4-1-05 - 4


Oh my god, my neighbors have been doing construction on their house for like the last two years. The noise is so damn annoying! Now that I'm not going to work, I'm hearing it every day and it's driving me absolutely crazy and ruining my concentration. I want to just go over there and finish the damn work myself so it will be done! There should be a law against this.

I'm going to sonic war. Whenever I leave the house I'm going to point my big, nasty speakers at them and blast the worst sounds I can find.

4-1-05 - 3


What Americans call "Belgian Waffles" are crap and doesn't exist in Belgium. There are many varieties of real Belgian Waffles; I love hot Liege Gaufres with a crispy crust from caramelized pearl sugar, dipped in chocolate. (Gaufre = Waffle, and the G is soft).

4-1-05 - 2


This morning I found a Walking Stick on my kitchen counter. My house is always a haven to bugs and creatures of all types (mainly spiders, mosquitos, ants, and mice), but a Walking Stick is certainly out of place in my vegetation-free kitchen.

4-1-05 - 1


Despite what it claims, our culture lionizes womanizers. It's considered sexy, powerful, masculine. When you read that Picasso or Vermeer or whoever was a great womanizer, cheating on their wives, seducing their models, you might think "that bastard", but it's only a jealous derision. When you read that someone was chaste or faithful, like Newton, you think "poor sorry fuck".

I wish I had talent - art or music or something. Artists can get away with anything - drugs, women, being absolute irresponsible bastards, and people will just say "he's got that artistic spirit!" and still admire and respect you.


3-31-05 - 1


Games need to have micro and macro variety. Think of a game as a musical score or a poem. Some games change over time - Stranger is a classic example of this, but the play in each portion is monotonous, the score is like AAAABBBBBCCCCC. Some games toss in changes of pace that keep the minute to minute interesting, but then that pattern stays for the whole experience, they're like ABCABCABC . Obviously you can't just have new things all the time, for time constraint reasons & also for consistency and ease of learning, but you can do better. Good patterns are like AABABAABBCBBCCBABCBDCCDBDD , so you have both micro and macro variety.


3-30-05 - 2


How to make cookies if you own a crappy oven that can't maintain a consistent temperature - for cooking that call for a 350 degree oven, instead heat the oven to 450. Put the cookies in the heated oven and now turn off the oven. Let the oven sit for the cooking time (or 15 minutes). The exact temperature and cook time will depend on how well insulated your crappy oven is. My oven cools down to around 300 degrees by the time I take the cookies out. This is actually in some ways a better way to make cookies - it leads to a crisper outside and gooier inside than just cooking at a consistent temperature. For the next batch, let the oven fully reheat to 450 again and repeat. Thanks to Cathy Johnson for the great recipe.

Brett says a Pizza stone would help; yeah, that's surely true. Also, opening the oven door a minimum amount is always a good idea.

3-30-05 - 1


Oddworld has ceased game production operations. The official release is here . Now, I know you're all dying to send me job offers and condolences and such, but stop, I'm fine and I'm not really looking for jobs right now. If you'd like to offer jobs to the talented people at the company, please send mail to jobs@oddworld.com

I've been privileged to work with a great crew at Oddworld; I'm proud of the work we did. The games didn't ever work out quite the way we wanted, but at least we tried to do something creative and different, and mostly succeeded. It's a real tragedy that Stranger's Wrath is not getting any marketting at all; I think it's a pretty good game (and the reviews bear that out). It's also a shame that we aren't able to make another game on the XBox; I'm proud of the engine we made, and the pipeline and toolchain and process that we finally had set up for our new game (Fangus) was really smooth. Our overall development process is the best I've ever seen at a small developer; I feel like we just got the factory really humming, all ready to pump out widgets, and now we're closing the doors. It's a shame that the great team we have here is going to be broken up and spread around the industry. But, so goes the tide of the game industry.


3-28-05 - 5


The parable of the three men on the bus. There are three men sitting on a bus. The bus stops and three old ladies get on and each one happens to stand near each of the three men. The first man gets up and politely offers his seat to an old lady, looks around the bus looking for admiration from the other passengers, and smiles with self-satisfaction, feeling superior to his fellow men. The second man looks up, sees the old lady, and stays seated; he takes out a book and reads. The third man is chatting eagerly with his neighbor and doesn't realize an old lady is near him. Which of these men is most admirable or despicable?

