November 23, 2013

Status Update

It has been a while since I last mentioned anything here. Naturally, that usually means it is a good time to write what I have been up to lately. I could always write more about what I have been doing recently (other than research/school work), but this post is getting excessively long.

I recently wrote an addon for the Minecraft Mod called TerraFirmaCraft. However, I am only really doing bugfixes and discussions related to it for the next while because there are two big things I'm concerned about. TerraFrimaCraft Build 78 and Minecraft 1.7.x update. Both of these are going to have significant changes to the addon, one will force me to rewrite any network code I have created. This is primarily why I won't be making any new content for the addon in the near future, as I know I'll have to redo a lot of it if I decide to tackle some more of the complicated things.

Minecon 2013 was a huge disappointment, no I didn't go but just watching some of the streams made me realize a few things about Minecraft. The community appears to be hugely based on youth and the developers really spoiled the whole event by having NOTHING exciting to talk about. It really was just a weekend about praising Minecraft and talking about random things most people aren't overly interested in. Okay, so they talked about twitch, but do we really need more people streaming Minecraft? It is kind of a saturated thing as it is... Then again with all the new consoles, streaming is apparently going mainstream (no pun intended). There are really only a handful of reasons to watch a stream... You want to see how someone skilled at the game plays (meaning the game really needs a skill factor). You want to watch a person/group of funny people play a game for entertainment. You want to see what mods/mechanics/achievements/other game features are like because you want to learn more about them. Beyond that, watching someone else's stream really doesn't provide a whole lot of value. By allowing a lower barrier of entry to streaming content really adds no benefit and will probably bloat streaming services with a ton of streamers nobody really wants/is going to watch.

Blizzcon 2013 in contrast to Minecon 2013 was absolutely amazing. Blizzard is obviously a much larger company, but they really understand how/why they should do a convention. They showed off Hearthstone and Heros of the Storm very effectively which added a ton of hype about the games. I haven't really played many card games, but I do like how simply and complicated Hearthstone is, and will likely play it a bit when the game goes open beta. Heros of the Storm looks amazing from what is already shown. The issue I have about League of Legends is the grind in the game and it is too competitive. I like some competition, but I mostly play games to enjoy them and playing multiplayer over and over has never really appealed to me much. Hence why I only played Starcraft for the first couple weeks when it comes out and then sorta stop playing it. Diablo 3 expansion looks promising, feedback so far from the beta is fairly positive and considering they are actually allowing people to beta test the entire game means there shouldn't be that many surprises this time.

Side note, the types of games I really enjoy are turn-based with time constraints. Example, blitz chess, any turn-based game with a short turn timer. Why a short turn timer? Because it forces people to think quickly and plan only slightly into the future without giving them time to evaluate all possible moves. Additionally, it keeps the action flowing and makes the game interactive so I don't sit there for a couple minutes waiting on someone else to do something. I don't enjoy real time games very much because it boils down to reaction time in many cases (when you play skilled player vs skilled player). Obviously that is a gross simplification as some real time games can involve a ton of strategy as well. 

Randomness makes games more interesting. This also means even if you know the 'best' way to do something, you could still lose. Some people hate that concept, but if you could predetermine what is the best way to play, why bother playing at all as you know walking into the game who will win. Randomness also evens out the disparity between really good and really bad moves. Sometimes the best move could result in a poor outcome but more often then not it will prove to be a good outcome. This means you shouldn't do the same thing every time and you need to adapt to the variables in play... it makes planning ahead less critical and being able to deal with the current situation more important. This is the reason why the current best backgammon bot only looks 2 turns ahead at most... Or why some of the best competitive bots in Tetris only look at the current piece and not what is in the queue (especially if the queue is shared between competitors).