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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Kerbal Space Program AGP Mod

After spending many hours playing Kerbal Space Program, I decided to make my time spent in space more efficient. My family and I always motivated each other with the ambitions of creating anti-gravity, which, even though none of us are scientists, know is more or less impossible. Luckily, it's easy to make science fiction become science simulation in KSP, and so without further ado, here is my Linear Anti-Gravity Pad.

It fits directly onto a 1x1 panel, has a low profile, and currently uses xenon gas and electricity to produce thrust. In this case, the hex arrays pull the attached objects in the direction it is facing. Eventually I'd like to improve on this design with a particle effect, something like a glow proportional to thrust, as well as a sound effect, such as a low-pitched hum or rumble. Other improvements include a better .mu texture (the current one clamps the texture on the underside corner, which helps orient the model, but looks awful), a gimbal version, and an electricity-only version.

On side notes, I like the B9 Aerospace and KW Rocketry mods, but the multi-model subtypes on many of the parts makes B9 unusable (not to mention what seems like a lot of missing parts), and KW works and is quite appealing, but if I'm going to install a ton of parts, I would like to have spaceplane parts too. I would also recommend Chatterer and the Near Future mods.

I would NOT recommend NEAR or FAR, as they really mess up the game. If you don't like the vanilla physics and think "this game is too easy," by all means knock yourself out. Mostly NEAR just knocks me into unrecoverable rolls in atmo and makes it impossible to land spaceplanes. I didn't try FAR but considering it's supposed to be more advanced, I know the outcome already. I think if the designers wanted simulated realistic physics, they would have already made those changes.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

First Game

It is official. I have successfully achieved what I would consider my first real computer game. Using the SGDA at UTD as a springboard, I got a team together and we made a wonderful real-time strategy computer game about making computer games in 48 hours. It's a glorious piece of thrown together basic mechanics, and even though the game is a little slow to get going, it can actually be quite enjoyable and challenging to play.

Here's a link to the page where the SGDA 2014 Game Jam games can be found:

Our game is called Crunch Time. You can find all 8 team member's names in the credits of the main menu.

Not to be mistaken for the card game or for Game Dev Tycoon. Yes we all knew about the game, and no we didn't really know enough about it to steal anything from it. We just started shouting ideas at each other until we agreed on a few and then tried our best to program and draw them out. We spent an actual 24 hours working on it, from 7pm to 2am the first night, from 12noon to 2am the second day, and from about 11:30am to 6:30pm the final day. Subtract food breaks and delirium and you get about 24... So truthfully you can sleep a lot regardless the deadline. I would argue that sleep is why we were able to keep going at such a furious pace.

The best part was seeing one of our programmers win the game. We didn't think it was possible because we didn't really program in a solid winning criteria. Basically, the game stopped counting time after about $8 billion in earnings.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Defining Random

Randomness and Game Design by Keith Burgun

Using that article as a springboard for this one, I've known since the 7th grade that random events are mathematically impossible. There's always parts to the equation. The more random something might seem, the more complex the equation might be. Of course all of this is relative and difficult to define. Some people believe in fate, some in willpower and determination.

I define random as an event that has the appearance of unpredictable. This is why Math.Random number functions work so well in programming - they're specifically designed to produce an unpredictable result. When we see the event enough times or we look into how the event breaks down, we find the pattern and therefor destroy its randomness.

When someone swings an axe at a tree numerous times, each swing is directed towards the same area and comes from the same direction. Likewise, when an arrow is shot at a target it follows the same rules as the axe. The equation for the result might include things like wind speed, air temperature, altitude, the person's strength, what materials the object is made of, how many times it has been used, if the person has done the action one time or one hundred times, is the person angry or calm or focused or distracted, etc. For our two examples: the axe hits with differing force at various angles and displaces a seemingly random amount of wood each time; the bow flexes a predictable amount, and the arrow's accuracy depends on the steadiness of the archer - the arrow may still land in seemingly random spots relative to the target's center. Even if we built machines to do these actions for us specifically to remove some of the unpredictability, there would still be some randomness left regardless. In math, the amount of randomness would be the standard deviation. Since the deviation is smaller with the machine, the random element can essentially be refined out to such a small amount that we would no longer detect it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

LAN Gaming

I want to document an evolving phenomenon. Local area network (LAN) gaming isn't a new concept. Since the introduction of computers, we have been linking them together to play games or run simulations. Currently, LAN gaming only happens under specific conditions: at dedicated events, such as conventions (QuakeCon), church functions, or club activities, or as established companies (ShadowLAN). The primary difficulty being to transport and organize many desktop PCs in a small physical space. Given laptops and wireless networking, that challenge has been made easier, but LAN gaming is still a relatively rare occurrence.

