Monthly Archives: February 2014

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I recently started downloaded and testing all the free games the App Store recommended.  After playing many of them, I began to notice a pattern.

The Problem

The problem for mobile gaming lies in the free model.  If the game is free, the developer has two choices: fill it with annoying in-app purchases and ads or provide very little content.  One of the most common models is to make everything take a long time to complete, and then provide some currency that will speed it up (crystals, anyone?).  Then the game helpfully provides a "get more crystals" option, using, of course, real money.  For instance, Createrria, by Incuvo is free, and has a relatively interesting concept.  The idea is that you can create your own games by using their numerous elements.  Then you can share your creations with the world.  The problem?  Virtually nothing is actually free.  I went in to the Create mode, where you create your own games.  After waiting for an extremely long loading time, it displayed my options.  Nearly any element, save for primitives like dirt and walls, cost "crystals".  And crystals cost, you guessed it, money.

The Cause

Why did this happen?  Before the mobile device explosion, games cost 15 to 50 dollars, and contained rich story lines and complex worlds.  So did mobile devices ruin games?  Not necessarily.  The real problem, it seems, is the App Store.  Both the App Store and Google Play store contain a mixture of all kinds of apps and games, many of them free.  Among all the free or 99 cent apps, a 15 dollar game looks expensive.  Even though that's cheap.  So developers are pushed to release games for a dollar or less, because that's what people expect.  As a result, most games come out with a very limited world, not much new gameplay, and a freemium model.  Endless runner games come to mind.

The other cause is the mobile part of mobile gaming.  A lot of times, a mobile gamer is just looking for something to do for a few minutes.  This leads to simpler games with not many changes.  But for someone looking for an actual engrossing game, many games become quickly boring.

Fixing Mobile Gaming

What can be done?  One possible solution would be to separate "Apps" from "Games".  If games were only found in, say, a Game store, then paid ones would look less out of place.  Then developers could make full mobile games, and release them for 15 to 25 dollars.

Mobile gaming is broken.  Most developers only release endless runners or weak platformers.  It can be fixed, but it will take time.  Otherwise, developers may just give up on making good games.

If you are a biology person, you will know that organisms are classified into groups based on similarities. These similarities can be found in cell structure, appearance, as well as ancestral lineage. All organisms on earth fall into these categories: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. However, these are constantly changing. For instance, about 200 years ago, organisms were plants or animals. This was not descriptive enough for some scientists, though. They decided to divide organisms into 6 kingdoms. Each kingdom has its own unique characteristics that separate it from the others.

Plantae- Multicellular organisms with a nucleus, cell wall, and chloroplasts

Animalia- Multicellular organisms with a nucleus and can move on their own

Protista- Mostly unicellular with a nucleus; multicellular have simple cell structure

Fungi- Mostly multicellular with cell wall and nucleus

Bacteria- Unicellular organisms without nuclei

Archaea- Unicellular organisms that have no nucleus, distinctive chemical makeup, and can withstand extreme conditions

Humans fall under the category of Animalia, and are related (very broadly) to dolphins, apes, and even jellyfish. This is where the other classifications come in. They separate us from dolphins, jellyfish, and apes, and group us with other humans. The full name of a human is Animalia Chordata Mammalia Primate Hominidae Homo Sapiens.

Recently, scientists have added yet another division of classification. These are called domains. A domain is the most broad classification of an organism, and there are only three domains. Any multicellular or mostly multicellular organisms are fall under Eukarya. Bacteria and Archaea have there own domains to themselves. The reasoning for this is just to show that certain organisms are related to each other, even if they seemingly have no connections. It is kind of like saying that you sister's friend's aunt's cousin's dog's neighbor's foreign pen pal is related to you. I see no actual point in this addition, unless you are into confusing biology students.

There is actually another way to classify organisms, but, it is not widely accepted. It is called Tribe. Humans belong to the Tribe Hominini. Tribes fall under family, and are more specific in an organisms DNA. It is commonly used in zoology, and not often taught to students.

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The Source

The pigeonhole principle simply states that if there are n items, put into m different spots, or pigeonholes; and n>m, then there is at least one pigeonhole with more than one item.  This seems logical, yet it can lead to very counterintuitive conclusions.  The birthday paradox is one of these.

The Birthday Paradox

The birthday paradox is an old problem commonly used to show how statistics can come up with surprising, and counterintuitive results.  The paradox asks the question: "How many people are needed to have a 50% chance that a pair of them share a birthday.  At first the obvious solution seems to be a large number, perhaps half of 365.  Statistics, however, tells us the answer is 23 people.  What just happened?

The Math

Finding the number of ways to assign birthdays to 23 people results in numbers so large they are near impossible to work with.  The number of ways to assign the birthdays is 36523, or something like 74 followed by 75 zeroes.  The common way to actually solve this, then, is to work backwards: what's the probability of no one sharing a birthday.  This makes the birthday paradox actually workable.

We could call the probability of two people sharing a birthday P(B), and the opposite probability 1–P(B).  With only 2 people, the probability of them sharing a birthday easy.  There are 365 pairs that work, where they share a birthday.  There are 3652 ways to assign two people birthdays.  So the opposite probability is 364/365, and the probability is 1/365.

For three people, there are 363 possible birthdays that are different than the other two.  So the probability of different birthdays is 1*(1-1/365)*(1-2/365), or 364/365 * 363/365.

So the general rule for 1-P(n), or f(n) is $$ frac{365-(n-1)}{365}cdot f(n-1) $$.

This can be converted to $$ f(n) = frac{365!}{(365-n))!365^n} $$

Work that out for 30 people, and you get .29.  A .29 chance of no two people sharing the same birthday, so 71% chance of a shared birthday!

The problem is our intuitions think about the probability of someone having the same birthday of a certain person.  The birthday paradox solves for any two people.

In fact, by 50 people, the probability is greater than 97%!