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Lullabot: The Lullabot Approach to Sales

Planet Drupal - 16 February 2017 - 1:00pm
Mike and Matt sit down (literally!) with Lullabot's sales team. Learn how Lullabot does sales, and what it takes to sell large projects.
Categories: Drupal

Salute 2017 Painting Contest Announced

Tabletop Gaming News - 16 February 2017 - 12:30pm
Arguably the biggest painting contest of the year is the Crystal Brush awards that have their finals every March during Adepticon. If you’d like to get free travel to the show, you can do so by winning one of the qualifying events that are held throughout the year. Salute is having a Crystal Brush Qualifier […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

An AI watchdog could be the solution to Counter-Strike's cheater problem

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 16 February 2017 - 12:11pm

Early versions of AI agents trained to identify cheating Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players are already showing promising results, says Valve. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Void 1.1 Nexus Group and New Releases From Scotia Grendel

Tabletop Gaming News - 16 February 2017 - 12:00pm
Void has gotten some new releases from Scotia Grendel. They also have a new Nexus group over on Facebook that they’re recruiting to. Want to get a special coupon for 10% off your Void order? Just join the group. They’re also having special give-aways happening over there. You’ll probably want to check it out. From […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Thursday Terrain Corner

Tabletop Gaming News - 16 February 2017 - 11:00am
We’ve made it to Thursday. Just a couple days now and we’ll be firmly into the weekend. As we roll along, you might be thinking about your gaming tables and wanting to make them as good-looking as possible. Good thing that’s just what we’re here to do now. Today in the Terrain Corner we have: […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Valuebound: Beginner’s guide to Mail System in Drupal 7 and 8

Planet Drupal - 16 February 2017 - 10:40am

This blog is all about How Drupal handles the Mail system & the stages it has to go through.
In Drupal to sends an email we need to take care of two rules

  1. Declare all the required properties under hook_mail().
  2. Call drupal_mail() with argument for actually sending the email

However in the scenario like bigger & complex site the above steps won’t be enough. But Drupal gives us a Flexibility to customize email sending process, before that it’s necessary to know how stuff works behind the scenes first. In this article I’ll show you how you can customize and extend the Drupal mail system to fulfill your needs.

While sending an email drupal_mail() function uses system class for…

Categories: Drupal

Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of core book

New RPG Product Reviews - 16 February 2017 - 10:11am
Publisher: Modiphius
Rating: 5
This massive and beautiful work brings the world of Conan the Barbarian back to our role-playing tables with all the impact that Conan himself has... richly illustrated and replete with detail to help you bring the Hyborian World to life. The foreword by lead developer Jason Durall tells us why: it\'s been written by people who really know and love the Conan stories and have been inspired by them in their role-playing for a long time before this project (or even previous Conan RPGs existed). Durall feels a kinship with Robert E. Howard, having grown up in a similar small town and escaped into fantasy, whilst I feel a kinship with Durall, having discovered Conan as a youngster and swept him into my role-playing, working this wonderful setting up for use with whatever ruleset was to hand at the time.

Interspersed with quotes from original Conan stories, the Introduction continues this theme of a desire to create a role-playing game that is true to the original stories, working hand-in-hand with them to build setting and game mechanics that will recreate the epic feel, the excitement of Conan himself striding forwards, sword in hand. We then move on to Chapter 1: Getting Started, which deals with the basics of what role-playing is all about and what you need to play.

Next, Chapter 2: Characters starts in on character creation (although those in a hurry can scurry to the back of the book where some pre-generated ones await those who don\'t want to work through the process to create their own). To make your own, there is a ten-step process. It\'s an interesting mix of random results and personal choice, and rather neatly it states that if you have a clear concept in mind, go right ahead and pick the options that work best for what you want to play. There\'s also a quick version of the process that is completely random, as well. If you want to follow the full sequence, you start by deciding on your character\'s homeland. This gives him a talent and a native language. Next, sort out your Attributes (which are Agility, Awareness, Brawn, Coordination, Intelligence, Personality, and Willpower). There\'s a rather complex system to decide which of these he\'s best at, you may need a scratch pad to work it all out, but it combines choice and chance rather well. Next decide on Caste or social class, which determines two more talents, a skill and a story. Most people are born to their caste but there are exceptions. Story is used to build background, with snippets of your past life being used to pose questions that help develop a sense of who he is and how he came to be that way. Plenty of examples are there to help you on your way. This is followed by archetypes, again you pick (or roll for) one and gain the associated skills, talents and equipment for your character. In effect, archetype tells you what your character does. Then it gets interesting as you need to determine his nature - or why he does what he does. Step 7 of the process determines what education he got, if any. This is followed by the intriguing \'war story\' - war is everywhere and however sheltered, it is unlikely to have passed your character by completely. Step 9 involves various finishing touches and Step 10 leads you through the final calculations necessary.

