Boing Boing is being sued over a hyperlink (external)

Well, this is bad. Playboy is suing Happy Mutants, LLC (parent company of Boing Boing) because Boing Boing linked to an article containing (Playboy’s unlicensed) copyrighted content. I know about this because I generally like the writing at Boing Boing, and I follow a handful of current and former staff. But this has nothing to do with liking Boing Boing or not – the linked article rightfully states that this ‘would end the web as we know it’. The web is built on guiding people from point A to point B, the hyperlink is a defining feature of the web. If content creators are afraid to use the power of the hyperlink to guide their viewers elsewhere… the web dies.

As a socialist content creator, my feelings on intellectual property are rather complex, but I know one thing to be true – if I violate intellectual property laws, that is my responsibility. Nobody who shows others my misdoings should be culpable. Happy Mutants, LLC has filed a motion to dismiss; lets hope the courts have some sense.

Interpreting 69lang (a ;# dialect) in dc

PPCG user caird coinheringaahing came up with a language, ;#, and a code golf challenge to implement an interpreter thereof. The language has two commands: ; adds one to the accumulator, # mods the accumulator 127, outputs its ASCII counterpart, and resets the accumulator. It is, quite clearly, a language that only exists for the sake of this challenge. I mostly do challenges that I can do in dc, which this challenge is not (dc simply cannot do anything with strings).

What I can do is establish a dialect of ;# wherein the commands are transliterated to digits1. I’ve opted for 6 and 9, because I am a mature adult. So, assuming the input is a gigantic number, the challenge is fairly trivial in dc: 0sa[10~rdZ1<P]dsPx[6=Ala127%P0sa]sR[la1+saq]sA[lRxz0<M]dsMx

0sa initializes our accumulator, a, to zero. Our first macro, [10~rdZ1<P]dsPx breaks a (presumably very large) number into a ton of single-digit entries on the stack. ~ yields mod and remainder, which makes the task quite simple – we keep doing ~10, reversing the top-of-stack, and checking the length of our number. Once it’s down to a single digit, our stack is populated with commands.

The main macro, [lRxz0<M]dsMx runs macro R, makes sure there are still commands left on the stack, and loops until that is no longer true. R, that is, [6=Ala127%P0sa]sR tests if our command is a 6 (nee ;), and runs A if so. A has a q command in it that exits a calling macro, which means everything else in R is essentially an else statement. So, if the command is a 9 (or, frankly, anything but a 6), it does the mod 127, Print ASCII, and reset a to zero stuff. All we have left is [la1+saq]sA, which is macro A, doing nothing but incrementing a.


Hello, World!

  1. I ended up submitting anyway, using tr to translate semicolons into sixes and hashes into nines. ↩︎

"You're scaring us" (external)

Somehow I missed this until now, but of course after Mozilla went and released their first good web browser in forever, they then went and mucked everything up. Apparently the ‘Shield Studies’ feature, which is supposed to act as a distributed test system for new features, was instead used to unwittingly install a disturbing-looking extension that was effectively an ad for a TV show. The problem ultimately seems to stem from a disconnect between Mozilla (the corporation) and Mozilla (the NPO and community) – and in fact, their developers were not thrilled about it.

As Queen, I keep dying

This post might contain spoilers for the games Reigns and/or Reigns: Her Majesty.

Reigns was a game that really kind of blew my mind when it came out. I guess the idea was to sort of frame a narrative around Tinder-esque interactions, which I didn’t really grasp (Tinder seems like the polar opposite of how I wish to find a mate). To me it was just this story, played over a whole bunch of games (some of which you had to fail), each game potentially affecting future games, and all handled via this incredibly simple decision tree mechanic. For the most part, you have two decisions at any given time (swipe left or right, that’s the Tinder-y bit). It was an oddly engaging game.

Now, in Reigns, you played as a king. So if they were to make a sequel, it would only be fitting that you would play as a queen. This is Reigns: Her Majesty. I don’t really make a habit of reviewing mobile games1 on this blog, but Her Majesty is fucking phenomenal. I don’t know if Leigh Alexander was involved in the first game, but she definitely has a writing credit on this one, and it shows. Reigns was clever, but Her Majesty is ridiculously tight, smart, and progressive.

Part of my draw to the game is likely bias — you play as a woman, a woman who I deeply respect wrote the thing, and the entire game just oozes with femininity and feminism. This has always been a sticking point for me, I will become far more invested in a game where I can play as a woman vs. one where I’m stuck as a man. That’s not necessarily a knock on any given game (or unwarranted praise on any other given game), it’s just my bias. But, trying to look past that bias, this Queen’s world undeniably gives Her Majesty far more depth than its predecessor.

If you never played the first game, it’s worth briefly describing what swiping left or right accomplishes. For any given scenario, swiping either direction may raise or lower one or more of your piety, popular favor, might, or financial2 stats. If any given stat maxes out or reaches zero, you die. This is the same in Her Majesty, but there’s a much bigger struggle (at least, how I’ve played it) with the church. Part of this is that a major aspect of the plot involves astrology and the occult, and diving into that essentially requires you to defy the church. Part of it is that you’re constantly given the opportunity to flirt with all the other women in the game and I mean, how could you not!? Oh, and occasionally the Cardinal asks you to conceal your pendulous melons (or something), which… no, I dress how I want.

