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Book: Quake 4 Mods For Dummies


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#1 Ratty

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 02:47 PM

Got my copy from Amazon yesterday:

http://www.amazon.co...6490020-7992016

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The Doom 3 editing video tutorials were very helpful to me and got me started. But having a book open while I'm working, well there's just nothing better than that. I've even learned a couple of interesting things in just the hour or two I spent flipping through it I never managed to pick up from the video tutorials.

It's a beginning book, just describes mainly the process of creating a map, the brushing, placing entities, lighting, creating textures. You won't find advanced scripting help or the like. If you're already familiar with mapping, even from something like Dromed, much of it is tedious and boring. A lot to skip through. A lot more if you're already somewhat familiar with Radiant mapping.

I haven't read enough to recommend it yet, though I'm glad I bought it, personally. Really so far I wish it was a bit more streamlined. The lessons on creating a map are so detailed that it's easy to lose track of the process drowning in all the minutiae.

#2 Crispy

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 02:14 AM

Now, if it had a section on hardcore SDK modification, then it might be worth me getting a copy. But somehow I doubt that. :laugh:
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#3 Fidcal

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 02:39 AM

Mmmm... might get this but can't find it at amazon.co.uk so might have to get it from the US and probably pay import tax. Actually it might be cheaper as books are so expensive here. I'll wait a while.

When I dabbled with an on-line tutorial quite a while ago I thought it was OK but not great and some parts not clear enough. Anyway, at that time I just wanted to get my feet wet and get the feel of it and that was enough to confirm I would continue with Dark Mod one day. Sooner or later I'll have to get going again so this book might be a help.

#4 Maximius

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 07:57 AM

Mmmm... might get this but can't find it at amazon.co.uk so might have to get it from the US and probably pay import tax. Actually it might be cheaper as books are so expensive here. I'll wait a while.

When I dabbled with an on-line tutorial quite a while ago I thought it was OK but not great and some parts not clear enough. Anyway, at that time I just wanted to get my feet wet and get the feel of it and that was enough to confirm I would continue with Dark Mod one day. Sooner or later I'll have to get going again so this book might be a help.



As much love as I feel for the on line tutorial authoring community, they need a few lessons in instruction and lesson planning. How many times have I fired up a tutorial only to hear "Ok, do X,Y, and Z first (with no explanation provided) then I'll explain how to do B and C. Argh!

#5 oDDity

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 12:18 PM

These 'for Dummies' books is not very good marketing either.
Who wants to buy a book that's marketed towards dummies?
You're basically admitting you're an idiot who hasn't got the intelligence to figure things out for yourself, or even the common sense to find the info on the internet for free.
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#6 thelvyn

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 12:26 PM

Not everyone looks at them that way. Some people just don't have time to go schlepping about looking for information and would rather pay for a book to maximize their time investment.

Those dummies books have a lot of name recognition as well so people are MORE likely to purchase it strangely enough(In spite of the negative connotation of "Dummies").
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#7 Ratty

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 12:39 PM

Now, if it had a section on hardcore SDK modification...

Yeah, dream on. Nothing like that at all.

Fidcal, there's an awful lot of used copies at Amazon USA, $4.19 for the cheapest.

I'm not, in general a Dummy, but there are some things where I gracefully admit stupidity. I think oDDity takes himself to seriously? Hasn't there been ANYTHING in life you tried to learn about and found it exceedingly difficult while others seemed to take to it with ease? If I ever need to repair a car, I mean REALLY needed to do it myself, I don't think there'd be a Dummies book in the world that could explain it to me simply enough. I guess in such situations most of us say "Gosh, I feel so dumb" while others say "Bah! It's not worth doing!"

As I work with the book I'm liking it more and more. I can definitely recommend it for beginners. The black and white editor screenshots are REALLY hard to make sense of though. They should have enhanced them, made the brush lines darker or bolder or something.

