Sunday, January 04, 2015

In-Game Chat workaround - communicate with your friends for item trading in SimCity BuildIt

Over the holidays, I started playing SimCity BuildIt on iOS (which I wanted to try since I was a fan of the original SimCity back in the early 90s). Having "researched" the game for more hours than I care to admit and reading through its discussion forums, I came up with the following guide to facilitate social gameplay (since the game's basic design certainly does not make it easy):

In-Game Chat workaround - communicate with your friends about the items you need and have


Use your City Name as a method to communicate with your friends in-game to maximize item trading opportunities.

2. Details

The City Name text area can hold 20 characters (numbers, letters, or symbols). You and your friends can use the City Name to communicate with each other using a code you've agree on. For example, my City Name might be:

hPl nMt cCh 14 0104

Which means:

I have Planks for sale, need Measuring Tape, and am crafting Chairs as of 2pm on January 4th.


Here is the schema (not including the brackets):

h[**] n[**] c[**] tt mmdd

h = Have (things you have in your Trade Depot)
n = Need (things you want)
c = Crafting (things you have in your production queue, intended for sale)

** = item code (see below)

tt = time (e.g. 00 = midnight, 06 = 6am , 12 = noon , 18 = 6pm)
mm = month (e.g. 01 = January, 12 = December)
dd = day of the month (e.g. 01 = 1st, 31 = 31st)

3. Item codes

Br = bricks (20 min)
Ch = chairs (20 min)
Ck = cooking utensils (45 min)
Ce = cement (50 min)
Fb = fruit and berries (90 min)
Fl = flour bags (30 min)
Gl = glue (60 min)
Gr = grass (30 min)
Mt = measuring tape (20 min)
Pl = planks (30 min)
Sh = shovels (30 min)
Tb = tables (30 min)
Tr = tree saplings (90 min)
Vg = vegetables (20 min)

Factory made
Cm = chemicals (120 min)
Mi = minerals (30 min)
Sd = seeds (20 min)
Ss = sugar and spices (240 min)
Tx = textiles (180 min)

One of the most frustrating aspects of SimCity BuildIt is waiting around for items in order to upgrade homes. Using the Global Trade HQ in an attempt to find what you're looking for is even worse. Clicking on a listed item will typically show a store that is empty. Clicking on a displayed item will often result in "This item is no more available" (because demand is so high and supply is so low).

The much better alternative is to connect with a smaller set of friends (via Game Center or Facebook).

What the game lacks that many people have asked for is an in-game chat feature. Having that would allow you to coordinate with your friends by letting them know what you need, what you have for sale, etc. I recommend using your City Name as a form of in-game chat (until EA decides to add such a feature, if ever). Clicking on the Friends icon will display the city names and levels of all your friends. From there, you can browse people's codes, as described above.

  • Including the time and date will allow your friends to know when you last updated your code, so they'll know how accurate your information is likely to be.
  • Don't go crazy with an overly huge friend list. While a larger friend list means you will have a better chance of finding what you're looking for, it also means that anything you advertise will disappear more quickly, which will lead to your friends becoming frustrated (possibly causing them to unfriend you on Game Center).
  • It's probably best if most people on your friend list are around the same level as you (+/- 6 levels), or else some friends will benefit way more than they contribute (unless you don't mind helping them out).
  • While you can trade items beyond what's listed above, I only listed items that require 20 minutes or more of wait time.
  • Even though some factory-made items take a long time to farm, it's generally better to trade crafted goods since those don't show up on the Global Trading HQ nearly as often.

All of this is just an untested idea, so there may be kinks to work out (if it works at all). The item list above is based on what I know being at Level 18. More info is appreciated if you have it (including which item/level information).

If there's anyone ( level 12 or higher) who wants to try this with me, send me a Game Center friend request. My username is Lawmune .


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Close the World, Open the nExt - Ryutaro Nakamura (1955 - 2013)

I learned with much sadness today that anime creator Ryutaro Nakamura, who directed both Kino no Tabi and Serial Experiments Lain (for which this blog is named), passed away due to pancreatic cancer.

Based on interactions I've had with lain fans over the years from all around the world, I know I'm not alone when I say his works works have played an important role in my life. As I said tonight on Twitter, I suspect that many lain and Kino no Tabi marathons are being held right now.

Here are the news stories announcing his passing. It's worthwhile to read the comments to get a sense of the impact he left:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lawmune's Netspace turns 15

Even though updates to my personal website have slowed to less than a crawl, today marks the 15th anniversary of it being online. In June 1998, a month after I left college, I put up the site as a way to keep in touch with friends (this was before Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, etc.). It evolved into more than that and led to numerous opportunities for which I'm super grateful.

Tonight, I will take a moment to reflect on the World Wide Web and how it's changed in the last 15 years (for better and for worse), and maybe I'll fire up Lynx just to make sure the site still looks good in a text-only browser, something I used to do regularly.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World

In a blog post last year (Pursuing new challenges), I mentioned that a book would be coming out, featuring 2 chapters that I wrote ("Strategies of Engagement: Discovering, Defining, and Describing Otaku Culture in the United States" and "Anime and Manga Fandom as Networked Culture"). After years of putting it together, Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World finally came out in late February.

If you're interested, it's available for purchase here:

(Kindle edition)

I met Mimi Ito (the primary editor of the book) several years ago, but I became aware of her work years before meeting her in person. At my very first 4S (Society for Social Studies of Science) conference in 2001, I saw her present on mobile phone culture in Japan, and at my second 4S conference in 2002, I gave my first academic presentation on otaku. Although Mimi wasn't there in 2002, her colleague presented her paper on Yu-Gi-Oh! otaku (which I attended). I met her co-editor, Daisuke Okabe, at FanimeCon in 2007. I haven't met Izumi Tsuji (another co-editor), but I hope to in the future. The cover art was done by the very talented ulises farinas, who I hope to meet at Comic-Con this year.

Mimi wrote about the book on her blog several months ago, and she gave a talk hosted by MIT's Comparative Media Studies program, which you can watch below:

(direct link)

If you don't have time to watch that, here's a comprehensive summary by Ethan Zuckerman: Mimi Ito on Otaku culture and cultural soft power

Later, in a follow-up post, I will revisit this talk to address some of the questions that were raised at the end.

Henry Jenkins conducted a three-part interview with the editors of the book, and my work was mentioned in that. See Otaku Culture in a Connected World: An Interview with Mizuko Ito, Daisuke Okabe, and Izumi Tsuji parts one, two, and three.

On a related note, Matt Alt interviewed fellow otaku scholar Patrick Galbraith to discuss Patrick's new book (Otaku Spaces)and his thoughts on otaku culture in Japan. It's well worth a read (and I was happy to see my work mentioned there as well).

An Interview with Patrick W. Galbraith on Otaku Culture parts one, two, and three.

By the way, if you want to show off your own otaku space(s), feel free to contribute to this Flickr group I launched in 2009: Otaku Rooms