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ScienceIamA Ex Lead NASA Engineer for the International Space Station AMA!

Jul 14th 2017 by kamiraa • 15 Questions • 6053 Points

My name is Dane Jasper (/u/danejasper), and I co-founded Sonic in 1994, at a time when the “World Wide Web” was brand new, Linux had just been invented and avoiding dialup busy signals was the main customer issue. Today, Sonic is the largest independent ISP in Northern California. As a 20-year industry veteran, I've seen a lot of change, but I remain committed to the concept of alternative competitive broadband access services, which is why I’m fighting for net neutrality today.

Sonic firmly believes that internet providers should NOT be able to charge content creators -- like Netflix or CNET -- more money to stream their service, or have the ability to block others entirely. The internet should remain open and equal for all.

I’ll be sticking around to answer your questions on net neutrality and what’s at stake for you and everyone else who uses and loves the internet, amid the FCC’s plans to roll back current net neutrality regulations. Ask away!

Proof: https://i.redd.it/25jzwv38c19z.jpg

Q:

How large can we make the ISS before it becomes unfeasible?

Thinking of Orbital shipyards and similar sci fi stuff.

A:

What is the leading cause of blindness in this region? Is there a dominant hereditary factor involved, or perhaps prolonged unprotected exposure to snow reflection is causing more permanent damage? Or other?


Q:

Hi Ed, I love your games! Two questions. It seems like the majority of your games are platformers, from more traditional ones recently like The End is Nigh and SMB, to more physics-based ones earlier in your career like Aether and Gish.

  1. Is there something about platformers that draws you to develop those types of games often? It seems like you don't have any difficulty coming up with ideas to keep platformers fresh despite it being a pretty old genre.

  2. Issac is a big step outside this pattern, does it interest you to take this even further and develop more games in other unfamiliar genres, like maybe a Super McMillen RPG?

A:

Hi Dane, thanks for doing this.

What kind of pressure have you felt (say from competitors, from corporations/content providers, or from government) to abandon Net Neutrality?

(Unrelated, but I hope to be a Sonic customer someday ... if/when fiber comes to my town of Moraga.)


Q:

We are pretty much at the assembly complete of ISS. We are adding on a few other things, but we are in the process of winding down the program.

ISS was a proving ground of technologies, processes for repair and assembly, and studying the long term affects of space on a human body. We hope to take all this information and apply it to missions further away from Earth. I think in that case building a very big vehicle would be amazing, but we would need a lot more funding.

A:

(HCP Co-Founder, Geoff Tabin) Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the developing world. Yes, there is a genetic association, although it is not well delineated; and UV light, combined with a lack of antioxidants in the diet contribute to early development of cataracts, as does smoke inhalation.
Fortunately, the loss of vision from cataracts can be completely reversed with surgery.


Q:

the short answer is platformers are easy to make, so its more fun and quick for me to write around and design than something more long winded like an RPG or shooter.

yes,after isaac i became pretty obsessed with randomly generated games. mewgenics, 0urobos, and fingered were all randomly generated. RNG based games are diffcult to design around because they require so much content to be good.

i hope to eventually pick up mewgenics againwith tyler and dive into RNG hell once more.

A:

Clearly most large carriers have been against net neutrality, and Title II in particular, as well as against any regulations around consumer privacy. Sonic bucks this trend, but there's no pressure anyone can put on us, we have an independent viewpoint and are able to express it to regulators, legislators and the public. We do this, widely, signing on to support letters from industry coalitions, speaking with the FCC, federal and state legislators, and asking our members to get involved too.


Q:

Thank you for your answer!

I hope humanity gets off its collective butts and puts more money into space. There is so much untapped potential there.

A:

Aren't most people with cataracts quite elderly? The work you do is fantastic, but in comparing your efforts to some of the other 100& Change proposals you seem to be focused on an older group and hence perhaps have less of an impact on the world as a whole than projects addressing needs of younger people with more life ahead of them or of all people of all ages?


Q:

What's your favorite game of all time? And favorite movie of all time?

What job will you follow in case you were not a game developer?

A:

What exactly is ocean water?


Q:

For sure! We need to get our butts on other planets, we really screwed ourselves over for these mars missions and most people don't understand it yet . . .

A:

(HCP Co-Founder, Geoff Tabin) Thank you Yellow_Cherry, yes the majority of people blind from cataracts are elderly. However, in the developing world, many people go blind at an early age, including children. HCP develops overall eye care systems that provides eyecare for all ages. When we restore sight to the elderly, this allows children who have been caretakers to return to school. In addition, these elderly who have had their sight restored can now become caretakers of small children.


Q:

i cant choose a favorite anything but ill list some games/movies i watch.

zelda, spelunky,mario,fallout 1&2

movies: el topo, THE ROOM, toxic avenger,eternal sunshine, evil dead2, dead alive

job: if i didnt get fired from my animal control job, id definitely still be doing it.

A:

It's the salty kind. Which might be due to the fish pee. Or not.


Q:

How did we screw ourselves over for the Mars missions?

Edit: you should edit in a link to this AMA in your comment on the ELI5 thread!

Also I'm sure it will get more visible when the US wakes up. I think you're going to experience the proverbial exploded inbox, this is incredibly interesting stuff.

A:

How does curing blindness in an individual ripple out to the community?


Q:

hey! i love your games! do you ver feel like you've designed something in any of your games that was unfair/poorly thought out that you regret implementing? anything specific come to mind?

A:

Can you please come to Seattle to offer us an alternative to Comcast?


Q:

When you design a vehicle you are focused on the environment we can operate in. When you go into space you are subjected to a lot of radiation. Early when we were planning our Mars missions we started to build a vehicle called Orion. Because the planets were going through a complex alignment for a few years we were able to make the vehicle walls a certain material and thickness to prevent radiating the astronauts too much.

When congress pulled back money for a while and paused the program they thought that ok no biggie we will just give them back money later and they will fly. No no no, we missed the complex window.

Nobody wants to talk about it, because its one of the biggest screw ups ever.

So now . . . we have to wait until 2028 ish region to fly to mars because thats the window in which that SPECIFIC vehicle can fly through and keep the astronauts safe. The problem is that vehicle has a short term life because that window of safe journey only lasts a few years.

