4/30/2004

4-30-04 - 1

4-30-04

Back in like '99 working on Genesis, I used to talk to Jason Wood and John Pollard, and we'd talk about increasing visual realism, and the things we really wanted were - floating point buffers, radiosity, fresnel & better surface lighting, and ambient occlusions. Now all this stuff is coming to be! It's sort of a let down in a way, back then there were very few clever people in game graphics who could actually think of things like that and implement them - now you have big teams of demo guys at the IHV's and researchers in academia, all paying attention to games now, and writing tons of papers and demos, and tons of game devs are implementing all kinds of crazy things, you can't really sit in a closet and come up with clever things and blow people away any more. Everybody basically knows what can be done and what would look good, and now it's all just a matter of actually doing it. Dumb issues like the art pipeline and getting the designers to make a game that takes good advantage of the tech are what dominate the results now.

Making technology-driven games is fun, and it's really not bad for gameplay. Basically game designers have very vague ideas anyway, so if you give them some heavy tech direction and constraints, it really doesn't make the game any worse, as long as they can still experiment and tweak and have good-workflow and fast turnaround, etc. Letting the programmers choose the primary structure of the game is clearly the way to go. Then the designers and artists fill that structure with fun and decorations. Not only does that make it easier to write the code, it makes the design & art much better, because you get a system which is doing something very well, doing what it was made to do, rather than just a random mix of ideas built on a system that was made to do something else.

4/29/2004

4-29-04 - 1

4-29-04

Management should be aggressive but realistic.

It's funny how America is in fact run by an elite wealthy ruling class, and yet they are constantly pretending to be rustic "everymen" from average America. Only in front of the camera, of course. I like the way Kerry uses the little moment when he can pretend he thought the mic was off to sneak out little comments that he doesn't want to stand behind. It sucks the way no politician can ever actually take a controvercial stance on anything. There's a very "emperor's new clothes" situation going on, everyone has to basically tow the line, if you have the guts to speak out, you'll get crucified by the media and the PR machine of the political parties.


Wow, those guys at EA are geniuses. They took the biggest movie in recent history, which was a fantasy movie that very easily lends itself to games, and they made a halfway decent game, and released it somewhere near the time the movie actually came out. Wow, that really took vision, my 10 year old brother never could have come up with that plan.

Funny thing is, every other publisher is so grossly incompetent they can't even manage that. I estimate that the game industry is losing 10 billion dollars a year due to gross incompetence at many levels. If they just made decent games that were tied to good media properties and released simultaneously, wow, you could actually make money. Then, beyond that, it gets into details, you have to do things like design games that are actually fun, not just tedious and punative and repetetive. You have to give away free CD's and demo's online that can be easily converted to full licenses online, or even sell play level-by-level in $5 increments, etc. etc.

4/24/2004

4-24-04 - 1

4-24-04

Science prizes, like the Nobel prize and so many others, are totally misguided. They give big monetary awards to people who made their big discovery 20 years ago; the winners have almost always had some large amount of success, since the prizes are very conservative, they only go to people whose work is well recognized. The winners are rarely still doing major research, and certainly don't need the money. Science prizes should go to the young, up and coming scientists who actually need the cash. Also, it shouldn't be simply a cash reward, but rather a grant for research, or funds for a laboratory or institute, etc. The idea that the rewards are a motivating factor is ridiculous. Scientists are some of the least greedy and altruistic people in the world - they are motivated by making a great discovery, by being admired by their peers, not by winning cash. Sadly, the "rich get richer" mechanism is everywhere.

4/22/2004

4-22-04 - 1

4-22-04

Ode to the early days of game development. Yes, the games now really are much better, but man development was so much better, even two or three years ago. Back then, you had small teams where you really felt like a crew, you could know and be friends with everyone on the team. A few smart guys could get together and start a game company and be a big success. If you were talented at all, you were bound to innovate because everything was new; every decent game was breaking new ground. The machines were so limiting that you had to be very clever and creative to find ways to make things work. Everything was very free-form, you weren't a cog in a production machine like today. People could cross disclipines, programmers could do game design, anyone on the team could have ideas and get them in the game. Alas!

4/20/2004

4-20-04 - 1

4-20-04

I just can't stand it when I ask people to do things and they just don't do it, and then the next day I ask them "is blah done", and they say "blah? what are you talking about blah?". Perhaps worse is when people do something quickly, sloppily, lazily, without thinking, and do a bad job, and tell me it's done. Then a few days later I start seeing mysterious problems and I look into it, and it's not done at all! In my job I went up being constantly worried about every single thing that anyone at the company is doing, because I just can't assume that they're actually getting done. I'd much rather have people who do less, but do it reliably and actually get it done. The thing that people don't understand is that if they are 90% reliable, I still have to keep my eye on them 100% of the time. You have to be nearly 100% reliable before I can just trust you. I'm not talking about just mistakes here, it's fine if people make mistakes. I'm talking about when I tell someone to do something, they don't write it down, don't track their todo list, and just never do it. Or, I tell someone to do something and they do it totally without thinking (like they change a base-class virtual function signature and don't search for the subclasses overriding it, thereby totally breaking the code). Sigh.


