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Thoughts on language and more

Version Two - Spiral Island

Spiral Island started out using the the three characters I had in Leviathan: Amy Carter, Marcus Tilden, and Queen Sarissa Croshid. RPG Maker 95 let me have up to 12 characters, so I created some more. I added in my own character, The Anaconda, as one of the playable characters, and began creating the enemy group, a team led by my own character's rival. I borrowed from an earlier event in the Pokemon fanfic I had started this character in, and resurrected my elementary school writer alias, Orion. The rest of the characters were really throwaway characters, with alliterate names from a random name generator, and really were only there for filler.

After discovering that the RPG Maker games were illegal translations, but failing to find anything else good enough to replace it, I decided to learn some updated programming languages from the Commodore BASIC and Pascal that I knew. I began learning C++ and the DirectX API, programming on the Pentium computer that I owned, a gift from a person in my church who had built it for a particular college class and didn't need it anymore. This wasn't an easy task, as the original machine was actually damaged from a part installation and needed a replacement motherboard so it had a working floppy drive controller, and the replacement motherboard had a bad memory controller or integrated video controller (I never actually figured this out) and was constantly crashing or locking up as long as I owned that machine. I could only do coding as long as that machine cooperated, which wasn't often. Eventually after a year or so I got a Pentium 2 that was being sold off by my father's work as they updated their machines, and my problems finally ended in that regard.

As I began developing the story to Spiral Island, I began to take it more seriously. I wanted to go further then just a single game, and do more with it then just an extension of a Pokemon fanfic. I had wanted to actually start a game development company after I graduated, and I decided this game was where I intended to begin. So I trashed almost all of the storyline I had written for it, and began a new storyline, with a new backstory. The original Spiral Island was dead, and the company AnacondaSoftware was started anew, with a new title. The first game in the Spiral Island Trilogy .

Wed, 30 Jul 2008 14:00:00 -0500

Version One - Project Leviathan

As I mentioned in the last entry, I wanted to give an introduction to the Spiral Island storyline. I figure I'll start this off here by telling how I have gotten to this point.

Each of my game projects has a project name. The project usually is a codeword to represent it, and is usually the working title. The usual naming convention I go with for standalone titles unrelated to anything else are a string of letters to make up initials, and for the series titles they usually refer to their place in the game. For example, Phobia project I am working on in XNA, Genome Prototype, goes by the name Project Zeropoint, because it actually comes before the game I had designated as the beginning of the storyline, which I call Project Fear for that reason in particular. Spiral Island's project name is Project Leviathan, due to it's unusual origin.

Spiral Island began as an extra credit project for my World History class in 10th grade, which I was failing due to botching up some other assignments and tests in the class. The game wasn't anything at all like the final version at that point, but was instead a project on Greek Mythology, a game I simply titled Leviathan. Not having any real programming experience on any modern platform yet at that point, I was making it instead with a game maker known as RPG Maker 2000, which at the time I didn't know was an illegal translation of a product sold only in Japan. My whole intent of this project was to find a suitable game maker to restart another game I had started, a project called Team Rocket which I had taking place in the Pokemon universe.

Leviathan originally involved a fictional character, a teenager named Amy Carter, who was traveling in a fictional world learning about Greek Mythology. She had gone to a monarchy-ruled country known as Croshid to visit their antique library, which was more a museum and had a lot of things from the Greek rule. This was an island nation, and the characters were traveling their by sea, when they were attacked by the sea monster Leviathan, and fell through a magic portal and were transported into ancient Greece.

The problem with this project was the dependancy files of RPG Maker 2000, it required a massive amount of other resources be installed in order to actually run anything made with it. I was looking at other game makers at the time to try and avoid this, and I had downloaded a number of other free and possibly open source utilities that existed back then. The only one I remember at this point is the next one I experimented with, an older - and also illegally translated - version of the first, known as RPG Maker 95. This one didn't rely on the resource packages that 2000 used, however it's translation was much worse, and I found myself unable to create any new maps to work with for cities and the like. Stuck with only one map, I cranked it up to the maximum size of 200 x 200 tiles, and thought of a way to be able to most effectively use the space in just one single map for the longest play possible. The result I eventually came up to was a landform shaped loosely like an Archimedean spiral, leading to the creation of a spiral island. Walking around my creation in RPG Maker 95 took a long time, and my annoyance with the land, with nothing to do there, proved to me that I had an interesting concept here, and I decided to continue it. I had first mentioned it on November 13 of 2000, simply describing it in a news bulletin in this way: "Fifth, I have yet to find a RPG maker good enough to handle the remake of Team Rocket. However, I am making an annoyingly hard little game that will tide us over until I do."

