Mind Controlled Gaming Is Possible: Kickstart It!

Kickstart A Multiplayer Psychic Combat Simulator!

I posted earlier today regarding a really interesting gaming scoop that has come to my attention and, as promised, I am now going to share with you how you can be part of what could potentially be the future of interactive gaming…

The last few years has seen some major developments for console and computer gaming. Microsoft’s Kinect, Playstation’s Move, Nintento’s 3DS and most recently Wii-U, have made the seemingly impossible, possible, as the ability to use physical movement to effect gameplay, or have games become more real, “jumping out at you” and responding directly to voice commands, etc, has become a reality.

Virtual reality is another futuristic technology making the headlines and getting gamers talking, but what you probably did not know about is the obscure technology produced by NeuroSky which utilises neuro science (the science of the mind) and things called bio sensors in their peripheral product, the Mindwave, which allows software developers to create programs – and games – that respond to the way our minds work.

NeuroSky

This might be able to change the face of gaming”
– Lat Ware, Programmer for Throw Trucks With Your Mind

Lat Ware

Lat Ware, “veteran of the games industry, and the programmer-mastermind of this crazy idea”, with his prototype.

One such developer is Lat Ware, a talented gentleman who has worked on some rather prestigious titles including Star Trek Online. Lat has seen the potential of this hardware and created a prototype/Pre-Beta game entitled ‘Throw Trucks With Your Mind’ and tested it on some of his fellow gamers to see how it fared, the feedback for which has been so positive that he decided to quit his job (!), and risk everything to Kickstart it into reaching its true potential. You can watch his “pitch” for funding below, and see footage of the existing product which he is expanding upon.

The basic premise and mechanics of the game are simple. The game is a “Multiplayer Psychic Combat Simulator”, the first of its kind in the world, which pits users against each other, or AI (intelligent computer generated players), by interacting with the world around them. There are no guns, swords, or any weapons whatsoever, except your mind. Your mind picks up objects, and combats or defends with them.

How? Users wear the Mindwave, which actually measures their level of calm and concentration much in the same way that a lie detector senses lies, and how you measure on these scales directly effects your gameplay. Players move around the world and select powers with a standard keyboard and mouse. Actions can – or cannot – then be completed, dependent on your ability to control your mind. For example, you can lift things with your calm and then you throw them with your focus.

It is easy to see how critics and fans have drawn comparison with the Jedi powers of Star Wars.

Character designs

Throw Trucks With Your Mind will be compatible with both Windows and Mac computers, will be a light-hearted, amusing thirty-six person multiplayer experience, and include game modes such as ‘Capture The Fridge’, ‘King Of The Hill’ and ‘Hunt The Hunters’.

The Mindwave headset is a $79.99 (there are Australian and European shops as well, but please be aware of currency conversion, Shipping & Handling costs and possible importation fees) compulsory purchase in order to play the game, but once you own it there are dozens, if not hundreds of games, utilities and Apps available to download – both free or purchased – with it, and if you are a games developer yourself, you have a new piece of hardware to experiment with…

Throw Trucks With Your Mind Limited Edition Kickstarter Poster

$15 minimum donations receive a copy of this Limited Edition poster

Kickstarters get some impressive incentives for contributing funding, from something as simple as Special Thanks ($5 minimum) in the game credits to free Mindwave headsets ($125 minimum) to actually being able to have your own objects ($200 minimum) or character designs ($1,000 minimum) included in the finished product!

The target has already been reached, but beyond the minimum funding are “Stretch Goals”, including extra game modes and online matchmaking, so the more money gained for this software, the better the end product.

Funding for the Kickstarter Campaign ends on March 14th, so if you want to become part of what looks like gaming history in the making, get funding and Share, Share, Share!

