What Will ChatGPT Do To Game Writing?

ChatGPT and game writing… is that a thing?

Definitely.

At first glance, you may be scoffing at the idea. AI writers? Horning in on my NPC dialog and the text in my design docs and back-of-box marketing material? Never! Not on my watch, good sir!

Okay, sure. But let’s change the scenario slightly. You’re some overworked slob and you oversee two high-school dropouts and one depressed PhD rejectee on the backstory team for a hardcore RPG knockoff of Skyrim. You have to generate 3000 pages of lore for the game that flesh out the kingdom’s deities, civilizations, beliefs, myths, and daily life. TEN novels’ worth of books, letters, journals, shopping lists, and memos. And you’re responsible for making sure every word of that matches the master worldbuilding guidelines and is complete in three months.

Tell me that ChatGPT isn’t whispering in your ear every night. Hey buddy! I can write all of those pages for you. How do you know your little team isn’t already suckling on my infinite content stream right now?

Yeah. Game writers and AI writing tools are a thing, and probably are already tangoing all over game project deliverables. If you oversee content quality, you need to address ChatGPT posthaste.

ChatGPT Tips for Game Writers

Know your team and discuss AI tools.

Don’t assume that your team is going to think about AI writing tools like you do. Get it out in the open and make sure your expectations are clear.

Use the tools if appropriate and if approved by management.

As above, don’t assume that management is okay with AI tools. Discuss it and put a plan together.

We do think there’s a place for ChatGPT and other tools in quality game writing IF (big if) there’s a careful strategy to build appropriate and human-filtered content that matches the mission. But… are you ready for some risks?

The first big risk here is that someone misses something critical and suddenly your game’s being mocked for years on social media because the AI made some boneheaded assumption.

The second big risk is that there’s certainly some chance of blowback if gamers find out that your game was built with AI tools. Are you willing to take that risk?

And the third big risk is a moral risk and a reputational risk. Game development is a creative field that relies on the respect and participation of talented creative people. Do you want to be in the vanguard of moving game development toward a dilution of human creative involvement? A lot of AI art tools are getting heat for cribbing elements from talented human artists, but the same is true of AI writing tools that crib phrases, styles, and word usage from writers who are getting no participation in the output. Do you want to be part of that… or to be known (fairly or unfairly) as the flagbearers for that?

Know the strengths and weaknesses.

Before you commit to using ChatGPT, generate at least a dozen writing samples in different styles and see if you really like what you’ll be getting.

Do it for the right reasons.

Are you tempted by ChatGPT because of its potential to open up new horizons? Or are you just desperate because the schedule’s so tight?

Don’t get hemmed into doing something unwise just because it’s there. If ChatGPT looks like the easy exit to a terrible schedule quandry, maybe you should be thinking about how you got in this quandry in the first place. Be aware of the choices and options you have. Don’t let management or your publisher force you into using it just because they failed to give you adequate time to do your job.

Some Other Writer Angles

I’m also the editor-in-chief at a genre-oriented literary journal, where we’ve been talking about this issue quite a bit. From that perspective, the challenge is similar but different; we’re trying to maintain content quality and detect AI-generated writing in our submissions (stories sent in by writers for publication). Some specific and time-honored formats are particularly susceptible to abuse. Obviously hack writers will always be terrible, but we fear to think about what a skilled and unethical writer could do with these tools. And they’ll get better… the tools and the hacks.

We’re thinking of requiring some kind of human verification for submissions. Perhaps 2FA or even a credit card charge of a few cents that is immediately refunded after the writer verifies the amount.

And of course there’s some talk about what the effect will be on fiction writers and publishers. Will this augment or devalue art? My vote is sadly the latter. I think there will be some amazing AI-augmented works that we’ll all admire. They’ll be astounding. And of course the most famous 1% of human writers will continue to flourish in the limelight. But the rank and file writers will suffer in obscurity, just like realist painters and advertising artists suffered when photography took the fore. Follow the money. The gatekeepers are already struggling to tell the fakes from the originals, and the fakes are basically FREE. That’s the collapse of the economy.

I do fear we’ll be looking back on this development with regret. Fingers crossed that I’m wrong.

Videogame Names… AKA Who’s Playing First?

videogame-names

Console and videogame names are funny eccentricities of the games industry. Our guest hosts Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, here to help us commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original videogame company, have a few words on the topic of videogame console names!

Bud Abbott: Well, Lou, glad you can make it to Atari 50, the 50th anniversary worldwide celebration of the legendary game console company.

Lou Costello: Oh boy oh boy. I love me some Atari. I heard Forbes called the Atari 50 game collection “arguably the best value for money you’ll get from a game in 2022”!

Abbott: That’s what I hear! And the management here at Videogamewriter.com has asked me to review some console history to mark the occasion. Are you ready for a killer diller tour?

