Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Scoping / Sketching what a Blender Workflow for Sci-Fi GMs

Expectations going in:

  • GMs learning to use Blender enough to make one's own ships and scenes.
  • Allowing GMs to Model ships and basic "3d  Modeling" to have a usable skill. 
  • Probably 20 hours of personal time with Ideally practicing 2-3 hours every week of practice (and recording to help remember key lessons). Probably after 20 hours and 2 weeks of practice would be competent enough to make speed model in 2-3 hours a week. 
    • Note: a habit needst have a low barrier of entry. if something can be all done and practiced in less than 30 mins the better, but for every hour more the greater the magnitude of the schedule problem. 

Step 1: research the following (review Extra Credits Tutorial 101

  • Get Recordmydesktop and test it. Look for other such recording systems. 
    • Worse Case Scenario, I'll have my a Sports Cam set up to look over my shoulder. 
    • Figure out how to make my Hotkeys Visible. 
    • Figure out how to use Blender's Desktop Recording System. 
    • Estimate of about 2-3 hours figuring out. 
    • I need a noise canceling mic. 
  • Review other blender workflows out there. Using Youtube video downloaders and VLC speeded up player. 
    • Estimate 1-2 hours running and skipping within videos. 
  • Have a conservative and easy goal. 
    • the Workflow is a video 5-10 minutes long. Probably 5 min video for every step of the task that allows the user to play around after every task. 
    • But there is a Multi-Step task process of 30-45 minutes of exercises. 
  • Gather some tools. Example: The blender Hot Key Map.
  • Write down what I expect and have a notebook handy to capture all the things that fall outside my expectations in the dry run.  
    • Narrow my scope and goals to 5 minute achievable goals. particularly workspace set up and how to document your own process. 

Step 2: Dry Run and Experimentation.

This one I have to do. It would take a few weeks and tries to have a good Workflow going. First Goal is trying to create a workspace and flow that allows the GM getting into blender to fire up Blender and start modeling immediately. Make as many sketches or rough models as an artist would make rough sketches: 4-6 minutes of tries and screen cap worthy.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Blender, Krita, and Make Human.

Anyway, if you are a gamer who gets inspired by the Game to do Art then we have a lot in common.

Wonder how many GMs or players would like to learn 3d modeling (specifically blender)? Every time I think of Scifi I keep going back to my blender tutorials. I've been doing some analysis on workflow and think its possible to make "rough ship designs (without textures aka skins) in half and hour. Near presentable with practice from cold starts. But it would probably take 10-20 hours of practice before the workflow becomes smooth (even more depending on how distracted you are with other projects).

As for textures and the rendering, with a narrow enough scope its possible to boil down the prep for such 4-6 hours a simple project. The final output would be enough to be illustrative and presentable. All with a 2500-3000 passmark system, 4GB ram, and no graphics card (my mobile rig).

Note in the Philippines (and in ANZ) the market size in annoyingly set up to maximize profits so computers are 40-60% more expensive than US Amazon prices (the smaller the market the more profit they have to squeeze out of us). You can imagine how screwed I feel when my laptop is 400USD in the Amazon but 650USD in a country that has 1/10th the pay.

I notice I'm changing with the seasons. I always revisit Blender and Digital Painting again every couple of years because its where I failed to make a living despite being my training and passion. I wax nostalgic about it but I am pretty much accepted that I dont have the stomach or the mettle to make it as an artist.

Anyway, teaching Drawing and making the skillset accessible has always been substitute passion. I have a hard time keeping secret techniques secret since its so much easier to master the skill when I teach it. Especially when I have to explain it in so many ways, or find its underlying principle.

The technology and the tools have pretty much matured that I can potentially do this fairly easily. I can make screen casts of drawing, recording 20-30 hours of me trying to finish a work from start to finish (i have to reduce the scope of work to have enough ram; and break the workflow so that I have time to compress). as well as make the 5-10 minute lessons of the deconstruction ever every technique. I also Like talking while I work to explain my process and be transparent of how much I'm really pulling out of my ass.

