What’s the difference between regressive narrative and emergent narrative?

There’s an RPG Codex thread about Emergent Narrative that I recently replied to but unfortunately I just don’t belong in the community and I already made my leave. Add that and the fact that I haven’t tweeted or blogged in a while, it just made me want to write this comment but as usual, this isn’t really intended for any audience or to be a specific reply and more of my own thoughts shared to anyone who cares for it. (I’m especially most fearful that a poster from Rpg Codex would come here only to interpret this as an unorthodox way of trolling but whatever, I like this subject and the reply that came from this subject that it almost disappoints me that I have to limit it to regressive narrative. For those curious as to why I would leave, this link contains a direct link to my goodbye post and the entire thread has all the social drama that comes with it.)

Anyway, back to regressive narratives. What is it?

On the surface level, I feel like I’m trying to explain the obvious but one poster even goes so far as to write this:

Also, use obscure terms like “regressive narrative” sparingly unless you can give a little parentheses () description next to it and people will understand you even better.

On the surface level, regressive narrative is but the opposite of emergent narratives…but what are emergent narratives exactly?

I think there in lies the interesting issue because, as much as my native language not being English is correct, this case is more like talking about your hobbies to someone who isn’t interested. Only this time around, the person I was replying to had more possible experience but it was their experience that continues to elude them from understanding such a basic application of the obscure wording they themselves threw up.

I don’t want to come off like a poster just attacking the messenger though so forgive me if I don’t do many more direct quotes. I don’t want to impose upon you the idea that you need to click the link to get a context with the subject. Let’s just treat this like any random article.

Before this: Why is the discussion notable?

In the age of more sandbox games that defy what it means to be a sandbox game both regressively and progressively (especially with regards to role playing), the question of how someone (on a conceptual level) creates a narrative is almost central to saving the last remnant of a quality rpg that’s not totally a movie or too hardcore to the point of it being a game.

At heart, what the question really asks is how can anyone produce a single player (or single player-ish like co-ops) videogame world that’s organic and chaotic yet possesses within itself a narrative.

Where did the best mainstream games got it as correctly as the best classic games and where did they get it wrong?

I’m not claiming I hold a solution to making mainstream games both profitable yet still about quality and challenges and plot lines but at the same time I think even a non-programmer & zero experience w/ PnP person like me can spot that even mainstream games are not as good as the past mainstream games.

When people clung to Final Fantasy VII for example, they still wanted a game. The elements that made FF VII a game helped mold it into a wonderful epic movie-like experience more than the modern movie-type games.

If you flip this around, it holds true too for why something like Final Fantasy VII is more well received than a classic CRPG.

This even holds true down to the bone deep level. There’s classic games like Final Fantasy Tactics that people prefer over better narratives such as Tactics Ogre despite them being in the same class of perceived as low graphic (for their time of release) iso SRPGs. (Of course there’s more to the story for why Tactics Ogre took longer to be received but that’s not the subject of this topic.)

Dig deeper and it holds true for the most often mentioned CRPGs like Fallout and Baldur’s Gate. There’s always some element of narrative that makes certain people flock to certain games even within the circle of rare gem players.

This isn’t about the general gaming populace though:

I’m just focusing on those who prefer narratives (though not necessarily as bad as a storyfag would prefer them) and how certain narratives may affect these people to the point that it would make it easier to understand what the difference between something that’s emerging and regressing is especially when both are convenient actions that can switch around depending on the bias of the writer.

Take for example this statement:

Tabletop RPGs have emergent narrative as in say: The group has been doing some favors for a kingdom and the kingdom is going to have a ceremony to award them medals or something like that. During the ceremony one of he players (who is pretty good at unarmed combat) decides to punch the king’s head in and kills him. The story of the game then revovles around dealing with the aftermath of that. Them being outlaws or perhaps a resulting civil war. 

If we simply take this as referring to the emergent narrative within a Tabletop game, this sounds good.

The person who wrote this though wanted to impart this aspect in a more videogame form but with less of the GM influence. That is to say, they simply wanted to stretch the branches of choices possible in your typical quality rpg.

How does this suddenly become regressive?

More importantly, how does it suddenly turn the tabletop comment into an attempt to create a regressive narrative rather than an emergent one?

First things first. There’s no true answer to these. Even the poster above and others revisioned their concepts (in their follow up replies) beyond their original comment because there’s no true standard for the middle ground. Emerging simply means narratives that feel like they grow as you play them (esp. the choices) and if you hold this view, regressive in turn almost becomes hard to understand because if a game is regressing wouldn’t that just mean that it sucks and continues to suck so much that it’s just bad?

That’s why it’s easier to define emergent narrative not as a term but in the context of what the makers or the player wants to push.

This is especially tricky in videogames because PnP does not have “preset quests” and where there are available quests, there is the GM to modify such quests.

In this pure context, emergent narrative simply means “if you want to do something and did the things to enable them then the narrative emerges in the sense that you can string your companions and your GM for the ride or vice versa”.

In videogames, however, this simply means you added a new branch or a new quest. As long as the quests “align” with your wants and you don’t overly demand a videogame to be something you want, it will always come off like an emerging narrative even if nothing really emerges.

To make this clearer, imagine a book. Now a book can feel exciting especially if you haven’t read the sequel and your expectations follow that line of being surprised or engaged by each plot twist.

No matter how good the book is though, it’s still a regressive narrative. A book is still basically a scroll. If you skim that scroll, you may enjoy the book less or know less about the details but all the surprises are already pre-configured. The only thing that emerges is your wisdom of the book’s contents which creates the illusion of an emergent narrative.

PnP and videogames have the extra dilemma of being an interactive medium:

In an interactive medium, the line between when something emerges is blurred because the interactive aspect pretty much mean “something” will always emerge.

It may not always be narrative but narrative is still built on gameplay and graphics just as much as plot.

Example: A mystery game gives you the choice to solve who the criminal is. Yet upon discovering the entire plot, you disagree. There was nothing with the narrative. You just disagreed. The narrative suddenly emerges in a different manner.

In a book, you need to switch the details to change the narrative. In a videogame, you can fix this “effect of wrongness” by simply “tweaking” the graphics, the mechanics, the controls and it’s not a guaranteed fix but it may still fix something.

That’s what makes interactive mediums unique …BUT!

Videogames and tabletop games are both interactive mediums but they are not the same.

Even more mind breaking is the element of “what games have already done”.

For example: In Fallout 2’s time, it’s flexible looking narrative may seem emergent except for the rare few like a storyfag.

With even less knowledge, KOTOR could give the impression that it’s full of emergent narratives rather than linear choices.

Each time, only group knowledge and acceptance of what has happened pushes the idea that something else could be more “emergent” and that becomes the contents for arguing for more emergent narrative.

But players and makers are notoriously flawed creators:

How PnP and videogame rpg makers’ flaws are the key that determines how easy or hard to understand regressive narrative is.

Regressive narratives for GMs can be stereotyped as simply under-reacting to a player’s decision to mold the narrative in a grander direction from the original plot. That’s not quite regressive narrative so for most GMs or pro-PnP narrative players, Tabletop gives the impression that it’s closer if not flat out superior in providing an emergent narrative if only for the fact that you can introduce change in-between with more ease.

Videogames have a different and more subtle distinction.

The programming step itself almost demands a preset sets of code. Even tabletops rule books have this. The only illusion that it’s not fleshed out is that the introducer of the final product may not have fleshed out the elements. Think children’s fairy tale adaptation of the classics. It’s still a complete book that gives the appearance of being fleshed out but unless you know that there’s a bigger form, it won’t seem regressive and depending on your original standard for the more in-depth version – even that version could be seen as regressive in comparison to say… the true history behind the elements inserted in the book. To that aspect, videogames and books have more things in common in that they are infinitely more limited to emerging forth a truly interactive option.

