The Dickens-Flynn model explains why my mom can’t figure out her iPad.

(In which I consider more implications of the model discussed in previous posts.  Also, the epistemological status of this post is extremely speculative.)

James Flynn points out quite a few reasons to doubt that generational increases in IQ test scores really mean people are getting that much smarter. If IQ truly measures intelligence across generations and cultures, that would make our average parents notably dull and our average grandparents bordeline retarded – or, if you want to look at it the other way, most college graduates from my generation could have easily joined Mensa when it started in 1946. And – to put it bluntly – someone would have noticed if old people were that dumb.

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Some thoughts on the design of sandbox games.

I’ve been neglecting the blog while working on game development, and I’m not really okay with that.  So I’m posting on an other-than-usual topic, one that’s on my mind, rather than not post at all.

For the past two years, I’ve been working on-and-off on a game called Hecatomb.  It’s a different kind of “zombie survival” game, inspired by Dwarf Fortress.  You play a necromancer raising zombie servants and building a base in the wilderness.  It’s a “sandbox” game – like meaning there is no singular goal, other than surviving and doing cool things.

Right now my game works, but isn’t very fun because there simply isn’t that much stuff to do.  That, I think, is the secret to games that generate stories rather than having preset stories – they need to generate interest by having a wider-than-usual number of “subsystems” (loosely defined) that interact in potentially interesting ways.  Take, for example, Don’t Starve.  The way I’m thinking about it, these could all be considered subsystems: Continue reading