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An easter egg for one user: Luke Skywalker (einaregilsson.com)
798 points by einaregilsson on June 28, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 133 comments

This is similar to the story of the guy who pranked his roommate by buying Facebook targeted ads that only targeted him [0]. Perhaps in the future, the AIs will know us all so well that every interaction will be filled with little in-jokes.


Unfortunately this is no longer possible :(

Facebook has removed the ability to make such narrow target groups.

There is an update. He mentions that they restricted to minimum of 20 people, but there is a loophole, because you can select criteria on that group.

He gives example that if your want to target a guy friend, you can create a group of 1 male and 19 female friends and then create ad targeting just males to get around it.

... or create 19 fake accounts (or pick 19 random people you don't care about) and then target'em all.

The fact that you can do this make me very paranoid. I am so glad I don't use facebook. I'm pretty sure with the rise of face recognition, object recognition and NLP you can create insanely targeted ads that are almost ransomware by crawling people's social profiles and correlating them with hacked datasets.

How is this different from the ability to send someone an email? I just don't understand the concern of being able to send ads to one person other than "random non-technical people will not expect that and think it is a ghost".

I don't know how precise the ad targeting exactly, but what if you narrow the base group down to your 19 fake accounts and your target user.

If you could the further filter your ad based on gender (as mentioned above), personal interests or other private data, you may be able to use your ad impressions to figure out things about an unsuspecting person.

I'd consider that a huge breach of my privacy.

I saw a demo of an app using Microsoft's Computer Vision api that would figure out your demographics from facial recognition and show you ads targeted to your demographic.

If you don't use FB why are you paranoid about this? I don't, and I'm not.

That's hilarious, now I want to do the same to a friend! I probably will!

This is clever! Also worth praising: This site is free, loads quickly, doesn't require a user account, and has an easy-to-understand privacy policy.

Thanks :)

Well Hamill is a better man than I.

I would hate this. If I imagine being him, this is like having to turn up to the office at 7am on a Saturday for a meeting. It's work. In analogy we're watching Mark Hamill get out of bed on a weekend, groan, drink some Pepto-Bismol and get his best shit-eating grin on his face.

I assumed some knowledge of Hamill's personality (or at least the one he cultivates publicly), which is that he's a pretty big ham for this sort of thing - long attendee of fan conventions, well-known for indulging in fan service, etc. Essentially, I might agree with you for an average person, but for Hamill specifically, there's a decent amount of evidence that he'd appreciate this.

Apart from personality, fan engagement also drives fan enthusiasm for HIM as the on-screen portrayal of older luke. That's essentially leverage and increases his influence.

The key was someone who knew him well enough to suggest a prank to begin with. That was where it became possible to delight a user with such a great outcome.

I think most actors are people who like attention and like being around other people (sure, not all are). I imagine if you're that kind of person it is great to be in a hit film like Star Wars. You bring joy to so many people and you get all these cool interactions like the one in the post.

"There are no artists. We are businessmen. We're merchants. And there is no art." - Marlon Brando [1]

[1] http://m.imdb.com/title/tt4145178/quotes

Ah, one guy that hated his industry speaks for the industry.

Still, we shouldn't discount his perspective so quickly. After all, this is Marlon Brando we're talking about...

Who is well known to have been bipolar.

A well-known psychiatrist with bipolar disorder, Kay Jamison, published a book titled "Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament". In her own words:

"The main purpose of this book is to make a literary, biographical, and scientific argument for a compelling association, not to say actual overlap, between two temperaments- the artistic and the manic-depressive- and their relationship to the rhythms and cycles, or temperament, of the natural world. The emphasis will be on understanding the relationship between moods and imagination, the nature of moods- their variety, their contrary and opposition qualities, their flux, their extremes (causing, in some individuals, occasional episodes of 'madness')- and the importance of moods in igniting thought, changing perceptions, creating chaos, forcing order upon that chaos, and enabling transformation." (5)

Some of the persons mentioned: Byron, Tennyson, Melville, William and Henry James, Schumann, Coleridge, van Gogh, Hemingway, Virginia Wolf. I think she presents a compelling argument that extreme fluctuations in mood, when coupled with an enforced rational thinking process results in more interesting creative output. Granted, their lives may still suck.

