= $expireDate ) { $result = $result . $comments[$i] . "\n"; $comment_header[$recentCount] = ""; if( $thisComment[0] >= $lastVisit ) { $comment_header[$recentCount] = "NEW!"; $bgcolor[$recentCount] = 2; } else $bgcolor[$recentCount] = 0; $thisComment[0] = ' • ' . date("m/d/y h:ia", $thisComment[0]); if($thisComment[2]) $thisComment[2] = ' [' . $thisComment[2] . '] '; if($thisComment[4]) $thisComment[1] = '' . $thisComment[1] . ''; $comment[$recentCount] = "
" . $thisComment[3] . "
" . $thisComment[1] . $thisComment[2] . " • thread • " . "article" . $thisComment[0] . " 
"; $recentCount++; } } if( $file = @fopen("comments/$recent.comment", 'w') ) { fwrite($file, $result); fclose($file); } } if( $recentCount == 0 ) { $recentCount = 1; $comment[0] = "None.
\n"; } if($order) { $countStart = 0; $countEnd = $recentCount; $countInc = 1; } else { $countStart = $recentCount - 1; $countEnd = -1; $countInc = -1; } } ?> = $lastVisit ) { $commentscount++; } } } else { $commentscount = "0"; } if( $commentscount > 0 ) $result = "]   " . $commentscount . " new comment"; if( $commentscount > 1 ) $result = $result . "s"; if( $commentscount > 0 ) $result = $result . "   ["; return $result; } ?> frontierless<? echo $extra_title; ?>

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]   Tuesday, September 16, 2003   [

Trying a comeback

My first try at a weblog only lasted a couple of months. I'm now trying to start again. Since I've somewhat lost interest in the original subject, I probably wont update this front page much. Maybe I'll come back to it someday, but for the moment, and since I just started my PhD, I'll stick to my computer graphics research page and make sure it's updated with my latest readings and ideas. If you know of any other computer graphics related weblog, I'd be more than happy to hear about them.

        9/16/2003 08:46:29 PM    #
]   Wednesday, January 22, 2003   [

Lots of Robots

Some will argue, and I agree, that computer animation is being overused in recent movies. However animation tools have enabled something that has long been lost in the history of cinema: the one man show. In 2000 two guys, Bruce Branit and Jeremy Hunt, lauched the overnight success 405: The Movie. An impressive technical tour-de-force that showed it was now possible to create good quality movies with a very small team working from some LA garage. Today, Greg points us to the beautiful Lots of Robots, presented at Sundance Online by it's only author, Andy Murdock. See this article at Wired and the making-of. I've had the chance to watch other impressive small team animation movies at the Siggraph Animation Festival, unfortunately there is no easy way to find these movies online. Here you can watch 2002 award winner The Cathedral by a group of three polish animation buffs.

Will small team moviemaking bring back that very personal, unified touch only big-bucks directors can afford today? With such freedom to newcomers, I bet we'll see a lot of innovative cinema in the future.

        1/22/2003 01:41:49 PM    #

Steven Johnson on TSO

It seems like Mr. Emergence himself have something to say about The Sims Online:
The overall effect is a maniacally social and collaborative universe. There's something sweet in this but also something unreal. The Sims Online is the mirror image of 2002's other hot title, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which is all about maniacally anti-social behavior: running over pedestrians, abusing prostitutes, or just crashing into things for no good reason. The test of the Sims' reality principle will be whether the final version lets a little menace into the mix. If the game is going to satisfy our craving for multiplayer realism, you should be able to carjack your fellow Sims, not just make pizza with them.

Hmmm... Until now, massively multiplayer games allowing anti-social behavior have usually been unstable. In Everquest, for example, collaborative mode was much more popular than Player vs. Player. Being killed by a psycho level 50 ogre shaman every 15 minutes didn't appeal to new players. If you allow online anti-social behavior you have to throw in hundreds of features to make sure your game doesn't turn to total chaos. Designing a well-balanced permissive online game could well be the next challenge of the industry. A rule of thumb to remember: if people have a save game they will try to wreck havoc. There is no save games in real life.