There\'s a lot to take aboard in this chapter: take your time and you\'ll be rewarded with very realistic and personalised characters. When all of this is done, you can settle down to determine what he\'s actually like - and you\'d better give him a name! (There\'s a selection of typical names by homeland for both males and females if you\'re stuck.) As mentioned above, there\'s a quick random method of character creation as well, also ideas for alternate methods if a particular focus or style of game is preferred. These need to be discussed with the GM and if used, should be used by the whole party to maintain balance. The next chapter - Chapter 3: Skills and Talents - provides all the background details and examples of use for the various choices you will be making, then Chapter 4: Rules lays out how you turn this character-sheet full of numbers into a representation of what your character can actually do, centred around the concept of task resolution.

In the Rules chapter, we find out about the dice required - d20s and d6s - along with the notation used to show how many of what dice you should roll when and a note about the special custom dice Modiphius are marketing for this game. This is more for visual effect than anything else, regular dice will do just fine. A skills test is only needed when the character is distracted or threatened, or when there are consequences for failure - the rest of the time, you can assume success. When you do need to resolve a task, attributes as well as specific skills come into play - as always, it sounds more complex on paper than it is once you start playing and get used to it! However there are additional complexities due to how hard the task is of itself and whatever else is going on: this is stuff the GM needs to understand to set a target number for a roll. There\'s plenty of explanation and examples to help, though. In addition, there is an interesting mechanic called Momentum - a kind of cumulative effect that if you do well at one roll, you gain extra points to add to it or a subsequent success - your character is on a bit of a roll, so to speak. This is balanced by the GM\'s Doom points, which are used to throw a spanner in the works.

The next chapter is Action Scenes, which dives straight in with the turn sequence used in combat. There\'s a neat little note that if the players spend too much time deciding what to do, the GM should start adding points to his Doom pool as a warning... the bad guys getting an advantage due to their indecision! There\'s material about ambushes, distance, terrain, movement and much more - this is not solely about brawling although of course combat is important, and rightly so. Any RPG needs to provide this sort of excitement, even more when in a milieu such as this! In combat, each character has a range of actions they can undertake, and also can make a reaction to what someone else does. Again, there appears to be a huge amount to grasp here, but it becomes much clearer once you have run through a few combats.

Chapter 6: Equipment follows, with some interesting notes on money and on obtaining items by theft or violence if you don\'t fancy paying for them. You can even abstract \'earning\' (if that\'s the right word) money from petty thievery if your character wants to spend time roaming a market or similar crowded place pilfering and picking pockets. There\'s a vast array of items large and small to purchase, as well as lists of armour and weapons.

Next, Chapter 7 deals with Sorcery. Most of the time in the Conan stories, sorcery is evil - or at least, those who practise it are. The GM might decide not to allow player characters to learn or use sorcery at all, or may limit it severely. Here, however, you can learn how it works. Essential for GMs, and recommended for players who have managed to persuade their GM to let them wield magic. There is a whole range of different things that you can learn and do, different kinds of magic even; and of course loads of spells and magical items.

This is followed by Chapter 8: The Hyborian World, which is a gazetteer of the setting. It makes for a fascinating read, whether or not you are already familiar with the setting from the stories (or past attempts to game here). It starts off with history, then goes region by region, repleat with quotes and illustrations. There\'s a sort of \'shorthand\' relating each nation to which ancient Earth culture it\'s loosely based on... Ignore it! Treat them as fascinating places in their own right and let the alternate reality form in your mind. Articles about customs, heritage, and much more contribute to our understanding... it all makes you want to go there.

The last part of the book is aimed at the GM, with chapters on Gamemastering and Encounters as well as a full adventure to get you started. In Vultures of Shem the party comes across the aftermath of a battle between Shem and Khoraja and have to deal with far more than they bargained for... unspeakable horror, no less. When the action is over, there is no shortage of ideas for follow-up adventures, making it easy to use this adventure as a spring-board for an entire campaign.

Finally, there is a chapter on Heroes of the Age (fully-developed characters to use as enemies or allies), based on contributions from backers of the Kickstarter campaign that brought this work to your hands. Of course, if you are in a real rush to get playing, you can choose your character from amongst them. There\'s twenty-odd of them, so something will probably appeal. An index and a blank character sheet rounds out the set. If you buy the PDF, you get a selection of different character sheets and a big single-sheet map as well.

