Dan Dias

| Blog and Portfolio

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Current Hour Count: 15h 45m

I’ve been playing this game for the past 3 weeks. I put about an hour a day when I can. That excludes the first day we bought the Nintendo Switch and the game. I was sick the next day (actually sick, but convenient timing!) and got almost 5 hours. Playing it on the Switch is handy since there can be competition for the screen with my wife or my two year old.

My Thoughts So Far

Many games exist within a large, open world but this one of those is one of the best. The gameplay systems and the interaction between them is what sets Breath of the Wild above the rest. Stamina, temperature, cooking, material properties, destructible objects, and sound/hearing all blend together in satisfying ways. The upshot of that is that when you ask the question: “Can I?” the answer is often yes. This leads to surprising moments that when you find them or someone tells you about, you find yourself saying, of course that’s a thing!

I have a friend at work who is a major part of me wanting the game. She started telling me about her adventures with Link and it sounded so cool. I was doubtful I’d ever be able to play it since my wife and I have a 2 year old and an almost 5 month old. My free time is limited. It surprised me that the game is still satisfying in small doses.

Most open world games you fire up with the understanding you are going to be there awhile. They take a certain amount of mental prep to even fire up. I don’t get any of that from Breath of the Wild. There’s always bite sized tasks you can perform; prescribed by the game or not. One night I did 15 minutes where I set my goal to climb a particular mountain and that was engaging and fun.

I’m starting to notice I’ve been able to take on greater challenges, despite the fact there’s no leveling system. I’m not sure what the secret is to this. I suspect it has something to do with enemy group difficulty and the usefulness of items that monsters drop. The end result is it enhances the feeling of mastery over the game’s systems. I finished my first boss/dungeon which was a satisfying accomplishment.

While I’ve played most of the 2D games in the series, this is the first 3D Zelda game I have played. From talking to others, there are some pretty notable ones: Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and Wind Waker. I wonder if I’ll be able to go back to those after playing this. By all accounts, this is a different game than those so hopefully my brain won’t do that thing where it yearns for one work to be something altogether different.

Apr 22 2017

Source Control

The source for this post comes from an article on MIT Technology Review. I’ve always had a fascination with Artificial Intelligence for video game purposes; which isn’t true AI. More like ½ part loose decision making algorthims, 2 parts smoke, 2 part mirrors, and the last ½ suspension of disbelief. Anyway, check out the article if you want but I’ll summarize down below.

The Short, Short Version

The basic premise is that deep learning neural networks make their own inputs and outputs between parts of their network. In essence, they program themselves. This means engineers that create the networks aren’t able to easily understand the path of the input because they didn’t write it. The decision workflow ends up being so complex with larger and larger networks. People are working on ways to get AI to explain itself and give a human digestible reason for a decision. This is all a gross oversimplification of the article, but it’s the part that’s relevant to what I’m thinking about.

My Relationship With AI

There’s an ongoing fictional universe in my head that has evolved over time. It’s a story I’ve wanted to tell, but it’s never been ready. One thing has been key in the story for the years I’ve been thinking about it; true AI and its relationship with the lives of people. The main character has always been someone who could basically do magic by interfacing with their AI better than most. It always makes sense to me since some people have an aptitude with technical skills, but it did not seem realistic for the reason to simply be because they are better at talking to an AI. Considering the article, maybe it’s not as far fetched as I thought.

When I was young and didn’t understand how game AI worked, I entertained the idea that the computer player was secretly a human, somewhere else, competing against me. There was a rational part of my brain that knew that wasn’t possible but I liked the fantasy of it. I may have been a lonely child. There are games that have toyed with the idea of bluring the line between Artificial and Human Intelligence.

Do Androids Deep Dream of Electric Sheep?

Some of the concepts in the article, extrapolated out to the absurd/Sci Fi, could be useful in determining the soul and motivations of AI. I’m experimenting with Unreal and exploring the way to create a Souls-like game. I’m transmuting my universe once again (actually, more like using a small section). It takes place in the city of Utopia, the world’s first fully Smart city. Things went very wrong with this city because, of course they did. Basic idea is that different AI were in charge of running the city, with on central core to coordinate them.

I want to create all different types of AI cores, basing them off mythological archetypes. The puppet master designed to bring entertainment to residents who embodies the Trickster. The core that dictates traffic and passage throughout the city who takes cues from the liminal deity, Hecate. It has been fun thinking of the different aspects that make a city run, applying them to mythological beings, and then considering their AI personality and motivations. What does their model of the world look like and how do they act on it?

Apr 8 2017

Why relaunch?

This is a relaunch of my blog and portfolio. I originally had it hosted on Wordpress. This always bugged me. I’m someone who likes to play around with stuff and Wordpress was less open.

Enter JAMStack

One day, I discovered JAMStack. The concept appealed to me. While this blog isn’t directly a JAMStack project (so far), researching it led me to projects that are compatible. Hexo seems to be the one that wins out.

AWS hosted

This switch also gives me an opportunity to learn my hosting service of choice, AWS. I picked AWS for three reasons. The first is it’s simple to host a static site from an S3 bucket. Second, should I decide to play around with some application-like behavior on here, Lambda offers a good solution to build APIs; I’ve already done some work with it in creating my Alexa Skill, The Collector. Lastly, the company I work for has been transitioning to AWS for their products, I support the products, learning more about AWS helps!


I want this to be a place where I explore neat ideas, share lessons learned and announce new things.

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