CS185 (M)C – Virtual Environments


I am looking for students for a special topics course in Fall 2014 in the Computer Science department at SJSU. The course will focus on Virtual Environments and the interconnected systems, layers, art, communication with servers, programming and dealing with players.  We shall be running Minecraft both locally and on public servers. It is also my hope that we can begin to do basic research in Virtual Environments (with the possibility of a research partner).

I have been running a Minecraft server for several years and have used it to host international art exhibitions, performances and residencies. We shall work to modify the base system through programming in Java and possibly Scala. The course focus will be to understand these systems and create a project within the live environment.

(from my initial posting) CS185c section 3 – will focus on understanding and coding the complex overlapping systems that create a robust virtual environment. We shall build plugins & mods, map cultural systems, leverage emergent game properties with an eye towards player experience and system performance. This course will “eat its own dogfood” and meet on Thursdays in a live Minecraft environment.

Instructor: James Morgan is a founding member of Ars Virtua, and has taught this class twice at UCSD in their Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts program as Virtual Environments in Second Life and World of Warcraft. He also teaches the CS108/Art 108 Game Studies course at SJSU.

The course is primarily for programmers, but could easily accomodate a few artists or folks interested in the social systems within virtual environments.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me directly at: james -dot- morgan -at- sjsu -dot- edu

Prerequisite: Java programming or instructor consent.

Saying goodbye to Foursquare

It looks like we had about a 5 year run Foursquare and I, and I had frequently questioned why I went to the effort of checking in, but I did like my mayorships and losing my mayorships while I was on vacation only to eventually earn them back when I returned and fell back into my old habits.

That is no more. With the update and change to Foursquare, I can no longer regain the mayorships that were meaningful to me.  Well, I guess I could go over to their new app Swarm and become a mayor among my “friends” but I really don’t want to collect Foursquare friends, I want to be the fucking mayor of my damn vegan restaurant.

At one time it really did work for me, I remember being in Portland, wondering where that little breakfast place I went to was and finding it… actually finding it again.  I remember surprise mayorships that I think I hold to this day because I was the dude who cared enough to check in. But I also remember the day the app just died, when my checkins stopped counting and I could not regain a mayorship I had held for months or years because I was stupid enough to go on vacation before the surprise update to the way the game I had been playing took place.

So this is as much a grave marker as a lament, I don’t know that I will or will not go back but I am acknowledging a loss here.  I feel like if I had just been more monitizable… I could still be playing, but I knew all along that it was hallow.

So from my very first checkin:

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 21.14.27


To the badges I just don’t understand:

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 21.19.40To the ones I had to travel across the planet to get:Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 21.23.50To the obvious expertise I developed:

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 21.19.27

And the few I thought might have made me cool:Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 21.19.01To my ultimate consistency:Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 21.27.23Even when I didn’t know what I was doing:Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 21.25.40To the places I have been and brought the game:Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 21.14.17I reflect on the fact that I played thru this for most of my time on wifi exclusively because I was using my iPod or because I had no data plan (in Russia) and am pretty amaze that it was so sticky.

This is the challenge of the network app, and the world we live in, the “game” lives on and my data will continue to be monitized, but I am done contributing.



Games to Play in July


Why do I want to play these games?

1) Cosmic Encounter – because earlier editions of this game were simply the most fun I have ever had in a boardgame and I want to know if I should go ahead and sink cash into the expansions.

2) Battlestar Galactica – the mechanism of asymmetry and (potentially) adding cylons halfway thru the game is intriging.

3) Diplomacy – is such an immense classic where the players decisions control all outcomes.  This is to say that there are no dice rolls, but beware this game has also caused the most friendship breakups of any board game in its 50+ year history.

4) Nomic (not pictured) – Peter Suber’s classic game of self amendment, a rules game where the rules are they playing field and all of the potential paradoxes that that implies.

When do I want to play?  The month of July is set aside for madness, I shall undoubtedly also play “Are You a Werewolf” expecially at conventions, and am thinking about Thursdays because it is a game night during the semester. Let me know if you would like to play and are in San Jose.

Mineopticon II (SF & Vancouver)

Friday the 13th of June was a lucky day, well that and a fun day to boot.

Here is the grand daddy of the Diamond Boots Ensemble flitting about making sure the setup is smooth:


And a love note to our remote friends in Vancouver leading up to the pre-show.DSCF6399

Along with a little glimpse into the Canadian art scene via remote tele-projection:
DSCF6400 DC introduces the crew and the show:DSCF6401 The best looking audience in San Francisco:DSCF6402 The best looking audience in Vancouver:DSCF6403 Maestro Yagiz doing the live scoring:DSCF6405 DSCF6406 Audience with our camera operator Laurence:DSCF6409 As the event unfolds:DSCF6411DC calling the show with Yagiz on musical accompanyment:
DSCF6417 Dreamy afterglow:DSCF6420What an amazing event this was too, three concise acts that were thoroughly entertaining.  It was nice to be “done” with my part early on and to be able to be an audience member.  DC did such a wonderful job creating moments of delight an flash during the show, I have to say that Jestingrabbit’s stage ended up being the perfect stage for the show.

There was just enough noise in the performance to make us really appreciate the effort that the eight horse dancers had gone through to make the show a feast for the eyes.

I am so glad I got to experience this “live.”  It was a perfect example of what is possible in a virtual space with audience separated by hundreds of miles and performers even more spread out…