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Push Start to Continue Episode 6: New Hair Edition

You see this haircut?!?

Holy crap! This has to be PStC’s most random episode yet!  We start off with some talk on Tomb Raider, Red Dead Assassins (or Assassins Creed 4), and Monday Night Combat – Segue into some Ninja Turtles talk – get serious with some talk on games in/as education – and then finish it off with some weird Sims social experimentation.

Curious about awesome hair physics?  Check out the below video that shows off the TressFx feature exclusive to the PC release of Tomb Raider.

And for those wondering what the hell The Secret Island of Dr. Quandary is, well, check out this "Let's Play".

Music courtesy of...

IntroDensmore by Anamanaguchi

Outro: Music from the Chrono Trigger/Jay Z machup from 2 mello

Got questions or comments for the crew?  Hit us up on Twitter! 

Jesse: @Id10t_Savant

Mike: @Off_The_Wally

Also don’t forget to check us out, subscribe and rate us on iTunes!


 

Comments

Julian Titus Reviews Editor

03/14/2013 at 12:47 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

This podcast is a little too Raph.

Mike Wall Staff Writer

03/15/2013 at 10:14 AM Reply | Permalink | Report

 So does that mean we are hipsters or douchebags? 

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

03/15/2013 at 10:42 AM Reply | Permalink | Report

Troll Raph is the greatest Raph.

Michael117

03/22/2013 at 04:48 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

Loved the education discussion. I haven't written a good wall of text in a long time, I haven't blogged in a long time either, so I need a good one, you guys will understand lol. Minecraft is one of my favorite games and I've always loved thinking up things to built from scratch and then figuring out how to make it happen. It takes far less effort when I build in creative mode which I mostly do now, but for months when I first started playing Minecraft I only ever played in survival mode which meant that whenever I dreampt of something to build I needed to be willing to go through the logistics and danger of gathering all the resources. It's a great exercise in resource management, basic geometry, calculating areas so you know how many blocks you need to do something, etc.

Then there's the whole adventure of finding the proper blocks (often you need to go underground), making sure you craft the proper tools, hunt animals, gather and cook health items to heal yourself with when you're out in the wilds mining. I would build a shelter, make sure it had light, a bed, tons of storage boxes for all the hundreds of blocks I'd gather, and all the crafting tables I'd need to make tools. I'd often make a two chambered house right on top of my underground mine itself, the first chamber being the access point to the mine and the second chamber being an enclosed space to sleep. Building a tower or seeing a mansion come together really felt like an achievement once I knew how much work I went through to make it happen and it all worked.

In my first Minecraft map I built this series of towers and connected them via a glass and stone walkway in the sky. The way I made the skyway was by gathering a bunch of dirt blocks, stand in one square space, jump and place a block underneath my character, and repeat the process until I was standing on a 1 by 60-some block high tower acting as a scaffold. Once I placed some parts of the skyway I broke all the dirt blocks below me until I was back at ground level. You can only reach 3 or 4 blocks in front of you so I always counted my grid to know that when I got back down to ground level I need to go back 4 blocks and ascend again so I can place the next sections of the construct. Now that I have creative mode I've been using it instead and my design goals have changed. Now since I can fly and I have infinite resources my goals get bigger like castles, land transformation, and I'm trying to learn to make attractive things instead of purely utilitarian things. I have a tough time making pretty things, I've never have a solid artistic foundation. I just love doing all the building. I built some high castle walls and corner towers, and I started building various things inside to fill out the space but I've been destroying things over and over. I used a bunch of TNT to literally blast apart the entire southern entrance to my castle and its entryway/vestibule because it was hideous and the flow was as bad of design as you can get. I iterate a lot, and blow a lot of creations up with TNT to make way for something hopefully better.

Right now in the center of my castle grounds I planted a small aspen forest and there's a treetop fortress I'm building above the trees and it has a waterfall coming down from it and into a central pond below that helps get water to the trees and grass blocks and there's irrigation leading to some farmlands and housing on one half of the castle grounds so the hypothetical people inside would be self sufficient and not have to go outside for fruits and vegetables. The other half of the castle area I'm trying to fill with an Elder Scrolls: Oblivion style cathedral but I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out how much space I need and how I'm going to do the flying buttresses. I want to make it look similar and do the underground catacombs that you see in every Oblivion cathedral. It's all bullshit and it's giving me brain farts, but it may look cool if I can get it right. Or I'll just give it all the TNT treatment, who knows.

One of the funny side effects of getting interested in design is that I find myself watching a lot of HGTV these days and I watch people talk about homes, architecture, interior design, flow, windows & natural light, colors, and all kinds of shit lol.

Finally getting more to the education part of the discussion, I agree that the sky is the limit and there's a lot more potential for capitalizing on the education and interactive value of games. The kind of shit I was telling you I do in Minecraft, I would never be able to learn that stuff if I was sitting down with somebody handing me a textbook to understand how to do it. I need to experiment with tools, do hands on stuff, and see cause and effect. Humans didn't learn to go into space by reading textbooks, we sent fucking monkeys and tossed science at the wall to see what stuck until many iterations later we finally succeeded. Failure, observation, adaptation, and creative sparks are essential to my personal learning. The way education is run in a lot of curriculums these days seems like the focus is on never failing, you must cram, memorize, pass the standardized test, and move on. It's like a factory where the production quota is to pump out as many standard citizens as possible for all those WWII era factory jobs that don't exist anymore or are obsolete.