So we are going to get a few good missions out to mars, and then . . . . we have to wait for the window to open up again (1 decade plus). So we need to find alternative paths for those vehicles (other locations or planets).

A:

(HCP Co-Founder, Geoff Tabin) In the developing world, there are very few services for the blind. Hence it takes people out of the workforce or a child out of school to care for that individual. Once cured, adults who were once blind from cataracts can return to the workforce. Children are able to return to school and receive an education. Elders whose sight is restored can return to care of children or homestead responsibilities. It is estimated that there’s a direct return to the economy by 400% for every dollar invested in blindness elimination. These are the direct impacts to the economy, however, the emotional impacts are greatly magnified beyond.


Q:

yes, i think tboi was poorly thought out, but you guys like it that way so ill leave it alone.

A:

We are expanding very quickly, but are not yet outside of California. Please tell your CA friends, because more Sonic members == bigger, further reaching Sonic!


Q:

That's heartbreaking. This is another excellent example of why there need to be more science-minded people in politics.

Thank you for doing this AMA, I sincerely appreciate it.

A:

Who is your hero?


Q:

Hey Ed, dumb question time. Favorite flavor of ice cream?

Thanks for the new game, I'm currently tearing my fingers off in the future

A:

At lot of the larger ISPs are fighting against neutrality. As a favorite ISP, it might seem surprising that you're not fighting with them, so it's really encouraging to see this AMA!

I'll ask the biggie: why is net neutrality important for you as an ISP?

(Also, as a non-US citizen is there a way to make my voice heard in a useful way?)


Q:

Agreed, we really need to have a change.

Thank you , this is super fun <3

A:

(HCP Co-Founder, Geoff Tabin) I have had many heroes and mentors in my life. Sir Edmond Hilary and Gaston Rebuffat for daring the impossible in the mountains and what they’ve given back to people. Sanduk Ruit, my elder brother and partner in the Himalayan Cataract Project; and Govindappa Venkataswamy, founding Chairman of the Aravind Hospital in India – for their compassion and genius at delivering the best possible medical care to the most impoverished people on the plant.


Q:

it would have to be chocolate peanut butter! im also a big fan of peach and black cherry ice cream as well!

but i cant eat too much or i get the "mad shits"

A:

Clearly, Sonic is in the minority when it comes to our position and advocacy around topics like neutrality, privacy, and competitive policy. We're the good guys.

As for why it's important, there are two primary points:

1) A better internet is a healthy internet, and our success is thanks to all the wonderful innovation out there on the net that you want access to. We sell subscriptions to the internet. You love the internet, and we are just the conduit to get there. (And we won't sell out on items like neutrality or privacy, that would violate both our members and the internet as a whole.)

2) Competitive outcomes of policy. While we can protect our customers on privacy, and we can run a neutral network, if our industry peers are permitted to exploit consumers and online sites and apps, the money they make on that may tilt the playing field. In other words, if Cable can get $5 for selling your browsing history, and $5 for slowing down your gaming and video, while we do not, we might find it challenging to compete on price. Result: current monopoly is entrenched. They need to be disrupted!

(As a non-US citizen, I'm not sure how you'll have a real voice in US policy. But do support the organizations that align with your policy feelings, like the EFF, and spread the word about Sonic.)


Q:

QUESTION: Sir i have just graduated as a mechatronic engineer in Europe, and will be soon taking my masters. I wanted to ask if there is place for people like me in doing things like you ? Could you give me some directions, extra masters degrees in fields that would allow me to be involved in space flight and development of it ?

My dream is that i can still some day visit what you built before it is decommissioned :) I keep trying to get a right time to spot it with binoculars when it flies past me some night. Had this idea of watching the stream of of it and spotting it from the ground at the same time with my sister to have experience of spotting ourselves from space while tracking the camera that films us :D

A:

Hey, thanks for doing this AMA. Q's:

1) What got you guys to apply for this MacArthur grant? What was the call like when you found out you were in the running, did you feel like geniuses?

2) What do you think your chances are of actually winning? And how is yours that different from another one that also aims to cure blindness in Nigeria?

3) How do you know this solution will actually work? What if it doesn't?


Q:

Hey Edmund. Are you happy?

A:

As someone from outside the US, why does this matter to me?


Q:

Very cool! I would say getting a master degree is a great first step, try to get involved at your university with some research that NASA is performing. Check into internships at ESA (european space agency).

A MS (Master of Science) in ME (Mechanical Engineering) is a great start. You can also look into SE (Systems Engineering, AE (Aerospace Engineering), or a space based system like Astronautical Engineering.

Feel free to PM me for my email address.

A:

(HCP Co-Founder, Geoff Tabin) The MacArthur 100&Change competition is an amazing opportunity for eye care and we don’t feel like geniuses, but we are very honored to be a part of the competition. The chances of winning are one in eight and our solution focuses on addressing overall eye care systems and all causes of blindness. Even if we do not fully eliminate needless blindness from the planet, every person who had their sight restored can return to a fully sighted life.
HCP’s model is different from the Carter Center’s superb effort to eliminate River Blindness in Nigeria, in that HCP is working to develop overall systems of eye care, rather than focusing on one disease. We are able to restore sight to people who are blind from cataracts as well as preventing blinding diseases. In addition, we also work to provide services for people who are irrevocably blind.


Q:

Yes :) im quite happy today, the release went great and its been fun watching people enjoy the new game so much.

i have a baby now! life has changed drastically and im learning how to function in this new world but im loving it lots.

A:

Because if US carriers can charge sites for usage, speed and latency, you're likely to see less innovative new applications and services on the internet. In other words, the next Netflix might not happen, or might cost twice the price due to the toll they'd be paying. (Do you think Cable companies LIKE the fact that consumers are not cutting the cord in record numbers, switching to over the top services like Hulu, SlingTV and YouTube?) And this isn't just streaming video: any site, service, peer-to-peer application or IOT device that uses a lot of bandwidth or has a need for low latency could be affected. That means gaming, VR and augmented reality, or something new we haven't even seen yet.