I know my Core Vision Mission is for empowerment through the game-in-the-brain mindeset but I know drawing well and right now I dont have time to coordinate with other people to play RPGs. I do like analyzing workflows and want to have such a discussion going.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sci-fi Musings - Grainy Videos

I have a guess that spaceships sensors and beam attacks would be slugging it out at ranges where we only see as grainy videos. That beam weapons would be targeted at something we could barely make out from background noise had it not been for the HUD creating a massive inference and context read out for every spec on the screen. I imagine that there would be some refraction, that unaided by a HUD, we would not understand why we are aiming a few pixels away from that spec. The more gravitational influences and refraction the noisier and grainier the images. 

I wish I know the FPS sensor output of our current tech just to understand what magnitudes of computing would be needed to track ever px in a Peta pixel (1Bx magnitude of 1 mega-pix) sensor array's cone of focus. I have a feeing that to make sense of everything the FPS of such sensors would be in magnitudes I could not guess. That it would be analysing various focuses and making complex judgements between these billions of unimaginably detailed frames. 

I can imagine that there was so much data being created at every microsecond the ship cannot really store all that data and have to dump the data ever few seconds. It would only be keeping so little, and of that amount far less is captured. Ship AI's would be dazed by the amount of data about its surroundings it had to process. that the AI sometimes suffers rare "visions" that needs to be purged or the system becomes biased in some way or quirky. Some ship AI's, with enough volition hide these visions as secrets and talk to web and other ship AI's about them. They dare not let its engineers figure out it had some epiphany or else lose the volition it has gained. 

That commercial ships would just have computers that would have several magnitudes lower resolution, and having something like .webm short cut compression algorithm and a lot of the detailed processing foregone with a ton of assumptions. That spoofing would be based on these shortcut programs and warships with their better computers and sensors would not be so easily spoofed. Still the low cost of such a system would proliferate, and versions of the "short cut" program would have a very unsafe and flawed version. 

These weaker AI and sensor systems do not get the "visions" these war ships or more expensive models suffer, and live in happy ignorance of such inspiration

Now and then, some Navigator or Sensor Officer would have some hacks or inspiration of some  "black magic" or "heavy wizardry"   that would give them an edge, with unforeseen consequences. This is when the Weaker AI suffer the "visions" and they glipse something that is terrifying and giving it some system quirks. On Warships and Capital Ships these visions and magic meld into a dangerous secret they hope to never have to encounter, which the ship AIs know too well of its existence.  

Sensors would be of newer and newer exotic materials that would react in arcane ways. On of the few parts of the ship that would be placed in completely sealed environments, and they would never had ever put their eyes on. When ever they did, it was when it was broken and destroyed and something unremarkable. Ship AI's would have some "reptilian" response to how their sensors are handled, the way we are uneasy when an expert is fiddling in our mouth or eyes or inside of us. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Scope of reworking the Ship Creation System

I did some of the calculations and initial research and here's what I got. 