When I play shooters my spacial awareness is way up, my coordination, timing, and problem solving occur incredibly quickly. I don't play shooters because I like to kill things, I play shooters because I enjoy the combat puzzles and the feeling of the gunplay not unlike people who enjoy going to a gun range to shoot at targets. I like figuring out where danger is coming from, maneuvering accordingly, and using my weapons to remove the variables and danger so I can proceed to the next area. When you think about it in those terms, Call of Duty isn't much different than Galaga or Tetris. You're just using your tools and mechanics to figure out how to make it to the next section of gameplay.

People who don't understand that will just look at Call of Duty and see Americans killing Muslims. Which is a big part of the game, it's a reflection of the society we live in and this shared experience we all have of living in over a decade of shady wars in the middle east. The narrative tone and immaturity of the delivery in Call of Duty is perfectly fine to criticize and put up on the table for dissection. But what people aren't dissecting is what a shooter actually is and what kind of ways it is challenging the brains of the players. On an episode of Star Talk Radio with Neil Degrasse Tyson, Will Wright spent a while talking about the ways gamer's brains are being engaged and he brought up the whole issue of perspectives. People looking at somebody playing a video game will experience something completely different than the person who is actually playing the game. Viewers only see explosions and violence, players see danger and obstacles and they naturally use the scientific method to deal with it whether they realize it or not. Players observe, make hypothesis, experiment, gather results, make adjustments all in seconds and they do it repeatedly throughout an experience in order to survive the combat puzzle and move on.

And that's just shooters, other games like Civilization Revolution have me multitasking and they engage my short term memory skills every single round because I need to know exactly what's going on in all my cities, where every single army is, where all my ships are, which land bridges are open to land invasion, which ports are vulnerable to blockade, how many culture am I gaining per round and am I in danger of loosing a city to a neighbor with high culture, how many movements per turn does that pikemen army have and how many movements will it take for them to get to the top of that hill square where they can get a +50% bonus to attack/defense and increase their survivability against the coming French knights army? Not only do they engage my short term memory but they also allow me to exercise skill in long-term gratification and future planning. Things may get boring and quiet while I wait for 20 rounds while that temple builds, but I know that once it's done my borders will expand and my citizens will become more sophisticated. Almost every time I sit down to play games I'm solving puzzles or dealing with numbers or maybe seeing an engaging character driven narrative play out like in Mass Effect. Not all games are engaging and not all do it so well as I describe, I'm singling out cream of the crop developers and good design.

With good game design and hands-on interactivity you can make education better. Video games can provide teachers with an additional tool to help engage kids and make them better thinkers. I always want to see physical activity, team work, and outdoor teaching exercises in education taking the biggest precedent in our country, but video games can and should be a great tool. I wish I could've had an education that used a variety of outdoor lectures, exercises, team work, individual work, in conjunction with video games, reading, writing, music, etc. The more kids that are morosely sitting behind desks reading books for weeks at a time and cramming the more depressing it is. Video games and the interactivity they offer are an excellent tool at a teacher's disposal and I want to see more people embrace it. But that brings up another point, we need more educational games, and better quality games. I think that's how I might be able to break into the industry. We have some companies here in Colorado that do some educational games, they've done firefighting IC simulations where you have to manage resources and make choices as a commander. Also they've done a 3rd person shooter for kids where they do a lot of math and stuff. I wonder if I could intern or contribute in some way. I have an idea for a 3D graphics game that could help kids understand planetary accretion in the early solar system.

The viability of the game would rest on designing a physics system that could simulate all the bodies or varying size from dust to planets in the 3D space and zoom between different levels, the electrostatic interactions of dust to the gravity of asteroids and eventually planetoids, how it all orbits around the sun, and how they collide, sometimes coalesce, sometimes repel each other, and be capable of the varying actions the bodies can do. I got the idea by playing Mass Effect and seeing the galaxy map and switching between all the layers. There would be a mode where kids could see simulations of our solar system forming, then they could play around with it once the simulation was over. Then there could be a pure sandbox mode where kids could just play around with the systems and have emergent experiences, observe random accretions, throw objects into the sandbox, destroy and build whatever they can with the system and toolset.

Mike Wall Staff Writer

03/22/2013 at 05:07 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

Hey Mike, 

 

Glad you enjoyed the podcast thanks for the great topic. I agree the sky is the limit when it comes to games as a means of education and I think you were right in explaining that general education as a whole needs to be addressed. I think games in particular though (at least from the point of individual class rooms) provide an effective means to do that. Buying a few titles would roughly cost the equivalent of a text book and allow users to implement (depending on the title) a plethora of scenarios.

 

Hopefully we can get to the point where we as a society take a more serious look at the way we teach our children. Because with so many new tools available, it’s a travesty that we continue to perpetuate the same system; and a system like you said that is designed for a world and an economy that no longer exists.   

 

That being said Mike we are going to have to coax you into being a guest sometime soon on the show. You just have too much to add to the conversation not to come join us at least for one episode Laughing

 

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