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Diablo Mortality

2018 November 21

Even though I’m a grown-up (my wife would argue against this point most likely), I still find time to play games.  Given this status, with kids, a job, and responsibilities, I have limited time to play – so the concept of a “Dad Game” comes into play.

I have a few games in my regular repertoire.  The one I play most often is Diablo 3, and that’s where this story begins …
Along with other D3 fans, I carefully monitored Blizzcon for any news about Diablo.  And there it was – Diablo Immortal.  A phone game.  A phone game?  Seriously?

It was absolutely amazing to watch the audience response, then the Dev response.  The room went cold.  The questions to Devs were – well – frankly rude but to the point.  “Is this an out-of-band April fools Day joke?” one fan shared in the session.

The response?  “You guys all have phones right?”.


Blizzard – I have to say that I absolutely love Diablo 3.

Why?  It’s the kind of game that I can jump in and play solo for as little as 15 minutes and walk away satisfied – OR – I can binge and go full multiplayer with friends.  The end-game is amazing.  Seasons have really extended my interest quite a bit.

So consider “Diablo Immortal” and why I think it’s not a good fit for your existing customer base …


Point #1 – Immersion

You can argue with me, but as compared with a 60” TV screen and a current console or a 30” monitor and a PC/Mac with a respectable video card you have a very rich and immersive experience as a gamer.

On Mobile, we’re now reduced to a small rectangle – partially obscured by my own damn fingers!


Point #2 – “Input Fidelity”

Now visualize my Console/Computer setup.  Usually I have a great controller or a high-end keyboard (mine is a new Corsair MX70 with Cherry Browns) and amazing mouse.

On Mobile, we lack “input fidelity”.  Maybe I can dock the phone and get a keyboard/mouse or connect a controller at which point you essentially have a PC.  But the fact remains that by default it’s a poor experience.

I want a comfortable environment with no input lag.  I also don’t want my view obscured by my own damn fingers.

And don’t forget that you’re at a disadvantage physically too.  Eventually you’ll want to put the phone down when your arms get shaky.  Not to mention that the phone may get pretty hot!


Point #3 – The Future is (Partially) Mobile, but Not for Serious Gamers

As a business person, I can see why Blizzard wants to go Mobile.  Why?  Everyone is doing it.  PUBG, Fortnite, and other devs are all jumping on mobile and the business model is actually pretty sound.  Mobile gamers are well-conditioned to monetization.  In fact they’re often ok with it.  So it makes sense to explore that market.

There is, however, some massive caveats for “serious gamers” …

If you’re in any way serious about your gaming experience, you’re going to be thinking about Twitch.  That means you’re going to invest in a solid video camera, a higher quality microphone, maybe a green screen, and more.  That all merits the use of a computer – even when you’re playing on a console.

You should also think about your network experience.  If you’re in multiplayer mode, a hard-wired network adapter is preferable.  Sure, you may have solid WiFi but a solid physical network certainly beats out WiFi and any other option for sheer stability.


A Reminder About Surveys

With all this in mind, I do want to share a thought:  “Why aren’t you asking us what we want?”  I’d argue that Customer Success should be in play with Video Games as much as it is with an other SaaS organization.

In Customer Success, we’ve learned to regularly send out surveys and work to solicit the “Voice of the Customer”.  The easiest way to get at this information is – simply – surveys.  They’re easy to set up and if they’re designed well, they’ll help Product teams understand what customers like, what they hate, and what they want.

I don’t recall ever seeing a survey from Blizzard.  Maybe that happened, but as much as I’ve played D3 lately I’m a target for feedback (or should be).

Again to close this out, I don’t think anybody disagrees that Mobile isn’t a good market but you certainly should expect responses like what you experienced at Blizzcon 2018 from your most active fans.

