story- began, and immediately knew where the story was going, and that it was going to end up being a pitch for his book). Typical MMO PC player, if you ask me. No life, and it’s easy when you have no life to get lost in a game (and what game is he playing? It looks like crap, and playing on a computer with a mouse looks like it plays like crap, too. That said, note that I am a console video game expert, and not so much into PC games).
I may end up buying his book, used, so he doesn’t make a dime off of me. I’ll read it for the laugh. Also, he’s an English teacher, and not a doctor? Is he qualified to open up game “addiction” clinics? We’re supposed to have a “recovered” addict who still obviously plays video games help other video game “addicts”? Isn’t this kind of like the blind leading the blind, as well as hypocritical?
Don’t make me send out press releases about the virtues of video games. It looks like I may have to step up and educate the ignorant masses that video games are NOT bad.

Taxes, Tolls, and Trolls

Freedom: The Lie

The iPad: Gaming Platform of the future?

Comment: Oh man.. Pinball on the ipad is pretty fun.

My response:
Other than "Zen Bound", are there any good games on the Touch / iPad? Zen Bound was brilliant, and made perfect use of the touch screen. The touch screen is not optimized for other video games, however, as you need tactile feedback and tight controls (i.e. a physical interface such as a D-pad, and buttons). I've tried a ton of games on the Ipod Touch, and now know the limitations of the platform (It's said that Steve Jobs isn't into games, and did not design the Touch, or the iPad, for games. Video games were shoehorned onto a platform which was not made for them).

Question: I like the iPod Touch, and this iPad seems to be an expansion of that product. There is one problem, though: The iPod Touch cannot do anything serious like my Palm TX can (add keyboard, word processing, etc). It also is a flawed gameplayer (it may have the ability to play games, but video games were shoehorned into a product which is not optimized to play games). It's no PSP, or even DS (add a D pad and some buttons to the iPod Touch, though, and I'll be happy). Likewise, the iPad may be a great media player, but it's no substitute for a laptop or dedicated PC. You can't do work, or create, with it.
Regarding the camera, and other "features", why should this be a point of loss? I'm a gadget fan, but I'm really tired of devices such as cell phone which try to do everything, but nothing really as well as a dedicated device. Cell phone cameras such. The lense quality and the focal length are not worth it. Until the cost of technology comes down to a point where you get a device which does everything at least as good as that of an optimized device, count me out. I'll stick to buying individual devices which do what they are supposed to do well.... Case in point: The new Canon SLRs which shoot video. I'd rather have a digital SLR for a still camera, and an HD video camera for video. The all in one devices are not great, and if they were, they wouldn't be cost-effective.
Going back to the iPad, add a d pad, dual analog sticks, and buttons, then I'll be more inclined to get one. Then again, to make an ergonomic video game machine, the form factor would have to change a bit (and those features would have to be standard to make them matter- no add-ons). Ah, the iArcade. I can dream, can't I?
Then we turn to Apple products. Speaking on an industrial design aspect, they proved that simple is better. The form factor, and features, of most Apple products are simple. My techie friends and I refer to Apple computers as "turn key" computers, computers for people who want things simple. As a result, the products are limited, as compared to PC's and dedicated/ optimized products. You'll never get a truly revolutionary all-in-one device.
Don't get me started with those slick Apple commercials where they bring up points that Apple computers are more "secure" than PC's, either. They say that Apple machines are not vulnerable to viruses. They are machines, and they are. What they don't point out is that the install base for Apple machines is much smaller than with the PC, and it is less cost-effective for virus writers to spend their time on a minority market. Don't you just love the P.R. spin?!?!?!?
This said, I really do like Apple, and I have to respect the passion that iJustine has for Apple. I suppose that I'd be the same way for video games.

Man, I don't know what to think about people who are such fans of Apple that they lose all objectivity, and the ability to criticize, and blindly follow Steve Jobs and his company like they are the second coming.
I need to make MY businesses and careers like that! It shall be done.

iPad mini rumored.....

Is The New EGM Monthly?
An open letter to the editors of Electronic Gaming Monthly

Is the print magazine of EGM monthly? There is a lot of confusion with me, especially when you guys lump in the digital and the print versions of the magazine; I don’t like it when I go to my mailbox, wanting to read the latest issue of EGM, and I don’t see anything for what seems like forever (at least, a lot longer than a month!). With the electronic version, I want something that I can download to my computer and read offline. The print version is especially confusing, though. Your subscription says either "6 or 12 issues", but fails to clarify if it's 12 print issues a year, or if those 6 issues are for a six month subscription. Is there even a six month subscription? I certainly hope not! A six month subscription would be like double charging the customer for a year of magazines!
I'm sure that I'm not the only one confused, and annoyed, by this. This said, I DO like the new EGM, although it's no Edge, or Games TM (or even Retro Gamer), which continue to be superior publications. Bang for the buck, I'd even say that Game Informer is a better deal, despite the slightly lower quality, because I get a print copy every month.
I will tell you this: Your readers appreciate quality. I have no problem paying over $30.00 a month for my gaming magazines (I pay $10.00 for Edge, $10.00 for Games TM, and $12.00 for Retro Gamer every month). It's a pity that I'm not getting more PRINT magazines of EGM, especially since I happily was one of the first ones to subscribe to the rebooted mag!
I’ve been an avid reader of EGM since 1992, and I miss the monthly issues of the past, especially the issues from the mid to late 90's, which seemed to be when EGM was at its prime.
Please, please, PLEASE clarify this!
Chris Passinault
Frontier Pop



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There is nothing which caught our interest this week in the Tampa Bay scene. Check back next week for news of something worth checking out, we hope. At any rate, make sure that you think twice before supporting any charities (see our new Charity Scam section), as about half of them make money for the organizers at the expense of the cause that they claim to be supporting. Don’t enable, or support, a scam, as the people who do charity scams are bad people.



Updated this week....
I'm working on things. Really.


The Frontier Pop Reader Reactor

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Evil Nolan Evil Nolan - Posted 08/17/10: 0910

Even though you scaled back your issues, I am still having trouble competiting with you. Blast you, Passinault! You are my number one nemesis, and you are treading upon the one joy that I have left in my lonely, lonely life! So lonely.....

08/17/10 - 11/10/10 - 01/16/13

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