#8 Maximius

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 12:57 PM

I agree with oDDity, I think the title is insulting personally. Im going all cultural critic here for a second but bear with .

Its a not uncommon strain in US popular culture to find great disdain for intellectuals and the intellectual pursuits. I think the Dummies series takes that strain as its jumping off point, it markets itself as a way to learn without being an "egghead" or one of those uncool, uptight "bookish" types.


The Dummies part of the title is intended as sarcasm, read it as "Knitting for Everday, Regular, Down to Earth Folks" not as "Knitting for Dummies." It claims to offer boiled down essentials to get you going without all the silly context or details that a more extensive course of instruction in something generally entails.

Also, its basically telling the potential customer "Hey, dumbass, even you can do this crap, don't be intimidated and walk away without buying me, you have no excuse since this is for Dummies and therefore you can probably handle, right? You paying attention, stupid?"

#9 Komag

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 01:26 PM

You guys may not personally like the marketing, but it IS good marketing simply by the fact that it's extremely successful. All marketing is is properly understanding your audience and catering to their psyche.

People are average (by definition), so if you and I are above average it creates a natural disjunction that we just have to live with and play along with. But to be constantly disgusted with the disparity is pointless - or would you rather be just as average as the "Dummies" marketing target?
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#10 oDDity

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 01:40 PM

What next though. 'How to do XYZ for Retards' , 'The Simpleton's XYZ Handbook', 'The Moron's Guide to XYZ', 'Oi, Spastic - Read This If You Ever Want To Learn Anything About XYZ'
I'd much prefer a book that has a serious and professional title, because when I set out to learn something, I'm serious about it.
These sound more like joke books than anything else.
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#11 Ratty

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 01:42 PM

Its a not uncommon strain in US popular culture to find great disdain for intellectuals and the intellectual pursuits.

That is true. However I think that often such disdain is warranted and well-deserved. There's a fine line between intellectualism and snobbery. I've known incredibly brilliant people of both persuasions, the former are fun, the latter insufferable. Case in point: I've been a professional programmer for nearly ten years. I've worked in both Unix and Windows about equally in that time. Unix culture is insufferable while Windows culture is far more relaxed (and I won't go near Linux culture). In Unix, programs and documentation are written for programmers, in Windows they're written for users. I don't know how many times I've snorted in disgust trying to make sense of Unix documentation. They call it "concise and clear" while normal people call it opaque and terse. I'm reminded of the trademasters or yore who couched their craft in mystery and spookery to both elevate themselves and their profession and horde their knowledge from ordinary folk. And I consider myself lucky in the extreme if they deign to provide an actual example or two.

/usr/bin/ls [ -aAbcCdfFgilLmnopqrRstux1 ] [ file ... ]

(And I can't help but mention here one of the things I've admired about the Dark Mod team is how down to earth and unsnobby you all are. Knowledge is shared gladly, nothing is meant to seem mysterious or arcane)

Compared to this I wield the term "Dummy" as a badge of pride, just as you describe Maximius. When I document a program I do it in HTML with lots of examples, screenshots, "quick start" tutorials and detailed down and dirty descriptions. I've never written a man page in my life. I've never written a [ -aAbcCdfFgilLmnopqrRstux1 ] [ file ... ]-style summary and never hope to. My community is XML for librarians and archivists consisting of heavy-duty and casual programmers, as well as complete non-programmers in small college repositories and historical societies who must wear many different hats and keep up with the latest technology as well as they are able with little or no support. And I laugh out loud when I see some of the tools released by the programmers for everyone else to use. First make sure you have the latest Java Runtime installed, adjust your classpaths, install the latest MSXML and Saxon, open a Windows command prompt, cd to the directory containing your files, type in /install/path/program_name -o option1 option 2 option 3 option 4 option 5 filename.xml > output file. Simple, no fuss!

