Links and notes for the day - 2nd July 2018

50% of the year is done!

Rust, the eternal problem of eternal games, and the reality of life

Probably worth a longer post. But I wanted to note some immediate ideas to possibly expand on later.. Rust went out of early access and has since been receiving "mixed reviews". Even the positive reviews talk of the same thing. A well established community vs anyone who joins the game newly. The new person is going to have a bad time.

This is the problem with "eternal" games where you enter the world, and then just keep building up.

  1. A fresh community starts up. Collaborates to figure out intricacies of the environment.
  2. The community establishes itself, usually into a few strong factions and each strong faction has sub factions. These all protect and participate in warring efforts throughout the game.
  3. Fresh players can't do anything but pick a side upon joining or die.
  4. Admins will create a new server for people to join a "fresh world".
  5. The cycle continues minus some of the intial figuring out of the mechanics.

The only remedies to this are to introduce game mechanics like what World of Warcraft does. For example, you can turn off your Player vs Player flag and then you cannot be attacked by a player of an opposing faction. There are a lot of intiricacies to this particular mechanic.

Eve online has a game mechanic called Concord and high security zones. If you are in a high security zone, you can't fire on another player, and if you do, you lose your ship at the hands of a Concord security ship. This happens even if you kill the other player's ship. There is no workaround this. While acting as a protection mechanism for new players, it introduces higher level gaming mechanics for more experienced ones. If you are carrying something extremely valuable, players with enough ships to spare will suicide those vessels in order to destroy precious cargo if the tradeoff is worth it.

But these are the exceptions. And they are hard to implement since they have to fit in with the lore and design of a game ideally. As such, most games have no concepts of natural protection mechanics for newer players and they instead embrace the cycle of rinsing and repeating across new servers.

This cycle mirrors human nature. It's the rise and fall of

At the same time, it fails to mimic the real world. Mostly because it would probably alienate newer players. And the mechanic of the real world that fails to be replicated so often can be categorised as the temporality of things.

  • Lots of these games have infinite resources or resources that grow back much faster than they would in the real world.
  • If the resources are finite, then there are other things that are infinite. You don't grow old and weaker for example. You can't fall sick suddenly. You can't have a heart attack. If you are using ships, then you might need to refuel but your ships probably don't need maintenance unless they get attacked.
  • Natural disasters are mostly unheard of. This is despite natural disasters being a historically huge reason for shifts in centralisation of power structures.

I can't see how devs would ever put natural disasters in. Can you imagine grinding for 10,000 hours and then an earthquake kills you just as you become the tyrannical lvl 110 player of an area? That's real life. Most people would ask for a refund in the gaming world. A game that could balance all of this really well would make for a fantastic thought exercise.

I could go on, and I probably will. But that's for a longer post.

Open AI has an update on it's Dota 2 AI

And they are calling it Open AI 5. Because, you know, 5 players per team.

Our team of five neural networks, OpenAI Five, has started to defeat amateur human teams at Dota 2. While today we play with restrictions, we aim to beat a team of top professionals at The International in August subject only to a limited set of heroes.

This really is a bit of an oversimplification. I don't want to rain on the parade here so I'll preface it by saying it's an amazing achievement what they've done so far. But I also believe their marketing machine is spinning its wheels in overdrive. I don't blame them. Realistic takes seem to draw more mockery than hopeful encouragement. Especially in the space of "AI trying to take on Humans".

So to expand on the above statement of marketing going over the top here. Here are the restrictions involved in the game:

  • Mirror match of Necrophos, Sniper, Viper, Crystal Maiden, and Lich
  • No warding
  • No Roshan
  • No invisibility (consumables and relevant items)
  • No summons/illusions
  • No Divine Rapier, Bottle, Quelling Blade, Boots of Travel, Tome of Knowledge, Infused Raindrop
  • 5 invulnerable couriers, no exploiting them by scouting or tanking
  • No Scan

That is a good chunk of basic mechanics that have been taken out of the game. Warding and Roshan are not high level game play tactics. You'll find them happening with the noobiest of the noobiest random pub teams. This is not even touching on the fact that mirror matches are more a test of skill rather than strategy. Bots excel at skill by having access to much more precise information and calculations than humans do. No human will ever be able to assess the items owned by an enemy hero and how much damage will be done over time by Viper's ultimate skill in a single micro second. No human will ever be able to assess exactly how many seconds it will take for an enemy team to have heal and walk back from the fountain in a thousandth of a second. The only advantage a human team has over a bot team is in overwhelming complexity.

Not to say that the team hasn't done amazing work here. They have. And they've had a very clear vision in the order of building blocks they wanted to lay out. But for the time being, this is not ground breaking area just yet. It's extremely interesting and we should be watching this with a lot of curiosity to see what happens next. But what's happened so far is purely academically interesting. Nothing more.

Growing up Asian

Most, if not all, the people involved in this video are eastern asian, but a lot of the same rules apply to South Asian families.

  • We'd get beaten the hell up :'D.
  • Children with good marks were the pinnacle of family achievements.
  • Finishing food fast meant that you'd get more food served to you so you had to learn to eat slowly to avoid more servings.

There's also a segment in there about parents in their communities wanting to crush dreams of being artists because it wasn't a "real job" or a "real thing". This one resonated super strong with me because I was a serial doodler and I was basically banned from doodling. Up to today, I love design and artsy stuff, and I can't help but wonder whether that might have been my career if nature had taken its course. No regrets, no hard feelings. Just questions :)

Posted on July 02 2018 by Adnan Issadeen