Dungeons & Dragons today

Dungeons & Dragons is over 40 years old, and I have been playing it for over 35 years. So what is the most surprising aspect of D&D today for me is how popular the game has become suddenly. A streamlined 5th edition and good use of social media, including celebrity support, has moved D&D into the main stream. People now actually watch other people play D&D on Twitch, and not just when it is Vin Diesel or Wil Wheaton. “D&D player on Twitch / YouTube” is now actually a method to become “internet famous”.

I liked 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons. It is a great combination of role-playing game with a balanced tactical combat game for experienced players. But it is not a suitable game for a mass market, it is far too complicated for that. The much less balanced, much quicker, much easier 5th edition is far more suitable for mass popularity.

It also helped that the makers of Dungeons & Dragons stopped shooting themselves in the foot with their internet policy. In the early days of the internet, TSR was notorious for going after fans putting D&D-related materials on the internet. It took a change of owner in 1997 to Wizards of the Coast and then Hasbro in 1999 to get the company to realize that fans on the internet are free advertising. With a game that is hard to explain to somebody who has never played it, a Twitch / Youtube video of interesting people like Chris Perkins running a game with Acquisitions Incorporated at PAX might actually be superior advertising to anything else.

The only people somewhat unhappy by the current popularity of D&D are the makers and fans of Pathfinder. Pathfinder had shoved D&D off the throne of top pen & paper roleplaying game for several years during 4th edition, only to be left in the dust by 5th edition. Now they are planning a comeback with Pathfinder second edition, with a playtest starting in August.

The Smart Weapons Fallacy: Civilian Casualties From ‘Precision’ Air Strikes in Iraq and Syria

There’s no such thing as a smart bomb.

The final elimination of Isis in Iraq and Syria is close, but welcome though the defeat of these monstrous movements may be, it has only been achieved at the cost of great destruction and loss of life. This is the new face of war which governments try to conceal: a limited number of combat troops on the ground call in devastating air strikes from planes, missiles and drones, be they American or Russian, to clear the way for their advance.

Governments pretend that air wars today are very different from Vietnam half a century ago when towns were notoriously “destroyed in order to save them”. These days air forces – be it the Americans in Iraq, the Russians in Syria or the Saudis in Yemen – say that this mass destruction no longer happens thanks to the greater accuracy of their weapons: using a single sniper, a room in a house can supposedly be hit without harming a family crouching in terror in the room next door.

The sale of vastly expensive high precision weapons to countries such as Saudi Arabia is even justified as a humanitarian measure aimed at reducing civilian casualties.

The PR has changed but not the reality. Despite the claims of enhanced accuracy, drone pictures of west Mosul look very much like pictures of east Aleppo, Raqqa or large parts of Damascus where every building is gutted or reduced to heaps of broken bricks interspersed with craters. The problem for journalists or human rights organizations is that it is almost impossible to verify the claims of victims or the denials of alleged perpetrators at the time.

Witnesses, when they are not dead, have often fled or are too frightened to speak; governments, regular armies and air forces will probably get away with it if they stick to a straight denial that they have done anything wrong. Even if damaging information does eventually come out, the news agenda will have moved on and public interest will be slight.

I found it frustrating during the final weeks of the siege of Mosul, which went on for nine months, to know that there was very heavy civilian loss of life as Iraqi forces backed by air strikes closed in on the Old City, but it was impossible to prove it. I was in touch by mobile phone with two different individuals trapped behind Isis lines who faced the dilemma of either staying where they were and chance being killed by the bombardment, or trying to escape to government-held territory and risk being shot by Isis snipers.

The two men took different decisions, but neither of them survived. One was shot dead by Isis as he and his mother joined a group trying to escape across the Tigris using rubber tires because they could not swim. A second man was wounded in one air strike and killed by a second in the last weeks of the siege. Most of the two men’s extended families were also dead by the time the siege ended.