Further Reading
The Kickstarter Campaign for the game, with promotional video and lots of information about the game
Throw Trucks With Your Mind Is The Best Star Wars Game Ever, a Venture Beat article about a fan’s experience with the prototype (warning: explicit words contained within)
Mind Games: Using Brain Waves To Play A Video Game, an article from The Los Angeles Times about the game’s prototype, as told from the perspective of a ten year old gamer’s father

Image Credit
NeuroSky’s FaceBook
The Kickstarter Campaign
Venture Beat

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New Year, Fresh Start

Introduction
Irony can be quite harsh! I initially wrote this article at the very start of the new year, but, thanks to a huge influx of personal problems, I am only now posting it, which is precisely what the topic is about: my New Year’s Resolution to balance my personal life and my professional efforts.

So, it would appear that thus far, I am not succeeding very well in my task, but, here is my article, finished, and published. A start, though a delayed one, is better than no start at all.

Thank you all for your patience.

Article

NEW YEAR, FRESH START
a history lesson and a fresh perspective on new year’s resolutions

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When I initially started this Blog in March 2012, I had made a decision to pursue my dream of becoming a professional journalist and photographer. I was determined that my move to Margate, a fresh start in and of itself, would be the push in the right direction that I needed. A new place, new people and plenty to write about and photograph.

Whilst those first few months were relatively productive, I found that my personal life was holding me back. My suffering poor health and having family and friends in turmoil, my writing and photography was taken almost to an utter halt, made a secondary priority, essentially, to life. But, the longer I went without posting, the more I realised how much I truly missed it, how much I truly needed it.

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Having thought long and hard about this dilemma, of the “pros and cons” of attempting to balance journalism and photography with a stress-filled personal life and poor health, I have now, ironically in the month of January which is considered worldwide as the beginning of a new year and a fresh start, decided that it is of the utmost importance that I return to my passions, to start anew what I began last year.

So, with the timing of my fresh start falling on the New Year, you would not be mistaken if you considered it to be a form of New Year’s Resolution, one that aims for me to have a healthy balance between my personal and professional lives, and begins with me spending days of researching facts and figures on the history of this worldwide tradition to inspire me, and my readers, to embrace it..

– – – –

New Year is a tradition dating back hundreds, if not thousands of years which originates from dozens of cultures and historical civilisations. It is believed that it was Julius Caesar of the Roman Empire who first suggested that the year begin on January 1st, in honour of the Roman God Janus, after which the month was named. This was all the way back in 46 BC, but it was not until 1752 AD that the Britons adopted the Gregorian Calendar, with its twelve month cycle ending in December and beginning in January. Prior to this, we actually celebrated our New Year as “Lady Day”, believed to be the day when Mary, Jesus’ mother, was informed of her son’s coming birth, on March 25th.

The tradition of New Year’s Resolutions can also be traced back just as far, if not further, although what was considered the start of each year was different. The ancient Babylonians and the Romans began their calendar year by making promises to their Gods, and the Knights of the Mediaeval era took “The Peacock Vow” at the end of Christmas each year to re-affirm their commitment to their code of chivalry, to name but a few examples. It is unknown as to when or how the modern, international tradition of New Year’s Resolutions came to happen, however.

– – – –

Interestingly enough, New Year’s Day is quite possibly the only global Public Holiday, even though many countries have their own unique calendars for their national faith or heritage. This fact literally brings the world together, breaking down all boundaries of skin colour, sex, country of residence, religion, or culture, and that is a truly beautiful thing.

So, why is it that the majority of people fail to succeed in the goal that they set upon themselves? In recent surveys it has been discovered that eighty-eight percent of UK residents that were questioned had failed in their prior year’s goal. Surveyed Americans fared even worse. With these negative statistics, many people would not be blamed for taking a “why bother?” stance on the concept. I, however, prefer to have a “glass half full” perspective.

– – – –

These same studies show that, though many failed, there were very valid reasons as to why. They set themselves unrealistic, almost unachievable goals, or far too broad ones. “Lose weight”, “get fit”, “get a job”, these are all achievable, but more difficult to reach because of the lack of specifics or their long term nature. One is far more likely to succeed in one’s goal by setting smaller, more realistic tasks, or step-by-step lifestyle changes to achieve it, such as losing a certain amount of weight each month, or changing ones diet. This should, in theory, create a regular, positive feeling of achievement in the person, compared to the dragging negativity that results from many months of supposed failure.

