Lord of the Steakzz Part II (the Sparknotes version)

READ LORD OF THE STEAKZZZZ PART I HERE

Sparknotes version, because it’s totally not cryptic.

It seems that without fail, every discussion about gaming in Singapore has to mention NS. I’m going to invoke problem solving quote #1: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Dude, that quote is meant to stop, like, ALCOHOLISM (let’s pin its failure rate on alcoholism just being a really difficult problem to solve). Surely it can be used to tackle what I dub the “e-sports and NS problem” (they don’t work well together).

Context: That’s the serenity prayer, and has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous as a part of their program.

Just to prove that I wasn’t bullshitting. Also makes a nice frontpage photo.

 

Things you cannot change

– NS. It’s not going anywhere.

– Lack of wisdom. Yes, the first third of this quote essentially eliminates the need for the last third. We don’t have wisdom to know the difference. Whatever.

Yes. It’s not going anywhere.

 

Things that maybe can be changed

WOAH! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

There are two problems. One is very obvious. One isn’t. First, players in their prime who enter NS have difficulties keeping up with competitive gaming.

Second. Somehow or other, there are disproportionately more players pre-NS than post-NS. That kind of demographic is actually very different from many other first-world countries.

Why though? Let’s see possible reasons and think about how plausible they are.

#1 – Younger people just have more talent.

#2 – Pre-NS people just have more time.

#3 – Players who enter NS have to give up and never return.

#4 – Post-NS, most people have better things to do with their time.

They say it’s for career underachievers. It’s also a company I’d love to work for.

 

#1 is beyond my understanding, so I won’t discuss it. #3 is far too broad, but generally proven to be false, so I won’t discuss it as well.

#2 and #4 are actually closely related.

See, we’re in Singapore. There’s this thing called an “education” that takes up most of your time pre-NS. You’re really not going to be THAT busy when working (you ARE if you have a child, but “parents who play games competitively” are a VERY SMALL demographic in SG), or in University, unless (here I’m comparing the time spent in JC/Sec Sch vs. time spent at work or Uni for the same person):

(a) You’re making (or slated to make) a crapton of money (doctor, lawyer, investment banker), in which case, reason #4 applies.

(b) You’re underachieving in school.

(c) You’re not in school, in which case you have a short time before NS, so *bleh*.

(d) You’re too good for our education system, in which case usually reason #4 applies.

(e) You’ve fallen to a stream which gives you too little work (SOMEONE NEEDS TO REWORD THIS TO BE POLITICALLY CORRECT).

 

It all boils down to reason #4. People have “better” things to do with their time after NS.

 

Lord of the Steakzz, Part I, talks about how it’s not NS. It’s the problems with giving the majority of power to people who fall into the above categories b to e. Here I have a different idea. Perhaps nothing needs to be done – it’ll happen on its own. Give the power to people post-NS. My grand bloghost (FURRYFISH) might advocate for more participation from female gamers. I advocate for more participation from older gamers who have “better” things to do with their time.

Because, seriously lah, one night, open one bottle, $200. One night, sit at LAN shop, $20. Best, go make a school of gaming called “Drunken DotA”. Got troll? Got rager? Got noob? Just unleash your drunken fury!

Maybe you can even have one on the house!

Worst case, all your friends call you no-life nerd. BUT THEN HORH, YOU CAN BECOME THIS NERD:

Recognize this nerd?

 

READ LORD OF THE STEAKZZZZ PART I HERE

Is That Yamateh’s Mouse and Mousepad?

It sure is! On a setup that has too much screen space to be playing games on.

Setup1_Small

 

 

 

I’m horrible at taking glamorous-looking pictures, but this is one heck of a sexy setup, in the mysterious New York City location that I’ll be residing in for the next week.