I turned out able to pass with the other extra credit I was doing, ending up with a final grade of C+ for that quarter. Leviathan was no longer necessary, and the ideas coming to me for the "Spiral Island" project were intriguing, so I went on with it, shelving the Team Rocket project permanently and focusing on this new project. The game Leviathan was gone, and in its place had begun Spiral Island, the rebirth of Project Leviathan.

Sun, 27 Jul 2008 13:00:00 -0500

Straining to Think

I had a few things I wanted to talk about that I haven't had time to do the last few days, but for the life of me I can't remember them at the moment. I have a pretty bad headache right now so can't think very well. It was my birthday on Friday, and there was something I had wanted to write about that day, as well as the day before, but I can't remember.

I've also been meaning to do an introduction to Spiral Island, which I've discussed in the past, since I've come full circle and restarted work on the original 2D version for the XNA platform. But I can't remember where I wanted to start with that either, so that will also have to come another time.

Sat, 26 Jul 2008 19:00:00 -0500

DNS Unavailable

When I first started Skewed, I mentioned in the backstory about how in the midst of the initial infection, the internet was quickly destroyed. I brought up mention of this again later with the member of Japan's Ministry of Information as being about 95% destruction, but never actually went into the details of what exactly happened, because of one particular problem: finding a way that that could happen.

There are many different webservers used to host the internet. The major two are the Apache Group's Apache HTTP Server, and Microsoft's Internet Information Services. Even between those two, however, it only currently accounts for approximately 84% of servers on the internet, with the remainder made up of other servers. Any one server-direct exploit could at most take out only half of the internet, if it was an undocumented vulnerability that all versions of that software were vulnerable to and no versions had any patches for, and that was incredibly far-fetched. So as I was thinking about this again a few days ago, my thoughts went to a different sort of of attack, attacking another foundation of the internet, the DNS servers. Since the DNS servers translate all of the domain names into IP addresses for individual machines, an attack on the DNS could take out the internet without actually needing to take down specific servers. But just like that, there are several implementations of DNS servers, so relying on a vulnerability on them would be just the same as attacking the servers.

This all changed the day after I came to that idea, because it apparently was very possible. I read a news article about some secret meetings of the different DNS server creators about patches being simultaneously released for all DNS implementations. These were patching a DNS poisoning vulnerability, that was apparently a design flaw in the very design and implementation of the DNS protocol. It hadn't ever happened, because it was only discovered by one person who contacted and organized this all in private without disclosing any details of the vulnerability, and now is something that there is little to worry about now because all major DNS implementors simultaneously released patches for it all on the same day.

As a society we were lucky this time, because it was someone honorable who discovered it. If it was someone with malicious intentions that discovered it then they would have had on their hands a zero day exploit that could have literally taken out the entire internet.

Sun, 13 Jul 2008 10:00:00 -0500

Citation Needed

One of the benefits of Wikipedia is that it can be edited by anyone. This is one of the major arguments about it, of course, and can cause a lot of troubles, however, it also allows for some rather unexpected links, something that you would never find in any traditional reference documents.

I am currently in the process of playing through the Metal Gear Solid series. I have just finished the first game, and now I am working on Snake Eater, and Portable Ops. I am saving Metal Gear Solid 2 for after I beat those ones, so I can play it and then 4 after it, allowing me to really get into the storyline about the Patriots. I will get to where I am going with this in a moment.

I watch a lot of anime, I try to keep up with currently airing stuff. I will usually start watching everything that starts each new season if I get the chance, then only continue on with ones that interest me. With certain exceptions, I don't like following cookie-cutter harem anime, unless there is some twist to keep me interested, with the particular exception of the Key-produced series with their complex storylines (this should be evident to readers of Skewed, since I use the protagonists of each of their three major stories in that work). I am not a fan at all of Mech series either, and avoid those completely. I generally follow the same genre that I watch of other television programs: sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery.