Further examination of studies into New Year’s Resolutions shows us that there are also distinct differences between how each sex succeeds in their tasks. Men are more successful when they broke down their resolution into smaller, more achievable goals, whereas women found more success when they made their goals public and drew on the support of friends and family.

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I have decided, for my New Year’s Resolution to succeed, it needs to combine everything that I have learned. My resolution must be clear and concise, broken down over the year into smaller, more achievable goals, and shared with my friends and family so that I can gander support and advice throughout my efforts.

So, my overall resolution for the year, though originally something such as “pursue journalism professionally” or “Blog more”, has moulded itself into “earn money from my journalism and photography”, through smaller weekly or monthly goals such as “reach 200 Likes on my FaceBook Page” and “send Portfolio to magazines to consider for publication”, the progress for which I will be sharing through social networking.

– – – –

The facts and theories are sound. Whether, however, they work in practice, remains to be seen. Perhaps, this time next year, I shall be writing a follow-up article of my personal experiences and conclusions on the topic. Only time shall tell…

In the meanwhile, I leave you all with my findings, and hopefully, the inspiration to take them in your own stride and embrace this new perspective on a very old tradition. Will you, as I have, set yourself a New Year’s Resolution this year, and try to see it through? Comment and discuss…

Further Reading
The Mental Health Foundation’s guide to New Year’s Resolutions
Wiki-How’s guide to succeeding in New Year’s Resolutions
US New Year’s Resolutions statistics, updated in December of 2012
An interesting article on the history of New Year’s Resolutions
The History Channel’s history of New Year’s Resolutions

Feedback
It is important that I receive feedback from my readers. I would truly appreciate any feedback at all that you can provide me. Posting comments of encouragement, or constructively critiquing my efforts. I really want to further myself as a writer and with your help I can.

Thank you.

Keeping Up Appearances

Introduction
It has been a couple of months since I published my last article, and a month since my last post, but I fell rather ill, and I apologise for that. I am still ill, but decided “enough is enough” and that I could not go another day without writing, and here is the result. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please feel free to provide feedback. Constructive critique is of course encouraged. Thank you.

Article

KEEPING UP APPEARANCES
why having a brilliantly successful television program is no excuse for poor production value

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I am disappointed. Genuinely disappointed by the fact that I can be watching a “kick ass” science fiction or fantasy show, perhaps a “Dramedy”, whatever it is that I am in the mood for at the time, and yet no matter what the studio, what the genre, or what the program is, as it grows, its budget increases, not, it would seem, so that it can be a better program overal, but so that there can be one or two amazing episodes, and the rest can be relatively standard. It seems that, the more popular the show is, the more it suffers from this affliction.

– – – –

Some of the most popular science fiction television programs ever produced have each had their fair share of “fillersodes”, “clipisodes”, and otherwise poor production value.

Doctor Who was once a program about travelling the universe, and in today’s “Nu Who” you will be lucky to even leave earth more than once or twice a season. Apparently the aliens would rather come to us. Sure, we have these amazing, big budget series openers and finales, but is it worth it if we have to live through episodes which are an insult to our intelligence, such as ‘Love & Monsters’, featuring a Blue Peter competition winning alien who “absorbed” people, full of toilet humour and having practically no screen time for The Doctor?

Stargate: SG1 has a seemedly ongoing joke where every season features a “clipisode”, an episode where the plot demands that clips from this and prior seasons be shown. It should be noted that Power Rangers does this very same thing. The plot is usually a good cover up for the need for clips, but is it really necessary?

Star Trek is another example. Pointless low budget episodes are abound, especially in experimental prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise.

Even the modern Battlestar Galactica, hailed by critics and fans as “perfect” suffered setbacks with episodes such as their Fight Club-style filler, ‘Unfinished Business’ where the characters face off in a boxing ring. It really upset the overal pace, although to be fair it did fill a lot of gaps in character development and the finale was clearly better for it.