Costello: Hot diggity dog! Yeah, let’s talk games!

Abbott: Quite a lot of history in these magic boxes.

Costello: Look at that. There are so many of them. Hard to figure out which one should be played first.

Abbott: Oh, I can give you a refresher, but hold on to your hat…! They give these things some very peculiar names. I mean, would you ever be so far out in left field to name your console “WonderSwan”?

Costello: What a cockamamie idea!

videogame-name

Abbott: Yep. From Bandai in 1999.

Costello: I hear the console code names are even more outrageous.

Abbott: You heard right, Lou! How about the MARZ with a Z? Short for Microsoft Active Reality Zone.

Costello: That is a very peculiar reality. Did the Martians like it?

Abbott: That same console also had the creepy code name Cyber Playground.

Costello: What a crack up! Which console was that?

Abbott: Believe it or not, that was the first Xbox…!

Costello: Got it. The Xbox One.

Abbott: No, no, Lou. The first Xbox. It’s just called “the Xbox.” The Xbox One was really Xbox number 3. It’s confusing, like I told ya.

Costello: Three was first? What kind of sense does that make?

Abbott: Right? And of course Xbox number 2 was the three… sixty. Pretty funny, huh? Those guys at Microsoft have a wacky sense of humor.

Costello: You’re making my head spin 360. Give it to me again. Which Xbox was first?

Abbott: It was just called the Xbox.

Costello: Okay okay. Got it. But how do you tell an Xbox One from the Xbox?

Abbott: Oh yeah. I forgot to tell you that the fourth Xbox was also just called the Xbox, but it came in two different flavors, the Series S and the Series X. So just remember that. The first and fourth don’t have numbers. The second was the 360. And the third was the Xbox One. Easy peasy.

Costello: Next you’ll tell me that one plus one equals three.

Abbott: I wouldn’t do that to you, Lou.

Costello: You’re making this clear as mud. You just said that the fourth Xbox was the Xbox.

Abbott: Right!

Costello: And you said the Xbox was the first Xbox!

Abbott: Now you’re getting it…! Now don’t forget — the fourth Xbox had two models, so mostly people call them the Xbox Series S and the Xbox Series X. Just don’t confuse those with the Xbox One S and Xbox One X.

Costello: Ohhhhh come over here so I can smack you one X. X marks the spot, buster!

Abbott: Calm down, Lou. There’s no need to snap your cap.

Costello: I’ll Xbox you one right in the kisser!

Abbott: Oh, you want to play a fighting game? There are plenty of good ones on the Xbox.

Costello: Are you trying to make me feel like a fathead? This isn’t a game. This is serious. We’re talking about games here.

Abbott: Oh, come off it, Lou. How about some Nintendo? Are you a fan of the Nintendo Entertainment System?

Costello: Which one?

videogame-names2

Abbott: Stop fooling around. The Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES.

Costello: Or NES? You mean orneryness? I’m definitely feeling some of that.

Abbott: Which was followed of course by the SNES.

Costello: Bless you. Keep your distance; I don’t wanna get sick.

Abbott: Of course, when you talk consoles the conversation has to include the record-breaking Sony Playstation.

Costello: I thought this was going to be a family show, not a peep show!

Abbott: Oh please.

Costello: You’re pulling my leg here, cappy, and I don’t like it. Not one bit!

Abbott: And when it comes to innovative controls, we can’t forget the Wii.

Costello: Nor can we wee to forget. Although we’d like to. We’d like to forget all of this and just play some games.

Abbott: Our readers will appreciate us mentioning the Wii U, too.

Costello: You, me, we, them… I think all of our heads are spinning.

Abbott: And we might wrap it up with the Series X.

Costello: I dunno, Bud. That might be too much. How many consoles are in Series X?

Abbott: It’s… it’s just one console, Lou.

Costello: You just said it’s a series. Are you saying they only made one of them?

Abbott: It’s the Xbox Series X. It’s the newest Xbox and the only console to support 4K gaming.

Costello: I think you need to get a dictionary.

Abbott: It’s a little confusing, but I’m sure you’ll get it.

Costello: I’m not getting it. These console and videogame names are too much. SNES, Microsoft, Wii, Playstation, Nintendo. Switch off the lights; I’m done.

Abbott: Now you’re getting it! Enlighten the readers about the Nintendo Switch!

Costello: Now there’s a Nintendo switch? Is that what you use to turn on a SNES?

Abbott: No, it’s what you use to play Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Costello: Bud, this has been so cockeyed I’m going to hide away and play some of these nifty console games. I need an escape.

Abbott: Okay, but don’t play too long. Next year’s the 10th anniversary of the Xbox One!