Sure, I agree, but an emotional quote on any given day probably isn't a good basis for an arguement.

I don't know man, maybe you're right. Brando had a hard life. But if you watch the film from which that quote originates, "Listen to me Marlon", he backs it up with his experiences. Like, in one of the first films he did called "The Wild One" he plays this "electrifying" role as a macho dude on a motorcycle who also has feelings too. Brando knew at the time that was gonna make bank, because of all the shit in the news about Hell's Angels.


On any other day the quote might have been quite different.

Had it not been for the email from someone Hamill knows, it seems like that would be a risk. But this wasn't just "fan sees you and butts in" it was "your friend reaches out to tell someone about a thing you like and what you'd find amusing".

While that is probably true for most actors, Hammill tweets Star Wars trivia all the time and genuinely seems to enjoy the attention with a good sense of humor

This popped into my head when I read that comment. (Leonard Nimoy in Lazy Song ... ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dULOjT9GYdQ

Yeah, I feel sorry for the guy. He still is expected to do work for free promoting a movie he was in forty years ago. He must be incredibly sick of Star Wars by now.

You realize he was in a Star Wars movie last year, right? And he's made another one and will be shooting yet another later this year?

He's clearly not sick of it. Harrison Ford is a bigger star than Hamill, Han Solo is at least as iconic a character as Luke, yet Ford did far, far less PR around TFA than Hamill's done for TLJ. Ford is fairly well-known for being sick of Star Wars (he wanted to die in Empire), so Hamill clearly had the option of being less involved in the PR yet chose not to.

Harrison Ford did well outside of Star Wars and could afford to walk away from it.

Mark Hamill's career hasn't gone as well. He would be foolish to not embrace it, even if he hated it with a passion.

Even ignoring the new trilogy he's definitely being paid for, stuff like convention appearances can pay quite well for someone like Hamill.

He'll be at New York ComicCon, where I'll be taking my kids in October.


What? He's the lead role in the next Star Wars film. I can't tell if your being sarcastic or not...

Must admit that this seems a bit creepy to me! I guess he's just amused but I wonder if it starts him thinking, is this game monitoring me personally? How else can I be targeted?

Well, given that he retweeted a tweet that had the explanation of how it worked, and he added the #BestFansInTheGalaxy hashtag I think he's OK. But really, I probably wouldn't have done anything like this for another celebrity, if Bruce Willis had tweeted I wouldn't try to make a Hans Gruber avatar or anything :D

If Bruce Willis Tweets, you should totally make a chubby black cop named "Al" for his opponent.

If he rolls a Yahtzee, you could make it pop up a message that says "Yippee Ki Yay, Roy!"

Because of my near-encyclopedia knowledge of 80s pop culture, I just had a bunch of ideas. Then again, who knows how many 80s celebrities are playing your game.

Ahah, don't try this with Liam Neeson, or he's gonna find his way up to you and kick your ass.

With Liam Neeson, I'd try a different tack. I'd make the opponent Joey Rosselini.

I'd make it The Beast from Krull.

Bruce Wayne... Bill Cutting... Darth Maul... the possibilities are endless!

What about Jar Jar Binks? But perhaps that would be too evil.

Or, worse, try out some improv.

He pretty much has to respond positively. Otherwise people would shit all over him for not being a "good sport."

Are you seriously so cynical that you can't even imagine that someone else could enjoy something? That's sad.

Well... Hans Gruber is not John McClane's father though...

Well if he wanted to play privately why would he post it publicly on Twitter?

I felt the same way reading the article. At the places I've worked there's a (sometimes informal) "personal information firewall" between production data and engineering, where employees could not correlate user accounts with actual people's personal info. Plenty of anonymized data to help make product decisions but no ability for rank-and-file employees to figure out "user 14339 is Mark Hamill". Scary!

