Tag Archives: Babylon 5

Rule of thumb

It started with me wondering what else I could do. I have been involved with gaming since 1984, I started testing and reviewing games in 1986, so I have been around for a while. I met the giants in gaming. Sid Meier, Richard Garriott, Peter Molyneux and a few others. They and the games they made formed the views I have on gaming, there are of course more others too. 

My normal job was in technical support and teaching, as such I had a firm grasp on technology. I learned to teach, teach software and technology and as such, my life was a decently happy one. 

Still, I wonder what else is possible, you see only the delusional ones think they can do everything. I agree that any person can do anything and if they are given, committed and enthusiastic, they become good at it. I believe that to be true for everyone, no matter gender, race, religion or age. 

It kind of intertwines with the elections in the US, after 4 years we see a shift and now I wonder if anyone in the media has the balls to set an image of Donald Trump tomorrow on page one, with the text “You’re fired!”, providing Joe Biden gets the 270 he needs. I wonder when that stage will be reached, and if it will be reached. They all claim that Biden will win, yet there is a decent. Chance that Pennsylvania will remain in camp Trump, with 89% counted and 20 votes, the advantage of 2.6% there is no given that Biden will win and even if he does, the difference is too small, so a recount is inevitable. In Arizona the roles are reversed, yet here only 11 votes are up for grabs, giving us the optional score of 254 for Biden and 234 for Trump, it is a setting weirdly close and like the old series the West Wing, two states might set the end and at this point President Trump has the lead. Those three sites are Georgia and North Carolin with 16 and 15 votes. I am careful not to set the stage of what might be, I am Republican minded, but I am definitely no President Trump fan. So as I take notice of ‘Stop the count!’: Angry Trump supporters amass at counting centres’, I wonder just how stupid Trump fans are to call for an end to democracy. A vote is a vote and they should all be counted, that is how democracy works. And this is where the brain started to twist. Whenever we are in any RPG, it is about our actions, it is about what WE decide should happen. It matters not what the RPG is, that is how the game is set.

But what happens when we change that, what happens when we sign up for a game with a political stage? What happens when our actions becomes pro or counter RPG government? You see, when I initially designed the idea of Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration (before they gave their soul to Microsoft), I had not considered it, yet in MEA 1+2 and optionally Citadel: Incursion (I had to give it. Name), that stage becomes a larger issue. Politics is at the fibre of any stage and we ignored it in RPG to a larger extent mainly because of system limitations. The new systems will have computing power in abundance, so it becomes less of a hindrance and setting that stage to a proper foundation, especially in a game like Mass Effect Andromeda is has an influence, because as we unlock more and more pods to wake up, the political stage on a station like the nexus will also alter, it sets a larger stage, a larger application of what we need to do. Even as the stage is not always on what we need to achieve, the general direction will alter and so fr no game took this into account (as the systems weren’t powerful enough). 

This changes what gaming provides, yes we like to make decisions in our RPG and that does not change, but there is the greater good and the larger picture to consider, it becomes even more interesting if that picture is not available to the player, the story could take a few interesting twists along the way. To illustrate that, we can look at a TV-series called Babylon 5. When we were in season 1, we see the Narn, Centauri, Minbari, Humans, Vorlon and others. Yet the Narn and Centauri are arch enemies, so working for one makes the other off limits and that is a mere extreme example. If we decide to act alone, we might side with one group and optionally piss off another, it is the nature of the game and gaming will become less black and white and more grey tones. It is also a lot harder to program. For example it is not like in the old The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, you could only buy certain houses when certain fame levels are reached.   Yet what happens when fame and infamy are more fluidic? What happens when missions are only offered to the infamous (or famous) and above certain ranks? It will not change the game, but it will colour the stage to some degree, that same stage will be influenced when we colour a governmental stage, like the US, Blue, Red and Green. We see a larger stage where working for the ‘other’ party is allowed, but at that stage, we gain infamy a well as political points. See it as a new complexity level in RPG gaming. There is no doubt in my mind that this is where we are heading, mainly because it os now possible to do just that, and as we see the need for games with a larger value to replay a game, the setting of another level of complexity is pretty much a guarantee. We might want to lean back and reach back to the original D&D rules of thumb rulings, but I reckon that console gaming has surpassed it a few times over. Even as Ubisoft stated in a game ‘Cull the herd’, that stage is one we seemingly walked away from. We do not oppose the eradication of the horde (it’s an Orc thing), but it also leaves us open to eradication as well. And as such we need to set the stage to a larger frame, because that is what we do.

