Archive for the ‘Toy’ Category

Hackfest 1101110

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

– hacked on D and GTK-D
– making a texteditor (textmate+vim clone)
– entering exploratory phase of magic web framework
– tentatively titled “stellar”
– derived attributes, caching, everything in the model
– a big “F.U.” to M.V.C.
– wrote a stack-based language: “yonth”
– adding more primitive operations tonight: greater_than, not_equals
– reading about Joy language, quoting
– scrambled for launch
– successful except for minor communications snafu
– so it became an internal launch
– reading sicp, and mythical man month
– received shiny new macbookpro at work
– received shiny emails from future professors
– ate quinoa
Anna Marie:
– wetting her pinky toe in web design
– working on a portfolio site for a friend
– figured out text-align: justify in Dreamweaver
– (still her means of coding)
– released documentation for Miru:

atlhack art: sticker

Sunday, December 4th, 2005

If we find a way to produce static stickers (pdf):


Hackfest Podcast

Friday, December 2nd, 2005

This week’s hackfest was brought to you by the letters M and P and the number 3!  Our first "podcast".

Punctuating Clocks

Monday, November 14th, 2005

In Laurie Anderson’s performance piece The End of the Moon she suggests that instead of ending sentences with periods, we might end them with clocks, signaling how long was spent on each.

I thought, "Emacs!", with the idea of making a gimmicky blog toy. Luke convinced me we might work to make it more generic, so it could be used as a program analysis tool as well.

The first version is rough, inserts directly into the text, and doesn’t account for edits.

Future versions will have the following characteristics:
1. Instead of using keystrokes, will take advantage of emacs’ structure of generic coding-text systems. It already knows where the statements begin and end.
2. Represent the time-stamps in some hidden form in the text, perhaps like glyphs or text properties. This would imply a separate render command. Luke points out that we’ll need accompanying files with these annotations for the source code case.
3. Come up with more clever renderings.
4. Can turn the system off.

The first draft is at

Component: Agent AI

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005

The Agent AI is the focus of the simulation. Each character should seem to have a life of their own, and the characters collectively should act as a system. Aspects of this are:


A Disposition, in this case, is a relationship between the character and something else: another character, a place,an activity, an object, or the player. It represents how much a character likes or dislikes that thing. Simply a reference and a quantity are all that is required for a disposition. The character will form these as that character interacts with things and they will effect the character’s behavior.


The character can “see” all that goes on in the character’s own “cell.” These are added to characters “memory”- a list of events that the character observes. There are enumerably many actions that a character or the player may take. Each action has a negative or positive effect on whatever entity the action is performed on. In addition, the character may have a “disposition” toward whatever object the action is performed against. This effects how the character interprets ths info.
So when a character observes an event, the recorded “memory” includes the character performing the action, the action itself, the object that is the target and the computed reaction, which is how much the character likes or dislikes the action.


Each character can share his information with others. What the character decides to talk about depends on the importance of the event, computed by how recent the event is and how it affected the character. Each character knows the difference between what they saw and what they heard. Characters will talk to each other as well as the player.


Each character has their favorite activities and their favorite places, but they will not simply do their favorite thing all day and night. The compulsion to do an activity will decrease as the character is doing that activity. They will grow “bored” with what they are doing and go on to something else. Here, a boring equilibrium should not be reached. Randomness and in-game events will change the character’s priorities.


The characters personality is determined by a series of metrics as suggested in the paper “Personality in Computer Characters” by Daniel Rousseau. Each character’s behavior will be affected by these.

Goals and Challenges:

One goal here is to avoid equilibrium for the sake of extremes. The society should not have a predictable daily routine and there will be several factors to keep this from happening. Primarily, the player will have great power to stir things up. The player is an element of the system that is not under computer control, so the player’s behavior is not likely to be systematic. In addition random or scripted disasters may befall the town. Overall, randomness will be introduced into every decission a character makes.

Road Atlanta – Microsoft Forza Motorsport vs Reality

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005

For people interested in computer racing, I found a video on Google Video of the Popular Science bringing Forza head to head with reality on the Road Atlanta track.  Some MS developers, Popular Science crew, and Panoz Motorsports ( guys compare, side by side, laps on the console to laps in reality captured with hood mounted cameras.