Ubuntu 18.04 Upgrade and Crashplan

2018 June 21
by Dave

If you’re like me and have a Drobo, you realize that you journey to back up your data isn’t complete when files make it to the device.  Oh no, it’s a lot more complicated than that …

When I bought the Drobo I was super excited to see that they’d listed a Crashplan app on the box.  Sadly, this was a complete falsehood.  I won’t go into details here other than to say that it was misleading.  Crashplan had no intention to provide native support the device  (and I don’t actually fault them for this – it’s work to support builds for different platforms).  There were tricks involved and it was, quite frankly, a nightmare.

But as a relentless computer nerd, I didn’t give up.

After talking to an absolutely awesome Support team member from Code 42 (Crashplan) I learned that I could actually use their Linux client, mount shares to my Drobo, and back up from there.  Perfect!  Essentially, make new directories (sudo mkdir /mnt/drobo/<your directory>), create fstab entries to mount the shares, and select them from the client.  Bam!  And it worked well for quite a while …

But enter Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (sigh).

To date, I’ve enjoyed Ubuntu.  It’s been my go-to distro for a lot of reasons, but upon update video wouldn’t work.  My screen quite literally strobed, and I felt almost like I’d have a seizure while trying to troubleshoot.  It took me many weeks of poking around, but eventually found the solution.  In brief, here’s what I had to do:

1 – Find New Drivers

I found this really great article explaining the steps for an AMD card.  In my case, I had an AMD Radeon 7700 Series card.  Nothing fancy, nothing new, but solid and dependable.  Yet not working.

The directions above were clear, although I tried this TWICE to no avail.  Again – because I really want my system to work and not have to rebuild – I tried again today (June 20th, 2018) and discovered new drivers.  This last time, using the file “amdgpu-pro-18.20-606296.tar.xz” worked.  Driver installed.  No seizure-inducing flashing.  Also, I was often not able to log in and would have to reboot, reboot again, etc.

Step one down …

2 – Fix Crashplan UI Crash

Once past the driver issue, I experienced another disappointment.  Upon clicking the Crashplan icon – which for the record worked before – it would never open.  Again, sighs …  I checked the logs:  /usr/local/crashplan/log/ui_error.log

Specifically, the error read:  “error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file”

Fortunately the error is one that others had addressed before. In 18.02 beta, there’s a missing library called “” (referenced above).

Solution:  sudo apt -y install libgconf2-4

Once this library was installed, I clicked Crashplan and it worked perfectly.

Thank you Interwebs for the answers.  I see a nice “Backup Complete”.



A Short Story About Science

2017 November 1
by Dave
As today we see another skeptic being appointed to a Senior Role at NASA, I want to share a story …
When I worked in the laboratory doing standard testing for pharmaceuticals, I received some complaints about odors in the laboratory.  One of our Health and Safety authorities came to visit, and to demand that I do the test differently.
In this case, I was doing a titration with Sodium Perchlorate in Glacial Acetic Acid.  If you’ve smelled vinegar at home, Glacial Acetic Acid is an order of magnitude more offensive.  In other words … nasty!  Any acid can be corrosive, so you just take care to wear protective gear … and hold your breath.  No worries for a seasoned lab chemist!
So let’s get to the point:  This gentleman demanded that I perform my work in a “hood” … basically a super-powerful bathroom vent.  To me, I know what would happen if I followed his order.  That this stuff is super sensitive.  In any titration, you have a standardized solution which is sensitive to the environment.  My results would drift as the solution evaporated and the solution became more concentrated.  Even on the bench you have to perform the tests quickly.
Threats ensued.  He didn’t believe me … was “skeptical”.  Even wanted to take action against me.  Wow.  I’m just doing my job, following best practices and good common laboratory sense.
So I proposed an experiment.  I’d do my test on the bench out in the open AND in the hood, have someone watch, and let the data explain what I already knew to be true.  Get that last point?  LET THE DATA EXPLAIN.
The results?  As you would guess, the test in the hood came back completely out-of-whack.  Over time you could see results literally drift higher and higher as tested against a known standard.
There was no further argument.  In fact, even though he was annoyed you could see that it also earned me some credit.
I’m from Missouri (originally).  You know … the “Show Me” state.
My point is that It’s ok to be skeptical, to not easily be convinced.  In fact, it’s a lot more fun to challenge people and not just accept things blindly.  “Show Me”, however, is a command asking you to do follow through methodically, and with data to substantiate your position.  It’s often hard work too.
Coming full circle, my hope is that if authorities are going to stand up to be skeptical they must ask for, and even demand data to support or refute their position.  Climate change, for example, is one of those things.  You can say it’s fake, but we have a lot of data that argues to the contrary.
Be afraid of authorities who have an agenda that’s not driven by supporting data.