That’s just the aesthetic though. Emergent narratives are almost often times about mechanics that feel like dynamics. A simple possession of a castle in a videogame that mechanically just traps the player towards one box could be interpreted as a greater dynamic than multiple quests across a wide span sandbox world if it’s not only rare enough for a videogame to have it but it took the narrative to a deeper level by including more event-like choices and consequences that are all wrapped in much more modern and expansive package. For plotshowing, it’s almost like the 3d equivalent of writing. Well done 3d can give the illusion of a richer more interactive experience in the movies if simply for the fact that certain things may make you dodge them or draw your eyes to them. It’s similar for the mechanics when combined with modern aesthetics in videogames. A regressive or on-par narrative may seem emergent if only because one introduce more options in a videogame. This is where videogames separate from both Tabletop and book narratives.

But videogames introduce more than one option!

To make it sound less boring basically a person’s basis for emergent narrative is linked towards what they know and a person’s basis for regressive narrative (without falling towards the “this sucks impression) is based on how much they are pushing the idea of emergent narratives based on what they know.

This helps in Tabletop because the insertion of a new branch is almost like an editor giving suggestions to a book writer to change one branch. Their only worry is that the change would make the rest of the world inconsistent and break the quality of narrative if it doesn’t improve it.

A videogame especially an rpg has concerns that fall more towards holding back. Introduce too many things and you introduce bugs. Even if you were to introduce these things in more bug-free manner, it may be barely acknowledge as “innovations” by your audience and they may complain about something else. The emergent narrative of videogames then rely on “viewer as idiots” mentality. To sort of “remind” your audience (even the hardcore ones) that the game is introducing them to an emergent narrative – the  makers tend to bonk it over the gamers’ heads like a TV actor stating the obvious.

Where TV and videogames differ is that developers more often use the gameplay to hit you over the head over and over. This is true not just in the interactive elements alone but in things like character creation, VA dialogues, choices (even ones with predetermined outcomes) and so on and so forth.

These combination does not only make videogames regressive but they make videogames extra-regressive in all aspects (though we’re not dealing specifically with regressive narratives yet). Grinding and crafting and dungeon crawling are some of the top examples. In almost no other medium including interactive mediums like PnP can these actions make sense except for videogames and videogames with a particular genre and sub-genre.

For rpgs in particular, you could even come up with the idea that rpgs make regresses role playing so badly that it’s an entirely different creature with it’s own different quirks. The RPG codex considers the bad ones to be a pop a mole which is just clicking and attacking and refinding new quests.

Yet because of videogame regressing, RPGs became somewhat known as an emergent outlier in that it gave more occurence of buy and sell screens, level-ups, etc. Basically random acts of interface changes to create the illusion of progress. Today, however, these same mechanics are what introduces many of the emergent features in many other successful games.

Narrative wise though few things have changed except for one or two games. Why?

Here in lies the importance of regressive narrative. By arguing from those words, you get people to think of what they truly want. If a person simply wants the option to overthrow a regime, they’re not exactly asking for emergent narratives. What they want is simply that. Maybe they have other wants. But what they want is simply veiled behind the usage of a more obscure sounding word.

This isn’t enough though and it shouldn’t be. Testing people’s biases is one thing to discover the lies that they built but more importantly the concept of regressive narrative allows potential game developers who want to raise the emergent narrative aspects of their plots to a more sensible level for unlike a GM, you have to patch or mod to get a reactive opportunity to switch the narrative and by then your audience may have played the original version.

By looking at it from the term regressive narrative, even if you don’t understand it or it makes no sense, it develops in each of us the desire to create a process of reduction and elimination that we often reserve for gameplay or graphics but now we connect to narratives and most importantly gameplay and graphics that go alongside those narratives.

This thread is about explaining the difference though so I’ll leave you with the expanded version of why regressive narrative is the opposite of emergent narratives and why regressive narrative can apply to failed emergent narratives so well.

Every narrative we live in has some form of pre-made design. Before there were videogames with knights fighting dragons, there was a book. Before there was a book, there was an oral tradition. All these basically means is that emergent narratives tries to push the simulation aspect of those mythologies so that we can experience them in greater and more interactive manner while combining it with the newer modern branch of a tried and true narrative. As conceptual musers, it’s no fun to see our polishing of ideas as regressions. When we ask about the Death Penalty implementation in rpgs for example, we’re kind of hoping that the replies and our ideas introduces and repackages something “new” and innovative even if deep down we know we’re talking about an age old concept.

Combine with the fact that we may not necessarily have played all the videogames ever made, many of our emergent ideas for games have actually been done before or are too risky/long/complicated to make unless we ourselves make them. Narratives especially because the best and most addicting narratives are often times the most basic. Superman, an underwear cape wearing guy for example, is more appealing to a grander set of audience than Capt. Marvel without the underwear.

As we try to push the concepts of how games can make narratives emerge for example, we’re trying to drill back upon a regressive part of our brain. If you’ve been a GM for example, you’re trying to conceptualize ideas of videogames where it is almost inevitable that you will never leave it behind. Like, at first it’s just the option to overthrew regimes, next it’s the option to make the option to make the option of the concept seem more and more open to create more and more branches and take into account the general reaction of a set of people but in reality those people remain simply receiving new branches and these branches kept growing and growing but few things emerges. Thus we’re back to the illusion that there’s an emergent narrative when there is only a spread out or rarely taken narrative but we’re flawed, if we find something new, we’re inclined to make it innovative. The list goes on and on. The definition continues to skip around to our convenience.

In contrast, regressive narrative puts a stop to this. That’s why it’s the opposite and that’s why it’s important. Once a society for example grows up to the idea that the rpg knights are not only unrealistic but hollow then the romance disappears. Once the romance disappears, the emerging narrative for that starts to appear because now we’re looking at the fallibility of the narrative. Now as concept wanters, even powerful heroes would be “stupid in another way and smart in another way”.

I’m not saying fantasy would die but fantasy would be re-examined. Not just in making it more realistic but in making it more fantastic. It’s like polishing. The definition of regressive narrative is ultimately defined by how much a person has reviewed and analyzed his emergent narrative.

For specific examples: 

Two games that I brought up were Depths of Peril and 7th Saga. The poster who made the thread agrees with my choice of Depths of Peril despite not understanding what I mean by regressive narrative.

Now Depths of Peril barely scratches the emergent narrative but what it has in emergent narrative is actually produced by some form of regressive narrative. 7th Saga would help too.

For those who don’t know the two games. 7th Saga is a SNES rpg and Depths of Peril is a PC ARPG (often compared to Diablo type games)

You would think Depths of Peril being the more advanced game is more powerful and that would be true only in the levels of exploring the complexity of the dynamics that both games introduced which is this idea that the AI grows with you almost akin to an arch-rival except in a truly vast rpg world.

Yet as dynamics goes, Depths of Peril is actually more regressive than 7th Saga which in turn makes 7th Saga to have a more emergent narrative than Depths of Peril.

Here’s the thing though: Depths of Peril is seen as innovative while 7th Saga is mostly unknown if not seen as a hard dungeon crawler.

Why is that?

The difference between the PC and SNES is one major factor but the bigger factor is that 7th Saga has more emergent narrative. One may even say it’s ambitious except people don’t acknowledge that so we’re not going to bring that up.

Instead let’s look purely at two of the similar major dynamics that causes both to have emerging dynamics: The concept of the AI growing with you as characters.

7th Saga executed this by having this fact from you the player initially. Even better, you wouldn’t realize that the character select screen is actually a choice of which person you will possess in the story and the rest would be your opponents/allies.

