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In armies, it used to be that almost the entire army was fighters, with only a few support people like dedicated cooks, squires, medics, hunters or whores. Soldiers could cook and hunt themselves, and there barely were any medics. And only a few people got squires. I suppose horse troops got some servants to take care of horses and stuff, and leaders got some, but the vast majority of footmen had like no support. Oh I forgot supply lines, which are support. But still a small number of people compared to the army.

Over the years, this has changed. A smaller and smaller proportion of armies does the fighting, and a larger and larger proportion does support work. Now we have supply lines, medics, coordinator people in headquarters with radios (or maybe satellite communicators or whatever), trainers (used to be the trainers were all fighters too), advisors, mechanics, translators, etc etc etc

Anyway, the point is combat troops down, support troops up, and this makes the combat troops way more effective, makes them take lower casualty rates, and works better.

OK, this morning I was lying in bed, thinking about stuff, fairly randomly, and it occurred to me that I have a relatively (very) high amount of time into structure, support, and organisational stuff of my WV, and (relatively) low amount into doing actual content. And I believe this is a really, really good thing.

A few random examples, besides time relaxing/thinking, are that I've spent way more time reading war3 strategy and watching replays than playing the game. Spent more time reading Magic strategy than playing magic. spend very high amounts of time planning how to make my character/party in computer games. and if the game is dull, i'll quit and not consider it time wasted. I even start over if I mess up, often, to get it right. not because I think I can't win with an imperfect party (most games are designed so someone not very good can win eventually, and someone really good could win with a large handicap). but because it's important to test my conjectures of what the right party is by actually using it. and it's boring to play with a refuted party. (though if you get too far, re-doing stuff too often is boring, so it can be better to press on, for the sake of seeing the later parts of the game, which can be cool).

another example is i'll often spend a bunch of time deciding what to do, instead of doing something. other people might say, "you have three good-enough ideas, roll some dice and do one". and if I took their approach, a while later I'd have done something ok, or maybe even the right thing for a while. my way, what'll I have to show for my time? well, I'll have learned about how to decided what to do, and every time in the future i'll be better able to decide. there's less point doing an activity before you have a conjecture about which to do to test. and the activity will be richer when it has the two-fold meaning of the activity, and of testing the conjecture about what to do.

Elliot Temple on September 30, 2003


What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)