Monday, February 27, 2017

Difficulty in accepting that 0.999... = 1

There are many common psychological phenomena that I find interesting, from a semi-academic perspective. One of them is the sheer difficulty that some people seem to have in accepting the notion that 0.9 recurring (ie. the decimal representation of a number with "0." followed by an infinite string of 9's) is exactly equal to 1. Both decimal expansions represent the exact same number.

Some people will go to incredible lengths to try to argue why they are not equal, up to trying to invent new mathematics, and new kinds of numbers, just to forcefully try to make them unequal. (With very little success, of course, because invariably these are people with very little experience and understanding of mathematics, especially math related to the set of real numbers, and their decimal representations.)

There are a few quite simple counter-arguments to their assertion that the two decimal representations are not the same number. For example, if 0.9... is not equal to 1, then by definition there have to exist numbers between them, ie. numbers that are larger than 0.9... and smaller than 1. Ask for an example of such a number.

Another equivalent counter-argument is: If 0.9... is not equal to 1, then what is their difference (ie. 1-0.9...)? If the difference is 0, then they are equal by definition. If it's not 0, then what is it?

One common misunderstanding these people have is that they don't really grasp what it means for the decimal representation to have an infinite amount of digits '9' in it. They will often only be thinking of it in terms of a finite amount of digits, and will argue that no matter how many digits you add to it, while it approaches 1, it never reaches that value. (I have seen some people in online conversations write miles and miles of text about this, always assuming a finite amount of 9's.) However, the number 0.9 recurring is not a function; it's not a limit statement; it's not an expression that says "0. followed by an arbitrarily large, but finite, amount of 9's". It's literally infinitely many 9's.

When pressed on enough, sometimes they will come up with the argument that the difference between the two numbers is, essentially, "the smallest real number that's larger than 0". Of course such a number doesn't exist. This is actually very trivial to prove mathematically, and one of the classical examples given in high school and university courses about proof by contradiction. (Incidentally, "the smallest rational number larger than 0" likewise doesn't exist, for the exact same reason.)

One attempt some try, after seeing some YouTube video after the subject, is to appeal to so called "infinitesimals". This is an expansion of the set of real numbers. In other words, they want to expand the very set of reals in order to make 0.9... not equal to 1. However, even this doesn't work, because even in this new set 0.9... is still equal to 1. Infinitesimals, even if we accepted them, do not change this.

And, of course, when everything else fails, but they still can't accept the fact, some will start attacking the very notation of "0.9...", claiming that you can't represent an "infinite amount of 9's". They attack the very notion of infinite decimal expansions, and how they "don't really exist". In other words, that the number "0.9..." doesn't exist, and that you can't write infinite decimal expansions.

Of course no mathematician has any problem with the notion of infinite decimal expansions. As an example, Cantor's diagonal argument relies on infinite decimal (or other base) representations. Most rational numbers, and all irrational numbers, have an infinite decimal expansion, and this is absolutely non-controversial in mathematics, and it causes absolutely no problems anywhere. (And, because of the above, in fact all integer numbers also have an alternative decimal representation: one that has an infinite amount of 9's as decimal places.)

But these people, sometimes very seriously, want to go against pretty much the entirety of the mathematical and scientific community, and rewrite mathematics, just to make 0.9... not equal to 1. No other reason, really. It's actually incredible, when you think about it.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Canada wants to become Europe

Justin Trudeau's antics aside, there's a rather funny (or sad, depending on your perspective) thing happening in Canada right now, related to illegal immigrants.

You see, according to current Canadian laws, if you arrive, from the United States, to an official US-Canada border crossing seeking refugee status in Canada, and you don't have a valid reason to get it (most often because the United States is legally considered a safe country for refugees, so there is no international or national legal precedent for anybody to seek refuge in a neighboring country), you are simply denied access and turned back. And that's what's mostly done, because the border officials generally uphold the law.

However, there's this funny loophole in the law. If you then walk 500 meters to the side and cross the US-Canada border illegally, now you will automatically get refugee status in Canada, and you will be taken in. You will not get turned back immediately, as you were at the official border crossing, where you were seeking refugee status legally. Instead, you will be automatically granted refugee status because you entered the country illegally. All you need to do is to claim that you are a refugee fleeing from war (even though you are coming from the United States, not from some middle-Easter country.)