The majority of multiplayer gaming happens over a wide area network (WAN). This poses the comparatively and similarly difficult challenge of virtually connecting people's computers through a service provider. That process can involve port forwarding and other dangerous firewall holes, and expensive and problematic servers (rubberbanding). So in essence, we sacrifice security and synchronization for convenience. While that's expected to some degree, I still find it interesting that even with laptops and more manageable and lightweight gear (and more powerful computers across the board), we still have trouble managing to organize LAN events on a more frequent basis.

Part of the issue is that the more potent gaming rigs are most commonly desktop computers, or ATX Mid towers. While they offer the most space to customize and upgrade, they are also the most bulky design to transport. Combined with the various peripherals (monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, etc.), getting multiple people enthusiastic enough to move their equipment to a temporary space becomes more unlikely.

The primary solutions would be to improve the internet or to change the topology (individual fiber optic service, neighborhood intranet LAN, dedicated school networks). Alternative solutions include customizable lightweight technology that can handle extreme computing needs. Keyboards are large enough to enclose much of the circuitry needed on the motherboard, so perhaps using the physical space underneath the keyboard as a PC would be an innovative way to reduce the overall size of a desktop computer. A fairly old concept used the base of a monitor as the housing for a PC. Perhaps we could revisit that concept with the ability to customize in mind.

It would be a very difficult task to change my mind about the idea of LAN gaming, but I'll only be able to continue being its proponent we keep progressing forward.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Never Pay for Premium

In a world dominated by business and politics (as opposed to philosophy and philanthropy, and you know, progress) computer game entertainment has fallen from a unique pastime to a stifling alternative to worse options. Especially with the advent of slower and less customizable "mobile" options, computer gaming, and desktop PCs moreover, have survived largely due to the efforts of efficient distributors such as Steam,, and the more generally, the advent of digitally downloadable content. Instead of fumbling through a large CD/DVD collection, gamers can quickly browse an ever growing list of games and then download and play them as long as their hard drive functions.

After observing an era of anti-PC/pro-mobile propaganda, and the rise of the free-to-play, downloadable content, and premium account business strategies in games, we can safely pronounce that the game designers have either lost their minds or that business people are making the decisions. Business people are more or less involved in business-related politics, and, as a result, instill the quota, bottom-line, and/or investor viewpoints on the highly educated, creative, and innovative gaming industry. While the industry continues to thrive, gamers and consumers in general suffer from poor decision making and biased design choices.

Video games are theoretically the most effective method of entertainment human beings have ever maintained. By simulating an ever increasing variety of environments, rules, and events, video games give us much more access to our imagination. If that isn't by itself worth investing time and money into, an historical analysis of video game's ability to make money shows why the industry is now more or less controlled by people who have no idea how to make games. Especially now, video games are software simulations that can be sold with high returns. On average, a video game takes around three years, and $60 to $100 million to make. Newer Indie or crowd-funded projects develop  video games for much less money, often less than $100,000. Regardless of how much money is dumped into a project, one thing remains the same. Games that sell for a consistent amount have a solid indicator of popularity. Games such as premium account games, could in reality fail in the public eye, while reviewers, critics, and publishers remain ignorant to fundamental problems.

Let me remind you that almost all critics are in some way influenced by their proximity to the industry they critique. In the case of computer games, reviews can be directly bought in the form of a marketing campaign. In essence, that's what advertisements for computer games are - positive reviews. Demos are unfortunately not as common as they once were - mostly because of the programming hurdles presented with limiting players and protecting content. Demos are still extremely effective, however, for those developers that continue to offer them. They have evolved now, into in-development versions of the game. By buying the game for a typically small amount long before the game's actual release, players can support a good concept and save money at the same time... as long as the game actually gets finished.