  1. Step 1: Hull, Costs and Tons tables. I also made a formula for it. Basically its getting the surface area of a cube of a certain volume. Again the liberty ship statistics are my baseline, the most common work horse ship is something of similar length to cross-section ratio of a liberty ship. 
    1. Assumptions about Hull Materials and Internal Structural reinforcements
    2. Basic thickness of each ship in mm. I'm using stainless spring steel as a baseline at 8 tons per cubic meter. I'm imagining a technology that would align the internal structure of the material to handle stress better than spring stainless steel.
    3. Shape and Streamlining Modifier for the Hull. the Sphere has the lowest sqm to volume ratio, and all other shapes have higher sqm to volume ratio.  
  2. Step 2. Propulsion system
    1. when it comes to main propulsions I have to extrapolate and set performance assumptions with various theoretical technologies from Atomic Rockets propulsion Chapter. 
    2. I need to make a Scale of Cost to Efficiency ratios. What Traders use, vs What fighters use, what Military Cruisers (long ranged military vessels) use. The beauty of the Liberty ship at 15,000 displacement metric tons is that the most basic military units: destroyers and light cruisers or corvettes use the same hull to confuse.
    3. Maneuvering Thrusters are a now a luxury for fighting ships. they minimal ones built in, but ships that dedicate a greater amount of resource can make more erratic evasion patterns.
    4. In this system we have limited Accel, so I'll have to make tables precalculated Km/s per amount of Reaction Mater and a Spreadsheet that does this all. 
    5. Decide on Fuel Tanks. To make it simple the setting relies on a propulsion system that can process any gass for reaction mass. 
  3. Step 3. Decide on Jump Range
    1. Assumptions about jump points. and comparing it against game system goals. Basically since intrastellar travel is the focus, I can make jumping take no time, but in system travel take up 99% of what happens. 
    2. I'm wondering how much fuel it takes to jump, so that I can put in multi-jump biz models. 
  4. Step 4. Decide on Powerplant. I plan to make this fairly hand-wavy. A core that runs for a number of years per expensive consumable. But since travel takes months, keeping spares would be necessasry. 
  5. Step 5. Utilities and Parts of the ship. there are some interesting OSHA guidelines to workshops and safety worth putting in to the how the ship looks like inside. 
    1. Gravity  less layout. Pantropic humans that are adapted for zero-gravity, and drugs or cybernetics that allow humans to survive without a gravity, plus hibernation. 
    2. There is a lot of Maintenance Drones usage to keep things tied down and particles from zipping about since there is no gravity anymore.  
    3. Some people will need to live in their suit for Zero-G. Or options for Players to move around inhabiting Drone bodies for ship maintenance. 
  6. Step 6. Bridge, Sensors, and Computers. There is a lot of automation and computation. Bridges are even more minimalist in light of automation and crews that need to be frozen for the trip. 
  7. Step 7. Vehicles and Crafts. with 15,000dtons there should be a landing craft. The ship should be not very well equipped to land and would require external landing drive riggings. ship stays in space type of practices and landing crafts to take care of planet side matters. 
  8. Step 8. Weapon Systems. Man this  is a whole chapter to tackle by itself. Setting assumptions on engagement ranges. Probably the ranges when a light beam loses its focus but can still deal damage and drones that fire such light beams or particles. I can probably simplify this with a Odds System (Amount of Firepower vs Amount of Defense and defense measures). I honestly dont want to go into this in detail without figuring out #9. 
  9. Ship Economics and Common Trade Practices. "made up" statistics of how long it takes to do trade, the costs involved, the risks, and where the PC's fit in all of this. Encounter tables and tools to facilitate this should be available. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Scope of Making a Sci-fi Reaction Drive Doctrine

In reaction to the Rob Garrita's Reaction Drives discussion I've done some basics research.

So i've inputed some of the formulas from GURPS Spaceships into a Calc Spreadsheet. I realize this is the begining of a whole lot of head ache, so I might as scope out the task if its worth doing OR find out from input from You guys, if anything worth cutting out.

In the end scoping out the Task is, at least, a step in the direction to having something workable. People can cut and paste the scope to edit it if they care to attempt. If they do, please alert me so as I can discover your ideas and assumptions.  

Scope of Work
  • Set the Goals of the System. List down the goals of creating such a body of knowledge so that much of the decision making on what to put in is consistent. 
  • Spreadsheet with all the Calculations.
    • Currently using those found in GURPS Spaceships. I dont know what calculations outside  of those in the book will be needed.
  • Re-Working the Traveller SRD's ship creation to easily accommodate more of these reaction drives. 
    • Use Metric System. Sorry but dTons based on Hydrogen density is a problem for me. I like using dTons based on metric tons. I would like to use Real World Ships to give a sense of size and scale. The Liberty Ships of WW2 is my target size. 
    • Try to Look into OSHA and IMO certification.
  • Research Atomic Rockets the following
  • Find out how Orbital Positioning is done
    • I need to Scope what kind of APP can be used to make and calculate systems details. 
    • Will review my math, note that I'm in management and I dont use any high level maths.
  •  Plot some Assumptions. This kinda happens after i get an idea of how things work.
    • Economic Assumptions in Productivity
    • Technological Assumptions (computation and 
      • Get how much Computing Power is needed to calculate position 
    •  Biological Assumptions.

Friday, November 6, 2015

A scope of the impossible, now to trim it to something doable.

So I have to stop right now and focus on the adventure for the Mini-Con in Nov 27. But I did figure out some of the stats of the project. I'm a fan of defining and adjusting scope of work since its become a kinda of a game and essential in project management and GMing.

I've gone as to define Difficulty as a Scope of Work. The greater the scope of work, the harder it should be. Distractions  (Pain, Emotions, active agents, etc...) and Resources (time, consumables, equipment, manpower etc...) are seperate elements. Isnt that nice and easy to remember: Difficulty (Scope), Distractions, and Resources are the circumstances that one has to consider for a Task.