And lots of "refugees" are taking full advantage of this loophole. There are, and I kid you not, people taking taxis from diverse parts of the US, traveling hundreds and hundreds of kilometers to the US-Canada border, paying the taxi, and then just walking over the border.

To the welcoming arms of the Canadian police. They will not only not turn you back, they will in fact help you carry your luggage. I'm not making that up. The Canadian press even has had photo ops of these things (to, of course, write virtue-signaling articles about how welcoming and friendly Canadians are to "refugees".)

The sad thing is that the government, under Trudeau's leadership, seems to have no intention of closing this loophole, regardless of numerous protests of some more critical parliamentarian representatives.

One has to ask the question of how legal it is for a government to not only address, but in fact promote, illegal activity that abuses a loophole in the system, with no intention of fixing said loophole.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

"Representation" in video games

I know I wrote earlier that I wouldn't write again about social justice warriors, but in my defense, that's only tangentially related to this subject.

Some people (you know who) have this notion that when people play video games, they imagine themselves as being the protagonist, the character that they are playing. Thus, they conclude, people feel left out and marginalized when the playable character is completely different from themselves. They also think that in games where you can customize your playable character, people will make it look like themselves as much as possible.

Even if we give this notion the benefit of the doubt (ie. that it's being held completely genuinely and honestly, rather than it being self-serving and claimed for political purposes), I don't really understand where it's coming from. Even in the most honest cases it's just a huge misconception.

In pretty much the entirety of video game history playable characters have basically never represented the player him or herself, and this has never bothered anybody. People do not identify themselves as actually being the playable character, as in imagining "I am this person".

If you are playing, let's say, Ori and the Blind Forest, would you identify yourself as being this, and would you get upset because it doesn't represent you?

Of course not. No sane person would. You control the playable character, you aren't the playable character. Nobody thinks of themselves as being the playable character and get upset because it looks nothing like them. (Of course you could imagine being in the shoes of the playable character, in a form of empathy, in the same way as you could feel empathy for any person, but that's not the same thing as thinking that you are that character.)

At most you can say that the playable character acts as an "avatar" for the player. As a player, you do actions and sometimes express yourself through that character.

Even when a game has advanced character creation, quite rarely will people try to make it look as much like themselves as possible. Most people would choose a character design that's "badass", or perhaps cute and pleasing to look at, or in some other way is "cool" in some manner. Other people will just make it completely ridiculous, just for the lulz.

Very rarely, if ever, will the character have any commonalities with the player, oftentimes including gender itself. Choosing a character of the opposite gender is not a sign of the player wanting inside to be that gender. The playable character is just an avatar, perhaps in some vague sense a kind of imaginary "companion" (if there's any kind of emotional attachment to it), not the player him or herself. Many people would have such a "companion" of the opposite gender, because of the emotional attachment, or any other reason (yes, sometimes more banal reasons, but that's fine.)

As an example, when I played the game Dragon Age Inquisition, this is the character I created: An androgynous-looking albino elf:

I'm not androgynous. I'm not an albino. I'm not an elf. I just designed the character like this because I thought it was cool.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Did Trump invent a non-existent terrorist attack in Sweden?

Some days ago Trump gave a speech in which he was talking about the problems of unrestricted immigration in Europe, and one example he gave was about something that happened "last night in Sweden". Of course the media, and the regressive leftists, immediately jumped onto this and started ridiculing Trump for inventing a terrorist attack that didn't happen. It was all over social media, YouTube and even some newspapers.

But the thing is, that "terrorist attack" thing was a complete invention of the media. Trump didn't actually say anything about any terrorist attack. Here's an exact quote of what he said:
"You look at what's happening, last night, in Sweden. Sweden! Who would have believed that Sweden! They took in large numbers, they are having problems like they never thought possible."
There is no mention of any terrorist attack.

Trump later clarified that he was talking about a documentary about Sweden and the problems they are having with immigrants, that aired the previous day on Fox. He was assuming that his audience had also seen the documentary, and was referring to it. (Sure, it would have been better if had mentioned specifically the documentary in question, rather than just assuming people knew what he was talking about, but that's just a small lapse.)

So, after he made the clarification, did the media just accept it and say "oh, our bad. Sorry about the overreaction."

 Hah. Of course not. That would require honesty.

Friday, February 17, 2017

What happened to Naruto?