– – – –

Low budget “fillersodes” filling the gap before the series finale are not always bad things, however. One fan told me “If done right they can bring something new to the table”. The best example that comes to mind is that Doctor Who also featured two episodes in the Tenth Doctor’s fourth series – ‘Midnight’ and ‘Turn Left’ – which were brilliant, edge-of-your-seat, yet clearly budgeted episodes.

So, why can all of these “fillersodes” not be “done right”? Or why not cut out these big budget, some may even say over-the-top finales and openers entirely, so that every episode can be just as good as the next? I understand all too well how visually breathtaking these can be and how, to be quite honest, I do look forward to them, but is it truly worth it if I have to sit through such rubbish in the process?

Really, do we need The Doctor encountering witches? Do we need the SG1 team sitting through a meeting – yes, an entire episode was dedicated to a meeting – discussing episodes that we have already seen? Do we need the scripted toilet humour, the poorly designed monsters, the fillers and the clips, even if it means having the so-called “epic” episodes?..

Some fans say yes, stating that it “give[s] them something crazy to do” with their big budgets, some say no, that it is “pure money saving and a waste of space”. It is clearly a matter of personal preference.

– – – –

I for one, though, feel as though this is a disease spreading across our television screens. Earlier seasons of most programs do not suffer it. They may not have these amazing, big budget finales or openers, but they do have good overal production value. Not one episode suffers from cheap jokes or poor effects or characters mysteriously disappearing because the budget meant they could not afford the actor for the entirety of the season.

And yet, as these “good overal” programs grow, so does their budget, and, in turn, the affliction hits them like the common cold, and I find myself weaping for their loss.

Merlin, for instance, was never a brilliant program, but it has always been quite enjoyable and I considered no particular episode to be “bad” as such. But, as the seasons went on, the budget rose, and I found that there were a lot of tightly budgeted episodes with practically no magic – and therefore no special effects – involved, so that they could do their big budget finales. I even turned off an episode ten minutes in that involved a creature causing general havok around the castle, because of its appalling use of toilet humour, how it belittled our beloved characters, and how downright insulting the plot was to my intelligence. And yet suddenly, come the season finale, it became clear why they suffered their viewers such an episode.

– – – –

Science fiction and fantasy television are not the only genres to suffer this. Even common household names such as Eastenders have their big-budget episodes with their car crashes, murders and weddings, which is (apparently) great viewing, but the fault here is the fact that many of the other episodes are drull, lacking in any of the drama that soap operas are renouned for because all of the budgeting for the talented writers, the “guest appearances”, the special effects, etc, went towards one or two episodes instead of being spread throughout all of them.

No channel, no genre, seems safe from this contagion.

– – – –

I understand that every program has a budget and that budget must be calculated with relation to what the writing entails – the people hired to work with each episode, the pay-grade of the stars, etc – but a loss of quality means a loss of viewers, it really is that simple, so why can the studios and channels not realise this and spread the budget evenly instead of wasting it? It feels as though they are a person with the funding for an entire wardrobe who decides they are going to “splash out” on one particular, more expensive item, and the rest of the wardrobe will suffer for that budget cut.

Why not follow by good example? Time Team, a popular, long-running Channel 4 documentary about hunting for history in people’s back gardens, decided to do some “Specials” in amungst the standard episodes in bigger places, such as the Cantenbury dig, which took them months, not days, to complete. Once the popularity of these Specials grew, the normal, lower budget episodes seemed sub-par, so they were cut completely. Now the program places its entire budget into big projects, and the viewing figures are far higher, because it is obvious that consistent quality sells better to the public. They decided to spread their budget over a few really brilliant episodes instead of dozens of “okay” episodes followed by one big-budget special, and it really, really works.

– – – –

In conclusion, enjoyable though these big-budget episodes may be, I feel as though the overal quality is far more important, and I am not alone. The general concensus amung fans, reflected in the viewing figures and internet chatter all show that the public are more inclined to stay with a program that is consistent with its quality than “tune-in” to one that will waste a large percentage of its budget purely for the visual spectacle of one or two episodes, and try to cheat them into watching poor production value for the rest of the series.

