Clanning Concept Art

For the unwashed, Clan Lord by Delta Tao Software is an archaic, sorely out-of-date Multi-player Online Role-playing Game  (MORPG) that has been running since the late 90s. The single world (server) and small population make it feel like a small town, thus all of the current players have the same goal (job). Thus, like any small group with common goals, it is a bit like a company: You have your people in it who are on the ball because they work well in teams and independently, those that only work in teams because they need direction, those that lead group of people in a direction, those that specialize in a subset of knowledge about the terrain (market or technology) all of whom trade their time and risk profit (experience) to advance, and finally those that just show up to have fun. These flyby ‘fun’ people are equivalent to the people who just show up for a paycheck. In the game, one seemingly minor mistake can lead to the death of the entire group.  This necessitates departing (experience and time loss) which is a bit like working on a project  and having it fail miserable because Joe Paycheck didn’t know or care that you shouldn’t have done X.

Considering the parallels I noticed about the in game group and the group of people you work with  day-to-day, I have found several commonalities that I have taken from work to game and from game to work that have helped me navigate real life teamwork, leadership and relationships.

(Original Circa 2012; Minor Update: 20170502)

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When I read Pat Cadigan’s Synners back in the early 90s I thought about what technological advances would be needed to get there. I understood basic electronics, having taken it in high school, and had been using computers since a 12″ CRT, cassette drive, analog coupler & 4K were a big deal & cost over $1000. So, I had a fairly good idea, except not knowing how we would achieve the flexible TFT screens considering they were encased in glass, and a lot of problems with power & complexity. I also read Sterling, Gibson, Rucker & Stephenson which also influenced my thinking about technical (and social) advances (regressions).

Since then there’s been many advances that move us closer to what was a pure fantasy. Miniaturization of components and SoCs as small as your pinky nail were easily predictable. Tuning audio for a room in seconds was foreseeable, and a lot of ideas I could see coming to shape right on time or even before. This digital world lives in a trans-dimensional plane that can express all possible dimensions by its nature of having no dimensions—what I think of as the “all in none” paradox that got this universe started in the first place. So, aside from imagination of what to program into it, what sort of media people would consume, the only limit was physical. New materials and chemical processes are making the fundamental plane on which our interconnected digital world more flexible and more fantastic. For a very LONG time the race has been to offer flexible displays. This year the first mass market flexible display came out. But still the device it is embedded in, is not. Once someone puts 2 & 2 together at Apple or Google, there will be a product that does to the smartphone what the tablet did to the desktop & laptop.

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For years I have told people about Quality of Service (QoS) and how it relates to gaming, mostly in person or via chat. Often to help a fellow Clan Lord player iron out the cases where someone on their connection is watching video or their local network (usually a WiFi LAN) has maxed out its bandwidth.

I have been long meaning to write this out. But rather than reinvent the wheel, I found this well illustrated guide explaining QoS while trying to help yet another CL player understand how to fix his “someone watching Netflix is causing too much lag to play” syndrome.

Note: manufacturers call it various things: QoS, Port Priority, “Gamer class/grade”, even “Media Router” etc. It’s all basically the same thing: prioritizing ports to guarantee certain types of traffic is prioritized by port number to guaranty a certain level of quality of that service.

MFi-controllerOver a year ago when I found out about the MFi controller program that would allow manufacturers to create gaming controllers for iOS device, I was a bit excited. But after looking at the offerings, I decided to wait until the quality & price was in parity with other controllers on the market. Now, well over a year later, and I am still waiting.

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Currently at over $3M US. Project Eternity is one of the largest video games ever Kickstarted.

As I write this, Project Eternity — by the creators of Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and the Fallout Series (among others) — is fully funded with 15 days left on Kickstarter. I backed the game at the lowest game level ($25) just over 2 weeks ago, because I was a huge fan of Baldur’s Gate and successive expansions.

