A new wind blows…

Well I promised I’d have my personal blog up soon and it has been longer than I intended but tonight I get a functional website up. Please let me be the first to welcome you to…

http://www.pro-graham.com (Okay, it might redirect here. Go go gadget DNS Server redirect!)

From here I plan to post snippets of code and programming related articles hoping to help people who have found comfort in the same field I currently occupy. My first post should be up this week detailing my advanced AI Battleship application you can play. The application was an extension of an old project I took up with a friend years ago. I recently updated the AI in it for one of my more recent classes as an example of heuristic analysis of grids allowing for advanced play.

Please bare with me as I get my documentation up to snuff and clean the code so I don’t embarass myself too much.

Small Bites & an Announcement!

Things are starting to wind down for me. I’ve been extremely active with my studies and things are coming to a close. Because of this I’ve been absent from the blog and think I want to start contributing something more than just rants and ramblings. From time to time I plan on making a post relevant to a community I participate in and today I’ll make a post to address an issue I’ve been seeing frequently on http://www.reddit.com/r/starcraft2_class

Starcraft2_class is a small subreddit on the site with about 1,400 readers. Its single purpose is for more experienced and skilled players to coach and advise more novice players on the game. As a fairly seasoned player myself I find that I like to spend time coaching others and providing advice on how they can improve their game.

So, what is the topic? Well from the title I’m sure you can guess: Biting off more than you can chew. What I mean to address is an issue in novice players that I’m seeing very frequently that they most often aren’t aware of. The issue stems from players dreaming of reaching the high stars but forget that the path to obtain greatness is one small baby step at a time.

These players watch Day[9] like a religion and have subscribed to every professional tournament streamed online to date. They often follow Idra, Psy, Jinro or Destiny like a cult but all still share the fundamental problem of dreaming too big for what they can obtain (at least at this time).

These players recognize what needs to be done. And that’s the fundamental issue. I don’t want to go too far and say they know too much but it almost comes across as that. They realize the importance of creep spread, saturating bases, maintaining map control scouting your opponent’s movements, teching at a right pace and managing their economy properly but they simply can’t do it all.

They spend a solid phase of their game working their army positioning all the while forgetting entirely to scout the map or expand their vision. They’ll vigorously watch for the larva pop only to neglect the overlord buzzing through the opponent base and once it dies see nothing but partial structures.

And how does one solve this? One step at a time.

It is awesome that players realize everything that needs to be done but it means nothing when you do all of them poorly. If you’re so concerned with your creep spread that you forget to inject larva or research +1 weapons for your roaches you’ve still lost no matter how nice that spread gets.

If you’re a player you feel is guilty of this issue then its better for you to get out there and play some games rather than watch more pro replays. You can keep ramming all the knowledge you want into your head but it will not solve the issue that you don’t have the muscle memory or mechanics to execute it.

I want to stress the importance of practice in this game. More players I see are getting concerned with their rating and it is off setting to them. They abstain from the game to watch professional players and get advice from Mr. Plott but neglect to execute it themselves. I fear it is a mental issue where they believe they’ll get better without actually playing and can return to a shiny Platinum or Diamond rating and once they fail to achieve this are unsettled even further.

So yes, the answer is as cheesy as the 6 pool but the solution is to go play some games. Focus on one thing at a time and don’t get worked up over small details. Broad Strokes (like Day[9] says) are more important than minute details.

But Stank, what’s the announcement?

This is actually unrelated but something I’m quite proud of. I started this post by saying my studies are winding down. What that means is I’ll be entering the workforce ripe with knowledge and ready to get put in my place. I feel however that I have lots to share in the Programming community and have registered a domain to contain these factoids. So, in the future look towards http://www.pro-graham.com for programming blogging, advice, tips and stories. My first post will be regarding a small game AI I wrote for a class this semester. I stand by my work in saying I’ve written the most advanced Battleship AI to date. Such a minor achievement but fun never-the-less.

The Great Castruccio

Being invited by Taddeo Bernardi, a very rich and splendid citizen of Luca, to supper, he went to the house and was shown by Taddeo into a chamber hung with silk and paved with fine stones representing flowers and foliage of the most beautiful coloring. Castruccio gathered some saliva in his mouth and spat it out upon Taddeo, and seeing him much disturbed by this, said to him: “I knew not where to spit in order to offend thee less”.

Handling Team Games In Starcraft

Yo, im loving the team games.

Best case scenario is taking down 3 more skillful players with 3 less skilled players with excellent decision making. And team work. The underdogs on top!

Imagine the 3 players on a team as a single organism. Characteristics of successful organisms are ones with vision, knowledge, strength, speed, and position.

Terrans need to be in the right position.
Zergs need to be everywhere quickly.
Protoss needs to have strength.

But these things are interchangeable with different units from each race. So this really is not what matters. What matters is how you execute on what information you are given.

A successful organism is able to see what his opponent is doing. The most important thing in war is being able to defend anything. Vision makes the correct defense.

The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.”

When attacking… “Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.

