The Human Factor

The Human Factor

In order to draw a crowd, or more specifically sell a product/idea, the creator seems to need to link the product with some type of connection to people. In the creative world, we tend to go beyond to just appealing to our sense of “betterment”. Our sense of “betterment” would be something that makes us faster, smarter, stronger, or more gorgeous to others. This seems to be just the beginning, appeal to the self. To really reach an audience, we are reaching deep to connect on a more basic level. We need you to care, the human factor.

Advertisers are no longer satisfied with just comparing their product with others in similar capacities. They are taking that white smile and showing how it will affect your relationships, your work and your health. Beer is no longer just a cooling beverage. It is about the bond you have for your puppy and if you care for your puppy you will care for this beer.

How about if that puppy can talk and share how it is feeling? Mr. Ed, “The Talking Horse”, was released in 1958 with a well received audience. In my opinion, Mr. Ed was a human from a horse’s perspective as much as we humans could ascertain that perspective. He was very popular. Just think about some of your favorite characters over time. What about even King Kong hanging onto the Empire State Building. I was in the group who was worried about King Kong and wanted them to stop shooting at him, we cared.

Science Fiction and Fantasy have relied upon the human factor for ages. How else can they get their audiences to accept these alien cultures and characters as being worthwhile of our attention. Now, granted, the majority of them have many human physical features such as faces and limbs. We have characters such as Chewbacca who is a member of a culture that has a history of its own. And,even though the developers are replacing the story line, for those of us who have read all the stories, I still cried when Chewbacca died! Chewbacca is a more concrete example. More recently, human feelings were animated with human features and characteristics. The amazing part is that we, the audience, found ourselves caring for the “feeling” characters almost more than the humans they were representing. Who wouldn’t want Sadness to be better?

Where we seem to be ambivalent is in the area of technology. We are willing to accept many things for technology to assume human characteristics and emotions as well as humans caring for characters of technology. I do not believe the “Terminator” stories would have been so successful without the human factor. Interestingly enough, in order for more “successful” terminators to conquer, they had to be less human. We even have more positive responses to “Iron Man” because the more human like responses from the mechanical arms in Stark’s lab and his interactions with them. Of course we have all those robots we love such as “R2D2, C-3PO, Number 5 is alive, etc.”. Most of these robots were thinking on their own, problem solving and displaying feelings, just the characteristics to solicit our caring.

For some reason we do not think that those lovable robots are examples of artificial intelligence even though they are thinking and problem solving. They are still subject to the whims of the humans for being “wiped”. Not sure if that is it, but a possibility. After all, the robots do seem to care for their human counterparts as well as each other. I have no claim to have researched or read the developments of artificial intelligence. I just know in our products/ideas we struggle to define the lines of humanity and machine. We seem to want to make artificial intelligence characters the most humanlike yet depict them with the least emotions and connections. I think of these characters as sociopaths, humans without empathy or conscience. Sociopaths are depicted as our most feared criminals as they do not seem to be able to be influenced or redeemed. Often their own behavior is self destructive in the long run. They simply do not care, no or minimal human factor. This seems to be where we are mostly stuck with artificial intelligence characters which is often why they seem to be so frightening. We want them to care so that we can care to capitalize on the human factor.

Every Single Minute

Every Single Minute

My brother once said to me that he knew he was expendable by the time he was nine. My response to him was that he beat me; because, I made the discovery the summer I turned ten. I cried off and on for two weeks. Incredibly you grow up pretty fast under these circumstances. Life became more than precious to me; it resonated in finiteness. It was here where I began my crazy relationship with time.

It was with great frustration the first time I picked up an organization book. Stunned, I read that we should be multi-tasking. My first reaction was to burn the book. I have been multi-tasking since my age was in a single digit! What genius thought this up? I was hoping to be able to not have to multi-task all day long. Yet, I persevered learning a few tips on arranging things to be more efficient.

Then I got into all the goal setting books being driven by higher personal motivators. These systems are just so complex with so many different layers, I had to draw diagrams in order to know how to apply the systems’ diagrams. There were altitudes, guiding principles, levels, numbers, four squares……….one even had an elephant in it; one of my favorites. All of them accounting for time in a day, week, month, year and beyond while trying to link the higher internal human principles of actualization to time. Being highly creative and hyperactive might explain why I had some difficulties with this. I need structure to be productive but seem to fight against it at the same time. Hence, my ever seeking a system that will work for me. The strange part is I don’t seem to have a problem getting things done. Yes, I do procrastinate at times; but, it is usually because I am still working on the task in my head.

Seeing things in my head may indeed be the problem. That 3D space is just not converting to the 2D space of planning. I do not make lists well. Every time I sit down to make a list I can’t seem to remember what goes on it. I have to do a visualization exercise to bring the items to mind. I just seem to be maintaining a running record in my head of all the tasks or actions, as some systems call them, that I need to do over time. I do know that the systems’ objective is for you to get all the organizational outcomes out into a system to free your mind.

Being free would certainly be desirable. In the meantime, I will continue my exploration of organizing and managing time. Maybe, as the precious resource of time ticks away, I should be looking more into my own outcomes instead of trying to account for every single minute.


Click, click.
Click, click.
Click, click.
Click, click.
Click, click.
Wham! I smacked the pen out of the slim manicured hand. Aaaagh, crack! My head bounced off the tram car window as warm liquid spurted over my mouth.

Click, click, click, click,click, click………
“Run!” Darren whispered harshly.
Kids scattered everywhere as they heard Mrs. Drew’s high heels on the hard floor.

Above in the eaves of the attic ceiling the giant spiders lay waiting for their prey. A quiet shuffling of many feet came up the stairs.
”Quiet” whispered Lyle.
The group quickly found hiding places behind the furniture in the darkest corners of attic believing they were safe. Faintly a sound could be heard coming closer. Fast and faster it came as from many little nails.
Click, click, click. click, click, click, click, click ………….

Where do we go with each of these story events? Each passage uses the same sound for different reasons but moves the story forward in a simple way. Which direction can you take a simple click?

2015 Holiday Game Jam

What better gift can one receive than the experience and exhaustion that comes from a Game Jam. As if the holidays weren’t stressful enough with family, old friends, traditions, travel, of of course that last min party preparation. With less than 3 days to jam out a game before christmas eve, despite the warm weather in the northeast, we had a snow covered mountain to climb. We elected to use Unreal Engine 4, not because we were familiar but instead the opposite. Our goal was to gain as much knowledge as quickly as possible while still producing “a game”(using a loose definition).

Our goal: make a top down constant scrolling shooter e.g. Capcom’s “1942” and sequel “1943:Battle of Midway” targeted for portrait mode on mobile devices. At the end of the first day we laid out an outline; in retrospect our goals were pretty ambitions for 2 unreal 4 noobies.

First focusing on the good, I’m going to list some of the things we managed to achieve. In game flat textured models for both the hero ship and enemy towers. Projectiles that fire from the enemy towers. A scrolling level that constantly deletes passed sections while adding new sections.

We also had player death on collision with obstacles or projectiles, adding in explosions and sound effects using unreal mobile starter content. In addition the starter content also provided us with an obstacle mesh, as a rock, and textures for the environment.

In conclusion there was a lot more we wanted to accomplish; player shooting, life gauge, collectables, points, more animation, HUD with points, and some menus. It was a fun challenge to see what we could make with an unfamiliar tool. It was a success to help us learn Unreal Engine 4 and the Blueprint visual scripting language.