Monthly Archives: April 2017

It’s a Cyborg Octopus life after all – Game Pitch

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Octopus aesthetics

Source. The general aesthetic I would like for the Queen Octopus and the board game itself.

A huge cyborg Octopus stands in the way of salvation. Everything that we once knew is now controlled by the Queen Octopus. The world is a dark place where the only way to survive is to rummage and destroy other cyborg beings for their hardware and software. You upgrade yourself in order to become stronger, wiser and faster to defeat the Queen and the secrets that rest within her body. Yourself and three friends goal is to defeat the Queen’s tentacles and her powerful minions, though not everyone gets to reach salvation.

First progress in the following two images shows the first stages of thinking out the game and its mechanics. I had an idea about wanting to do a two board, two phase game. Where a large octopus is placed in the center of the board to provide both a visual representation of the enemy but also an added aesthetic for the narrative of the game. Drawn in the top right of the first image below you can see the general though for the game. A added change was also a battle mechanic where instead of armour and weapons it became about stats and upgrading those stats through gathering Mechanical pieces.

1st plan part 2

First plans about the board game

actual 2nd phase 1st draft

Continued plans

Playing the Game

First choosing a character out of Human, Shark, Cow and Bottle. Players are given the player-card corresponding that hold details about the beginning stats and the special upgrade ability of that individual character. Players are also given 3 random Mechanical Pieces. Then taking turns moving around the board by using two dice and adding your movement stat (e.g. dice rolls 3 and 4, your movement is +1, so you move a total of 8 spaces) your turn begins.

characters

A write up of the characters and their cards. Each character is different and is played with a different strategy in mind.

1st phase board drawn up

The concept for the board. A simple 4 sided 11 spaces on each side form. Trying to work out the appropriate amount of each different kind of space to balance the mechanics.

Octopus elastic.jpg

A prototype that I’ve been using to represent the Queen and her tentacles. 64 Parts = 64 health.

After rolling and making a move players can land on 1 of 4 different spaces. First is a space labelled ‘A’ which corresponds with the Action Cards. 104 in total, Action Cards aide in both helping and hindering the player. They are the source for dealing damage to the Queen (e.g. deal 1 damage to the Queen). In the case of dealing damage to the Queen the player would add their Attack stat to the damage asked to be dealt with by the Action Card (e.g Action card says deal 2 damage to the Queen, Attack stat is 1 attack, so the total damage to the Queen is 3 damage). Action Cards are the main aide to the player and so needing to find the right amount to come up with to create interaction with the players and the board 104 seemed quite a lot but has been working with the play tests.

Action cards

A look at all the action Card and their design. The design though out is a place holder as I am never happy with what I come up with. So just making it simple seemed easiest.

The second space players can land on is the ‘Q’ space. Which represents the Queen Card interaction. The Queen is well aware of the impending danger that the players can create so she must intervene and cause as much distraction as possible to prevent being defeated. The Queen Cards are a way for the Queen to mess with the players by moving them around, getting them to lose stats and by making the fight go on longer by healing her damaged tentacles. The Queens Health is represented by her tentacles. With 8 tentacles separated into 8 pieces the Queen has a total of 64 Health.

queen cards

A look at the first progress of Queen Cards and Design. Currently the game play consists of 27 Queen Cards.

The third space players could land on is the ‘M’ space which is in relation to the Mechanical Pieces Cards. These pieces are what players collect in order to upgrade themselves to be having higher Attack, Defense and Movement. Mechanical Pieces are used in pairs to upgrade any one stat by 1 point. Some Mechanical Pieces can be used with other Pieces to double the benefit but players must use them at the same time in order to get that benefit (e.g. A ‘Key’ used with a ‘Keyseat’ doubles the stat upgrade from 1 to 2, so a player would add 2 stat increases to any skill instead of 1)

 

mechanical cards

Here is a preview of all the Mechanical Pieces in play. A total of 60 are used throughout the game.

cards

The first round of cards. Simple writing on paper. Around 180 all up.

The fourth space is just a blank space that does nothing. Looking at played games these spaces will be filled with the previous cards mention to level out the mechanics of the game.

 

Once the Queen has been defeated players should notice that the Queen never attacked the players back just messed around with them. The Queen was focusing on giving birth to a new spawn of Cyborg Octopuses that become mobile and are a danger to the players. Throughout the game the Queen kept an eye on every stat change that the players made and created babies that reflect those stats.

The Queen has been killed. A huge Explosion erupts all over the battlefield. The land has been changed. Out of the dust of the Queens remains 4 Mobile pissed off Octopuses await the players and are the final battle to determine who reaches salvation. The Octopuses want all of the pieces of their mother back but you have been using them as upgrades. So something needs to be done about that.

