Redactle – It’s like Wordle but for censored WIkipedia articles

Thanks to a coworker, my latest obsession is Redactle. Each day, it takes one of the 10,000 most popular articles from Wikipedia and censors every word that isn’t a common preposition or article. Each time you make a correct guess, the word is uncovered, slowly revealing more and more of the article. It’s sick and  it’s fun.

Essentially, this turns into an all day affair as I take breaks and then come back to try and solve the puzzle. Yesterday, I determined the article was about “Sparking Wine” after about 276 guesses… 🙀

Get guessing!

Sid Meier’s Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games

The Civilization series is easily one of my favorite video games of all time. (See here, here, here, here and here). I have very fond memories of talking to my middle school teacher about various strategies to utilize within Civ I and I still vividly remember the wickedly cool box art.

So, it’s no surprise that I’d dig into the memoir of the man who created the games himself, Sid Meier.

It’s a nerdy trip through early computer gaming history and fostered a bunch of nostalgia for old DOS games that I used to play. It’s also a fantastic romp through the mind of a game designer.

There were a number of fun little quotes and life lessons, as well:

“I think that in life, as in game design, you have to find the fun. There is joy out there waiting to be discovered, but it might not be where you expected. You can’t decide what something’s going to be before you embark on it, and you shouldn’t stick with a bad idea just because you’re fond of it. Take action as quickly and repeatedly as possible, take advantage of what you already know, and take liberties with tradition. But most importantly, take the time to appreciate the possibilities, and make sure all of your decisions are interesting ones.”

Generating terrain maps

Recently, I went down a rabbit hole attempting to learn how to generate interesting looking maps for games (insert mind-blown-gif here). While I’m not going to be using Voronoi diagrams anytime soon,  I am still interested in attempting to generate Civilization-like maps.

Most map generation algorithms rely on perlin noise. I wanted to go a different route.

So far, these are the rules that I’ve come up with for my algorithm:

1. Create a grid of some given size (e.g., 100 x 50). Set all tiles to “ocean”.
2. Randomly pick 8 tiles (variable) across the map to seed as “land”.
3. Now iterate across all tiles on the map and build an array of tiles that are “ocean” tiles but have a land tile N/W/S/E of them.
4. Once you have this array, randomly pick a single value. Flip it from “ocean” to “land”
5. Repeat step 3 until a given number of tiles have been filled across the grid (e.g., for an “Earth-like planet”, 30% of tiles will be land).
6. Now, to add some additional randomness — iterate across all tiles and build an array containing all “land” tiles next to water (N/W/S/E).
7. Randomly pick 1, flip from land to ocean.
8. Repeat step 6 a given number of tries (e.g., 100).
9. Done! (Maybe)

Height maps, biomes and all that can come later. To quote Amit, whom I linked to earlier:

The most realistic approach would have been to define elevation first, and then define the coastline to be where the elevation reaches sea level. Instead, I’m starting with the goal, which is a good coastline, and working backwards from there.

Anyway, it’s been kind of neat to figure out.

Another example map, created using the above rules:


Armchair managing my favorite baseball team in OOTP 16

One of my favorite computer games, Out of the Park Baseball, released its latest version just in time for the 2015 baseball season (one of the biggest features this year is the official MLB license — that means real team names and logos!). I’ll have to write up a more in-depth review later, but first I wanted to share this screenshot from a recent game.

The situation: I took over management of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015 (sorry, Andrew Friedman, I know you just got this job and all, but it’s time for a new sheriff) and I eventually navigated them to the 2017 World Series!

In game 2, Zack Greinke is pitching for the Dodgers, and LA ends up scoring 7 runs in the first inning! Greinke hits TWO homeruns during the game and on top of all that, Texas still came back and nearly won. Crazy!

(Click screenshot for larger view.)



Anyway, the Dodgers would go on to win the 2017 World Series by sweeping Texas in 4 games. 😉

An ngnomo’

Due to downsizing and restructuring, last week was my last week at DeNA San Francisco (formerly ngmoco). Past ngmoco alum have a special saying for this type of thing: “I’m an ngnomo’!

The past year or so has been a blast! I met so many great people and I know we’ll cross paths again. We did a lot of great work together and had a lot of fun in the process, plus we learned a lot and taught each other a lot too.

Anyway, I’m excited for new opportunities and even bigger and better things to come. Stay tuned! 🙂

A look back at the last year:

Wouldn’t it be cool if Sutro Tower had a restaurant on top of it?

Sutro tower

In game

Transmission tower in Dreamtopia, inspired by San Francisco’s Sutro Tower

Earlier this week, the ngmoco:) team behind We Rule released our latest game: Dreamtopia! (Currently only available for Android.)

The basic premise behind the game is that you have have the ability to make dreams come true — in order to do that, you need to build things to fulfill various goals for each character.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this absolutely awesome take on San Francisco’s very own Sutro Tower inside our game! I think it raises a valid point:

How awesome would it be if there were a restaurant / observation deck on top of Sutro Tower?