The other important note, for those in the US: in a non-neutral internet world, if you're going to sell a fast lane, you have to put everything else into the slow lane first. Increase latency a bit, so Playstation and Xbox networks have to buy lower latency. Cap monthly usage, so that streaming video sites have to pay for more. Think of it this way: If you're Big Cable, and you've got a near-monopoly nationally on high-speed access, why wouldn't you find every way to extract fees from consumers and websites and applications, all while limiting the spending on upgrades to the network to the absolute minimum?


Q:

When congress pulled back money for a while and paused the program they thought that ok no biggie we will just give them back money later and they will fly. No no no, we missed the complex window.

Nobody wants to talk about it, because its one of the biggest screw ups ever.

Hang on. Who's responsibility was it to explain this to Congress before they fucked that up, and why didn't that happen? That's a pretty big ball to drop, for them to make such a huge error based on a misconception that you can effectively just pause orbital mechanics and resume them next fiscal quarter. It seems like when that project was initially approved also, there should have been a "Once we start this, we can't pause without wasting all the investment already made up to that point" conversation.

That being said, if this had gone as planned, would we have been to Mars by now? Was this going to be a fly by, or a landing?

A:

There seem to be many organizations providing vision care in low resource settings. How is your organization different from those and do you collaborate with other NGO's?


Q:

Are any of your games set in the same universe as others?

A:

Hope it's not too late or someone else can answer.

I have a few concerns with net neutrality but the biggest one probably has to do with service providers not being able to bill netflix/cnet/other more for streaming their services.

I 100% whole heatedly agree that ISP's should not be able to charge companies more simply because those companies are competition to said ISP... but I've read that at absolute peak times Netflix has used up to 40% of the countries bandwidth (at that time). Obviously this isn't all of the time.

So my question is this... if a company like Netflix/Hulu/OnLive (games) or any HD Streaming service is able to use that much bandwidth, there has to be an infrastructure cost associated with that increased amount of bandwidth use, and that increased infrastructure cost has to be paid for by someone and since they cannot charge the companies that are profiting from this infrastructure the cost will be covered by the consumer (it sure as shit isn't coming from profits, unless it has to). So in this situation, why is it not okay to charge the company who is using your services (to the extent that it's almost like they're renting hardware) more based on said usage?


Q:

They got it explained to them, they ignored it. Sometimes people just hear what they want to hear.

A:

(HCP Co-Founder, Geoff Tabin) There are lots of great organizations working in the field of eye care and we collaborate with most of them. Our focus is in developing local infrastructure, training and empowering local doctors and nurses. Some of HCP's main partners include Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, Aravind, LV Prasad, International Council of Ophthalmology, Fred Hollows Foundation, Helen Keller International, SEVA, SEE International, ORBIS, Operation Eye Sight Universal, Sightlife, WEEMA International and others.


Q:

all my games are set in the universethat is my brain.

but im attempting to connect some dots when it comes to isaac, time fcuk, the end, and mewgenics

A:

The company isn't using the bandwidth, you are! You are the one requesting the content, over the connection you have already paid for. And you paid for XMbps, so why can't you use it the way you want to?

Make sense?


Q:

What do you mean? I certainly don't understand it yet. I just saw a headline- https://www.reddit.com/r/space/comments/6n1n2x/nasa_says_it_doesnt_have_funds_to_reach_mars_open/?st=J53GO2YM&sh=57e34bc7

How did we screw ourselves over for these Mars Missions?

Edit- link. I'm gonna read it now.

A:

Hi Edmund, how is "the legend of bumbo" going? A General release window yet? And i love "end is nigh" have played ~6h, very fun.


Q:

Do you agree that ISPs should be classified as common carriers?

Also, how much do I have to bribe you to get the fiber installation trucks to skip directly to me?

A:

Not that, but check out my reply. Hopefully I didn't just put NASA on blast too hard (waiting for my phone to ring).


Q:

bum-bo is going great, james is slaving away and once the dust settles with the end ill be back on board full time. our release window is december 2017

A:

Yes, in the absence of effective competitive pressure that would keep bad behaviors in check, I believe ISPs should remain regulated on key issues like privacy and neutrality.

We are building as fast as we can, but it'll go more rapidly if we have more members. So rather than bribe me to send those trucks to you, bribe your friends to switch to Sonic and support our mission! =)


Q:

On the topic of crazy ISS expansion, do you have any thoughts on moving an asteroid to ISS (or more likely a newer space station), or any of the other crazy stuff that happened in the book Seveneves?

Personally I always figured moving a big chunk of metal into LEO would be politically infeasible, if nothing else - but once you got it there, it would certainly be cheaper to study or use.

A:

How would you rate your experience working with Tyler?


Q:

since some of your services still uses AT&T lines (which I guess they must be bound by law to allow you to lease), what's the most anti-competitive thing you've seen them do within those restrictions?

A:

If they try to move an asteroid to LEO something is going to go wrong, I've heard talks about it, and believe its a stupid idea.


Q:

between 1 -10 id have to rate it fidget spinner

A:

I won't speak regarding AT&T specifically, but incumbent carriers in general often have sold wholesale access at above the retail rate, with more restrictive terms, and sometimes slower installation or disconnection processes.

(The solution: build more fiber ourselves!)


Q:

It would have to be a pretty damn high orbit otherwise station keeping would be a nightmare I can imagine.

A:

Any estimate as to when the Switch version will be released?


Q:

Do you have issues with sonic the fast food place??

A:

Our window of operation is about 100KM. When we drop too far we raise our self back up by firing thrusters provided by the Russian Soyuz (Those are the vehicles that the Russians use to come and leave station).


Q:

i dont have much control over console releases, thats all tyrone. but i hear the port is looking great so i dont expect it to take that long.

i wont give a timeline though because that has bit me in the ass a few times in the past.

its also going to release on ps4 as well!

A:

Yes.


Q:

long term affects

 

"long-term effects"

 

ftfy just so I can pretend I'm smarter than a rocket surgeon

 

A:

Hey Ed! I got The Binding of Isaac for free one month long ago on PSN, and since then I've been a huge fan of the games you've made a lot. It's clear The Legend of Zelda has been a huge inspiration for your work, but are there any other titles or creators of games that influenced your creations?