3-28-05 - 4


The right way to design casual games : make them easy & fun for the crap casual player, but provide depth and skill that better players can get into. This not only makes the game appeal to more people, it also makes players stay with the game longer as they grow into it. Even the crap casual player (eg. your grandma) will grow and learn if they keep playing a game. Simple games like "Bejewelled" could be longer-term more engaging experiences if they allowed expert play choices. Now, I'm not talking about a separate expert mode, I'm talking about more advanced ways to play the same game which are available from the beginning, but aren't necessary unless you want to play at the higher levels.

3-28-05 - 3


People use the word "communicate" these days a lot in strange ways. Rush Limbaugh is called a great "communicator". G.W. Bush and Reagan are called great "communicators". When you want to convince someone, you say you need more "communication". What's being talked about here is not the conveyance of ideas or information. If you "communicate" in this way, you are not coming away informed of actual facts, necessarilly. This "communicate" is more like "convince, buoy, pacify, homogenize". "Communicating" with a group is about "getting them on board", not because they actually should be or want to be, but because you have "communicated" with them. "Communicating" is about planting your view into other peoples' heads, with their complicity or not. In this sense, most liberals are terrible communicators. This usage of "communicate" is really using the word as in "to communicate a disease" - to spread something to others :

v. com·mu·ni·cat·ed, com·mu·ni·cat·ing, com·mu·ni·cates
v. tr.
    1. To convey information about; make known; impart: communicated his views to our office.
    2. To reveal clearly; manifest: Her disapproval communicated itself in her frown.
  1. To spread (a disease, for example) to others; transmit: a carrier who communicated typhus.

3-28-05 - 2


Ergonomic design for computers is just so bad, it's ridiculous. No keyboard should have a number pad. It's nearly useless, and it makes the mouse be placed too far to the right. You have to compensate by either placing your keyboard slightly to the left (very bad), or reaching really far to the right for your mouse (very bad). Laptops are even worse. The current heavy laptop use is going to cause a massive surge in physical problems from computer use. Not only are the keyboards very bad ergonomically, the screens are too low and too small, people wind up hunching over them with necks forward, destroying their spines. Invest in physical therapy!

3-28-05 - 1


WPT's "Bad Boys of Poker". Blinds are $6k and $12k. Antonio Esfandiara raises to $30k with 77. Gus Hansen has an 8Ts and reraises to $100k. All fold to Antonio. He goes all-in, for $433k total. Back to Gus - there's $533k in the pot, it's $333k more to Gus, which is almost all of Gus's stack. Gus says "I have ten high, so there's no way I can fold". Is Gus crazy?

Gus and Antonio have the big stacks at the table; both have near $450k. The next stack down is around $250k - and he's a fish, so his stack is not worth much, and the rest are around $150k. If Gus calls and wins, he'll knock out Antonio and have a $900k stack. Since Gus plays a big stack so well, he's got a 90% chance of winning after that. If Gus folds, he'll have a stack around $350, and Antonio will have a stack around $550. Now Antonio is favored to win, and Gus is closer to the low stacks; Gus here maybe has a 30% chance of winning the tournament. The pot odds in this individual pot are irrelevant. This is also a winner-take-all tournament so the chance of winning the whole thing is all that matters. If Gus calls, his chance of winning the hand is P. His chance of winning the whole thing is then P*.9 , since if he calls and loses, he has almost no chance. If he folds, his chance is 0.3 , so for the call to be good, P must be >= 1/3.

What can Antonio have? Any pocket pair would probably play that way, though he would have limped some of the time with AA and KK. AK and AQ would have played that way, and against Gus he may have done it even with AJ, and perhaps even KQ and AT. Antonio is also a bit wild sometimes, he will make that play occasionally with any two cards. Gus says "since I have ten high", which tells us he's putting Antonio on high cards, and Gus thinks his two cards are live. Against two high cards, Gus will win about 37% of the time. Against a lower pocket pair (77 or lower) Gus wins about 45% of the time. Against 88 or 99, Gus wins about 30% , against TT or higher, Gus wins about 16%. Let's count the hands.