We, the viewing public, are not unintelligent. We know what we enjoy, and with the wide variety of programs available to us every day, do these studios and channels really want to take the chance of losing viewers for the poor quality episodes simply to increase figures for the ones that have the budget? With the advancement of “streaming” technology and all the different channels available it is so easy to lose us and never get us back.

Perhaps the industry aught to think about concentrating on overal quality if they want to keep those viewing figures, and in turn the money, rolling in.

Special Thanks
Many thanks to all of the people that provided me with their opinions and facts for this particular article. It is greatly appreciated.

Feedback
It is important that I receive feedback from my readers. I would truly appreciate any feedback at all that you can provide me. Posting comments of encouragement, or constructively critiquing my efforts. I really want to further myself as a writer and with your help I can.

Thank you.

Margate Is My Home Now

Introduction
Below you will find my first ever article that I have written and decided to publish. It has taken two weeks for me to deem it finished. It is perhaps longer than my usual, but there was a lot of ground to cover. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please feel free to provide feedback. Constructive critique is of course encouraged. Thank you.

Article

MARGATE IS MY HOME NOW
the story of a disabled citizen making a new start in one of the most “run down” cities in the country

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One month ago I signed my life away. A week later I was the center of attention on my road as my nosey new neighbors peaked earily out of the corner of their window curtains at the rucous of the moving van and the awkward sight of a woman on a walking stick actually attempting to move bags and boxes. That disabled woman was me, and yes, I am that stubborn.

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Moving here was never the plan. I had never visited the coast in my life, London and Dartford were all I knew as home, and I certainly had no intention of leaving my small circle of friends and what little family that I had left. I liked my life, enclosed though it was, and I had no intention of changing it.

But life is full of surprises – some good, some bad – and a few months later three of my oldest friendships had fallen apart, my parents had decided to move halfway across the country, and when my (then) boyfriend drops a bomb on me saying “let’s move to the coast and make a fresh start” I – for the first time in my life – took a chance on change, and replied with an enthused “yes”.

– – – –

As I said before, I had never seen the coast in my life, and I can tell you, when we arrived in Margate for the first time I was fast asleep in my uncle’s car, but I awoke when I smelt it… that fresh, wonderful sea air. And then I saw it. It was everything that I thought that it would be, and more. I was like a child discovering cookies for the first time, it filled me with this almost unexplainable happiness, it was so beautiful. A tear fell from my eye as we pulled up to the estate agents and I said “hello” to the possibilities this world could bring me.

– – – –

It was many weeks of going back and forth from our residencies in London (myself) and Dartford (then boyfriend) and several estate agents later before we finally found it: a three bedroom double glazed Cliftonville split-level flat. I insisted it looked more like half a house, so we came to know it as our “flouse”, the best of both worlds. He fell in love with it straight away, contrary to my want to continue looking, but love does conquer all, including my stubborness, so once again I found myself agreeing with him and we decided to put down our holding fee and “seal the deal”.

But, sealing the deal is harder than it looks and there was much to be done. It was almost a month – and we nearly lost our flouse – before we got the “okay” to come down and sign our tenancy agreements. Sadly and ironically, my partner and I broke up only one week prior to the signing, and we had many talks about whether we still wanted to do it, but we both needed that “fresh start”, even if it was just as friends, and rough though the transition has been, we neither of us regret it.

– – – –

It was cold and dark the night that we moved. Think of everything that could possibly go wrong, and it probably did. A car broke down, belongings were damaged, furniture would not fit… but “positive thinking leads to positive results” as an old friend of mine used to say, and that day we proved her right because we triumpthed over all that would delay us and that night we slept in our seperate bedrooms in our new flouse. A flouse that, in time, we would come to know as home.