Q:

Like, copyright issues

A:

hahhha I'm the worst at grammar and english. Funny story, I got a perfect score on math, science and reasoning, etc on my ACT. I got like a 17 on grammar.

Engineers unite, we need a liberal arts major in our life.


Q:

obviously most of myamotos games and his approach to design was super inspirational, esp when pulling from his personal experiences. id say currently jon blow and derek yu are pretty big influence on my work. i like the way think.

A:

No, their copyright is related to food service, and ours is to Internet and telecommunications.

But being @sonic on Twitter, I can tell you that I loathe "$0.50 corn dog day"!


Q:

Does conductive debris from space junk ever get stuck in the panels and cause shorts?

A:

Favourite game OST?


Q:

What would be the best way as a consumer to find an alternative service such as yours in my area?

A:

There is a phenomenon called tin twiskers, where material can build up and grow until it eventually shorts inside a box.

We had a crazy thing occurring with visiting vehicles for a while, when they got into the vac of space they were doing something called "out gassing". Silicon vapor was depositing all over ISS, it was causing degradation of the ISS solar panels since they were basically blocking them.


Q:

for games my favorite soundtracks are katamari damacy, hotline miami, and mewgenics.

A:

I'd suggest starting with the US broadband map, here: https://www.broadbandmap.gov/

But the tool hasn't been updated with new information since 2014, so speeds now available are likely to be higher, and there may be new carriers who are not listed due to the lack of updates. (Hopefully this FCC will take this issue up!)

Next, check FISPA http://www.fispa.org/where-we-are/ and WISPA http://www.wispa.org/Directories/Member-Directory for local providers in your region.

Finally, your state may also have broadband mapping, which may be up to date than the FCC system. California has theirs updated through 2015, it can be found here: http://www.broadbandmap.ca.gov/ For your state, google "state-name broadband map" for example.


Q:

What did your path to get to this career look like between graduating high school and getting this job?

A:

Ed what keeps you grounded and humble with the multiple successes of your games?


Q:

Not sure if this has been asked before so here goes..if one service provider does this and limits the sites and all that, wouldn't their customers just leave and go to their competitor?

A:

I had a strange path.

So I was going to a great HS. I was accepted into some great schools (the main top 3). My Dad bribed me with a car to stay in state haha.

I went to college and was very bored. I left my bachelor program in Computer Engineering and decided to do other things I found interesting.

I started trying to build race cars (I had no idea what I was doing). I took welding classes, I got my EMT basic because I thought of becoming a firefighter. I got hooked up with a real race team and started traveling the country on a real Pro NHRA team and learned a ton.

I decided to go take a ton of classes at a community college while working full time in a factory and focused on getting back into engineering. I went back to my bachelor program as a Electrical Engineer and double majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

I eventually finished my bachelors in EE. Did some other cool gigs along the way. Worked on power grid layouts for high rises, then satellites, then NASA Space Shuttle, then NASA ISS, then startup, now a big bank.


Q:

my huge dick. but honestly life keeps me humble. i dont actually think im all that great and im trying to get better and learn from my mistakes.

A:

More than 50% of households in America have just a single "choice" for Internet access at 25Mbps or above. So where would they go?


Q:

Thanks for the answer!

How'd you go from high rises to satellites? Seems like a big jump.

A:

Hey Ed - What are the chances of you making more titles based on your older flash games? I'm very excited for Øuroboros!


Q:

Hi Dane,

Are you guys playing on increasing coverage in San Francisco?

Please, I can't stand Comcast.

A:

Fresh out of college, I had a cool background doing data acquisition and power design for professional race cars plus the bachelor degree. I heard back from the job after I had already started another. I left after a few months to go into satellite work and that brought me to NASA.


Q:

aether is probably the #1 game id like to make a sequel for. Tyler and i actually made a prototype for it a few years back so its def on the table as a possibility for the future.

0uroboros will be put on hold for a bit but im sure we'll get back to it

A:

Yep, expanding as quickly as possible.


Q:

You sound like some of the guys I went to college with, all rolled in to one!

One was pursuing an Aerospace Engineering degree, but became an EMT (and still is, 20 years later.)

One got an Electrical Engineering degree, but went to become a race car driver (then went to become an engineer again.)

One went directly from Computer Science degree graduate to doing programming on ISS' navigation/control systems.

A:

My favourite thing in Isaac is Guppy. Whenever I play I obsessively go for Guppy items and shout "Praise the Gup!" whenever I get one. If I never get one, then the Good Gup has forsaken me. To get all three is the Guppy Dream, it has become a small religion of mine, Guppy is my lord and saviour. Cricket is an apostle, the bums are the holy trinity.

Can you tell us a little about the real Guppy? Love the game dude, it's my all time favourite.


Q:

what do you think of the situation in venezuela?

A:

haha awesome! You should always surround yourself with interesting people and your friends sound fun.


Q:

when i was an animal control officer i got a call for 7 abandoned kittens, when i got there there were 8 newborn kittens covered in fleas. i knew that they would have to be put down and since one was unaccounted for i brought them all home to danielle to choose one to keep and that one was guppy.

A:

I think that Maduro should step aside. He has lost the confidence of the public, and should make way for new leadership.


Q:

What do you do for a living now? Im planing on going into engineering later in life, do you have any tips for college and for how to get a job and the good and the bad that comes with the job.

A:

Hey Ed,what will you do when someone speedruns The End Is Nigh?


Q:

Thanks for doing this!!

Why do we humans try to make everything that's good into something worse like this net neutrality which would make Internet worse?

A:

I worked at a startup we got purchased, I'm now a pretty good position at the purchasers company (one of the largest financial companies in the world).

Yes, focus on networking throughout college it will get you far. Learn from everything in life, learning the school stuff is only one part of it, human interaction, common sense, real world blue collar tasks, they will make you a more rounded individual.

Good with a great engineering job is it can be challenging and descent salary. The bad is it can be very stressful and there is a cap at earning potential pretty quickly.


Q:

watch it

A:

$$$.


Q:

Thank you for the advice! Im glad your in a good position!

A:

I know you've got a lot on your plate, but are you considering a sequel to Rebirth?