Naruto is/was a long-runner anime series, based on / adapted from (like so many other anime) a manga series. It became really popular in the west (and possibly also in Japan), at least for a time, and became the almost ubiquitous example of "Japanese anime" for most people, even those who never watch anime nor have ever even seen a single episode of Naruto (a status that very, very few anime series get.)

Perhaps one of the strengths of the series was that it had a bit of something for everybody. At times it was just a "kids' cartoon" with wackiness and simple, sometimes even crass, humor. At other times it had spectacular battles of epic proportions.

At times, however, it could be really deep and touching. After all, it started as the story of an orphan boy who was shunned and avoided by almost everybody in his town, for no reason of his own (the actual reason being that an extremely powerful and dangerous evil spirit had been sealed within him by his father, to save the town from its rampage; the other people feared the spirit and the person carrying it, perhaps because they considered him a ticking bomb that could either release the spirit or go himself into an unstoppable rampage at any moment, powered by the spirit.)

The series, at many points, thus deals with quite deep and touching subjects of loneliness, prejudice, friendship, and not giving up, and can be quite sentimental at times. This quote is quite descriptive of that (Naruto speaking to another person who likewise had a spirit of the same kind sealed inside him):
It's almost unbearable, isn't it… the feeling of being all alone. I know that feeling; I've been there in that dark and lonely place, but now there are others, other people who mean a lot to me. I care more about them than I do myself, and I won't let anyone hurt them. That's why I'll never give up. I will stop you, even if I have to kill you! They saved me from myself. They rescued me from my loneliness. They were the first to accept me for who I am. They're my friends.
But then the series just seemed to fall more and more into obscurity. Less and less people were interested in it, and people were talking about it less and less.

The series overall can be divided into two parts, the original Naruto, and its "continuation" series Naruto Shippuuden (which happens something like 5 or 6 years after the original series ends, now with an older teenager Naruto.)

The popularity of the anime was relatively strong all the way through the first part. Up until the absolutely infamous filler flood.

You see, one problem with anime that's adapted from a long-running, still on-going manga is that the production of the anime tends to be much faster than the manga (which might sound quite unintuitive, given how much more work there is in creating an animated series compared to a simple comic book, but that's just how incredibly efficient and productive Japan is at producing anime), and it often happens that the anime "catches up" with the manga, and there aren't many, or any, new manga books to adapt. In some cases the anime is simply ended there, even though the manga eventually goes on, sometimes for quite long. Othertimes the anime starts creating original episodes, even entire story arcs, to give the manga creator time to publish more books.

The Naruto anime series opted for creating filler episodes (sometimes consisting of mini-arcs of a few episodes, sometimes with individual episodes pretty much not connected to anything). A lot of filler episodes. A whopping 84 of them.

That's more filler than most anime series (or any TV series for that matter) have episodes in total, even if they run for several seasons. With one episode being produced a week, that meant almost two years of nothing but filler that did not advance the main storyline. And the quality (both in terms of story and visuals) was often significantly poorer. It was absolutely insane.

Not surprisingly, this pushed away quite a significant portion of the fanbase. They just got tired of the filler episodes, and moved to other, more interesting series. Even half a year of filler would have been quite a lot, but almost two years... It just was too much.

Then, finally, the actual episodes adapting the manga resumed, with Naruto Shippuuden. It started quite strong, with very interesting episodes and story arcs, and it seemed to have been gotten back in form. The series dealt with almost nothing but the main story arc (with perhaps just a few individual episodes dealing with something else). And this lasted for quite many episodes.

Then the flashback arcs started. At some point, the main storyarc would just be interrupted, for no rhyme or reason, by starting a completely unrelated, often quite long, flashback arc, dealing with some aspect of the past of the characters or the village. These flashback arcs could span as many as even 20 episodes, making them really, really long (almost half a year long). Then, when the arc was over, the main storyarc would just resume from where it left. There was usually little to no connection between what had been happening in the main story arc, and the flashback. It was just inserted there seemingly arbitrarily.

And the worst part of it was that the flashback arcs were usually much longer than the stretches of the main story arc that were shown between them. They could eg. show a 15-episode flashback, then something like 5 to 10 episodes of the main arc, and then another 20-episode flashback (that had basically nothing to do with anything).

And the thing is, while the production quality of these flashback arcs were ok, they were boring and felt like artificially stretched. They felt completely full of useless filler.