Costello: And I for one can say I’ve learned one thing about videogame names today: if it’s not one Xbox… it’s another!

game-names

The Gmail Spam Filter Is Destroying Human Communication

You know that handy Gmail spam filter that is keeping most of the spam out of your inbox? It’s also totally broken and destroying the connections you’ve spent your entire life building.

Is it possible to put a price tag

gmail-spam-filter-sucks

Gmail’s spam filter has always been aggressive. Why? People get tend to get a lot angrier when they see spam than when they see a lost email from some distant cousin in the spam folder. Also, people don’t really check their spam folders ever, as you probably know if you’ve ever run a business that tries to communicate with customers.

Now the Gmail spam filter is simply off the rails. The latest revelation: if you mark a message as NOT SPAM, future messages from that sender will STILL go to spam if Gmail thinks it’s spammy.

Here’s a help blog where they admit: “You may have to do this a few times before Gmail learns not to mark messages like this as spam in the future.”

Is it possible to put a price tag on a bad spam filter? Just ask Cobb County schools, who lost $250,000 because their filter penalty-boxed a bid from a vendor.

The machines have taken over. I guess Google thinks you’re too weak-minded to know what spam is. Honestly I think some Google programmer thought that your clicking that button means “a vote for someday considering this kind of email legit” as opposed to “hey I’m the human here so HANDS OFF.”

I think the saddest indication of the state of affairs is when you find emails from Google in your spam folder. No, you idiots, email from my Google calendar is not spam.

Solution: add the senders of spammed messages to your contact list. This isn’t ideal because sometimes you don’t want newsletter senders clogging up your contact list. [Update: I just saw an email from a friend who’s in my contacts that got spamfiltered by these bastards. So even that’s not guaranteed.] But that’s the world Google wants you to live in.

Zoom Update Suckage

The Zoom update process sucks. Here’s how to fix it.

Are Zoom updates chafing your hide? Now that almost all of us tech types are spending hours in Zoom every week, optimizing the Zoom experience is a big part of tuning our survival. And the default Zoom update hokey-pokey is galling in the extreme.

As you probably know, Zoom likes to force a software update on you when you launch, which of course is usually when a meeting is starting. Then you’re forced to stare and curse while you wait for the Zoom update and all your teammates sit around staring and cursing at you.

Well, here’s the solution. Zoom has an option to turn off updates completely. It’s called “Automatically keep Zoom desktop client up to date”:

  1. Open Settings from the HOME screen. It’s the gear icon at top right.
  2. On the GENERAL tab, find Automatically keep Zoom desktop client up to date and turn that crap off.
  3. You’ll need to check for updates manually every few months. You don’t want to miss out on any updates that fix bugs or improve video quality.

Obviously, Zoom could make this much easier if they’d only try to apply updates when you’re trying to QUIT the application, exit a meeting, or shut down. I don’t mind if I get an update AFTER my meeting. Update away! But applying an update before a meeting? What kind of idiot makes that their design?

Someone who’s not thinking of the user, that’s who.

My other Zoom gripes: Why do they make it so hard to quit? And why is the UX so terrible?

Does it annoy you that Zoom wants to be running ALL DAY on your computer? They make it a royal pain to shut the thing down entirely. Why do they care? Are they watching us through some nasty backdoor? Who knows.

The only way I know to quit Zoom is to right-click on it in the task bar or the “system tray” and choose “Quit Zoom.” Why is this option not available anywhere in the app itself?

Here’s where normal, user-friendly apps put the Quit option: at the bottom of the user menu (see red arrow). But Zoom only gives you a Sign Out option.

And of course the Zoom UX is a hot mess. I feel it eschews most desktop app design conventions (like the X button in the top right of the home screen to quit, for example!) and confuses with multiple floating panes. I admit Zoom does have a tough row to hoe because it has so many facets to display (what you’re sharing, video content, Zoom controls) but I feel a few tweaks could improve the app mightily. I’m not going to go into too much detail here because others have already done so.

Anyhow, hope this has been useful to some of you Zoom update sufferers. Be well and Zoom well!

Once Upon a Time in Kyiv

Boxing, Kickboxing, Model, Man, Male, Fight, Red, Pic

Once upon a time, there was a giant hero, Ironfist the Eternal, the son of a radioactive general. A fighter by nature, he became a world champion and reigned in three different decades. He was never defeated in any fight, except those that took place on a chess board, and was known by the name Dr. Ironfist because he was also a scholar.  He was granted the name “The Eternal” by the clan, which is the honor they give to their undefeated.

His brother was a professor and gold-medalist boxer, known as Dr. Steelhammer. He set the record for holding the world championship in boxing for the longest time ever.

The brothers were champions. But they never fought each other because they promised their mother they wouldn’t.

Steelhammer crossed the ocean, met a movie star, and they fell in love. The star became famous as a superhero who could not be hurt, and later as a country diva. She loved animals, especially the animals of the ocean, and she traveled the world and made movies to defend them.