Q:

After coming from NASA, everything else is boring. It's the hard balance in life about exploring potential and trying to make more money. haha

A:

no doubt someday ill do a sequel to isaac, i have a lot of ideas that would require a whole new game but not now!


Q:

I know the program is winding down as you said, but considering the cost of its original construction and the valuable information it's providing, is it just too expensive to keep operating? Or is are there safety concerns due to major component failure? Thanks!

A:

Hi Edmund. How did you get the idea for the setting of TEIN? It's really unique. Loving the game so far, but damn you it's difficult!


Q:

They continue to evaluate life extension of the ISS. I wrote the original paperwork for it. They try to ensure that any critical hardware has multiple backup plans and safety redundancies, if there are concerns they address them.

I think we should continue operating as long as it is providing valuable research, as soon as it doesn't anymore we should funnel our money to something else.

For example the moon missions, we went there from apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17.

With the limited capability of what we could do with the equipment we accomplished all the goals. But at some point you can't keep wasting the money of the program on just repeating for the fun of it. You need to divert that cash to other programs to make more significant accomplishments in space.

We need to visit other planets, we need to go further, we have learned a lot and we are ready. we just need funding and alignment.

A:

the setting is based around my interpretation of an emotional apocalypse or even some kind of purgatory/hell setting


Q:

Thanks for doing this, the insights you're providing are super interesting!

Since you've brought up the 'limited capability' of their equipment back during the moon missions, do you think that it's remotely justifiable to go back with modern equipment?

From your answer, I gather that you don't think it's worth it, but since some countries (China etc) are planning / discussing it, I'm curious about your evaluation.

For the record: I'm not talking about the recent talk concerning the conversion of the Mars mission into an extended moon mission!

Edit: grammar

A:

How did you managed to make a game as big as the end is nigh in only a year?


Q:

I think we need to mine the moon, explore further, stay for extended periods, checkout different areas. But I much rather do the same on Mars, I think the funds are better spent there.

A:

a lot less than a year! roughly 7 months. the short answer is we cut a lot of corners. aesthetically the style of the game made it easy for me to make a variety of visuals for the game with little effort and technically the engine we were using for 0uroboros was already in place and being used.

also this is the first time where i didnt design all the levels, tyler designed roughly a quarter of the levels (the harder ones)


Q:

What does it smell like on the space station? Since there is no gravity do farts and such kind of just linger all over?

A:

Why have you decided to compete against yourself in the next great indie platformer(I know they are different partners)?


Q:

Well no showers , they bath with moist toliettes, Russians don't wear deodorant , and these was mold on board before. I heard its pretty funky.

A:

i cant stop making platformers. ive made 9 of them over the past 14 years, im slowing down but i dont see myself stopping. id like to think im getting better(go check out my first platformer Clubby The Seal)


Q:

As an Engineer, is there any animosity with SpaceX? I've always considered NASA the big dog when it came to space, but where does NASA fit into a future were private companies are raising the bar?

A:

What is your favorite thing about the Binding of Isaac?

(P.s. I love playing Isaac!)


Q:

GREAT question. Let me dispel some false information here.

For the most part NASA is doing things that SpaceX could never think of doing and they dont want to at all.

NASA breaks the ground on the research, physics, math, etc. At the highest level EVERYTHING is new.

Most of what the commercial players do for visiting vehicles is build based on that information. When SpaceX came around they basically filed for freedom of information act on EVERYTHING. They grabbed all the research of how something works, why, what to avoid, etc, and applied it to making their vehicle.

NASA is paying SpaceX for most of their items.

So this is how it should work.

NASA moving forward is going to focus on the items that SpaceX can't. They are going to employ the smartest PhD in the world solving problems that are NEW science. They are going to focus on ground breaking research.

SpaceX is going to focus on taking that research, and taking over the tasks and operations that NASA shouldn't focus on.

For example a vehicle going up and down to ISS, we have done it a ton of times, all major countries know how to do it. So we shouldn't focus our energy on that, we should focus it on the research required for landing on an astroid or Mars.

All US government programs are regulated that they can't spend US Tax payer dollars to justify their existence to the public. "Hey everyone checkout this new fighter jet you paid for, we awesome ".

SpaceX spends a significant amount of their money telling people of the awesome stuff they do. In reality if people saw all the cool stuff NASA does they would be blown away.

A:

the replayability and themes


Q:

What are a few awesome things NASA does that blow You away?

A:

is switch version of afterbirth+ going to get a update anytime soon?


Q:

Next gen propulsion. The ideas of landing on an asteroid. The communication path from earth to Mars to communicate with our rovers. The laser thats on our rover that takes matter and just vaporizes it and looks as the cloud of vapor it just created to figure out what material it is. Medical research on the human body.

A:

i believe the switch version will get an update once we have a specific booster pack released. but im not completely in control of this stuff.


Q:

Do you think SpaceX would still be alive 5/10 years from now? In my opinion they already went through all the people who are both "book smart" as well as "street smart" , they are now hiring people who are technically competent but gullible as far as PR and cult of personality are concerned , HR people are offering engineers a lower pay for longer hours so that they would be able to put Musk/SpaceX in their CV , the turnover rate is also extremely high.

As an engineer would you be bothered by the fact that you'd be doing all the work and heavy lifting only to have the CEO take all the credit , money and status? Do you think that private companies are even a good solution as far as space exploration goes? Many of those companies don't seem to understand that space exploration is a marathon not a 100m sprint.

A:

Hey Edmund i love you, what genres of music you like?


Q:

I think they will be fine. They will do what United Launch Alliance was trying to do. They will supplement NASA with providing resources for tasks NASA doesn't want to do anymore.

They hired a lot of my friend, they do over work them, and Musk gets all the credit, and I hate that . . . . but people keep applying at record rates.

A:

i like all good music, but have a hard time getting into rap, country,and general r&b


Q:

They hired a lot of my friend, they do over work them, and Musk gets all the credit, and I hate that . . . . but people keep applying at record rates.

Also leaving! At Virgin Galactic they have so many SpaceX refugees that they made shirts, saying "I left the eX for a Virgin" (using the SpaceX font)

A:

After the huge success you've had with Meat Boy and Isaac it would be easy to rest on your laurels. What keeps you going? How difficult is it to generate new ideas and stick to deadlines when you are beholden to no one?


