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Archive November 2005
Monday 21 November 2005
MMORPGs as simulations of society is an entertaining idea. We can't set up different taxation systems next to each other and see which works, in the real world, but maybe we could in MMORPG-world. But for it to be a reasonable simulation, you'd have to allow for citizens to try to evade tax; black markets to dodge sales tax, undeclared income, just flat out refusal to pay. Then you need players to be orcish tax collectors. It's funny how intrinsically dystopic it seems to have taxes in a fantasy world - I think partly because people are used to their fantasy worlds not having taxes, and partly because whenever you see tax collectors in medieval settings they work for the evil king against the happy lovely freedom fighters. Also because usually, in fantasy worlds, road repairs don't cost anything.

This train of thought led to the amusing idea of the poor beleagued tax collectors working for the good king in spite of danger to their lives from the evil Robin Hood. The king is trying to keep roads in good repair, maintain a reasonable sized army against invasion from some nasty foreign types, and keep enough guards in the towns to suppress crime. But how can he be expected to fund all this? He has a reasonable tax rate, but one particularly tenacious bandit gang keeps on stealing the tax money. To make up the difference, and to have a chance of catching the bandits, he has to increase the tax rate to be able to hire more guards and manhunters. Meanwhile the citizens are deriding him and his employees for the evil high tax rate and for failing to protect them and for the roads falling into disrepair. He must be spending all that tax money on himself, the bastard! Robin Hood, on the other hand, is a lovely man because he gives the people free money. Everyone loves him. Sure, he doesn't repair the roads or protect people or anything, but nor does the guy who has all the tax money.

That's right, Robin Hood is the guy who gives everyone tax refunds even though the kingdom's budget is royally fucked. Robin Hood, King of Republicans.

Anyway, back to the original train of thought, it's amusing how poorly a MMORPG would simulate proper society. What character in a MMORPG wants a quiet life staying at home? What character aspires to be a novelist? Next to none, they all want to be out bashing heads. What head-bashing character is going to voluntarily submit to taxation, when there's only a few guards to enforce it? Those guards had better be really frightening. Maybe the answer is to allow the tax-guards to have machine-guns, and limit everyone else to knives. Knives that they aren't allowed to carry outside their homes. Maybe it is a good simulation of real society, after all. The catch is, when people start feeling oppressed in real society, they escape into a fantasy world. When your character starts feeling similarly oppressed, you log out and never return. Or, because there's no risk, you stage a revolution, throwing your worthless carcass into machine-gun fire.

Interesting possibility for analysing the success of different societal structures, though - if the characters are assigned boring jobs that they do whenever the player isn't logged in, the behaviour of the society as a whole could be reasonably extrapolated. Luckily, MMORPG characters do seem to shop just like in the real world - they want a bigger house, better furniture, nicer clothes. Without modelling that individualistic covetous acquisitive competition for materialistic happiness you couldn't tell how a society would behave. [01:12] [12 comments]

Thursday 17 November 2005
Unintuitive observation of the day - your head always appears the same size relative to the surface of a flat mirror. Perform this experiment - look at yourself in a fixed-position mirror. Put your fingers on the mirror marking the top and bottom location of your head. Now, keeping your fingers there, go really close to the mirror - your head will still be demarked by your fingers. Now go far away. Your fingers will come off the mirror, you idiot, go back and start again, but this time get someone else to replace your fingers with theirs, using surgery, so you can leave yours on the mirror. Or if you don't have a friend to exchange fingers with, put toothpaste on the mirror or something.

Conclusive proof - your head is really about five inches tall. [08:07] [9 comments]

Wednesday 2 November 2005
Day 2 of NaNooNaNoo, and I've started deviating from the Anim8or tutorials to make things more interesting already. Today's lesson was animation; the lesson had a round red bird whose animation was running like a human. I decided I'd rather do a quick cartoon crow and animate it flapping like, er, me when I can't decide what I want to eat. The result: The Running In Circles Adventures Of Flappy.

Click to see the animated version; only 89K, XviD codec, may require faffing with your media player to make it loop.

Oh, and I also did some more work on the programmings again, but who cares about that when you can't see it yet? [03:42] [8 comments]

Tuesday 1 November 2005
Day one of artificially induced productivity month has gone well, with a fair chunk of the webgame added and/or restructured, and a reasonably successful first tutorial of the delightful (and free) Anim8or, which Levez recommended, amongst other things, as an alternative to 3D Studio which might suit me better. And indeed it does, with 20 minutes being enough for me to make some horrible mutant egg foliage per the first tutorial's instructions, while also understanding most of the operations performed, which is a vast improvement over my prior proddings at 3D Studio.
Day 1: Egg Foliage
[06:04] [8 comments]