Podcast: Games, Abstractions, and Players

As Game Developer Conference approaches, I began thinking about how games are made, and how players approach games differently. For example, I came across this description of a game being played: Imagine exploring space, colonizing planets, setting up trade routes. This game is so immersive, you feel like you really are setting up your own empire — unnamed commentator He’s talking about this: The game is Roll for the Galaxy. It’s actually a pretty good game, but the main mechanics […]

These Are My People, Not Characters

How attached do you get to your game characters? I’m speaking specifically about games which allow you to customize your characters, not about characters with predetermined names and histories (sorry, Lara Croft). That most often means RPGs, though I’ve recently become pretty attached to my XCOM2 team. I often don’t see game characters as somehow being me translated to a game character, but rather as people good at what they do. I send them out on vital, dangerous missions, and they usually […]

Can AMD Stay In The Game?

You have to give AMD credit for persistence. The company’s stock price is in the tank, at under $2 per share. Total revenue for calendar year 2015 came in at under $4 billion, a pretty big drop over 2014. Yet AMD continues to motor along, recently announcing its next generation Polaris GPU architecture and working diligently to bring its Zen processor by the end of the year. What about today? If you’re in the market for a new gaming PC, […]

The Bicycles In My Life: Felt Z5

The Giant OCR1 that got me back into serious cycling eventually became a chore to ride. The aluminum frame transmitted a lot of road chatter, which translated to sore muscles and stiff bones after long rides. I’m not, after all, getting younger. So I began looking for bicycles with more forgiving rides. Initially, I believed I wanted a steel frame bike, partly for nostalgic reasons, but good quality steel tubing from companies such as Reynolds and Columbus offer more forgiving […]

The Nerd in the Balloon Jacket

Long before Microsoft existed, the fields and woods around Redmond, Washington consisted of dark forests, creeks, and the occasional swamp. I know because I spent a number of weekends during high school with my then best friend, Ward Durham, trekking through those woods and swamps in an attempt to find tiny wooden markers using only a map and compass. We made it by the skin of our teeth, finding or stumbling across all the target markers. Along the way, we […]

Podcast: The Inevitable March of Tech

It began with a Tweet from Leslie Carhart about buying Windows 2.0. In that tweet, she included an image of a receipt ca. 1988: Back in 1988, a 40MB hard drive costs a cool $699. Today, you can buy a 2TB SSD for $699 — 50,000x the capacity, and vastly better performance. Meaning That got me thinking about how we perceive technology advances. We tend to think of tech advances as both inexorable and linear; think Moore’s Law. In fact, technology […]

A Weekend of Boardgames

My daughter and I escaped to Dundracon 40 this past holiday weekend for several days of pure board game bliss. Dundracon 40 happens to be the longest-running tabletop gaming con on the west coast; it even sports its own Wikipedia entry. Despite its age, Dundracon remains a small, local convention. The con currently holds sway in San Ramon, California, and we found it to be efficiently run with a friendly staff. Over the weekend, I had a chance to play […]

The Bicycles In My Life: Giant OCR1

As a kid, and into young adulthood, I rode a variety of bicycles. I rode the ridiculous Stingray around the back roads of Lawton Oklahoma. As a teenager, I loved a Windsor bicycle made from Reynolds steel. I put a ton of miles on that bike in various parts of Washington state. I pretty much turned my back on cycling when I ran track and cross-country in college. After I moved to the Bay Area, I owned several different bicycles, […]