I will not be the last to say that computer gaming was at one point simple and straight forward. You went to a store, picked up a game box, used physical media to not only install the game, but also to play the game. Even longer ago, there wasn't even a key. But I digress. Now that games come in many different models, makes, and brands, it's easy to let your passion for an idea to overtake the logic behind a purchase. Never pay for premium. A simple solution is to compare the amount of money you're prepared to spend on any game idea (pre-release, downloadable content, premium accounts, in-game content, etc.) to the amount of time you expect to get out of that form of entertainment. If the amount of time you'll spend on a game largely outweighs the required average amount of money to maintain that game, then I am incapable of influencing you further.

In conclusion, I postulate that business models other than a one-time purchase of the software aren't as effective, and the game, subsequent games, and overall brand suffer in the long term. Players get alienated by the business side of things, and that slight afterthought throws them out of the game world and right back into the reality that we all so hopelessly attempt to escape in our own ways.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Website Update

I updated the website yesterday to include some new ideas and implement a build a computer service. Form information is emailed from the server to me, and then I send an invoice as the next step in the transaction. I buy the parts and put together a working system, and then ship it to the customer. So far, I've built a total of 10 computers, and if the service is popular, it will help fund the computer games and programs.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Theoretical Budget - May 2014

Today I created a theoretical budget for living in 2014 in Dallas, TX using the societal needs categories as the items in the budget. I omitted air, sunlight, and recreation, and I was able to easily catch all of my potential expenses either in the remaining items or in the tax withholding item. Here's what the budget might look like:


Rent - $600.00
Water - $50.00
Food - $330.00


Electricity - $150.00
Waste - $30.00
Clothing - $30.00
Entertainment - $75.00
Exercise - $15.00
Income Tax Withholding - $57.60


Transportation - $150.00
Communication - $55.00
Shopping / Trade - $33.00
Healthcare - $200.00
Safety / Regulation - $12.50
Social - $20.00
Religion - $20.00
Education - $50.00
Creative Outlets / The Arts - $20.00
Risk - $25.00

Total (Monthly)

Total (Yearly)

Everything gets accounted for. Membership to a gym? Exercise. Go to movies every weekend? Entertainment. Pay a speeding ticket? Safety / Regulation. Cell phone and internet? Communication. As long as you use the category for the same expenses each time, the societal needs categorization carries over to define more than just itself.

Edit: wording and formatting.

Monday, April 28, 2014


Back in the day, I played World of Warcraft. All obvious assumptions or interpretations aside, I lost myself in a fantasy world much more fulfilling than whatever else I might have been doing at that time. In hindsight, it filled a gap left by the inability to find adventure in my life.

Mostly, I found myself taking up guide roles as either a healer or a tank. Even though I was reluctant to do these things, I found that I was not only really good at them, but my retention of knowledge within the game allowed me to expedite many processes that were otherwise deliberately designed to take up lots of time.

During the golden era of player versus player combat (approx. right before the first expansion and for a good while until the end of the third expansion) my usefulness found its pinnacle with mid-range "twinking." Twinking involved taking an alternate character, leveling them to the maximum within a bracket, and finding the best possible armor and weapons available for that range. For example, my warrior, Dalwyn, was one of only a few characters capable of defeating another twinked rogue (whose name now escapes me, unfortunately) in both the 30-39 and 40-49 level brackets.

For the first time in my life, I was not only fulfilling a definite purpose, but I also had a definite rival. Now, in retrospect, I wish I had communicated more with that rogue and feel slightly disappointed in myself that I did not turn it into some kind of oddly forged friendship.

Another one of my characters, Kynaro, was a max level druid (a hybrid role, and thus my favorite). Mostly, I played the hand dealt to me, and usually filled the role that the talent points were strongest for. Sometimes the best was healing, sometimes more geared for tanking. The best, undeniably most fun role to fill as a druid was what was known as a "boomkin." Basically, a moonkin was an owl beast that utilized the power of the moon's light to blast enemies, and thus, boomkin. The boomkin's main ability was wrath; a ball of green light that was similar to a semi-automatic moon rifle. I specifically remember competing in raids for the top damage per second spot with other dedicated damage-dealing classes, such as the rogue, mage, or hunter.

