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Apr 07, 2007



I don't think much more could be taken from Battlezone so that it would still an interesting game. This reminds me of Lunar Lander which I remember playing hours on my Apple IIe.

A good game to me should be able to be boiled down to it's bare pixels, and still be enjoyable. Relying too much on the graphics, has created bloated monsters with no souls.

So I guess I have fallen in love with my Hammerheads II.


A "dozen" drones is a bit of a stretch...most people will at least train their basic drone skill to the max (Lv. 5, one drone per level), then you have to train Drone Interfacing to 5 in order to get Advanced Drone Interfacing, which lets you instal a module on your ship that lets you controll up to 10 drones if you spend the weeks training the skill up. I've never run into a pilot fielding more than 5 anyway.

Thing is, if you gave personality and likeability to drones in EVE like pets, you'd be eroding at their designed advantages: particuarly expendibility. First rule of EVE is don't fly what you can't afford to lose and drones are perfect for that: a full hold of Tech 1 combat drones is a lot of cheep firepower. In NPC combat, often you can get enemies to target the drones, which means fewer ships shooting at you; in PVP, a pilot is unlikely to do much about them while he concentrates on trying to hit you, so all the more targets shooting at him. And better to leave drones behind than getting your ship and possibly yourself blown up if you have to beat a retreat. (Tech II drones, being much more expensive, are a different story, but the player market inflates the cost of Tech II gear quite a lot.)


I liked your thoughts about love for a pixel, but why did you wax so long before you got to that?

Just a friendly hint to make your future posts more reader friendly :)


Minor correction, it's not "the Wikipedia", it's simply "Wikipedia". You wouldn't say that you were citing from "the Encyclopedia Britannica" either.


@Cyde, i would be embarrased to....(pun intended).
Both of the them ( :P ).
And it's about games, not grammars. The TN i mean.


Purely within the brain, there are separate modules for text and image. It takes a lot more fancy writing for us to get immersed into the idea of a dude going around the world, or a drone with a personality. With imagery, we can make emotional connections that light up when we launch drones. Our emotional brain is also coloring the world with what we expect to see. If we know what our drone looks like up close, then the one pixel actually represents something greater.


There is also some charm in how far away it appears (one pixel) and yet still follows its master.


Well, heck, Battlezone was top-o-the-line 3D entertainment in 1980. Sure, it's minimalistic now, but back then it had a certain futuristic flavor to it. That, and once you knew how to defeat the Supertank you could play the game for hours on a single quarter. At least, I did.

I don't believe the Eve could survive without the drone pixels. As Neils Clark said, it's the visualization that counts, especially in a game / mock simulation. It's much easier to derive content from visuals than from text, and the mind is able to process data (speed, velocity, spacial position and identity) much more quickly from a visual representation of the object than a textual one. There could be some explanation here for the evolution of textual MUDs to graphical gaming. Pictures can say more, even pictures comprised of a single pixel.


Quotes that blow my mind...

"It's much easier to derive content from visuals than from text."

"It takes a lot more fancy writing for us to get immersed into the idea of a dude going around the world, or a drone with a personality. With imagery, we can make emotional connections that light up when we launch drones."

I like good graphics as much as the next dweeb, and love what my XBox 360 can churn out. But the idea that "text" (what we used to call "writing" when I got a degree in it) is inherently inferior to graphical content is very, very odd.

I can't think, for example, of one major world religion that bases its belief system on anything BUT writing. Yes, there is religious iconography, but it is in addition, an adjunct to "the text."

No matter how beautiful a picture is, for example, it will never be more compelling or more beautiful than the reality; it will never be metaphoric. Yes, there can be visual metaphor but -- guess what? Visual metaphor must be translatable, usually culturally, through the part of your brain that does so via words. If you don't know in a word-y sense that "blue = sad," then a "blue painting" won't be sad for you. It needs to pass through the "word filter."

