Constellations In Games (With Tech Update)

Update: Microsoft’s Stalking Me: So when my Get Windows 10 advert tray icon returned at the end of February. Immediately, I researched and discovered the GWX Control Panel, and nipped that crap right in the bud.

It turns out that some people who didn’t manage their Get-Win-10 icon are finding it can take a life of its own and start Win10 installation even without affirmative consent. I’m not sure which is worse: Microsoft releasing buggy adware patches or Microsoft releasing malicious adware patches.

The update kb3035583 reinstalled gwx.exe. That’s the service that gives you your stupid get-windows-ten tray icon. You can temporarily disable the icon by terminating the GWX process in Task Manager.

To uninstall kb3035583 quickly, go to run dialog or the command prompt (Start ⇒ Run… or Start ⇒ Accessories ⇒ Command Prompt) and type wusa /uninstall /kb:3035583 /norestart

This uninstallation won’t necessarily uninstall GWX.exe. That takes a bit more effort, which the GWX Control Panel manages. Nor will it prevent re-installation. Which you can do by hiding kb3035583 when it’s flagged for installation in Windows Update.

And, of course, this won’t stop Microsoft from releasing yet more adware. Is there a utility for that?

Constellations in Games

At one point when world-building for pen-and-paper and PC RPGs, I considered adding specific astronomical bodies which cycled with time, and would give bonuses or penalties to different kinds of magic. Even if the UI was simply a log of relevant stars (e.g. Sirius is dim in the night sky Rites to Annubis will have diminished effect…) it would serve as another means for thinky players to max out advantages, and feel like real wizards. Clever players would note a approaching concordance that would forecast the great event (probably some undead wizard undergoing a complicated ritual to return to live and full power so that he can dominate the world. Because that’s always the tale.) I’m not sure if that would be too much star-gazing for typical players, or they’d get into it.

Fast forward, decades. Some parts of Shelter 2 (2015) the night sky is lit up with constellations. In this case, it’s only an effect, but I can’t help but look at it and see a useful device for other games.

In neolithic fantasy or survival-in-the-bush or stonepunk, illuminated constellations could serve as a compass. So long as they were consistent in their directional positions and discernible from each other, a player could figure out what shapes are opposite each other and use them to navigate return trips. At least so long as it wasn’t something like the northern fox, the southern wolf, the eastern dog and the western coyote.

A more complex and fictionalized system would have key landmarks correspond to constellations. The sky would roll as the player traverses terrain so that each constellation would be directly above its respective landmark when the player arrives. It’s not the real way the world works (real astronomical navigation involves compensating for rotation and a really giant planet) but it would still be pretty and fun and, I bet, not too difficult to implement.

And it would get more players looking at the night sky.

Chris Roberts’ early envisioning of Freelancer (2003) included a sky of stars such that the player could point at any one of them and fly to it. While this notion turned out to be impractical (and may still be), it’s crazy that we still do so little with our skies. We do have some pretty amazing night skies in games, but still they tend not to be utilized as anything more than scenery.

At this point that’s a missed opportunity.


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