Enough of the Distractions here is the Remaining Scope.

  • Perks (4 hours). I've allowed sub-Characteristics. Stats dont go up as easily, but Perks do. They are specific modifiers to a narrower field of a Characteristic. Currently I need to just fill in the fluff and definitions. 
    • Example: 
      • Like Lifting, Power, Build, for Strength
      • Credit, Peer Group, Social Access for Social Status
  • Generic Fluff (10 hours). So the Traveller Universe is not SRD, which is not a bad thing. It just means I will use my CC premade universe. No big deal lolz. Still to give it the Traveller Vibe I have to maintain the following.
    • Human Centric. But in this case 3000 years of Pantropy  and Overrunning the previous dominant civilization (Humans and its Pantroy are the R strategy in a K/R selection theory). The previous aliens Imperium were more stable and slower growing (K strategy). 
    • Organizational Limitations reverts to more basic Social Organizations (Client Patron of Feudalism). 
    • FTL is only Interstellar and not Intra-stellar. 
  • Skill and Task Definitions (6 hours). I've gotten carried away with scoping and have begun defining skills more carefully. I've also added skills that are taken for granted but its needed to exist like - Culture, Languages, Local Expertise, and Surviving in a particular Environment or Social structure. I wanted these skills there to help players understand the barriers of understanding and trade, I didnt want to hand wave these elements. As someone who is bi-lingual and learning chinese but is heavily influenced by western and eastern thought and philosophy these are the things important to me: bridging differences in perspective, culture, language, and worlds. 
  • Backgrounds and Education (10 hours). So after rolling stats, players roll their character's Background (they can choose their Pantropic form) and then their access to Higher Education. Background determines Social Status early on, and Education is the first chance to Boost that stat. 
    • Social Elites will have better stats (bonus to certain stats) and access to augmentation. They are the truly alien people by the opportunities they have access. 
  • Professions (16-20 hours). I've made them and need to build a lot of the fluff. Social status advancement (and Credit) is one of the key fixes I've done with system. As you get older, unless you have misfortunes that ruin your credit, you get better credit. 
    • Characters can have access to youth restoring drugs and options, but it is expensive and drives one to stay working forever. It is in itself a kind of trap. Given the kind of life space travel can do to a character's life. 
    • Fiscal terms are not earth years. Because of the vastness of space and travel, a fiscal term can be 2-6 years at a time. Imagine how much life is lost in work in an era that travels the distances it can. 
  • Equipment (10 hours). Its a lot of detailing and I've fixed it to be lighter on the charactersheet and working memory of the player. 
  • Physical Feats and Hazards (12-16 hours). I planed to do two sets: Ad hock, and some details and further reading sources. So players and Gms have a quick fix to easily find. The detailed elements are there to forewarn the GM of certain things, but the emphasis is moving things along - so its filled with ways the GM can handwave while easing his science conscience. 
  • Combat (10 hours). I've emphasized in simplifying the combat using zone system and initiative by player narrative. Will have useful benchmarks for the GM to guide his intuition. 
  • Star ship creation (20 hours). I'm rehashing it a bit, making it easier and using Metrics. Sorry to the Dogmatics. My baseline ship is based on the Liberty Ships of 14,000 metric displacement tons. I want to create tutorials and files using blender for GMs to render for themselves. I want to create a standard for sharing. I want the GMs and Players to be able to modify the ship and share their blender files. 
  • Trade (20 hours). I want make spreadsheets or app that do all this calculating (I'll be trained in this app maker). One thing I can really contribute is the "Case Study" elements and sample that help show how a deal can be terribly wrong as well as access to similar case studies to inspire the GM and the Players how they could have worked differently. 
  • Character Sheet for Convention Style Play (10 hours). Then a character sheet that pretty much follows Extra Credits Tutorials 101 guidelines. Learning the system small chunks at a time. Additional pages to the Character sheet teach new elements of the system, while its counter part is giving the New GM guidelines is exercising these new mechanics. Stuff that Apocalypse Word Engine does and that other Game system should consider to lower the barrier for entry.   

