Random TI5 memory

At 2AM after TI5, in the lobby of the Westin in Seattle, Kuroky walks by as iceiceice, nutz, and I contemplate the future.

“Iceiceice. This guy would do all sorts of crazy shit in Dota 1. I remember you were playing Broodmother. Then you’d Eul’s the Razor up, and surround him.”

I’m like, WTF. This guy lives in another continent and he remembers plays from back in a time when replays were much less accessible, and he actually watches replays of teams he’ll probably never play against (that particular moment is from Asian DotA Championship, SG vs Thailand, around 2008).

Then he quotes another moment that I’m pretty sure happened, but happened so long ago (I believe 2007) that I don’t even remember it in detail.

And I’m thinking “WTF, this guy REALLY loves the game.” Which team was he in then… Team WE? (The German one)

Question Everything?

Don’t. Please don’t. Don’t question everything. It’s unproductive, depressing, and annoying.

“Question Everything.” The context isn’t lost on me. It’s a tagline – intentionally simplified, providing an alternative extreme to correct erroneous behavior. You accept everything automatically? Stop. Accept nothing, question everything.

We know that’s not practical. Yes, it’s pointless to question axioms – fundamental truths of a system that you have to assume are true. But you don’t have to question something to adopt it into your personal belief system.

Here’s a better mantra that will never be adopted because it’s not a catchy tagline. Nor is it extreme. But I think it’s much more practical. “Know your sources.” The first and most relevant collateral is that you know what you’ve accepted without question. Your parents told you that sleeping early makes you smarter? Good for you! It’s totally fine to accept that without question. Just understand that your argument for that case is as strong as your argument for Santa Claus existing (i.e., because your parents told you so).

One great benefit of remembering your sources is that it gives you a mechanism to resolve conflict. If you believe in Santa Claus and have been told he doesn’t exist, then it boils down to assessing the different sources. Your parents say he exists. Your friends say he doesn’t. Which source would you rather believe? And then the other question – do you expect other people to have the same reverence for your sources as you (i.e. why should your friends believe your parents over their parents who told them Santa Claus doesn’t exist)?

The phrase “question everything” is supposed to be used to snub those who accept “unscientific” points of view. But often it instead is used to dis unpopular points of view. Having a more skeptical, more widely-accepted source, isn’t always better. Different sources mean different things to different people. This is why anecdotal evidence is problematic – it means a lot to the one person who experienced it, and means about nothing to everyone else.

You should play Heroes of the Storm

If you haven’t actually played the game because you hate it already, I have a whole half a page at the bottom reserved especially for you.

For those of you who have already played Heroes of the Storm (henceforth referred to as HOTS), you’ll be pleased to know that this entire article is about HOTS, without actually being about HOTS. You see, this article is actually about Doom.[1] This is the story of what would have happened if everyone played nothing but Doom for years on end.[2]


Scene: Everyone is playing Doom.

Quake gets released. Everyone touts it as a skill-less game, ditching the tried and tested “keyboard only” interface. Doom fans ridicule Quake players as “noobs who need to use a mouse to aim”.[3]

Team Fortress is released. Doom fans wonder why anyone would play a game that is so limiting and without depth. They moan the loss of being able to pick up any weapon. Of being stuck with only the weapons you spawn with. For letting players spawn with all the weapons and full armor. Where’s the skill in gathering power-ups and weapons if you start out with everything?[4]

Halo is released. Doom fans bemoan the loss of a persistent health-bar. “Noobs need to be punished for taking damage” they say, “instead of just regenerating all their shields.”

Unreal Tournament is released. Doom fans refuse to see the point of modes like “Assault” or “Domination”. They know what the first person shooter is about – the deathmatch!


I lied at the start. Now I’m going to talk about HOTS.

The point is this. HOTS takes a lot of things that were completely unnecessary in the genre, things that made playing a game less fun, and removed it. And perhaps if less people played DotA, and less people made the argument “this thing must be fun because it’s currently implemented”, it wouldn’t have taken 10 years for someone to come up with a game in the genre that was actually well designed. People just seem to be unable to separate “what makes a game good” and “what just happens to be in a good game”.[5]

And with peer reinforcement, stagnation occurs! Hoorah! Thank goodness for Blizzard. They don’t do anything ground-breaking, but in a genre that has been actually making worse games every year, their presence is welcome.