Yes, that’s Yamateh/NWP’s mouse and mousepad from TI3. I’m a scavenger. Also, front anc center, is a Logitech wireless solar-powered keyboard. Slim and extremely convenient, and astonishingly easy to maintain (Yamateh’s keyboard is being stored somewhere else). Also in the picture:

2x 50-inch 4k HD TV screens being used as monitors. Because having 8 monitors on 1080p cramps your style.

That laptop-like thing on the side has 12x Intel 3.6Ghz I-7. 32GB RAM. You might think I have fat fingers and typed in extra digits; you’d be wrong.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 880M SLI. I Googled it and apparently it’s a pretty good graphics card.

The sad thing is that this setup will probably never touch a computer game. I’ll have to make a mental note to try out Unreal Tournament 2020 on this thing (hopefully by then, games will support 4k HD).

 

Now let’s zoom out and see what I’m actually using (just for this week).

Setup2_Small

Ah, the humble monitor-projector dual-screen combo, complete with a Netflix stream of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Behind the picture, on the couch, I lie with:

1x Logitech Wireless Solar-powered Keyboard

1x Razer Mamba 2012. I’ve been using Razer mice for most of my life and I think this has been the most useful one to date. It’s as functional as it was 2 years ago when I acquired it (albeit with a little maintenance on my end). Its battery life is still great. It’s amazingly convenient to transport (by virtue of being wireless, the wire can be detached, to save it from all manner of insidious twisty-bendy-damagy-ness that happens when you pack normal mice into small bags). And, most importantly, since I’m no longer playing computer games 24/7, I can use it reliably and comfortably on any surface when I’m being a couch-potato (like say, my pants, or the couch). And, ok lah, it looks quite pretty still.

That sounds like something you’d say about your GF…

It’s time for ANT’S EXTREMELY INAPPROPRIATE MISOGYNISTICNESS!!

 

Why your Razer Mamba is better than your girlfriend

– It does everything you tell it to do.

– It’s much easier to find the right buttons to press.

– It’s black and sexy (applies to all but, like, 0.1% of the Singaporean audience out there).

– You can turn it on whenever you want (this makes it to every “why x is better than your girlfriend” list)

– It doesn’t get tangled up in weird things.

– It’s very bright. (Geddit? Because women have tiny tiny brain, like peanut!)

– It’s really silent (okay, now we’re just running on misogynistic stereotypes, so it’s time to move on).

 

Why your Razer Mamba can be like your girlfriend

– It has on-board memory that’s really difficult to erase.

– It’s black and sexy (hey, I have to be counter-racist here to balance my previous racism)

– It mysteriously picks up lots of dirt.

– You can bring it with you everywhere, unless your parents don’t approve…

– If you bang it around too much, it’ll stop working.

Lord of the Steakzzz

People want coffee breaks in their work, I want line breaks in my previews.

HTML INJECTION! <br><b><?php msqli_query($conn, “DROP ALL TABLES EVER”?> (I’m actually scared to type in something real in the event that this really works). </b>

The thing about previews is that I usually take about 5 sentences before I even remotely hint at what I’m going to talk about. Because rather than be direct, I like to use my new-found expressive power (THANK YOU, WORLD WIDE WEB) to rant about my world view. Then lead into any points.

One of the things about having a smartphone is that I read a lot more. Unfortunately, I don’t have a subscription to the economist, and smartphone reading is really only restricted to short articles (unless you can read like, really quickly). The whole point of this sentence is to tell you that “once in a while I read gosugamers.net”, which isn’t something anyone needs to justify. It’s neither outrageous, interesting, nor does it carry much social stigma (unlike, say, “once in a while I put on a dress and dance to Village People”, (which I don’t)).

I love it when anyone talks about the Singaporean gaming scene, because I can go “look! Someone cares about something I care about as well!” It’s like if you were a lonely angler fish enthusiast and suddenly found another angler fish enthusiast. Imagine the joy.

The beautiful exotic exquisite angler fish

You can’t, because it’s impossible to imagine someone who loves angler fishes.