Because of this, 7th saga can’t introduce much new plot except for what the plot already contained as far as how the different warriors interacted.

Because of this, 7th Saga regressed narrative-wise because it tried to have an emergent narrative but couldn’t fully embrace it because what it introduces makes it harder to introduce something else. The end result? I bring it up in an emergent narrative thread for a hardcore rpg gaming forum and the TS have not even heard of it.

In turn the narrative dies because it tried to emerge a new narrative and few people (even those that played the game) could accept the narrative for what it is. Conceptually it just blew their mind so they end up rationalizing it as being a simple gimmick especially because it failed.

In contrast, Depths of Peril may not be very well known but the few people who know it is impressed by it’s innovation. Even those who hate the game acknowledges it as innovative. How come?

Because Depths of Peril regresses the narrative:

Suddenly everything is all in one town. Suddenly the gameplay keeps smashing it to your head that the other AIs will hurt you and they will directly hurt you in the same way with few to no narrative at all. Plus as an engine, even if a narrative is possible (which it can really do if the devs wanted to make a Depths of Peril 2), the initial regressive design allows Depths of Peril to have more emergent narrative possibilities.

If this still all confuses you, think of a budget movie set or a pro-wrestling ring. They are cheaper and should hold less potential for emergent narratives but their regressive simplicity is what gives them power to create character developments that far outweigh the potential a great movie setting can. This doesn’t mean the great movies can’t overcome these problems and create something that far surpasses these cheap sets but 90% of Hollywood movies when given the option of having a great setting would be more inclined to think the direction they are taking is great rather than emergent even the ones who think they are creating something with more emergent narrative where as the lesser expectation behind a wrestler allows it to take advantage of a regressive narrative to piggyback some emergent narratives upon it. In order to separate the two then, it’s imperative that reductionism must be established.

Over-simplistically: 

If you took FF VII as an emerging rpg, you end up with more movie-type rpgs that are less successful and less critically panned but seemingly more successful than a hardcore game.

If you reduced FF VII to a regressive rpg, you end up seeing a classic JRPG who pushed the boundaries of storytelling while also introducing real choices (though inconsequential ones) to the genre in ways that were unseen of or unimplemented in that exact manner before.

This doesn’t mean that FF VII is the perfect storm but look at it this way: even now, including the FF VII side stories/sequels, can’t hold the classic feel of FF VII. Even today where many criticize FF VII’s graphics, people know of Cloud or Tifa at least. They are classics much as Rambo or the Terminator or Bruce Lee for the movies even though depth wise and narrative wise those stories are neither that good and are rarely compared to Citizen Kane, they still possess an intangible that both the classics or the hardcore can replicate.

If the above sounds too mainstream, look at something like Alpha Centauri or Live-A-Live or Super Robot Wars. Ideally they can be cloned but even the indy gamers haven’t quite replicated them because the ones who even try to create an unofficial sequel or an open source equivalent don’t regress these games to what makes their narrative emerge and are too focused on look or feel of the games. (Although for these games, I’m not sure they can be financially viable but still even for FF VII, how many truly remember the narrative of Legends of Dragoon or Shadow Madness. Both decent games in their own way w/ Dragoon having the graphics aspect and somewhat original transformation aspect and Shadow Madness having the narrative aspect while falling below the standards for good graphics but still regardless of their strengths and weakness both are unable to hold up much to FF VII and when some Square RPG finally did whether it’s intentional or unintentional, it suddenly gets remembered as a classic too as proven with Xenogears where the graphics are so spritey compared to FF VII and the designs are so distant from anything that’s been seen but people loved it’s narrative because once Cloud regresses, he and Fei go back to being characters that work and then you can go back and expand on this regression to create truer emergent narratives. This is just the reality behind how emergent narratives earn recognition or live up as true emergent narratives. It’s rarely the innovative idea or the unique branch, it’s how much those ideas handle being polished and criticized and how much you can still unwrap it without repeating your own narrative.)

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Just a warning for those who plan but haven’t gotten the PSP version of NBA 2k11

I was originally going to post this in my OperationSports forum account but I feared I would have gotten banned:

I know there’s a bug/glitch thread already but it’s not PSP specific and to be honest I don’t visit this forum enough to know if these have been listed already in one easy to find topic but I didn’t spot a topic like this when I did a search for “PSP NBA 2k11” so I’m making this thread.

Going by the threads in the Gamefaqs forum, some of the mentioned bugs/game issues  are:

My Player mode substitution bug

My Player never gets substituted during My Player mode, when substitutions are set on Auto. He obviously becomes too tired to play well. And when you press Left on D-pad, you can substitute other players on your team. But whenever you try to substitute your own player, it doesn’t work.

Jordan limited to All-Star team

So far the only way that I can play Jordan is on the 90s East All-Star Team. I remember the commercial for NBA 2K11 when they showed Jordan in all of the various NBA team jerseys, but I can’t get him anywhere. How can I draft him for the Lakers?

I don’t have the console versions so I can’t verify if he’s supposed to be playable. Also:

There is no Jordan Challenge for the PSP version.

Missing roster

the obvious one would be the 4th pick Wesley Johnson from Timberwolves

and

yeah, and Al Farouq Aminu of the Clippers too. funny because both Wes and Aminu are actually in theRookies Squad! I counted and there are only 10 rookies in this game. Too bad since I was really looking forward to playing the rookies. Good thing is that most of the players that were missing last year (Jerebko, Matthews, Budinger etc) are now present. 🙂

and

Yeah I noticed Stanley Robinson of the Orlando Magic (Rookie taken 2nd Round 59th Overall) is missing 😦 I was looking forward to dunking in everyone’s face.

At least my boy AJ Price got in since he was missing in last year’s game and also got his face pic in there

but the worst game issue is:

Association mode Roster reset

I updated my rosters manually based on the latest trades/signings that were done recently.. I then tried playing the association mode, but the rosters were immediately restored to default every time I start an association. Any roster updates you made isn’t carried over when you play Association. This may not be a major thing, just saying.

Also, maybe it’s just me but I find this year’s AI (Hall-of-Fame) less difficult than the 2k10 version. Anyways, the best improvement I found were the playing courts. Each homecourt is varied in terms of building design, crowd lay-out, overhead screens. The surface of the floor looked better too. The colors are also more accurate now, for example, the bull’s homecourt motif is actually RED now compared to last year which was pale red/pink.

Now here are my own problems when playing a torrented version of NBA 2k11:

(This is not a support of piracy but I need to mention the above detail just so you’ll know that I can’t verify if this is an issue with the iso or these bugs are also found in the official version.)

This first one is definitely piracy-related:

If you’re using custom firmware with a Kingdom Hearts plugin (should be something like KH-blah blah blah), the iso for 2k11 won’t run. It would just load and then reset your psp.

You need to press R and then hold your power button to get to the custom firmware menu and under plugins, click to disable.

Note that the plugin need not be there because you’re playing Kingdom Hearts. For example, I had this plugin enabled I think because I needed it for Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley.

I hope from the way I described the above, most of you can clearly understand I don’t know much about this whole custom firmware plugins thing but the above should help resolve your iso problems assuming you downloaded a legitimate torrent.

Steroid Freak

Most of you probably won’t encounter this but one of the first things I do to check out how “sim” the engine of a bball game is to create a small player.

In this case, I created this very short guy in My Player mode and I chose buff as the body type.

In 2k10, it’s disproportionate but it isn’t that noticeable of an issue especially when the camera isn’t zooming in on the player. In this year’s version, it literally created a player with arms that look like those extreme steroid arms you’ve seen in some websites before. This is not just some irregular shoulders. If you created the guy it’s going to look like extreme steroid freak arms and not just something you may see in a champion bodybuilder type of look.