So here are some things that HOTS decided to remove. Thank goodness.

– Last hitting. Do you really want to spend 80% of your game trying to time your right-click so as to get minuscule rewards, then do the same thing OVER AND OVER AGAIN?

– Shopping. Because amassing gold isn’t bad enough, you need to spend time travelling across the map in order to waste your time spending your gold on something.

– Ridiculous scaling (and items). So why would you have heroes that are “weak early game” and “scale up”, and vice versa? So that players only can have fun for… half the game?

– Individual rewards. Because it’s really no fun to spend half the game zoning someone out (and staying at lvl 1) while your friend spends half the game farming (wooh! Now, HE’S having fun). Yet he gets all the rewards.

– A single point of healing. Because wasting 2 minutes to walk back and heal MAKES THE GAME SO MUCH MORE FUN.


So what do you spend the game doing?


And, ummm… that’s pretty much it. You spend the entire game fighting each other.

You can argue art. You can argue noob-friendliness. But as far as pace goes, this is a game that forces player-to-player interaction and confrontation.

Other advantages include:

– Less thrash talk. Because you’re almost always busy, you don’t have time to curse your teammates. Moreover, the game usually ends before any arguing can be done.

– Easy to learn. But without sacrificing depth. It’s easy to learn because it’s consistent and not needlessly complicated. You don’t need to do weird armor calculations. There are very few weird specific interactions (and those are bugs to be phased out) to memorize. You don’t have to wonder about which of the 100 items are actually viable to buy.

– Fast. But it doesn’t feel so. Because you spend 20 minutes in combat, the game feels extremely engaging. A much better usage of time.


That section for people who hate the game without trying it


I’m tempted to say a lot of mean things here. Including things like “people like you are why Hitler got away with the holocaust”. But without generic character blasting, let me address a few specific concerns.

1. It’s too much of a skill-less game.

There are a few people who can make this statement. You most likely aren’t one of them. Einstein can go “I did physics instead of chemistry because chemistry was too easy”.[6] But the 12 year-old kid studying algebra doesn’t go “I did math instead of computer science because computer science was too easy”,[7] because HE’S PROBABLY NOT GOOD ENOUGH AT EITHER FIELD.[8] If some 12 year-old kid comes up to me and says “why are you so dumb, studying computer science, instead of being like me? I’m so smart, that’s why I study maths!”, it’s not like I’d go “why, yes! Blimey, you’re too skillful for me to compare to!” [9]

2. It doesn’t have last-hitting/denying/items/farming. It’s stupid.

But wait, WHICH OF THE ABOVE ACTUALLY MAKES THE GAME BETTER? See entire passage about Doom.

3. I can’t carry by myself.

This is actually valid. You can’t Rambo around.



[1] – If you don’t know what Doom is, google it. It’s the first result. It’s also a commonly used word, and yet the entire first page of google is dedicated to a 12 year old game.

[2] – Most of what is said here is also said in this article. But that’s long as hell, and makes a lot of horrible points that dilute the greatness.

[3] – Another point to note is that about 1 in 1000 people can come close to being “good” at Quake. This has non-obvious parallels to the analogy being made.

[4] – In case you haven’t realized, the point is so as not to waste time gathering power-ups, and spend time on the fun part, ACTUALLY KILLING PEOPLE.

[5] – Not suggesting that DotA is or is not a good game (it isn’t).

[6] – Though they are different yet intertwined disciplines, but you get the analogy, I hope.

[7] – Math is really, really, really, hard. And if you don’t think so, you probably don’t know enough math.

[8] – Unless he’s Korean. They somehow produce teenagers that can be good at everything.

[9] – Though, true story: I studied computer science because math was too hard.