This is definitely a magnificent presentation of Conan\'s Hyborian World, all ready to adventure in. By Crom, I\'ll fetch my sword and sandals and go exploring!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Tails of Equestria Launch Date Announced, Pre-Orders Open

Tabletop Gaming News - 16 February 2017 - 10:00am
*party cannon* We’re less than a month away from being able to take on Ursa Majors, Timberwolves, and Changelings (before they go good, of course). River Horse has announced March 14th as the official release date for the Tails of Equestria main rule book. *party cannon* From the announcement: Tails of Equestria is coming to […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Attend GDC 2017 and study how arcade culture has shaped eSports today

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 16 February 2017 - 9:05am

Tom Cannon, cofounder of Radiant Entertainment and, the Evolution Championship Series (EVO) fighting game tourney, is coming to GDC 2017 to talk about how competitive game design influences players. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

EN Publishing to Publish Worlds of 2000 AD Games

Tabletop Gaming News - 16 February 2017 - 9:00am
For four decades, 2000 AD has been bringing sci-fi action to newstands. The British magazine has brought us many iconic characters over the years. Soon, a whole set of tabletop adventure games will be making their way to you thanks to EN Publishing. They’ve got a license deal with Rebellion. The first of these games […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Valuebound: What skills should a Drupal Developer have?

Planet Drupal - 16 February 2017 - 8:14am

With the ever growing Drupal Community, a beginner is many a times lost in the vast number of resources, with increasing number of developers in Valuebound, I spoke to some of the seasoned developers on their opinion about the skills that a Drupal developer should have and also sifted through tons of materials from Stackoverflow and some more places.
The skillset that we are discussing here will give a clear idea about where you stand, what you know, what you do not know and of course fill me up with what I have missed, and I will quickly add up the suggestions. Before this I have …

Categories: Drupal

Asmodee Announces Oh Captain! Board Game

Tabletop Gaming News - 16 February 2017 - 8:00am
Don’t you just hate it when you get shipwrecked and stranded on some island? I know I hate it. But that’s just what’s happened. Thankfully, you’ve been saved by the sea creature, the Nukha. And better yet, the Nukha’s cave is filled with treasure! But everyone wants that treasure for themselves. Will you be able […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Social exclusion in virtual realities has a negative social and emotional impact in 'real' life

Virtual Reality - Science Daily - 16 February 2017 - 7:55am
In this age of highly realistic computer games and increasingly popular social networks, social exclusion in virtual worlds is becoming more and more socially significant, as is demonstrated by the growing number of "cyber mobbing" cases. However, up until now, very little research has been carried out into the impact of social exclusion in the digital world upon real-life social behavior, and hardly any that addresses the latest developments such as Virtual Reality (VR) glasses. A study has now shown that exclusion from a virtual group has a significant negative impact upon willingness to help and social distance in the real world.
Categories: Virtual Reality

Assault of the Giants Board Game Now Available

Tabletop Gaming News - 16 February 2017 - 7:00am
The latest Dungeons & Dragons Board Game from WizKids is now available. Assault of the Giants takes you into the Storm King’s Thunder adventure and lets you take control of an army of giants as you attack settlements in order to gain resources like food, artifacts, and ore. Will you command the mighty Hill Giants, […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The 6 Keys To Flawless Internal Cross Promotions - by David Vaghari

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 16 February 2017 - 6:25am
Cross promotions are unique in that they can do serious harm to your performance metrics if handled improperly. Preventing this requires a few special considerations. Following these 6 steps will ensure you're able to maximize Internal Cross Promotion ROI
Categories: Game Theory & Design

SUBSCRIPTION STORES - NEW & EMERGING GLOBAL MARKET FOR MOBILE GAMES - by James Flaharty

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 16 February 2017 - 6:25am
This blog will help you understand Content Aggregators or Global Subscription Networks, services they provide, interactions with local Subscription Stores, how to choose best partners, and how to generate incremental revenue from your mobile games.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Art Tips for Building Forests - by Danny Weinbaum

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 16 February 2017 - 6:25am
I’ve made quite a few forests over the years, and I've learned a few things you might consider to make your game forests more believable.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

What Steam Direct Might Mean for us Indie Developers - by Benjamin Lochmann

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 16 February 2017 - 6:25am
Recently this week Steam has announced they are going to replace the Greenlight process with a program they call Steam Direct. As an Indie developer generating revenue via Steam it makes sense to take a closer look which impact this might have on us.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Some More Rising Sun Minis Previews

Tabletop Gaming News - 16 February 2017 - 6:00am
With every new preview of the minis coming out in Rising Sun, I know I’m getting a bit more excited to see the final game. This game looks like it’s going to be pushing the boundaries of what single-piece figures in a board game can look like. Here’s another couple previews. From the post: We […]
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Zivtech: Why Performance Best Practices Aren't Speeding Up Your Site

Planet Drupal - 16 February 2017 - 6:00am

There's no shortage of generic web performance optimization advice out there. You probably have a checklist of things to do to speed up your site. Maybe your hosting company sent you a list of performance best practices. Or maybe you use an automated recommendation service.