Improved Graphics aren’t as improved

This is more of a personal issue since based off what I’ve read, almost everybody seems to have agreed that the graphics (as far as PSP games go) were improved.

I…don’t really agree. There are clearly improvements especially if we’re talking crowds and such but… “I don’t know…”

When I see it, I just can’t imagine anyone thinking this is improved graphics. Textures got darker, there’s some sheen that looks like sweat and I’m not really a graphics expert but… it just looks like mush.

Here’s the closest image that comes to my mind without resorting to screenshots – imagine this game where the textures are sharper in the sense that you can see lines representing the muscles, the sheen makes the ball look more 3d, the court floors are shinier, the way the whole thing would look zoomed out in a static picture to picture comparison between 2k10 and it would make you think the graphics weren’t just improved but highly improved…but…everything looks grimy, every guy looks like they came out of the sauna before they started the game, the sharper lines makes every players look like clay figures…it just looks bad unless you just cover your eyes everytime the game closes up on the players.

Finally… the ultimate game killer for me is that there’s no CPU vs. CPU on Association Mode.

If you know how to create cwcheat codes, please share your codes in this topic.

Normally I think issues like this will require modding but since this is only disabled in Association Mode and Season Mode, I hope there’s a way to bypass this by just implementing a code.

From a balance aspect I could see why they would do this as it is kind of silly that you can play as the other team in Association Mode and pad your team’s record up but the most enjoyment I get out of Association Mode is to watch the Cpu vs. Cpu ai go against each other.

I’m a bad 2k player but I feel even if I become great at this game, I won’t be able to replicate the same excitement I get when a wide open Brent Barry passes up a last minute game winning shot to a Javale Mcgee who’s so far away from the basket it may as well be a mid-range shot when Javale has been struggling all game and the guy does a post up turn around shot that wins us the game or a Livingston who couldn’t hit the broad side of the arc when making threes all season long suddenly unlocks his clutch factor in the 4th quarter of the 1st round of the playoffs against Wade and hits 3 3 pt shots in the 4th quarter when we’re down by 12 in a game where Brent Barry, an edited 90+ 3pt shooting Trevor Ariza, Nick Young and Marcus Bank all were struggling to make shots and to cap it off, he blocked a crucial lay-up attempt by Wade which helped the Wizards sweep the Heat. (Although it was a stacked Wizards team with the best record in the East)

Even in simulation mode or pseudo-sim (Hoopcast), I just don’t get the same satisfaction as seeing the ai both make you claw your head and then make you go ok, how did he know that player would suddenly be the one to be clutch but unfortunately as much as I could just go back to 2k10 that game is so bugged even if you managed to dodge all the game freezing events all 82 games, you could easily erase your save when the game hangs up on the saving screen which is what happened to my Wizards association file and I was hoping 2k11 would be the stable replacement for 2k10 at least.

(I’m still down on it too because it was looking like it was going to be one of the most interesting Association mode I’ve ever played even though it was just the first season because even though I kind of broke the realism of the game by trading an “all 99 Earl Boykins”, Al Thornton and Crittenton (plus a pick I think) to the Rockets for Yao Ming and Trevor Ariza which led to the Wizards going from the worst record in the NBA to tying the Laker’s 70-12 record, Rockets who were the top 4 seed prior to the trade maintained being the top 4 seed up to the playoffs including games were Thornton would score 30+ to lead the scoring and as if it wasn’t going crazier, Bobcats suddenly jumped into the 2nd seed even as early in the season (probably a consequence of me giving Wallace a rating of 99) only to fall into the 3rd seed because Cleveland made a surge to 2nd late in the season while Orlando (whom also benefitted from my editing of Reddick into a 90 rated player) did not even make the playoffs and the Jazz finally reached the 2nd seed and Kobe who was playing injured all season long (injured at least 3 times) finally looked to be fully recovering come the playoffs and with 4 games – he received a huge injury which guaranteed he won’t be playing in any playoff games at all and just when things couldn’t get crazier, come playoff time the Philadelphia 76ers with an unmodified AI playing on the team managed to upset and eliminate the Bobcats in the 1st round while the Nuggets eliminated the Rockets and Yao who was dominating all season long with 20+ points coming off the bench while barely missing any shots suddenly looked like he couldn’t make one easy shot against the 1st round Heat and Trevor Ariza whom despite his improved edited 90+ overall rating really didn’t have a dominant stretch all season long and just looked to benefit from Yao generating the double team played like a prime Ray Allen who couldn’t miss outpointed everyone from Wade to Yao with his 28-38 pts. throughout the 1st round.)

Is The Death of The Shitty First Draft Upon Us?

Replying to: PDF

3532933497_0edec3e7d7.jpg

Image link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/adamrstone/3532933497/

Signs of the Apocalypse:


  • More people will want to read bullet points and lists instead of full articles
  • Video and audio becomes the new way to talk about something long. (real time chat + on the fly video stream becoming cheaper is key)
  • Draft saving mechanisms encourages auto-saving and editing of one written entry only.
  • Printed medium feels the pressure from the internet as more users log in via their mobile internet to verify and comment on sensationalistic magazine titles without reading or buying the magazine at all.
  • Direct and quick answer services like social networks and micro-blogging encourages real time reactions while long blog posts are merely mountains of links upon links of referring to previously written articles.
  • Posts attempting to generate a discussion are buried amid hordes of shouting 140-251liners.
  • Finally, everyone will be so concerned for their privacy that well-formed discussions are delegated to person to person or private channels. The copies of such discussions will appear in things like wikis or blogs and the occassional unheard of forum edited only for sharing rather than for background introduction and paragraph segmentation as everything from forums to blogs will be one huge content sharing service and the internet shall become one huge constantly updated torrent file where the bloggers/commentors/forum posters and social network users are the seeders while the authors/artists/service providers are the uploaders where as the leechers will be mostly feeding on the multiple info sites designed like SparkNotes. Coincidentally that will be how the new search service unseating Google as the top search is going to be designed.

…and here’s my Shitty First Draft of this post:

The idea of editing one’s post isn’t a new thing.

…and by editing, I mean editing.

You know…murder your darlings, omit needless words, constantly crumple papers, download a blog editor so that you can actually have more than one copy to compare even without the internet…

Still, I’ve only recently read about the concept of Shitty First Drafts from a blog post I can’t remember which was how I discovered the concept.

Well, today, I’m not going to say that the concept is dying.

However, I will say that the signs have arrived. Shitty First Draft Ragnarok is at hand.

…and the above post is why.

Conclusion:

I am more pissed at not discovering a free foldable disposable notepad than I realized.

Edit:

I forgot to address novels and books.

  • Books especially novels will still exist but for the most part, it will be buried under a modern phenomena called micro-novels – an off-shoot of cellphone novels…it will take what is spread about by the e-commerce blogs and combine a pay for e-book model with that of a subscription based edition update. Although this by itself won’t reduce the act of Shitty First Drafts, what will happen is that Shitty First Drafts in themselves will be profitable as a “preview or demo” that it encourages writers to build upon them rather than edit it out. There will even be some variations of crowdsourcing the edits in such a way that people will pay for the poor inital quality “in order to have a say” in the updated quality thus relieving researchers and fiction writers of many of the universal elements of a story except for giving the fans the type of well written content that comes from the author himself rather than merely a fanfiction written by fans themselves.

My Uneducated Answers to Andy Rutledge’s “Creativity is Not Design” Test 2

Replying to: http://www.andyrutledge.com/creativity-is-not-design-test-2.php

Note that I’m not a web designer…nor a creative person.

