Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Marine Corps Role Playing Game Revisited

A couple of months ago I wrote a post linking to an interesting tactical decision game in that month’s issue of the Marine Corps Gazette. Some of the solutions to this game (along with a reprint of the scenario) have been published here. The key decision of the game revolved around whether a Marine corporal leading a four man recon team should disregard his orders to “avoid confrontation with the enemy except for self-protection” in order to save a couple of local girls from being gang raped by a larger foreign military force.

Three responses were printed. One solution was for the Marines to snipe the rapists in order to force them to cover so the girls will have a chance to escape, and then to withdraw from the area. Another solution was to report the incident to higher-ranking officers and allow the platoon staff to make the decision as to whether the Marines can deviate from the established plan. The third solution also reports the incident to headquarters and asks for direction, but this solution is a bit more explicit in suggesting that the team be allowed to rescue the girls. The author of the third solution does not give any rank, and may be a civilian. I find it interesting that the author of the second solution is a 2nd lieutenant, while the author of the first solution (and the game) is a major. Keep in mind that both officers are supposed to be solving the game as if they were just a corporal.

Only two data points is not enough to really draw general conclusions, but if I had to take a lesson about the most likely Marine response to a real situation similar to this tactical decision game I would guess that the corporal leading the recon team would probably report the incident to his commanding officer, who would then give the team permission to risk their lives to save the local girls from being raped.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Online Movie Recommendation 16

Two weeks ago, I mentioned hobbyists who created films using the PXL-2000 camera. This week's recommendation is a film done with the PXL-2000:


On the Age of Men

My co-blogger, Mr. Bloggs, recently put up a post with a good, succinct response to Rep. Murtha’s cowardly desire to abandon the Liberal Iraqis to our mutual enemies. The post links to an excerpt from the character Aragorn’s rallying speech to the troops of Gondor in The Return of The King. For those of you who cannot play the clip, the heart of his speech is:

“Hold your ground! Hold your ground!
Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers,
I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.
A day may come when the courage of men fails,
when we forsake our friends
and break all bonds of fellowship,
but it is not this day.
An hour of wolves and shattered shields,
when the age of men comes crashing down,
but it is not this day!
This day we fight!!
By all that you hold dear on this good Earth,
I bid you stand, Men of the West!!!”

This is certainly an appropriate response to Rep. Murtha’s despicable desire to abandon our friends in Iraq. There is one minor nit I have to pick with this speech in the context of The West’s current predicament, however. Aragorn was fighting for an “age of men”, but I don’t think that is an appropriate term for what we now fight for.

When Islamofacists cut off the heads of their enemies or kill children to terrorize a neighborhood into obeying them Western pundits call them “inhuman” and “monsters” and wonder “how can people do such a thing?”. The Islamofacists are centainly inhumane and evil, but they are also certainly not inhuman monsters. They are very human, and it is dangerous of us to deny that human beings can and do behave in this despicable way. Anyone who thinks that treating women like property, killing and enslaving people who are different than you, terrorizing your neighbors into obedience, and taking pleasure in the pain and humiliation of your enemies is not a natural human condition must not know much about history or anthropology. The enemies of The West are not inhuman oddities; they are people behaving like people have since before history began. We are the exceptions, not them. The multiculturalists like to believe that a Universtiy campus is the end result of human nature, and that all cultures would naturally produce decent and civilized citizens whose main difference from The West is the quaint native dances and the exotic local food that they sampled on their latest alumni travel junket. The unpleasant truth is that an oppressed man’s first instinct is not to dream of living in a free society where he is equal to his oppressor. An oppressed man’s first instinct is to dream of still living in a tyranny, but one where he is on top and his current oppressors get to feel his boot on their throats.

The West does not fight now for an “age of men,” our enemies do. Alone the Islamofacists cannot prevail, but modern Western civilization has more enemies than just ruthless Mohammadans. It is my fear that together those enemies will tear down the institutions that made The West such an exception to the natural condition of mankind and then fall on each other as each faction wants to be the one on top with all others under their bootheel. I fear that we may see a return to the Age of Men. It will be a shame, too. I will dearly miss the Age of Laws.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Online Movie Recommendation 15

Last week I mentioned hobbyists who created films using stop-motion-animation of LEGOs. This week's recommendation (not appropriate for some young viewers) is an example of that art:

It was made by Nosniborus Productions. More "brickfilms" can be found at


Never To Forsake Our Friends

An excellent answer to Rep. Murtha and one with which I wholeheartedly agree.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


The Future of Tacky Clothing

The holidays are just around the corner. Inevitably you’ll start to see people showing up for work or Christmas parties in tacky electronically enhanced holiday clothing such as shirts with Christmas trees on them where little LEDs on it really illuminate the decorative lights, sweaters with an embroidered reindeer with a blinking red LED for a nose, ties that play Christmas carols, or hats that count the minutes until New Year’s Day. I haven’t seen any clothes yet with novelty menorah images on them where LEDs light up the appropriate number of fabric candles, but I’m sure someone is making them.

Just wait a few years until someone perfects machine washable fabrics with eink type display technology on them and you’ll really see some tacky holiday clothing that makes present LED enhanced ones look bland. People will be able to have whole animated Christmas specials playing on their chests or hats. I expect that after showing up on expensive novelty clothing this electronic display fabric will spread. Next high-end vendors will give away hats, tie tacks, or shirts with animated product logos at conventions and to big customers. Then when the technology becomes cheap enough you will start to see animated images and scrolling text on T-shirts, hooded jackets, hats, and other popular apparel. In my mind’s eye I can already see the old people walking around the mall with “My Cute Grandchildren” slideshows playing on their sweaters. If you were upset to see 14 year old girls prancing around with shorts that had the word “juicy” written across their butt, just wait until you see what the fashion designers can do with sexually suggestive full color animations. I wouldn’t be surprised if the technology for clothing with build-in wearable video displays arrives in time to produce some really interesting political T-shirts for the aught-eight presidential elections. Combine them with this with touch sensitive clothing and the options seem almost limitless.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Tough Guy Award 6

Darwin works both ways, and man didn’t get to the top of the food chain by accident. The “Tough Guy Award” is the opposite of the Darwin Award.

