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David Sherlock's Blog

Quick thought on Rewards in games

I recently read a blog post about intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. I’ve come across and heard a lot of talk following a similar thought pattern to this blog post, the common theme being that extrinsic rewards can be counter productive with a suggestion that we could learn from video games intrinsic reward system. But increasingly video games have both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. How many hours did you spend trying to get the gnome to the end of left 4 dead 2 so you could wear your virtual Depeche Mode tshirt on xbox live. How many of us put our gamerscore or trophies on our forum post? Games are getting increasingly tied into the social networks that surround content delivery systems and as a result many video game rewards are not impacting on the game itself but give a little something extra to show off in these networks.

Getting started with the Cloudworks API

The Cloudworks team have been developing an API for Cloudworks to allow developers to create their own visualizations, programs and mash ups. The API currently supports calls to get data and I found this is a great opportunity to test different ways of visualizing and organising the resources within cloudworks for the Design Bash 2010. Sheila MacNeill has created a cloud to store and discuss Cloudworks API tests, my test demos can be found there and the cloud works team are encouraging developers to get stuck in and have a go. If you would like to play with the API yourself and add your own demos you will need to get an API by signing up to Cloudworks and contacting Nick Freear. There is some excellent documentation on using the API already made available by the Cloudworks team and Nick was happy to provide example code, his PHP example can…

Brain Dump on cybernetics and computer security. Early, unfinished and somewhat messy thoughts.

I have recently been reading an excellent book by Andrew Pickering entitled ‘the cybernetic brain’. The first half of the book gives an incredibly rich and fascinating history of early British cybernetics and although I have not yet finished the book I am really enjoying the stories behind early cybernetic thinkers and the extraordinary range of backgrounds from which they come from. From the history in the book and by recognising the common themes between the approaches to different fields I have come to understand cybernetics takes a ‘steering’ approach to achieve its goals; presumed knowledge takes a backseat while understanding and reacting to a unpredictable and complex changing environment moves to the front. I have started to think back to some of the work I have done previously and how I might have approached it. In University a big interest of mine was network security and I had spent…

Deploying Content Transcoder

I have had a few requests for help on deploying the Content Transcoder on a local machine. The process is simple but has one or two gotchas. I have done this on OS X and Ubuntu but it should be pretty similar  on Windows. You will need: Java Tomcat 6.x As far as I can tell it must be 6+ since the transcoder doesn’t seem to play nice with the XSLT processor packed with earlier versions. Latest snapshot build of the transcoder. You are looking for the latest modified .war file. Once downloaded you will want to rename it transcoder.war Set up Tomcat 1)You will need to unpack tomcat; I unpacked mine to the desktop. 2)Set permissions on Tomcat directory; I opened a terminal (/Applications/Terminal) and typing something along the following: sudo chmod -R 755 /Users/david/Desktop/tomcat/ You may also need to set the environment variable JAVA_HOME.  On OS X you…

Demon’s Souls

Demon’s Souls is currently my favorite game and although I have not progressed very far in the game I have poured many hours in to the first few zones. I have created many different characters setups, explored early dungeons extensively, studied enemy locations and pinpointed their weaknesses. Typically I am the sort of player who quickly plays through a story never to touch the game again, so what makes Demon’s Souls different? When you first play Demons Souls you might be put off by the crippling difficulty. The enemies are tough and although you will die frequently the game is fair and wants you to learn. Each battle will teach you new tricks, explore the dungeon so you find shortcuts and advantage points; an ingenious online mode lets you watch how fellow warriors have fallen. Slowly you will gain insight; the level will seem slightly easier each attempt. The true…

Validating XCRI-CAP using Schematron

Here I hope to give a quick start on how to use Schematron with your XCRI-CAP documents to give useful feedback. The instructions here were originally tested on OS X but should also work on Windows or your Linux disto of choice providing you have Java. If there are any differences I am not aware of please leave a comment. Setting up your environment You will need: • ISO Schematron • A Schematron Schema • An XLST processer • An XCRI-CAP document for validation. ISO Schematron We’ll be using ISO Schematron, which is available for download from the schematron website: The file we want is iso-schematron-xslt2.zip, I recommend unzipping it to your desktop and renaming it schematron. Place the XCRI-CAP document you wish to validate into this directory. Processor The schematron schema is transformed into a XLST stylesheet using a XLST processor; in this example I am going to use…

The Evolution of Digital Distribution Systems in Gaming

Digital distribution is everywhere; applications such as iTunes provide the ability for digital products such as MP3s, movies and computer software to be delivered to audiences over the Internet instead of using physical media such as CDs, DVDs or Blu Ray. They provides easy and direct sales to a global market. With iTunes and the App Store ‘Apple’ may be the company that comes to mind when digital distribution is discussed but it shouldn’t be forgotten that plenty of video game consumers have been using these systems for years and recent announcement at this years Game Developer Conference 2009 have really shown that there are plenty more exciting developments to come. Over the past 5 years gaming has seen a massive rise in digital distribution systems; many customers have been more then willing to make the switch from obtaining a physical copy of computer game software from a ‘bricks and…

Halo 3: Pay to play (then pay some more)

Every year I pay £40 to microsoft for the privilage to play my Xbox Live games online. I dont mind paying the money too much considering live is far ahead of PSN (although I think sony are closing the gap) . When I spend £40 on a game that says I can play it on Xbox Live I expect to be able to play the game I have purchased for quite a while; I understand that eventualy I won’t be able to: A) The popularity of the game will dwindle; meaning I can no longer play whacked simply because there is nobody to play it with. B) Not enough people play to justify server support and it is pulled, sometimes I am ok with this (as with PSO, which I played for free for yonks on Sega servers) and sometimes it pisses me off (EA decide you have to buy…

Widgets for Wookie: Getting Started

Update: Downloading and running Wookie has changed since this was written and some of the links seem broken. please check http://incubator.apache.org/wookie/downloading-and-installing-wookie.html for latest instructions The Wookie server is open source software in development for delivering collaborative widgets that follows the w3c widget specification. Although it is early days for Wookie I desperately wanted to try my hand at writing some widgets; along the way I found that online tutorials were often written for specific platforms (Yahoo, Mac, etc) and it was quite daunting for the first few attempts. Getting Started First you will need download and install the Widget Server.  The easiest method is to use the ‘Quick Start Distribution’ which is offered by the  Tencompetence Website and includes: CopperCore Runtime Environment(CCRT) Sled Player Widget Server The Quick Start Distribution is available here Once you have downloaded the environment unzip it with your favorite compression tool and run the file…

Can you have my attention please?

Recently I have been writing a browser extension that keeps track of my activities and the web-based resources I use. I found that the data it collected was actually very valuable to me, it created a mini attention profile and by pushing this into various JavaScript libraries I was able to produce pretty graphs that showed a great deal about the way I work. During the experience I realized it would be advantageous if I could do two things; Export this information to a service that could make further recommendations on resources that could improve my working habits. Tap into the many other ‘Silos’ of information I have accumulated (del.icio.ous , last.fm etc) and use this in conjunction with data my tracker has produced. Looking for solutions to these problems brought me into the world of DataPortability which is an attempt at using various open standards (such as OAuth and…

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