Still, I had made a topic in the Temporary StopGap forum or if you prefer a more active community, I posted it in DonationCoder but for the most part the links lead only to an old youtube video of Ms. Shackles answering the test from her opinion. Some of which I disagree with.

Note that I’ve only recently discovered Andy’s site from Mashable and I apologize if the quality of this test has been debunked or it’s really really ancient history according to internet times.

1. In the example below, which pattern appears to be manmade and which appears to be organic? Why?

man-org.gif

I pick B because even though Ms. Shackles pointed out how A is disorganized – it’s not disorganized enough.

It tries to be random and pretends to be messy but it’s not even “chaos with a desired intent” as noted by the patterns having no “knocked off spread” – like accidentally bumping a table full of stacked poker chips.

To me that’s not organic. That’s just someone’s bad ability to create an authentic “messy” pattern.

…or it could even be someone’s bad ability that allowed for such a mess.

B is the one that holds the symphony of a meticulously stacked set of round circles.

From a design perspective, you may say it’s too organized but I ask you: When you feel comfortable with pressing the buttons of your NES or PS1 Dual Shock controller or even holding the handle of your commonly bought brand name soda bottles, do you not feel comfortable because every side is in sync?

IF this were a pure set of set by set circles on paper, yes, it’s flat. It captures “genericness”.

…but these have colors and interesting “enough” ones at that.

Left alone, like any incomplete design regardless of quality, it doesn’t feel man-made.

It doesn’t come off like having a purpose.

It’s like a printed sheet of generic side by side images.

…however like one of those bubble wrappers that come with packages, even on their own if you pay attention hard enough, you start enjoying popping them.

…and with each pops, you allow the subject of your design to breathe more “organic” life into the monotony of B compared to the pseudo-chaotic feel of A.

For in the end, I feel the “man-made” adjective is a trick question.

Both can fall under man-made because “someone” has to have made those images in order for it to appear on this test.

The task then is to ask which gives the most “organic” feeling in such a way that especially combined with other parts of a design, becomes something a living being is unconsciously or semi-consciously attracted to – even beyond their sense of creative tastes.

I say this because someone who’s into abstract art might prefer A, but B is the more flexible.

B is artificial like a toolbar button or the shape of the handle of a bottle…but B by it’s artificiality and it’s superior “organic”-ness becomes one that truly becomes man-made.

For like every mass commodity design, it is not limited to what the designer “intends”. It is how every holder “feels”.

Man-made then in the sense of this pattern and in the sense of design is one where every man constantly makes something out of it.

So much so that “design fiction” is created.

Design fiction in the sense that you no longer need to interpret this “fully” because you can get such a wonderful designer feel of this artificial pattern that…more often than not, you no longer realize how “attractive” a plastic bottle feels like when it’s in your hands. (especially if you’re not trying to pay attention to it’s design)

It’s just there. It just exists. It’s just artificially and wonderfully man-made like the modern day switch even if it does not denote “movement in the sense of the living or the wandering eye”.

Still such an analogy fails to work because in the end, web design is just as much “flat” ergonomics.

Anything that can be touched can feel special but that doesn’t change the fact that the two images could be treated as purely patterns.

Pattern can guide such things like toolbar design and placement but pattern cannot also have “bumps” unless it is intentionally designed with that property.

…so from the perspective of web design, why is B still more organic?

Because A messes with the tried and true.

The primary example I can think of is in comparing Google Docs’ simplified set of buttons and Microsoft’s Ribbon.

Now, it’s a flawed feature per feature comparison because Google Docs is less powerful and even different than MS Office. (one is more like a Wiki, the other is a suite of needs trying to “un-hide” it’s features)

Even from a statement of criticism, the comparison fails because both have their following and regardless of which one is better, both have enough of a name so that their fanbase would choose whichever they side with.

I refer to these two though because if you try to go beyond the surface depth of analyzing why either is better than the other, Google Docs’ “design” is superior because it didn’t try to ruin the “organization” of what people already “get” and in the sense that’s what makes patterns work.

The Ribbon on the other hand tried to do A and you soon realize the only reason some are saying it’s easier or better is because it’s much easier to teach and show people where the different options are.

This ignores the issue though where the instructors didn’t really have that much higher of a difficulty doing it on the old setup. The Ribbon simply became a “unique” design for the sole virtue that you’re stuck with it and “it’s still not so bad”.

It’s like having the N64 controller. It becomes “tolerable” for the simple reason that it is the “default” and it just “exists” and it’s not “usage breaking”.

Still, this is as irrelevant as saying the design of the spear is better than the design of the axe. The Halberd is still superior in many ways to both and people will still use what they want.

Design in the context of patterns, shouldn’t be in my opinion used to criticize.

It should be used to create.

If you always criticize, you’ll miss the boat on why MySpace gained members or why people use Yahoo – even if your criticism is “valid”.

If you create from the design problems you noticed, you might just end up with a Google or a Facebook.

Of course, that’s vastly over-simplifying things but in the case of these two patterns and in using them as ingredients from a design “starting from scratch” utilization, B is more organic and man-made than A in that there’s a higher chance that following this “tried and true” pattern will result into a more organic and man-made perceived design of your own while A is just asking for your design to be “appreciated creatively” whether that be in justifying the pattern’s “movement implication”, the pattern’s “abstract connotation” or the pattern’s…pattern…I don’t really know. I don’t know the designer terms and I don’t know what’s so special with A to begin with. (but then I don’t “get” many museum arts either)

To me, B is organic, B is man-made, B “can” be man-made into a better A. There’s just no compelling advantage A has over B other than “implying creativity”.

2. Is the energy of this composition horizontal or vertical? Why?

horiz-vert.gif

Here I agree with Ms. Shackles that it’s horizontal but maybe not with as much inspective energy as she gathered.

It’s horizontal simply because the rectangle is in the fallen or “lying in bed on one side” state.

The design can be both horizontal or vertical – especially because it’s just a lay-out. There is no underlying feature yet.

I don’t even know what energy of composition means. I can’t “feel” any energy in that. It’s just a husk of something. The lines don’t even generate any idea “unless” you can self-interpret what the line spacing is for.

3. Which of the two compositions evokes visual discomfort? Why?

discomfort.gif

Neither really. If there was discomfort, I would have turned away my eyes on one side even before I read the question.

Ms. Shackles thinks it’s A because of the cramped out space but sometimes that spacing works especially using placeholder texts.

The more text there is and the more cramped it is, the more comfortable it is for me to read.

Remember the image is not “interrupting” the spacing on the sides. It’s the spacing on the center or the “content” for the most part.

B could even be hard on the eyes depending on what the image or page is about. I would certainly feel very disconnected with B if it’s a profile page. – that mild spacing can generate the sensation that the image of the person is separate if not generically “apart” from who the person says they are.

Still, neither is really wrong.

B works well enough for average blog posts lengths.

There’s really no one or the other in this case. I’d even say the thing that evokes the visual discomfort for me is the actual lay-out.

Just not a fan of it – too small rectangular box for an image, business card level cut off text, driver’s license ID card genericness but with paragraphs…it’s safe to say that if I had at least considered one of this choices to be a visual discomfort in the context of a fashion disaster, I’d consider them both Fs but that’s only if I was visually disgusted by at least one of the choices.

4. Given your answer to the previous question, how else might you imply or evoke discomfort in a composition or layout?

Well, I guess I sort of gave some idea with my previous answer but really it’s much more valid in my opinion to ask how to evoke comfort.

So much things can be added to evoke discomfort in an age where people might get disgusted with a nipple while at the same time un-disgusted by the thought of seeing guro.

I mean… you can paste anything in there or mess anything up and it will evoke something out of anyone. That’s kind of the point of design.