Speaking of hunters, I should mention that my first character, Kusaris, was a hunter. Admittedly, I followed a stereotype where new players typically played hunters, and when they were at max level, served a limited use due to low skill and therefore low damage output. I didn't realize that I was more or less wasting my time until the second expansion, after I had spent many days worth of time in-game running through a place called Dire Maul. Outfitting in World of Warcraft was key to "skill." In other words, the gear you had told people up front whether or not you could be trusted to fill your role appropriately. In other words, my hunter could fill no role, except maybe meat shield.

I think the point of all this is to remind myself that despite of its slanted perception and the sheer amount of time dedicated, playing these games during their prime defines who I am as a person, and helped form my demeanor and principles to what they are now. Despite the observable lack of friends produced by playing online games like WoW, I feel that even now, many years later, and after having abandoned what at the time were more or less "bad habits," the things I accomplished in virtual worlds - with hardly anyone to prove it - were still enough for me to find joy in my life.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Screenshots from my adventures in survival mode 1-1-1 in Space Engineers. The lone platform got turned into a hangar open on one side and with a piston-driven door on the other. The small green ship in the first image is a mining drill, the winged ship is a pirate craft designed to either attack other ships and/or to remove the contents of their storage, and the giant ship in the forth picture is actually just a really big vacuum cleaner. Gravity cleaner to be more exact - it uses five gravity generators to pull mining debris into the funnel and into its cargo bay. At no point has this game been in creative mode! It makes me feel accomplished.

Tertiary Societal Needs

  • Recreation / Nature

Although it is arguable that greenspace is a secondary or even primary human need, our history tends to show us that cities and societies in general do not prioritize nature. It is still important, however, and the lack of space for parks, recreational activities (such as festivals, marathons or concerts), and oxygen-producing plants creates problems that are not easily measurable or fixable. Going stir-crazy is a good example of one problem.

  • Shopping / Trade

Consumerism goes hand-in-hand with capitalism, which is the form of trade principle most western societies embrace today. That being said, when designing commercial districts it is beneficial to combine recreational space and nature with a nearby or connected shopping or trade space. The same goes for distribution centers.

  • Transportation

In terms of societies, transportation is a vital tertiary need. The idea of transportation also includes the principles of traffic flow and dedicated use, which means that buses are not an effective catch-all of transportation. Highways are built with cars in mind, not large trucks, not buses, and not with any other mass-transit option. In other words, societies should be designed with dedicated passenger railways, streetcars, subways, light rail, monorail, etc. as their primary methods of transportation second only to walking. When an urban area is designed with walking in mind, it flourishes.

  • Communication

Societal intercommunication means that no ideas are isolated from the rest of the world. Basically, this means that societies should include internet infrastructures and other telecommunications into the basic layouts in order for people to stay connected over long distances.

  • Healthcare

Societies without healthcare tend to wane after a few years of high rates of death, injury, and illness. Like many things in any society, healthcare needs to be decentralized and simple to access. It also needs effective principles regarding how to treat people who cannot afford treatment, how to handle malpractice and price gouging, and how to make innovations to current inefficient treatments.

  • Safety and Regulation

Theoretically, a society left totally without police enforcement will work just as well as a society with heavy police enforcement. Crime and injustice is contextually high in both scenarios. Laws regarding safety and regulation should be designed to help guide society towards minimizing the detriments of individual bad choices. Without enforcement, however, many laws will fall unheeded. Logically, it is good to have an effective system of enforcement and rehabilitation, but these systems should be highly reserved. Passive methods of enforcement are desirable.

  • Company

This idea stems from people's inherent shyness and loneliness when living in a large, dense group of people. The best way of preventing or alleviating this interesting side-effect is to entice individuals into scenarios where they need to interact with others (in similar mindsets) to achieve some goal. Playing games or building something together, for example, are ways for people to find good company without being alienated by societal expectations.

  • Religion

Another time-proven method of allowing people to find good company is religion. Indeed, it's one of religion's main purposes. From a societal standpoint, religion is necessary in the sense that it is a unifying force with a positive message. In other words, religion allows people to organize around weak points within a society in order to try and fill or fix them. Albeit, most religions have trouble with solving issues without creating more, but it is important to be an inclusive society, not an exclusive one.

