Friday, May 17, 2013
Friday Links!Leading off this week, the most popular link submission, by far (Sebastian Mankowski was first): The Short Film made From David Foster Wallace's Unforgettable "This is Water" Speech“.
From hippo, and this is absolutely fantastic: Scientists Invent Oxygen Particle That If Injected, Allows You To Live Without Breathing.
From Al Wilkinson, and somewhere, David Bowie is smiling: Chris Hadfield prepares for return to Earth with rendition of Space Oddity aboard the ISS.
From Steven Davis, and this is stunning: Super-small 12 cylinder engine may be the smallest in the world.
The Edwin Garcia Links Machine comes very strong again this week, and leading off, it's This Animation Based on Oscillating Sine Waves Is Utterly Entrancing. Next we have the evolution of Misrilou: the original, Korla Pandit 1951, Dick Dale, and finally, The Black Eyed Peas. Then there's this fascinating interview with William Faulkner: William Faulkner on his Native Soil in Oxford, Mississippi. Don't even think we're done, because there's this: Century Chest time capsule. Also, this: Timelapse of beautiful, ancient, endangered red pine forest in Ontario. Seriously, that should be enough, but these last two are just too good to save for next week: London in 1927--a video, and In 1969 Telegram, Jimi Hendrix Invites Paul McCartney to Join a Super Group with Miles Davis.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
SimCityBoy, I'm stupid.
We've been asking for months why EA would do this. Why would they make a game that was so different, when they didn't need to? The game would have been staggeringly successful without making it a bastardized online experience. One that didn't even work very well. It's undoubtedly less successful than it could have been with fewer changes to the experience.
Companies don't do things for no reason. Sometimes it's the right reason, sometimes not, but there's always a reason.
Why would you take this risk? Well, you wouldn't. Is the revenue model for this new version of SimCity substantially better than previous versions? No, except for the DLC that is in every game now. And what about the cost of the online infrastructure? Good grief, that might make the revenue model worse, not better.
Remember, though, there's a reason. The reason is that this isn't an end in itself. It's a means to an end.
Lucy Bradshaw, in March, said "In many ways, we built an MMO." Yes, and the next time, they'll build a game that is in every way an MMO. This half-crippled, satisfies-no-one version is just a bridge to a full-fledged MMO.
With a monthly fee.
Now that's a revenue model. A revenue model with a long tail. That's something that captures EA's vision of the future.
In ResponseThis is from DQ VB.Net Advisor Garret Remple, in response to the post about Scott Miller last week:
"Hearing him fumble for the right chords, I realized that he didn’t use the math part of his brain to write songs at all, but rather wrote songs the same way as every other musician I knew of, with that un-analytical/more creative part of his mind. That was a shocker--that a person so gifted at an empirical undertaking like math was also somehow skilled at artistic creation...well, that sort of thing doesn’t occur often in humans, I don’t think."
Chris makes a mistake in his conclusion that, as he puts it, an empirical undertaking like mathematics, is not creative. That mathematics and artistic creation reside in different parts of the brain.
Nothing is further from the truth; in fact mathematics is intensely creative. It is an art form all by itself in that crafting formulas and taking simple structures and crafting a solution to a difficult problem is a creative process very similar to music composition. It takes fumbling, trial and error, and work until the pieces drop into place to build something of beauty.
I hadn't thought about that, but it's a good point. When I'm trying to create something, be it writing or code or whatever, I have exactly the same feeling when things are going well. It's different when they're not, but when everything is synchronized, it's almost identical.
By the way, I'm trying very hard to convince Chris to start a semi-regular feature on music for DQ. He has a comprehensive and tremendously interesting knowledge of music, and I know you guys would enjoy reading more from him.
The FlowerEli 11.9 had a dress-up day at school, so he decided to go as Marc-André Fleury.
Fleury is going through a tough patch right now, with Tomáš Vokoun starting for the foreseeable future, but he's still a tremendous goalie and one of Eli's favorite players. He looks like this:
One of Fleury's distinct characteristics, which you can't really see in that picture, is that he has big eyes. Plus, he usually doesn't have that goatee, just a soul patch. Here's Eli's version:
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Frozen Synapse Releasing on iPad TonightThat's right, and it's apparently an excellent port, as related in this preview.
If somehow you missed this game on the PC, and you have an iPad, please remedy that omission as soon as possible.
Don't Starve (Part Something Or Other)These are Beefalo:
Well, except for breeding season.