In other words, attacking is good, but when the targets are poor, the defender wins. Workers, pylons, pieces of tech, command centers. I feel that if given the time, a snipe of a command center is better than the time taken to kill the workers. I could be wrong tho, I haven’t done the math.

Vision of the opponents gives you the information to strike the most critical places. You are able to see the weaknesses. Usually I will just use intuition because I feel the opponent is weak. This works sometimes, other times I lead to disaster.

Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

I have noticed that when a team is given scouting information, they are much more comfortable, and confident. In 1v1’s if I am feeling uneasy, I just send a probe out to death, to see what they have. With the information I get, I regain the comfort and confidence.

In team games when you scout the opponent really good, they know it, and it even affects their teams confidence. They feel figured out and exposed. They sink into a defensive position. A fighter who has a sudden loss of vision will most likely fall into the futile position, otherwise hurl themselves into desperation attacks, which most likely ends them. Been there. ~_^

Grinding the Present Moment

Just dropping some little bombs. I don’t have any bunker busters at the moment.

Mental noise: I keep noticing how much noise there is in my head. Whenever I notice it, it disappears. This is a type of meditation that anyone can practice throughout the day. It’s important to note that having silence in your head does not make you a zombie. It makes you relaxed but more alert. Carrying a head full of noise does the opposite: it makes you tense and distracted. Being tense and distracted puts limits on what you can accomplish.

Grinding the present: I find it useful to remind myself that the present moment is the only place where anything gets done.

Free will & spontaneity: Back in the day, I busted some philosophy speed-runs with Shuba and his kin. The conclusion was that free will does not exist. Our brain is a calculator that solves problems by choosing the best option according to what we value. For example, a person who values standing out in a crowd is more likely to dress in unusual clothes, but their decisions are still made according to an underlying process which they have no control over. If you ask them why they are wearing a sombrero in February, they might tell you they are a free spirit when it comes to fashion. If free will does not exist, then they are simply bound by differently-assigned variables, and the sombrero is the end result of these different values.

This might sound like a depressing perspective on life, one which paints humans as souls imprisoned within robotic shells. Each human pursues whatever comes naturally to them; what is natural for one person is different for the next. Committing crimes comes naturally to some people. After waking up in jail, their brain might re-assign certain values and a “new person” may emerge from a brain that previously valued drugs and money above all else.

This is what I really wanted to discuss: does a person actually emerge from their thoughts? Your thoughts are a reflection of your values, which are not consciously controlled, and so the self which emerges from our thoughts is also uncontrolled. This artificial self is sometimes called the ego. It exists as an interface between the brain and the outside world. It is a structure of repetitive thoughts. When a person’s values change, their thoughts change, and so the ego changes; a “new person” emerges with a new purpose in life.

“Free will doesn’t exist?! You can’t take my freedom!”
The point is that (1) not only does free will not exist, but (2) there was never a self to “possess” free will in the first place.

” … First you take my freedom, and now you’re saying I don’t even exist?!”
Your true identity is inseparable from you because it is you. It cannot be taken away. The ego, on the other hand, is just a thought which disappears every night when you go to bed. The ego’s structure appears rock solid because it is so repetitive. When we examine this repetitive structure, however, we see that it is just mental noise. How could mental noise ever hope to have free will?

When illusions like the ego and free will are washed away, what’s left is real freedom – the selfless and perfect way of the universe.

World-building 101: Yo, enough of this pansy-ass philosophical mumbo-jumbo. Let’s get back into the real world so we can start building fake worlds. This is a new branch of learning for me, so it’s not really World-building 101. It’s more like World-building for Pre-schoolers. I’ve already put this project on hold so I can finish some older stuff, but I thought it’d be fun to post some noobfoolery in action.

(1) First, I used everyone’s favorite artsy program to make a 400 x 400 pixel masterpiece. Within moments, my phone was ringing off the hook. Every major art institute in North America was trying to throw scholarships my way, and I hadn’t even uploaded the mother yet.

Actually, I didn’t have a phone while making this.

(2) Next, I used Torque 3D’s terrain builder to upload my image as a texture. I slapped that beast down on top of some sand.

When creating worlds, it is important to nod your head to sick beats.

(3) Torque 3D has a default player character that you can use to explore right away.

Dude, you said we were going on a magical adventure… and now this?

The grass is the only thing that I created in that screenshot. It was a fun first step, and I’m looking forward to more advanced stuff like programming in TorqueScript and rendering my own 3D models.

Back to the grindstone.

The Senseless Struggle To Fit In. In Life

This post started out as a telegram I received from Willie. I started ranting about some shit, and well. here it goes.

Willie kicks it off with a song.

I respond…

8 Mile Poster

I don’t know about rap much any more. That song is good. Truth. From the heart. But it’s the reason I took down the 8 mile / Eminem poster in my room. Even though 8 mile is an awesome story, the imagery of it is someone who is trapped, or a victim of their environment. They are in a constant state of trying to escape. The poster doesn’t change, so when I look at the poster. I identify or empathize with a person who is a victim trying to make it. indefinitely.