Even poor design that can evoke disgust or desire is better than bland design that can evoke nothing so this question really isn’t a determining factor for someone who can at least create “a design”.

5. Reflecting on what you’ve discovered in the previous 2 questions, what might you assume about crafting a visually comfortable experience? Why?

Damn, I really should have read these questions all in one set. I guess you kind of caught how I didn’t really watch part 2 of Ms. Shackles video. (ok, I watched the first few seconds)

I would assume a comfortable experience would depend on what the recipients’ innate thoughts to be.

If I don’t have that access, I’d try to assume the stereotype of the person and what purpose the item is supposed to achieve.

For example… a bland husk of a lay-out like the above isn’t bad design when used in a quiz like this…or even as a required brainstorming task.

Most everywhere else and it feels like “Huh?”

Especially for someone like me who don’t even know the basics of image editing.

All I can assume is that the image it evokes to any capable designer is “whatever – what I discovered is I’m better off thinking of the actual design I’m working on and thinking on how to visually make that a comfortable experience for those viewing it rather than bothering with the image above.”

6. Why is asymmetry generally more advisable than symmetry in page layout?

I think I caught Ms. Shackles talking about something about this. Something about where the eyes go and stuff like that.

I disagree with this notion though although I don’t reject it.

See for me, asymmetry in design is like insulting the asymmetry in creativity.

In that sense asymmetry in design is just generally more advisable for page lay-outs because it’s pseudo-symmetric as contradictory as that sounds.

Try throwing a true asymmetric design in any page and see how people like the creativity behind the design instead of the design itself.

Say… add your favorite symmetric Transformer as your wallpaper. Many of it still works asymmetrically because people can go “Cool! Transformers.”

The only reason symmetry is worse is because symmetry asks not to be violated by your grubby designer eyes and ideas.

Symmetry is like a pre-painted wall that isn’t allowed to be messed up, re-touched or painted graffiti on.

Of course it’s worse because as a page lay-out designer, you are asked to “move” the lay-out.

Still if you ask all designers to create a tried and true but pretty page, they still rely on symmetry.

…except their symmetry is design that works rather than symmetry as in equal lengths and spaces on both sides.

It’s still symmetric though because if a designer tries to make an un-even box highly un-even to the point of “evoking headaches” for the user, he’s still a poor designer because he broke the pseudo-symmetric need of the user to make sense of the design.

7. Given what you understand about the previous question, what other mechanisms might help to compensate for the problems created by symmetry in an informational page layout?

Moving symmetry. Customizable webpages.

Just a few things off of my head, wordpress.com‘s custom widget, Netvibes/Alltop-like columns, maximization of symmetric properties, hide and unhide sidebars…

The mechanism is not the problem IMO. (well, it’s a problem for people like me who haven’t learned to produce design that we want ourselves)

It’s the problem with defining and sticking to the dictionary term of symmetry.

The more welcoming you are to the idea that symmetry must be re-defined as “design possible”, the more ideas you can develop for beating asymmetric design necessity.

That omits the fact of knowledgeable website programming and it’s limits but design…design doesn’t need to compensate in this case with mechanism but rather with breaking popular tried and true definition or in short, design just needs to make a meme of symmetry for designers and the case of mechanism becomes a case of improving design rather than fixing design.

8. Describe specific communicative reasons you would employ sharp corners instead of rounded corners in your design.

I think this is the last of what I saw of Ms. Shackles’ answers.

Hmm…I don’t think sharp corners are clearer per say.

Round corners just take up space.

Space that for a long time, many designers are biased against and for. Before the popularity of Web 2.0-like AJAX pages, that is.

I say bias because based on my observation, if designers aren’t too conservative in using rounded corners as they fill up their pages with details, they go overboard.

They…make it as if everyone is into Apple/Windows and Gnome.

Rarely do users luck out with Twitter and Google.

I mean Plurk is a great example.

It’s superior than Twitter for holding conversations. It’s better at monitoring replies. It’s even the only horizontal scrolling timeline thingy I know that has achieved the goal of simple yet useful design as adapted by mass users of Web 2.0 services especially when many moved to Plurk temporarily after Twitter’s downtime.

However Plurk goes overboard with what menus eat up space and what doesn’t. Rounded corners make it feel like a “toy” rather than a reputable social network.

Yet…Plurk also goes down when it goes mobile. Even the Plurk desktop client don’t match up to the Plurk main design and it loses all sense of symmetry and it’s a clear example of why asymmetric is not favorable. Functional is.

Asymmetry only gives the designer the confidence to not settle for symmetry and channel a different but still tried and true uneven symmetric design.

Rounded corners is just another designer idea that hasn’t gone out of the dark ages yet until recently but not because sharper edges has a clear superior quality. It’s just bias in my opinion.

No different from some Westerners laughing at bug-eyed Anime characters. Can’t be helped and over-praising of them is bad either as with the case of many Anime characters nowadays that are exceedingly and over-exaggeratedly Moe and lacking what I consider the soul of older animes.

9. Describe the communicative differences between these two structures.

grad-grid.gif

Oh wait! This is definitely the last answer I heard from Ms. Shackles.

She said something about the eyes going one way or the other.

To me it’s just A being more annoying at trying to draw how my eyes sees things but even B is the same with the way it tries to make my eyes go downwards or upwards.

So to simply regurgitate what Ms. Shackles said in my own words:

A is for English and B is for Chinese and C is for culture and culture is the communicative difference.

10. Following the logic you employed in the previous question, why might you employ a gradient as a visual texture or a gradation as a layout mechanism in a design?

I won’t. I’m biased against gradients.

Not that they’re horrible because they can fit in anything but that’s kind of the point IMO.

They fit in anything.

It’s like designing a bra and asking what size it should be. Sure, it’s important but once you get past the fitting stage, the guy and maybe even the woman would just like the size that gets them the most attention or the most flesh without looking slutty.

Gradient IMO is for the realm of the creative. In this case, the creative designer.

The one that cares for the finished product to the point of an artistic obsession.

However the problem with separating that from the product is that as I implied, you can mess with the wrong gradient and it still works.

Gradiant employment should be delegated to the whole of the designer’s capability, personality and design.

It’s a sum of a whole and not an aspect that works if it’s taken out of it’s element.

Following the logic of my previous answer, it’s about the designer’s culture and personality meeting the target receiver’s culture and personality.

Before you can answer why, you have to first have the who and this who in terms of design is numerous.

You have the visitors, the employees, your own individuality, your other teammates be it the writer or the marketer or the logo maker vs. your page designer pride and prejudice…it’s easily unanswerable by being all answerable.

If there is a simple why for adopting a certain gradient over another, it could be summed up in the simple sentence: “Designers…make it work.” -emphasis on the “make”

11. What is the purpose of the grid in a layout?

I would say symmetry in an asymmetric biased plate.

For the most part though, a grid is there to keep everyone disciplined even when they get lazy.

12. Since the relationship between the individual objects remains constant in both figures, what has changed in figure B?

slant-grid.gif

B became more organic. It created the illusion of being held, touched or wanted.

It’s like the difference between an action figure in a mint package and the first time you unwrapped said action figure as a kid.

Sure A might be nice but B makes you want to actually “use” it.

13. Describe the difference(s) in the primary visual message between figure A and Figure B. What fundamental principle(s) account for the difference(s) in the communicated message?

strict-perspective.gif

I don’t know. I’ve heard the terms of foreshadowing and vanishing point in basic art instructions but I never understood them from a design perspective.

I would think it’s the activity of B but you could throw in the Japanese Sun in there and it’s back to being static if not less organic compared to the primary visual message of A.

To me these images are like stuff you think from a design perspective after you created a draft or an idea on where this is going to contribute.