Extremes are nice to colour the stage, but it is the blending of values that give a larger appreciation of any story, there is plenty of evidence out there and as I see it, there is a much larger stage to fill it up, how it is done is up to the gaming visionaries.

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The stage of a game

We all have an idea, some have the idea of a life time, but I cannot make that claim, not because I do not have one, but because I have too many. Yes there is the call to make remasters (Knights of the Sky), there is the call to reinvent the wheel (System Shock by Nightdive Studios), or there is the need to take it to the next level, a next level that was not possible in the past, mainly because technology did not allow for it.

This is how I always saw Pirates (by Sid Meier), there was a chance where Black Flag was a nice tribute, but it was the dawn of PS4 and Xbox One and Ubisoft took a cowardly way to progress a franchise on a lack of factors. So as I initially played Black Flag, my mind went racing. And then I remembered another pirate game, a board game with additional bluff cards. So what happens, when w take the foundation of Black Flag and make it more towards the original the Sid Meier made? The map would be well over 20 times the size, a lot more like the actual map of the Caribbeans in those days, the game would not be some fruity assassin, it would be your version and you get to live the life of a cutthroat, a buccaneer, a privateer, it is up to you, to go from a small skiff to a full-grown galley or slave ship if you are good enough. You see, there is something totally awesome about the way the game Elite Dangerous is designed (by David Braben). There your life does not matter, the game does not care, nor should it and it is time to set that stage to RPG and a pirate RPG makes a lot of sense. You cannot always be a captain, you start as a simple sailor. And in this you could get to a rank if you are good enough. 

So how do we go about it, we tend to look towards the wars of adjustment, yet there are so many wars the were never on the radar, the Dutch independence wars (which took close to 80 years), the age of piracy and lets not forget the Sudan wars (Mahdist War 1881-1899), all places that seem to be forgotten. Who remembers the siege of Khartoum? Some are so set in a stage of winning, the we sometimes forget that half the fun is surviving, so how far will you get? The original siege went on from 13 March 1884 to 26 January 1885, so what happens when you are in charge, how long will you last? Games are so much about winning, the we forget the enduring is nothing less. To make it to the date or even past it would be a victory and a half. It is so American to be the victor the most of them do not understand ‘the Last Samurai’, it is not about winning, it is about not losing, or better stated, the way you live towards the final days matters more, we forgot about that part, didn’t we?