At conferences I've been astounded how surprised everyone is that some people dare to complain about how overly complicated everything is. I've visited small libraries and archives and listened to depressed professionals cry about how technology is passing them by. They hear again and again how "simple" things are and they begin to actually believe it. And it's so unnecessary. I've written community tools, packaged them into complete, self contained installation packages. No need for Java or Saxon, or classpaths. No unzipping things in specific folders or cd'ing to specific directories. No complicated command line invocations ... a simple, clean user-interface with generous documentation. I make it available on an actual, real website, not Sourceforge, ha ha. I pride myself on the name I've made in the community as a--get ready for it--Champion of the Little Guy! Snobbishness in its own right, I know. But hey, I'm not perfect.

In some eyes I know this makes me exactly the anti-intellectual you complain about Maximius. You don't know how many times I've seen eyes roll when I mention I create documentation in HTML rather than man or pod format or whatever. Fuck you all I say!

A Dummy needn't be stupid. He can just be the little guy looking for a break.

#12 sparhawk

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 02:22 PM

What next though. 'How to do XYZ for Retards' , 'The Simpleton's XYZ Handbook', 'The Moron's Guide to XYZ', 'Oi, Spastic - Read This If You Ever Want To Learn Anything About XYZ'


I would immediately buy a book named "The Simpleton's guide to model like Oddity in Blender". :)
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#13 Maximius

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 02:25 PM

But communicating clearly and efficiently isn't dumb, ratty. It takes quite a bit of effort in fact. I know this firsthand as a teacher of adult students, try explaining evolutionary processes to folks who have trouble doing higher arithmetic let alone biological science.

I would not consider you an anti-intellectual for deflating snobbery and dissecting intentionally opaque terminology, I would consider you an intellectual who wants to communicate clearly. You surely would not deny that say for example coding has its own special terminology that needs to be understood to do the work, so you would simply work to find a way to pass along what you need to in the easiest, most concise manner you could find. Others would go out of their way to make this as arcane as possible. These are not intellectuals, they are blow-hards.

Komag, I don't like the fact that such a marketing campaign is so successful. Why does that notion of super cool ignorance sell to USers? Why can't the title be "The Most Concise Collection of Ways to do X, Y , Z"? And its not just the Dummies series, this is a recurring theme in US life/culture. And frankly, marketing campaigns in general are mass efforts at manipulation and outright falsehood, whats to like?

#14 SneaksieDave

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 02:47 PM

:blink:

So I'm not the only person in history who holds the feeling that every single man page ever written is an overcomplicated convoluted [Edit: and often completely worthless] piece of shit.

#15 sparhawk

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 02:58 PM

I always found man apages of rather limited use. Always seemed to me lik ethey were written from academics to academics, without much consideration for the actual needs. Usually I always scroll down to the bottom because there are often hand-s on examples. And then right to google.

I hope this offers some comfort to you. :)
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#16 Ratty

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 03:21 PM

I always found man apages of rather limited use. Always seemed to me lik ethey were written from academics to academics, without much consideration for the actual needs.

It's a matter of knowing your audience. Man pages, as written, have their place. It's the attitude of those who think they're sufficient for all people and circumstances that pisses me off. There is a prevalent belief that if you aren't a programmer and aren't comfortable with man pages then you simply don't belong on Unix and that pisses me off more. Befgore I was a programmer I spent a lot of time on Unix. You don't need to be a programmer to want to list files, copy or rename them. You don't need to be a programmer to need to understand file permissions or even redirection and pipes. I don't know about you, but I've seen perfectly earnest people posting intelligent questions on internet newsgroups only to get shouted down by a horde of hysterical RTFM responses and snide condescending quotations from relevant portions of a man page--as if a drippingly sarcastic tone of voice makes things sooo much clearer. Me, I've been on the internet since the 80s and I know to simply ignore people like that. I'll usually find one or two helpful people. But a lot of people take such things personally, either by getting angry or getting hurt and thinking maybe they aren't smart enough.