  • Education

Arguably the most progressive method of creating effective societies is the openness and inundation of information. Effective education programs mean unbiased teaching of a wide variety of (optional) subjects to people of all ages. Teachers should need to be certified that they know about what they want to teach, and then paid accordingly with a number of enticing compensation options. Young people should also be enticed, not forced, to attend schools which focus on various subjects. Societal placement should be a priority. In other words, it is in the entire society's best interest to find out what young people want to learn, and what they want to do with their lives. When they don't know, the best option is to simply have many available paths for them to try.

  • Creative Outlets / The Arts

Akin to recreation and exercise, creative outlets allow people to relax through a form of work. Dance, music, painting, sculpting, writing, singing, etc. - these actions need to be backed by the whole of society and, just like education, need to be options for everyone to try. Without art, society quickly devolves and begins to phase out other societal needs, such as recreation and nature and entertainment, and other needs begin to suffer because of it.

  • Risk

A substantial number of people in any society need to feel the adrenaline of risk. Without the ability to take risks and potentially reap rewards from said risk, these people begin to bite the hands that feed them. Good examples can be found in teen behavior. Doing risky things often involves breaking laws, making people upset, and generally being a nuisance to society. Like many other things, however, embracing this predictable behavior eventually results in quelling it. Casinos offer people the risk of losing all their money in return for possible gaining much more, and areas with casinos see drastic increases in crime. Having these institutions, however, centralizes the problem to a containable district instead of allowing it to rise up (unregulated and untaxed) in less governable areas.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Secondary Societal Needs - Pt. 2

  • Sewage Treatment
Smaller societies can get away with simply dumping their feces into nature, allowing it to enter waterways and groundwater without many consequences. Nature is wonderful in that it can process feces without any human involvement. Sewage, in context, is an amount or concentration of feces that cannot be naturally returned to the Earth without contaminating nearby water sources. There are a number of modern ways to treat sewage, but the important note about needing sewage treatment is that there must be flowing water. Without flowing water, sewage stagnates and causes numerous problems for anyone nearby. In order to process sewage, flowing water carries waste to a facility designed to process the waste out and return clean water back into the system. Societies have in fact existed without any sewage treatment or even disposal. It must have been a horrible smell, and perhaps why incense and other aromatics were so popular in history. In order for a large society to remain, it should have sewage treatment as advanced as technology will allow.

  • Work or Purpose
Most societies provide for this need automatically, without any design required. Simply taking care of the primary societal needs often creates enough work year round for people to feel they are needed and to keep them busy. Keeping people busy means they have less time to think about causing trouble both in their own society and for other societies. Even with that negative connotation, a sense of purpose is a powerful motivator in a person's life. More importantly, as technology becomes more advanced, education and political leadership improve, and societal systems become more efficient, a surplus in people and a lack of jobs will create a void where a substantial portion of the population will be without an acceptable purpose. A good example of this is already happening around the world: Social media is a form of work for many people, even though it produces nothing physical and serves a very limited purpose from a contextual standpoint (mining coal to generate electricity is a still a higher priority than keeping twitter prevalent). Work is necessary for people to fill their lives with a constant sense of importance and accomplishment. At the very least, a large society should anticipate providing for large sponsored projects with decent frequency in order to give purpose to those who have trouble finding their place. The Egyptians had pyramids, Pope Urban II began the crusades, and the British Empire had a lot of colonies - historically creating the internal and external purpose categories.

  • Entertainment
Aside from pushing people into jobs and working them all their lives, societies need to understand the immense power of joyful distraction. Indeed, as technology gets better and societies become more advanced in general, policies could balance work and play evenly with the same results we see now. Instead of the work week being at a normal 40 hours, it could be 20, with the remainder of the week dedicated to play. Movies, table-top games, computer games, arcades, theme parks, tourist attractions, festivals, sports, etc. Take your pick, playing games has been a part of human life since before we could write or even count. What were your first actions as a child? You probably played with some object or were fascinated by something you saw. Maybe you poked it or tried to eat it. Our curiosity with our environments and the experiments that result predictably lead to games: a set of rules that people follow to accomplish some goal. What people do in their free time heavily influences how they act. The concept of entertainment has a similar effect as work - it keeps us busy, and it helps to prevent problems that might arise out of the lack of something to do. Without entertainment, people, and the societies they belong to have trouble keeping their composure and risk breaking down from stress. Entertainment is also a wonderful way for groups of people to find cohesion.

