Hyper MacJesus Pro Gold returns from the dead to save all mankind

Back in the days of Macintosh System 6.0, Lamprey Systems (“software that sucks”) brought us “Your Own Personal Savior on a Floppy Disk”, but then He languished as technology outpaced Him. Now, He’s back, redubbed MacJesusX, promising Mac OS X goodness, “the Insinerator Sin-Removal Tool® and state-of-the-art 80’s programming techniques”.

The latest version, unfortunately, isn’t as fun as the System 7 version. I think one reason might be that it doesn’t use the hypnotic theme song from the earlier one. To restore it to its former glory, I’ve managed (not easily) to extract said theme and translated it into a short MP3. You pretty much have to listen to it on a loop to get the full effect. If you have QuickTime installed, hit play on the control below to see what I mean.

Sometimes banner ads are worth clicking

I don’t usually click banner ads, but I followed one a few minutes ago that seems like a killer deal to certain Mac users. It’s called MacHeist and is a bundle of eight, possibly ten, shareware applications. Since two of these appear on my list of recommended Mac OS X software seems to be worth a look. Part of the proceeds go to charity as well.

The final two applications only get unlocked if a certain amount is raised for charity. Since the deal ends on 16 Dec 2006, it looks like this might not happen, which is a pity considering that one of them, TextMate, is the best application of the lot.

Since I already own Delicious Library and TextMate, I’m not sure I’ll buy this bundle, but I’m tempted. Some of the other apps seem intriguing.

Update: Evidently, Daring Fireball thinks you should care less about what you are paying, and more about what the developers are getting. The lesson I take away from his analysis: developers charge too much.

!Mac

Almost a year ago, I suggested that anyone attempting to replace Apple’s overpriced .Mac system should call it !Mac. Since then, a number of concepts and hints on how to do this have been posted to the internet. The most thorough one that I’ve seen is Matt Simerson’s How I created my own .mac replacement. It is fairly involved and does a lot, but still doesn’t support the one feature I’d actually use: machine synchronization.

Now, however, someone named Kent has issued a bounty on an “easy install” version of such a system called, oddly enough, the notMac Challenge. He’s also matching contributions. This site was evidently just mentioned on MacWorld, so in the ten minutes I’ve been watching the site, the prize jumped from $879 to $2,874.

I still think !Mac is a better name, but it’s harder to Google.

Product Idea: “Rumsfeld”

There should be a “Rumsfeld” mode in Bugzilla (or other issue tracking systems) that tracks issues the way Donald Rumsfeld does. Something where the “severity” field is something like this:

Come to think of it, why doesn’t the government have a big public bug tracking database? Certain “power users” could be officially assigned issues to take into their own hands, like “fit the pothole on 5th and Main” or “secure the El Paso border against brown people looking for work you won’t do”.

Equilibrium

The best computer games are those without a victory condition. There is no such thing as “winning” a game of SimCity. Just as good are games that have victory conditions, but enjoyment of the game isn’t particularly tied to fulfilling them. In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City wandering around and doing your own thing was much more fun than following the game’s plot. Some weird convergence of thoughts on this style of gaming, Exalted and the butterfly effect resulted in the following game concept:

The setting for this game is region (or, perhaps, world) populated by human beings, but ruled by a superior form of life, perhaps humans genetically modified to be perfect and not require sleep, magical creatures (e.g. elves), an artificial intelligence, or even aliens. Maybe it’s a fantasy genre continent or a sci-fi genre planet. Whatever it is, the entire thing is run by the ruling class. Humans live decently; these rulers are not despots. The world runs fairly efficiently, but it is not a utopia by any means. Much of the system is designed to keep those in power on top, not least of which is their superior abilities. Much of the elite’s authority, however, stems from the fact that their abilities keep a large invading force at bay. Maybe they can work magic that keeps out a horde of demons, or they control ships that deter an invading alien force. Whatever the reason, the human population has a vested interest in having these elites remain in control.

An important aspect of this setting is that it has existed this way for a long time, a millennia-long stalemate between the elites and the impending doom. The economy runs like clockwork. Naturally, there are fads and trends and boom and bust cycles, but in general, everything is in a steady equilibrium.

Into this equilibrium, you, the player, is injected. You are stronger than even an elite individual, but not as strong as a group of them. You move through the world as the humans do, walking through a 3D rendered landscape and interacting directly with those around you. For some reason, you have incredible powers. Through play, you can acquire more abilities, allowing you to hold off larger and larger groups of elites. Your abilities are not only physical, but also mental and social, able to manipulate people and groups in increasingly effective ways.

Fairly early in the game’s progression, your powers make you largely immune to law enforcement, but you are never free of consequence. Your actions, even your mere presence, disturb the world’s equilibrium, you see, like The Mule. Even your smallest actions can have radical consequences down the line. Some players would seek to replace the old equilibrium with one closer to their liking. Others would foster complete chaos.

There would be several paths to playing this game. Those who focus on physical might start beating and killing people to achieve their goals, or perhaps destroy key shipments or installations. More social players would mentally dominate key figures, altering the policies of the organizations and assets they control.

In principle, the player could do anything. Want to use your powers of metal suggestion to overthrow a government? No problem. How about to sleep with a stripper you see in a club? Check. How about make yourself hideously wealthy? Have at it.

In response, the world would be simulating as much as possible. Will your seduction of a stripper effect the price of gold tomorrow? Probably not, but overthrowing the government certainly will. The idea is to have player actions generate consequences that are logical but difficult to predict. This feeds back into the player, causing even more action. Perhaps a religion springs up worshiping the player, or dedicated to his destruction.

Some of the more drastic consequences would be a concerted effort by the elites to destroy the player or the weakening of the elites to the point that the waiting invaders invade or both (perhaps at the same time). Perhaps the player can organize armies to the point that he can stave off these threats himself. Perhaps he allies with one force to destroy another. Maybe the forces ally to destroy him.

In essence, the game would be a god game, but without the controls of a god game. You can’t just hit a button to throw rocks from the heavens, mobilize armies or summon tornadoes. You have no “god view” with which to select people and change their mood; you actually have to find, get to and interact with them. There is no progress graph that shows you perfect information of the economy, attitudes or anything else. Your knowledge of the world is partial, only as good as the conduit by which it is delivered to you. While you may gain abilities that improve this, even getting information “supernaturally”, your information is never perfect.

Given the free form nature of this game, I think it would be a hit. Then, once everyone is addicted, you come out with a multi-player version, where dozens, even hundreds or thousands of Mules are let loose into the world.

Anathema

Those who know me realize that I’m into role-playing games. My game of the moment is Exalted. Like most games, software exists to manage characters and so on. The best of the breed for Exalted right now is Anathema, a java-based system for which I have kind of defaulted to be the “Mac release guy”. Basically, I’m responsible for turning releases into double-clickable Mac applications.

Doing this with Java applications is easier than I expected, though presently Anathema is fairly non-Mac looking. I’m looking to change that, if possible. Having never done much Java development specific to the Mac, I’ve been logging my experiences from initial check out of code on in an Exalted-based forum. I don’t have a lot of time to tinker, especially since my laptop drive died (again), but I’ll continue posting there as long as I can stand it.

And, if you are a Mac-using player of Exalted, please download the Mac package and let me know if it has any problems.