22 - 77 (45%) : 6*6 = 36
88 or 99 (30%) : 3+6 = 9
TT - AA (16%) : 3 + 4*6 = 27
AK,AQ,AJ,KQ (37%) : 16*4 = 64
The weighted chance of winning is : (36*.45+9*.3+27*.16+64*.37)/(36+9+27+64) = 0.345 ; we see this is just slightly more than 1/3 , which is the chance needed for playing to be profitable. Gus's move is +EV , it's not crazy at all !!

Now, the thing that makes this a great move is that most people don't realize this is simply a good mathematical EV move, so they think you are playing crazy, which makes them play badly against you. If Antonio thinks Gus is crazy and is playing more liberally, it makes Gus's move even better. After Gus does this, everyone else at the table thinks he's nuts and starts to play worse against him, making his EV for his whole career better. I'm on to you, Gus Hansen, look out!

The other big factor here is that winning this tournament means almost nothing, the prize is so small. Even if it's a bad move for winning, it's a good move for Gus's career, because it adverstises his "crazy" play which will pay off in the more important tournaments in the future.


3-23-05 - 2


My god, so many people, including the so-called pros, are just so bad at poker. They really don't understand the basic concepts of how to judge the quality of a hand! I need to finish my poker book!! Oddly, this skill isn't that important to winning poker games. Generally the play is so bad and the variance is so high, that other skills, like intimidation, reading, guts, are far more important. Properly judging hand value will only come into play in the far future, when the "old school" pros are phased out and the new mathematical pros take over, when play becomes better and you need that extra edge to win.

3-23-05 - 1


It would be cool to do a game in the style of the surreal arty Kung Fu movies, like "Crouching Tiger" or "Hero", etc. You play as some amazing warrior, and you have a series of boss fights. Each boss is really unique, and the settings and moves are almost surreal. The locations are magical, and the fights go through phases - each fight might last for an hour of gameplay, but it's not a repetetive hour of knocking health off the opposing boss. You'd want really context-sensetive moves driven by the environment, so when you get to the reeds near the river, you might do one move to pluck out reeds and throw them at your enemy like spears (he dodges them and the reeds that miss him stick through trees), then you press another button and hop up on top of the reeds, which you can stand on on your toes; fight a bit more and your enemy dives into the lake, you dive after him and fight in slow motion holding your breath under water. etc. etc.


3-22-05 - 2


An old game idea : you play a squad, each member with very different abilities. You do various missions. You do not control the squad like an RTS, you choose one member and play as that member. The other members are AI controlled. You play through a bit as one person, then you can jump back in time and play as another member. Your first session is played back on the first guy you played. When you play through the second time, if you directly affect any object that was needed in the first play, it creates a "time anomaly" which breaks the first playthrough; this creates a visual time rift in the universe. You have to go back and resume the first play session from there. Typical missions would start with the squad separated, but working towards the same goal. Obviously you'll want to coordinate things - one guy will set things up somewhere (eg. cut the security cameras in some room), while another member gets in position to make use of his buddy's plan. You can go back and correct your play session of any portion of the play of any of the squad members to try to reach the goal. In harder missions, you may play through as all four squad members, then you'll realize how you needed to really coordinate things - okay, let me go back to the first guy, he needs to hijack this jeep and get it over in position in the first minute so that it'll be in position for the third guy when he needs it there, etc.

3-22-05 - 1


I hate it when I'm arguing with someone and they keep tossing out crap after crap - statements that are just clearly lies or silly or nonsense. The Bush team has this down to some extent - someone's trying to ask you about Social Security or Iraq or whatever and you just keep tossing out purely nonsensical statements. It's easy to take any one of their ridiculous statements and crush it, but they'll just say, "oh, that wasn't really the point", so you have to move on to their next statement. It's really annoying when people do this because you spend your whole time off topic on these little ridiculous statements and you never get to the point. A lot of the time I want to just argue their side for them - I know what their view is, and the overall view is pretty reasonable and there are good ways to justify it, but they're not doing it - I came to debate the actual issues and get to a point, not just spout distractions!

Dave and I at work constantly get into big arguments and after much debating and misunderstanding and clarification, we finally realize we're both arguing the same side of the issue.