We can set any gaming stage, but it is how we play where we see if we measure up, not if we merely tap the mile poles in a game. I reckon that the achievements made us all a little complacent in games. We can go in any direction, a Hindenburg flight simulator, yet in there we will always come up short against the Microsoft flight simulator, it makes more sense for them to add the Hindenburg. Yet what happens when we turn the script? What happens when we set the stage to a simple thing, what if the player is a no one, yet his/her grandfather was Hades, Poseidon or Zeus? What happens when we map a place like Monte Carlo completely and get him to retrieve a relic that one of the 2,261 millionaires or 50 billionaires has. Is it in a house, is it on a boat or is it somewhere else (like a museum)? We can simplify any game for as much as we can, but in the end we need a healthy story and for the most Wars tend to do that (an unhealthy endeavour if ever there was one). I saw the need of a game on mines, and remembered some bomb defusing game on the CBM-64, so where to go from there? The stage of a game is important, because it sets a vested interest of the gamer, Ubisoft had the down to perfection in Assassins Creed 2 and Brotherhood and after the they lost the plot, they almost won it back in AC4 Black Flag and they definitely got it back in Origins. I would think the a Battlestar Galactica RPG is one the would be favourable with the BSG fans, but not much outside that, the same can be said for Babylon 5, the Star Trek fanbase is huge, so that tends to be a close win any given day of the week, but that does not guarantee a good game, the issue is seen when an idea with a small base entices a large following, that is the stage we all seek. CD Project Red did so with Witcher and seemingly is about to do it again with Cyberpunk 2077.  It is the setting the fuels the story, and the story is everything, I have always believed that, it is the power of an RPG. It is because of the that we see out the great stories (Tolkien), yet I wonder what happens when we try this with Herbert on a larger scale with Dune, not merely on Arrakis, why if all the other places become involved? Perhaps a visionary will see that option with the next Dune movie (2020). In this books have been the strongest source of inspiration, mainly because there are so many of them. Yet most of us go to the same source, why? I agree that it is appealing, but there are so many nations with alternatives. That is something we saw when someone created the Untitled Goose Game, brilliant t in its foundation, as such I wondered if someone had considered the same thing with a cat (Minoes, Annie M. G. Schmidt), a writer the has a following of millions in the Netherlands and Belgium. In that same setting, as Skyrim became such a hit, did anyone ever look towards the famous Spanish Comic books of the Mercenary by Segrelles? It has all the makings of a much larger game, a stage where some are set not in multiple games, but one game with a season pass and several DLC’s.

Then there is the comic hero Rork, by Andreas, or even the Trigan Empire by Don Lawrence. I remember growing up to these stories and the stories of Ravian (Valerian), I am a little surprised that the Trigan Empire never made it to the silver screen or the computer, Don Lawrence has a flair for imagery and the computer always needs this. So what is the stage of a game that will be set next? The is the question and the is where players like Sony and Google/Apple will find themselves. Microsoft might be acquiring the brands (Bethesda), yet they do not have the stage alone and the next innovator might be just around the corner. For me, the idea that the $7,500,000,000 lemon the Microsoft acquired (not Bethesda mind you) would backfire largely and loudly and the would be OK with me.

As I personally see it, Microsoft pissed of true gamers and that group of people doesn’t pull punches when they play with their idols, we do not fault Bethesda in any of this, but aligning with Microsoft was not the best idea, as some say, you are only as good as your next game and Bethesda had plenty of winners, but what is next? We look not merely to the stage of the game, but to the next stage of gaming and I believe that they are too often hiding behind terms like ‘hype worthy games’, yet that is a setting from the mind of a marketing department, they predict that people who play games, will think this is a hype. Yet true hypes come from games the are on the edge of what is possible in gaming, the Witcher 3 is the perfect example there. Cyberpunk is also on the stage, neither of them are Microsoft games. Yet it was brilliant to buy Bethesda, but the also means that those who do not love the Microsoft console will look to the borders and see what else is possible, optionally setting the stage for the $7,500,000,000 lemon, not because of Bethesda, but because gamers have a lack of trust in Microsoft and the fact that some had the numbers that only 1 out of 3 considered the new Microsoft console, the gives me the impression that Microsoft has a much larger problem and buying software houses will not solve it, making visionary games do and the is the lesson Microsoft has not learned. They opened the door for Sony to look what else is out there, what else could become an exclusive and the is where Sony will win and gamers will win. Because it is on the edge of possible gaming where new gamers will be born, new games will be born and at the end of my life I see that there are options coming towards gamers, games the will create new gamers, it will create new creativity and new thinking through gaming and this is a good thing. The simple truth is the there is real gaming beyond Ubisoft and Microsoft, true gaming is never soft, it is challenging and the is where we need to look, we need to look where they are not looking. That is how I got most my IP in several fields. Not by being some bullet point presenter like all the others, but by looking in a direction they decided not to bother looking. That is how most revolutionary IP is created, and it is funny as this is the way Microsoft and Ubisoft started, to look where no was. Too bad they forgot about the part of the equation and I reckon the Sony is waking up to that lesson at present.

