Keeping Battleborn Viable


It seems to me that one of the biggest issues crippling Battleborn is the amount of time one can spend in the game but not playing. That is to say, waiting. Waiting for a team to assemble, waiting to revive, waiting while you ‘sprint’ across the map at a snail’s pace to rejoin your teammates.

Certainly, there are other issues and at least some aspects of the waiting problem are exacerbated by the dwindling player base. However, there are a few things that could be done to minimize the waiting.

  1. Make queuing more dynamic:
    1. Allow players to backfill teams already in a match. It is mind-boggling that there is a menu option to quit a game but no option for the now screwed team (and yes, for the post part you are screwed if you are a character down in Battleborn) to get a replacement.
    2. Give players something to do while waiting. An Overwatch-like skirmish mode, playing checkers, almost anything is better than asking them to watch a nearly static screen for 5, 10, or more minutes. This is just asking for players to get distracted and then either get stuck with a default character or simply not play at all as they found something more interesting to do than watching the video game equivalent of paint drying.
    3. Let players change characters upon revive. Maybe they chose the wrong character; maybe they thought they could do without a healer, but changed their mind. Whatever. If they want to change, let them.
  2. Stop penalizing people for dying a lot. It already sucks to get killed, but then to have to wait progressively longer to revive? That’s stupidly punitive. It makes a losing game worse as characters are kept out of play longer and longer. It’s a dis-incentive to play, not an incentive to play better.
  3. Make some shorter match modes. If I have to wait 10 minutes or more for a match and matches can last up to 30 minutes then, barring getting my ass handed to me and the match ending abnormally quickly, playing Battleborn is a significant time investment. Not everyone has ~40 minutes to play, but surely we want these people to be able to play if they want, no?
  4. Get rid of “move” and have everyone move at “sprint” speed—or even better something a bit higher. Everyone and their cousin complains bitterly about character speed, so fix it. Yes, some gear will have to be adjusted or eliminated—but you won’t need this gear so much if the movement speed is upped, so it seems a small price to pay for a better playing experience.

Now, I want to head off a couple potential protests. First, I like the long matches. A good, well-fought Incursion match that go full time is damned fun even if I’m on the losing side. My team and I, maybe a player down, fought a good fight. We didn’t (all) quit, instead we hung in there and kept the last sentry up.

Players of Overwatch and/or other games will have no doubt noted I got some of these ideas from them. If you think that is somehow a bad thing, I think you are thinking in the wrong way—particularly if you want Battleborn to continue as a viable game. Gearbox should do what works, looking at and doing what other similar, successful games do is a perfectly sensible thing. When I play Overwatch, I’m never not playing for more than a minute or two and it never takes me more than 30 seconds to rejoin my team if I get ganked. I am playing 95% of the time, not 75% or whatever it works out to of the time as I am in Battleborn.

Finally, if you watched the chat about the upcoming winter changes or read about them, it seems that some of these may be in the pipeline already. I sure hope so. I like Battleborn a lot and so I want more people playing it. It offers a richer playing experience via the helix and gear builds than other games do. Sure, it’s got a learning curve, but it engages my brain in ways that a simpler game like OW does not. There is a space in the MOBA ecology for it, but it needs to better and more humbly adapt to that space and the realities of players’ expectations.



When Trans-temporal Messages Kill


What happens when messages from the far future are broadcast into an average mind of the near future? Bad stuff.



Why Alien Invasion Movies Are Dumb (and yet I still love them)


These movies, regardless of schlockiness, are entertaining to enough of us. We love our heroes and for humanity to come out on top despite our flaws. As the saying goes, they are a guilty pleasure – and count me among the guilty! I’m going to rant, but this post was definitely not written with the idea that these films and stories aren’t at least fun and worthwhile at some level. My tongue is in my cheek at times and I have a hope that it might encourage some writers and film makers to explore the genre in new ways. Wouldn’t that be cool?

So, anyhow, just what is my quasi-beef with them? Why have I claimed they suck in some way?

Read on!