4-18-04

Tournament report. $50 buy in NLHE. As usual, I'm playing like a champ, folding hands like AT when they're probably dominated. I make it in the money, it gets very tight and aggressive, everyone is stealing, going all-in, very tough play. My stack is around average, I'm doing well. I get down to 39th place. An early player comes in for a raise and someone flat calls. Now, this smells like mediocre hands to me. The early raiser I know is a very loose aggressive player, he could have almost any two cards. The flat call smells like a low PP to me. I see AQ. Now, as long as they don't have AK, I figure I'm at 50/50. I'm getting excellent odds on my money because the blinds will surely fold, so I'm getting roughly 2:1 on a 1:1 shot. I figure it's the time to double up or get out, so I go all-in. All fold to the UTG raiser. He thinks a minute then folds as expected. The early caller calls me! I'm thinking low PP all the way, and hoping for no AK (or KK or AA or QQ). He shows KTs !! I can't believe it, I'm a favorite (about 62%) and then the cards suddenly come junk - King - junk - Queen (just to rub it in) - junk. DAMN! Knocked out again. Probably I should have just folded. I had a good read on the situation, as usual, but I wasn't much of a favorite, I could have surely waited for a better spot and made it farther in the money. This is one of the flaws in my tournament play still, near the end, and when I'm getting tired, I feel the pressure to push a marginal situation, I want to get in my 50/50 and either win or lose. Paid about $200.

4/18/2004

4-18-04 - 3

4-18-04

When an aggressive, stealing, bluffing player also hits some big hands, they're unstoppable. When you finally have the guts to look them up with a mediocre hand and it's the one time they actually have a hand - you're just screwed. That's part of why being aggressive is so good. If you're a tight solid player, the only way you can win is by hitting big hands. If you're an aggressive, stealing player, you win from all the folding, and you win big if you also hit hands. Of course, it's not that simple, because being tight and solid you are keeping your chips safe for better opportunities, but you get the idea.

4-18-04 - 2

4-18-04

Damn it I hate it when I spot the fish, I know exactly how I'm going to nail them - they get too attached to medium pair, they think if they go all-in they can bluff me out of any pot - I'm just waiting for my chance, crouched like a viper, and then all of a sudden the fish stumbles into someone else's trap and gives all their chips away! Damn!

4-18-04 - 1

4-18-04

It's killing me to think how rich I could be now if I had been more aggressive with my money in the past 5 years. In 1999 I bought my car, a Honda Prelude, with cash. If I had instead used that as a down payment on a house in Austin, and the bought a house when I moved to Seattle, and again bought a house when I moved to San Luis, I would be up about $500k (counting the money not spent on rent and the tax savings as well). If during that time I had smartly invested in the market (which is not hard to do it - the internet bubble was very obvious, it would have been easy to get in on the rise and get out safely and play it all smart, and then buy big again after the crash and buy big in all the stocks that were crazy undervalued after 9/11), that would be another huge upside; your investment could easily have gone up 200-300% in that time frame, and I'm not talking unrealistic lucky bets, but just playing it smart. These days are a pretty mediocre time to get into the market. I'm bullish on the American economy, so I think that we will resolve the Iraq issues and the economy will come back even stronger than it has. I think there is another IT revolution to come, involving wireless and portables; we will soon have our digicam+cellphone+MP3+GPS+PDA, and there will be a whole industry built around those devices and it will be another explosion, but it's hard to say who to bet on in that space. The cell phone companies seem to just be incompetent, I would put my bets on someone like Sony or Samsung, but their stock is so diluted that they don't get much upside even if that one unit does very very well. I think I need to invest in cbloom.com , or Chuck-Co if you prefer the old school name.

4/17/2004

4-17-04 - 1

4-17-04

Poker tournament report. The big Party Poker Million Dollar No Limit Holdem Tournament. Buy-in is $600+40.

I grind it out early on, there are tons of bad players, so I take their chips; I limp a lot, make big hands and take their chips. After a few hours of tough solid play...

I have a very good stack, $7000 with the average around $3500 and only 600 people left out of 2000. The big stack at the table has about $8000 and is playing pretty tight. I get AK, big stack raises preflop, I call. I hit the A on the flop. He bets at me, I call to suck him in. T on the turn. He makes a small bet, I call. Fucker had TT. He makes a small milking river bet. I'm down to $2000 chips.

I get all-in with KQ and split the pot! Again with QQ and split the pot! Again with AK and split the pot! Crazy, I keep getting all-in with the exact same hand! Also all-in with 88 and a guy beats me with A9. All-in with 66 and it holds up against KQ.

I grind it out for the next hour, slowly grow my stack back to $6000. I get 88 in the big blind. UTG raises, but it's almost surely a steal. SB flat calls. That's a little odd, but it's an aggressive player who plays oddly, so I come over the top, to 2000. UTG folds as expected, SB flat calls. Odd. Flop is KTJ. Well, I'm almost certainly beat, check check. Turn is a 6, he bets 400, I call. River is a 5, check check. He shows 99 and takes my chips. I'm down to $4000 and struggling again. I should've gone all-in on the turn when he made the small bet. Slow down, think carefully! I was hoping he has a lower PP and I could show it down. There weren't many hands that beat me that he would lay down, 99 was probably the only one.

My stack is pretty low now, about half average, and the blinds are getting big. I need to make a move. Aggressive player comes in for a steal, he's been stealing with junk (56,A3) all night. I go over the top all-in with AJs. He calls with AQs and it holds up. DAMN!!!

Finish in 291st place (out of 2000). Top 130 pay.

Overall, I think I played very well. I had several bad beats, but managed to not lose my whole stack on the first two, and both times I built my stack back to above average. I played smart, laying down big hands when it was pretty likely they were dominated. I got good reads on everyone at my tables. I watched lots of bad players playing terribly and getting lucky. If I had had a little more luck, I'd be in the money. In a NLHE tournament, you have to get all-in with some 50/50 situations, and I roughly split them; I think I won two and lost two. The quality of opponents was obviously going way up as we got to fewer people, but I still felt way better than everyone else at my table. The big stacks at my table were mainly built on luck and aggression, often at my expense.

old rants