July 2019 Update
This update will be quite straightforward: July will be the month of digital retreat. Summer is not for staying still. Summer is for side projects; summer is for recharging; summer is for everything but the mindless routines of the other seasons.
The Winter of Virtual Assistants
Seven years and eight months have passed since the release of the first really popular commercial virtual assistant (VA). Yet, seven years later, virtual assistants can do only marginally better.
Sure, they understand better, they speak better, they have learned some new trick; but in the end, they are still a funny but useless experience. After the first fun moments of experimentation when you start talking to them – that is, where you keep asking them silly jokes or dumb questions – they quickly came back to be pretty dumb object. I am pretty sure that the vast majority of user use a VA just for timers, weather and – occasionally – asking for the event on our calendar.
On Rogozhin's Universal Turing Machines
Every now and then, we see some headline about Turing Completeness of something. For example, Minecraft or Dwarf Fortress, or even Minesweeper are famous examples of accidentally Turing complete systems.
If you know what a Turing machine is (and you should) you will have an intuitive idea of the claim: you know that X can compute any computable function. Sure; but if you stop thinking about that for a bit, it is not so intuitive how we can prove that. If we think long enough, we can start understanding how X can simulate a Turing machine, but how can we be sure that we can encode a Universal Turing Machine and what is the program of a UTM and how we can prove that it is, in fact, universal?
June 2019 Update
May is over. Here in Italy, it rained every day. Everybody is still waiting for spring, and I am still waiting for… something. Now that summer is at the door, it is time for thinking about summer projects.
Kotlin Development in VS Code
Kotlin is a really sweet language. It is the perfect thing in between a “super-powerful and but difficult language” like Rust or Modern C++, and a “super-easy but that seems to be designed in the 80s” like Go. With the upcoming release on Kotlin Native, then, you can even ditch the JVM!
However, while IntelliJ is a great IDE, often I do not like to rely on big IDEs — especially when VSCode works perfectly well for 90% of my use cases. Therefore, it is time to see if and how I can use Kotlin in VS Code (and see what is missing).
Ranking Systems 01 - What is Skill
A Ranking Systems is a core element of every competitive game. Every game in which a player plays against another player need to have some way to rank them and compare the relative skill of each other. It happens for video games, but also sport (e.g., the FIFA ranking for football) or other games (e.g., FIDE Chess Ranking). Comparing stuff is in the human nature.
May 2019 Update
April has been strange. It has been a month of festivities, rain, and food: a lot of it. But it has also been a month that felt very fast and yet swamped. I did a lot in April, and however it felt so dumb.
Five game design flaws of Quidditch and how to fix them
I am re-reading Harry Potter for the n-th time. Even it Rowling if trying hard to make me hate it, Harry Potter heptology still have a special place in my hearth. However, there is something I have always hated: Quidditch. It never made sense to me and I always found reading the Quidditch parts very boring. It looks like a game invented by someone who does not know a lot about sports and games.
Reading those parts for the n-th times made me realize that Quidditch may be a good way to showcase common rookie mistakes done by people approaching game-design for the first time (and it also provide meaning for my struggle). So, that’s what we will do today!
Boardgames may be good for your mental health
As developers — especially game developers — we are naturally attracted to digital games: after all, video games are what we do; right? We are immersed in that world, we thrive for it, we learn from it, we discuss it. Because of that, we tend to forget physical games; in particular boardgames. However, boardgames may be much more than a simple alternative to multiplayer video game; they may be the best defense against mental health problems.
April 2019 Update
Luck is not on my side. I went to Milan for business, I’ve got the flu and stayed in the hotel room for the entire week. Is this a glorious waste of time and money? Probably. However, luck is a matter of attitude. So I have to think to this event as an important opportunity for reflection. (Yeah, I know…)