Tag Archives: Jedi

Dark side of the Jedi

Yes, I guess that George Lucas really had no idea that this would hold for well over 45 years, but that happens when you become the real innovator. In this we recognise innovators, but the path of one is often dangerous, perilous and it only works when the competition is at your heels. Consider that Star Wars came out when we had The Omen, Taxi Driver, All the presidents men, Rocky, Saturday Night Fever, the Duellists. All excellent movies, all driving the others to do better, that is why it works, so when I see “reversing the Trump-era award to Microsoft Corp and announcing a new contract expected to include its rival Amazon.com and possibly other cloud players” I merely wonder how stupid Trump actually was. To give $10,000,000,000 to Microsoft when they screw up their console position and hand the number two place to Nintendo with the weakest of all consoles, only to likely lose again in the future to the Amazon Luna and possibly even to Netflix? How delusional can you become? Microsoft tried to attack the Apple tablet market and failed miserably again and again, they blew their mobile market and they are trying to create waves for their Azure market, that is the player we want for the U.S. Defense Department? This all whilst we get a day ago “Microsoft has “paused” SQL Server in its Windows Containers project. Microsoft advises anyone interested in running SQL Server in a container to use the Linux root instead”, so basically the two non entries (Google and Amazon) were a better solution off the bat?

So, this Jedi (aka the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) is off to a rocky start. I had never expected to be any commander in chief so delusional that they would hand the contract to one player, all whilst better solutions (in the worst case merely equal) would be considered without proper vetting? I am not stating to merely give it to Amazon or Google, that is why vetting is an important process, yet in all that, Reuters (at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-microsoft-pentagon-jedi/pentagon-hits-reset-on-trumps-10-billion-cloud-deal-welcoming-new-players-idUSKCN2EC1YY) gives us “The company cited a 2019 book that reported Trump had directed the Defense Department to “screw Amazon” out of the JEDI contract”, is this how Americans see their national defence, as an ego driver? It would be one thing if Microsoft is the better party, but that hasn’t be the case for some time. 

So when I see “the plan would likely involve a direct award for “urgently needed” capabilities and then a “full and open” competition for multiple suppliers by early 2025”, which we get from John Sherman, acting chief information officer for the Defense Department. My issue here is that when I see ‘urgently needed’, I also remember the joke (not a funny one) that the Zumwalt class represents and the billions spend there, then there are a few more projects, all with pressing needs. And whilst we are getting towards it, the entire Kaseya and Solarwinds debacle shows the larger pressing matter. Security matters! And the matter of security can never be properly investigated if it is appointed to one player, one debatable player mind you. I am not stating that security at Google or Amazon is better, but the Exchange issues, which we get from ZDNet in April shows us “Four zero-day vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server are being actively exploited by state-sponsored threat groups and others to deploy backdoors and malware in widespread attacks”, this doesn’t mean that Google and/or Amazon is better. But the debate is on and Microsoft lost top dog and pole position years ago, they are merely in it to remain mediocre, all for the good of the board of directors. They lost to Apple (tablets), then they lost to Google (with Bing), then they lost to Amazon (web services and SaaS) and now surpassed by TikTok (video against China), that is an impressive fail rate. Consider that Bing has a market share of 2.71%, which against Google with 91.95% is slightly too funny for words. 

But this is not about Microsoft, it is about Jedi (all these funny acronyms). So when we consider the dark side of that forceless solution (by Microsoft) and we need to wonder about “the Defense Department also announced its plans for a new multi-cloud initiative known as the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability, or JWCC. It must provide capabilities at all three classification levels — Unclassified, Secret and Top Secret — and parity of services across all classification levels; integrated cross-domain solutions; global availability including at the tactical edge; and enhanced cybersecurity controls, according to the Pentagon”, not the intent, but the investigative presumption of ‘enhanced cybersecurity controls’, both Solarwinds and Kaseya showed us that and this field is still widely in development, and sources like business wire are setting the Marke that cloud security will double over the next 4 years, a stage of increased visibility will both increase security and criminal activities, the winner remains unknown at present, even if we acknowledge that REvil has the upper hand, we have no way of knowing what happens tomorrow,  if security comes from innovators there is every chance that Amazon or Google will get there before Microsoft will, even Apple has a better chance of showing innovation than Microsoft in the cloud atmosphere at present. The fact of what happens next will be out soon enough, yet my mind wonders why anyone would be stupid enough to award national defence to anyone without proper vetting.  So when we accept that it was meant as “part of a broader digital modernisation of the Pentagon aimed at making it more technologically agile”, wouldn’t you want to vet to broaden the application of data, the security of the system and the application of security towards data, users and access? There is a reason that SELinux had roots going back to the NSA, this they all wanted to throw away? And the media is merely reporting the news, not questioning that time line? Why is that?

Only the agile and versatile remain superpowers, and the former president was willing to hand over 50% of THAT equation? So consider that what was JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) could have become the Darth (Defence Application Reprehensive Technology Hype) defence system. 