During breeding season, their bottoms turn a shade of red, and they become much, much more aggressive. Wander too close and they'll chase you, attacking you if they catch up.
Picking up manure during breeding season=hazardous.
I had established a nice little farm next to this area, because it made it easy for me to make a daily run and pick up manure, then go back to my farm and deposit the manure in the plots.
Beefalo generally stay in their own terrain, which is this savanna grassland area. Two members of the herd, though, started wandering a little further north each day, and after a few days, they were happily wandering around my camp.
At night, they slept in front of the campfire, snoring gently. Seriously, they were snoring.
In the midst of all this beefalo domestic tranquility, I realized I had forgotten about one thing: mating season. When mating season came, they would attack me if I stayed in my camp, and who knows what they'd destroy.
This was going to be a serious problem.
There's another serious problem, periodically, and it's wild dogs. Big, nasty beasts that wander in packs and hunt you down. They'll kill you, if they can, but fortunately they don't appear very often.
When they're about to, though, you'll hear barking in the far distance. And it will gradually draw closer, before the slobbering beasts explode onto the scene.
So I was at my camp one night, meditating on the beefalo problem and hoping that I was still sane enough for the night spirits to leave me alone, when I suddenly heard barking.
Oh, crap. Now I had two problems.
In another moment, though, I had a plan.
I needed to move the beefalo, but there was no way to move them. I also needed to get away from the hounds. What if I ran the hounds into the beefalo and let them fight it out?
Which I did.
As soon as one of the dogs bit the beefalo, they turned aggressive and attacked the dogs. Two beefalo, six dogs. By the time it was over, both of the beefalo were dead, dropping fur, horns, and meat, and four dogs were dead. The two dogs still alive were so weak that I finished them off easily with my spear.
I wanted to just sit there and cheer. It was a brilliant, wonderful moment in a brilliant, wonderful game.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Collaboration"Hey, did you see this story about Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis forming a supergroup and asking Paul McCarney to join?" I asked Gloria.
"Seen it," Gloria said. "Three days ago. Facebook."
"FACEBOOK," I muttered.
"So what do you think they would have sounded like?" she asked.
"Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis--during his "Bitches Brew" phase--together? Incredible," I said. "And Paul McCartney could have played bass. Just don't him write songs. I don't think Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis wanted to play "Let 'Em In."
"He never did get enough credit for "Temporary Secretary"," Gloria said.
Star WarsI've received quite a bit of e-mail asking what I thought of EA securing the exclusive Star Wars license.
I think what you guys are expecting me to say is that EA will ruin Star Wars.
George Lucas ruined it already, though.
Seriously, have you watched the prequel trilogy? Three spectacular films that are visual feasts, enjoyed by all with the sound off.
Just don't turn the sound on, because if you do, they're awful.
So I don't see it as a bad thing or good thing that Disney and EA have all these exclusives locked up, because I expected nothing from Star Wars in the future, anyway. Anything anyone does right is a bonus.
In The SpiritWe're watching the Penguins play the Senators tonight.
"I'm going to grow out my playoff beard," said Eli 11.9.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Gridiron Solitaire #55: PersonallyLast week, a beta tester (Tosh, who is one of the greatest beta testers in history, surely--he's played through both betas, has found countless issues, and is still going strong) mentioned that he didn't feel a personal connection to his team.
Then, he suggested a solution: use player names from the offseason cards in the text events.
At some point, I had considered that and decided against it, although I can't remember why. When he mentioned it, though, it seemed like a fantastic idea, and since I had forgotten why I had rejected it earlier, I had forgotten why it wouldn't work.
And because I forgot why it wouldn't work, I set about finding a way that it would work.
It did work, and it's in the game now.
The first season, the text events are player-generic. When there's a description including the quarterback, for example, the messages will be "The quarterback scans the field..." or something in that vein.
In the offseason, though, if you buy a quarterback to improve your passing offense, the game will start using that name. Let's say the quarterback's last name is "Benson". During your next season, that same event will now read "Benson scans the field", and I know that sounds like a little thing, but it's very neat to see.
Plus, since I needed receivers, and the Passing Offense cards were only quarterbacks, it's now a 50/50 mix of Quarterback and Receiver cards. They affect the same rating, but the position matters for text event purposes.
The implementation is very simple. the last card for a particular rating (and for Pass Offense, for QB or WR as well) becomes the name base for that type of text event.