There are no user accounts on the site, and there is no tracking of any users. I simply saw the avatar image that he posted and targeted that, so probably a few random users got Darth Vader as well.

Also, even if there were user accounts, this is a one man shop, so it would be hard for me to build a firewall between myself and myself :)

This is a lovely story and I'm glad you got the response you did from Mark.

Just wondering, as one one man shop, did you have to negotiate for rights to the Yahtzee name & mechanics?

Ahh, makes more sense, thanks for responding!

Except that he also doesn't have that information. All he has is the picture that the user posted himself, that isn't linked to a user account since there aren't any.

Given what other far more invasive targeting exists which most people don't notice at all, I doubt it.

Not targeting my reply to you, @cornice, directly. But how did the world end up being so paranoid?

I meant more specifically people like Mark Hamill. I'm sure celebrities feel under constant surveillance from fans. Feels like this might be taking it to another level.

But obviously he chose to tweet about it in the first place, so it presumably doesn't bother him much.

I guess on the 'constant surveillance' bit, it seems relevant that someone who knows Mark personally reached out to the site maker and suggested that he'd like this. That (plus the fact that the site doesn't actually have accounts or user data) really lowers the level of "strangers watching me" in play here.

Probably because the next person will take this well intentioned and well executed idea and take it a step too far.

Totally! Because no one has ever thought to combine public information with their access to privileged information to target a specific individual ... until now!

That's just too cool. I have not read such a faith-in-humanity-inspriring moment in a long time.

What exactly this did to restore your faith in humanity and since you're saying it did, what made you lose it in the first place?

Wonder how many people got "Dad" and wondered why in the world I'm playing against Darth Vader?!?

So the probability of picking the correct configuration is 1/72 and the probability of picking the right game is 1/27 so it would be 1/1944 or 0.00051 which is better than navigating an asteroid field of 3720 to 1 .

Droids are apparently bad at estimating outside odds since the two instances we see in the movie end with an unlikely outcome given the estimate.

Or C3PO is just a stodgy old frequentist: https://www.countbayesie.com/blog/2015/2/18/hans-solo-and-ba...

And humans see patterns in a sample size of two ;)

Maybe it will rain today. Maybe it won't. 50/50.

"Even though the chance of rain was higher than predicted, it wasn't quite so high that it actually rained that day"

(translated from a cartoon by Dutch absurdist/cartoonist "Gummbah")

They said on the forecast yesterday there was a 50% chance of rain today, and looking outside I can see they got it right. Uncanny.

You forgot to add in all those tie fighters chasing them that also tried to make it through an asteroid field.

Plus the bridge of one star destroyer which we've also seen as potentially disastrous for the ship.

Survivorship Bias.

Publication bias.

When it's people, I think that's the anthropic principle. (And the file drawer is a much messier place to end up...)

Han Solo is just force sensitive, that's all.

I'm not sure how you got to those numbers. There are 18 options for each face option (eyes, hair, mouth) so the odds of picking the right face is 1/5832. And the odds of picking yahtzee are 1/26. So the actual odds of picking the right combo are 1/151632.

In the post, it says he only filtered on three. Glasses, Girl, and Smile.

Never tell me the odds.

Tried it out to see the easter egg... not only does it work, but the game is pretty awesome too

And this is how you do marketing the right way.

The get lucky with a celebrity who likes to play your game part?

1. It wasn't lucky that he made a good game that people like, it was hard work. 2. Doing something cool when he saw an opportunity with Hamill was also not luck. It took creativity and initiative.

Maybe he didn't do the fun little easter egg for marketing, but for whatever reason he did it, he created the opportunities through hard work and cleverness.

Look, its a great story. I shared it with everyone who is a fan of SW or codes as it made me smile.

This is nothing to do with einaregilsson as it is a _very cool_ easter egg, more just the comments on marketing.

Lots of people put lots of hard work into games people like. How many of them get a celebrity to play their game, let alone post on social media? There are plenty of games out there with thousands of users and 0 celebrities.