        1/22/2003 01:24:06 PM    #
]   Tuesday, January 21, 2003   [

A Guy in a Girl's Game

That's it, I overcame my addiction. Here is the promised article on my brief intrusion within the world of The Sims Online. Let's start off by some reviewer's comments:
I love the idea of a non-competitive, social game. However, Sims Online isn't it. There are only two activities in the game, making money (or developing skills to assist same), and socializing. The problem is that there is no in-game reward for socializing, so no one chooses to do it. [ via Jill/TXT ]
I would say that the game designers tried real hard to attach a reward to socializing, and according to my two weeks experience, they succeeded to a degree. Their idea was to make sure good money could only be earned in group: you have to be a bunch of people working together in order to be really successful.

However this idea of working in group, which only consists of clicking on an item, soon gets old. The designers therefore decided to threw in two other explicit mechanisms to reward good social behavior: 1) some group puzzles are included and you must discuss to solve them, 2) you get rewarded when a lot of people visit your house. Let's look at these mechanisms in detail:

1) In one of the puzzle the first player has a map of the maze where the second player is lost. The lost one explains where he is and the guide tries to lead him out. It's nice and fun for a while (at least as fun as killing rats in everquest), but here again the novelty will quickly run off. Since there are only three such group puzzles in the game you soon get bored.

2) Getting a reward for visitors seemed like a good idea: the players judge which houses are worth visiting and which aren't. Create an inviting house, socialize with a lot of people, make sure they come over and you'll make it to the top 10. Unfortunalety there is a flaw: the only thing your visitors want is to make money. They don't care if your house is inviting, they don't care if you're nice or not, you have the 25 000$ pizza machine and they'll be right there.

So yeah, in the end Electronic Arts falled short of creating the first online game rewarding good social behavior. I could have lived with it. There will always be an occasional roleplayer who will have fun rehearsing Romeo & Juliet with me. What I couldn't live with is that there is absolutely no reward for creativity.

The Sims games are creative tools: arranging walls, painting them, placing a staircase, a grand piano, etc. The goal of the original games was to make money in order to experiment with these tools. Bringing the game to the online world could have meant capitilizing on this unique feature by rewarding creativity. Unfortunately it did not. We already said that being a creative house-designer wont get you more visitors, but we have the right to think that being an innovative simbusinessman could get you money? It wont. Here are two examples.

Let's first take the case of Jaquelyne Hyde of Hyde House Realtors Inc. This brilliant Sim thought that she could make money by building up efficient houses and selling them to newcomers. This business model was innovative and a lot of Sims were interested. Unfortunately, at some point, Jaquelyne's demo house got very popular and she started making more money by doing the exact same thing as everybody else.

The case of Mona Lamothe is also of interest. This simbusinesswoman bought an old warehouse near the top of mount Fuji and converted it in a maze of corridors and staircases. A brilliant system allowed her to change the configuration every night. For a minimal entrance prize, any Sim could try to find the treasure hidden in the warehouse and the fastest ones got a reward. The visitors never came because they could make more money by clicking on a blackboard and waiting for their Sim to solve the same equation again and again.

The Sims Online had the chance of encouraging good social behavior and creativity. It could have been ever-changing, it could have offered limitless possibilities. Unfortunately this revolutionary game went kaputt because you can print a fresh new 500$ bill by cooking a pizza.

        1/21/2003 11:11:12 PM    #
]   Sunday, January 19, 2003   [

Patriotism, (C) USA

Great quote on Bloggety Blog:
Isn't it possible to be patriotic without [...] sounding American?
On the same note, I watched Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine yesterday. Ok, it's a little bit too much. Had he come in Montreal he would have found many locked doors. No matter that, it's still an essential documentary to see. For two reasons. First, if you still think watching a documentary is not a good way to spend a night you're in for a surprise, this one is si well done it can be watched as easily as any fiction movie. Second, I'm pretty sure that, as an american or as a foreigner, you ignore a lot of the facts that are presented. Believe me, you may ignore them now, but I don't think you'll forget them after seeing the movie.