Q:

LOL thats rough.

A:

i have a very difficult time mentally not being creative/working on projects so id say delaying my eventual suicide is my biggest motivator :)


Q:

So excited you do this! Thank you! What are the chances of getting a rotating section up there for (weak) simulated gravity?

A:

I've been a fan of yours since Carrious Welting (sic) on Newgrounds. Where did you get the inspiration for that iconic style?


Q:

We have a gyroscope on ISS to balance out direction of the vehicle. I would love to see a real simulated gravity but in reality as slow as the NASA program moves, and how bad funding is, I don't think we will see something like that in our lifetime unless 1 of 2 things happen.

  1. We encounter alien life, and all countries put all money together to a common goal.

  2. Earth is threatened and we fund space programs significantly more.

A:

i was an animal control officer and had to deal with dead and decaying animals a lot, it was very inspirational


Q:

What about engineering challenges? Do you know if someone did a feasibility study?

A:

What mistake stands out to you the most from your latest project that you will try to avoid as best as possible in any future projects?


Q:

Oh ya, ISS came from Space Station Freedom.

People were working on the design and concepts for years, eventually it migrated into what we know about ISS.

Nothing gets built without long term feasibility studies and tons and tons and tons of research.

A:

i cant say yet what mistakes ive made with the end

but i can say the biggest mistake in the past, that ive made repeatedly would be announcing a new project im excited about much too early


Q:

I guess I'm not clear enough: I meant do you know of a feasibility study of a rotating section?

A:

Hey Ed, I've enjoyed literally all your games tremendously! TEIN is a masterpiece so far!

Do you enjoy speed-running your own games? Do you have a current PB for how fast you can beat TEIN?


Q:

I don't sorry.

A:

no, im not that good at video games but i like watching


Q:

Did you get any cool employee discounts?

Like Target employees get like 10% off everything in the store or something like that.

A:

how did you decide on the name Peach for your daughter?


Q:

I was always made that the Frys electronics WHICH WAS SPACE THEMED didn't give us any discount. But yes my favorite was hotel discounts and car rentals. Gov rate is pretty rad!

A:

my wife liked the name peach and i liked the name pj, so we met in the middle and named her Peach Jubilee. technically on paper her name is PJ so if she ends up hating the name she has a lot of options


Q:

Does NASA accept freshly graduated engineers? Or are you only looking for "At least 5 years of relevant experience"?

A:

If you could, would you change anything major in The End is Nigh now? Or are you completely happy with the game and are happy with the reaction and feedback from your fans all over?


Q:

We bring on a ton of interns and we usually hire from those interns.

Direct at NASA without an internship is hard, usually they want you to work for a contractor and transfer in unless you have an advanced degree.

A:

if i could change one thing id probably add more warp points and show chapter status on pause


Q:

Do you know of any resources to find contractors that NASA works with?

A:

Do you think of yourself as a game developer or do you feel like you're an artist and designer that sometimes makes video games?


Q:

Within the gov we have an approved vendor list.

Almost all the work goes to a prime contractor like a lockheed martin, spacex, boeing, wyle, orbital science, etc then they sub it out.

A:

i definitely think of myself as an artist that sometimes makes video games, i think this is the one thing that sets me apart from a majority of other people in the industry


Q:

Hi, as a government employed engineer how essential is ABET program certification? I'm asking because UCSC's CE department is choosing not to renew their program cert and I was wondering how much impact that will have on job prospects.

A:

I noticed you tagged the Indie Game the Movie crew on Twitter earlier this week, could we expect an Indie Game the Movie sequel?


Q:

I think it will be significant not having it.

A:

i have no idea what they have planned, but theyre filming me right now. so far 20 hours of footage of tyler eating


Q:

Why does the ISS use 160 Volts? Wouldn't it be easier too just use 120 or 220 since basically everything is already designed for that. Or does it get stepped later and just the power buses run at 160?

A:

Would you ever make a real time strategy game? If so, how would you make it stand out?


Q:

Its a good balance between maximum operating voltage that doesn't cause some issues within the boxes, and the efficiency curve on the arrays.

If you drop the voltage down you lose some efficiency, if you push it too hard some of the boxes start to arc and you start building up a lot of electrical potential on the vehicle (causing arcing, think lightning)

A:

i have a design for an rts that i think is super interesting, i cant say why for obvious reasons but id make it stand out with poop and dead things


Q:

I guess efficiency is more important than longevity when everything up there is over engineered enough to handle it no problem. Thanks for responding! It's people like you that make me think I should start liking people again.

A:

Hey Ed, which of your games do you personally find the most fun to play?


Q:

Thanks I appreciate that! <3

A:

isaac


Q:

Speaking of the power system, I picked up an ISS Type V remote power control module at a thrift store a few years ago. Any idea how it ended up there? And are the specs for such things publicly accessible? I'm an embedded systems engineer and it would amuse me to be able to hook it up and use it for something.

A:

Do you think your creativity has gone down lately? I've seen you talk in your interviews about how pressure and pain was your go-to motivation fuel to make art stuff, and now that you're happy and making money, do you feel like that has affected you?


Q:

NO WAY!! That is a great ORU, I would pay you for that. The type 5 is the one we need the most of. Send me a PM with the serial. That is crazy it ended up there.

A:

my creativity has definitely not gone down

the past 3 years for me have been the hardest years of my life and choosing to start a family has made things that much more complicated. money doesnt make people happy and it doesnt fix much


Q:

How will the ISS eventually be decommissioned? Have you guys (engineers) even planned for That? If so, how?

Also, how bad is "space junk" right now? And will we ever get trapped by it?

A:

Hey! BoI is one of my favorite games of all time and since it's partially influenced by the Zelda series, I was wondering what other (if any) game series that you grew up playing could be "punched up" with some of that McMillen Special Sauce™?

Thank you so much for everything that you've contributed to the world, my brother and I have bonded time and again over BoI and it's all thanks to you.


Q:

They plan on having a controlled reentry into the Indian ocean (at least we hope).