 

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Are there versions of truth?

It is a question that has haunted plenty of people, you see there is just one truth, although, is that ‘there is your side, my side and the truth’; it comes from Robert Evans ‘The kid stays in the picture‘, a 2002 documentary. We have seen the quote is several works including the famous Sci-fi series Babylon 5. The fun part of this is that the three parts are all based on honesty, yet it is more than just a matter of perspective. I have always known that, although the interaction of perception and observations is something that needs to be in a book, not on a blog. So when I was confronted with the site ‘Seeking Alpha‘, which was described by the Wall Street journal in 2014 as “SeekingAlpha.com predicted stock returns, as well as earnings surprises, above and beyond what was evident from Wall Street analyst reports and financial news articles” is from the article more than just that. The article (at https://seekingalpha.com/article/4168001-investors-face-moral-dilemmas-investments-saudi-arabia) gives us ‘Investors Face Moral Dilemmas with Investments in Saudi Arabia‘, can be countered with ‘every investment has a moral dilemma’, so that is not much to go by. Yet the setting of a 500 billion market where we see the foundation with “A component of the Saudis’ Vision 2030 is to create an indigenous defense industry one that will promote volatility, not stability, in a region on perpetual warfooting“, gives me not the shivers, but the contemplation of what game is played. You see there is no doubt that Saudi Arabia wants to create an indigenous defence industry; every nation wants that, especially when it has been under threat for many years. I would have told Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman if he would respectfully consider buying Remington as it is bankrupt and going cheap. The excellence of its weaponry, weaponry that have made it to the most elite parts of the global national defence forces is not just a matter for defence, hunters and others revere the weapon for its standard of excellence and it is not a bad place to start. You see, that is merely one path, in all this the setting of ‘one that will promote volatility‘, is not only not a given, I wonder where Seeking Alpha got the data in the first place to make that assumption. When we accept that there is an optional truth, there should be a look at the antagonising party, namely Iran as well, in that regard we see (at https://seekingalpha.com/instablog/776842-investorideas-com/5152941-cryptocorner-iran-developing-cryptocurrency-japan-s-sbi-launch-exchange-australia-cracks-icos), “Iran is progressing with its own crypto currency project despite having banned crypto trading in local banks according to a report at Reuters. Information and Communications Technology Minister Javad Azari-Jahromi said the ban from Iran’s state bank would not apply to development of a domestic crypto currency“, as well as “Equally, if not more importantly, investments by Russia’s oil and gas companies in the development of oil fields in Iran may exceed $50 billion, presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters in early April” (at https://seekingalpha.com/article/4167229-effect-unilateral-u-s-sanctions-irans-crude-oil-production?page=3) and in finality we see “On Sunday, pro-Iranian Shiite rebels in Yemen launched a missile attack on Saudi Arabia targeting four cities. The Saudi air defense intercepted the missiles, however, one person died and two others were hurt by shrapnel. Saudi Colonel Turki al-Malki made it clear who Saudi Arabia thought was to blame: “This aggressive and random act by the Iran-backed Houthi group proves that the Iranian regime continues to support the armed Houthi group with qualitative capabilities…”“, which we get from the article (at https://seekingalpha.com/article/4159016-7-missiles-closer-iran-war-100-oil) called ‘7 Missiles Closer To Iran War And $100 Oil‘. So now we see two parts, we see Saudi Arabia accused of volatility and ion all this the aggressor Iran is not painted in any way in any of these mentioned articles merely defined as ‘Pro-Iranian rebels‘, the fact that those rebels cannot afford any missiles and for the most they lack the ballistic skills as well as deployment and knowledge of GOLIS firing solution systems, issues like deployment, missile calibration and beyond that there is setting the precision of the missile by making sure that the electronic settings are correctly tweaked and calibrated to interact with the information that the targeting hardware offers. All that requires skills, skills that the Yemeni do not have, but Seeking Alpha is all over that and, oh, actually they are not!