3-20-05 - 1


I went to Death Valley over the weekend. It's a pretty long drive for a weekend trip, but I'd heard word that the wildflower bloom was the best it's been in 50 years, due to the plentiful rain this year. It's a strange place. In summer it's incredibly dry and hot and barren - like moonscape. This weekend, it was packed with tourists, which created it's own surrealism - here we are out in the middle of nowhere, and there's a traffic jam. Fortunately, Death Valley is huge, so it wasn't hard to get away from the long line at the gas station.

At the bottom of Death Valley, hundred of feet below sea level, sits a huge salt lake; all around its shallow shores are deposits of crystalized salt that form a crust on the spongey earth of clumped crystals that look like cauliflower heads. All around death valley are a tall ridge of mountains - mountains of many forms; some volcanic jagged peaks, some sandstone soft and rounded by the wind. All the rocks are strange and vibrant colors - magenta, green and ochre . In the middle, the hills are covered in wild flowers of many types.


3-18-05 - 2


Since when is St. Patrick's Day a big holiday? Here in SLO it was widely celebrated - the bars were packed starting at 8 AM with people drinking Guiness (good) and green-dyed Budweiser (bad). There was bright green clothing everywhere, along with green beads (is this Mardi Gras?) and green paper hats. Originally, St. Pat's was a holy day, like Easter or All Saints Day, where people went to church, then had parades and performances and such to celebrate their spiritual leader and savior of the island. It was really Boston and New York that started to celebrate it as a way for the Irish ex-pats there to get together and drink and chat about the old country and the troubles in the new. Then their non-Irish bodies thought it looked like a mighty fine time, everyone enjoys pinching other people, and the parties in Boston and New York got bigger and bigger. Soon the rest of the U.S. wanted to get in on the fun, and of course the folks back in Ireland didn't want to be left out. Now it's yet another day devoted to the salvation and liberation by our most loved companion, Alcohol.

3-18-05 - 1


Many people, including scientists, don't understand the difference between cause and correlation. Just because two things tend to occur together does not imply any direct connection of functionality or causality. Correlation of attributes can come from many things, such as indirect related causality.


3-17-05 - 1


These days, the word "partying" has become very common. In my day, people would say they "went out" or "hit the bars", or some other phrase which is slightly more descriptive of the actual activity. "Partying" is extremely abiguous; it refers to some form of debauchery, but the ambiguity is part of the the appeal. In most common use, "partying" refers to going out and drinking, usually to excess, usually at bars, but it could refer to any sort of crazy/fun/illegal activity. It usually involves some sort of mind-destroying substance, booze being by far the most common, but narcotics is also "partying". It often involves some level of sexual activity, be it flirting, trying to get phone numbers, a one night stand, or an orgy. In actual practice, the typical night of "partying" consists of getting some warm-up drinks and being sort of bored, going to a bar and getting sloshed and not really doing anything (while wishing you were doing something more - just kiss that girl damn it, oh god I'm such a wimp I hate myself, I'll have another beer to drown the pain), and going home dangerously drunk. The next day you can go to work and tell everyone you were out "partying", and it sounds exciting and ambigious - maybe you were snorting cocaine off hookers' butts - rather than dreary and self-destructive like it really is.


3-15-05 - 1


Why in the fuck would anyone care about getting a gmail account? My email account has infinite gigabytes of storage, and it's all instantly accessible and searchable by me, even offline. It's called my own computer.


3-13-05 - 7


Here's a cute irony - by using a 16-bit object index in Stranger's Wrath, we were able to have almost 64k objects in our biggest level. If we had used a 32-bit object index, we could have only fit perhaps 40k objects.

3-13-05 - 6


I'm 27 years old, and on a most basic level, I don't know how to live.

There are a lot of things that I like a certain way. I like the big spoons separated from the little spoons in my silverware holder. That way, when I have a spoon emergency, I can quickly grab the right type. What do I do when someone comes over and puts the spoons away the wrong way? I'm grateful that they're helping me with the dishes, but at the same time I just saw them do it wrong. If I say nothing and just correct their work, they'll get annoyed because I'm watching over their shoulder correcting them, which is annoying to everyone. If I tell them how I'd like them to do it, they get annoyed that I always have to have things my way.

I don't know how to trust people; I just really can't figure this out. When someone regularly does the wrong thing - how can you fully trust them? How can you ask them to do something critical for you, and not check up on them, not supervise them, when you know that they often make mistakes? It's easy to just not trust these people, but "these people" are 99% of the world, and if you don't trust them you can't have any kind of mutual relationship with them.