I have never seen this done with any other anime series (or any TV series for that matter). I don't know if these flashback arcs were adapted from the manga, or whether they were, once again, created solely for the anime, to slow down the main story arc, but it doesn't really matter. They were absolute filler, and made the pacing of the main story just horrible.

This kind of pacing just kills interest in a series. Which is a shame, really, because it's not a bad series. Watching it from beginning to end, with all filler and flashback episodes removed, would make it a quite good series.

The Wall Street Journal is an absolute disgrace

I don't think it's necessary for me to go into detail into the Wall Street Journal vs. PewDiePie debacle, because you can easily find all those details with a simple Google or YouTube search, but the gist of it is this:

Not one, not two, but three journalists from WSJ, for a reason known only to themselves, decided one day to go on an absolute character-assassination campaign against the internet celebrity PewDiePie. They took small clips from six of his videos, removed completely out of their context, and wrote a hit piece published in the journal about him being an anti-semitic nazi. (One of the examples was so egregious that they took a clip of him pointing at something, and made it look like he was making a nazi salute.) What's even more egregious, not content with just slandering him in a published article, they went and actively contacted YouTube and Disney, his major sponsors, and slandered him, making them severe ties with him.

The Wall Street Journal is a really old (founded in 1889) and respected journal, that has received 39 Pulitzer Prices, and is generally regarded as one of the highest-quality journals in the world. Yet they decided to go on a slanderous character-assassination campaign against an individual YouTuber, trying to completely destroy his livelihood and his reputation.

But why? What exactly motivates such respected high-quality journals to do things that one could perhaps expect from the most infamous gossip tabloids out there, like The Sun in the UK. Heck, I don't think even The Sun would have succumbed to such libel, just to get clicks.

Many people are hypothesizing that the so-called "old media" is just afraid, and jealous, of the so-called "new media". People like PewDiePie are getting more views in a week than the Wall Street Journal webpages are getting in a month. The "old media" just can't stand, nor understand, nor accept, that they are not the most popular form of media anymore.

This act reeks of sheer desperation. It's so blatantly slanderous that it's just incredible. Once again: This is something you could expect from a gossip tabloid, not something you would expect from a highly reputable journal worthy of several dozens Pulitzer Prices. Heck, I don't think even the tabloids would actually contact sponsors and try to make them severe ties with the target of their attack.

Why did the WSJ try to destroy PewDiePie of all people? Why the vicious attack? Are they really so jealous, and so desperate?

And do you know what the sad thing in all of this is? The amount of people who are actually believing what they are saying, without doing even the minimum of fact-checking.

That's what makes media so incredibly dangerous. They can pretty much attack anybody they want, with outrageous lies, and people will believe them. They have this incredible power to destroy lives, even innocent lives, if they so decide.

I think PewDiePie would have strong legal grounds for a libel lawsuit against WSJ. He's probably not going to do it, however. He's probably thinking it's not worth the hassle and the controversy. Somehow I wish he did, though.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ok, enough with politics

I originally created this blog to vent my frustration about various topics, but only half seriously. Smaller things, "first world problems", like why some movie sucks, or why some behavior is stupid. All in good taste, while still perhaps making some good valid points.

The blog, however, has at large devolved into me ranting about SJWs and the regressive left. I still try to occasionally write about completely unrelated things, but there seems to be no end to the SJW stupidity, and it seems to be an endless swamp.

I have decided to ease on that subject. There are plenty of people already pointing out all these things out there (especially on YouTube). There's no need for me to write about it. I'd like to return to the earlier days of this blog, where I rant about much lighter and innocuous topics, like entertainment. No need to devolve this blog into yet another anti-SJW channel. No need to seep that poison here. They are poisoning society enough already.

It doesn't mean I will never, ever again write about the subject, but only very rarely.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Traditional FPS games do not cause motion sickness in VR after all?

When the VR headsets were released almost a year ago, I presented in some forums my disappointment that basically no existing games were getting VR support, and that even those few that had announced support had quietly cancelled or abandoned it.

My disappointment was answered by a really angry mob of early adopter fanboys who insisted over and over and over that VR just "doesn't work" with traditional games because it causes immediate and heavy motion sickness and "projectile vomiting". My insistence that while it may have that effect, it's something that one gets used to, was met with ridicule and patronizing comments. They insisted over and over that I would just have to forget about existing games and game genres, and that VR would need and usher an entirely new and separate form of gaming, completely incompatible with any existing genre.