Fortunately some reporters do go on looking at what really happened in battles like Mosul long after the rest of the media has shifted its attention elsewhere. Joel Wing, in the online journal Musings on Iraq, writes that fresh information on casualties raises “the total number of dead during the operation [to capture Mosul city and surrounding area] to 21,224 and 30,996 wounded. 17,404 of the former and 24,580 of the latter occurred in Mosul. The new numbers still highlighted the fact that there are many more undocumented casualties as the wounded should be four to six times higher than the fatalities figure. Even if you subtract the 5,325 people that were executed by the Islamic State, that would still mean there should be 60,000-90,000 injured from the fighting.”

The figure looks high but is credible, taking into account the use of conventional artillery and Russian multiple rocket-launchers in the attack on west Mosul. Casualties from air attack also went up because the rules on ground troops calling in air strikes were relaxed before the attack on west Mosul began. Isis was killing civilians who tried to escape from the shrinking Isis-held enclave and more people were confined in fewer houses so if one was hit the loss of life would be high.

Even before this happened many more civilians were being killed by air strikes than the US-led air coalition was admitting. The only way to get at the truth is to look at a large sample of air strikes on the ground and see if they were reported by the coalition and, if so, how accurate that reporting was.

This has now been done for the first time by Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal, who visited the sites of nearly 150 air strikes in northern Iraq between April 2016 and June 2017. In a lengthy study called “The Uncounted”, published in The New York Times on 16 November, they reached devastating conclusions. They write that “we found that one in five of the coalition strikes we identified resulted in civilian death, a rate more than 31 times that acknowledge by the coalition”. They add that when it comes to civilian deaths this “may be the least transparent war in recent American history”.

The coalition denied that many of the air strikes that had killed people had ever taken place, but the reporters found that there were videos of several of them on the coalition’s YouTube channel, though these claimed to show the destruction of Isis targets. When they pointed this out, the videos were quietly withdrawn.

The picture that the coalition presented of its air offensive turns out to be a fabrication. In one sample of a residential area called Qaiyara, near Mosul city, the coalition claimed it had killed only one civilian in or near the town and the Iraqi air force said it had killed nobody. It turned out that there had been 40 air strikes on this area which had killed 43 civilians, of whom 19 were men, eight women and 16 children aged 14 or younger. In about a third of fatal strikes Isis had been in close proximity to the civilians, but in half of the cases there had been no discernible Isis presence.

Where there was evidence of Isis it was often flimsy and out of date: in one case a family of six was wiped out aside from a two-year-old child because a local informant had once seen a mortar near their house though it had been moved long before the strike.

The significance of the study is great because for the first time it can be shown what is really happening in a series of wars in the Middle East starting with Afghanistan in 2001. There is no such thing as precision air strikes.

The coalition claimed that only one in 157 of its 14,000 air strikes in Iraq since 2014 have caused a civilian death, but the evidence on the ground shows the real rate to be one in five. The comforting claim by American and British air commanders that smart weapons enable them to avoid killing civilians is simply untrue.

 

 

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Build a Game Without Coding : Android- LeaVe my baThRoom at-least !

Do you have innovative ideas about android games but don’t know how to code ?
Then do not worry about it. If you are interested in making your own games and don’t know coding then you may be  surprised to know that there are many development programs/tools available which do not require any programming or coding skills.

There are software called Game Builders which provide drag and drop facility to create games.But before you start developing your games you must know following things:

  • You should decide Narrative of your game and also how your game would look like.
  • Decide Rules and Control for the game
  • Last but very important Graphics and Music for the game
Lets check out some game builders

1. GameMaker

Looking for a tool that will allow you to make games not just for mobile devices also for video game system then GameMaker is the perfect tool for you. It is popular and most robust tool. It provides customization for development environment by choosing predefined skins or create your own.
GameMaker Studio 2 is the latest and greatest incarnation of GameMaker!
It has everything you need to take your idea from concept to finished game. With no barriers to entry and powerful functionality, GameMaker Studio 2 is the ultimate 2D development environment!