From the perspective of two images being compared, there’s no primary visual message because the primary message being sent is that this is a quiz on how good you can differentiate between design and creativity.

I could say the fundamental principle is the word “difference” itself but then that’s like dodging the question so I don’t know.

14. Describe at least 3 different ways to lead the viewer’s eye into and through a layout/composition along a specific path. What mechanisms could be employed to accomplish this?

Trusted and passionate conversations from 3 different designers explaining their work.

A designer by design should have a bare understanding of what separates him from the peons who aren’t designers.

The lines and grafts and shapes needed to lead a viewer’s eye does not need to “lead” most non-designers because they don’t care most of the time. They just want to be drawn and if what you draw them in for is nice/cool/useful… no matter how poor the overall execution of the mechanism is, they’re hooked for the most part.

When you go into building block view mode though, the important part is for the inferior to witness what the superior is viewing without losing their own taste.

The important part the mechanism has to address is how the viewer can feel a correct distaste of your design because they understood where you were coming from.

For that, conversations are the only sure mechanism especially trusted and passionate conversations.

Everything else is just a supplement on how the designer can improve his way of talking to you be it lines, 3d models, templates, backgrounds, etc. etc.

15. In the image below, which object is influencing another object?

influence.gif

As cheap as this may sound, the rectangle is influencing the square and the circle.

Maybe that border should be exempted but I feel a pool of water influences whatever object is in it.

You can play with the circle and the square all day but it’s the water in the pool that influences them both. In this case the rectangle rules them all. If the rectangle becomes a circle – then the circle and square inside changes each other’s role regardless of which choice you feel is primarily influencing the other.

16. Does the influence you perceive in the example above imply motion or a static state?

Both. Is the picture of a tear static or active?

Should it imply crying or should it imply etching it forever into your memory?

The answer is creative and sure if you just look at the placement and size of the items the easy answer is motion but let’s not forget it’s still an image. A still image that isn’t a blatant animation with reasons for why a motion has to act and react to another motion.

At some point, those in authority should reserve a special spot for the meaning and relevance of an optical illusion IMO. They’re cool but they don’t really push design enough for many people to think beyond the trick.

17. In light of your answer for the previous question, to what effect(s) might you employ the influence of graphic objects or structural elements upon one another in a composition/layout?

If I understood optical illusion perfectly I think there would be no reason to try to learn design.

It would be like in subliminal advertising. If you can make that form of advertising work perfectly then you wouldn’t need to think or learn about viral marketing, focus groups and pretty pictures that all fall within graphic objects and structural elements.

I think the cheap scapegoat-ey answer would be to the effect of maximizing functionality.

My biggest wonder up to this date is how many people are still wowed by Apple’s design when what they mostly do is understand aestheticism’s role in maximizing functionality.

If they wanted to mimic that, sure let’s wonder at the wow.

They don’t however. Many of them and maybe I’m included there, just want to air either our awe or our disappointments.

You can’t maximize functionality like that.

At the heart of every commodity consumer/power user appealled design is the simple analogical tale of the guy who decided to build a bridge, gain fame just so he can finally bang that pretty lady.

The myth that programmers are poor designers because some engineer can utilize a complicated system is only true in the sense that the programmer has no desire to maximize functionality.

After all, why maximize functionality when you can aim to maximize productivity by making something more secure or faster or snappier or more destruction proof or feature rich.

That’s not a hallmark of a poor designer. That’s a hallmark of someone who’s already gotten the design and doesn’t want to rattle his brain designing for others.

Maybe I will learn that my opinion is wrong if I ever actually learned how to design and am actually working on a project but to me if you maximize your design for functionality and your heart and mind is really in the passionate place, you will eventually discover ergonomics near the base, aesthetics closer to the peak and introduction of functionality at the very peak of maximizing functionality.

Not that reaching the peak guarantees tapping the answer and unlocking great designs like no one ever thought of but I think it’s still a realization and it’s still “the” primary amount needed to answer how much object splattering and tweaking is optimal for your design.

18. Which of these two line examples communicates speed?

speed.gif

I’d go with B but it’s just cause it reminds me of a race track.

Personally I don’t know what speed means in design. First pic gives me the feeling of hasty while the second pic gives me the feeling of curvy but I guess it’s still B because (I apologize but I don’t know cars) if I’m correct, speed is different from acceleration so B is maintaining speed while going around curves and A is gaining speed from accelerating, reversing/drifting and then re-accelerating.

19. Draw a masculine geometric form …and a feminine one. What distinguishes the gender message between these two forms?

The extent of their curves I guess.

In design where the mere shift of colors could come off as being for males or females, I don’t really give much respect to the power of geometric gender in determining design messages.

20. Compare figure A with figure B. What function(s) is/are served by the structural elements in figure A? Are they necessary? Why or why not? Are there other ways of accomplishing a similar effect? If so, how might this be accomplished?

struct_nostruct.jpg

Roles.

Each of the elements in A symbolize a message to the viewer.

It’s like a cryptic SMS message by the designer to the viewer to treat whatever item is in the element with a certain notability and role.

Are they necessary? No.

For so long I hated how newspapers are designed compared to tabloids but people ate them up.

Even with websites, I hated how I had to squint to read someone’s message in FriendFeed but in it’s heyday, people ate it up as if it was a SMF-powered forum.

As for accomplishing the different types of roles… yeah. Turn it around. Twist and turn. View it on the laptop instead of the I-pad.

Switch to a LCD monitor instead of a CRT… the lay-out doesn’t change but it’s just a clue of how many different things that can be done with it from the slight glare of color to the contrast when you dim your monitor…imagine what more a designer can suggest through the simple allowance of having the capability to re-design those lay-outs.

21. Compare the layouts below. Which one possesses a clear hierarchy of information? How is this accomplished? In what other ways could the same effect be accomplished?

hierarchy_no.jpg

Neither IMO.

To me these may be tried and true designs like my comment above with the newspaper but man… that’s like saying 24 hour news channel represents the true intent and purpose of journalism.

Those things are still holding articles and not books.

None of that stuff is clear!

That’s just some fake hoo doo where the left side image throws out information desire in favor of the shiny large image and the right side image throws out information desire in favor of the globs and globs of mini-articles you might want to invade your brain with so that you won’t feel like digging deep for more information “on a specific subject”

Other ways to achieve that is to use a scrolling ticker bar, Google’s recent Reader Fun box where it just loads up the images plus the title, notification pop-ups like the one on Instant Messengers and Twitter clients, Twitter’s RT button News Sharing set up…stumbleupon’s random one button discovery…even just designing a colored button besides any article to denote it’s quality…

There’s tons of designer tricks to confuse the hierarchy of information but clear? Man…that’s tough.

Maybe if E-book readers spread and there’s an easier way to actually read books recommending one after another then design lay-out can get back to work but right now, the mere fact that tons of text is seen as bad design while the addition of the simplest of generic images is seen a plus in design means it hasn’t been accomplished from a design perspective. At least not one I’ve encountered where it’s a true unanimously accepted idea like with Twitter.

I have seen concepts and ideas though but the full enchileda doesn’t exist yet.

22. In which of these examples is the logo larger? And yes, this is a trick question. Discuss.

latimes_sm.jpg

latimes_big.jpg

The latter and that’s just assuming you consider a “banner” as the “logo” though.

I don’t think size should be a factor in a logo though.

Like with the Ribbon example, people will eat up whatever is there already except for whatever they hate.

Everytime else and the common time they may hate it is if they’re invested in making the site more appealing and from that perspective: a designer should design something that would inspire his viewers to design and suggest things to him. His actual design doesn’t matter in the sense of quality. It just needs to get people talking one way or the other for it, including the size.