Battle Phase

revenge map big version

The first design of the Battle Board. Quite Large.

revenge map smaller version

Resized the Battle Board. A more intimate field that allows multiple paths so players can both attack and defend against the enemy.

phase 2 revenge

The first print of information about the Battle Phase

The board has flipped and a new battle has begun. Players now have to control now just there original character but one of the Octopuses also (Players would be a different colour and so would control the octopus of the corresponding colour). Turns are now a round of two phases. First phase is the players original character, go around the circle. Second phase is the movement of the corresponding colour octopuses. These Octopuses are what players use to capture the opposing players in a fight to weaken them.

Every Octopus has the same stats that the player that controls it has. A red human has the stats of 10 Attack, 8 Defense and 8 Movement. Their Octopus now has those stats also – 10 Attack, 8 Defense and 8 Movement. To move around the board is the same as before, roll two dice, add your movement and then move that allotted spaces. Players want to avoid landing themselves on Octopuses but what their Octopuses to land on opposing players as that is how you win the game.

octopus vs player

This image showcases the battle system that the game follows. Every encounter causes some damage to the player if they are caught by an Octopus

After every fight the damage dealt to players is taken away from their stats. Once a player has run out of stats they are out of the game. However their Octopus remains on the field and is now classified as a ‘Bomb’ which has 50 Attack. This is so people that get knocked out early can avenge themselves and keep them engaged with the game. The last player with stats remaining wins the game.

(Through constant test playing some of these aspects have/will change, but these are how they stand as for now)

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Dairy Cows: They are among us

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Previously I wrote a blog post about the purpose of dairy cows and how some technology has impacted the production of milk. The production of milk is the sole purpose for dairy cows; with specific needs to get larger quantities and better quality of milk, research and technology is used to improve these needs. As progress continues to be made through different areas of research there is a consistent and constant improvement on past creations to aide milk production.

Holy Cow

Holy Cow. Source

Artificial Insemination; the ability to impregnate a cow without the needs for a bull to be present became a solution to mass breed a herd of cows to get a consistent and constant rotation of lactating cows. Artificial Insemination is a remarkable story of tireless workers, dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, to the replacement of fiction to facts and and application of thereof. When it comes to thinking of something and creating it much like in science-fiction, Artificial Insemination was a product of what was first thought of then became real. Artificial Insemination first thought about in 1678 by Leeuwenhoek became a reality in 1784 by Spallanzani. While Artificial Insemination was a solution of getting a cow pregnant quicker, along with analysis information about when the cow is in heat, this process was further improved upon with the process of ‘Sexed Semen’.

Sexed Semen is the process in differentiating between female and male semen. First successfully identified in 1981; though killed the sperm used. Continued research with dairy cows showed that female chromosomes in semen are heavier and have a positive charge compared to male semen. Below is an image that shows the process for which sexed semen is found.

Sexed semen is more expensive than regular bull semen and is known to have a lower conception rate. Research done by Hinde and Bradford shows that dairy cows who give birth to female calf naturally produce more milk compared to if they birthed a male calf. For a lactation cycle of 305 days birthing a female produces 223kg of extra milk. These advancements have increased the rate at which cows produce milk but have also altered the natural birthing gender of cows. Mentioned in the previous blog post the natural birthing gender rate is 47% female, Artificial Insemination increased that figure to around 60% and now with Sexed Semen the female birthing rate is around 90%. This drastic increase in female calves being birthed was the solution to get the most milk out of cows while still maintaining some ethical rights over them. Though the next question that technology is going to answer would be is “How can we get cows to lactate without the need for them to go through a pregnancy?”. However this has lead to ethical concerns for the dairy cows.

The future of technology impacts on the animals and its purpose. When there is no purpose for the animal and humans have no ethical concern for the well being of the animals then ethics are challenged. Presented in H.G. Wells’ ‘The Island of Doctor Moreau‘ is a 1896 science-fiction novel that deals with a ship wrecked man saved by a passing boat and placed on the island of Doctor Moreau who creates human like hybrid beings with animals. The ‘organic’ combination of human intelligence with the abilities of animals is a future that capitalizes on things humans can not do but also what animals can not do. To combine human intelligence with the body of any animal creates a new step in human and animal relationship. When creating an animal/human chimera that still possesses all of the abilities of both a human and a animal (though this would be the ideal scenario) brings forth all of the advantages and disadvantages. Technology inspired from animals is nothing new as we look at the abilities of animals and use some of them for ourselves.

