Hacker News

39 Comments:
hprotagonist said 8 days ago:

One of the odd echoes of this is in the nascent cannabis herb vaporizer market. (Controversies and health concerns about the oil-based pens are real but aren’t related here.)

There’s a positively cambrian explosion of form factors, heater designs, heat sources, materials, control systems, etc. right now in the product space, and it’s more or less all driven by crazy people making stuff in their basement and selling it via word of mouth on reddit and instagram and web forums.

No one design has won, so we’re still in that “try everything!” mode. It’s kind of fun to see.

alasarmas said 8 days ago:

This recent crisis regarding adulterants/diluents for oil pens reminds me of nothing so much as "jake leg", but in that case the adulterating agent was used to mislead the authorities as to the composition of the product, not the users:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaica_ginger

fourstar said 8 days ago:

I’d say Pax has won this category.

hprotagonist said 8 days ago:

Nope. Arizer and Storz and Bickel are up there and absolutely pulling their weight. The solo, volcano/mighty/crafty are certainly well known, so Pax doesn't have the lock down on brand recognition.

There's a second tier of cheap-but-probably-safe that's companies like boundless or healthy rips.

Then there are the fan favorites / esoteric-nerd things like dynavap or the aforementioned basemenet-makers or hobbyist/lifestyle companies. They're not going to hit mass-market volume but they've got the nerds covered.

Pax is killing it with the Era (but that's for concentrates) and their parent company is Juul, so they're well positioned -- but they are not setting the trend of the market at all. They continue to make good-but-overpriced conduction-only units that are increasingly just totally eclipsed by convection/hybrid units with replaceable batteries or alternative heat sources.

ElatedOwl said 8 days ago:

For portable non-concentrate, Mighty by Storz and Bickel is hands down the best device I've used. The engineering is flawless: amazing battery life, extremely durable, easily replaceable wear/tear parts, use while charging, fast heat up times, a poker built into the base of it... I could go on. It was pricey but I've had it 4+ years, with no signs of decaying battery life or any non wear/tear part replacement, despite a lot of use and a lot of abuse.

simlevesque said 8 days ago:

the Pax Era is one of the worst concentrate portable device on the market.

vokep said 8 days ago:

Why do you say this? It isn't the most cost effective maybe, but it is convenient and the bluetooth control stuff is kinda nice.

simlevesque said 7 days ago:

Because there are numerous better device available like the Saionara, Molecule, Quartz Quest v4, TRVP and many others

vokep said 7 days ago:

Wow, I had no idea about any of these. Good to know!

simlevesque said 3 days ago:

check out r/waxpen

hprotagonist said 8 days ago:

it's also pretty limited; they're not available in my state, for example.

The partnership-with-local-concentrate-producers plan means, as far as i can tell, that the quality varies wildly.

opportune said 8 days ago:

Pax is positioned too high in the market to really win. And it’s still not as easy to clean as it could be

mschuster91 said 8 days ago:

The problem with crazy people making stuff in their basement is that, sometimes, people die from it.

imgabe said 8 days ago:

"sometimes people die from it" is a characteristic of just about every human endeavor.

hprotagonist said 8 days ago:

the cambrian explosion stage is also the caveat emptor stage.

In this instance, i'll be glad of regulatory oversight sooner rather than later.

schnevets said 8 days ago:

Whenever I hear one of these articles about idea exchange and location's impact on innovation, I always wonder if indie game development is a notable exception. Indie success stories frequently suggest one lone developer (like Stardew Valley's Eric Barone) or an extremely intimate team (like Celeste's Matt Thorson). It seems like breakout hits happen in completely random cities/locations and no one area is the definitive "epicenter of game design".

I highly doubt game design is some notable outlier - it's simply a union of software development and creative industries. I think the only reasonable explanations is that the vibrant community and exchange of ideas happens through the internet. If so, I think there are lessons for other entrepreneurs/industries to follow so they can be less geographically bound.

mntmoss said 8 days ago:

Game development eras and their style have a substantial correlation to locations and the teams assembled in them, but as you allude to, increasingly the demographics don't seem to matter as much as the culture, because the capital requirements have dropped so much.