I really have no idea how to spend an evening without booze or TV; sure, there are rare cases where you can do something fun that occupies you, or work through the night on some exciting project, etc. but on a daily basis, when I'm tired and uninspired, I feel like I'm just trying to make the hours go away, which is a horrible thing.

3-13-05 - 5


Any single way to index music is crap, because I query for it in many different ways. My own music collection really needs to be in a database, indexed by Title, Band, Quality (rated by me), Genre, Mood/Tempo, connections to other bands, etc. It should also track the last time I listened to it.

3-13-05 - 4


I've wanted to do "pelvis-led motion" for a while, but I probably never will, so I'll write about it instead. The idea goes like this - you want to move a biped around the world, controlled by one analog stick. This is difficult to make natural, and one of the hardest bits are the first few small steps - basically when someone pushes the stick, are they trying to start a run, or trying to take one tiny step, or trying to just turn around, etc. If you could see the future, you could do planning and make very natural animations (eg. you could do this with a recorded input sequence), but with interactive input you can't do this. The basic idea is - let the stick push the pelvis, and let the legs follow. The pelvis can be controlled by some incredibly simple model, like it has some position and velocity and facing {X,V,F}. The stick is a 2d vector S with length between 0 and 1. We promote it to 3d with zero in the Z and scale it by the player's max speed, to make the 3-vector desired velocity D. To move the pelvis, we simply drive the velocity V towards the desired D, and we turn the facing towards D with intensity |S|. If you like you can do a simple circular-buffer low-pass on the stick as well, or use slightly fancier models here. The upper body basically follows the pelvis, modulo animation and IK control. The lower body then just takes steps to try to keep the feet under the pelvis. This uses the position of the current feet, the position & velocity of the pelvis (to do leading) to pick where the feet should wind up, and plays appropriate anims (IK adjusted) to get the feet there. You probably want to blend various anims for the possible directions & speeds you can step. One key here is that the anim choice is not driven from the pelvis velocity the way it is in more standard biped sims, they're chosen from where we want the feet to go.

For example, let's imagine I'm starting with a guy at rest. I push the stick slightly forward, which makes the pelvis go forward a bit. At first, the feet might just stay locked where they are, and the guy just leans a bit. If I leave the stick forward, he'll take a little step to catch up, but he might just step with one foot first; if the pelvis is still between the two feet, there's no need to step with the other foot; now if I move the pelvis to catch up with the forward foot, he'll bring the back foot forward. Now let's say I slam the stick forward before the back foot even touches the ground - now instead of landing that foot next to the forward one, he'll pass it by and take a bigger step.

An interesting extension is to provide feedback from the legs to your drive force. That is, look at the configuration of the legs and determine how they can apply forces and only allow those forces to the pelvis. So, for example, if you're in the middle of stepping forward and your foot is off the ground, you wouldn't be able to reverse direction, you have to wait for your foot to hit the ground, then you can apply that force. A less intrusive compromise might go like this - let the simple pelvis model run, but force each footstep move to finish - eg. don't cancel or reverse a footstep move in progress. Then, constrain the pelvis moves based on the foot IK - eg. the pelvis moves as it wishes, but only if the feet can stay IK'd and not distort the legs beyond some limits.

3-13-05 - 3


I did talks with various middleware providers at GDC. [...]

The Unreal 3 Engine is rapidly becoming the only viable choice for AAA game development. Unlike most people, I don't find it particularly amazing; the graphical features are still behind the literature, it's just a reasonably good execution of what's well-known. The lighting is still just a conglomeration of hacks, they're not really trying to be more physically accurate, which is something I'd love to try some day. However, there are basically no viable alternatives. The Renderware guys have not proved they can make a decent engine. Source is pretty cool, but it's very specialized, and Valve is not putting the work into nice tools the way Epic is. [...]

3-13-05 - 2


I'd like a DDR game for the PC that can analyze any MP3 and make a step program for it at whatever difficulty I request. Two of my problems with DDR are - 1) I don't really like the songs, I want to dance to my songs of my own choosing, and 2) for the few songs I do like, it's hard to get exactly the difficulty I want, sometimes the delta from "light step" to "normal" to "heavy" is too big of a jump, I'd like to have finer control to ease it in. Of course if you had such a program you could easily make an AI model do the steps and it would be a great music visualizer.