The only solution is to take down the poster and just see yourself as someone who is making progress. constantly building.

And so the same goes with the music you listen to. so when he raps about being in a trapped state, or always being surrounded by shitty things. I just sort of glance at it, but don’t identify with it. I may attach it to something in my past. cause that would be a shitty life to live currently.

Your present moment needs to be congruent with where you’re headed.

D12

I look at d12 now, and I just think its junk music. and dumb. But I know why I loved it back then. school was a complete waste of time, I was just looking for ways to kill time or empathize with something.

I actually used to judge a video games goodness by how much time it sank. Like Christ! That’s terrible, and that’s school for ya.

‘Cause you cant take control of your life in that environment. You know nothing matters for 3 years. Your not living your life, your a byproduct of someone elses, your just taking orders from people. It’s like self destructive behavior. A disconnection, a mental playground. School doesn’t let you do anything your own way. School takes our balls away.

Mental Traps

But as I say this, I can’t fall victim to that mindset either, that school somehow still affects my life. Gotta let it go like that painbody stuff Tolle talks about. The past doesn’t exist.

/rant (then i start to write more on the subject for blog)

And so even our friends can keep us in a place. Keeping up appearances, but not changing much. This hierarchy or whatever social construct we have is enforced or reinforced every time we meet up. So if someone changes in some way what happens? They no longer fit. and it is uncomfortable to not fit in. but it is necessary to growing as a person.

Conclusion

So I conclude that taking breaks from friends is healthy. As you get the freedom to move freely through life. And experience new things.

So my thought process is, are we really having a good time, or are we just reinforcing where we fit in, in this life.

What do we truly value more? Fitting in, or doing what we want.

Friday nights start to feel like an escape to me. Or an empathization of this ‘struggle’ of life. Because I want to explore new things. Behind the knee jerk reaction of clinging onto something… it’s truly what I want to do. Even though it is scary. It’s what we need to do. and everyone else should do the same.

And I am not dissing any friend by saying this stuff, like someone is bringing someone else down. All our friends have mad talent, smarts, and ability.

Mad Talent

In fact all people have mad talent. But most people will never realize this because they let school tell them what talent is, and what forms it comes in.

This ‘body’ that is the group. This collective being. What’s controlling it? Directing it? Where is it taking us? I don’t know. Are we letting the world feed us activities to do? Are we waiting for another person to tell us where to go?

Fitting In To The Grave

That’s how people fail in life. Always following / compromising and trying to fit into whatever situation they are put in. Basically begging for someone to put them in a place. Because fitting in is taught from families, early school, later school, and work. They taught you to put your wants aside and fit in. and the only person that loses is you. because you let them.

You Will Never Fit In

Until you pop your head out of the sand and realize this shit. You don’t need to fit in, and the truth is you never will fit in.

You are unique in ways no one can match. So how could anyone else know what you want out of your life? It’s your job to figure it out. and start living it.

Or am I losing my mind? … … …uh oh… do I desire a sense of togetherness again? Do ‘we’ follow eachother?

no

The desire is to simply be heard, and for everyone to understand in their separate way. What’s true for someone doesn’t have to be true for everyone.

I heard this Asha guy say that the more ‘together’ we try to be, the more alone we become.

I get it.

Lone Samurais Walking The Earth

2011 We Going Hard

The beauty of the internet is really starting to flourish. Seems like you can have any interest and have a full blown community around it. If it isn’t there you can create it. The good shit rises to the top and the bad stuff sinks. No bullshit sponsorships anymore. The people have the voice and are the true gatekeepers. The big companies will struggle to survive if they don’t evolve.

The niches grow smaller, more refined, and rich. the creativity is rewarded. feedback is instant. It’s different, and good. The communities that support. The music just sounds so fuckin’ good nowadays. It’s a direct result of smaller artists making new waves, getting direct feedback, and collaborations. It evolves so quickly.

Advertising is the name of the game, and all the eye balls are going online. They will see the value in it.

Pick your niche and go hard.

KiWiKaKi Shows How To Use A Mothership

I have been watching a lot of Protoss vs Zerg lately. I get sick when i see the same ole gateway unit struggle. Micro battles seem to be a coin flip to determine the winner. It usually depends on whether the toss can hit force-fields right or not. I don’t like gateway play because it just looks like a constant struggle for the toss.

I like watching a game with a forge expand, and stargates. Whenever toss does this build it seems like they are rarely under pressure. It was the same story with sc1, protoss air shuts down map control – the passive vision of the overlords.

Check out this game: KiWiKaKi vs Lalush

The protoss can harass without committing any units.

The late game of this replay is awesome. Kiwi uses a combination of speed voids, phoenixes, and colossi. The voids are mobile enough to hit an expo before the zerg can engage him. And once the zerg engages him, he uses the motherships recall ability, transporting them safely back to his main army.

Extremely effective. I will also add that protoss air can be upgraded way faster than zerg air, which is why it is difficult for a group of mutas to destroy a group of voids and phoenixes.