It took a while to rewrite the text events to use a specific name if one was available, but in all, it only took a little more than five hours to put in, which was far less time than I expected. And I couldn't be happier with how it works.
Other news: the fifth stadium is finished. Here's a look:
The stadiums with a domed element (there will be one more) are going to focus less on nature and more on geometry, which is why you have the diamond shapes on the path instead of more rounded elements.
This is a big week for working on lots of boring crap that I've been putting off. If I can just get through this list, though, it will be a big step forward.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Friday Links!We're light this week because I've seen sick since Monday afternoon and haven't been able to bottom out yet, so I'm behind on e-mail. There is still some excellent reading to be had, though.
Leading off, from Chris Pencis, and this is the coolest music relational database I've ever seen. It's good for hours of investigation: Every Noise At Once.
Next, and you'll see TEGLM with lots of links later as well, an amazing story: Love and Madness in the Jungle.
From Alexander Ignatiev, and this is pretty wonderful: The Minds Behind Dwarf Fortress.
From hippo, and I guess "exceptionalism" means "cannibalism":Skeleton of teenage girl confirms cannibalism at Jamestown colony.
From The Edwin Garcia Links Machine, and these are fantastic: A Rare Glimpse of Leonardo da Vinci's Anatomical Drawings. Also, and this is quite a glimpse into the past, it's Kurt Vonnegut to John F. Kennedy: "On Occasion, I Write Pretty Well." Next, and I want one of these, it's Building the Bomber Cam With 3D Printing and Scraps. One more, and it's beautiful: Shanghai Sidecar Riders. Last one, and it's fantastic: This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids.
From Darrel Raines, and of course this happened in Texas: Texas judge issues double-entendre-filled ruling in strip club case.
From Steven Davis, and this is unfortunate: The Thorncrown Chapel, an Idyllic Glass Chapel in Rural Arkansas is Under Threat. ALso, and this is amazing, it's Trace What You See: The NeoLucida is the First Portable Camera Lucida to be Manufactured in Nearly a Century.
This could be very useful: The Scientific 7-Minute Workout.
From Gridiron Solitaire Artist Fredrik Skarstedt, and this is incredibly depressing:Highest Paid Public Employees By State. If you're thinking "football coaches", you're right.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Eli 11.9 and the Big Track Meet (part two)The 4x100 relay started at the same time as the standing broad jump, so when Eli made it over to the jumping area (which was a section of track, not a pit), there was a long line in front of him.
"This is bad," he said. "I'm going to get stiff."
"Just jump up and down, or take practice jumps," I said. "And this isn't bad--it's great. You're going to know exactly how far you need to jump, and there are only a few kids behind you."
There were some tall, tall kids in that line. Surprisingly, though, none of them could jump. They all wound up in the 6'6" to 6'9" range.
The best jumper wasn't tall. He was about Eli's size, and he uncorked a huge 7'1" jump to lead a full three inches. He was the only kid to get his heels onto a white lane divider line.
"Okay," I said, "you see that lane line? You have to jump to that point. Only one kid has done that, so if you get there, you have a chance. Just think about exploding into a save."
"This is your event, not his," I said. "Remember that."
There were only a few kids in front of him now. Then there was one. Then it was his turn.
As Eli assumed the ready position, it was easy to see the difference between him and the other kids. He was so fluid, so graceful, just bending and swinging his arms in preparation to jump. And when he did jump, he flew a long way, his heels just short of that white line.
"6'11" ", called out the judge. The other kids stopped goofing off and started paying attention.
There was a slight headwind, and I didn't know if that was going to cost him an inch or two. I hoped not.
His second jump was bigger, and his heels made it to the line. "7'1" ", called the judge, and he held up his fist toward me.
It was a tie.
The thing about standing broad jump is that you jump what you can jump. You can almost always jump your best, but improving your best usually happens in tiny increments, like half an inch. There's no boom. So Eli was tied, he'd jumped his lifetime best, and he was still jumping into a headwind.
I didn't know if he would win in case of a tie, but I was proud of him. He's nails.
He lined up for his third jump, and so many things crossed through my mind in those few seconds. Eli lives for big moments like this. He does things that are hard to believe. Even for him, though, this was a tall order.
When he jumped, he exploded.
When he landed, kids started shouting.
The judge looked at her tape measure.
"7' 3"," she said. He pumped his fist at me, and his smile was so big that I could barely see the rest of his face.