My “Credentials”

Coming from AD&D2 table top I had been playing RPGs of one form or another for decades: Dungeons of Doom on the Texas Instruments at my friend’s aunt’s house after school (religiously), NetHack on my father’s development 286 DOS machine, Ultima II and Pools of Radiance on my Macintosh 128 — swapping 3.25″ disks — in the wee hours of Friday and Saturday night as a teenager, and most recently, Dragon Age on the PS3. I have always loved the grand epics set in a fantasy world with sword fighting, archery, magic and the chance of running into a dragon. Part of this stems from elementary school book report on medieval arms and armor I researched and wrote, part is my fencing and archery training, while the other part is all video gamer. So, an RPG such as Project Eternity is right in my wheelhouse of games.

Blind Dual Preview Review

Given that, I thought I would write up my initial impression of the game as it stands, considering all of the updates the people at Obsidian have added the past week. I also contacted a fellow tech blogger, Josh C, about the game to let him know about it. In the course of conversation, we decided to do a blind dual preview review of the game, and release it at the same time. I do not know what Josh is going to write, nor does he know what I will write. After we will follow up with each other. This should be fun. “Read on Adventurer. Your Quest Awaits…”

Project… Obsidian

First: It’s about fricking time! It has been ages since the last proper party-based classic RPG was released for the Mac and PC. Once MMORPGs (which are great — don’t get me wrong) became a hit, it looked like single player RPGs were dead, and for all intents and purposes they were. The thing is, the multi-player RPGs have lost the co-ordination that true team based games allows. That level of coordination has gone to Team FPS games as long as the team members all have headsets. Project Eternity finally brings that back. And judging from the Kickstarter response ($2.2M & 50K+ pledges as I edit this), there are a lot of people like me that miss this style of game.

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I am signed up to receive several tech-related newsletters and promotions from various companies. About 3 or 4 of them are for well-known, technology-focused stores and it must be that time of year. Instead of the usual storage, laptop or video card upgrade specials, the emails have shifted to promoting those electronic do-dads such as RC cars and helicopters, laser pointers and laser parking assists, and other items that you’ve never heard of before seem pretty cool and kinda’ want for yourself. Even if you do not belong to one of the many sects of Christianity, the end of the year present-fest is hard to resist no matter what your religious affiliation or lack thereof.
Sure there’s always Thinkgeek, the year round e-shop that has those kitschy toys and popular sci-fi branded merchandise. (Will someone please get me that Doctor Who Desktop Dalek? I know I would never buy it for myself. And if you really love me there’s that Kiwi WiFi iPhone ODBII interface… but I digress.) But this time of year, everyone gets into the act. Most stores know the target price for the bulk of items range from about $20-$50 for presents since people have more friends than they do significant others or very loved family members and a majority of people can’t afford expensive gifts.

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This weekend the open hunt headed to the glen. Since Torin wasn’t around to lead, I led the group to the Glen Castle to the spider caves there. We didn’t almost get wiped out like last time thanks to having Althea there as a another brick.

Open Hunt, March 7, 2010

A leisurely day with the open hunt

Here you can see Althea stepping up to brick a Violene Arachne the second after Starsword and Blindkan fall to them.

You can also see Jeanne running around with her bloodblade which was key in eliminating some threats.

We had 3 mystics along to boost, Jaqen, Melben and Rincewind. Despite the 3 Mystics and 4 healers, I rotated shares in addition to /sharecads, as many did and there were no complaints about shares.

All in all it was a leisurely hunt at the Mountain Glen castle, but it was not boring by any means. It took just about 2 RL hours. A good time was had by all.

Today I found Fundin out of the library, so in the tradition of PAG, we made an impromptu book 1 run!

We made it there it record time and took PC1 in one attempt after have althea run the crimson, pitch and other arachnoids.

It was a very fun trip — unfortunately I discovered that I had completed book 1 and needed book 2 when we got there!