Monday 15 February 2010

The List

One day a little while ago, Laura (my moderately significant other) and myself sat down in a fit of boredom and made ourselves a list of silly things we wanted to do in our lifetimes. I'll post it here so I can keep track of our progress:

1. Build a tree house
2. Carve a branch into a chain
3. Paint a car
4. Backpack nowhere in particular
5. Make a condensed milk & potato pie
6. Go rabbit hunting
7. Make a calendar
8. Paint a giant painting
9. Drive to Alice Springs for pizza
10. Sleep in a tree
11. Make a movie
12. Do everything the pirates don’t do
13. Write a book
14. Get a Mohawk
15. Climb the biggest something somewhere
16. Wear hot pink nail polish
17. Set a record
18. Get shut in a fridge
19. Jump out of a cake
20. Chain someone’s ears together
21. Collect pictures wearing 100 different hats
22. Wear 100 hats at once
23. Eat nothing but pizza for a week
24. Camp in the snow
25. Learn to play guitar
26. Learn to play blues harmonica
27. Eat a whole jar of nutella using only a pencil
28. Make something electric from scratch
29. Build a sailing boat
30. Get some one-piece pajamas
31. Do a first-aid course
32. Do a Rogaine in Victorian costume (with monocle)
33. Finish a giant crossword
34. Spelunk
35. Hear someone you don’t know use a word you made up
36. Make a self-portrait
37. Build some sort of bike
38. Walk the Heysen Trail
39. Own a cuttlefish
40. Knit a three-piece suit
41. Have a whole wall of filled bookshelves
42. Build a giant calculator
43. Live in a remote village
44. Invent a sport
45. Invert something
46. Come up with a name for the list
47. Make a website
48. Write a New York Times crossword
49. Have a 3 course meal entirely in the shape of socks
50. Cross the English Channel
51. Finish a long-term project
52. Learn how to tie 12 knots you know the names of
53. Grow some “cool” facial hair
54. Design and sell a t-shirt
55. Whitewater raft on the Nile
56. Go to a geohash on the day of your wedding
57. Arrive or depart from your wedding on a piece of old farm equipment
58. Eat vending machine pizza
59. Ask for a non-existent item in a shop
60. Go into a hardware store and ask for something specific, using all the 'professional' terms
61. Take a photo of a moose from a plane
62. Walk on the Great Wall of China
63. Cross the Simpson desert
64. Make a floating island
65. Make a boat in a bottle
66. Write a letter and send it out to sea
67. Learn to juggle
68. Milk a cow
69. Live on a boat
70. Eat spaghetti with Royalty
71. Do a flip
72. Make a USB
73. Drive down Baldwin Street, Dunedin
74. Learn the Wango
75. Do something creative every day for a week/month/year/lifetime
76. Do a stand-up comedy routine.
77. Build a life sized statue
78. Learn a dead language
79. Learn a live language
80. Fill a CD rack with music (that’s not burnt)
81. Have a collection of recipes using vegemite
82. Find some way to combine apple sauce and milk coffee biscuits
83. Count the sugar crystals in a packet
84. Fix up that stupid green thing
85. Go to something that requires formal attire together
86. See the desert stars at midnight (count them?)
87. Devise a fabric you can use like a whiteboard but still wear comfortably
88. Design and use a font
89. Read everything on a top 100 books list
90. Watch everything on a bottom 100 films list
91. Make a piece of public art somewhere
92. Go on a multi-day trip in a kayak
93. Trans-Siberian Railway
94. Walk around the suburbs singing Christmas carols
95. Googlewhack
96. Dig a hole to China
97. Plant a tree
98. Make something visible from space
99. Serve a banquet
100. Live in a share house

The list has grown since then, I'll update this post when I find the rest of it.
If you have a challenge to set us, feel free to suggest it, and if we find it even moderately interesting we'll add it to the list (not that what's already there isn't going to take us long enough).

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Large Video Game Tournaments – Bracket Theory

This post is horribly out of date. The world has come a long way since 2010, and so has my experience running tournaments. Ignore this post, grab challonge if you have a net connection or TIO if you don't and just go to town. Gamers are a friendly bunch, they'll forgive you!

In the preparation for AVCon, which I have mistakenly put my hand up to be on staff for, I can’t stop thinking about the best models for running large tournaments. In an attempt to straighten out various thoughts running through my head, here’s a quick run down of various tournament systems, culminating in my proposed structure for AVCon’s large (128 and 256 person) tournaments in Street Fighter and Smash Bros. Brawl. Anyone not intimately interested in the nuances of running efficient tournaments, look away now, I have the feeling that it’s going to be pretty dry.