So in the $500 billion setting of growing the Saudi industry, one valid component is now the stuff of moral discussions and the setting of unproven volatility, can anyone explain why Seeking Alpha has released 7 articles in the last 24 hours on Iran, where one shows opposition between the Iranian judiciary and the President on ‘disrupt national unity‘ in the setting of ‘Rouhani opposing banning social media networks, as he attempts to open up the country to the outside world‘, there is not a moral dilemma here? Or perhaps it is not a setting for volatility whilst the growing of Iranian civil unrest is currently seen as a given. So how do we not see in more articles that for the speculative person investing into Iran is facing all kinds of risks from Iranian civil unrest?

Yet it is that setting that we can all easily check on how certain paths are played. We can see this in another way as well, when we see the French visit; we see “Macron had come to Washington in a bid to convince Trump to remain in the deal. He proposed “pillars” for adding to the existing deal, including extending it for the long term, limiting Iran’s ballistic missiles, and dealing with Iran’s involvement throughout the region“, whilst in the article regarding Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman we see “Regardless of his charm, offensive MBS will continue his extreme ruthlessness, admittedly a de rigueur requirement in a tough country and even tougher neighborhood especially because his radical changes have created many internal enemies“, we also saw “Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) wrapped up his well-orchestrated and unprecedented “meet & greet”, “press the flesh” two-week April tour of the US with the icons and titans of three primary industries in his effort to diversify the Saudi economy as part of the ambitious Vision 2030 plan“, yet nowhere do we read an optional: “Success can only come from a vision, brought by a visionary. We are a nation with resources, with options and opportunities. We are more than the oil that is acquired from our soil, we can and will harness resources as well as investment opportunities to stimulate our economy and diversify our revenues. Our nation sitting central between Africa, Asia and Europe should have been more about growing that advantage and now we will, we have the foundation to grown in technology, in minerals and in services to be a global player, we must take that opportunity before it is lost to us forever. It’s not a fast path, and to do this properly we must grow over the next 12 years to be able to become that global powerhouse“. Well, there is one place where something like that can be read, it is the introduction (at http://vision2030.gov.sa/en/foreword), where we also see a lot more on the Islamic part on Saudi Arabia, which is perfectly valid. So when we go to http://vision2030.gov.sa/en/node/125 we see a massive amount of programs all set to push Vision 2030 forward and the interesting part in that is that there is not one mention of the words ‘defence’, ‘Army’, ‘Navy’ or ‘Air force’. Even as I am convinced that growing national defence is part of that, my wonder is that with all these options and opportunities, Seeking Alpha resorted to the Moral part of a defence structure that is nowhere near a central part of the Vision 2030 brief. We know that Saudi Arabia has the option to go full G5 from day one and the investment options there are massive opportunities not to pick up millions, but billions. Yet the issue becomes larger when we see that the writer Albert Goldson has plenty of experience and should be well aware of commodities (read: he is a bit of an expert according to sources), so when we set this against the view of Bengt Nordström, CEO of consultancy Northstream who gave us last year “growth in the industry has disguised not only the fact the telco industry is largely a commodity, but also that it has not been hugely innovative for a number of years“, that in light of the upcoming 5G, where ‘first in, soaring profits’ could surely be a given, none of that is shown, merely the fact that Saudi Arabia is allegedly about ‘volatility‘, so whose buttering the bread and who is that sandwich being made for?