On top of that someone reached out to him and request they prank Mr Skywalker. Where is the initiative in that?

He was lucky to have a celeb play his game. He was lucky the celeb tweets about his game. He was lucky a friend of the celeb requested they prank him. He clearly capitalized on the opportunity and every nerd like myself loved this story because Star Wars + coding fun and now we are all checking out cardgames.io.

But to claim "this is how you do marketing" is a stretch for me.

I agree :) This was definitely luck, most people never get celebrities tweeting about their games. And I guess now I am getting some marketing value out of it, but honestly I just wanted to share this with an audience that I knew would appreciate it. When you program cool stuff you want to share it!

In any case, I guess I'll get some extra traffic today, but at the end of the day it's a Yahtzee game, nothing exactly groundbreaking, so I don't think all the people that saw this post are going to start playing Yahtzee all the time ;)

This was a great blog posted the other day in a totally different context.


You could look at cellular activity as luck. Or you could realize that creating the circumstances for "lucky" things to happen is very directed.

Sure, the very specific circumstances of the easter egg for Hamill were unique like rolling a specific sequence of yahtzee dice. But if a different celebrity had expressed joy of the game and the author had decided on a different easter egg for slightly different reasons, that would have been unique too. But the very creation of all of these opportunities to do unique things was not luck.

If you don't roll the yahtzee dice very often, you won't see many unique rolls. Roll them a lot and you'll see many "lucky" rolls.

99% of great games will have zero celebrity fans tweeting about them, no matter how hard you worked. Necessary but not sufficient.

I'm not saying that this exact situation was all hard work. I'm saying that he created the opportunity for interactions and to be noticed through hard work and creativity. There are many notable ways he could have done something with the work he did that would gain some kind of 15 minutes of fame - maybe having nothing to do with acting on a celebrity tweet.

Taken as an exact specific outcome, sure, it's improbable. But across all of the interesting outcomes it's far less improbable.

This reminds me of the argument from Creationists about how we couldn't have been exactly created as we are because the odds of our turning out exactly as we have are insurmountable.

They ignore the success bias of our current outcome and the possibility that many viable evolutionary paths could have led to stable life and even intelligent beings like ourselves.

No, the part after that when you realize an opportunity and execute on it well.

All successful companies require luck and skill and most people acknowledge luck is a significant component. Capitalizing on luck magnifies the affect.

Here, the game got minor bumps from Mark. After, it got 2 viral blasts and then all of the discussion around that.

Yeah, this was not so much marketing as luck and wanting to make a cool easter egg.

I suppose the more interesting question here is what the author did to actually detect the avatar.

"Using that information I created a trigger that only activated Darth Vader when someone with that avatar was playing (well, almost, anyone with that hair, glasses and smile, couldn't be sure about skin tone or hair color from the screenshot)."

Presumably the avatars are built by combining pre-made features.

Exactly. Each avatar is made up of 6 features, hair, hair color, skin color, eyes and mouth. No nose, because who needs them! So each part has a code, and I can store a face as a simple 6 character string. Then I just compared against the ids of the eyes, hair and smile. I actually allowed any glasses and any smile because I wasn't absolutely sure which one he'd used :)

Yea so like simple as if this hair + this glasses + crown, show the Easter egg.

Next time he need to put in Batman.

Wouldn't The Flash be more appropriate?

He played Joker for longer. And his character's voice in The Flash is reusing his Joker voice (at least that is what my ear tells me)

Fair enough, was just thinking Trickster was more recent, therefore more relevant.

Hamill has played the Joker in a few things fairly recently; The Killing Joke and the Batman Arkham games.

The Trickster is also older, since he played him first in the 1991 version of The Flash.

That's great! I haven't put any real easter eggs into one of my games yet, but I definitely will with my next one. You never know who will play your game (well I guess you do if they tweet about it, but you get what I mean).

I wish they could have allowed Mark to change the third set by passing his hand over

This is why we love Mark Hamill.

This prank on Mark Hamill will make you cry tears of joy!

One weird trick to get noticed by The Last Jedi.