And this is why I think the feminine aspect really gives the game depth. Personally, I find it hard to play in a way that defies my feminist sensibilities (and, in fact, a random owl occasionally pops up to tell you how feminist you are or situate you in various fandoms3), but this is often detrimental to my score – you are, after all, ‘just’ the Queen, and in a sense must maintain your place. But beyond my personal hangups, this still adds a great depth to the game. Choices aren’t as clear-cut, and your level of control isn’t always what it seems. Layer the whole astrological woman magic icing on top, and it’s an even more impossibly complex swipe-left-or-right game than Reigns.

This complexity and my desire to be an empowered Queen means that I have been losing very quickly, very often. Which might be grating in a lesser game, but somehow losing Her Majesty usually feels pretty damned virtuous.

  1. Technically both Reigns games are available on desktop as well, but it doesn’t feel like a desktop game to me. Also, I just realized since I have so many half-complete posts, this is coming directly after another mobile game review. Oh well. ↩︎
  2. These stats probably have official names; I made these up. ↩︎
  3. At one point the owl told me I was Sailor Venus, which made my day except I’m definitely Sailor Mercury. Bubble… spray! ↩︎

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has been available stateside for about a week now, and it is… strange. This post on ‘Every Game I’ve Finished’ (written by Mathew Kumar) mirrors a lot of my thoughts – I would recommend reading it before reading this. I haven’t really played a lot of Animal Crossing games before, and I tend to avoid free-to-play1 games. The aforementioned post is largely predicated on the fact that Pocket Camp doesn’t fully deliver on either experience. Which, I guess I wouldn’t really know, but something definitely feels odd about the game to me.

Early in his post, Kumar states that ‘[Pocket Camp] makes every single aspect of it an obvious transaction’, which is comically true. My socialist mind has a hard time seeing the game as anything but a vicious parody of capitalism. My rational mind, of course, knows this is not true because the sort of exploitative mundaneness that coats every aspect of the game is the norm in real life.

This becomes even more entertaining when you observe how players set prices in their Markets. For the uninitiated, when your character has a surplus of a thing, they can offer that thing for sale to other players. The default price is its base value, but you can adjust the sale price down a small amount or up a large amount. Eventually you’ll likely just max out your inventory and be forced to put things up for sale in this Market. More eventually, you’ll max out the Market and be forced to just throw stuff away without getting money for it. But in the meantime, people (strangers and friends) will see what you have to offer and be given the opportunity to buy it.

For the most part, if you need an item (I use the term ‘need’ loosely), it is common, and either hopping around or waiting a couple of hours will get you that item. So there should be no reason to charge a 1000% markup on a couple of apples. But (in my experience thus far) that is far more common than to see items being sold for the minimum (or even their nominal value). I don’t know if it’s just players latching on to the predatory nature of free-to-play games or what, and I’m really curious to know if it works. I’ve been listing things in small quantities (akin to what an animal requests) for the minimum price, and while I’ve sold quite a few items, most still go to waste – I can’t imagine anything selling at ridiculous markups.

So far this description of a capitalist hellscape has probably come off as though I feel negatively toward the game, which I really don’t. To return to Kumar, he leaves his post stating that he hasn’t given up on the game yet, but ‘like Miitomo, the first time I miss a day it’s all over.’ This comparison to Miitomo is apt, and a perfect segue into why I’m invested in this minor dystopia.

Miitomo (another Nintendo mobile thing) is really just a game where you… decorate a room and try on clothes. You answer questions and play some pachinko-esque minigames in order to win decorations and clothes, but it’s basically glorified dress-up. It seems like mostly young people playing it, but it’s also just a wonderful outlet for baby trans folks, people questioning gender, and any number of people seeking a little escape. I find Miitomo to be very valuable and underrated, and a lot of the joy Miitomo brings me is echoed by Pocket Camp.

While the underlying concept behind Pocket Camp is that you’re a black market butterfly dealer or whatever, there’s also a major ‘dollhouse’ component to it. You buy and receive cute clothes and change your outfits, which has no bearing on the game. You buy things to decorate your campsite which (effectively2) has no bearing on the game. You can drop 10,000 dollars bells on a purse that does nothing but sit in the dirt looking pretty. I guess it’s hypocritical to praise this meaningless materialism, but it’s a nice escape. A little world to mess around in and make your own.

I don’t know how long I’ll obsessively island-hop the world of Pocket Camp, but I think that (like Miitomo) once the novelty wears off, I’ll still pop in to play around with my little world when it occurs to me to do so. And the whole time, in my mind, it will remain a perfectly barbed satire on capitalism.

  1. We really need a word for these games that emphasizes not the ‘free’ aspect, but the predatory one. ↩︎
  2. You need to decorate your space ‘just so’ for a given animal to want to come hang out, but that’s really just a mechanism to force transactions. All the things an animal requires in order for you to be worth their time can be placed and removed transparently without affecting your normal decorations. ↩︎