3-13-05 - 1


This gray weather is going to kill me.

The Mission looks like a promising place for me to live in SF. It's a bit grungy, there's real life there, hipsters and artists and working people. There's a park where the people go and sit in the sun on nice days. There are pretty good clubs in walking distance. There are quiet residential streets just one block off the party streets. The only big negative is the crime. It's one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in SF, plagued by hispanic gang violence. On the other hand, most of the cool & affordable neighborhoods are known for their crime. It's bizarre to me the way poor people can live in these areas with crazy high rents and home values. I grew up in LA which is severely financially segregated for the most part - the poor are isolated into ghettos by property costs. A small studio apartment in The Mission costs around $1000/month - how do the gang bangers afford that?

It's really interesting to me walking around The Mission District as opposed to the other "bad" neighborhoods in SF that I've been in lately - parts of Oakland, SOMA, the Tenderloin, etc. The Mission is primarily hispanic, and that influence is thriving and vibrant there - lots of panaderias, latino music stores, markets, restaurants, working people walking around, and lots of wire services to send money to Mexico. It's amazing to me how the hispanics in America work so hard and send so much money back to their families (it's the #2 industry in Mexico, after oil, bigger than agriculture, manufacturing, textiles, etc.). The Mission is poor, but vibrant, working, you can feel the community and pride in their culture. The other bad neighborhoods are predominantly African-American, and they have a totally different feel. There are a lot more bums and drunks just sitting around on the streets, begging, people in groups just hanging out doing nothing; the shops are boarded up, the buildings are run down, the streets are dirty; you feel hopelessness there, people who are poor and believe they will always be poor.


3-12-05 - 3


"I Heart Huckabees" is a great movie; it's really funny, smart, quirky, original, engaging, thought-provoking, whimsical. It's made by David O. Russell, who previously made only unremarkable films. I find all the celebrities in it rather unnecessary and distracting, though perhaps they add to the strange unreal feeling of it; many of the sets are really obviously bad sets, which I can also only presume is intentional to add to the experience.

"Dog Day Afternoon" is a big disappointment. Maybe back in the 70's when it came out, Al Pacino's screaming over-acting was fresh and energizing, but now it just feels like part of his "Hoo Ha" oevre of "Scent of a Woman" and "Scarface" and "Dick Tracy". It's another one of those stories that takes a little tiny narrative path and just keeps diverting it and piling obstacles on it over and over to stretch it out.

3-12-05 - 2


Gus Hansen is a very smart player; he's not a wild, random player the way many people thing. Gus's play is based on these wise principles - 1) Most tournament players are too tight, so raising them with almost any hand is a good move, because they fold too often. 2) If you make a mistake in poker, the worst possible mistake you can make is folding when you have the hand won; calling when you're a small underdog is a very minor mistake. 3) If you get all-in preflop, even with really bad cards, you are almost always only a 60/40 dog, eg. if he has AK and you have 53, it's only 63/37. 4) If you play strangely, many people will adjust to you incorrectly, and that makes you money; poker is all about adjusting to each other's play correctly.

An example to illustrate this goes like this - on the button with 53, Gus might raise the blinds to make it 3X the blinds to go. He doesn't want action here, he just wants a fold, but if he does get a call and sees a flop, you might catch something and surprise him (he won't expect you to have the 53), that way you win a big hand. Let's say the big blind raises all-in. Say you made it $30k, and he had $100k, so it's $70k more to you. If you call the pot will have $205 (beause of the small blind), and it's only $70 to call. You're getting good pot odds to call, even with the 53. When you turn it over, everyone thinks you're crazy, but they were good logical moves all the way. The fact that everyone thinks you're crazy playing the 53 will pay you off even better in the long run.

Note that these types of plays may not be good in your home game. They're based on the fact that most good tournament players fold a lot; if you're playing against calling stations, these moves are not profitable. On the other hand, home players will adjust even more poorly than pros adjust to Gus, so advertising your "craziness" may pay off even better.