The future of animals mixed with human technology is the general premise for my digital artifact; a board game. From a perspective of animals being combined with future technology to create a cyborg octopus that has the intelligence of man, machine and animal. Players must work together to defeat the Queen Octopus who has become giant from engaging with the natural land, artificial beings and human creations. When left in a natural environment without human interruption animals grow larger. Human curiosity impacted on the natural progress on animals and their behaviour. With challenging the natural order of animals and giving them the power of machines, humans selectively breed animals for specific needs. My board game from my perspective is the next step of human and technological involvement with animals. Unlike H.G Wells novel he did not deal with the mechanical aspects for what humans create just the organic material of human and animal. My board game utilizes the constant need for survival by engaging players with the need to better themselves through combining themselves with technology to further themselves, the game and reach salvation.

The Purpose of a Dairy Cow is a Life to be Used

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Cows-in-field

A group of Dairy Cows. Source

Wherever we have technology there are humans who created it and change it, and wherever we have humans we have animals that are having technology used upon them for better and for worse. With an ongoing relationship between humans and animals, technology provides itself as a catalyst to further aide in the development of that relationship. Looking at the humble dairy cow and the technology that has changed the way we engage with them we can see both the positive and negative aspects that technology has created. The ethics involved around using technology throughout a cows’ life for its purpose in life.

Starting with the birth of baby cows; calves. We are greeted with the way in which the mother is kept and looked after. As the need to create more and more food to look after more and more people research has found that utilizing the proper housing space for your animals is beneficial to the longevity of your animals and for producing more milk. From the time of just having an open field with cows roaming, barns have been built to house cows with soft mattresses, sand beds or water beds for them to sleep on. This change of behaviour from people towards their cows is a simple matter of thinking about the care of the cow. This answered the question about what would make a cow comfortable to produce more milk with barns and mattresses among other things were the solution. This aided in the cows producing more milk but is a small scale of growth in getting results as more has been done.

The building of the barn also benefited in the birthing of calves. As with any creature that gives birth there can be complications – cows are no exception. Technology has aided in finding out signs in knowing how far along a cow is along it its production cycle and being able to identify signs that show birth is close. Those signs being change in body temperature, respiration and heart rates, enlargement of the vulva and udder changes among other things. These signs provide a guideline for when the birth may occur but the time can still change so much and the handlers would not be ready. Research conducted by R. G. Mortimer proves that the difficulty a cow faces when birthing can be detrimental to the purpose of the cow in the long run. A milking cow that faces trauma from giving birth can subsequently end up producing less milk and have difficulties getting pregnant again. Cameras and sensors have been used as a simple solution to dealing with surprise time-of-day births. As human involvement as well as technology is the solution for this crisis.

For cows that live the life of being on a dairy farm they are only useful if they produce large quantities of milk as over the years a greater demand for milk has occurred. Dairy Australia has found that over the past 30 years milk production has nearly doubled – 5,432 million litres in the 1979/80 to 9,539 million litres in 2015/16. Further research showed they produce larger quantities of milk when that have gone through the pregnancy cycle. It is now in the farmer’s best interest to get their cows pregnant as quickly as possible, having one calf after another. Technology plays a part in finding the right times of a cows’ life that “forced” pregnancy would be ideal to occur and to close the window from subsequent births. Software called AfiFarm is the most comprehensive management software that can be tailored to the farmers needs that creates an efficient way to get the most out of dairy cows. Being able to analyse weight, milk conductivity, pedometers, and the milk the cow is producing for fat:protein ratio. Problems such as illnesses and natural defects can be found and solved before they get serious and affect the milk yield from the cow. As the purpose of these dairy cows is to produce milk, if they lose their purpose then they are killed. The average life span of a dairy cow is seen to be around 20 years, however with the forced involvement of humans and technology a lot of dairy cows barely make it past 7 years old.


Looking at how often dairy cows need to be pregnant and how many calves need to be born not for the purpose of being a part of the herd but for the purpose of having the mother gestate for milk. Technology has been used in a darker, less compassionate way. These little calves that are born with no purpose and in a majority of cases are killed, or sold overseas then killed. The main purpose if not killed as soon as being born is to be crated in a small 22 inch by 54 inch for 5 to 14 weeks then killed for veal. Male dairy calves serve no purpose for producing milk or being a beef cow as the breed of cows are different, so every male calf is sent away and killed. Not every female calf escapes this fate either as the only need for a female calf is to replace a member of the herd. The Department of Dairy Science at the University of Wisconsin reports that the gender ratio of dairy cow’s calves is Male 53.3% to Female 46.7%. Taken from their mothers within 12 – 24 hours (sometimes immediately), the mothers will never see their calf again. In Australia, it has been estimated that 400,000 calves each year serve no purpose – not wanted for replacement of the herd or wanted for veal. These calves are considered as “waste products” and are destroyed within 5 – 6 days of being born.