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A day of rest

Yup, we all have them and to be honest, not because it is Sunday, but because I wanted to contemplate that I had finished my 1500th story on Saturday, to be honest, I never thought I would get that far. So today I relaxed and considered things, at some point I ate 2 dozen King Mackerels and I also at 3 dozen people (playing Man Eater on PS4), a game that was a lot more fun than I expected it to be, and lets be fair, who wouldn’t want to be a shark, I wanted to be one since June 20th 1975, I don’t think the Steven Spielberg had that in mind when he made the movie, but we all have triggers and the VIC-20 brought out a few dark sides in me too. The game is fin, I have put aside Jedi, Fallen order for a week at present, it is not a reflection on the Jedi game, because it looks good and I enjoy the game, it is to show just how much fun Man Eater is. There is a growing sense that games like JFO are losing ground. It is not their fault, they did nothing wrong. It seems that with the stronger systems the option growing in players that we are all seeking a more sandbox approach. Dying Light, Alien: Isolation, Gotham Knight, Shadow of War, all games that are doing better because of the open game approach, even if it merely seems to be the case. Now with the PS5 (and the Microsoft alternative) we see the drive to open gaming. Still, we need to be careful what we embrace, because it is a dangerous step. Even as some embrace Second Son, a Superpunch creation, the game lost out as it was too linear, a game that had the setting to be legendary, because slightly better than average, not because of the graphics, not because of the story, but the execution needed work, the fact that I was able to complete the game in a little over a day in hard mode is in support of that view. It gave me the idea to come up with Infamous: Adulthood, a game that continues on Second Son, sets it in a much larger stage of Seattle (as that was where the previous game was). I took a different avenue (because that is how I roll), I like deployability, a game is not something that you play once, but there must be a drive to do that, taking a page from another design, I set the game map to a 900% of the previous one, so if the map was 3 miles each side, it would not be 9 miles each side. From 3 by 3 to 9 by 9 is quite the change. But the map is merely the first part. The idea is to continue a generation later (because the game was nicely set), Delsin Rowe is now an older man, he met a girl Dyani and she was a conduit too, she had the same ability that Delsin had and ended up with different powers they settled and had a family. This is the first tier choice, you can choose boy or Girl, the boy will be named Reggie, the girl will be named Betty, yet the powers with which they get (only two) will be set to a stage, the first power will be one of one of 4 random the boy gets it from the father the girl from the mother, the second power is 75% from the gender parent 25% from the other one. So here is the first reason to replay the game, you get different and new powers. The story will set the stage where the player gets the other 2 powers. To this stage the story doesn’t change, yet how to go about it does. I wanted to add the stage that the other two powers will be depending on whether the person has a good or an evil karma, so the offensive power of fire is for Evil, the power of water will be for good (just a thought, fire is not evil, the flames told me so themselves), The second one is in the air, I wanted to set a larger stage again. To avoid the linearity of the game, I wanted change, so we still might want some linearity to make things easier, but I wanted to avoid that cleaning a region gives you enough power to upgrade to the max from the beginning. To this effect we see a new stage, the good cannot destroy CCTV, as such the police can be a much larger stage to deal with. The evil choice gets additional criminals attacking them, whilst the police attacks them too, The storyline will be a larger challenge, I needed to consider missions that can be adjusted for the powers available. An idea is that as the powered are free, some are criminals, some are not and others are living in silence hiding their abilities. As such missions for 4 additional powers needed to be created. (2 good, 2 evil), optionally one will be neutral, but that is the stage. I had the idea of creating a storyline that is slightly more dripped in ambiguity than previously considered. So when considering the powers, we need 4 for Dyani and 4 that are optionally gained. I came up with Fire, Water, Acid, Air, Paper, Glass (the last two were mentioned in Second Son), and beyond the elemental is time, telekineses and projection. There might be more, but there is no stage to set it yet. The danger is that in Second Son the first power was cool, it can across as creative and it had limitations, Laser (second power) was too strong, basically when I had it, I only used that one for most of the game, so I wanted to make sure that each power had a serious setback, making relying on one power a bad idea. There is the idea to add powers like Flight or teleportation, but the powers that were in the game and climbing to the top was not overly negative. Then there are the positive parts, the spray can option was awesome, it was original, and looked great, but I do not want repetition, I considered that both good and evil had options, so the idea of the paper power allows the player to set posters to illuminate issues, yet if the person does not get that power, we need an alternative in Smoke (charcoal image), Laser (Draw), Video (override transmission) and Concrete (sculpt). In addition there is the need to create passive abilities, even as we see the stage where we use one power, or the other power, we could be actively using one power, whilst the other power passively works too, it is a harder stage, but it feels more real for the player. For the same reason where we didn’t get to use the concrete power, I want to make sure that the stage of all powers is there and an application of practical use too. 