Re: Interfaces vs. Concept

Replying to: http://www.donationcoder.com/Forums/bb/index.php?PHPSESSID=ou26jof3p42cq341uos8bafkf2&topic=22993.msg209705#msg209705

Well…this is hypocritical of me because I’ve already replied several times in that thread.

I guess after I’ve typed out my reply, I realized even as I was typing, it just wasn’t good enough as a reply and it further slithers away from the point of the thread.

I still often try to write out a reply but in this case, I felt this reply went away from what a culture or in this case two culture possibly wanted.

However in my latest reply, I felt now I was talking from a totally unknown end. I don’t know how to invent/develop or whatever the term is used for those who develop interfaces. I just have my hunch.

…and while earlier, maybe even as recent as last week, I wanted to actually post these replies directly as a form of random suggestion/discussion/desire/hope hybrid on how user interfaces/gadgets should look and feel to a casual user…I no longer feel it’s anything other than futile unless I can actually invent and show a concept.

I still want to share directly when an article or a website does something good but these kinds of abstract guessing…I concede. I can’t say my opinion is based on insight when in the end, I can’t even understand the basics of a programming language much less understand the blueprint of a technological product.

Part of the post, the person was replying to:

The appeal of the I-Pad is primarily in the concept. The user interface helps but it is hardly made up for by what the I-Pad actually is to consumers. Something new. Something cool. Something revolutionary.

Similarly, the I-Pod is not heralded as a popular mp3 player because people primarily oogled at the interface. They oogled at the scroll wheel more. They oogled at the culture who is so in love with the I-Pod.

Even the Iphone if you took away the availability of the app store, it was oogled not because of it’s interface which isn’t really that perfect but because of it’s touch screen capability mixed with a modern look that many phone companies at the time just weren’t focusing on.

The reply:

I find it interesting that you don’t consider the scroll wheel or the touch-screen interfaces. These are, indeed, a significant – perhaps the single most significant – factors that made these devices so popular as you pointed out, but if you note, these are the “User Interface”, aka. UI, elements that SB was talking about for their respective devices. You can say it is a concept if you like, but the concept is that of a better UI, not of some amorphic “feeling” you get because you have this feature.

The reply I didn’t send:

I don’t know if I belittled interfaces that much. (I didn’t really feel so and I thought as a whole my posts didn’t touch that subject)

It’s not so much that I don’t consider them but that from a user interface perspective, these aren’t enough to propel Apple products as killer apps/killer gadgets for their niche. This includes adding the Apple fanbase on top of it.

I don’t want to go into any prolonged discussion with this though as in the end, this is a case where I have to prove to myself that I at least have a pulse in understanding why saying interface isn’t enough and for me to do that, I have to be able to design and create an interface. I barely even know which one of those mini-wires go into which pin on the motherboard.

For the most part though, concept vs. interface is the sad nature of the consumer/user vs. designer/programmer disconnect.

It’s like even non-designer techies talking all about the Ribbon while the consumer are liking the “concept” of the OneNote.

Both are technically just interfaces but it’s the “amorphic” feeling that has drawn many users to OneNote and that same amorphic feeling was why I praised YeahWrite’s interface back then.

Yet, YeahWrite’s interface would not get it praised very much elsewhere even in tech forums but when combined with other aspects, it’s like the making of a Ratatouille movie and the amorphic feeling becomes the amorphic flavor despite the same look and concept not really being credited but the app itself being respected as such.

Apple’s products are like that but they also don’t immediately release their pulse when they strike lightning.

That allows them such things as frustrating yet gaining buyers with the Iphone 3g and I-pod Nano.

Meanwhile fanbases of consumer products like Cowon and Sony are left with wondering when Cowon will get back to the D3 as the hype dies down being replaced by a different hype from a different line of products and similarly Sony has a good habit of having something good but bungling it up like with the PSP where even the PSP3000 feels like a slap to it’s fanbase.

It’s sad but it can’t be helped. Eventually the designers who understand why design is just as much “user” interface as much as “amorphic feeling” becomes Apple-like even when their design can be horrid maybe even downright imperfect to many consumers.

The designers who focus on “user” interfaces, they play the dice and hope that their product is the best and most user friendly at that point in time ala a Kindle or a Palm for those who were enraptured by it.

Even then, it goes back to the concept and not the interface. You buy an e-book reader because you feel something for reading books. The interface is there just to help you cling to that feeling.

That said, there’s a difference though between the idea of an amorphic feeling from being in an Apple Store from actually acquiring a gadget. A 5 star restaurant maybe nice but that doesn’t mean Mcdonald’s is not the one with the better cult fanbase and brand.

Re: seal unlocked

Replying to: http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=6169

How do people feel about VNs which lock certain routes so that you can’t reach them until you’ve completed other routes?

IMO, it’s a rule to be broken.

If Fate/Stay Night never broke through in such a way that it did and we’re talking about Water Closet which i feel did a much more surprising way of unlocking alternative routes, only a few would consider this a good idea.

There are certainly valid reasons for both pro and con sides but in the end, these types of “tricks” are equivalent to Nolan’s reversing time/skipping scene movies.  (Memento/Prestige)

If you can trick and sell the depth to a wide audience, then you’re a genius developer despite the comments of those who can spot the fluff in the plot.

If you fail then you’re either a copycat, a hack or at best a risk taker that needs to keep working on his craft and hopefully pull it through.

The only secure way is to keep going at the same series.

In Fate/Stay Night’s case, it was the unravelling mythology. In Fire Emblem it was the continuous legacy of the families. In most games, it’s the spin-offs.

Either way, it is the most secure way because it is the exact equivalent of making an expansion level sequel minus the sequel.

Re: Is there such thing as too many statistics?

Like what do you mean? Too many numbers to keep track of or too many stats that get in the way of the story/gameplay?

Too many stats that get in the way of the story/gameplay.

Replying to: http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6155

I’m not a game developer but that’s very possible.

It’s not just an issue with user immersion either.

If you lose track of your stats, it may require the casual user to use a walkthrough to complete your game.

But it’s also a personal pet peeve of mine that doesn’t seem to be shared by the average developer.

I don’t treat Visual Novels as Multi-Ending Kinetic Novels.

When I play the average game I only choose one path and unless the game is well known for it’s story or teased me with it’s addictive gameplay, confusing stats are tantamount to putting vague choices in your Visual Novel.

I just get turned off by it because I hate getting the sense that you’re not doing anything to change the game world but are instead playing games to “stumble upon” an ending or an event.

*cough “rant” *cough

I want to play a story! Not waste time stat tweaking but at the same time I don’t want to waste time grinding or watching a movie with poor graphics either!!!)

*cough *cough

Example:

I’ve never finished playing Fallout 2 because on one hand, it’s very open but on the other hand there’s no clue as to what (specific) stats are needed to create a diplomatic character from a stupid brute force character.

It doesn’t help that the default characters are poorly made.

Further more, it doesn’t help that there are literally skills that are more distractions than useful.

A good example are the weapon stats that lure you into thinking that you can eventually be this bad-ass brass knuckles wielding character only for you to realize (doesn’t matter if you use a walkthrough or not) that it becomes near useless later in the game unless you find the ultimate version of your weapon.

On one hand, that’s more game plot realistic. On the other hand, what’s the point of putting the option in the beginning without warning the user of this?

Similarly in Ren’ai games, it’s annoying to realize that you need to do the same thing (in a row) several times in a month to get a bonus ala the game True Love or know what stats to get your character in so that they’ll get a specific ending ala the game Cute Knight or Princess Maker 2.

Stats should have clues otherwise they don’t become character traits and when they don’t become character traits or it’s equivalent in nature, you’re just back to a more advanced way of grinding instead of stat building.