  • Electricity
Whether or not this is important enough to include as a secondary need is under debate. People have lived without electricity for much longer than they have lived with it. Instead of burning candles and warm fires, we burn coal or oil or gas in a centralized plant to produce electricity. It's arguably no more efficient, but that is besides the point. Electricity is mentioned as a secondary societal need because of our reliance and dependence on it currently. While it is mostly used for light, electricity is necessary for a number of other important aspects of society. Work often requires it to power machines, fans, conveyor belts, etc. Entertainment can exist just fine without it, but forget about movies, television, and computer games, much less anything new and exciting. Water pumps commonly require electricity. So on and so forth. It isn't much of a question of why we need it, but how to organize it. Currently, all our electrical systems are highly centralized: A plant produces massive amounts of electrical power, which then flows through lines to power stations placed by the need for conversion and phasing; the power then flows through a breaker box in your house to all your outlets, which you must then run cords to. All this distance means vast amounts of waste stemming from loss to heat caused by resistance. Ideally, electricity would be very decentralized. Smaller plants could produce more focused and less wasteful electricity to local areas, or better yet, each home could utilize its own power source. Highly advanced societies will be rated by how efficiently electricity is produced and how well it is utilized.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Secondary Societal Needs - Pt. 1

  • Clothing
While shelter protects people from the elements while they rest, clothing protects people from the elements (and from other people in various forms) while they are out and about. Clothing is a secondary need for a few reasons: Over time, societal standards evolved with local environments; Peoples in temperate or warm environments tend to value clothing much less than peoples in colder climates; Also, people in temperate environments wore minimal clothing more as a standard of modesty instead of protection from the sun, wind or cold; Another possible reason to place clothing secondary as a societal need is its role in mating: clothing slows reproductive rates in order for large populations to exist without quickly overwhelming the primary resources. In general, societies without clothing will quickly fragment into unstable jealousy-driven nudist groups.

  • Sunlight
This might seem like one of those deal-breaking living-organism requirements, but in terms of societal needs, sunlight is only important because of the symptoms suffered by people who get too much, or too little of it. Mostly related to vitamin-D deficiencies, the lack of sunlight can cause slower metabolic rates, immune system weaknesses, and bone weakness. On the other hand, over-exposure to sunlight causes heat stroke, cancer, etc., but overexposure only lends to the reasons why shelter is a primary need. Sunlight is a secondary need because the human body is designed to utilize a photosynthetic reaction in order to create some of the nutrients it needs, but the lack of sunlight for many hours at a time certainly won't result in lower survivability or quality of interaction with other people.

  • Exercise
Akin to sunlight, the need for humans to exert extensive physical effort is required for us to remain healthy, energetic, and attractive. While attractiveness is not a part of any societal necessity, the function exercise plays in keeping a society together and active is all inclusive. The Greeks had gymnasiums, the Romans focused on rapid expansion, the Chinese have Tai Chi, and Americans have treadmills. Generally, most societies simply rotate their food consumption with the work required to acquire it, which in turn provides the needed exercise. As food production becomes more efficient, however, dedicated exercise activities become a requirement in order to keep people from becoming lethargic, antisocial, and generally ineffective at any physical task.

  • Solid Trash Pickup / Recycling
Waste in the form of unused or discarded materials is more of a modern societal problem simply because of the increased use of oil-based products. These materials typically take decades if not centuries to decompose instead of the few years simpler molecules require. Historically, trash included old fabrics, rusted or worn out metal goods, broken pottery or glass, rotting food, and ash from firewood or the like - just to mention a few examples. Most of these items, as mentioned, are absorbed back into the environment almost as quickly as they were extracted. Modern goods, made of inks, dyes, plastics, and other intensely complex polymers or difficult-to-separate mixtures require removal and either proper disposal or recycling. Without proper trash and recycling methods in place, society would quickly deteriorate into a destructive, pseudo-nomadic horde of litterers.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Primary Societal Needs

  • Air
73% Nitrogen
21% Oxygen
5% Water Vapor (max)
0.934% Argon
0.04% Carbon Dioxide
0.001818% Neon
0.000524% Helium
0.00018% Methane
Temperatures must range between -50 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature of the air must remain at moderate levels (between 55 and 88 degrees) for at a minimum of 3 months out of a 12 month year in order to grow crops. More drastic temperature changes, or consistently high or low temperatures prevent societies from expanding in those areas. Atmospheric pressure provides that most societies cannot exist more than 12,500 ft. above sea level.