A surprising amount of stuff, for example, came out of Chicago between the 80's and 90's. Why? Because amusement manufacturing was located there, so there was a direct crossover from solid state pinball to video games. Williams, Gottlieb and the rest all operated in the area. For similar reasons the bulk of Japan's game output in the 80's came from its three largest cities.

As the industry became more software-driven, it got easier to spread out, and with the merger mania of the 90's pooling up capital, you got the existence of studios with multiple offices in different cities. But you still needed some infrastructure and financing to run a studio, and so most large game studios are in "hip metros" even today.

But when you get down to the realm of current indie games doing digital distribution and Twitch streaming, your physical bottleneck is approximately the same as a writer: fast internet and basic city services. But writers benefit from having a creative circle, salon or similar gathering, and that creates an effect in indie games which I will forever remember from a TIGSource forum thread as the "globetrotting international hipster clique": creators who live very far apart and only see each other at big conferences. Often this ends in people from the same city learning of each other's existence by flying to a different city where a conference is. After you hit a critical mass of people aware of each other in a city, it's just a matter of running a regular local event.

And what I've noticed personally in some 9 years of attending or helping host those events is that while the games scene in a city will derive most of its people from other industries(e.g. in SF you get a lot of tech workers with a hobby project) the way in which it's shaped depends on the type of regular events held and their focus. Some events are focused on business or technical lectures; others are co-working of some form; still others are public-facing showcases. Each of those has their purpose and you do need a sufficiently large city to experience all categories, since without a balance you end up with an average game output that has too little creativity, is poorly shaped as a product, lacks in technical ability, etc. There is a lot of wasted time in indie games that results from someone, somewhere retreating into the work without other eyes on it.

adventured said 8 days ago:

> A surprising amount of stuff, for example, came out of Chicago between the 80's and 90's.

The Dallas / Ft Worth area has a similar cluster story around early 3D gaming, thanks heavily to 3D Realms and then id Software. Companies like Ritual, Hipnotic, GOD Games, ION Storm, Gearbox. Then you also had Ensemble Studios, Terminal Reality and others in the area. DWANGO down in Houston was heavily built on what id Software did. Dozens of small indie companies spawned in the DFW area thanks to the foundation put down by some of those companies.

"Commercial real estate firm JLL found gaming companies are on the rise in North Texas. According to JLL, nine colleges offer gaming degree programs that help build a labor pool in North Texas. The firm counts 87 gaming companies in North Texas. That’s nearly a third of all gaming companies in Texas, which only trails California in the number of design and development studios."

"It used to be that Austin was the de facto answer for game development in Texas. But actually, Dallas has a rich history of game development companies going back to id Software," explained Bettner. "That spawned a bunch of studios in the area."

https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/tech/Gaming-Gaining-Ground-in-No...

patagurbon said 8 days ago:

Game companies often seem (to my eyes) to cluster around major CS universities, and incidentally many of these universities have vibrant arts/creative communities (especially the juggernauts like UC schools, Toronto, Vancouver, MIT, etc etc). I think if you scraped even the top 500-1000 indie games you’d see some pretty serious clustering.

But there are, of course, also very large communities for gaming online, from development to consumption. Most (if not effectively all) "core-CS" innovation takes place at university research groups, corps, and conferences, a much higher barrier to entry than itch.io for instance. CS innovation really requires a large amount of experience in a very limited subfield to make progress.

Game design is just less esoteric than the frontiers of CS imo.

Retric said 8 days ago:

I suspect when adjusting for the respective population you get a reverse effect as people graduating from top CS programs tend to have significant debt reducing their willingness to take risks. On top of that they have high opportunity costs.

In areas like AI that’s countered by the benefits of an elite education. But, game designers need to be generalists which is harder for schools to teach over short time frames.

PS: That’s not to say CS graduates from top schools are under represented, just that they had a gap and likely left the area.

Spooky23 said 8 days ago:

It's about where the money comes from. It's easier and cheaper to bootstrap or get money for a project with a deliverable and end-date than the funding required for other types of companies.

throwawayjava said 8 days ago:

Man, Econ really is the miserable science. "I started with a politically charged theory passed down from The Elders and, after 6 years of being paid to search for evidence of that theory, guess what, I found some".