The brothers led their people to fight corruption, value justice, and prosper. In doing so, the brothers earned the hatred of a cruel and aggressive dictator from a powerful neighboring land with a gigantic army. The same neighbor whose leaders their father once served in war and peace. And then… against the wishes of the entire world… the dictator laid siege to the brothers’ capital city and the brothers sprang to its defense.

Sound like a fairytale?

Ironfist is Vitali Klitschko, boxing name “Dr. Ironfist”; named The Eternal by the WBC in 2016, an honorific they give to undefeated champions who’ve staged multiple title defenses. Dr. Steelhammer is his brother Wladimir. Their father was a major general in the Soviet Air Force and one of the Chernobyl cleanup leaders. The starlet is Hayden Panettiere of Heroes and Nashville fame.

And did I mention that Vitali is the mayor of Kyiv? Outnumbered, outgunned, he and Wladimir are on the front lines of the war to defend Ukraine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitali_Klitschko

China Stops Kids From Playing Videogames

“Kids shouldn’t play videogames.”

Where have we heard that before?

With this sweeping legislation last fall, China clearly threw its lot in with the curmudgeons and scowling parents in a desperate attempt to sound feeble, manipulative, and out-of-touch all at the same time.

I totally understand the urge to refocus the youths on important things like academics, the arts, and the future of the planet. On the other hand, legislating it at the national level for billions of people is something that is uniquely modern China.

My first reaction was “Wow, they just mobilized the entire generation for revolution.” We know how kids get about their mobile games, and in some parts of China, those games are lifeline for kids in some pretty bleak conditions, emotionally and physically. But who’s to say. Maybe in 30 years we’ll be envying this decision.

kids-shouldn't-play-videogames

The Austin Videogame Writer Liked on YouTube: The Ocean Cleanup begins cleaning the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Your Austin game writer thought you might appreciate this video: The Ocean Cleanup begins cleaning the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
The nonprofit global cleaning crew called The Ocean Cleanup, led by founder and CEO Boyan Slat, announced recently that it had reached viability of its ocean plastic-collecting System 002 technology and plans to begin cleaning plastic pollution in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch immediately while beginning development of System 003.

The Ocean Cleanup https://ift.tt/2od8R7o

THE OCEAN CLEANUP PROVES VIABILITY OF TECHNOLOGY WITH SYSTEM 002; REMOVAL OF PLASTIC FROM GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH TO BEGIN IMMEDIATELY https://bit.ly/3BEbNtJ

Check out the Team Seas collab with The Ocean Cleanup and get involved https://teamseas.org

Watch more on CNET’s Environmental Tech Playlist here https://bit.ly/3w7LTgK

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#plasticwaste #ocean #pollution

via YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLcnJEMnlTs

The Austin Videogame Writer Liked on YouTube: Weekend Update: Hypnotist Linus Minus on Hypnosis – SNL

Your Austin game writer thought you might appreciate this video: Weekend Update: Hypnotist Linus Minus on Hypnosis – SNL.
Hypnotist Linus Minus (Mikey Day) stops by weekend update to give a hypnosis demonstration.

Saturday Night Live. Stream now on Peacock: https://bit.ly/3j1IRUk

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#SNL #RamiMalek #YoungThug #SNL47

via YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-fep2hVIIc

Amazon Enables Spammers By Taking Away Review Comments


Have you noticed that you can’t comment on a product review on Amazon any more? One of my favorite uses of this feature was to ping a buyer for updates on their initial reaction to a product. A product really shows its stripes after a few months of usage, not at the initial unboxing.

Additionally, organic discussion is a strong indicator of whether a review is authentic or not — a real problem in the Amazon ecosystem. If Amazon were serious about cutting down review spam, they’d leave this already-operational system running.

I got this email from Amazon Services last winter explaining their action.

On 2020-12-15 03:25, Amazon Services wrote:
> Dear seller,
>
> You are receiving this email because you recently left a comment on a review.
>
> While reviews and feedback are important to our customers and sellers,
> the comments feature on customer reviews was rarely used. As a result,
> we are retiring this feature on December 16, 2020.
>
> We are committed to your continued success and will innovate and
> develop other opportunities for you to connect with customers.
>
> Thank you.
>
> Amazon Services

Rarely used? Really?
I think this is foolish. It’s important for users to discuss products months after the initial honeymoon period has ended.

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The Austin Videogame Writer Liked on YouTube: A helmet has always been a good idea

Your Austin game writer thought you might appreciate this video: A helmet has always been a good idea.
The Vikings are here – wear a helmet!

Helmets have protected our ancestors throughout centuries.
Wear a helmet next time you mount your bike!

The campaign is produced for the Danish Road Safety Council by NewLand Film and &Co 2021

https://ift.tt/3eEnqYO

via YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pD-f45TbvEw