Even back then there existed third-party mods to some games, such as the original Doom (using a modern updated engine) and Portal 2, among others, and YouTube videos of people playing them with no signs of nausea, some even directly commenting at the end of the video how nausea-free the experience was. For some reason these videos did not dissuade these fanboys in the least, who kept insisting that VR just "doesn't work" with existing games and that I need to forget about them.

This was, in fact, not just the opinion of these users. It was the official opinion of Valve, and seemingly the majority of game companies just accepted it.

Well, what do you know, relatively recently the game developer company Croteam decided to ignore this and add full VR support to their original Serious Sam: The First Encounter game. It's kind of a hybrid between "room-scale VR" and traditional motion controls, where you can move using traditional controls (and do so really fast) even while standing up and using the motion controllers.

You can see a person playing the game here.

Two things to notice: There appears to be essentially no restriction on movement, and the movement looks just as fast and fluid as in the traditional FPS game. Secondly, no motion sickness. No projectile vomiting. He looks just fine.

I'm still not convinced that playing with your arms extended like that for hours is viable, but at least this beautifully demonstrates that traditional movements in FPS games are no problem even in VR. We just needed a game company brave enough to defy the established concepts in order to demonstrate it.

I could go back to those forums and rub those people's noses on this, but why bother.

Some people don't accept Steam's monopoly status

When it comes to digital purchases of PC games, Steam has a de facto monopoly status. There are no viable alternatives to it, and thus you are pretty much stuck with Steam, for good or bad, if you are an avid PC gamer.

Having a monopoly status can be a detrimental thing to consumers. Having no competition gives Valve carte blanche to do pretty much what they want. On average Valve is a relatively fair corporation, but on the other hand they also show their uncaring greedy cold corporation side from time to time, which they can do with pretty much no repercussions. It's not like they are going to lose any customers.

For some strange reason, several times now, when I have brought up in online conversations Steam's monopoly status, and the fact that they don't have competition and that there are no viable alternatives, some people have protested, and claimed that there are viable alternatives and that Steam does not have monopoly status.

Invariably the same bunch of counter-examples surface, such as Origin, Uplay, GOG and the Windows Store. None of them hold water.

Origin sells only EA games, period. It's most certainly not an alternative. The same is true for Uplay, which only sells Ubisoft games.

In a conversation where GOG was mentioned I made a simple test: I searched for the first recent game that came to mind: The new Doom. No hits.

I did the same with the Windows Store. No hits.

So no, there are no viable alternative to Steam, if you want to purchase games online.

What I don't understand is why some people have hard time accepting this. What's their motivation?

Is Feminist Frequency a money-scamming organization?

Feminist Frequency is a "non-profit" organization, the brainchild of the infamous Anita Sarkeesian. It has made the "Women vs Tropes" video series as well as the "Ordinary Women" series.

I have written previously about the latter, and why I think it's actually just a money-grabbing scam. However, I would actually expand that accusation to the entire organization and everything they do.

The organization got over $200 thousand in donations for that series alone, but has received well over a million, maybe even several millions, in donations overall, during its entire existence.

Yet it has extremely little to show for it. They have only made about half of the videos in the "Women vs. Tropes" series, even though the entire series was promised by something like 2014. They have made something like one video per three months, or the like.

Just as with the "Ordinary Women" series, the videos themselves in no way justify the well over a million dollars donated to make them. The production quality of the videos is something you see all the time on YouTube, by people who have no budget at all, people who make these videos on their free time using their own recording equipment, computers and cheap editing software.

Even if we counted every single expenditure that would be needed to make this type of video from absolute scratch (ie. without using any existing personal property) they would still amount to a couple thousand dollars. At the very most, if we were to go overboard and assume that they use professional-quality recording equipment and studio lighting, we could reach maybe a couple of tens of thousands of dollars. Nowhere near the millions of dollars that they have been donated to make these videos.

The production quality cannot be seen in the video content either (in any of the videos they have made). They are extraordinarily basic, using video editing tools and techniques that are readily available in cheap editing software and that don't require but a very modest amount of work and expertise. The videos aren't full of special effects or professional quality editing. It's all extremely basic (and, as said, something you see all the time on YouTube by non-professionals made on shoestring budgets.) Heck, there are countless parody videos out there with at least as high production values, made on shoestring budgets.

