Idea Byre

The right way to punctuate a sentence is to use our common stock of marks to their fullest, intentionally selecting them for the meaning that's intdended.

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In this post I introduced my erosion-based model for building landscapes -- and promised details on how it works. Here's how.

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To many, the most perfect shape is the circle -- emblematic of unity -- or the square -- for combining with itself in a tile. But in the city Pherasa, the people have long held the spiral above all other forms. For them it is the basis of all aesthetics, and used in architecture, art, religion and war.

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We all know that statistics can lie and confuse. We can easily confuse ourselves, in fact -- if we don't think very carefully about what a statistic is measuring, and what we want to know. A subtle mismatch between these can cause "bugs" in our calculations and our thinking. Here is one interesting sort of statistical bug, based on very simple math.

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Long strings of adjectives can decorate a noun, but there are three choices about how they are punctuated: they can be left alone, given commas, or combined with hyphens.

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If a bank is creating new paper notes, what sizes should it issue to make transactions easiest for the public? This is one example of an type of problem I've become interested in. It is basically about how to divide a scale into discrete intervals, under various constraints. It seems very abstract, but it actually has a lot to do with real-world design and engineering.

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There is an interesting possibility of designing tabletop games that are tru hybrids of the RPG and strategy genres. But to do so, we must appreciate the kinds of rules such games use, so we can see how to carefully combine them.

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Tabletop games can often only handle a narrow range of physical (or other) scales, but for some concepts, widely varying scales are relevant. WEG's old Star Wars d6 used different scales -- so people, speeders, and ships could all come into play -- using one method we'll look at.

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Graphs and charts often mislead by obscuring the unreliability of their source data. But even if a graph-maker wants to do better, it can be hard to present such information intelligibly, without long or technical sidebars. Here is one approach for visually displaying both the primary data, and their reliability, in one graph.

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What does it take for a game to be good and also centered around an abstract dynamic?

For instance, can we have a game that "explores" or is centered around the idea of allometric scaling? (This is where relative strengths and weaknesses change disproportionately with changes in something's size.) Such an idea seems promising, but how can a game be made from it?

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