Suckerville: the Game (miniature agent-based society simulator toy)

Monday, September 26th, 2005

Suckerville: the Game (early planning phase) is based on the comics I write. A few of which are at my comics page. I thought it would be neat to create a game with these characters where you could interact with them. This idea transformed into a lofty concept for a complex(-ish) society simulator. This game is single player and therefore all of the society, except for the players character, are simulated.

This game is loosely inspired by the Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing.” I saw my brother playig it one day and noticed his character had a shovel. I asked if he could hit people on the head with it, for a hilarious cartoony response. The answer was no, unfortunately. I thought I’d make the game like this except you could hit people on the head with a shovel. Naturally this would only be fun If they reacted to what you did, but how far could this go? The problem with the characters in Animal Crossing is that everything they do is tightly scripted. How can characters made to be dynamic. Many game programmers dream of creating emergent behavior in their dynamic content. Is this even possible?

Imagine walking around a city of ridiculous cartoon characters. They talk to you and to each other. They tell you what they like and dislike. They tell you that they don’t like it when you hit them with a shovel. They don’t like it when Charlie down the block hits them with a shovel and ask if maybe you could do a favor and hit him with a shovel. And the shovel smacking is only one of the many things you’ll be able to do. The point is, the characters “know what you are doing and they “remember”, and this affects the way they behave towards you. These characters are not like the typical video game characters that sit around helplessly while you run their errends either. They can do all of the same things you can do. And they can talk to each other as well as you.

The original idea is based around concepts

  1. Each character in the game can do anything the player can do. They do not sit around and wait for you to talk to them, but rather they have a simulated daily routine.
  2. Each character can like or dislike objects, characters, places or actions. Each can observe what any other character does, including the player, within their vision and decide whether they like or dislike what is happening.
  3. Characters can talk to one another and spread their information.
  4. Goofy stuff should happen often. The game should be dynamic and things should change over time. The general feel of the game is one of mayhem and humorous mischief.
Goals and Challenges

To make the game as dynamic as possible. In a game each character may become your friend or your enemy. Maybe you’ll see them a lot, maybe very little. Where are your favorite places? Can the game seem different every time? How can you make the game elements random but not seem like noise? Can the decisions a player makes, make a big impact in the world?
They characters should be complex enough to be interesting. Each character should seem different from the others, and should seem to have a life of their own. Their personality and personal experience should affect what they decide to do. The player should get a sense that there is a whole world around him and that much goes on behind his back.
How far does their AI model need to go at simulating their personality? Is it possible to make the model complex enough so that they seem life-like? Can a general behavior model allow each character to have quirks? What sort of group behavior will emerge?
The player should feel free to do a variety of things. No game will allow a player to do everything, but the player should be able to react to the people and objects in the world in a variety of ways.
The game should be funny. Is it possible to create emergent comedy?

FCK your editor

Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

New GUI editor – FCKeditor. Hopefully this is an improvement over HTMLarea/Xinha – play with it, let me know.

God Tower is a Very Difficult Puzzle Game

Tuesday, September 13th, 2005

God Tower is a very difficult puzzle game. Each level presents you with an image, and the point of the game is to guess the riddle that the picture presents. You input the answer to the riddle ( all lowercase one word), and then you proceed to the next level. I only had enough patience to get to level five (with a hint on level 3.)

I learned about God Tower from jay is games. Jay runs a fantastic blog about web games and game design. If you’re looking for something to burn some extra time, jay is games is a good place to start.

Songs of Hackfest, vol 1

Monday, September 12th, 2005

What are the best hacker inspired songs? I’ve always liked You’re So Technical from the Magnetic Fields.

Suggest your favorite hack-oriented songs.

You have prosthetic wings
You drive a surveillance van
You’re always doing seven things
You write the code for brain implants
There are no papers on you
The law doesn’t cover what you do
You and your think tank entourage
Are all counterculture demigods

(C): You’re so technical, you go hacking around the world
You’re so technical, baby, Are you a boy or a girl?

You have some extra limbs
You look like a Swiss army knife (with wings)
Dance like a Hindu deity
Best friends with Timothy Leary (C)

You’re a Libertarian
The death of the Left was you
You look like Herbert von Karajan
You live underneath the zoo (C)

From the House of Tomorrow. The consummate fan Ernest suggests this character was based on the chimerical electronic pop musician and storyteller Laurie Anderson (homepage of the brave), who is coming to Ferst Center Theater (scroll down) in November!!