Global Game Jam 2012!

2011 December 6
by Dave

Do you love video games?  Ever want to design your own?  Your wish is granted!

On January 27-29, 2012 many of the St. Louis Game Developers will be attending the Global Game Jam 2012 which this year will be hosted at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.  If you want to attend, please register here:

St. Louis Global Game Jam Signup

For Webster University students, I will be leading a 1-hour class at Webster University (INTM 3150.06) in Spring 2012 which will allow you to receive extra preparation for the event and also receive credit for your effort!!!

For those seeking to become involved in video game design in St. Louis, there is an active and thriving community here and many game development studios will be in attendance.  This is your best and brightest opportunity to show your skills and get connected too …

Also, before you say “I don’t know anything about game design”, remember that this field takes all types to create successful games!  Particularly for my students, you may find your skills in demand … previous events have particularly suffered from a lack of artistically-inclined people so come out and have fun!



“Art With Teeth” – Saturday, December 10th @ 1 pm

2011 December 6
by Dave

On December 10th, I’ll be giving a talk that I call “Art With Teeth” at Laumeier Sculpture Park.  The talk will begin at 1 pm and is a free event.  Official information is at Laumeier’s Website.

The focus of this discussion will begin with “Virtual Laumeier”, my contribution to “Electric is the Love”.  This will be a casual discussion where I’ll explore how the idea came about, how it is relevant to the exhibit and the world of art itself.  Q&A will follow, so bring good questions!


Electric Is The Love

2011 October 17
by Dave

Earlier this year I was approached by Dana Turkovic, the Curator of Laumeier Sculpture Park, and asked if I’d be interested in participating in a unique exhibit starting this Fall. It’s hard to pass opportunities like this, so I gladly accepted.


That was, of course, the easy part …

The hard part came after.  To this point (now being October) I’ve spent months thinking, fiddling around with various things, and learning quite a bit.  The end result is an interactive installation that I call “Virtual Laumeier“, which features Minecraft, a lot of Google Maps, and a number of Webster students (and a couple friends).  Generally, everything I’ve done with Warfactory over the last decade has been mixed in and stirred repeatedly, resulting in something that’s more “art” than “game” and homage to the artists and Laumeier itself.

We’re about two weeks out from the exhibit opening, and I finally feel the stress starting to fade and the real excitement beginning to take root.  If you want to learn more, hop on over to to see the landing page for my piece of this great exhibit.  For a more general approach, check out Electric is the Love, the overall work.  Dana came up with great ideas and a cool ensemble of practitioners ranging from audio to sculpture.  I’m pretty thrilled to be a part of this.

The gallery opens on October 29th at 5 p.m. to the public, and will run through January 29th, 2012.  Check it out and as always, feel free to ask me questions!


Summer STL Game Jam 2011 – How and Why to Get Cracking on Game Development in the St. Louis Region

2011 July 10
by Dave

So you’re interested in Game Design, you say?  Perhaps this is why you’ve stumbled upon my obscure blog after noticing a link and you’re looking for tips (hopefully, you never know!).  Let me set the record straight, there are maybe millions of people who set aside their controller or keyboard and ponder, “Gee … I should be a game developer!”   Some pick the controller back up and lose themselves back in whatever game they’re playing, but others go to Game Jam.