You've gone through all the checklist compliance work, but haven't seen any change in your site's speed. What's going on here? You added a CDN. You optimized your image sizes. You removed unused code. You even turned off database logging on your Drupal site and no one can read the logs anymore! But it should be worth it, right? You followed best practice recommendations, so why don't you see an improvement?

Here are three reasons why generic performance checklists don't usually help, and what really does.

1. Micro-Optimizations

Generic performance recommendations don't provide you with a sense of scale for how effective they'll be, so how do you know if they're worth doing?

People will say, "Well, if it's an improvement, it's an improvement, and we should do it. You're not against improvements are you?" This logic only works if you have infinite time or money. You wouldn't spend $2000 to make changes you knew would only save 1ms time on a 10s current page load.

Long performance checklists are usually full of well-meaning suggestions that turn out to be micro-optimizations on your specific site. It makes for an impressive list. We fall for it because it plays into our desire for completion. We think, "ROI be damned! There's an item on this list and we have got to do it."

Just try to remember: ABP. Always Be Prioritizing.

You don't have to tackle every item on the list just for completion's sake. You need to measure optimizations to determine whether you're adding a micro-optimization or slaying a serious bottleneck.

2. Redundant Caching

In security, the advice is to add more layers of protection. In caching, not so much. Adding redundant caching will often have little to no effect on your page load time.

Caching lets your process take a shortcut the majority of the time. Imagine a kid who takes a shortcut on her walk to school. She cuts through her neighbor's backyard instead of going around the block. One in 10,000 times, there's a rabid squirrel in the yard, so she takes the long way. Her entrepreneurial friend offers to sell her a map to a new shortcut. It's a best practice! It cuts off time from the original full route that she almost never uses but it's longer than her usual shortcut. It will save her a little time on rabid squirrel days. Is it worth the price?

The benefit of a redundancy like this is marginal, but if there's a significant time or cost investment it’s probably not worth it. It's better to focus on getting the most bang for your buck. Keep in mind that the time involved to add caching includes making sure that new caches invalidate properly so that your site does not show stale content (and leave your editors calling support to report a problem when their new post does not appear promptly.)

3. Bottlenecks or Bust

Simply speaking, page load time consists of two main layers. First there is the server-side (back-end) which creates the HTML for a web page. Next, the client-side (front-end) renders it, adding the images, CSS, and JavaScript in your web browser.

The first step to effective performance optimization is to determine which layer is slow. It may be both. Developers tend to optimize the layer of their expertise and ignore the other one. It's common to focus efforts on the wrong layer.

Now on the back-end, a lot of the process occurs in series. One thing happens, and then another. First the web server routes a request. Then a PHP function runs. And another. It calls the database with a query. One task completes and then the next one begins. If you decrease the time of any of the tasks, the total time will decrease. If you do enough micro-optimizations, they can actually add up to something perceptible.

But the front-end, generally speaking, is different. The browser tries to do many things all at the same time (in parallel). This changes the game completely.

Imagine you and your brother start a company called Speedy Car Cleaning. You want your customers to get the fastest car cleaning possible, so you decide that while you wash a car, your brother will vacuum at the same time. One step doesn't rely on the other to be completed first, so you'll work in parallel. It takes you five minutes to wash a car, and it takes your brother two minutes to vacuum it. Total time to clean a car? Five minutes. You want to speed things up even more, so your brother buys a more powerful vacuum and now it only takes him one minute. What's the new total time to clean a car?

If you said five minutes, you are correct. When processes run in parallel, the slowest process is the only one that impacts total time.

This is a lesson of factory optimization as well. A factory has many machines and stations running in parallel, so if you speed up the process at any point that is not the bottleneck, you'll have no impact on the throughput. Not a small impact - no impact.

Ok, then what can we do?

So is it worthless to follow best practices to optimize your speed? No. You might get lucky, and those optimizations will make a big impact. They have their place, especially if you have a fairly typical site.

But if you don't see results from following guesses about why your site is slow, there's only one sure way to speed things up.

You have to find out what's really going on.

Establish a benchmark of current performance. Determine which layer contributes the most to the total time. Use profiling tools to find where the big costs are on the back-end and the bottlenecks on the front-end. Measure the effects of your improvements.

If your site's performance is an issue, ask an expert for a performance audit. Make sure they have expertise with your server infrastructure, your CMS or framework, and front-end performance. With methodical analysis and profiling measurements, they'll get to the bottom of it. And don't sweat those 'best practice' checklists.

Categories: Drupal

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