Similarly, although graphics are clearly better for transmitting large amounts of certain kinds of data very quickly -- logistical, tactical, spatial come to mind -- they are extremely bad at conveying other types of data. It's the ground-level vs. 1,000 vs. 10,000 vs. 60,000 foot problem. At the ground level, fighting for you life with tooth, nail, gun and bayonet, yes... shut up and fight. Pictures, not text please. And at 1,000 feet, when looking at lots of men fighting on one battlefield, maybe the same. Being able to watch the ebb-and-flow visually... the movement over terrain, etc. may provide more information.

But at 60,000 feet? If you are trying to coordinate supply lines and materiel and movements and transport and all kinds of other orders? Having to watch every section of the map rather than just reading, "Battalion X has reached the target area," is a waste of time.

You can visually represent some of that stuff on a map, yes... But a map is, really, geographical text, not graphics ;-)

And to communicate the idea:

"Your father didn't last the night. But before he passed, he asked me to tell you that he loved you. And that the fault was his all along."

How do you do that in pixels?

There is a place for both, obviously. One isn't better or worse. They are different.


I think a great deal of whether one can go from "1 pixel per drone" to "text summary of drones" in part depends on how the representation is used.

As a practical matter once a tactical situation in Eve gets busy - at least to my experience - I feel that there is very little time to look at even those dear pixels. When it gets really busy, all that I want to know about my drones comes from their health monitors (how damaged) and their goal state (on which target, have they been instructed to pull back, etc.). There are plenty of other bits of information to worry about without spending a lot of time gazing over a busy graphical landscape.

Even ship-to-ship combat, when it gets really busy, seems to drive information needs down to the minimum: ranging (esp. criticial for weapons efficacy), your health, their health, your ammo/power-levels, and a rough situational awareness of vectors/direction, and where the other parties (friendly/foe) are.

Who dwells on pixels, or graphics at times like that? It's busy enough just keeping track of the important stuff.

Having said all this - I feel there is value in the pixels, sound-fx, graphics etc. They do add a "something else" to what could be a pure numbers game.

To close with the darling 1 pix drones. I would almost argue there are two sets of relationships. The first is a utilitarian one best exemplified by busy combat situations. The other is when you have some time and want go on parades with your toys, or even the pre-combat set-up: bond with them. The latter might be less well served by too little abstraction (graphical), I wonder. Whereas with the former, graphical plummage clearly has value.

But at 60,000 feet?

Be sure, text is nothing here too. I was serving at military HQ for year and half. Digits are intended to be crunched by machines. Get digits and use math and statistics to turn them into plots and graphs.

Planning done on the map. Logistics are done on the map. Everything is done on the map. Text is used a lot. As a way to right map.

Take a list of railroad stations and try to build route from A to B via C for example. Then take map.

You have coorinates and health of 10000 units bashing each other? You could say nothing about what happening here.

But what about health map? Like height maps used in topo? One look at it and you'll know who are winning and where.

Images are purely natural. You could use your instincts, intuition and intellect directly.

Text is artificial. You need to read it and understand first.


CrazyKinux said:

I don't think much more could be taken from Battlezone so that it would still an interesting game. This reminds me of Lunar Lander which I remember playing hours on my Apple IIe.

Pshaw. I loved Battlezone, but at the same time I was typing assembler instructions into a programmable Texas instruments calculator and playing Lunar Lander: Lunar Lander meaning you started at altitude above the moon, with gravity pulling you down and a limited amount of fuel to achieve a safe landing. Just numbers. No graphics, no description, and I loved it. Neo was a lightweight.

I await a grognard telling me about their game using the lights and switches on their Altair.


"For all practical purposes, a drone is but a pixel."

Not at all true. A drone is small and may be DRAWN as a pixel for any given frame (actually it's probably drawn as a crosshair, if it's active in the overview and HUD). But effectively, for "practical purposes," a drone is a curve and a collection of curves define a volume in space. One could say the same thing about missiles, bullets, etc. They are not pets, they're (fancy) projectiles.

This works a bit like pictorial composition, where the importance of a pictorial element is not determined by its size but by the overall size of the area it receives -- that is, a figure with lots of dedicated white space can carry as much pictorial weight as a larger figure.

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