Economics and the internet

The problem with studying economics to predict human behavior: by the time you’ve learnt an “established theory”, the theory is obsolete. [1]

Yet today, unlike any other period in history, human behavior is actually quantifiable. The main flaw of economic theory – the asymmetry of information – has been mitigated by the internet (and creating as close to a perfect market as we can get). [2] Virtual economies provide measurable reliable data – something you don’t get in the real world. [3]

But then: A PROBLEM!

Measuring human behavior is done by taking large samples. Individual humans can vary tremendously, but take an average, and one “should” be able to account for “generic human behavior”, or at least, how any large group of humans should act.

This assumption goes down the drain when your large group stops acting like individuals, and behaves like a single entity.

Sadly, the availability of information does little to correct the asymmetry of information. By and large, like before the days of the internet, it seems that people are only privy to… what everyone around them is also privy to. Except where “everyone around them” used to be just limited to a small village or town, it can now encompass entire countries or regions.

Individuals don’t act rationally – that much is a given. But it used to be that a bunch of individuals, provided with the proper incentives, would respond to those incentives in some predictable, rational way. That doesn’t really work when the entire group behaves as irrationally as a single individual. [4]


Footnotes (pretty important points)

[1] – The paradox being that the same factor makes this both more and less true. The internet makes it easier for theories to become “established”, but it also rapidly changes human behavior.

[2] – Of course, some systems require such a depth of knowledge that they require specialists, which is slightly more difficult to model digitally. e.g. your robot lawyer is theoretically possible, but you’re not going to find 100 engineers who also have mastery of the law.

[3] – For an interesting follow-up, search for the time when Valve hired an Economics professor.

[4] – The point being: people seem to believe the first thing they read (and then re-affirm that believe). That’s great for survival in a world without mass media. It can be pretty horrible nowadays.

What to gift when you’re giving

Foreword: I’m BACK! And since I’m posting absolutely nothing gaming-related, it’s walls of text from now on! No need to pander with pictures.


Craigslist, E-Bay, Amazon. There is a huge business in creating markets – a place where buyers can meet sellers. The point being, if you have something to give, SOMEONE WILL WANT IT. Unfortunately, the mapping only goes one way. If give something to someone, SOMETIMES HE DOESN’T WANT IT.

So here’s the key. Give something to someone which he wants, but doesn’t want enough to already have.

Here are a couple of reason why someone would want something but not already have it.

1. He’s a self-cheapskate. Self-cheapskates are pretty easy to get things for because they want a lot of things, but derive some sort of pleasure from denying themselves. You can recognize your local self-cheapskate as the guy who is willing to spend over $200 on dinner, but then the next day spends 10 minutes debating the merits of $2.10 vs $2.20 chicken rice. Not to be confused with the regular cheapskate, who doesn’t spend money on anyone but himself.

Chances are, your local self-cheapskate will have told you what he wants, but has yet to get it. This is because the self-cheapskate doesn’t just enjoy denying himself the things he wants – he enjoys sharing this joy with others as well!

2. It costs too much for what it brings. I’m not encouraging that you buy extraordinarily expensive gifts. Everyone wants a house (what with property prices nowadays, all around the world), but if you’re rich enough to give your friend a house…

More reasonably, this category is for useless things that look really cool. Such as hugeass swords. Everyone loves a hugeass sword, but few people can justify spending hundreds of dollars for something that just looks cool (albeit REALLY cool) and has no other practical value. Unless he already earns a crapton of money, in which case, get him to buy you a house.

3. Shame. Because people might like something, but not enough to admit they like it! This is like the time you bought your sister a vibrating cucumber. Because she really likes cucumbers and likes the extra kick.

4. Knowledge problem. Sometimes the only thing stopping someone from getting something is that they don’t know it exists. For example, the spork (it’s both a spoon and a fork, which is amazing).

5. Overcoming the barrier of ownership. Sometimes the main thing stopping someone from doing something is that they haven’t done it yet. Some things are incredibly difficult to push people out of their comfort zone from, e.g. buying a manly skirt for your brother, because THEY ARE SO INCREDIBLY COMFORTABLE.


p.s. I do not have a sister, nor do I own a skirt. I am also quite the cheapskate.