3-12-05 - 1


Doyle Brunson hates AQ. That's ridiculous, AQ is a great hand, of course you should play it, and play it strong. The problem is that many people over-value AQ against strength. Let's say you raise with AQ and someone goes all-in over the top. What hands would they do that with? AA, KK, QQ, AK all have you dominated. A tight player would never go over the top with AJ or AT. They might also have JJ,TT,99,88,77,66. There are 3+6+3+12 = 24 hands that dominate you, about 75/25. There are 6*6=36 hands that are about 50/50. Your chance of winning is (24*.25 + 36*.45)/(24+36) = 37% Let's say he has you out-chipped; you originally bet $100, and he had $500, so there is $600 in the pot and it's $400 to call (there will be $1000 in the pot after you call). If you call, your EV is -$400 + .37*$1000 = -$30 , not a good bet. Let's say he's somewhat looser and would go all-in with 55,44,33,22 as well. That makes 24 more hands that are about 50/50, so your chance of winning is (24*.25 + 60*.45)/(24+60) = 39% - not much help! Now let's say he'll go all-in with AJ and AT as well. These hands you dominate, there are 24 of them, so your chance of winning is (24*.25 + 24*.75 + 60*.45)/(24+24+60) = 47% , so your ev is -$400 + .47*$1000 = +$70 . So, now the bet is good for EV, but for him to go all-in with AJ or AT is quite loose. In a tournament, you still should probably lay down your hand, even if you think he's that loose. The reason is your EV for calling is quite small, just $70, but you will lose 53% of the time, and if you lose you're out of the tournament. The story would be different if you had him way out-stacked, you would want to take that gamble because it's +EV and you might knock him out.


3-10-05 - 1


PopCap games suck. Yes, they're nice and polished, they have nice graphics and sound. The gameplay in basically every one is - click the mouse on the (jewel/fish/coin/ball) as (fast as you can/at the right time). There's almost no strategy in any of them, and the difficulty ramps up insanely slowly. Yeah, I know they're aimed at the casual gamer, but they play more like they're aimed at retards (no offense intended to retards). Actual good game design for casual gamers can be easily seen in board games. Games like Othello, Poker, Monopoly, are all very easy for a novice to pick up, and fun for them to play, but have depth and strategy that can occupy and entertain any level of player.

One of the great things about Poker is that it's one of the very few games where a novice and an expert can play together and both enjoy the session. Obviously that's not always true, but it is exceptionally so. In most games - traditional board games like Chess, video games like shooters or fighting games - when an expert and a novice play, it's no fun for either because the expert just dominates the novice. In poker, you can sort of play on different levels. The novice doesn't really understand what's going on, so he's happy when he makes big hands and wins some pots, and occasionally he'll even win the session. The expert knows the luck will come and go, and he's playing 2 or 3 levels beyond the novice, setting traps, gathering information, learning the novice's patterns and slowly milking away his stack. In a ring game with a few experts and a few novices, everyone can have fun.


3-09-05 - 1


Things I've learned at the GDC so far - 1) the PS3 is the suck, 2) Xenon will be slower than PC's, 3) Dave Wu's arms are as big as my legs, 4) xoxtruffles are great, 5) "specialty" cookies are great, 6) Valve is taking over the world, 7) San Francisco is cool, I love the people and the neighborhoods 8) game developers are such geeks, 9) BART is great.


3-06-05 - 1


Third and last day of the indie game jam. I'm making a game about managing software developers, which is incredibly sick and wrong - I do that all the time in my life, and here I am making a virtual sim of it? I'm supposed to be living out some sort of dream reality in the virtual world, you know, doing drugs and having sex with teenagers and driving fast cars, instead I'm making a game where you play the total "Office Space" or "The Office" douche manager who's telling the team to "push the envelope" and "think outside the box" and such. I'm pretty tired, but I haven't been cranking super hard; I just can't put in the hours and not sleep the way I used to; I'm also not willing to ruin myself in that way anymore. I'm still eating reasonably well, working out; in jams past I would just pound the junk food and work for hours. I've lost a lot of excitement about the jam, but I supposed that's to be expected - the first two years I was so jazzed about the whole thing, and now it's sort of becoming comfortable; the most fun things are when you really challenge yourself with something new. I need to go to the Indie Folk Dance Jam to really get that challenge and excitement of a novel experience.


3-03-05 - 1


I'm currently at IGJ3 (the 4th Indie Game Jam), in Oakland. The theme this year is "human interaction". The idea is to make a game just based on human interaction, without simple arcade elements or trite game things like death/shooting, etc.

old rants