Testing haiku

uTest, the world’s largest provider of in-the-wild testing for mobile, web and desktop, is holding a haiku writing contest for member testers.  I won’t publish my submission here until I see if I won or not, but here are a few of the other testing haikus I wrote.  I don’t pretend to be an expert at haiku, but I had fun writing these.

Used to test only

with our family and friends

’til uTest arrived

 

Browser app loaded

All forms filled and buttons pressed

Bugs found by uTest

 

Mobile games are hard

to test each possible state

by the deadline date

 

Test cases written

Trying every option

Ten new bugs bitten

Broforce shoot-em-up

When it comes to blowing things up in a video game, I like the old-style, 8-bit graphics look.  In addition to being less realistic looking, it affords developers the opportunity to reach ludicrous levels of entertaining cartoonish explosions and mayhem.  Just based on viewing this video, Broforce looks like a game (developed with Unity 2D) I might like playing.  I’ll reserve final judgment until I see the released product.

Creative failure

On LinkedIn, I recently responded to a post that asked “How do you cope with failing as a writer.”  My answer below applies to any creative failure I’ve had or will have.  I hope my thoughts here can be helpful to you in your creative efforts, even the ones that fail — whatever that means.

Failure can mean many different things to different people.  The financial industry has good advice: DIVERSIFY.  It is almost certain that you will fail at some point in your creative career, whether you’re writing, painting, designing, or composing.  If you have a need to create, spread it around.  Juggler’s Associations have good advice: WHY JUGGLE THREE, WHEN YOU CAN JUGGLE FOUR?  Keep multiple projects going at once, so if one fails, you’ve already got a few more in the works that might succeed.  Software engineers have good advice: THROW AN EXCEPTION.  In C++ programming, engineers add exceptions to their code to successfully handle errors and special cases.  Try and plan in advance for different kinds of failure and how you will cope.  Abraham Lincoln has some good advice: “MY GREAT CONCERN IS NOT WHETHER YOU HAVE FAILED, BUT WHETHER YOU ARE CONTENT WITH YOUR FAILURE.”

When taking a break from my creative efforts, I enjoy disc golf

I have several science fiction story ideas from last year that I plan to work on soon.  I’ve also had a few game design ideas lately that I’d like to prototype, so I’ve been evaluating game development engines.  If you are a writer and not a programmer, you can still appreciate the problem by thinking about how tricky it sometimes is to format and publish an e-book.  Some game engines are equally frustrating.  They look easy enough to use until you try them out.  When my creative efforts are stymied by technology, it’s time to head out to the disc golf course for some fun.

Watson’s Strategies for Playing Jeopardy!

IBM Researchers recently posted their findings on “Analysis of Watson’s Strategies for Playing Jeopardy!“.  While you might not normally think of looking to IBM research for game design techniques, I think their analysis here might be quite useful to game design teachers and students.  Particularly of note is their section #4 on “Lessons for Human Contestants”.  When designing a game, it’s also important to understand the strategies that your players might use to win.

Skeuomorphic

According to the MIT Technology Review article “What Noise Does The Electric Car Make?”, Skeuomorphic is the technical term for incorporating old, familiar ideas into new technologies.  Just as a battery driven automobile needs sounds to warn pedestrians and drivers, your writing may need noises to excite — or in the case of some too long passages, wake up — your readers.  I like “Examples of Onomatopoeia” for a starting list of noisy words.  These kind of noise words should not be confused with a programmer’s noise words, which are words that don’t count in searches.

Barbie’s dreamhouse

Since I am a Mattel employee alumni, having worked on game in the Mattel Electronics division, I will always remember fondly the company orientation day when I watched the history of Barbie as part of my job.  Today there’s a very pink Malibu Barbie Dreamhouse 10,000 square foot store in South Florida.  Now, if only someone would build a life size university computer lab for Mattel’s discontinued “Barbie I Can Be Computer Engineer” (link and photo are Amazon.com) and her real life fans who want to study computer science.

 

Ken Melville, author of “It Came From the Desert”, passed away

In 1988, I developed programmer and authoring tools for “It Came From the Desert”, a Cinemaware classic video game based on giant ants. Ken Melville, along with Dave Riordan, wrote the wonderful “B”-scifi script. I also had the pleasure to work with Ken at another video games company, Digital Pictures, in the 90’s.  Both Cinemaware and Digital Pictures attempted to bring the thrill of science fiction and other genre movies to interactive video games on computers and consoles.  I am saddened to read that Ken passed away.

Energy teleportation and “Forbidden Planet”

MIT Technology Review recently blogged about “Energy Teleportation Overcomes Distance Limit.”  This would seem to be a very promising lead into further experiments and possibly the ability to “teleport energy over almost any distance,” such as for quantum computing.

Combined with research that allows people to control robot arms with their minds, and other experiments that attempt to understand our thoughts or dreams, could we one day see the beginnings of the technology described in the classic science fiction movie, “Forbidden Planet”?

 

 

 

How do science fiction writers think?

I recently blogged about on “How Game Designers Think“.  But what about science fiction (SF) writers?

Some SF writers might think that a story about “Drilling surprise opens door to volcano-powered electricity” is an idea for a near future city or region dealing with political, ethical, and technological issues.  Other SF writers might take a more Michael Bay (director of “Transformer”) approach to the subject, giving us gigantic robots that help humans control the vast power and dangers derived from trying to harness energy from a volcano.

While still other SF writers, like myself, might consider how explorers might one day create a human or robotic colony near a volcano on Jupiter’s moon, Io.  The Terraforming Wiki has some interesting ideas on the subject, and NASA found out last year that they need to revise their understanding of volcanos on Io.  A writer has to be careful to understand a bit about the subject before writing about it.  For example, would I also need to consider the video below before assuming that Io even has volcanos?