Following  games developed using GameMaker

  • Galactic Missile Defense
  • wanderlust:adventures

    2. BuildBox

    Buildbox is the world’s first software that truly allows anyone to create amazing games regardless of technical skill. Due to its unique user interface, making games becomes a fluid process that doesn’t require any scripting, programming or software design experience. It provide various option such as drag and drop,it also support to create any imaginable 2D games.


    Following  games developed using BuildBox
    • Color Switch
    • The Line Zen
    • Trump On The Run

    Conclusion

    In Today’s Android gaming industry  it is very easy to develop games.There are thousands of new games are being published both by big companies and individual developers but not all of the game makers know how to code. Even you can make games without writing any single line of code.

    So if you have any innovating idea about games but don’t know programming then  simply use game builder tools to develop your own game.

    Interested to learn Android Programming ?

    Gardmore Abbey 5E rerun – Session 4

    This session started with an interesting fight in a wizard’s tower. It turned out the wizard was both undead and quite mad, wanting to preserve everything for eternity by freezing it. So the group was hit with a lot of ice magic which hindered their movement, while battling the wizard and his 4 icy mummies. But the group prevailed and scored another card from the deck of many things, which had been frozen in a block of ice together with a Barlgura demon. That caused quite some concern on how to get to the card without being attacked by the demon, however it turned out that the demon didn’t wake up at all and just got banished back to the abyss by defrosting him.

    So the group moved on to the garrison, having found both possible ways to open the door there, a scroll from the wizard’s tower and the sword of the lost paladin. But there was another Barlgura demon in the garrison, together with some specters, and this time the demon was alive. I had the demon use his disguise spell to assume the same form as the specters, so the group didn’t immediately know where the main threat was. But otherwise the combat went without major events, and the group found the brazier, one of the three objects they were searching for Sir Oakley.

    So they returned to Sir Oakley and rested in the temple. Then they decided to take the stairs in the temple leading down to a dungeon, where they encountered a band of gnolls. The group attacked immediately, while the gnolls tried to retreat. Most of the gnolls made it to the next room and barred the door, but the barbarian just crashed through that door with an exceptional strength check. So the group fought the gnolls from both rooms at once, which was a tough fight. After the fight we decided to stop for this session.

    The best Total War?

    I have played a few of the games in the Total War series, but I am not a big fan. Now I’m playing Total War: Arena, which isn’t a real Total War game at all, and like it much better. I’ve already played over 300 battles in the closed beta, in spite of knowing that my progress will be reset. So, why would I prefer this one?

    I tend to think of games as having a core game, which in the case of Total War would be a battle, and a shell game, which is the rest of the game outside of battle. Now in the classic Total War games I feel that the core and the shell are at counter-purpose to each other. For maximum success in the shell game, the strategic map, you will always want to have battles in which your troops outnumber the enemy. You don’t want pitched battles, because even if you win, the losses will set you back in the strategic game. But if you consider the core game, the battles in which you are clearly superior in numbers and quality just aren’t any fun. The pitched battles are more fun, because they are more balanced and have a less certain outcome.

    Total War: Arena gets rid of the strategic map, and thus resolves that conflict. And the matchmaking makes every battle balanced. I don’t really need to care about losses, because they are automatically bought back with silver, and playing aggressively earns you more silver than your losses cost you. The shell game around the battles is a game of simple progression of units and commanders. And as I said, I don’t even care much about that, as it will be reset at the end of the closed beta anyway.

    Of course I can see how the battles in Total War: Arena might not be for everyone. You only control 3 units, and the action is mostly tactical. Due to the usual lack of coordination when playing with random strangers, the strategic positioning on the battle map is mostly non-existing. In fact the game appears to be designed to aggravate the kind of player that doesn’t suffer fools lightly, because there is friendly fire: Ranged units are not very accurate, and artillery is very slow and might fire on a spot where the enemy has moved away from and an ally moved into, so even with the best of intentions it is nearly impossible to completely avoid causing friendly fire when playing ranged. You can even suffer friendly fire from spearmen or pikemen in phalanx formation. Some players are extremely sensitive to losing units to friendly fire, or losing a battle due to allies playing badly or without coordination. I wouldn’t recommend Total War: Arena to them. Me, I’m having a lot of fun and even bought a founder pack.