He couldn't even stay. They were already on the second call for the 50 finals, so he took off.
I knew he wasn't going to win the 50 after qualifying 6th. And he didn't, but he ran a blazing race and finished fourth.
The 100 finals were only 15 minutes later. While he was warming up, I walked over. "Second place in the standing broad jump," I said.
"... was 7' 1"," I said. "Congratulations."
"YES!" he said, and he gave me a hug.
"Good luck the hundred," I said. "Explode out of the start."
He didn't listen to me.
Well, he did, but he didn't manage to explode. Here's a blurry picture at about 5 meters into the race:
See that kid woefully behind in Lane Eight? That's him. That's the worst start I've ever seen.
Now look the finish (you can just see his foot and leg in Lane Eight, because I'm a lousy filmer):
At the finish line, it was fairly chaotic, and they told him he was sixth. It certainly doesn't look like it from that picture, though. He walked over to me after the race.
"Dad, they said I was sixth, but I was fourth," he said. "Those other two kids were behind me."
"No matter," I said. "It was a great race. You turned on the turbojets. And points!"
"Points," he said, smiling. "That's right."
I went over and looked at the team scores while he hung out on the infield for a while to see some of his friends run. His team scored 28.5 points. He scored 27 of those, including the relay, and if they'd given him the right place in the 100, he would have had 31.
I looked at the team standings and noticed something. I walked back to the infield and found him.
"Before I tell you this, you can't say this to anyone," I said.
"Okay. What?" he asked.
"You're in fourth."
"What?" he asked.
"You're in fourth," I said. "In the team standings."
He raised an eyebrow.
"By yourself," I said.
His eyes got wide, and he started laughing. "Seriously?"
"Seriously," I said. "Let's go home. I think you've done enough for one morning."
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Eli 11.9 and the Big Track MeetTwenty-two schools.
Eli 11.9 had finished 5th in two events last year in the 5th-6th grade division, and he had high hopes for this year.
"I'm nervous," he said in the car as we parked near the stadium.
"Nervous?" I asked. "Sprints are the one event where you don't have to be nervous. The gun goes off, you run like your shorts are on fire, and you lean at the tape. It's blissfully uncomplicated."
"The standing broad jump isn't complicated, either," he said. "Just lean forward and jump, baby!"
"Plus," I said, "you're not really fully invested here."
"Not really," he said.
"It's not like you spent months preparing for the meet," I said. "You went to three Saturday practices. So just go out there, run as fast as you can, and take what you get."
"I can do that," he said.
Eli was in four events: 50 meters, 100 meters, 4x100 relay, and the standing broad jump. No one his age had beaten him last year, so in theory, he should have a good chance in all of them.
Ironically, though, he was still young, even in the 5th/6th grade division. He was still 11 (birthday July 31), and with so many people holding their kids back before starting school, there were plenty of 5th graders who were older.
It was brutally hot last year, but we caught a break this time, and it was cool (but slightly windy). For the sprints, that wind was a tailwind.
His first event was the 50 prelims, an event where he had run 8.1 last year (into a headwind). I knew he was much faster than last year, but I didn't have a handle on how much faster. I expected him to win his heat fairly comfortably, though.
I couldn't believe it, but he was third in his heat. And he was flying. I walked over toward the finish line, and when he saw me, he said, "7.26."
Insane. And he was third!
That's when I knew that there were some new sheriffs in town.
Just before he ran in the 100 prelims, the P.A. announcer called his name out for the 50 finals. I figured it was going to be close, and it was, because he was in Lane 2 for the Finals, which meant he qualified either fifth or sixth. In the 50, that meant he probably made it by less than .05 seconds.
He ran well in the 100, finishing second in his heat, and we headed for home. It was already 8:45, and he needed to get good rest for the morning. I thought he was a lock for the 100 Finals, the way he'd run, and we'd find out in the morning.
"Well," I said, "we were at the track for four and a half hours to see you compete for twenty-one seconds."
He laughed. "I think it might have been twenty-TWO seconds," he said.
After day one, his team had zero points. The girls in his grade are absolutely beastly at track--they dominated the meet--but except for Eli and one other kid, the boys are the opposite.
When we returned to the track at 9 a.m., we checked the board and he'd made the 100 Finals. He was in Lane 8, though, so he was one of the last two to qualify.
I was a little bummed for him. I'd been hoping that he'd have a huge meet, since he'd done so well last year against older kids. No one understood anything about hockey at his school, and it would have been nice for him to get some recognition from his peers.