  • Water
Freshwater is generally 0.002% salt by volume. Temperature of water must remain between 33 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit to remain in its liquid form, and not below 40 or above 120 degrees to keep as drinking water. Generally, the smaller the temperature range, the better piping will be able to withstand cracking or leaking. Also, at least minimal filtration is recommended to keep sediment from eventually clogging pipes. Intelligent ways of water management include wells, aqueducts, canals, reservoirs, and irrigation ditches. In terms of filtration, flowing water is always better than dormant water. In terms of structures and societies, properly diverting rainwater prevents disasters such as mudslides and floods.

  • Food
Since there is a huge variety of plant and animal life that can be consumed for nutrients, food is a wide topic. Regardless, the macro level of food distribution and the availability of many types of foods to a group allows the group to survive and thrive. The bare minimum of food is gained from hunting, fishing, and foraging wild plants. In order to maintain a stable, permanent settlement, food must be cultivated in crops and orchards, as well as having domesticated animals (for both work and as a food source). Most foods must be prepared in some way to reduce the effects of food poisoning, dysentery, or disease. This means the food category also includes methods of preparing food, such as fire, cookware, utensils, and containers, as well as food preservation techniques, such as granaries, chilling, or pickling.

  • Shelter
In order for human society to withstand the changing seasons, each family unit should be provided with its own, individual shelter. Given limited technology, it's acceptable to propose that multiple families could utilize the same shelter, but it is not recommended for multiple reasons. Firstly, to help prevent widespread disease: regardless of the closeness of urban societies, separating family units prevents illnesses from spreading quickly. Secondly, privacy and space allows for each family to expand and relax within its own boundaries. The alternative, or inverse, blurs the line between different family units, complicates the gene pool, and generally creates indoor chaos. Indoor chaos tends to lead to social problems, which indirectly affects an entire society's ability to exist. Shelter is not simply about protecting people from the elements and nature's unforgiving wrath, but also about keeping people from competing against one another for space and attention.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Societal Needs - Categories

Primary - each primary need must be available as an easily accessible, unpolluted, and temperate function of life.
  • Air
  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter
Secondary - although not absolutely necessary, providing for secondary needs allows large groups to exist in one location over a long period of time.
  • Clothing
  • Sunlight
  • Exercise
  • Solid Trash Pickup / Recycling
  • Sewage Treatment
  • Work or Purpose
  • Entertainment
  • Electricity
Tertiary - these needs allow for many large groups to coexist with others harmoniously, and for even denser urban areas to function over longer periods of time.
  • Recreation / Nature
  • Shopping / Trade
  • Transportation
  • Communication
  • Healthcare
  • Safety and Regulation
  • Company
  • Religion
  • Education
  • Creative Outlets / The Arts
  • Risk
When creating either a real or fictional society, these needs should be provided for. Although it is absolutely possible that a society of people can live and thrive without a few of these needs, such as electricity, ever being made available, a modern society will encounter problems related to a lack therein. Many societies will face the heightened probability of crime or even war when these needs are not met.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fusion Energy

I recently finished reading "A Piece of the Sun: The Quest for Fusion Energy" by Daniel Clery. In the book, Clery summarizes how the fusion research endeavor began and how each individual or group contributed to it over time, concluding around 2012. It covers most of what needs to be said on the subject.

The obvious use for fusion energy is to provide electrical power for cities, or generally on a larger scale. Currently, progressive fusion research requires international collaboration, extremely rare materials, and delicate parts in gigantic machines to produce less than effective results.

I have always dreamed of utilizing fusion batteries to power various things, from heating and cooling, to propulsion, and especially supercomputing.

My idea is unique in that the fusion device is small. Household items could be engineered to utilize its own individual power source, instead of requiring a plug. In turn, this would completely decentralize power needs. Extremely large power stations would become obsolete, buildings would no longer need extensive wiring to provide electricity to lights, computers, and other systems, and unsightly power lines could be dismantled. At the very minimum, the battery should be small and safe enough to be easily introduced into a typical home, and potent enough to run all its devices simultaneously. The only downside is, like all batteries, it would need to be disposed of properly, and then replaced at predictable intervals.

