Showing posts with label Nerding Out. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nerding Out. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Results over Four Ludum Dare competitions

I just got the ratings for my Ludum Dare competition game, Domain, written from scratch in 48 hours last month. They were good - this is the second-best finish for me in the ratings, I think. I was curious how I compared, so I did some graphs with my four entries over the past few years. The competition is rated in eight categories, with "Overall" being the most important. My four games were as follows:
Here are the results for those four games, first by percentile (vs. other games in the competition), then by overall rating (1-5 stars). In each graph, the categories are sorted by my average performance for all four games.

Apparently, Audio and Graphics are my weakest categories, which isn't that surprising. Theme and Innovation seem to be my strong suits. Teeming (blue line, my first entry) was clearly my worst showing in nearly all categories, and Evo (red line) my best (by percentiles), but Domain (purple line, most recent entry) actually was rated higher in terms of stars. I wonder if the judging has gotten easier over time? Or the games better? Hard to say. Anyway, I seem to be improving as I do these, which is cool. I'm hardly going to sprout an artistic sense in my late 40's, but it's fun to do these, and I still get some props for innovative, so that's OK by me. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Les Miserables Report Card

Spoiler warning, if it's possible to spoil a 150-year-old book or a 30-year-old musical.

Pretension warning: I never write like this or talk about movies this way.  Beware my crude attempts at artsiness.

My Les Mis Movie report card, more or less in order of appearance:

Hugh Jackman: B- (thought he would be better; ok singing, acting consisted of staring slightly to the left of the camera)

Russel Crowe: C+ (but better than I thought; mediocre singing, good acting, especially towards the end)

Anne Hathaway: A (better singing voice than I expected; suitably tragic.  You should get your hair back in the afterlife.)

Little Cosette: A (good voice, good acting, ringer for imagined child version of  Amanda Seyfried)

Sasha Baron Cohen: B- (he did fine, I suppose, but I hate the character; I did laugh at a few of his jokes)

Helena Bonham Carter: C+ (like i said, I hate these characters.  WTH with the John Lennon glasses?)

Samantha Barks: A+ (when she first came on, I remember thinking, "wow, the first one who can really sing" - head and shoulders above the others.  But I'm a sucker for Eponine, too.)

Gavroche kid: A (I normally dislike this character and am almost happy when he buys the ferme, but this guy was surprisingly affecting and sang well)

Amanda Seyfried: A- (better singing voice than I expected, although seemed to be singing in a different style from the others.  I've always wished the character had more guts and more to do than merely obey her dad and moon about over Marius)

Eddie Redmayne: B (Marius is such a lightweight character; he did OK, but I thought he blew it on Empty Chairs)

Aaron Tveit: B+ (Pretty inspiring, noble death, sang pretty well, but goofy hair, even for 19th century France)

Tom Hooper: B (Could we ever get a scene that's not mostly a face-on shot of somebody singing?)

Overall: A- (really enjoyed it; would have been better with a stronger JVJ)

It was really interesting to see the show as a movie rather than a musical.  I caught parts of the story and character motivations that I'd missed in multiple versions of the stage production.  Jean Valjean's progression from desperate thug to flawed man trying to do right while saving his skin to placing others truly before himself.was far more clear here than in the stage productions I've seen.  Also, the focus was totally different - you're focused on each character and can see facial expressions and reactions - the acting becomes as important as the singing, which I found surprising.

Unexpected punch in the gut: Javert pinning the medal on Gavroche in the row of dead revolutionaries.  My daughter said that was counter to Javert's character from the musical; I agree, but I found it a welcome change; it very nicely bridged the gap between Jean Valjean showing him mercy and his suicide, especially after his admission that he grew up poor on the streets. I thought it was very well done by Crowe.

Unexpected non-punch in the gut: Empty Chairs and Empty Tables - This song leaves me crying in my beer even when Brianna plays it night after night while washing dishes.  It was sung kind of wimpily, and I think it needs a stronger interpretation.  Also, the destroyed bar wasn't the same for me as imagining him in the same bar intact but with his friends gone.

Awesome scene:  Defeated revolutionary pushes through armed soldiers to stand with (and be shot with) his leader.  Totally badass.

Scene that was way awesomer in the movie than they could ever do on stage:: Revolutionaries kidnap funeral procession.  Also badass.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Great software design and visualization - Space Sniffer

OK, this isn't game related, but I just found a really great disk profiler.  I realized last night that my SSD is filling up on my main Windows computer, and I was trying to delete things to make more room, but I couldn't find much to delete that made a difference.