Another part not shown was ‘Advancing pharmaceuticals and patient safety in Saudi Arabia: A 2030 vision initiative‘ (at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1319016417301780). Here we see “A recent conference in Riyadh, sponsored by King Saud University, sought to discuss these issues and develop specific policy recommendations for the Saudi 2030 Vision plan. This and other efforts will require more and more creative educational programs for physicians, pharmacists, hospitals, and patients, and, most importantly evolving regulations on quality standards and oversight by Saudi health authorities“, let’s not forget that we are in the beginning of all this, there is 12 years, which will go quickly I’ll grant you that, yet in all this the opportunity to grow Patent Law, Law firms, and set proper markers in place would be an essential step before such a level of patent bearing change comes. The option for Pharmaceutical investment was not shown in the article, or the mention of the issues shown at https://ncusar.org/programs/17-transcripts/2017-06-20-burton.pdf (attached). So, I am not opposing that there is optionally a need to grow the national defence industry, but is that set in the right light? In the light he gives the investors (which is his right to do), we see “However, for the moral implications mentioned with respect to the development of an indigenous defense industry, check your moral compass. From my perspective, it’s a financially profitable but morally bankrupt undertaking“, yet what morally bankrupt idea is there on growing the pharmaceutical and mobile network industry? they are highly profitable if it is achieved and there is moral question, my moral compass is setting on the field asking Albert Goldson, a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and an Associate Member of the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) why he missed on those options. Also in the view of two dozen projects that are openly stated, why would he focus on a part that represents merely 10% and focus on those two dozen programs, where the investors would find the gems that the investors would want to find in a $500 billion layered cake called ‘Vision 2030‘. Oh, as for that military part, the attached Burton presentation ‘Opportunities in Saudi Arabia – Vision 2030 and Beyond‘ spends two slides on it and the most important part shown is “Vision 2030 calls for 50 percent of military equipment purchases from domestic suppliers instead of imports“, whilst also mentioning that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) “spent a total of over $63 billion on defense and security in 2016, including off-budget spending“, so when we see that, we see that for the smart investor there is an optional $30 billion a year available for those who might not have a moral issue working on a government set national defence program. That in light of Iran delivering missiles hardware and support to non-combatants, which are rebels at best, yet terrorists might be more apt when we consider “Nasrallah’s letter is proven evidence of Iran’s involvement in the Yemeni civil war, since it shows that Hezbollah, which is financed by Iran, is taking part in the fighting in Yemen” (source: Jerusalem Post). So where exactly does Seeking Alpha stand? Let’s be fair, they can be in any place they like as they are merely advisors towards their investors in all this, yet even with my high moral (or is that outspokenly oral) I would not turn away from a $32 billion market, especially if I had that level of cash. Oh, and whilst you consider on where morality needs to be, Boeing, Lockheed and Raytheon have already signed up, so the delay you took made that cake a hell of a lot smaller, but even if there is still $2 billion up for grabs, would you walk away? Let’s not forget that next month’s rent is due!

So in all this, I never stated or implied that Albert Goldson lied to anyone. Yet when we consider there is your side, my side and the truth, what did we see? You see, I get back to perception versus observation. Through perception he is focussed on the defence part, but why? The shifted setting towards Saudi Arabia will impact something else, but what else is impacted? That is the question, is it the Iranian setting (when considering the other articles), is it something else entirely, or is Albert Goldson focussed on something beyond all this? It is a speculation from my side, yet the absence of the Pharmaceutical and Mobile Industry absence implies just that, yet in equal measure I will state that this would merely be my perception, based on all my observations. That is part of the setting. In the realm of ‘there is your side, my side and the truth’, it becomes more and more about observation versus perception. In a case like this, when there is $500 billion on the table, is the perception the amount on the table, or the observation of whom else is at that table that matters. Is that merely an observation or does the perception become: where is MY opportunity? Because in the end that is what the investor cares about, and moreover, where and what size their slice of the cake becomes.

In addition, my observation will be that the changes mean that there are new players and some of the old players have been so well fed for such a long time, in this ‘parting might be such sweet sorrow’ (Romeo and Juliet Act 2, Scene 2), yet for the previous players it will be over their dead bodies, that tends to be the gist of it. The change needs to be observed because it shown also where the pressures of the players will be and that pressure can be seen as cost and risk. It is the wiser player that makes it through and gets the slice of the $500 billion layered cake; it is merely the question on the size of the slice and the perception of the profit it allegedly holds.

 

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