I’m not the only one to wonder this. Three years ago, Laughing Squid had an awesome post on what it was like from the top of Sutro Tower.

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Photo by El Caganer

So, who do we have to talk to in order to make this happen? 😉

Practicing my Space Shuttle landing skills

I figured since I’m heading to Cape Canaveral and all, I should start brushing up on my shuttle landing skills. You never know if a crew member suddenly comes down with an illness and they’ll need to replace them with someone from the NASA Tweetup. Yeah… sure. 😉

You can check out the above space shuttle simulator on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod by downloading F-SIM Space Shuttle from the App Store.

Civ V and OS X – A mark of desperation

I’m currently somewhere over New York state, flying Virgin America back from Boston (where we had our gdgt live event last night). I only brought my iPad with me on this trip. Which is painful, because Civilization V is currently out!

So, I wanted to see if it was even possible to play. Are you ready for this mark of desperation?

Civ V running on Windows 7. In a Parallels for OS X virtual machine. Via a VNC client on my iPhone. What?! So, what happened? Screen shots below!





Playing Civilization V on a Mac


A lot has changed since Civ IV has been released.

Since then, I’ve apparently adopted the full-on hipster lifestyle as I work at a savy web startup here in San Francisco. Obviously, that means that all my computers are now Macs. (I donated the last PC I built to some family members last year — before that, it was relegated to a bed stand beside my bed.)

Anyway, I’m literally dying at the thought of not being able to play Civ V.

So, I’m considering my options. Here they are:

1. Install WinXP (I still have my legit installation CD! Can you believe it? Remember when operating systems fit on CD’s, instead of DVD’s? Let’s not forget floppy disks either…) in a Bootcamp partition. What this does is basically create a dual booting operating system on my laptop. Pros: It’s basically like running Windows on a normal computer (no performance hit, etc). Cons: I have to reboot my computer every single time I want to play (which will be often). Fortunately, most of the work I do is either in a web browser or text editor, so not too big of a loss. Cost to me: $0 (besides buying Civ V)

2. Install WinXP in a VM such a Parallels or VM Ware Fusion. Parallels just announced a new version that apparently increases performance of the guest operating system as a whole, and even improves the graphics capabilities of programs running within it. Pros: I don’t have to reboot my computer every time I want to play Civ V (face it, it’s going to be running 24/7). Plus these VMs have come a long way. I can run Windows applications nearly seamlessly, right alongside my Mac. In fact, I used to play a few Windows only games this way (this is a story for another time)! Cons: Performance generally blows. Running a full on operating system within another takes a lot of processing power and memory. And leaves little else (especially when you’re running intensive apps WITHIN that O/S!) Cost to me: ~$80 USD as I need to buy either Parallels or Fusion.

3. Install Crossover. Crossover is an ingenious app that allows Linux or OS X users to run a number of Windows games on their computers without installing the operating system itself. It recreates a number of the Windows DLLs (completely legally) and tries to sort of “emulate” the Windows environment. People have had Half Life, Civ IV (I used to play it this way), Quake and other games running pretty well! Pros: I used to play Civ IV nearly flawlessly this way, even through Steam! Plus, I don’t have to install Windows on my machine. Cons: It doesn’t always support the latest games and it takes awhile for the code to be updated in order to support something that might not work. It’s kind of hit or miss. AND I CANNOT AFFORD TO MISS. Cost to me: $0 (Technically, it’s ~$40 USD, but I already own a Crossover license)

4. Suck it up and buy / build a new computer. I’ve though about this. I really have! It’s tempting. And I have to say, between having a PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, various iOS devices… I don’t game much on a computer anymore (and I genuinely miss it!). And the only thing I would be buying a PC for would be for Civilization V. There aren’t too many PC only games on the horizon that I am interested in. Pros: Full on, double computing power for playing Civ V! It’s so intense. Cons: I’d have to buy a new computer. And it would only be for Civ. Cost to me: ~$500+ USD.

Are any of you facing a similar dilemma? Even if you’re not, what do you think you would do?

How to quit…

How to quit Civilization, that is. Probably my favorite game of all time, and the fifth iteration is coming this September.

Here is a helpful guide on how one can quit their addition to Civ.


[Via Ryan]

Fighting dirty in Scrabble

Word with friends - getting owned

Recently, I downloaded a game for the iPhone called “Words with Friends.” It’s very similar to Scrabble, with a different board and slightly different letter values (one would assume to avoid Scrabble’s IP lawyers).

Many of my family and friends are playing the game and we’re all having fun trying to best each other’s scores. I like to think I have a good vocabulary, but apparently I don’t know how to effectively play for points, as evidenced above by the 60-point bomb that Kerry dropped on me, two moves into the game!

No matter though. I’ll just have to brush up on the following video, “Fighting dirty in Scrabble.”