To set that stage we need to create a sort of infrastructure, just like a normal real city, we have regions, the police has a city and area setup, but so do criminals and they are not the same, in addition, we see the approach of others (not trying to give away too much) and they to have their own maps and infrastructure. Setting a city in such a stage makes a linear approach much harder and optionally not possible. A setting where a region can be ‘cleaned’ but not until all 4 powers are there, and in some way, the stage needs to be that some issues cannot be solved (not the right power) and as such, the only thing that the player can do is limit damage, a stage we often forget. Yes, we all understand that there is a line we walk on when we play a game, but what happens, when that line is intersecting and the player gets the option to turn left or right? Sandbox games tend to have a much better realisation to make that happen and I believe that in next generation systems a push towards sandbox approach will give the player a much better and more entertaining approach to solving the puzzle giving them. Even as we all push towards the a game like Prototype and the need to drive a tank over the masses to get the 65,536 kills, but long before you get to the 40K cadaver mark, the grinding set in and the fun diminishes. That is the other side of sandbox gaming. When a game stops being linear there are more issues to consider, more options for glitches and an optional bug or two, so there is more to consider and isolation in programming tends to be a non-option. Isolation has benefits, but there is a much larger stage of other issues hitting the environment, there is more to consider programming and that is where the rails tend to come off. This is not a good thing, but I focus on the creativity, not on the technical stag of the game, I can create, I suck at programming (beyond standard stations of it), as such the re is a stage where my idea of creation will surpass programming, but that is good, when you skate on the fringe of technology magic is created, Go back in time and see the games that truly broke the mould, they all surpassed what was imagined to be possible at the time (Minecraft with the obvious exception), we all see what is possible and a game will expand the mind when it is in a stage where it seems impossible. Guns of the Patriots and the Last of us are the examples that set the stage of the PlayStation 3,  MGS4: Guns of the patriot did so in the beginning of the console and set unparalleled borders with several critics giving the game a 100% rating, and the Last of Us repeating the same setting at the end of the PlayStation 3 lifecycle receiving even more 100% ratings. That was not because it was cool, it was because the game was as close to a game that should not even exist on that console, to surpass the boundaries of what was possible, soon we will get a similar setting on sandbox games, creating the near impossible making the player skate on the edge of what is possible in gaming and it is a hard sell, even as we see “Within seven days of its release, The Last of Us sold over 1.3 million units”, it ended up selling 17,000,000 units. There is a reason why Ubisoft is at present with the consideration of ‘At best unremarkable, at worst unplayable, Ghost Recon Breakpoint is 2019′s worst game’ (source: Washington Post), It all starts with creativity and imagination, then we get proper programming and testing, as I personally see it Ubisoft failed 4 times over, as such it is important to set the bar of creativity as high as possible, a stage too often underestimated. So whilst Ubisoft still seemingly hides behind “There are five AC Valhalla editions available”, with the optional extra “Each one of the Valhalla editions offers a different pack of bonuses and additional perks on top of the base game”. We need to remind the makers that we need one game and an optional collectors edition that could have art, noise (soundtrack) and doohickey (statue), I am not opposed to a season pass, yet in my personal view it is that some of the makers see this as an excuse to deliver a 85% game and charge additional for the 15%, whilst I see it that the season pass would be a setting to add to the game giving us 115% of gaming. In this I need to reflect on the Desperado 3 limited edition, it is awesome (I do not have it), I got the game when I could and I love it, but the collectors edition ($80 more) gives a music box, with the five playable figurines interchangeable, an art book, the soundtrack and postcards. It looked really cool. Some will love it, some will not care, and I get that, but in what universe should we diminish playing quality? I also get that some will give out skins as a premium for some preorder and I am fine with that, yet they should become available for all and games like Gotham Knight offered just that down the line as free downloads. It seems to me that these game marketeers are all about creating hypes aiming towards what they call “For the most loyal and fanatic fans of the franchise”, whilst they have no issue charging well above 300%, all whilst they are currently in a stage where they have not proven that they can deliver a game that is worth 100% of the charges of a normal game, Breakpoint took care of that rather nicely. Metacritic gives Ubisoft a present an average career score of 69%, and we do need to distinguish that AC Odyssey is set to a mere 60%, Breakpoint got a mere 58%, so am I wrong? I believe not, although Ubisoft could have avoided a lot of issues by properly testing the games before release. Different games, different ratings, but the stage is set with the creativity of the person thinking up the game. Getting another Second Son game is not the worst plan, but it needs to deal with linearity, it was the biggest drawback in the game. I think that overall that is not a bad setting to have, The game is said to have sold over a million copies which is good, yet when we set this against the two legendary games, one selling 17 million copies, I believe that there is room to wow the people, I am not underestimating the realm that MGS had already created, but the Last of Us was a totally new IP, I believe that a near perfection driven SuckerPunch has more to offer and I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the PS5 era, if Ghost of Tsushima is anything to go by, I say that we haven’t seen anything yet. So let the PS5 and the good times come. And in the mean time, I will focus my creativity a bit more.

There are limits to a day of rest, the walls at present look good enough to eat. 

 

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