It wasn't looking good, though.
His best event was the standing broad jump, and he'd jumped 6'8" last year for 5th. Now he was regularly jumping 7'0" in practice, and he was consistent, so maybe he'd break through there.
First up, though, was the 4x100 relay. There was one other fast kid on the relay, plus two other kids who were decent, so they had a chance. Eli was running anchor.
There were two heats in the relay with no Finals, so it was all time-based. The first three legs went well, and when Eli got the baton, off a terrific pass, he was basically tied for first with two other kids.
He proceeded to run faster than I've ever seen him run before. And got smoked.
The kid that beat him had a gear that Eli just didn't have. No one else did, either, because this same kid later won the 100 in a lark. Based on how easily the kid won the 100, Eli ran the race of his life to stay as close as he did.
He still finished second in the heat, though, and they finished third overall (by .02 of a second).
"Points," he said, raising his fist and smiling when he saw me after the race.
"Dude, you were flying," I said.
"That other kid was a BEAST," he said, laughing.
The standing broad jump was next.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
UghSorry about the formatting/spacing on the Scott Miller post. Blogger is giving me fits right now.
Scott MillerTwo weeks ago, DQ Musicologist Chris Hornbostel mentioned that I should read Music: What Happened?
He was right. I don't think I've ever read a more interesting book about music.
I've also never read one with such brilliant wordsmithing. The language is both wickedly clever and tremendously thoughtful, and every page was a pleasure.
Sadly, the author--Scott Miller--passed away recently. He was an accomplished musician, a tremendous writer, and a brilliant intellect, and Chris agreed to write about his life.
Last month, a fellow you’ve likely never heard of named Scott Miller passed away suddenly at the age of 53. I wasn’t a close friend of his (more like nodding acquaintance), but his death left me mourning in ways that were difficult to comprehend easily.
Scott was reluctant to reveal things about himself easily, and there were things about him that I wouldn’t discover until years after that I might’ve found useful in forming opinions about his work. I first heard of him because he was the leader of a band in the 1980’s called Game Theory, and I enjoyed them a great deal. In interviews he cited all the normal checkpoints--The Beatles, Big Star, Bowie--that 1980’s college radio guitar pop auteurs were required to cite. What intrigued me was hearing Scott Miller also cite James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, and a whole variety of difficult literature as influencing his music. Given the cultural references that peppered his song lyrics I had always figured him for a student of English, or perhaps history or philosophy. (Sample lyrics: “It gets harder each night, gonna take a miracle/Gonna take Ernst, Dali, and DiChirico” or “There’s a light on the 19th floor tonight/They don’t know there won’t even be a fight”; your google bar awaits.)
In the 1990’s (he was touring with his new band, The Loud Family) I discovered how wrong that impression was. Over a conversation initiated by my question regarding an impossible song title of his, Miller told me he’d gotten an engineering degree at UC-Davis back before computer science degrees were common. (The song title in question is usually abbreviated as “Song 22” on Game Theory’s Lolita Nation lp, but the title actually starts “DEFMACROS..” and goes on and on from there for 173 characters and turns out to be programming language stuff.) He was working as a computer engineer and programmer in object-oriented database work. Pressed further, he revealed that he was something of a math, physics, and science prodigy. Indeed, up until his passing he worked as an engineer at a Bay Area software/tech company.
With that information--and studies from prestigious university think tanks linking music and math affinities in the human mind--I leapt to the conclusion that his arithmetic leanings were the source and structure that drove Scott Miller’s unique and oftentimes brilliant sense of melody. (A critic describes him as “smart pop heaven”; a friend put it as “His songs are like a Hot Wheels track that loops around and goes all over the place”. His friend Aimee Mann simply deconstructed it as “a gazillion chords”.) That was a wrong assumption of mine, too. Last week I heard a clip of Scott playing some of his songs acoustically at a radio station in 1985, and his struggles to remember one of his songs that had been requested on air was revelatory. Hearing him fumble for the right chords, I realized that he didn’t use the math part of his brain to write songs at all, but rather wrote songs the same way as every other musician I knew of, with that un-analytical/more creative part of his mind. That was a shocker--that a person so gifted at an empirical undertaking like math was also somehow skilled at artistic creation...well, that sort of thing doesn’t occur often in humans, I don’t think.