The following morning we were exhausted and we truly wanted to stay in bed, but we were far too excited. We insisted on exploring the area, even just a little, not as “tourists” but as residents. We had a mini argument (which delayed the bus, much to our embarrassment) about whether to get a Return ticket to Westwood X for supplies or a Free Rider to explore some more. But, it was late on a Sunday afternoon, so a Return seemed the obvious choice, as in true British fashion, “everywhere would be closing soon”. The irony is that apparently a Free Rider would have only been seventy pence extra each, which we were shocked to discover as in London and Dartford the fairs are higher to say the least. That was our first sign that moving here was a good decision.

Our second sign were the welcoming smiles of two gentleman who own a small burger stand in Westwood X, opposite Marks & Spencer. I had read mention of them on the website for the shopping center* but as an Ethitarian – someone who tries to live life ethically, supporting local businesses, eating only free range meats, etc – I was expecting to have nothing on their menu that I could eat, as that is what I was accustomed to. But here on the coast, things are very, very different. When asked about their meats, we were informed that most were from local farm(s) and completely free range. Some produce were even from a farm that allows deaf children to raise hens, supporting local charity The Royal School For Deaf Children Margate. All this news made me more than happy, but tasting that burger made me ecstatic. It really was amazing – and so was the conversation. They gave us a wonderful welcome, and we really look forward to seeing them and eating their foods again.

– – – –

Not everything has been that easy, though. I am not just physically disabled, I also have agoraphobia, a mental health concern which means that I am scared of leaving home without someone accompanying me. I have had my fair share of scary encounters in London and that led to a fear of future occurances. The hope was that moving to the coast, I would feel safer and more at home; that I might even be able to leave the “flouse” unaccompanied, in time.

Cliftonville (Margate) may not seem like the safest or most welcoming place in the world, but we have introduced ourselves to some of our neighbors and some of the local businesses, and I think that in time, this place could really grow on me. Him, on the other hand? He goes out at any chance that he gets and is probably already becoming a “regular” at some of the local cafes and shops, so he has settled in just fine.

There is also the small matter of the fact that we still have thirty years (for him) and twenty-four years (for me) worth of boxed “bits and bobs” to sort through. I imagine most of it will be going to charity, but this is still no small task to complete.

– – – –

One week passed and whilst I decided to cut and dye my hair, he was already making his mark on the area, placing in a Tournament at the first convention of its kind, GEEK 2012**, coming home with a medal and some geeky goodies. “A fresh start” was what we agreed upon, and we were well on our way.

We were travelling back again to collect some final items, swap contact details with neighbors we did not want to lose touch with, etc, and although we were sad to be leaving for the final time, when our friends and family passed comments about how “different” we seemed – not just in appearance – we knew that we had made the right choice. There was no looking back, only forward, to our futures.

– – – –

“And what does the future hold for you?”, you might be asking. Well, he may have had to leave his job in Bluewater Shopping Center when he moved, but he has had some interest for job postings already, he is volunteering to work at a local charity shop, and with my support he is even considering furthing his education here at the Kent Adult Education Center and possibly Thanet College.

Myself? I am finally working my way through my “Living List”, a list of things I want to do with my life, from “write and publish a novel” to “lie on the grass and stare at the stars”, checking more of them off each day. I felt so contrained in London, but I do not know whether it is the fresh sea air or the people or the dust from all of those old book stores and antiques shops getting to my head and my heart and my soul, but I finally feel like I am making something of myself, like my life is worth living and I truly want to live it.

This is my home now, and so far, I never want to leave.

– – – –

*Since updated to no longer include the aforementioned burger stand, sadly.
**Now known as the Game Expo East Kent (hence “GEEK”).

– – – –

External Links
Westwood X Shopping Center
Royal School For Deaf Children Margate
Geek 2012

Feedback
As this is my first ever (internet) published article, it is important that I receive feedback from my readers.

I have created a multiple-choice (three at maximum) Poll for you to provide your opinion regarding my first attempt at becoming a professional journalist. Please take a few moments of your time to answer it. Alternatively, you can of course post in the Comments section.

I would truly appreciate any feedback at all that you can provide me, be it answering my Poll, posting comments of encouragement, or constructively critiquing my efforts. I really want to further myself as a writer and with your help I can.

Thank you.