        1/19/2003 12:32:14 PM    #

HTML equations

If you look at my research blog's first entry, you'll notice that I really need a tool to easily throw in equations in HTML. I'd like something similar to a latex format that would come either as a plug-in or as an easy to use image generator. Anybody knows of such a thing?

        1/19/2003 12:19:13 PM    #
]   Saturday, January 18, 2003   [

My Research Blog

Frontierless is about a couple of things, but I have other interests in the wide world of computer science. It's for these interests that I started a quite structured research blog. Those of you interested in computer graphics are welcome take a look at it, but for the next couple of months it will mostly be a log of what I'm doing and what I should do.

        1/18/2003 07:50:52 PM    #
]   Thursday, January 16, 2003   [


As of monday I will become temporarily unemployed, waiting for the skies to clear a little. If all goes well, I should get my game developer job back within a couple of months. Meanwhile I will have plenty of time to spend with my new son and with my weblog. There is a least one experiment I've been willing to put up in the weblab, I should have some time to program it now.

        1/16/2003 11:28:06 PM    #

Why People Wont Blog

In his somewhat pessimistic piece Sebastian Fiedler exposes his thoughts on why some people are reluctant to start a blog:
What about the lack of a clear purpose? What about the lack of quick rewards? What about the lack of immediate gratification? What about the necessary self-discipline? What about the necessary risk taking? What about the joy of new encounters and unpredictable developments? What about the willingness to put your thoughts out in the open? As a novice to personal Webpublishing you certainly have to deal with a good number of these issues before you even start to experience the wonderful side effects personal Webpublishing can produce. It takes time, effort, persistence, and quite a bit of behavioral change before adequate skills and habits are built up. Learning to use specific software tools often isn't the hardest part.

All this leads me to the following thought: Do we encounter a very specific brand or somewhat special selection of people in the blogosphere? ... take a look at the considerable number of Webpublishing spaces that live and die in a matter of weeks. Are all these personal experiments abandoned because of a lack of time? Some probably are, I would say... but there are certainly a lot of other reasons why people do not feel inclined to continue their project. So, sometimes I am pretty sceptical that we will see this massive growth of personal Webpublishing that some people seem to predict...

As for myself, if I look back at the reasons why I started, I find this:
Why am I doing this? That's a legitimate question, and one I've been asking myself. Unfortunately, there is no single answer more precise than because I feel like it. In fact, I feel it's worthwhile but I don't know why yet, and I don't know who will benefit from it. Actually, now that I think of it, trying to find out what's a weblog worth is a good enough reason to start blogging.

Let me tell you, I'm beggining to find out what's a weblog worth, and it's a lot more than I imagined.

        1/16/2003 11:13:45 PM    #

Peace Threaties

So, which country poses the greatest threat to peace in 2003? See this unscientific but disturbing survey by TIME. [ via Seblogging ]

        1/16/2003 10:08:28 AM    #
]   Wednesday, January 15, 2003   [

Colorblindness and Blogs

If you read a little about me, you know that I'm colorblind (are you?). It's no big deal, really... The only desillusion I got from it happened in grade 3 when I learned I would never be able to fly a boeing across the ocean.

Correction: that was my only desillusion until the advent of the internet. With so many designers putting up pages with various graphical considerations, I often stumble on unreadable content. Most of the time I figure it out, usually by cut and pasting text to a friendlier environment. However, there's one problem I haven't been able to get around and that's link colors.

Links, the very substance of blogs, are sometimes undistinguishable from the rest of text! Imagine browsing your favorite blog moving the mouse through the page to make sure you're not missing anything. Here are some of my regular readings that suffer from this problem: Torril Mortensen's blog (great new design, but colorblind unfriendly), Stephen's Web, Laura Trippi's blog, Josep Cavallé's context weblog, Fabio Sergio's freegorifero.

You want to correct it and make your page colorblind friendly? Rule of thumb: if you can read your page when converted in grayscales any colorblind will be able to read it. If you don't know how to convert to grayscales, drop me an e-mail and I'll try to help with your design.

        1/15/2003 05:24:40 PM    #

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