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The BossBattle.net FAQ

Here is some information about me and my website. No one has actually sent me these questions, but they are the sort of questions I might imagine someone browsing the site might ask...

Me and the Site

Q: Who are you?

A: Ben B. Bainton is my name. On the Internet I sometimes go by the alias elcalen. I live in Finland, and, as I write this, I'm a university student, majoring in English, and taking way too long to graduate... I've been called a hippie, or a nerd, but the catch-all title 'geek' is perhaps the best pick, and I certainly identify myself as such.

Q: What does the name (Boss Battle) mean?

A: Once upon a time, video games were commonly divided into stages. At the end of each stage you'd have to fight a bigger and stronger enemy, commonly called a 'boss'. These boss battles are often the most impressive, fun and memorable parts of a game. The name of my site is, thus, a token of my admiration for video games, both as entertainment and an art form.

Q: How can I contact you?

A: My email address should be at the bottom of each page. You can also find me on Twitter.

Q: Can I link to your site?

A: Certainly. If you need buttons or banners you can find some here. (Naturally I'd prefer it if you'd store graphics on your own server.)

Q: Can I use material from your site?

A: Much of the original content on my site, such as my RPG settings, is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license. Under the terms of this licence you're free to modify and redistribute material as long as you credit me as the original creator and release derivative works under a similar license. This obviously does not include any material for which I don't own the copyright, such as images from video games.

I'll try to add a Creative Commons licence statement to any relevant sections, but not all areas might have one yet. If in doubt, ask.

Q: How did you create this site? Did you create the graphics?

A: I use GNU Emacs as my editor. I have used an extension for it called Emacs Muse to create most of this website. The blog section is managed (and hosted) by Blogger.com. Most of the decorations used are from openclipart.org. Screenshots from video games are from various web sources (or in some cases taken by me), and can probably be regarded as 'fair use'. Image editing has been done with GIMP and Inkscape.

Roleplaying Games

Q: What's a roleplaying game, or RPG?

A: When I talk about roleplaying games, I'm usually referring to so called 'pen and paper' or 'tabletop' roleplaying games, a genre of games created in the 1970's with the release of the famous Dungeons & Dragons. It is easiest to think of these games as a type of interactive storytelling, where one person (the Game Master) narrates a story he or she has prepared in advance, while other players take on the roles of the main characters and decide how their individual characters react to the events of the story, which is thus shaped through the dialogue between the Game Master and the players. A set of rules is generally used in order to bring structure to the game, to indicate what a character is capable of (by representing his or her skills with a set of numerical values), and to bring excitement by including an element of chance (i.e. rolling dice).

The genre of video games referred to with the same name was originally influenced by 'pen and paper' games (and particularly Dungeons & Dragons), and shares some features with them, such as the representation of skills with numerical values, and the improvement of these skills by means of gaining experience points. Many such games, however, and particularly the very popular Japanese RPG titles (such as the Final Fantasy series), involve little more 'role playing' than any other genre of video games, having quite linear storylines and very little choice about the characters' personality.

Computers, Hacking etc.

Q: You often talk about Free Software. What's up with that?

A: The Free Software movement is something I care deeply about. The idea is that the end users of software should have rights as well: the right to use software how they wish, the right to improve and adapt the software to their needs, and to share improvements for the benefit of the whole user community. Proprietary, monopolistic companies like Microsoft are making this difficult in today's world, but there are alternatives. The GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation have more information about the issues involved.

Q: What's the difference between GNU/Linux and Linux?

A: In common use of the terms, there is no difference. Although the operating system is often called just Linux, it started out as the GNU project, aimed to create a Free Software operating system. This system adopted a kernel (the core of the operating system, which deals with communication between software and hardware) called Linux, created by Linus Torvalds. The term 'Linux' properly refers to the kernel and not the whole operating system, which included GNU software created before Linux. 'GNU/Linux' stands for a version of the GNU operating system using the Linux kernel, which is the most commonly used version of GNU, but not the only one.

Q: What about the difference between Open Source and Free Software?

A: These two concepts have much in common, but have different backgrounds. Free Software describes an ideology, while Open Source describes a development model. While much of the software described as Open Source can be considered Free Software, this isn't necessarily always the case. Freedom requires more than the availability source code.

Q: What is a hacker?

A: There are several communities and cultures that the term is associated with, although the media seem to have fixated on one particular usage, that of computer criminals, of illegally hacking 'into' websites or files. Some prefer to call those people crackers. Hackers, as I use the term, are people who enjoy computer programming (and other related activities), and 'hacking' is simply the act of creating and editing program code. This culture originated in university circles (MIT, for instance), and today the term is commonly encountered in connection with the Free Software community. While hackers generally are anti-authoritarian and non-conformist by nature, this does not mean they accept or are interested in illegal activities.

Q: Are you a hacker?

A: Not really. Although I'm not a total stranger to computer programming, I've never been skilled or enthusiastic enough to really think of myself as a hacker. However, my interests and attitudes are often similar to those of the hacker community, as is my taste in software. (How many people would choose Emacs/LaTeX for writing fiction, for instance?)

Q: What hardware/software do you use?

A: As of this writing I have a HP G62 notebook, bought in 2011. I currently run Debian GNU/Linux as my only OS. As a window manager I'm currently using Enlightenment, configured to be as unintrusive and keyboard-friendly as possible. I rely a lot on the command line and my terminal emulator of choice is rxvt-unicode. I don't usually use any kind of file manager, relying entirely on the command line interface for such needs.

As for other software, I use GNU Emacs for most of my writing (and coding), with tools like LaTeX and Emacs Muse for formatting text. Sometimes I use LibreOffice, AbiWord or Scribus for writing/formatting needs not suitable for Emacs. I use GIMP and Inkscape for image manipulation, Chromium for web browsing, Irssi for IRC and other instant messaging (via BitlBee), MPD (with NCMPCPP as my main client) for playing music, and VLC for video playback.