Today, I figured, there must be some kind of software tool that shows you how your drive is laid out, and I did a search for something.  I found Space Sniffer.  It quickly scans a whole drive and maps it out for you. On the diagram at right, the beige areas are folders and the blue areas are individual files.  Each zone is sized according to its size on the disk, and the hierarchical structure is maintained.  Each folder is clickable, and then the program displays the folder's contents in the same way, so you can descend fractally down into your data.  The authors say the visualization technique was developed by a professor named Ben Shneiderman, who apparently also invented the highlighted textual link.  I will honor his work by linking to him:  Ben Shneiderman

Really neat program, and free.  Of course, I still didn't find too much to delete - the whole left-most rectangle is games I still play, and the other stuff all seemed important.  You'd understand if you saw my basement.

Monday, February 6, 2012

BGG Ratings

BGG Ratings counts as of 2007, by BGG member Joe Grundy
My last post, which discussed BGG ratings of a few games, got me wondering what the actual distribution of ratings is.  Google led me to a partial answer - the image at right, referenced in the posting by Joe Grundy on BGG here.  This is ratings actually given by individual users, while I was really looking for the composite ratings given each game.  I'll keep looking.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Risky math

Risk battles, thoroughly quantified.  Takeaway:  Even for evenly matched armies, the attacker gets more likely to win the more each side has.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

XKCD and Tic Tac Toe

XKCD has a neat image that lays out ideal Tic Tac Toe strategy.  The image is a little complicated to read at first, but once you figure out the design of his presentation, it's pretty great, both from the game perspective, and also from a visual display of information perspective.

I've had students write ideal tic tac toe players as an exercise in my computer programming classes, and they sometimes struggle more with the strategies than with the programming parts.  This might help, although interestingly, because it's the ideal strategy, it doesn't actually include the decision trees for sub-optimal starts (i.e. where you don't pick a corner as your starting space).

Also interesting is that because Tic Tac Toe is such a symmetric game (i.e., there are only three types of spaces, center, corner, and middle-edge), the image Randall Munro created actually contains some neat visual symmetry, which, along with the fractal nature of his presentation, is cool to look at.  He's a very clever guy, and I love it when he does this kind of thing.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Populist Gamer Score

Dale Yu at has a column on a (semi-silly) scoring system for how many of the most popular boardgames you have played and how many you own.  You multiply the ratios together, so to score high, you have to be a well-versed gamer and also a bit of a hoarder.  I'm not sure if both of those are good things.

Anyway, I ran through the top 100 list, and I've played 32 of them and own 24 of them, which puts me at a pathetic 0.0768.  Dale's score is 0.7735, and he's got some others listed ranging from 0.27 to 0.94.  An interesting way to measure addiction, although of course the multiplication will make those with less complete exposure have way smaller scores than people with marginally higher experience.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Attack from Mars

I fixed (I hope) a nagging problem on my pinball machine today - replaced the opto sensor for the saucer trough so that it can detect balls again.  This is good, because previously, the game would pause six seconds and then flail around trying to find the ball every time it goes down there.

I managed to complete several tasks to do this:

  • Figured out where to find non-Williams replacement sensor boards - non-trivial, because the manufacturer has been out of business for some time.
  • Removed the broken sensors without breaking anything else
  • Soldered the replacements ones into place, crossed my fingers, and turned it back on
My soldering skills are shaky at best (I won't be posting glamor shots of my silvery beads, let's say), but the game works again, and I've found that any job I complete successfully that requires soldering is one that I'm inordinately proud of - my burnt fingers are a badge of honor.

From a game design standpoint, this is a really well-designed pinball game.  It's fun for beginners, because there is obvious stuff to hit, lots of forgiving help, including a long ball saver, and a great sense of humor in the graphics and sound. Even people who've never played any pinball before end up having fun, laughing, and scoring hundreds of millions of points (the point scoring is ridiculous - my high is about 34 billion).  It's also really fun for more experienced players, because it's got six big goals (some relatively simple, some really, really hard) to complete to get to the final battle with the Martians, which I only manage to do about once in every 30-40 games or so, making it quite elusive.  Lots to learn there about designing other games, too - depth, theme, humor, and a variety of well-balanced overlapping goals.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stratego reordination

I learned last week that the makers of Stratego have reordered their pieces in the recent games, so that the good ones are now the higher numbers, and the worse ones are lower.  I suppose that sort of makes sense for people learning the game anew, if the higher ones are better, but the curmudgeon in me will always think of miners as 8's, not 2's.

Ridiculous, I say.  If you're number one, you should be able to beat everybody, right?  Not in the new version - number ones are the feeble scouts.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Polyhedral dice are just way cool. I knew this when I was 13 or so, and the knowledge persisted until maybe 26-27, but when I started teaching and had kids, I got away from my childhood D&D roots. In the last year or so, I've been playing some again, and I'm going to start a new campaign with my group in the next couple of weeks. In preparation for that, I decided, on a lark, to buy the Chessex Pound-O-Dice, and opening it today was really fun - all the different colors, shapes, styles, etc. Some are pretty hideous, some are cool, but it's still really neat to be holding this many at once. It awakened something I haven't really felt since 1983 or so.

If you were ever a D&D nerd back in the day, I'd recommend this product - at about $18, it's an easy rush.