In cases where the farmer sees the benefit in getting a pregnant cow that is close to giving birth back into the milking herd. They will call a veterinarian to induce the cow into giving birth sooner than expected, seen to be at least 3 weeks premature. In most cases the premature calf is too weak and killed instantly on the farm by the farmer. While the mother is sent back through the milking station as that is the purpose of her. The purpose that dairy cows have is straight forward, but the technology used on them as people change with technology continues to affect the animals that humans use. When there are animals that no longer serve a purpose then what happens to them is simply death. When animals serve a purpose then they are cared for and looked after as much as possible to maintain that purpose.

Solutions have been talked about in providing a more stable environment for dairy cows and their calves. Looking at having cows that are useful for both milk and beef production like the Holstein breed of cow in the pictures above is useful for multiple purposes. Farmers have also initiated an understanding of limiting the amount of milk a cow will give each day so there is always enough to raise a healthy calf. The dairy cow is quintessential to the cow milk industry so being looked after and cared for is a priority, though as technology develops and demand has been increased then there is the difficult solution of putting which priority over another.

The Future of Animals presented in Anime

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Humans are the leading cause for change with animals and technology. Depending on the relationship between the type of animal and humans, will justify the impact of how technology is used to change the animal. While there can only be so much change in real life about how people use animals, anime takes a hold of the creator’s imaginations and utilizes future technology for better or for worse.

Looking at Pokemon, a mild child friendly Anime there are a number of aspects that challenge the perception of every day animals and the impact of technology on them. Pokemon being abundant throughout the land, living free in their natural habitat but also being the goal to capture for future Pokemon Trainers brings to light the purpose of them. Comparable to real life animals we see in the wild or the ones we have as pets. The connection between making some Pokemon resemble real life animal’s aides in the purpose that we would also impose on them. Magikarp known by players as the weakest Pokemon of Generation One – it is in resemblance to the real life yellow rockfish. Utilizes the simple change of evolution to get it to evolve. The trainer impacts on the rate of evolution in a number of ways to get the perfect evolution – which in a Gyarados.

Items impact the change that occurs, when technology created by companies in the game give the player the capability to change the natural progression of evolution. Based on the intention or purpose of the Magikarp the tools used on it are varied. To give it experience boost to evolve quicker an item called ‘Exp. Share’ (Experience Share) is used that grows Magikarp without having to battle with it. Depending on what type of Gyarados you want, in the means of way of battling other players you would use selective breeding to get the Magikarp of your choice then use items to aide in the creating of a specific design of Gyarados. The items used are artificial but the final outcome after all the items a used is seen as a natural creation. The player just aided in having that natural creation. This selective breeding can be seen in dogs today, when compared to the dogs of decades ago. Shown here are a number of dog breeds that have changed over the last 100 years to aide in the most desirable traits from these dogs. While there are not Pokemon diseases affecting the selective breeding process. The consequences of doing it in real life with dogs have placed burdens on the animals.

bulldog change in breed

The Change in breeding Bulldogs over the years. Source

Playing with the natural processes of animals is not just restricted to the deemed “ethical standard”, when the purpose of an animal is to aide in the advancement of technology, not so by being the solution but by being the tool of what human mind can think of then we get to a point where only so few will tread. In the Anime, Full Metal Alchemist the experimentation of creating a chimera is brought to light to the viewer. Chimera being the combination of both mythological understanding and the medical understanding. What was brought to the attention was the purpose of trying to create a chimera that could understand and talk human speech without the using or endangering a human in anyway. The life work of Shou Tucker was under threat and with little compassion for anything else around him he made a decision that would go against every ethical means in real life. Though this is an anime and with the freedom of creation, that creation can be used in any way to provoke the audience. So, with this to create a chimera Tucker would use his own daughter Nine and her dog Alexander to create a chimera capable of interacting with humans. While nothing today with the use of technology has been used to create the combination of human and animal is such a graphic display of unethical practices, The curiosity of human intervention with technology has still aided in the combination of added linked species to create something new.

Anime gives an insight into the use of animals greater than in real life as the only limitation is what you can create. Though as time has gone on and how technology has changed the purpose of animals will change. When animals lose their purpose what else is there to do with them. To simply leave them be would be an easy answer but to act it out, seems woeful.