I guess I've always interpreted the Dummies monkier more as anti-snob than anti-intellectual.

#17 AtariThief

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 07:40 PM

Let's put it this way there is really only one way to ever learn something and that is to jump right in and get your hands dirty. Trial and error. Especially error :) !

#18 Ishtvan

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Posted 15 March 2007 - 10:32 PM

I think it's just a joke at this point, when you see things like Quantum Physics for Dummies, it's just a brand name.

#19 Order of the Hammer Bureaucrat

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 12:14 AM

Of course it's a brand name. The author approaches the publisher with a book, the publisher sees it's comprehensive, eye-catching, and simple enough, and gives the go-ahead. Both earn money. On any subject from fishing to tai-chi and even psychicness.
I always liked man or at least info pages. They're concise and usually contain all the info I need, especially with cross-referencing to other pages. Given enough attempts and re-reading the man page I can always learn some new concept, and then just quickly reading the man page for something is enough if the concept is the same another time.

#20 sparhawk

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 01:47 AM

That's the point. You can only learn something from the man pages if you already know it.
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#21 Crispy

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 02:16 AM

People are average (by definition)

Actually I think perfectly average people are very rare. They would have to own 2.4 cars, for example (or whatever the statistic is). How many people own .4 of a car? :D

(I know what you're trying to say, I just like nitpicking. ;))


Re: man pages - That's not intellectual snobbery. That's hacker snobbery. There's a big difference. :)

http://www.catb.org/...-questions.html covers this pretty well:

The first thing to understand is that hackers actually like hard problems and good, thought-provoking questions about them. If we didn't, we wouldn't be here. If you give us an interesting question to chew on we'll be grateful to you; good questions are a stimulus and a gift. Good questions help us develop our understanding, and often reveal problems we might not have noticed or thought about otherwise. Among hackers, “Good question!” is a strong and sincere compliment.

Despite this, hackers have a reputation for meeting simple questions with what looks like hostility or arrogance. It sometimes looks like we're reflexively rude to newbies and the ignorant. But this isn't really true.

What we are, unapologetically, is hostile to people who seem to be unwilling to think or to do their own homework before asking questions. People like that are time sinks — they take without giving back, and they waste time we could have spent on another question more interesting and another person more worthy of an answer. We call people like this “losers” (and for historical reasons we sometimes spell it “lusers”).

We realize that there are many people who just want to use the software we write, and who have no interest in learning technical details. For most people, a computer is merely a tool, a means to an end; they have more important things to do and lives to live. We acknowledge that, and don't expect everyone to take an interest in the technical matters that fascinate us. Nevertheless, our style of answering questions is tuned for people who do take such an interest and are willing to be active participants in problem-solving. That's not going to change. Nor should it; if it did, we would become less effective at the things we do best.

We're (largely) volunteers. We take time out of busy lives to answer questions, and at times we're overwhelmed with them. So we filter ruthlessly. In particular, we throw away questions from people who appear to be losers in order to spend our question-answering time more efficiently, on winners.

If you find this attitude obnoxious, condescending, or arrogant, check your assumptions. We're not asking you to genuflect to us — in fact, most of us would love nothing more than to deal with you as an equal and welcome you into our culture, if you put in the effort required to make that possible. But it's simply not efficient for us to try to help people who are not willing to help themselves. It's OK to be ignorant; it's not OK to play stupid.


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#22 Nyarlathotep

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 03:58 AM

The problem is that there generally isn't a very good way to get started on something like that. Using the man pages as an example, you have to know the name of the command before you can find out how to use it. While man tends to be somewhat terse, once you know the basics of the format, it becomes easy to figure out how to use any command. But what if you don't know the name of the command you're looking for, only its behavior? So long as you have internet access, you're probably going to be fine, but often you don't have that luxury. There isn't a very good way of being able to search commands in Unix by function rather than name. For example, I only found out late last year about sudo, a more secure alternative to su -. Imagine my surprise and irritation not to be able to continue my install of Gentoo because the LiveCD had forcibly depreciated su -! (It didn't help that at that point I didn't have man pages to speak of, either, but I still would have had to have had the man page for su.) I couldn't access the internet to research an alternative, so I was very lucky to have had someone on hand who did know about the function to ask.