I’d always known Scott Miller to be a literate guy. His interviews over the years reveal a thoughtful, self-deprecating, and humble fellow, but one with a blazing, intellectually curious furnace. Toward the end of his music career he began writing in a sort of ad-hoc manner for an online column on his own website called “Ask Scott” where he was as likely to weigh in on Led Zeppelin as Kierkegaard.
All of that eventually morphed into a book released in 2010 called Music--What Happened. Miller had since childhood kept notebooks where he’d assiduously listed his favorite songs and albums of each year. The pretense of his book was collecting his 20 favorite songs of each year and him writing about them in what ends up as being a sort of chronological written-down mixtape. If that sounds self-indulgent, it ends up not being so. In fact, the personal-ness of his choices fuels the passion and accessibility of his writing. The book turns the neat trick of making you want to hear songs you’ve already heard a thousand times again (and you’ll hear them with new ears; for instance, “Lola” by The Kinks) as well as providing a path and guided tour to new musical discoveries. The writing is sharp, very witty, and occasionally quite touching. Mostly though, it is accessible. Although Miller never dumbs things down, when he does go into the high weeds of music theory he does so in a way that makes it reasonably easy to follow.
More importantly--on a personal note--is that the book feels like having a conversation with one of the sharpest and most original minds to ever come down the musical pike. I’m naturally drawn by curiosity to persons of uniqueness and intelligence. A real-life talk with Scott Miller could always threaten to be like staring into the sun; if you gave him a free rein of your own nodding and pretend understanding you’d risk hearing him make a point where Jacques Derrida, Cubism, Finnegans Wake, and The Monkees could be equal sums of the whole. Part of Miller’s own genius was to recognize that his head made these connections unique to him. More special was that it fueled a vibrant personality with a way of expression that allowed him to explain his thinking in a nearly apologetic, un-condescending, almost gentle way. That humility and ease of access is really what comes across in his book, which I suppose now stands alongside his music catalogue as a pretty fitting tribute and legacy.
Monday, May 06, 2013
Gridiron Solitaire #54: PotpourriThis is kind of a catch-all post, because it's been kind of a catch-all week.
First, a new stadium:
This is going to replace the very first stadium, which was 100% crowd (Rose Bowl, sort of).
It looks like we're going to have 8 stadiums (can't remember if I mentioned that).
I've been trying to use both ratings (on an A-F scale, shown when you start a new league) and relative rankings (based on ratings, on a 1-16 scale). The concept behind doing so was entirely reasonable, but in practice, it was just too confusing to show information one way in one place and another way everywhere else. So relative rankings are gone now, replaced by A-F everywhere.
The bigger news this is week is that someone I respect very highly played the game last weekend and offered a ton of terrific suggestions. For instance, and it never crossed my mind before, he said that I should treat the ball as the player's character in the game. That makes perfect sense, but like I said, I'd never thought about it before. So that resulted in this:
That's a bigger ball, in case you're wondering, and it's much, much easier to see now. I'm also going to animate the ball movement instead of just updating the position. It's not a huge difference, but the animated movement will attract the player's attention and reinforce that they're gaining yards.
He also mentioned that having the dynamic help speech bubbles moving around was distracting. I'd done it that way to locate the speech bubble near the action that needed to be taken by the player, but it resulted in the speech bubble hopping all over the place.
I played "Talisman Prologue" this weekend, and as I played the tutorial, I noticed how incredibly easy it was to know what needed to be done next, because they had a pleasant, glowing circle around what they wanted the player to select.
If I do something similar, there's no need to move the help speech bubble--I can just highlight what needs to be selected. Like this:
I just cycle the opacity of the circle around the control, and the control itself has a higher display order, so all the player sees is the pulsing ring. And I (finally) went through the very grindy bit of locking out controls when necessary. So in the case of this screenshot, when the help bubble says "close me to proceed", the player can't go ahead and select the run or pass buttons. That speech bubble has to be closed first, and when it is, the pass button can't be selected. All that can be selected is the proper control.
The speech bubble also doesn't move now, because I just highlight the controls to select.
This doesn't add up to much, seemingly, but it makes guided help easier to follow and (more importantly) impossible to break.
There was also a gameplay suggestion that I found highly interesting, although I'm not sure I can do it: add a meaningful choice with the cards before the play starts. His suggestion was excellent, but it would also add a layer of strategy that, while very interesting, would slow the game down and totally reset the play balance. So I'm thinking about the concept of another meaningful choice, which I like, hoping that something can be done without slowing the game down.