    Why companies hiring Interns, build their BRAND faster?

    Why should company hire Intern?

    Increase productivity: Speaking of additional manpower, setting up an internship program allows you to take advantage of short-term support. The extra sets of hands help your employees be more productive, prevent them from becoming overburdened by side projects, as well as free them up to accomplish more creative tasks or those where higher-level, strategic thinking or expertise is required.

    Take advantage of low-cost labor: Interns are an inexpensive resource. Their salaries are significantly lower than staff employees, and you aren’t obligated to pay unemployment or a severance package should you not hire them on full time.Moreover, while their wage requirements are modest, they’re among the most highly motivated members of the workforce.

    Benefit your small business: When looking for full time work, the top talent often go for big-name businesses. But when seeking internships, learning is the leading draw. Many candidates feel they’ll get more hands-on training, real experience, and mentoring opportunities with smaller organizations.

    Advantages of doing the Internship for a student

    Get Real Work Experience
    The biggest benefit of internships is that they offer a safe space for students and graduates to gain work experience. This is important because most employers are reluctant to hire someone who’s never worked before, they think that with no experience, you’ll probably be unreliable and not know what to do or how to work. Of course, this creates a vicious circle with no way out which is why lots of graduates end up in completely unrelated fields.

    Internships can be a great solution to this problem as they allow students and graduates to experience a real workplace. Apart from the vocational skills that interns gain, they also get lots of soft skills which are crucial to not only finding a job but succeeding at one as well.

    Get a Taste of Your Chosen Field
    One of the greatest advantages of internships is that they allow people to experience their industry and chosen profession. This usually has one of two effects – makes people more excited and drives them to work hard and build a successful career, or they realize it’s not the right career for them.

    Boosts Your CV
    Internships can also benefit your CV as they are a foolproof way to demonstrate that you have work experience, as well as other workplace skills. The skills can be relevant to your chosen profession, which is admittedly crucial in a CV, but they could also be other skills, including communication and people skills that employers value.

    Helps You Choose a Specialty
    An internship can help you identify a particular area in your industry or profession that you’re interested in and help you acquire more knowledge regarding this area.

    Following are the major companies across the world always hiring Interns

    1. Facebook
    2. Google
    3. Qualcomm
    4. Microsoft
    5. Morgan Stanley
    6. Apple
    7. HP
    8. CISCO
    9. Deloitte
    10. JP Morgan and Chase
    11. Amazon.com
    For any Recruitment related advice and quality human resource , feel free to mail Ms Simran (Head-HR @ http://suvenconsultants.com )

    pRoDuct oR SerVice – sell it on “AmaZon marketpLace”

    amazon

    Amazon, the E-commerce giant, is one of the oldest merchants on the web and has over 200 million customers worldwide. Amazon is the unrivalled marketplace to sell products online. It provides an excellent platform for conducting online business and has proved beneficial for both buyers and sellers. Amazon is an extremely popular e-commerce site that can help expand your reach in the market and improve the visibility of your product in a unique way.

    There are various reasons why you should consider selling at Amazon Marketplace

    • Increase Sales: The best reason of selling on Amazon is the scale of their online visitors.
    • Acquire Potential Customers from across the Globe: Amazon has millions of varied customers across the globe who visit on a frequent basis.
    • Quick and Stress Free Shipping: Amazon can ship your product, through Amazon’s FBA service, Fulfillment by Amazon, to the customer faster and at cheaper rates than you can do it yourself.
    • Effortless, Trusted Shopping Experience for Customers
    • Secure and Timely Payments: Amazon offers hassle-free and timely payments. Payment for your product is deposited into your bank account and you are notified via email that your payment has been made. Also, Amazon deducts its fees only after you make a sale.