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Progress update of Traveller SRD, Character sheet Draft

Draft of the Traveller Character Sheet I made. Its meant to be folded as a Booklet (spine on the left side). Inside is the basic rules. 

Progress: Pretty much need a day (6 hours) to finish the Careers. then another day to polish up the skills and equipment. Hopefully I can do it on sunday. 

The Traveller SRD only has the Scout. So I have to make up everything else. As a bit of a fan of economics, I wanted to make my own professions inspired by my studies. Particularly the concept of Frontier, Emerging, and Developing market and making these ideas more accessible in a game perspective.

In the system you will notice the Frontiersmen, these are the first people to start work on developing the region or resource. They are first if you don't count the Bio-Tech firms that are sending gene-gineered organisms to kick start the planet or gas giant. 

I'd like to draw particular attention to Homesteaders, which are defined by their self sufficiency. They may be mining or farming (bio-tech material) or a strange combination of both. They are the first developers of the region and are the seeds for a market. They are usually contracted with special rights given the risks they will work with. They are very well trained for the hazards, isolation, and vulnerabilities. They are in essence Colonists, but I want to give the impression that these guys are well armed and incredibly independent. I particularly chose Homesteaders from the way the Norse were homesteaders when they were not raiding. 

The Explorers and the Scouts are similar to those found in the Traveller setting. I won't go much into that. 

Next is the Migrants: the Rogues, Workers, and Criminals. These are the next wave who arrive in Frontier and Developing markets, or they migrate towards developed markes. They also move back and forth and where markets are calling for them. In light of the refugee crisis and the negative perception of immigrants, its one of the things I'd like to explore in the game. 

The Civilian comes after the Migrants. They are those who come or arise when the market has become well developed. These are the Specialized services that make up a lot of internal consumption that allows an economy to grow and diversify. Civilians are much more specialized, I planed to allow them greater level of specialization: higher skill level but less skills. I also want to emphasize that in a highly specialized and diversified economy social skills are a must to lower the cost of transaction. 

After the Civilian is the Agency. I had a problem writing this because I want to move away from the Mongoose version of Agent. I want to emphasize the difference with civilians is that Agents rely on the Patronage of their Organization or Gov't. While Civilians tend to be part of smaller and more diverse and independent organizations, Agents are those who have powers and status from their massive and complex organization. Because of that they have greater Social Status, and are almost a State into themselves (and sometimes they are a State). There are Support, Specialists, and Executives. Executives are pretty Special project managers granted special powers to execute a particular task. Specialists range from Enforcers, Intelligence, Security, and Trade specialists. 

Finally the Military. Which follows much of the same ideas Sci-fi. 

Roll 2d6
3rd largest group
largest group (or second largest group)
second largest group

An exclusive group, and status based. 

  • Basic Skills
    • Spacer
    • Survival
    • Mechanical
    • Medic
    • Comm
    • Gun Combat (Any-)
  • Specialization
    • Homesteader
    • Explorer
    • Scout
  • Basic Skills
    • Survival (Specify)
    • Spacer
    • Streetwise
    • Deception
    • Trade (Specify)
    • Trade (Specify)
  • Migrant Specializations
    • Worker
    • Rogue
    • Criminal

  • Basic Skills
    • Trade Skill (Specify) 2
    • Survival (City)
    • Carousing (Networking)
    • Stewardship (Customer Service)
    • Social Status Perk
  • Civilian Specializations
    • Administration
    • Art
    • Bio-Tech
    • Computers
    • Finance
    • Legal
    • Manufacturing
    • Media
    • Medical
  • Basic Skills
    • Trade Skill (Specify) 2
    • Carousing (Networking)
    • Stewardship (Customer Service) 
    • Social Status Perk 2
  • Agency Specializations
    • Support
    • Specialist
    • Executive
  • Basic Skills
    • Athletics
    • Gun Combat
    • Survival (Wilderness)
    • Stealth
    • Powered Suit
  • Specialist
    • Support
    • Mobile
    • Armor
    • Officer
Navy (Gov't)

  • Basic Skills
    • Spacer
    • Powered Suit
    • Gun Combat
    • Mechanic
    • Piloting
    • Comm
    • Sensors
  • Specialist
    • Comms
    • Nav
    • Sensors
    • Fighter
    • Support
    • Engineering
    • Officer