Anyway, I came across this article, with the title “A Look into the Singaporean Scene” (with respect to DotA). Here’s the TL;DR version (while it’s not my style to give TL;DRs, I recognize that I need to save my reader valuable time so that he has more time to spare on my long ramblings!):

Singapore once in a while makes a peck at the DotA scene, but then fizzles. National Service (NS) contributes to the high attrition rate, and so does the lack of support from pretty much anywhere. Thus the current Singaporean stars are inexperienced and unable to perform (I infer, by virtue of everyone older quitting or moving elsewhere, both literally and metaphorically).

Personally, I think it’s a Lord of the Flies (LotF) problem.

It’s safe to refer to Lord of the Flies (LotF) here, because I think more people have read it than Harry Potter. It’s not safe because so many people have read it that I’m bound to be caught getting my facts wrong.

Here’s a brief synopsis of LotF, with a liberal shift in emphasis. A bunch of kids end up on an island with no adults. They try to self-govern and have some sort of order, but end up fucking shit up and fucking up everything and doing fucked up things. The end.

The parallels between LotF and SG team e-sports? If you empower a bunch of kids, they’re mostly going to fuck stuff up. EVEN IF SOME OF THEM TRY TO DO GOOD, they end up getting squelched by the majority.

Unlike LotF, some of the fortunate minority can live long enough on the island to be rescued from it, away from the governance of the little kids who create rituals for killing pigs, vie for power within themselves, and shun anyone who disagrees with them.

Occasionally, an adult comes in and tries to do some good. Sometimes he tries really hard. But he soon realizes that childish innocence does not even begin to compensate for childish ignorance. This, of course, doesn’t happen in the book, because the one adult that does show up just looks around, goes “WTF THIS IS FUCKED UP”, and is wise enough to not bother trying (that one adult also has far more power than any of the kids, having a ship and all).

And while this is happening, Piggy is running around trying to do good but being scapegoated for all the horrible things that happen. Eventually someone has enough of him and pushes him off a cliff. Poor piggy. And Simon, in all his holiness, gets beaten to death. Because they’re kids and just want to do whatever they want to do.

PIGGY! And his glasses.

Too cryptic?

Yes, NS is disruptive and all, but it all boils down to that one point. The politically correct phrasing is “most of the talent is inexperienced.” The actual point is “the people with the power to do anything are kids.” One kid in a world of adults can be guided and channeled (Ender’s Game, anyone?). Kids banding together to govern themselves turns into a pretty horrible LotF-esque show.

That’s the LotF problem. Leave a bunch of kids to be stuck on an island to govern themselves, and they’re going to mess things up. To accomplish anything, the one sensible kid learns to become a hermit, sit on his own island in the middle of the lake, and eventually hop on the first boat he sees and sails away.

I could talk about demographics, and theorize about cultures and systems, but I’ll leave that for another day (IN OTHER WORDS, I PROBABLY NEVER WILL WRITE IT DOWN – but it’s a rant I’ve given verbally far too many times).

 

p.s. if you didn’t get the “Steakzzz” reference, which you probably didn’t, Steakzzz was Tofuboi’s old nick. Tofuboi was a rather influential figure in the SG DotA and then LoL scene. A lot of parallels can be drawn (the most obvious one being physical appearance) between him and the LotF character Piggy (the other less-than-obvious ones, much like contemporary art, require huge amounts of context, so I’ll leave them as an inside joke).

p.p.s. so I got news that SG LoL player Xinglei (interesting anecdote: at the start of SG LoL, Tofu dubbed him “definitely the best LoL player in SG”) has moved on to TPA (a Taiwanese team). This was after I started writing this post, and does seem like great timing.

 

p.p.p.s. there’s this category called “iceiceice” that I’m tempted to put this into, but that’s too much of a leap to make.

I want to click stuff and watch it blow up

I AM SPEAKING WORDS OF ATTENTION-GRABBITY BECAUSE ONLY THREE LINES APPEAR IN THE MAIN PAGE! Everything else, you have to click on “Read More”. I totally only found that out after posting.