For starters, using patents as a proxy for innovation is dubious at best. Patents are a terrible proxy for innovation. My own experience has been the inverse: organizations/individuals that patenting shit lots of shit are consistently the least inventive. Not sure if this was true in the early 20th century, but it certainly is today.

bjourne said 8 days ago:

There might be some confounding variables at play... Such as counties voting in favor of prohibition could be more conservative which in turn could be caused by them having an older population. Older people are, generally, both more conservative and less inventive than younger people.

That said, all the best music was made in the 60's and 70's so maybe he's onto something. :)

sillyquiet said 8 days ago:

There are plenty of times in history when puritanical movements like prohibition are not driven by older, 'conservative' folks but by young radicals, so this correlation is probably pretty tenuous if it exists. Look at the Reformation in England in the 16th century for example or the rise of literal Puritanism in the following century.

eplanit said 8 days ago:

Yes, and the "Woke" movement of today.

tdb7893 said 8 days ago:

Is woke puritanical? That really doesn't match my understanding of it

pdonis said 8 days ago:

Sure it is: thinking non-woke thoughts is punishable, just as the Puritans believed thinking non-Puritan thoughts was punishable.

tdb7893 said 8 days ago:

I've seen that behavior in movements from veganism to pro-gun movements, are those movements puritanical?

I'm just actually curious, it's just a semantic difference and I'm curious how wide of a net you cast with this term.

pdonis said 8 days ago:

> are those movements puritanical?

The entire movement might not be, but the people exhibiting the behavior are. With the woke movement pretty much everyone in it seems to exhibit the behavior. The vegan or pro-gun movements, not so much; most people I've seen who are vegans or pro-gun have no interest in punishing other people for anti-vegan or anti-gun thoughts, they just want to be able to put their own beliefs into practice in their own lives without interference.

tdb7893 said 8 days ago:

Must be just different in experiences (or just how we define the woke movement) because I've found a lot of "woke" people to be fairly understanding but as I said that might just be the people I've met.

rtkwe said 7 days ago:

I'd put decent money that most of their interactions with wokeness have been though social media where a particular brand of ride or die wokeness comes out. Partially I think because when you're arguing online it's real hard to suss out where the person you're talking to lies and a lot of people make bad faith arguments where giving any ground gets taken much further by the other side of the debate.

It's much easier to hold a categorical black and white opinion than to try to defend and define a nuanced opinion, especially when you're likely going to wind up arguing with more than one person at once.

temporaryvector said 8 days ago:

This is a bit of a tangent, but sometimes I get confused by the US definition of "conservative."

It seems to me that someone who is conservative would be against something like the prohibition both because it changes the status quo and because it results in regulation and a bigger government.

Has this always been the case in the US or has the word conservative changed meaning at some point in history? Did the people who vote for the Prohibition back at the turn of the 20th century identify themselves as conservative? Were they identified as conservative by others around them?

abfan1127 said 8 days ago:

Conservative Politics are not necessarily conservative (i.e. keep it the same) and Progressive Politics are not necessarily progressive (i.e. make progress). Thats the beauty of American Politics. It literally starts with lies and only gets better from there... :/

Armisael16 said 8 days ago:

It wasn’t a conservative movement.

youeseh said 8 days ago:

I dunno, man - I agree with you that there are way too many variables at play, but the bit about innovation..

Technology as en enabler of things. Not all tech is easily accessible on day 1 though. Industrialization for example, was capital-intensive, so not everyone could play.

As for music - I'd say that, like software, as the barriers to access and entry were lowered, innovation took off (A-track / cassettes / radio etc..).

As for conservatism - that can come in many flavors. We really should appreciate the amount of innovation that takes place on a farm.

Armisael16 said 8 days ago:

The premise of your question is flawed.

Prohibition was a social-progressive movement, driven by the same sort of people that advocate decriminalizing drugs these days.

nullc said 8 days ago:

If you spend less time drunk you're less likely get suckered into paying people to file worthless patents for your useless brainfarts.

Patent filing is a really weak proxy for the creation of actually useful inventions.

rexreed said 8 days ago:

To me this seems like correlation, but I'm not convinced of causation.

asdf21 said 8 days ago:

Imagine what drug prohibition has done...