A:

ive thought about attempting a mega man, maybe one day


Q:

What would you say is the most difficult aspect of designing something for space vs the same device for use on earth? (excluding hardening for launch)

A:

I missed out on the Meat Boy stress balls last time... Any chance we could see some for TEiN?

https://www.reddit.com/r/TheEndIsNigh/comments/6hauz1/ash_is_a_ball_now_bounce_him_as_much_as_you_like/

/u/endcmj made it look pretty appealing!


Q:

Ultra reliability, ease of replacement, multiple redundancies, and dealing with technology that is WAY behind the times.

Once something is certified for space flight you continue to use it.

A:

its possible, tyrone has actually proposed this idea.

fun fact: i did the math wrong on those stress balls and we lost money on top of having to ship out 500 balls :(


Q:

What are your thoughts on a Moon based ISS? Wouldnt that be the next step?

To me, that makes more financial sense (mining, refueling, free gravity, ECT) and seems to be more realistic than a manned mission to another planet.

A:

Is Afterbirth coming to Vita for real?


Q:

It would make the most sense, but I think we need to take what we learned and go further.

I really want to see us land on Mars, bring a few modules down, and start expanding into a large research facility on the planet.

A:

i dont know :(


Q:

I just started earlier this year as a lead R&D engineer at a medical device company. The stress of this job is way more intense than I was anticipating. I can only imagine that NASA was even more intense. How did you unwind and keep your anxiety from making you work all day and all night?

Edit: phrasing

A:

Hey Edmund, is The end is Nigh a true story in some way?


Q:

Hobbies and friends.

I had some cool race cars, I had a nice theater room.

All NASA people are some of the most passionate people around.

Some love to raise animals, some like to dive (scuba), fly planes, run marathons. Anything to keep you grounding. I think its common with any job.

But seeing real world changes made us always SUPER happy.

A:

the end is nigh is based on my experience making video games so its true in a very abstract way


Q:

Hi! What would you describe as your biggest challenge from a design point of view on the ISS?

A:

How do you manage to balance your work as a game developer and your personal life? Also, I really love your games!


Q:

Building modules that are made in different countries, by different engineers, and they usually only meet eachother for the first time in space when they are getting docked together. Then everything just . . . works. The amount of planning and integration that takes is so challenging.

Also diving into areas that there is NO documentation on, literally being the first discovering phenomenons. We solved problems that branched off areas of science that people never understood before.

A:

i dont. this is an issue, i hope i get better.


Q:

Thanks for a prompt response! I have one more question: Have you seen "The Martian" ? Have you ever been in a similar situation wherein you have to work within a very specific short deadline and just eliminate hardware to get it to work ASAP?

A:

Favourite FARGO season?


Q:

Yes a few times, we act quick though. Great movie, very accurate in a few regards.

This was a cool one I won an award for.

http://www.cbsnews.com/network/news/space/home/spacenews/files/0c8836012acd2e3f5ab5765d89143d90-474.html

A:

season 2 easily, probably one of the best seasons of any show ive seen on tv


Q:

"All right buddy, that is a little slice of awesome pie," astronaut Jack Fischer replied from mission control in Houston. Mission control to ISS astronaut after installing replacement part.

It seems cruel to mention pie to people who can't have it.

A:

Good day, Edmund.

I'm curious to know how it is that you use the "language" of video games to create a narrative that complements gameplay. How do you go about designing gameplay mechanics that can also work as story elements?


Q:

They have a lot of personal sweets they bring on board for special occasions. SpaceX on their first docking to ISS tried to bring a block of cheese up . . . it didn't keep that well and was pretty bad when it got up there haha.

A:

this is a difficult one to explain. i attempt to take mechanics that abstractly mirror or complement elements of the games story or theme and run them parallel.

for example, the ends theme is stress and pressure, the feeling that something is going to end soon but never does and questioning if all the effort is worth it. i feel that comes through in the games design, story, and theme


Q:

Do you ever use the term "it's not rocket science, I should know?"

A:

I first learned of you from the documentary Indie Games when it debuted on Netflix some years ago. I strongly admire your passion for your art and the human experience.

My question: Do you feel like you were accurately and fairly portrayed in the film?


Q:

Nope, never good to be arrogant. I'm confident but not a jerk.

A:

yes, but they made me sound more sane than i am, also probably helped that other people said crazier things :)


Q:

as an aerospace engineering student at UT Austin, is there any advice you can give me about getting a technically intense job? Is it harder to get a technical job opposed to a management job? also, how is the work environment at NASA?

  • a future engineer trying to figure out what is realistically in store for me
A:

I really love the tight controls in The End is Nigh! Feels really great so far :)

Do you feel like tight, precise controls are very high up on your priority list? Also, if you had to choose one, what is the most important aspect for you to focus on, when designing a game?


Q:

I live a few blocks from there, feel free to reach out and I'll come speak to you.

A:

tight controls are very important in platformers, because the player needs to feel like theyre in control of their mistakes in order to manage their frustration.

the key to a good platformer is making the player feel like theyre in control of a super hero. no one wants to play as a character hindered by reality.

to me the most important aspect to focus on when designing a game is making sure the games themes and design speak to each other in as many ways as possible.


Q:

Not a question but I've seen you offer more extended reach out to a few people now. I just wanted to thank you for it and say that it is far more then most people do and could potentially really help these individuals. You seem like an amazing person and I thank you for the kindness you show here.

A:

When can we expect afterbirth+ for Xbox one and will boosters be available? I'd pay for a quarterly booster pack on Xbox. Love playing Isaac and always want more


Q:

Thank you for that! I feel like some great people helped me along the way, I should do the same when possible.


Q:

Might be a dumb question but here goes

I just started working as avionics technician. Do I have any hopes of working on major space thingies someday?

A:

Hey Ed, what did you use to make the art and animations in The End Is Nigh and how long did it take you?


Q:

Yup, I know two guys that went from that world into space after getting their bachelors.

A:

i used flash, i still use flash. it took me about 6 months to do all the art for the game, part timeish.

this game was a lot less graphics intensive for me than my other games, due to the flat shaded style. the great majority of time was spent making levels.


Q:

The service life of the ISS has been extended several times, however there must be an eventual retirement. When do you think that might be, and would you be interested in working on the 'next ISS'?