Quick update…


Cary and I just returned from a rally at the park, A rally against PEC 37, against institutionalized corruption, against a bill pro ‘gay cure’, against an evangelical pastor, Marcos Feliciano, taking over the Human Rights Committee; pro-education. Also there was a “marcha das Crianças” (the march of the children) happening at the same time.
Plenty of images on our respective Flickr accounts.

Marcha contra PEC 37 - POA 23/06

Marcha contra PEC 37 - POA 23/06

Marcha contra PEC 37 - POA 23/06



What to Talk about before We Create Artificial Intelligence


Artificial Intelligence has been a sort of holy grail for computer science for some time now, though it has remained consistently out of reach. There are a several opinions as to why we seem to be little closer to creating AGI today than we were two or three decades ago. We don’t know how to program an AGI, so the explanations for this lack of progress are varies. They range from it being a problem with the lack of understanding about how brains create intelligence, an issue of making a sufficiently accurate simulation of a human brain (regardless of knowing the specifics of how it creates consciousness), or simple lack of computing power and complexity (i.e. it should simply emerge from a sufficiently complex and powerful system).

Read more…



Fãs Cegos e uma Vitória Falsa


Queria falar um pouco sobre as reações de alguns socialistas ao plano do Brasil de importar seis mil médicos formados na Cuba.

Primeiro, deixe-me descrever a situação. O interior do Brasil não é bem desenvolvido. Em muitas cidades pequenas faltam serviços básicos. Coisas básicas como ruas pavimentadas, bancos, remédios, saneamento básico, conseguem estar em falta. Frequentemente as escolas não são boas. Como você pode imaginar essas vilas não são lugares atraentes para um profissional de classe média morar. Entre as várias coisas que podem faltar estão médicos.

Ler mais…




How fandom and ideology blinded the Brazilian left from seeing the blatant exploitation of Cuba’s doctors.

Read the full article here.



Holy crap, Guam is real?!


(Reposted from my fiction blog.)

I discovered something remarkable today. More than remarkable really. I mean, I literally fell out of my chair (granted I was sitting on the edge of it already, but still).

Guam is an actual place.

All these years I’ve been tossing around this Guam shtick. Make jokes about it, talking about my secret volcano headquarters there, how we’ve recruited the “Easter Island guys” to defend it (alien weaponry in their hats, though weakened since all the brims fell off, but still bad ass), using it as an interjection and/or greeting, and so on.

But, lo and behold, there, in the South Pacific (nearish Easter Island – quite a coincidence!), is an island named Guam. To add insult to injury, it’s part of the United States, a country in which I was born and lived for 4 decades.

I’m wondering now what the Guamites (Guamese? Guamians?) think – or would think, if they aren’t already aware of it – of my fixation and how I’ve expressed it. Offended? Appreciative? Bored? Will they hunt me down and rough me up, demand an apology and get me to stop? Send an Easter Island Guy to take me out?



There and that and that and there


One of the things I find most interesting about Portuguese is the two versions of “that” is uses. It’s interesting for a couple reasons. First, because it indicates a different way of thinking about locations, and second, because of how it’s carried over into other areas, beyond demonstrative pronouns.

First let me explain the two versions of “that” and how they’re used. I’ll stick to the masculine versions to keep things simple, just know that feminine versions exist.

Now, of course, in English we have “this” and “that”. This is used for something you have in your hand, or at least nearby (this mug [in my hand], this car [we’re in]), while that is used for things further away or nearer the person we’re talking to (that mountain [on the horizon], that wombat [gnawing on your leg]).

Portuguese speakers differentiate between “that wombat [gnawing on your leg]” and “that mountain [on the horizon]”. For things near the person being addressed they use esse, while for things distant from you and the person you’re talking to aquele is used. It’s interesting to note that the word for this este, which is very similar to esse (nearby “that”). For physical locations, it’s easy to know which to use, but when referring to more abstract things it can be a tough to know.

This “near/far” distinction carries over into concept of there-ness. For a there next to the person you’re speaking to, is used, while is used to indicate a place neither of you is particularly near to.