There is absolutely no way to justify the millions of dollars going into the production of these videos.

As a non-profit organization, they are required by law to publish annual reports on how their assets are being used. If you read these reports, they are always really, really vague. For example in the latest one there are tons and tons of self-praise, going on and on about how many awards and how much recognition they have got, but very little to explain where exactly those millions of dollars have gone.

They certainly have not gone into producing the videos they publish. So where?

While the organization might not have been purposefully created from the very beginning to scam people out of their money, while spending as little of it as possible on pretending that they are doing something, I think that they rather quickly settled on that kind of "business model" more or less serendipitously.

What I think happened is that they created the organization just to test the waters, and perhaps even with some good intentions, but when they noticed how much donation money was pouring in, exceeding even their wildest expectations ten-fold, they got greedy. Maybe they haven't even among themselves completely explicitly and verbally planned on spending as little money as possible on the video production and keeping the rest to themselves, but some kind of non-verbal or semi-verbal agreement might have formed among them. Don't ask, don't tell... everybody just implicitly agrees. (Of course it is perfectly possible that some of them have directly discussed it, for example to formulate a plan in case that they might get in some kind of legal trouble.)

So they are presenting a facade to their fans and donors, and making videos from time to time to keep them happy, while spending as little money on them as they possibly can, while still trying to keep the illusion that they are working hard on them. And of course part of the charade is to constantly praise themselves and tell to the donors how successful they are, and how many merits and awards they have got, to give them the impression that their donation money really is making a difference.

And, of course, the organization is conveniently "non-profit", which means in the United States that they don't need to pay any taxes.

I really am of the opinion that Feminist Frequency is a money-grabbing scam facade. I do not know if they are completely deliberately doing it or whether they just silently agreed on it after the money started pouring in, but that makes little difference. They probably even believe in their own narrative (with regards to feminism and social justice), but that's just a convenient excuse.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Global Game Jam are fucking hypocrites

The Global Game Jam's Position on the US President's "Muslim Ban" Executive Order.
We are against an executive order that seeks to exclude and unfairly scrutinize innocent individuals based on their religion and national origin.
Those exact same countries that have been banned from the United States have themselves since quite long banned any Israeli citizens from entering their country.

Where exactly is Global Game Jam's statement of protest against this "Jewish ban", which quite clearly exists due to religion and national origin?

Nowhere, that's where.

Fucking hypocrites.

Who gets to decide what is "hate speech"?

The excuse, and mantra, that regressive leftist social justice cultists use to justify their violence and oppression of people who simply want to peacefully congregate to express and hear opinions (that the social justice warriors don't like) is that "hate speech is not free speech".

What I would like to ask is: Who exactly gets to decide what is and is not "hate speech"?

Maybe the government? Democratically elected parliamentarian representatives? Judges? The police? Some other official?

No. Them. The social justice warriors themselves are the ones to decide what is and is not considered "hate speech". Nobody elected them to that position of authority, but they gladly assign themselves into that position without asking.

And what do you know, by sheer chance it just so happens that pretty much everything that goes against their narrative, all criticism, all dissenting opinion, everything that they don't like, just happens to be "hate speech", and thus free to be stifled with violence, intimidation and harassment. How convenient.

Considering all dissenting opinions and criticism banned is one of the core hallmarks of authoritarianism. Using violence, intimidation and harassment for political purposes is one of the hallmarks of terrorism (and a typical tactic used all over history by totalitarian regimes and movements.)

Sony and Nintendo learning from Microsoft's greed

I wrote in November of 2012 how Microsoft is the only company providing a platform with an internet connection, where most online services are behind a paywall. Namely, the Xbox 360. The only thing you could do without paying additional fees was to browse the Xbox online shop an purchase games. Everything else was behind a monthly or yearly subscription paywall, including all forms of online gaming, the web browser, video rental... everything.

Back then none of those restrictions existed on any other platform, including the PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii (and later the Wii U). With them you could freely play online games, browse the net, etc. without paying anything extra.

Then Sony published the PlayStation 4 and, what do you know, they copied Microsoft's idea of putting online gaming behind a paywall. They restricted all online play to PlayStation Plus subscribers only (ie. a monthly or yearly fee that you need to pay). This was not the case with the PS3. The restriction was introduced with the PS4.