Problem: Substantial magnetic fields are required to keep the plasma from touching any solid surfaces so it doesn't damage the device or its surroundings. This is especially the case if these batteries becomes a consumer product.

Problem: Even when regulated, such a device could easily be turned into a weapon.

Solution: Completely seal the container with the electromagnets needed to sustain the plasma. The electromagnet container would be encased in a solid metallic or composite shell. Any tampering or attempt to open the shell would break a vacuum or release an inert gas, oxidize the electrical wiring, and freeze the battery. Since the device is filled with hydrogen surrounded by some electromagnets, the most dubious re-purposing would result in a 6th grade science project.

Problem: The nature of physics, especially plasma physics. Electromagnets are not typically small devices. Even when they are, they are not necessarily intended to be used for plasma containment. Plasma physics seems to be leaning more towards the cosmic scale when put in context with energy production. In other words, in order to produce electricity from fusion, the larger the device, the better. Smaller machines do not have the proportions necessary for certain reactions to occur, or to sustain a fusion state for any substantial period of time.

Plasma also behaves in ways that are unpredictable due to fact that it typically doesn't exist except for at temperatures that would more or less kill us if we were in direct contact with it. We can interact directly with solids, liquids, and gases. Indeed, we do so daily. There are some that are less common that are more difficult to handle, such as liquid nitrogen or helium, solid argon, or chlorine gas. Plasma cannot be handled at all, though, because it is the state beyond solid, liquid, or gas. You have to provide a material with enough energy to ionize it, which on Earth, is a very difficult process. Ionization, in this case, requires electricity, and currently, we only have electricity because of coal, oil, natural gas, tidal forces, steam, solar cells, and the wind. We have been very clever to come up with this many ways to produce electricity, and that clever ingenuity only comes from a dire necessity originating from a heightened standard of living. You know, like microwave ovens.

Solution: The solution making a fusion device lies with the fuel used to initiate the plasma. The ideal fuel is hydrogen. Not heavier types of hydrogen. The common type. Using the "protium" isotope means no shortage of fuel. Ever.

Problem: Inducing enough ionizing energy into the hydrogen to make it form plasma and ignite fusion.

Solution: Initiating fusion at the production facility. If the fusion reaction is truly producing electricity, then the reaction is also self-sustaining, and only requires a focused electrical-based force (like a laser) once in its lifetime . Returning to the earlier point that plasma physics tends to be more cosmic in nature, the bigger the battery, the longer it would last. This fusion battery would only last a few years at most, and that's thinking ideally.

Problem: Fusion doesn't necessarily create electricity like some think it automatically does.

Solution: The battery would have to either be made of a composite material which charges conductive materials, or to heat water into steam which then transfers its kinetic energy into electricity by rotating a turbine. That stipulation on its own creates a device larger than a washing machine, if not much, much larger.

Fusion batteries rely on a few technologies being figured out and made commercially available: plasma containment on a small scale - small efficient electromagnets; hydrogen fusion ignition - NOT deuterium or tritium; composites that can transform heat into electrical energy (like RTGs only without the radioactivity); and nano mechanics - if you're going to produce electrical energy in a small device, you either don't use moving parts (no steam), or you use steam and need tiny moving parts.

Even if the fusion battery is just a tiny steam turbine, that's still better than burning coal or methane to keep warm and keep our lights on.

On a side note, if it took 1 zettawatt of electrical power over 1 year to ignite enough fusion batteries to last all of humanity just 1 more year, we would still be 126 times more efficient at producing power than we are as of 2008. And those batteries could be used to create more batteries, limited only by the materials that each battery is made of, and the physical space they consume.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Village in Time

I'm very close to having a card game, called A Village in Time, which very roughly represents my job and resource mechanics for the computer game. Here are some pictures!

The game is design to emulate city-building through job titles. Jobs are organized into five tiers. Players begin their village with tier I, draw cards from the food, wood, mineral and tier II decks, and put jobs into play in order to expand. The longer players stay in the game, the larger the villages get, and winning is determined by victory points.

Hopefully my submissions for publication go well!