Apparently pictures are good things.

I WANT TO BLOW STUFF UP

Apparently I have a whole section here, which gives me a lot to live up to.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that walls of text work best with spurts of incredibly irrelevant pictures. Plus, they make people realize that I’m not all that relevant.

I never intended to write an entry today. But I came across this site and noticed an entire empty column just for me to fill, and I COULDN’T POSSIBLY LEAVE IT EMPTY ANY LONGER. Because I’m not very patient, and I don’t do well with delayed gratification.

I certainly don’t. I like to watch stuff blow up when I click on it. The other day, I was playing Red Faction and enemies there apparently takes THREE head-shots to kill. THREE. I like my stuff dying in ONE head-shot (two is cutting it pretty close).

Consequently, my spell-checker is set to “American English”, and I’ve spent the better part of the last 4 years (and the better part of the next 4, probably) in the glorious U-S-A. You can guess as to whether that has dampened my ability to delay gratification (I THINK IT SURE HAS, but that might just be me learning another all-too-American trait of NEVER ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY).

Oh boy. The number of things I could speak of playing games in the North American servers. All of which I CAN speak of, because of the glorious first amendment (which I can freely abuse since I’m not a celebrity and my free speech carries little consequence).

Wait, where was I?

HAZHEADSHOT

RIGHT. I LIKE BLOWING THINGS UP.

And you’re wondering where all this leads. It totally doesn’t lead anywhere yet. A flaw of a short attention-span is the inability to actually develop points enough to say anything. Coupled with the love of hearing myself type (another inherited trait from the land of the free, HURRAH) this creates a huge waste of time for everyone.

I wasn’t always like this.

There was a time when I believed in “working hard to get somewhere”. When this thing they term a “knowledge barrier” in games was a strong incentive. When I bothered to know every card in the deck, every frame in a combo, every niche ability interaction (two of the previous statements are lies – I spent far too much time on an “almost proper Asian education” to manage those feats).

Then I started using Facebook. I Googled all my problems away. I started playing League of Legends.

 

I think it was when everyone started using the internet. It wasn’t so much that everyone started using it – it’s that the internet molded itself into something that everyone wanted to use. Somehow the smart people making computer games found out that they would be most successful if they didn’t project their values onto others – NO ONE WANTED TO MEMORIZE ALL 32767 CARDS WHILE DOING COMPLEX ARITHMETIC ON IMAGINARY NUMBERS.

All the math people want to do

They figured out that people just wanted short-term gratification. Meanwhile, their friends in the other most profitable field utilizing the internet (PORRRRN) had figured that out half a century ago.

Handheld games went from Tetris to COOKIECLICKER. Call of Duty introduced automatic weapons. Bioware decided that you no longer had to turn to fanfiction.net for gratuitous tales of your game’s protagonist boning through his supporting cast.

 

Have you ever made a game? Or pretty much anything? They say that there are many ways to do something right, but also many ways to do something wrong. Infinitely many, I’d think. Here is where English fails to capture the point as elegantly as math.

What? I’m talking about making games. I can include math.

If the number of ways to do something right was the natural numbers. The number of ways to do it wrong would be the real numbers.

For every way (of infinitely many) to do the right thing, there are infinitely more ways to do it wrong. When you make a game, you’re going to make some pretty horrible choices that you have no idea about. You’ll simply be aware of the finitely many wrong things you didn’t do. You’ll never know if you’ve made the right decision.

I believe they call that Turing-undecidable (although it’s probably ANYTHING-undecidable).

 

Where was I? At 4:40AM and programming non-stop for about 2 weeks. And managing to segue a rant about my short attention span into Turing-decidability (which I don’t understand, but I include to sound high and mighty to those who also don’t understand it but pretend to, like me).

 

This section is called Ant’s “Ramblings”. I intend to live up to the name.

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