For the purposes of this demonstration we’re using a 32 person single elimination tournament, but the principles involved can be easily scaled up to larger tournaments or to double elimination, I’m just not showing them because the picture files would be huge.


Basic Tournament
The diagrams we’ll be using show a series of matches, each horizontal line represents a player, and each vertical line represents a match, the numbers in circles represent the order of games, so game 1 is first, then 2, etc. This is a regular single elimination tournament, it’s what they use at Grand Slam Tennis events and pub darts tournaments, and it’s great for season-long regular weekly or daily games, but it’s not so useful in a video game (or any other short game) situation simply because the participants are waiting around forever for their next turn.


Pooled Tournament
To deal with the long wait times, someone clever invented the idea of pools, in which groups of people play off against each other, and then the next pool plays, resulting in a much smaller number of people having to wait around for their turn. This shows a 32-person tourney with 4 pools, in which only the winner of each group of 8 people has to wait around until the finals. Pools are great for improving efficiency, as people needn’t turn up for the bits of the competition that they’re not involved in. Unfortunately, doing all this on only one station (a court for tennis, a console for video games) is still taking far too long, given the time constraints, so let’s add in some more stations.


Multi-Station Tournament
Here’s the same pooled 32 player tournament shared out between 8 different stations, each represented on the diagram by their own colour. Not surprisingly, the tournament is now running heaps faster. This is the epitome of efficiency and class when running a 32 player tournament, and is widely used even for bigger tournaments. Unfortunately, we’re running a 128 person one on a tight schedule here, effectively the pictured players are the first pool out of four, so the stations with nothing happening on them after the second round are causing us to run much longer than if we were using them all at once.

Consolidated Pools Tournament
This system still uses pools, but not all of the pool is played out before we move on to the next pool. Instead of whittling the participants down to one who plays in the finals, we let eight through to the preliminary rounds by playing out only the first two rounds of the tournament. This way, the participants that are waiting are fewer in number, and the overall time that they have to wait is drastically reduced. Assuming 5 minutes for a round (which is too short a time to expect for many games, but that’s a topic for another post), this system saves 25 minutes over the last one, a dramatic saving, and I haven't done the maths, but I think savings would be around 3 times that in a double elimination tournament. Unfortunately, it requires players to be absolutely on the ball, as they need to be able to win a match and move immediately to another station for their next match, which is a difficult enough task even if you don’t have a head full of memorized combos and strategies. This system is workable if you’re insanely organised, but it causes a hell of a lot of confusion.


Concurrent Pools Tournament
This system departs from the idea of pools all playing at the same time, and instead assigns everyone in the same pool to play at the same station, effectively turning our 128 person tournament into 8 16 person tournaments running at the same time. This system runs as quickly as the consolidated pools, but it means each game (at least up until the finals (which at AVCon are played on a big stage, not the tournament TVs)) is at the same station, which allows players to identify and watch all their competitors, saves losing them by moving around, and makes administration of the tournament a load easier.


Using this type of system, players can easily keep track of their competitors and the tournament as a whole, and everybody is happy. The best thing is we can still give a group times to appear so that they don’t have to wait forever, it’s just that these groups are independent of the playing pools, rather than being parallel with the pools as they are in traditional tournament formats. We can also easily expand or reduce this system for larger groups, less stations or double-elimination tournaments with ease.

If you can see a problem with the new system (I tend to miss major factors when brainstorming), can think of a better name for it (Concurrent sounds kinda…geeky) or just want to ask questions, let me know, that’s what the comment button is for, after all.

Monday 8 February 2010

Rediscovering the Internet

I'm planning to use this little portion of the blogosphere to share my increasing eclectic thoughts and projects, partly so I can share them with those that are interested, but mostly to prevent me from forgetting all about them.

The subjects covered will vary widely, from little observations on daily life in the office to my latest creative works, be they crosswords or woodworks or things that can't really be classified as works at all, interesting things I've found in my regular internet trawls, and everything in between. One post might be about planning youth group events, the next a recent comic, the next about computer games, the next on what I ate for dinner last night, the next on papal history. Who knows, some of it might be interesting, some of it might be entertaining, we'll just wait and see.

Since I don't ever set goals, but I like trying new things, here's some goals for the blog.
1. Post at least a couple of times a week on different topics.
2. Have something interesting to say in at least one of those posts.
3. Post lots of pictures.
4. Try new stuff, show it off even if it sucks.

Let's start with that and see how it goes.