The only parallel I can think of in English is when w

One of the things I find most interesting about Portuguese is the two versions of “that” is uses. It’s interesting for a couple reasons. First, because it indicates a different way of thinking about locations, and second, because of how it’s carried over into other areas, beyond demonstrative pronouns.

First let me explain the two versions of “that” and how they’re used. I’ll stick to the masculine versions to keep things simple, just know that feminine versions exist.

Of course, in English we have this and that and this is used for something you have in your hand, or at least nearby (this mug [in my hand], this car [we’re in]), while that is used for things further away or nearer the person we’re talking to (that mountain [on the horizon], that wombat [gnawing on your leg]).

Portuguese speakers differentiate between “that wombat [gnawing on your leg]” and “that mountain [on the horizon]”. For things near the person being addressed they use esse, while for things distant from you and the person you’re talking to aquele is used. It’s interesting to note that the word for this este, which is very similar to esse (nearby-the-person-you-are-addressing that). For physical locations, it’s easy to know which to use, but when referring to more abstract things it can be a tough to know.

This “near/far” distinction carries over into concept of there-ness. For a there next to the person you’re speaking to,  is used, while  is used to indicate a place neither of you is particularly near to.

The only parallel I can think of in English is when we add “over” to “there” (or “over there” to “that”). If you tell an English speaker, “It’s over there”, she is not going to look for ‘it’ near you or herself.

Naturally the border between “” and “ is not a sharp one, and worse still, another word for “there” exists. “Ali” is used for a there that’s still nearby the person you’re speaking to. As an example:

“The pillow is there ( – at home where you are), there (ali, near you) on the couch.”

Versus:

“The bleach is there ( – at home where you are), there (, away from you) in the laundry room.”

Not great sentences, but in informal or colloquial speech you will hear this sort of thing often enough.

e add “over” to “there” (or “over there” to “that”). If you tell an English speaker, “It’s over there”, she is not going to look for ‘it’ near you or herself.

Naturally the border between “” and “ is not a sharp one, and worse still, another word for “there” exists. “Ali” is used for a there that’s still nearby the person you’re speaking to. As an example:

“The pillow is there ( – at home where you are), there (ali, near you) on the couch.”

Versus:

“The bleach is there ( – at home where you are), there (, away from you) in the laundry room.”

Not great sentences, but in informal or colloquial speech you will hear this sort of thing often enough.



The Climb


(Reposted from my writing site.)

For years and years I climbed the mountain: up and up, on and on. Never once had I seen its peak. Even on the clearest of days looking up was no different from looking down. My starting place was as lost in the distance as my destination. If I looked out over the plain I’d left to begin my climb, I thought I could see the ground. It was a dark shadow under the sky, but the horizon was indistinct. A bland blurriness where land and sky met. I could not even recall exactly how long I’d been climbing.

I had tried to keep track of course, to estimate how far I’d come along the slope and upwards. But what was the point? At the end, if I ever got there, I would have a few numbers in my head that, while surely impressive, were merely trivia.

I think the air thinned as I’d climbed, but I could have been fooling myself. I was older, more tired. If it was thinning with elevation the rate was miniscule. I was just as unsure about the plant life. It seemed more scraggly, more weathered, less dense, but maybe that was just the monotony. I still found enough berries to eat, wood to make an occasional fire to roast an occasional animal I’d managed to snare. My diet was as dull as the horizon, but I never starved.

While I could not say how far I’d come, or even how long I’d been climbing, my more recent memories were fine. I could give a reasonable, if dull, account of the last couple decades. It had been a few years since anything interesting had occurred – that being my last encounter with a living person. A woman who’d claimed she was coming down. Not for having given up, but from the top. From having reached her goal. (Or maybe not, who was I to say her aim had been so low.) She was mad and I, so unused even to sane conversation, had struggled simply to understand her.

Mad or not, the encounter with her had buoyed me. For several months before that I’d been morose over the last person I’d seen. A dead man, who had killed himself with a sharp rock his temple. One could hardly blame him.

Madness was not ideal, but it was better than braining myself.



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