(For some reason I don't fully understand, this seemed to go pretty much unnoticed and without much protest. I do not remember any sort of big controversy or backlash for this. It might be because most people were concentrating on Microsoft's draconian plans for the Xbox One, and didn't pay attention to Sony's new change of policy.)

And what do you know, now Nintendo is also copying their idea: They announced that all online gaming will be behind a similar paywall with their upcoming Nintendo Switch. To be fair, though, they are so incredibly magnanimous that the online functionality will be free until fall of 2017! Huzzah!

Because, you know, if it has worked with Microsoft and Sony, why not join the bandwagon? It's free money! Yee-haw!

It's yet to be seen if they will retract that decision due to backlash, but at the moment of writing this blog post they are still fully decided on that plan. I predict that they will not retract it.

Friday, February 3, 2017

VR seems doomed to failure after all

The one-year anniversary of the final version of the Oculus Rift is coming soon. Plenty of time for all those huge VR games to have been developed and published (especially given that Oculus Rift development kits had existed for three years prior to the final launch).

So, where are all those games?

When the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive were published, pretty much everybody was enormously excited about them and praising them to the heavens, and predicting an entire new industry revolving around VR. Everything you could possibly imagine would become possible in VR. It would revolutionize the entire gaming industry. Old-fashioned games would become pretty much obsolete. Criticism was largely ignored and ridiculed by early adopters and fanboys, sometimes even to rather verbally aggressive extents.

So, almost a year has passed of the glorious VR generation. Where are all those games?

There are like a couple of games that you could barely call "triple-A". By far the vast majority of games available for them are tech demos and small indie games (most of which look like absolute crap, as I have previously commented here and here.) The big-name games just aren't there. The closest thing you have is optional VR headset support in some vehicle simulators and driving games (which could arguably be considered "triple-A" titles.)

Sales figures of the headsets themselves are absolutely abysmal. Just a few months after launch, after all the early adopters got their devices, adoption rates pretty much halted for both of the systems. And they were really abysmal to begin with. (The current estimate of adoption rates of the HTC Vive among all Steam users is about 0.18%, and for the Oculus rift 0.1%.)

As I have commented many, many times before, this isn't surprising in the least. The adoption rates would probably be abysmal even if the headsets costed $400. However, at $700-900, just forget about it. The fact that HTC, Valve and Oculus thought that they could sell the headsets at those exorbitant prices is just mind-bogglingly stupid. And the stupidest part of all this? Their prices haven't dropped a cent. Yeah, good luck selling them, dumbasses.

I'm not the only one who saw this happening, and is increasingly seeing it.

Just a few months after the headsets were published, people started seeing the warning signs, like for example reported in this video: VR failing already?

The PlayStation VR promised hope, though. It was more affordable, and it worked on existing hardware (namely the PlayStation 4) rather than requiring you to do expensive upgrades to your system. Relatively large amounts of triple-A titles for PSVR were promised and announced.

The PSVR has been out only for a couple of months, so it's too early to say. However, many people are already seeing the same warning signs: Relatively poor adoption rates (regardless of a rather large amount of early adopters), lack of real triple-A titles, announced titles with PSVR support being quietly dropped one after another...

PlayStation VR failing?

VR gaming is dead on arrival. (A more lighter-toned video on the subject, but they make good valid points.)

Why I sold my PlayStation VR. (Just the author's personal anecdote and opinion, but he is not alone in those sentiments.)

Why I'm losing faith in PlayStation VR.

You might ask why I'm writing about all this. Am I ridiculing VR and laughing at it? Is the tone of this post gleeful?

No, absolutely not. I'm writing this because I'm disappointed and frustrated. I wanted VR to succeed. I wanted to experience my all-time favorite games, and new games, in VR. I have been anxiously waiting to experience VR for about four years now.

But it seems that it isn't going to happen. I'm not going to buy an overly expensive toy with only a handful of tech demos and indie games for it, to collect dust on a shelf. I'm just not willing to spend that amount of money for a gimmick with little to no use.

And the ones to blame are those idiotic dumbasses at HTC and Oculus. They screwed it up royally. They could have made it work, but no. They didn't.

Sure, maybe VR will eventually recover in the future, in 5 to 10 years or so, with more affordable headsets and better third-party support, and perhaps the library of triple-A games will increase. Maybe. However, so far it's not looking very good.