Devs hard at work at the St. Louis Game Jam 2011

After spending the last weekend with developers and hopeful developers, I can tell you this … if you want to break into the video game market, stop playing games and start making them.  In the St. Louis Area there’s more going on than you think … Companies like Nvidia, Simutronics, and Riot Games have offices here.  A little further out you’ll run into companies such as IDC Projects.  And even more smaller companies, start-ups, and “rogue developers” who may or may not have their own companies in tow live here and make games.  Some of them are even, for this industry, legends.  And the best part?  You (yes you) can meet and interact with these people just by getting involved.  It’s safe, it’s fun, and there’s room for everyone.

Make sure you check out for the next event (January 2012) and join the St. Louis Game Developers Meetup Group if you’re interested and I’ll see you at upcoming events!



INTM 3150.12 – Ender’s Game and the Cooperative Multiplayer Experience

2011 July 6
by Dave

Based on interest from the summer course and some posts on Facebook, I’ve decided to run a second class this Fall 2011 that expands our understanding of Multiplayer Games and their impact on society.  This course is a 1-hour weekend class running from November 4th to 5th (rough hours Friday 5-9, Saturday 9-5 ).


Where my summer course allowed us to explore multiplayer games such as Counter-Strike, Halo 3, and Call of Duty: Black Ops … contrasting online vs LAN play and learning how community makes a game, this course will explore the “cooperative” mode via blockbusters such as Diablo 2 , Serious Sam, Unreal Tournament or other titles which featured “us against the invading horde”.  Exact titles are yet to be determined, but I’m receptive to student input in advance!

If you’re a student at Webster, you can find this in the Online Catalog as INTM 3150.12 – Ender’s Game and the Cooperative Multiplayer Experience.  There are no pre-requisites for this class, there will be a healthy dose of gaming, and you’ll walk away thinking differently about the future of cooperative games!



A New Venture …

2011 June 25
by Dave

So of course I’ve hinted around at a new project that I’m working on.  It’s different; vastly different in focus from LAN Parties and teaching Video Game Design.  But yet, it will feature elements of things that I’ve worked on throughout the last decade.  And yes, it involves video games (so don’t worry)!

While I’m going to initially withhold details from the public eye, I’m writing this to let everyone know that I am going to be looking for a team … in a lot of ways much like the teams I’ve always enlisted for Warfactory to do LAN Parties, run events, etc.  This project is going to, first and foremost, involve a small “core” group which will be the foundation of a different kind of collaborative event which will span several months in it’s active state and require preparation time as well.

I’m definitely going to be screening this “core team” for certain attributes … everyone should, of course, be a gamer and have enough free time to work regularly with me towards what I’d call a “virtual reality construction effort of awe-inspiring proportions”.  And also, the people involved will likely need to help organize community efforts behind them to share the load of the project and gather required data.  Outright I need perhaps 4-6 people with background in IT, Social Media, Interactive Media, Computer Science, and the Arts.

More details will come later on, but for those of you who are intrigued … particularly my friends, students, and people I’m involved in with on-going projects of various sorts … please contact me and I’ll share my vision.  This is the kind of project that will most definitely look good on a portfolio as it has public appeal.  Above all it’s an excuse to “play video games for a real purpose”, which is something I’ve been hoping to unleash on the world for a long, long time!

Video Game Design Classes at Webster University

2011 April 29
by Dave

So you want to break into Video Game Design and live in the St. Louis Area.  Don’t know where to go or think you have to go to expensive schools like Full Sail?  Think again …

If you’re a student in the St. Louis area, Webster University is a great place to learn about Video Game Design.  For those of you who follow my Facebook or Twitter feeds, I’ve been remiss lately as I’ve focused this semester on teaching a PHP Course this semester, and keeping busy learning new technologies in my day job at Certara.  Even so, I and others have been busy.  What’s in store for the coming years?  Read on …

read more…