Of course, there should be no point at which the simple user--the one who only wants thing to just work, with no thought to how all this might function, and doesn't even know how to access a program if they accidentally delete their shortcut (true story)--should ever feel a need to access the terminal or tty--ever. If they ever reach the point where they would, then either they'll go get someone to help them (by that point serious troubleshooting probably already needed), or they're finally ready to graduate to the next level and learn about this stuff. GUIs are more than capable of handling anything that a basic user will ever both want to do and be competent enough to know what that actually is. If you know what it is, you can look up how to do it fairly easily.

This problem is in fact much more general than the special case of man pages. People tend to be opposed to learning new skills for three reasons: 1. the practitioners of said skills tend to appear elitist and full of crap, talking about relatively mundane things in an unusually esoteric way, 2. said practitioners have difficulty explaining things to the uninitiated without covering such a vast amount of material as to obfuscate the learning process, and 3. the skill itself is seen as esoteric and most people only learn just enough to realize how little they do know about it. While a plethora of free and easy-to-access information (such as through Wikipedia) helps to combat this, the best way to become an expert is to be taught it. Simply having a tutor eases the process of learning just by having someone be able to point out your mistakes, and how to fix them.

Unfortunately, most people become opposed to the learning process at a very early age, put off by a mix of the sheer difficulty and the cumbersome way in which 99% percent of the population is taught (the attitudes of those around them do not help in the least). Those who go on to be successful are generally the ones that manage to unlearn this self-imposed bias, not necessarily completely. The people who go on to become teachers teach the next generation much like how they were taught because they don't know any better--they can't. It would seem that we have an insurmountable problem before us. Teachers teach students poorly, desensitizing them to the learning process, and raising a new generation of teachers who themselves are poor teachers, inspiring an entire society despising learning.

In the end, we need to learn how to teach ourselves to enjoying learning, and learn how to learn more efficiently. If we can start the process sooner, we can go so much further.

#23 sparhawk

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 04:19 AM

That's a good argument. I'm always surprised that search system totally disregard HOW the user will search something. Most docs are organized in a structured way, that ignores the consideration of HOW problems arise.

There is a similar problem with amazon as an example. When I search for books on Amazon I usally need to know at least part of the title or the authors name. But when I look for books, it's mostly rare that I really look for individual titles, most of the time I look for "functions". So when I look for phsics books I would have to use the term physics, but then I find mostly books which already have this in the title. If they are not I can't find them. If the author chooses to use a title like "Bread and Butter" because he wants to talk about statistics and probabillity and uses this as a kind of well known problem "Why does the bread always fall on the buttery side?" then this limits the usuabillty of the search system quite a lot. In the case of man pages it would already help if there were links or reference to other documents. In some cases there are, but only in a very narrow sense. So you might find a reference to /etc/fstab in the fstab manpage, but not a reference to mount, which is quite closely related functionality wise.
Gerhard

#24 Nyarlathotep

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 04:44 AM

Welcome to the motivating factor behind the so-called "Semantic Web." Do some Google searches if you're not familiar with the concept. Believe me, this stuff could not possibly come sooner.

#25 Crispy

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Posted 16 March 2007 - 05:30 AM

I agree that the man pages system is not as useful as it should be. I'm just explaining that it's not that way because of arrogance. :)
My games | Public Service Announcement: TDM is not set in the Thief universe. The city in which it takes place is not the City from Thief. The player character is not called Garrett. Any person who contradicts these facts will be subjected to disapproving stares.




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