Who is the single person who is responsible for the most deaths?

There are many people in history who have, directly or indirectly, been responsible for massive amounts of deaths. Dictators, cult leaders, military leaders... you name it. But who is the person who is responsible for the largest amount of deaths?

Maybe Hitler, who is pretty directly responsible of not only the six million jews killed in the holocaust, but arguably also the 60 or so million people killed in World War II? Perhaps Joseph Stalin, whose extermination of people in Gulag camps and otherwise simply cannot be counted because not everything is recorded, but rivals those of Hitler?

Some have argued for a rather different kind of person, for a rather different kind of reason: Their candidate is Thomas Midgley Jr, an American engineer and chemist born in 1889.

How can an American engineer be responsible for even more deaths than Hitler himself?

This is the single person that can be attributed to have caused the most serious and longest-lasting environmental damage by humanity (or by any living organism for that matter) in its entire history.

He was the lead chemist in the team that discovered that adding a lead compound to gasoline improved the efficiency of internal combustion engines. Moreover, he deliberately used misleading marketing to hide the fact that the compound contained lead (lead poisoning was already a well-known phenomenon back in those days, and hiding the fact that it contained copious amounts of lead was completely deliberate.)

That happened in the 1920's. Lead is still used in gasoline in many countries even today, almost a hundred years later, regardless of the known environmental impact it has. The amount of lead released to the environment during these hundred years is simply staggering. A person simply cannot comprehend the sheer amount of it that has been dumped onto the environment this way.

But that's not all. In a coincidence that defies belief, the exact same Thomas Midgley Jr. was the inventor of using freon gases in refrigeration and gas propellants. Yes, those freon gases that are some of the most ozone-depleting substances ever created by humanity.

Thomas Midgley Jr. is arguably the single person who is the responsible for the most environmental damage ever created by humanity. Environmental damage that is still going on today, almost a hundred years later, and will persist for probably hundreds of years to come.

Environmental damage that has caused uncountable amount of illness and deaths. It's impossible to even estimate exact numbers, but certainly more than even the deaths of World War II.

Sometimes you can be responsible for the deaths of tens and even hundreds of millions of people, without even realizing it.

It wouldn't be so bad if he simply had always had good intentions, and it was all just a big accident. But he knew of the problems of adding lead to gasoline, he knew of the problems of lead poisoning (something that he himself had suffered from), yet he deliberately used misleading marketing to hide the fact. That makes him quite directly responsible.

To be fair, he did not know of the effects of freon gas on the environment. That doesn't diminish the impact, though.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Brexit is probably the best thing to happen to Britain in a long time

Opponents of Brexit, both within and outside of Britain, see it as doomsday for the country. They seem to think that it will cause some kind of economic collapse or regression, and whatever else they can think of.

On the contrary, Brexit will quite probably turn out to be one of the best things that have happened to Britain in a long time.

At first there might be a bit of economic instability or turmoil (or maybe even not at all!) but, I predict, quite soon Britain's economy will raise quite significantly. When Britain exits the EU, it will have complete carte blanche to make any sort of economic deals with any country it wants, without outside restrictions and control. And this is not just hypothetical. Several countries have already expressed their desire to form economic deals with Britain once it leaves the EU. If they happen, they will probably be really lucrative.

Moreover, the EU has no control or say over this. They have absolutely nothing to threaten Britain with. On the exact contrary: It's Britain who has all the power to threaten the EU, if the latter attempts some kind of pressure, sanctions or other such tactics. Britain has already expressed that if the EU doesn't play nice, Britain will become a tax paradise for European corporations. Meaning that these corporations will be free to move all their business and banking to Britain, out of the EU, for great profit. The EU would thus lose all this tax money.

And what's best (from Britain's perspective at least), this might have been the absolutely perfect time to leave the EU. The EU is collapsing. There's no way around it. It would be a surprise if the EU exists anymore, as it is now, in five years. Who knows, maybe a miracle happens and everything will turn 180 degrees and the EU will be saved and everything will become ok once again. But I don't see that happening. The EU is becoming worse and worse, and it's going to collapse. And I'm not the only one seeing this.

It would probably be wise for other member countries to just follow Britain's example and leave the sinking ship. The EU is a failed experiment. It's not worth it. The sooner that the member countries realize this, the better.