This week's tough guy award goes to Wayne Goldsberry of Arkansas. Mr. Goldsberry was working on the computer at his daughter's home when a five-point whitetailed deer crashed through a window and ran into the master bedroom. After telling his wife to call the police, Mr. Goldsberry went into the bedroom and wrestled the deer for 40 minutes before he was able to kill the animal by breaking it's neck with his bare hands. Mr. Goldsberry had the deer butchered.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Machinima: A New Type of Videogame

The last four online movie recommendations have all been machinima. Basically they are short movies made by recording video games as the players act out scenes in the game, and then editing them and adding voice actors. Two of the movies I linked to were made using the Halo first-person-shooter video games, and two were made using The Sims 2. Right now machinima is made with video games that were never designed to be used as movie making devices; creative hobbyists and artists have just taken games intended for a different purpose and used them to make movies.

I think there is a market for a “video game” that essentially is a machinima movie making kit. Most video games are just that, games. But historically there have been “games” sold for video game consoles that were really just a tool to let the game user create something. The old Atari 2600 had a game cartridge that allowed the user to write computer programs in the BASIC language*. Nintendo had a game cartridge called Mariopaint that let the user create drawings, music, and even animation. The first video featuring the popular web cartoon character Homestar Runner was created using Mariopaint. A machinima movie making kit would be a “game” in the tradition of these previous video game creative environments rather than a traditional game that you can win by scoring points or eliminating opponents. Think of it as a virtual version of the LEGO MovieMaker Set or a Fisher-Price “My First Movie Camera” PXL-2000.

I think a successful machinima movie making game for today’s video game consoles would combine features of first-person-shooters like Halo 2 (which give users very good real-time control of the virtual actors) with features of simulation games like The Sims 2 (which gives users very good control over what the game environment looks like). Users would be able to design virtual movie sets, props, and characters by creating and furnishing buildings, landscaping the outdoors, customizing vehicles, and designing & costuming virtual actors in the “The Sims 2” style of play with a set builder toolbox. Once the set, props, and characters are created a director’s toolbox would allow the user to plan various scenes and special effects similar to the way Rainbow Six allows players to plan military raids. Putting the game in “actor mode” would allow the users to act out the scenes by furiously manipulating their video game controls in an attempt to get the virtual actors to hit their marks and respond to each other, similar to the way that users control characters in first-person-shooters while trying to get them to shoot weapons and dodge enemies. Alternatively, some or all of the virtual actors could be put on automatic so that they move and emote to the director’s plan without any human intervention. A post-production toolbox would allow the user to edit the video he created and add voices (or other sounds). Lastly, a smart video game company would also have a website for users to upload their finished movies, review other people’s movies, compare notes on techniques, and trade custom created characters, sets, and props.

The key to such a game, I think, would be flexibility. Some users would just want to boot up a blank “Our Town” set, put it in “actor mode” and start improvising scenes with each other. Other users might want to create very elaborate scenes, environments, or effects in the director’s toolbox or set builder toolbox and not even try their hand at virtual acting at all. A well done machinima movie making game would accommodate them all.

* Which seems like any easy “game” for someone to remake for today’s gaming consoles, and it would let a whole new demographic of people develop a better understanding of how computers really function. I wonder how popular that would be. I also wonder if it would be worth some private organization producing such a game just for the educational benefits it would provide. If anyone really decides to make one of these, please don’t make it for PASCAL!


Update: Here is a link to the 2005 Machnima Awards, if you want to see some of the best examples of the hobby. Hattip: Through The Looking Glass. Also, there was a very primitive version of this in the early 1990's called Stunt Island but it focused just on making and filming stunts, not whole movies. There is also some of this functionality in the new game The Movies, which is a simulation of managing a movie studio. There, making movies is part of the larger game not an end in itself and the user has correspondingly much less powerful tools and less flexibility than in the "game" I propose here. They did think to make good use of their website as a user community, though.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Online Movie Recommendation 14

This week's recommendation is another machinima video made with The Sims 2. It is the first episode of the award winning series The Strangerhood by Rooster Teeth Productions:


Monday, November 14, 2005


COT #13 is up

Despite what you may have heard, I didn't write "The Future of Media, Not Now But Soon."


An Old Friend Returns

Steven Den Beste appears to have returned to the world of blogging. Check out his new entries at his diary.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Online Movie Recommendation 13

This week's movie recommendation is the first episode of the three episode machinima series "The Awakening":

It made using The Sims 2 video game, and is about a Sims 2 character who begins to figure out how artificial the video game world he lives in is.

The rest of the episodes can be found at the series creator's website "Atlas Enterprises" under the "movies" link.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Paris Riots and City Planning

Muslim riots continue in Paris for the 9th day. How could this happen in Paris of all places? Weren't Paris's wide boulevards and radiating spoke streets specifically designed to make it easy to stop riots? Judging from the lack of grapeshot I can only assume that Paris has forgotten its history, and the old contingency plans gather dust in the offices of people who think that traffic circles exist only to make driving more interesting.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Online Movie Recommendation 12

This week's recommendation is the first episode of an amateur talk show called "This Spartan Life." The episode is broken down into 6 files:

I think the Bob Stein interview in the third segment is the best. Like last week's recommendation, this video is made using one of the Halo videogames.

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