A:

Do you like (single- or multiplayer) FPS games?


Q:

Yes I would love to work on the next one in a senior position.

I think we will get to mid 2020's and retire.

A:

multiplayer


Q:

Do you have a well-worn copy of the Art of Electronics lying around somewhere? ;)

A:

As someone not entirely in the loop it seemed like The End Is Nigh came out of nowhere. When did work start on the game and how much of your time have you been spending on it recently? Thanks for all your work btw, you've made so many of my favourite games!


Q:

I still have all my text books from college. My skills in electrical design at this point are sooooo weak. I consider myself more of a problem solver at this point, I know enough about so many sub-systems to understand how they all interact. If you asked me to design a converter today I would have to pull out text books. I think the world needs a blend of different styles of people. I'm more big picture at this point.

A:

so we started work in december 2016, but it was mostly using the foundation of 0uroboros. i worked part time to full time since then and tyler has been working on it full time.

it seemingly came out of nowhere because i wasnt positive that we were going to finish it and didnt want to announce another game that could be stuck in limbo so we played it safe and waited until the last minute to announce and attempt to hype this game.


Q:

How do they account for voltage potential differences between a docking craft and the ISS? I'm picturing rubbing your feet on the carpet and shocking your brother, except the carpet is the atmosphere, your feet are moving hypersonic, and your brother is floating.

A:

what is ash? and are you goinng to challange the completionist again?


Q:

When you go into a soft dock you have the voltage potentials choked by a resistor, it allows that potential to slowly come to common voltage, then you go into a hard dock.

A:

youll find out if you play the game a lot and yes i already did


Q:

Excluding cost and assuming we can somehow get new hardware up there without Shuttle, what would make gutting and overhauling the ISS as it reaches EoL prohibitive, as an alternative to de-orbiting it?

A:

Hi, Ed! Huge fan of your work!

It always seems like you have a ton of separate projects at once. I mean, even right now there's End of Nigh which you've only just finished, Legend of Bumbo, Ouroboros, and probably more I'm forgetting. What's it like balancing so many projects at once and how do you handle it?

Also if you had the opportunity to eat the pillsbury doughboy, would you?


Q:

Some of the hardware is just too old, and the internal hardware is running out of its cert life or already out and we are running till failure. When they build something new they will base it on a newer technology.

A:

i tend to have a lot of projects going at once because theres something inspiring about the chaos, its sometimes helpful for me to be thnking about a range of things at once to stay focused and motivated.

Danielle(wife) here, its terrible. send help.


Q:

I kinda understand, but also, that's part of my question; what prevents stripping them, module by module, down to the pressure vessel and replacing everything that makes Station go?

Seems like the hardest part was getting the modules up there to start with; surely all the necessary hardware could - in theory - be sent up to replace what's there.

Seems like the modules themselves might have a longer life, just not the internals.

A:

Yo Ed, any advice for someone new to the indie dev scene who would want to do a one person or small team project? Also how high should a newcomer set their expectations for their first major release? P.S. I've watched Indie Game the Movie countless times as inspiration for trying to get into indie games and have become addicted to watching other indie game documentaries.


Q:

Russia I believe is going to strip their modules and create their own space station using the pieces that they recently brought up or are currently building.

I don't think US wants to go that route, we will see what happens with the other international partners.


Q:

Unlikely to happen; they're flat broke. Hell, didn't we have to fund Zarya or some such just to get ISS completely built?

I'm just curious about the mechanical aspects of it, as I continually hear that everything on Station is worn out, but never if structurally it's okay or not.

A:

What are some games you like to play/ have been playing in your spare time? I know that you're probably busy alot between the baby and making games, but I'm sure you find some time here and there to play some stuff that isn't yours.


Q:

So they claimed . . . . I'm confident we will see their station.

A:

yes! i draft MTG every week with my friends, we play cube. my wife and i also play pokemon go a ton with our friends

we also play a lot of party games on the weekends like times up, telestrations, and a heavily modded version of cards against humanity


Q:

What do you think of space x?

A:

Any chance you make a new Spewer game or something similiar?


Q:

I love what they do. They work hard.

A:

stranger things have happened, but currently no plans.


Q:

Do you believe in aliens?

A:

Hey ed :) Are there any games planned after your bumbo game? (Ps i just wanted to thank you for the binding of isaac you made thousands of hours more enjoyable for me)


Q:

I believe there is life out there, and I believe we will find it in our lifetime.

A:

i have no games set in stone after bum-bo. BUT id love to take a stab at mewgenics again, maybe aether, or something totally new


Q:

Did you have to go up there to do any commissioning work?

A:

Something I find with your games is that they all have amazing soundtracks. How involved with the creation of the music are you?


Q:

No I was not an astronaut, but I designed a lot of work for astronauts to do while up there.

A:

im always heavily involved with the direction of the soundtrack


Q:

What is your opinion of the way actors-playing-astronauts behave in the ISS in movies? (I recently saw Life and thought their reactions to everything were ridiculous. Surely protocols are protocols for a reason)

A:

You need to turn off your brain during a movie and enjoy it for what it is, entertainment. I thought Matt Daemon and that whole team did a great job on The Martian. The woman mission control person is modeled after a friend and they got a lot of aspects right!


Q:

With all the controversy and discontent on Earth, have you ever wanted to just move to the ISS and stay? And would you take some of us with you?

A:

Nope, I love going outside and the freedom that earth brings. Our planet is gorgeous we just need to explore it. People need to stop focusing on the negatives and focus on the beauty in the world.


Q:

I don't want to know what it is but dose NASA have top secret technology that is widely known within its scientific community? Also what if any involvement with the US military dose NASA have?

A:

Yes and the AF (Air Force) have many experiments on board that are classified.


Q:

How much you're making at NASA (after tax)?

A:

It's GS (Government Salary based). A lot of engineers start at around 50k (GS-9), they cap as the most senior person ever at around $160k (GS-15)

Think of that range like a bell curve.


Q:

I am assuming the bank you work for now pays much more.

A:

At this point yes.


Q:

Did America really go to the moon in those tinfoil spacecrafts?

A:

Yes, those guys had balls of steel to step into those point and shoot vehicles.