Importance of Cultural Archetypes in RPGs

Having recently quit playing Star Wars: The Old Republic (for good this time… I hope), I have been thinking about the game a lot lately–specifically, its class system and how it manages to feel both appropriate to the Star Wars universe and relatively unhackneyed. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how important the cultural archetypes are to RPG design.

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More thoughts on karma meters and personality profiles

This is a follow-up to my earlier post on Karma Meters, inspired by several games I’ve played, thoughts I’ve had, and articles I’ve read in the meantime. Two particularly influential treatises have been this article on problems faced by interactive storytelling and this one on the three types of RPGs. When writing this post, I mainly had the narrative RPG subgenre in mind (since other subgenres don’t really profit from such sophisticated morality/personality subsystems), but I imagine they can be of interest in other story-based video games.

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Powershell, SVN Log, and Encodings

To automate packaging changes for our system, we use Powershell in conjunction with the default SVN client to extract relevant commits and then export all files therein to a package directory. After upgrading from SVN 1.6.12 to 1.8.1, however, I have noticed a weird encoding compatibility problem with SVN output and Powershell: the umlauts in filenames that were read from the SVN log became garbled in the process and the subsequent SVN exports stumbled over “filename not found” errors.

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Posted in powershell, svn | 2 Comments

How to import user group memberships from AD to an SQL Server database

I am currently setting up an Active Directory import for a non-.NET system at work with a very limited set of tools. Essentially, I only have what the standard LDAP query can fetch me and what little logic I can implement in Transact-SQL on our SQL Server. The big problem is that LDAP refuses to output N-to-M relations as anything other than “unique N + all related Ms concatenated into a single string” tuplets. Relational databases, on the other hand, refuse to split a single string field back into multiple records. This conflict of interests can only be solved by application-layer logic but the application I am working with cannot do that and I don’t want to involve any more middleware here.

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Posted in active directory, sql, sql server | 2 Comments

An alternative to the Karma Meter

Many computer role-playing games, both classic and contemporary, feature a so-called “karma meter“–an abstract scale measuring how “good” or “evil” the player character is. Said scale is usually singular and one-dimensional, so the player can move either “up” (to sainthood) or “down” on it (to an abstract ideal of absolute evil) during gameplay. It may be capped on both sides (a la Ultima IV, which actually had eight competing virtue scales) or unlimited in either direction (a la Fallout). The present positioning on the scale affects dialogue and sometimes gives bonuses to “good” or “evil” abilities.

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Posted in games, writing | 3 Comments

How to install JDK from PowerShell silently

A couple of days ago, I have fought long and hard battle against JDK (Java Developer Kit) installation packages. The goal was to deploy the JDK offline to a custom path on a Windows (XP + 7) system using a PowerShell script. The problem was that the jdk.exe installer (the only one available from Sun) has trouble parsing INSTALLDIR value if it contains whitespace (e.g. “C:\Program Files”). Also, PowerShell has trouble interpreting parameters containing with escaped quotes in the middle, like /v"something".

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Posted in java, msi, powershell | 20 Comments

How to copy HTML tables to MS Excel

A quite simple question, really, but I’ve had some trouble with it today.

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How to make Ace Combat 3 [JP] run on Windows 7 and XP

Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere was an amazing game. There are two problems with it, however. First, it’s real old. Like, PlayStation 1 old. Older than Jesus, as some would say. Second, the export version of it sucks. It’s not a personal opinion but the harsh truth. Therefore, in order to play the original Electrosphere, you will have to put a lot of effort into it first.

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What is a trope?

Recently, I have been excessively active on the TV Tropes wiki, and I have noticed that a lot of new “trope” suggestions are not tropes at all. I believe the reason for this is the lack of understanding of  the term “trope” in the TV Tropes’ sense of this word. In the following discourse, I will attempt to answer the question “What is a trope?” to the best of my understanding.

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How to configure Macaw in the “noob mode”

I have recently purchased a MIDI keyboard (this particular model, to be exact) to learn playing piano without annoying the neighbours. As I did, however, I had only a vague idea of how to actually synthesize sounds with it. I thought, surely, there must be tons of software that would allow me to just plug-and-play my controller and enjoy. Reality proved me wrong.

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