Portal 2 and Diaspora

Two important pieces of software have been produced recently Diaspora and Portal 2. Diaspora is an open source social networking system that has been in development for a while. I’m currently signed up for the alpha version so I suspect that the real version won’t be up for a while more. It was produced as a response to the new privacy policies by Facebook that are invasive, deceptive, and pretty unethical. Google’s attempt at social networking was also full of privacy issues. Diaspora would make you the sole owner and controller of your information, pictures, etc. While the goal is noble, the issues is that a social networking site is as useful as the number of people who join it and a limited number of people really care about information technology, open source, or privacy issues. We’ll see though.

Portal 2 is a video game, but an excellent video game. As a game that did a really good job of exploring what video games can do as a genre. The physics engine is still the Source engine, but they did a lot of really cool stuff with with it. The open sequence involves a container on a rail system thats crashing into stuff and receiving a lot of damage. In order to simulate that they had two nesting simulations. If I understood the commentary, one simulation controlled the movement of the container and its interaction with the environment, while the second controlled the distortion and damage of the container. There was a lot if interesting material about how the two simulations interacted. When damage occurred in the larger simulation, it would produce debris and material for the second simulation. The producers also had an interesting situation where they wanted to reorganize the maps constantly but redoing maps took a lot of time. What they ended up doing was using the portal system that the game is based on to construct impossible maps during production and testing and only after they were done did they clean up the map and making it nice and euclidean. Apparently there’s one impossible room left.

I finished the single player and look forward to the coop.


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