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Ian Dunt is a brilliant explainer. Politically I’m to his left, but I consistently seek out his work whenever I need clarity. His ability to make complicated matters comprehensible is unparalleled. His first book, Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now? did just that and, at times, How to Be A Liberal is equally clarifying.

Systems, and their because-this-then-that workings, are Dunt’s domain. …

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Opposition days are days allocated in the House of Commons for the discussion of subjects chosen by the opposition parties. They’ve existed since the late 19th century, but no government has treated them with as much disdain as this one. Unwilling to dignify opposition with a response, they’re simply refusing to vote on opposition motions.

A glance through this list of government defeats in the Commons (1945–present) shows that dismissal of the very concept of opposition motions is unprecedented for a government with a working majority.

Why, you might ask, are the Conservatives boycotting opposition day debates?

To stave off revolt

This week the…

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This week I completed two of last year’s best games: Celeste and Dead Cells. It struck me that, while they both support their players, their philosophies regarding difficulty and accessibility could not be more disparate.

Celeste’s developer describes their game as “a platformer about climbing a mountain”. The developer of Dead Cells describes their game as:

…a rogue-lite, Castlevania-inspired action-platformer, allowing you to explore a sprawling, ever-changing castle… assuming you’re able to fight your way past its keepers.

One of these descriptions is simple. The other contains three genre-portmanteaus and a gauntlet throw. As such, I expected the former to…

In this, the second in a series of posts on the topic, we’ll compare the ECS and MonoBehaviours workflows in the context of the SpatialOS Game Development Kit (GDK) for Unity and explore what they can do for your game.

As we explained in our first blog about Unity’s Entity Component System, the GDK offers two workflow options:

  1. A MonoBehaviour-centric workflow that works with Unity’s fully developed MonoBehaviour tooling, workflow and APIs.
  2. An ECS workflow that takes full advantage of the new ECS development paradigm and associated performance improvements.

The SpatialOS Game Development Kit (GDK) for Unity is built on…

In this, the first in a series of posts on the topic, we’ll explain what Unity’s ECS is and what it can do for your game.

The headline benefit of Unity’s ECS is performance-by-default. To achieve this, ECS moves away from traditional object-oriented programming (that is, the GameObject and MonoBehaviour centred workflow that most Unity developers are familiar with), and towards data-oriented design. To demonstrate their differences, let’s compare how you build an object representing the player character with each approach:

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A traditional object-oriented workflow.

Using object-oriented programming, you’d create a GameObject to represent the player character, then attach MonoBehaviours to give the GameObject…

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Empire recently labelled Kingsman: The Secret Service “007 cranked all the way up to 0011” and, like the film itself, this assessment hits it right on the nose. The film magnifies everything brilliant about classic James Bond films, but in the process, also amplifies some of their biggest flaws.

Kingsman’s greatest strength, and its greatest weakness, is its reverence for classic spy fiction. It’s a welcome revival of the sense of humour that James Bond forgot during his Bournification, but the film also digs up some problematic tropes that really should’ve remained buried. …

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In the near future a coolant called CW7 is introduced into the atmosphere in order to counteract global warming. It backfires and freezes the planet, along with the vast majority of its population. The only known survivors live aboard the Snowpiercer, a rickety bullet train that travels around the globe, powered by a perpetual-motion engine. A class structure quickly forms, with almost all of the resources hoarded by ticket holders in the front carriages, while refugees are left to fight for scraps in the back. …

Inspired by Tony Benn, Oliver Balaam searches for systems of accountability atop the world’s biggest democratic organisations, and comes away largely empty handed.

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When Tony Benn passed away last month, bipartisan condolences, tributes and hagiography flooded the media, along with a depressing number of easy to knock out listicles. Debates surrounding the deservedness and historical veracity of this praise could (and I’m sure soon will) fill a book, but I hope most can agree that if not always the most practical of politicians, Benn’s idealism and unshakeable commitment to social justice was admirable and often inspiring.

One of many famous…

Technological illiteracy, willful ignorance and hyperbolic outrage are drowning the discussion of real issues writes Oliver Balaam.

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Last week, in the wake of the fatal shooting by Smyrna police officers of Nicholas Thomas, an unarmed 23 year old black man, Facebook users were dismayed to discover that the website had blocked one of the earliest reports of the shooting, rendering the story unshareable.

Users quickly took to other networks to condemn what they perceived as censorship of the story. One user tweeted “Mark Zuckerberg: ‘Black Lives Don’t Matter.’” Another lamented that “in some countries Facebook is censored by the government…

Troubled by Hollywood’s habit of putting style over substance, Oliver Balaam searches for meaning in Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, but finds little more than a giant lizard.

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Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla is a beautiful, and fiercely entertaining film that I’d recommend watching on the biggest screen you can get your hands on. It’s a triumph of style, but it sorely lacks the substance that made Godzilla such an enduring pop-culture icon in the first place.

With Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Lucky Dragon 5 incident still raw in Japan’s national consciousness, Godzilla was conceived in 1954 as a metaphorical warning against nuclear proliferation…

Oliver Balaam

Two time Emmy award viewer.

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