As other dads of almost-7-year-olds could confirm, from time to time kids go off on what may seem a philosophical tangent, with no apparent reason at all.
My daughter makes no exception. The other day, while I was driving her to school, she asked me: “Dad, do you know when you are going to die?”
Reisisting the urge to perform some apotropaic act (there is no lack of them in italian culture) I explained her I had no way of knowing how long was I going to live, adding that I hoped to live long but… you never know.
Then I asked her why the question, and - as usual when asked questions like that - she shrugged her shoulders.
Then, after a bit of silence: “Dad, if you are going to die soon, I will finish that videogame for you!”
“What game?” I asked. We often play toghether games suitable for her age, or I watch her playing some browser-based minigame, or she watches me playing something on my own…
“The one with those people with the long scarfs…”
Of course she was referring to Journey - she had seen me playing it some days before; I hadn’t explained her anything about the existential metaphores that make that “game” so beautiful, she had just seen some gameplay, heard the music, and yet somehow the game concept connected with some deep resonances even on a child her age. Or maybe it was just a coincidence and this was just the first videogame coming to her mind? No way to know. I answered something like ”I already finished it, dear… but in a certain sense I have yet to finish it, and I’ll be happy if some day you will finish it for me after I’ll be gone!”
I spent the rest of the day with a lump in my throat.
First thing that came to my mind when I heard about the “Fifty Shades of Grey” books:
Ok, I got “our” Raspberry Pi.
“Our”, because I installed it on my daughter’s room, hoping it will encourage some interest towards programming and DIY…
At the moment it’s running Raspbian ”wheezy” (on a Lexar 8GB SDHC card).
Someone is porting Android 4.0, so I’ll give it a try too when it’s ready!
These are the peripherals “our” Raspberry Pi is connected to:
- Logitech k120 keyboard
- Trust “Bling bling” mouse (don’t ask)
- AOC e950Swda monitor (using a HDMI cable and a Belkin PureAV HDMI-to-DVI interface)
Keyboard and mouse are connected to a single USB port on the Raspberry using a Belkin 00067477 USB 2.0 hub.
Next steps: getting the wi-fi USB dongle to work (it’s a Digicom USB Wave 150 Nano)… building a cardboard case with my daughter… and learning Python.
Every year, hundreds of humans are mistakenly “retired” by overzealous replicant-hunters, due to false positives in new CAPTHCHA-based Voight-Kampff tests. Say NO to impossible CAPTCHAs! You may be next!
For those interested in the very-low-cost linux computer Raspberry Pi, the R-Pi hub and the official forum seem nice places to browse around (at least if you, like me, “expressed interest” registrating through RS Components or Element14, but have no idea when the Raspberry will be on stock again.)
Today I bought the italian hardcover edition of Doctorow’s “Little Brother”. (Yes, the italian title is “X”). I had already read it in english for free in the digital version, thanks to Doctorow’s decision to share his works on CC license. Seeing the “paper” book on sale (with a 50% discount…) at the local shopping mall I had to buy it.
I hope that my daughter will be interested in stories of young hackers starting civil-rights digital revolutions before she will be able to read them in english, so having the italian translation of the book around the house seems a nice idea.
By the way, the main store of the mall - the one where I bought the book - it’s a hypermarket owned by a consumer cooperative; this coop was born in 1945 as “the proletarian” and was quite politically characterized, even if by now with its more-than-a-billion-euros of revenues many things has changed.
The funny thing is that it took a full ten minutes for the counter scanner to read the almost erased barcode on the cover of the book. I thought it was some kind of poetical justice, considering the efforts of the protagonist w1n5t0n to escape electronic surveillance measures… At the end they had to manually enter a fake generic code for 4,90€ purchases (LOL)
So, let’s have a look at this quite successful MMORPG, “life”. I have been playing it for so many years now, so I think some hints can be helpful for newbies (there are a LOT of them. They just keep on comin’…)
First of all, keep in mind that the game is exaggeratedly hard. It’s more than NES-hard. There is permadeath (and this sucks); and no way to play with alts. Just one character per account!
You start with a very, very low level character and you spend literally years without understanding what’s going on around you. There are no tutorials for beginners, you just have to watch other players to learn the basics of the game. Hopefully there is a good degree of cooperation, especially with the group of older players that will provide you help and support until you reach a certain autonomy. (By the way, I have now some experience about this: it’s been 6 years I and my in-game wife are “parenting” a newbie female player. At times stressing, but lots of fun…)
The character appearance is fully randomized, and even if you are allowed some degree of in-game customization, it’s not easy to obtain radical changes if you are not happy with your avatar’s aspect.
Designers decided not to let you know your stats, so it’s quite hard to understand how the levelling system works! Only clear thing is that you start from zero.
You have to go trough a lot of quests to acquire a good standing with some factions - e.g., when you are a newbie, “teachers” seem to be quite hard to please… and you are not even sure what skills will be useful in the game’s continuation.
The inventory is really realistic, with a restrictive encumbrance system.
The world game is huge! Even if some urban landscapes tend to look a bit repetitive, you can roam for ages and continue discovering new things to see. Too bad it takes years to get the first mount, so at the beginning you’ll have to stick with other players and have them take you to see really interesting places.
I would define this as a full sandbox environment; there is a main timeline of pivotal events happening (and these can really affect your game experience), but the vast majority of time you will just engage in interactions with other player, or in PvE activities. Everyone is great at roleplaying, IRL topics are seldom subject of conversations.
Beware there are a lot of griefers and the reporting system is not working very well (at times, admins seem to be really biased).
Permadeath makes PvP a really fearful experience, and even if there are many PvP safe zones, I must advise you that from time to time, and with little or no warning, safe zones become PvP, and this sucks. I would never engage in a raid under current rules.
There is a complex profession system in place. Some zones still enforce class-based or race-based profession access… luckily this is becoming more the exception than the rule, but your character’s background (remember, this is randomized as well…) can affect your profession access and progress, and this really spoils the fun, from my point of view.
On a positive note, the graphics and audio are almost perfect, even if some players may experience glitches or bugs that prevents them from enjoying the full experience. They usually manage to have a great in-game time as well, and this is good because these glitches are not always fixable (by the way, devs are nowhere to be found, so complaining about bugs in the game is pretty useless). Servers must be a huge cluster, I saw scenes with literally thousands of player in the same zone without the slightest slowing. Zero lag is great! (By the way, this is a single instance game, so there is not the problem of your friends playing on a different server than your one).
On a closing note, the game is free-to-play… There are lots of objects and perks you can acquire but everything can be bought with the in-game currencies, no subscription is needed (and with the flaws I showed, I’m not sure it would be a success with a pay per play business model). You may find yourself crafting or farming for hours just to obtain what you need to keep your character alive, but if you find some like-minded player you’ll see this game can be a lot of fun - and who knows, some day you may find yourself parenting a newbie too.