    Amazon Marketplace – Account Types

    Before start selling products you should first choose the type of account, then decide what product to sell and finally decide how to manage shipment and returns.

    Amazon offers two types of Account

    1) Individual Account
    2) Professional Account

    Differences between Individual and Professional selling plans

    Individual sellers are on a pay-as-you-go system and use a basic set of tools for listing and order management. While Professional sellers pay a monthly subscription fee of $39.99, they also receive a waiver of the $0.99 fixed closing fee for each order and can access additional tools for listing inventory and managing orders.

    Amazon Marketplace – Listing a New Product

    If you want to list a new product in the Amazon catalog, then you need to follow the steps given below:
    1) Log-in to your account
    2) Click on sell button
    3) Select your account type
    4) Fill the following form

    It may take a few days for the product to begin appearing in the search list.

    Listing Products in Masses
    What if you want to sell thousands of products? Entering the details of each item would be very tedious. In such a case, uploading lists of products into Amazon Seller Central comes to your rescue. It does not mean that you do not need to input the product data. You obviously need to enter all the data, the product cost, its condition, quantity, etc. but you will be entering it into a spreadsheet and upload the spreadsheet on Amazon. The entire procedure of uploading is the same as discussed earlier.

    Amazon Marketplace – Pricing Tools

    Amazon has a repricing tool that could be quite useful. Merchants need to use such pricing tools because prices change very quickly with upcoming new merchants and new inventories. So, one needs to keep a check and keep the prices reasonable without making any changes manually. These tools use Amazon Web Service’s Application Programming Interface (API). They track information about your pricing and your opponent’s pricing and modify your pricing to appear more competitive, thereby escalating your sales and drawing you closer to the Buy Box.

    Amazon has no objection to merchants using these tools. In fact, they understand that managing large number of products isn’t possible without automation and they like tools with a tendency to push the pricing down, because it provides lower prices to their customers.

    Amazon Marketplace – Price Calculator

    It is quite an effort to know how much revenue you can generate by selling a product on Amazon. Being one of the most popular marketplaces for online merchants, Amazon has a wide array of fees – marketplace account fees, variable cost fees, referral fees, shipping costs, etc. The fee depends upon whether you are an individual seller or a pro merchant, shipping your product yourself or using FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon).

    One cannot estimate how much profit can be earned by selling a product. Here, the readymade Price Calculators come to the rescue and helps you calculate how much profit are you going to make on the sale. Amazon Price Calculators are well equipped to help the sellers in determining their total profit on items after shipment and all monetary transactions.

    Want to Learn Digital Marketing?

    Republican Senators Are Making Out Like Bandits with Special Real-Estate Tax Break

    The GOP isn’t even masking its greed and corruption.

    When the U.S. Senate takes up the final tax bill this week, more than a quarter of all GOP senators will be voting on a bill that includes a special provision that could give them a new tax cut through their real estate shell companies, according to federal records reviewed by International Business Times. The provision…

     

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    How abundance makes us poorer

    Maybe it was to be expected with an offer that involves charity, but it turns out that for me the Humble Bundle Monthly is mostly an investment in a source for philosophical thoughts. When I initially bought the bundle in order to get Civ VI for cheap, I went for the three-month plan. So even if I since unsubscribed I just got my second months worth of games. And compared to the first month, there are even less games in there which I can see me playing. That is not to say that the offer is a bad one, or the games on offer are bad. Rather it reflects upon how my interests got narrower over time.

    I am old enough to remember a time before video games. The first video game I played was Pong on a console that couldn’t play anything else, in black and white on a TV screen. When people got the first consoles with cartridges and computers, kids typically had just a handful of games, not necessarily chosen by themselves. If you only have 3 game cartridges, you will play the hell out of each of those games, whether those are your favorite games or not. Fast forward to 2017, where 7,672 games were released on Steam alone, again nearly doubling the number of Steam games available for a fourth year in a row.

