Tag Archives: Frank Herbert

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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Si fueris Romae, Romano vivito more

It is an old saying that still applies today. It reflects on two events, two that show that the events we see escalating have a profound impact on choices, those in the past and in the future. When we consider the events (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/18/synagogue-murders-binyamin-netanyahu-despicable-murderers) of slaughter, we see two sides of the same equation, on one side can we hold a group accountable for the action of a few people. Can Palestine be held accountable for the events of two Palestinians? The UN is so eager to add Palestine and give them loads of options, yet the massive amount of events going on form 1946 gives clear way that many have been on track and remain on track to eradicate the Jewish population. There is something entirely wrong about that, yet we must accept that Palestine has genuine grievances; however these are completely ignorable towards the fact that genocide should not be condoned, the Israeli state, which seemingly became the quick solution for governments after the WW2 massacre. As I personally see it, the powers that be who were in charge in 1945 required a solution for giving the Jewish population a solution and made their dream come true of the start of the state of Israel. Was this wrong? I am not wise enough to have the answer to this, yet what is a certainty is that, if it had not happened, Europe would have been confronted with a population bend on revenge after what was done to them. Consider the danger of death squads getting even with the Dutch, German and French population for what was done to them. Even if we consider legal events (at http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/jewish-family-in-restitution-standoff-with-german-city-of-teltow-a-939659.html), ‘A German-American lawyer and his family have been fighting for over two decades to reclaim lucrative properties lost under the Nazi regime‘ is only one of millions. Consider when massive chunks of Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Koln, Leiden, Utrecht, Paris, Reims, and that list goes on. Creating the state of Israel was the easy way out. Even though Historically, that part would have been even larger than what it is now. Yet, the issue does not stop here.

When we look at the second news story we see that the US has been kind enough to leave some hardware for Isis (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/18/un-report-isis-enough-weapons-carry-on-fighting-two-years). The four bullet points are:

  • Arsenal is sufficient enough to threaten region ‘even without territory’
  • Much of Isis’s weapon stocks were stolen from US-backed Iraqi military
  • Report recommends sanctions including seizing Isis oil tanker trucks
  • Foreign jihadis flocking to Iraq and Syria on ‘unprecedented scale’

The first issue shows that ISIS has enough power to be a clear threat, this leaves the indication that the initial US strategy of bombing was never a true option. I never believed it to be and several deeper into military knowledge and strategy had the same idea on this. The term ‘no boots on the ground’ was not realistic from day one. To be honest, it would be realistic if other nations had stepped up to the plate for this, which would not be a unacceptable idea, as America is both financially and economically in a state slightly lower than the average basement. It is not unrealistic to let other nations step up to the plate, but that would leave it all in the hands of politicians, which gives the reader an idea of how much is unlikely to happen.

The second issue is twofold, either the Iraqi military is strategically inapt to deal with the situation, in the second it is not impossible that part of the Iraqi military is on the side of ISIS and they military is to some extent the eyes and ears of ISIS. The last part is clear speculation by me, but overall is that such a stretch? ISIS is making massive stride all over the middle east, there is additional clear indication that ISIS has reached Gaza and moreover, Hamas is losing more and more control of the west bank. These escalating issues are now becoming a worry on several fields. West Bank, Sinai and they are gaining visibility in Jordan.

The third issue is about recommendations. It sounds nice in theory, but what will be done when they only deal with Islamic partners like Pakistan, Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine, Senegal and others, how much confiscation will there be? More important, the recommendation ignores the biggest danger. What if ISIS locks down on the oil, they got by without it easy enough, but when the lock down starts, how long until most nations go into a lock down? Consider the barricading of oil transport to US and Europe for two weeks, how long until that powder keg paralyses nations and economies? Frank Herbert wrote it about it in his book Dune: ‘He who can destroy a thing, controls a thing‘, that is a truth we ignored. The tactic (seen as ‘scorched Earth‘) has been employed by Stalin during WW2, Sherman in the American civil war, Lord Kitchener in South Africa and by the Russians against Napoleon. The tactic was to some extent banned under Article 54 of Protocol I of the 1977 Geneva Conventions, which is only nice if ISIS would respect that, but we can definitely rule out that chance.

The fourth one is the nightmare many government face, not as they go there to fight, but what happens when these people return, which allows ISIS to place lone wolf terrorists, with massive amounts of options to damage the nations that gave them a life and future in the first place. Now we get to the title!

si fueris alibi, vivito sicut ibi

If you are elsewhere, live as them there (rough translation), yet the second part is not exactly happening, yes they start like that, then they take over and others convert or die. This is at the core of the issue, and as we speak, there is intelligence out there that is confirming (actually they are not denying, which is not the same) that ISIS is growing its numbers from the refugee camps, camps with over 2 million people. If only 1% joins, they will have enough troops to change the face of the Middle East.

We can debate on legitimacy of Iraq all we want, but in the end does it truly matter? The events that changed the map are now at the centre of the moments that shape the new Middle East. The question becomes who wins? It is clear that the winner will have a foundation of support all over the Middle East, yet where will that leave Israel and America? Soon they will be forced down a path of war that none considered to the extent that anyone envisioned. It will be the first war that might have the blessing of the Arabian states, as it seems decently clear that they have enough worry from ISIS as well. If ISIS grows beyond a certain point, we will see a change in Jordan and Syria first, after that the tinderbox will truly light up, with threats to Egypt and the nations surrounding the UAE and Saudi Arabia, then what will we do? Consider ISIS not just with troops and arms, but with access to the oil wells and they decide who gets delivery. Then we end up with the nightmare scenario, just because it was left to the politicians.

So as we now consider the fullness of the text: “si fueris Romae, Romano vivito more; si fueris alibi, vivito sicut ibi“, those in charge need to consider who they are dealing with and throw out the play book they used for too long a time without ANY results, consider who these Romans are and deal with them, because if we don’t they will hand out the dealings of portions of grief none will survive, which will be extremely uncomfortable for all of us.

 

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