Notice me Jedi!

If only the easter egg showcased one of his other roles such as cocknocker from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back [0].

[0] http://m.imdb.com/name/nm0000434/filmotype/actor

Hopefully, this doesn't get shutdown by Hasbro.

Totally worth it!

It should be noticed that there were the times when Mark Hamill was incredibly pissed off that people only see Luke in him and his acting career was actually ruined by this role. But now he is older and it looks like he is just fine with it. Or may be it's just prozac that makes it look this way.

I suspect he has simply bowed to the inevitable. Leonard Nimoy did something similar with the character of Spock; he wrote an early autobiography titled "I Am Not Spock" and a later one titled "I Am Spock". You just can't fight the tide. (Unless you're Dutch. Which he isn't.)

A whole lot of actors would envy Mark Hamill's career as an actor, particularly now that he is making bank off the Star Wars sequels.

I think the perspective is different when one's typecast prevents work; verses enables work. I think we also forget that for the longest time, Star Wars was just another hit movie and Star Trek was just another popular show. When they ended, the actors needed to move on to other jobs to pay their bills.

Right, people forget there were 10 lean years between the end of the TV series and The Motion Picture. For the original cast of SW it was a whole career before the Disney movies came along, but to be fair to Mark he's been a stalwart of the fan conventions for many years.

I bet Nimoy would never have been the voice of In Search Of... without having been Spock.

His very prolific voice acting career probably helps as well; although he has a "best known as" type role in that field as well (the Joker), there's enough variety in his resume that I think it would be difficult to typecast him too narrowly now.

> Leonard Nimoy did something similar

Also Tom Baker, for a short while, wrt Doctor Who.

Patrick Troughton had some issues as well though IIRC that was more the long filming schedule and fan attention outside of that while he was in the role (he found being in character that much mentally tiring) rather than typecasting (he left the role in part due to fear of that possibility, but I don't think it actuall was an issue for him in the end).

It seems to be quite common for actors to have a "dark thoughts" spot about their time in pivotal and/or long-running roles, though for a variety of different reasons, which tends to mellow or pass completely as their life and career moves further on.

Tom Baker is just an extraordinary person: http://cuttingsarchive.org/images/9/9e/1978-03-19_Sunday_Tim...

He made an estimated $5-$20 million in total from the original series[2], which, given its impact he probably wasn't happy about. He's getting much more for the new movies[2]. Nothing fixes the hurt feelings of actors like fresh mountains of cash.

1. https://www.quora.com/How-much-were-the-original-actors-in-S...

2. https://www.quora.com/How-much-did-Mark-Hamill-earn-from-Sta...

He's been really good in The Flash. He makes a good villain.

The "I am your father" bit he did should be the end of that particular trope. It won't be, but it should.

Hamill channels the Joker something fierce for the Trickster. But then, those two villains always did read very much alike.

> his acting career was actually ruined by this role.

Like Harrison Ford?

Maybe he's just older and wiser and now realizes life is what you make of it.

Wow, this place sure is filled with curmudgeons.

and why, in your vast non curmudgeon experience, should a game with an engine much simpler than chess talk to a web server for single player games?

It's a web game that you play in a web page. It'd be mighty impressive if it functioned without talking to a web server.

Further, it doesn't even have user accounts. What exactly is there to be curmudgeony about?

from the screenshots I assumed it was an app. my bad

How is that in any way related to anything here?

It saddens me to see all the comments ascribing victimization where none has occurred.

This is how SJWs operate. Don't do that.

The game under discussion doesn't collect PII, and all personal information was freely published by Hamill himself, so there's really no problem here. However, the same would not be true of most similar circumstances, and I'm encouraged that at least some people are aware of the issue.

In other words, think of the children!

We need to think about this non-issue and warn people about this non-issue and dissuade people or possibly even implement policies for this non issue just in case it ever becomes an actual issue!

No. I call bullshit.

You can't think of any examples of unscrupulous sites/apps/whatever misusing users' personal information? Wow. Do you perchance work for Facebook?

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