    Everybody has favorite games and favorite genres. If you are limited by the number of games available to you, you play what you got regardless of genre. If you have an abundance of choice, you get more and more picky and only play your favorite genres. The bottleneck becomes the amount of time available to play, so why should you play let’s say a platformer if you prefer role-playing games? Of course the consequence of that is that you end up with a much narrower experience. You only play a handful of favorite genres and don’t have the time for a bunch of other genres, which might offer a very different experience of gaming.

    I see a parallel to the world of news and politics. Back in the day where your only source of news was one paper you and everybody in your street was subscribed to, you all got the same variety of news and opinions. Today there are so many sources of news and opinions that you can choose one which aligns well with your own opinions. If you are a fan of Trump, you watch Fox News and read Breitbart, if you are on the other side you watch CNN and read Huffington Post. But the result is that you end up in an echo chamber which doesn’t allow for a variety of opinions. This has gone so far that the echo chambers of today don’t even agree on the same set of facts. A news source that reports something uncomfortable to you is “fake news”, truth has become subservient to opinion.

    The future is one in which we lead comfortable lives in which we play only our favorite games, see only our favorite genre of movies and TV shows, hear only news that please us. Until we have become so isolated from another group of people (which might well be our neighbors) that the two groups don’t consider each other of being of the same kind any more, and start killing each other off. The internet, which had a promise of offering us a much wider offer of everything from information to entertainment, ends up making us all poorer and more narrow-minded.

    Creating our own factory method in Java

    Creating our own factory method in Java

    Any factory method is created as a method belonging to an interface or abstract class. Hence that method is implemented, in the implementation classes or sub classes as case may be.

    What are factory methods ?

    A factory method is a method that creates and returns an object to the class to which it belongs. A single factory  method replaces several constructors in the class by accepting different options from the user , while creating the object.

    For example, to create a factory method getFees() that will give the fees details for a course in an engineering college, we need to perform the following steps :

    1> create an interface or abstract class
    interface Fees {
       double showFees();
    }

    2>  Implement the abstract , public methods of the above interface.
    class CSE implements Fees {
    public double showFees(){
    return 120000; // assumed some constant figure
    }
    }
    // their can be more implementation classes also.

    3> Create a factory class that contains factory method by the name getFees(). Mostly factory methods are written as static methods.
    class CourseFees{
    public static Fees getFees(String course){
    if(course.equalsIgnoreCase(“CSE”))
    return new CSE();
    else if(course.equalsIgnoreCase(“ECE”))
    return new ECE();
    else return null;
    }
    }

    // getFees() method takes the coursename from the user and creates an object either to CSE class or ECE class depending on the user option.

    4> Call the factory method like this :
    Fees f = CourseFees.getFees(name);

    // In the preceding code, an object of CSE class or ECE class is returned by getFees() method. Since CSE and ECE are the implementation classes of Fees interface, we can use Fees interface reference ‘f’  to refer to the objects of these classes. Hence, if we call f.showFees(), then the showFees() of that particular class either CSE or ECE will be executed and corresponding fees will be displayed.

    // complete program : combining all 4 steps as above
    import java.io.*;

    interface Fees {
       double showFees();
    }

    class CSE implements Fees {
    public double showFees(){
    return 120000; // assumed some constant figure
    }
    }

    class ECE implements Fees {
    public double showFees(){
    return 110000; // assumed some constant figure
    }
    }

    class CourseFees{
    public static Fees getFees(String course){
    if(course.equalsIgnoreCase(“CSE”))
    return new CSE();
    else if(course.equalsIgnoreCase(“ECE”))
    return new ECE();
    else return null;
    }
    }

    // using factory method
    class Sctpl {
    public static void main(String args[]) throws IOException {
    BufferedReader br = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(System.in));
    System.out.println(“Enter course name”);
    String name = br.readLine();
    Fees f = CourseFees.getFees(name);
    System.out.println(“The fees is Rs “+ f.showFees());
    }
    }