Jeopardy’s Watson Applied to video games

http://www.kansascity.com/2011/02/22/2673912/can-a-super-smart-computer-teach.html

This article is about the pretty interesting idea of taking the technology that Watson used on jeopardy and giving it to video game AI’s. As one of the people interviewed points out, AI is no longer about learning only, it is also about interpreting data and everything we see. The internet is such a great resource that to deny it as a learning tool is a losing battle. Instead, we should use the internet as a navi, much like in a video game, and use it to assist and help learning, not look at it as an impedance.

Limbo

Although I don’t get as much time to play video games as I like, I do spend a good amount of time following various blogs via RSS. One of my favorite blogs is The Fox is Black, which is primarily a design-style blog. I originally found it while looking for some new wallpaper. The Fox is Black produces the “Desktop Wallpaper Project.” Here are some interesting ones that the blog has produced/commissioned: http://thefoxisblack.com/category/the-desktop-wallpaper-project/

One of the blog’s recent posts is about the line between art and video games. Here it is: http://thefoxisblack.com/2011/02/17/limbo/ . The post brings up some interesting points:

“Video games can be art and art can be video games, but rarely are either regarded as such. You don’t play a video game, enamored by its beauty. And, if you do, you are probably losing the gameplay. Video games are rarely written up in Artforum and art is rarely written up in IGN. The two worlds do not collide and do not seem to have a reason to, beyond the limits of the tangential video art world.”

“No one actually knows what limbo or purgatory or “the in-between” is like at all. But, if it is actually like this, then I guess we have a beautiful, puzzle filled, black/white/gray pre-heaven to look forward to.”

From the preview, the game looks like it allows the players to explore and figure out what to do by themselves. Has anyone had a chance to play this game?  How do you think video games can tread the line between art and gaming?

Grand Theft Childhood

I know we haven’t covered violence in video games yet, but I stumbled across this article and found it to be very interesting.  The site takes from a book called “Grand Theft Childhood:  The Surprising Truth about Video Games”.  The site goes over different facts and myths about violence in video games.  One of the most interesting facts that I found is that violence in youth and video game popularity have been moving in opposite directions.  In 1993, the United States faced a record high for violent juvenile crime.  Growing up I was always limited to the amount of video games I could play during the weekends.  I do not even want to fathom what my punishment would have been if I played during the week.  But the book title “Grand Theft Childhood”, I think this book perfectly fits my childhood.  I had to buy the fact that green vegetables were good for me, that I had to go to church every Sunday, and always had to hug my mother and show affection in public.  It’s funny that when you are young, you don’t really ask the question why to often and you tend to accept whatever ideals your parents place in front of you.  When more research comes out in the future about how violent video games aren’t directly related to violence, I wonder if the rating system for video games will be drastically changed.  Like I said before I know we haven’t covered violence in video games yet in this course, but finding these articles over the internet really make me excited to learn more about the subject.  Anyways if you haven’t seen this article yet I suggest you check it out.  Let’s just say I have already had counter arguments with friends and parents alike.  So it is some fun information to learn about.

http://www.grandtheftchildhood.com/GTC/Myths.html

Things that ruin COD

In a game that is supposed to be realistic, the last two installments in the COD series have been pretty disappointing. Both Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops are very enjoyable games but there are so many issues within the games that games like Halo have become much more realistic than the COD series.  Let’s start with Modern Warfare 2; Everyone remember pain killers? Pain killers made you take significantly reduced damage, enough to allow you to survive predator missiles, 3 sniper shots to the head (the third one would kill you), multiple other explosions as well as a knife (which is supposed to be a one hit kill). I don’t care what kind of drugs you’re on, nothing should be able to make you survive a missile or a sniper shot to the head.

Following up with the knife, everyone remember commando?  A player with commando on could lunge about 15-20 feet, during which, he could not be damaged. And why is a knife a one hit kill anywhere on the body when a sniper rifle is not? This also begs the question of why the best weapon in a FPS is a knife. Whoever said ‘never bring a knife to a gunfight’ obviously never play COD6/MOD2.  If you look up the stats for a Barrett .50 Cal you will see that it has an effective range of over a mile, yet no map is a mile long in any direction (yes there are ways to measure this.), so in essence every shot should be a one hit kill but it rarely is unless you have stopping power and FMJ on. Black Ops attempts to remedy this situation brought up by the players by putting in weaker sniper rifles such as the L96A1 and the PSG1 which are less than half as powerful as the previous Barrett .50 cal and intervention used in MOD 2

Most notoriously was the Model 1887 shotguns, these shotguns had tested to have more range than sniper rifles. Of course this was patched some time ago but that was the case for the first 4-6 months that a shotgun had more range than a sniper rifle. These shotguns were so outrageous that the use of them were strictly banned in any GB tournaments or competitions.In essence then these shotguns have over a mile of effective range?

Finally the most important thing that makes COD extremely flawed is the hosting system. Every COD player knows that it is based off of a hosting system rather than a third party host. Ever see the game say migrating host? This is because the former host has left the game. What is wrong with the hosting system? The person who is host has something gamers call ‘hosting powers’. Since the game is based off of the host’s connection, only the host can see what is happening in real time while everyone else has about a 1-2 second delay. You may not think that is a lot but it is extremely noticeable when you are playing the game. The host of the game has a gigantic advantage in the fact that he will see people and he will not appear on the opponent’s screen until the difference in latency has resolved resulting in it appearing as if you get ‘one shotted’ which happens quite often, closer look at the kill cams will reveal that he had actually been shooting you for some time prior to you dying. Other symptoms of this will be that you fire at them but on the kill cam your shots don’t show up, you knife them but nothing happens, and the like.  It is relatively easy to find out who host is, all you have to do is look at the connection bars and host will always be full connection, while everyone else’s connection tend to fluctuate. The same problems with hosting are found in various other games such as the Gears of War series but Bungie aka Halo uses a third party hosting system where every player is connected to a third party server so that there is no hosting system. Why doesn’t every game do that instead of using a hosting system? Mainly because of money, it costs a lot more money to use a third party hosting system than it does for just a hosting system.

It rather depresses me that games, especially ones that are extremely reputable, cut corners to make more money. I think all the FPS games out there need to take a page out of Bungie’s book and start shelling out for higher quality games. The point of this post is not to rant and rave about a game but rather it is to inform. I know many people play the COD series and love it to death, some disregard the problems, some don’t know that these things even existed, and some call for change. I love the COD series myself, Ive attended various tournaments for them around the country and even in Canada, I play every weekend with my friends. A game is just a game and I will live with what comes out but I can always hope for bigger and better things for the future. Who knows, maybe someone who reads this has some in with Treyarch or Infinity Ward and can suggest some changes, or maybe I myself will someday create a game that will blow everyone away.

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