One particular series I had started, but didn't really like so I dropped it is My-HiME. It simply didn't hold my interest at the time,
and so I dropped it. However, when they aired the second series based on the storyline, My-Otome, I picked up the new one, as the beginning story was much more compelling. Following this let to a much more complex storyline as I had initially imagined, as it revealed that this wasn't on the same world as the original, but seemed to be a world that humans had migrated to after space travel was invented. It also goes on about technology that they didn't really understand that was left from the original emigrations. So, curious as to if there was anything that led clues to this and to what some of this stuff was in the original series, I decided to give it another chance.

The storyline was more appealing to me the second time watching it, as I had picked up on some stuff I must not have noticed originally. However, as it went on it quickly grew to be a favorite series, as it introduced an illuminati-like organization, the Searrs Foundation, which has great power and even controls who the President is in the United States. In the first series they seemed to have failed at what their goal was getting involved in what was going on, however, in the second series their logo was all over all the old technology, and the more the series went on the more came to light that the Searrs Foundation actually seemed to win in the end, after the events of My-HiME itself ended. The Searrs Foundation is most likely meant to be a fictional jab at an actual large firm in the United States, particularly at Sears Roebuck and Company, or as they are now known as, Sears Holdings. However, to tie this all together, a rather interesting, second connection comes together when reading Wikipedia about the My-HiME series.

Particularly, the reference is discussed on the character page for Alyssa Searrs, the most prominent character that is from the Foundation. As someone observes in a footnote in the article, secondary to the reference to Sears Holdings, it jumps to the Metal Gear series as reference. It references Solidus Snake, one of the Patriots who was the President, going under the name George Sears, suggesting from these two things together that the Searrs Foundation and the Patriots are one and the same. Going off this unusual citation source, there are some other things we can extrapolate to add to this. My-HiME's airdate was September 2004 to March 2005, which, presuming the series takes place in the same time period, would have been during Solidus' reign as President, and would have ended shortly after the Shadow Moses incident, which takes place February 2005, and the show ended around the same time Solidus had to step down from presidency. Furthermore, Alyssa Searrs was not a naturally bred child, but was created through genetic engineering. We know that right from the beginning the Patriots were involved with genetic engineering, with the Les Enfants Terribles project, as well as with the FoxDie virus, and possibly were involved in the Genome soldiers as well.

And you possibly never would have thought about this if not for the editor of the Alyssa Searrs article, that decided to use Metal Gear Solid as an unexpected source to his article.

Wed, 09 Jul 2008 19:00:00 -0500

Call Sign

I've talked about the Internet Archive once before. It keeps a history of the internet, as well as collections of text, images, audio, and video, in a publicly accessible library. Their system allows anyone to access most all of the data (some is held inaccessible due to copyright restrictions, but is still archived by them) relatively easily, and the ability to bring up anything needed.

But sometimes, there is something unexpected. Recently, I've begun listening to old radio programs that are collected on the Archive. At the moment, I'm listening to one called Dimension X, a sci-fi radio drama from the early 50's that was apparently pretty popular. However, one of the most interesting - and unexpected - things I found was an interruption to the particular episode I was watching:

"Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt the program Dimension X for just a moment from for two important bulletins from the wires of the United Press. From Seoul, Korea, the North Korean radio says the North Korean communist government formally declared war on South Korea effective at 11 AM Sunday, Korean Time. And then, a little later, this bulletin from Washington. State Department officials say they will hold Russia responsible for the North Korean attack against the independent South Korean Republic, which this country and the United Nations brought into being and has supported."

The particular Dimension X page on the Archive doesn't have the dates listed for each episode. I heard that and had to do a double take, and rewound it to hear it again. Then, when I looked it up, the airdate was June 24, 1950. June 25 past the International Date Line, the beginning of the Korean War. I can only imagine what must have gone through peoples heads when they heard this live, just hot off the heels of World War 2.

Thu, 03 Jul 2008 16:00:00 -0500