Decision Making at an Epic Scale

We are all made up of our decisions.

Where we want to go, what we want to do, who we want to spend time with.

Should I take a left, should I go faster, should I stop.

Should I buy this, should I study, what should I study.

Should I hang out with these people, should I respond this way to this person, is she the one?

The more decisions we make, the better we get at it after facing their consequences.

There is a war going on for your mind
If you are thinking, you are winning

from We Are Winning by Flobots

Having played lots of games when I was younger, I think the situations I face in games forced me to make decisions in an accelerated pace, so compared to someone who does not play games, they won’t need to think of things like “what happens if there was no industrial area in a city?”ť, “what are the possible permutation of things that can happen if I did this?”ť, “How much hull space should I have in order to make the best profits?”, “What happens if Aliens did invade us?”, etc.

I’ve listed out 10 things that I’ve learnt from the games that I’ve grown up with. Hope this gives you a better understanding of the value of games.

1. Demand & Supply

Games: A-Train, Simcity 2000, Transportation Tycoon

A-Train
A-Train

This is the first ever game that I stayed up all night to play. You can see the gameplay here. I think this is also where my love for jazz started as what sounded like Dave Brubeck’s Take five was a key soundtrack in the game.

SimCity 2000
SimCity 2000

SimCity have got to be the game that many grew up with. City planning, zoning areas for residential, industrial and commercial, planning roads and balancing the supply and demand to make sure the city grows into a metropolis.

Transportation Tycoon
Transportation Tycoon

This is a more advance version of A-Train and it really makes you think about meeting demand with supplies from all across the land. Building trains to bring iron ore to steel mills then bringing steel to factories to create goods to grow your towns. With a mix of trains, busses, planes, its a full time job.

I think this is also the very first multiplayer game I played, but can’t really recall how I hooked it up and who I played with. You can play it too as there is an open source version of it now known as OpenTTD, you can also play online at play-ttd.com in your browser if you like.

2. Teamwork

Games: Pardus, Minecraft, L4D2

Pardus
Pardus

After browsing a copy of FHM, I was introduced to Pardus and got hooked after experiencing my very first MMPOG. Its basically a browser based space economy game. It’s tiled gif art at its best at that time.

I remember working out timezones and planning for raids with people from all over the world. Social engineering, double crossing, working real life diplomacy, omg… it was awesome with just limited turns per day. With it being a browser based game, lots of page refresh was happening. The low tech-ness was part of its beauty. Its still there and ticking. Go try them out. It was so amazing for me that I setup an in-character online news site known as The Tiacken Tribune and even engaged in-game journalists to report the happenings all over the gif universe. Teamwork in and out of game. More awesomely I’ve also met the famous in-game character “Nathan Forrester” in real life when we both happen to be visiting Bangkok at the same time.

nickpansg in Singapore Minecraft Sudden Dawn Server
Minecraft

I found out about Minecraft properly after watching a documentary late 2012, tried it out and got hooked. The best part of it is working together to build a town. You can read more about my experience here.

Left 4 Dead 2
Left 4 Dead 2

I’m introduced to L4D2 by a few colleagues of mine and after trying it out in the office, we spent a few nights working together and killing zombies for a number of weekends. Good times.

3. Geography, Map Reading, Situation Awareness

Games: Uncharted Waters, Battlefield, GTA3

Unchartered Waters
Unchartered Waters

For the first time in my life I know where Lisbon is in the world. I traveled the world and even ship wrecked in the cold seas. Bought spices from India and traded them in Europe.

Battlefield
Battlefield

Never really got into Counterstrike, but Battlefield was really neat. Such First Person Shooter games force you to have good situation awareness. You need to know where north is, where places are. This whole plan view orientation in you mind is a map reading skills many of my lady friends lack somehow. Maybe they don’t play enough of such games.

4. Taking Risks

Games: Starcraft, Civilisation

Starcraft
Starcraft

The one game that stood the test of time. Released in 1998 it became the primary Real Time Strategy game for more then a decade. A big lesson from Starcraft is that you have got to take that risk and start your second base at some point. The longer you try to build that one perfect base, you will be swiped out in no time when you opponent is mining resources and building units 3 times faster then you.

Civilization III
Civilization III

The turn-based game that made a generation of colonists. Making decisive diplomatic decisions is part and parcel of the game.

5. Resource Planning

Games: Uncharted Waters, Plants vs Zombie,

Unchartered Waters Trading
Unchartered Waters Trading

Uncharted Waters also had a trading element, so making sure your hull if full of goods is always a must before setting sail for the next port. However to make more money, you need more hull space.

Plant Vs Zombies
Plant Vs Zombies

PVZ quickly throws you into resource planning mode as there is always just enough “sun” power to allow you to plant your plants to fend of the impending zombie horde.

6. Thinking Ahead

Games: Tetris, TripleTown, World of Goo

Tetris Classic
Tetris Classic

This is the classic version of Tetris I got hooked on. This enchanting game with its mesmerising Russian tune occupied my mind even when I was not playing the game for quite some time. To play it well, you simply need to be able to visualize what you are going to do in the next few steps.

Triple Town
Triple Town

3 grass makes a bush, 3 bush makes a tree, 3 trees make a house and so it goes. The space planning is easy, the tough part is figuring out 5 to 10 steps on.

7. Motivation

Games: Diablo II, Diablo III, Borderlands 2

Diablo 2
Diablo 2
Diablo 3
Diablo 3

Dungeon looting, click fest is what Diablo is known as. You keep killing monsters, keep looting chests and keep leveling up. The whole motivation of going to the next level is always there.

Borderlands 2
Borderlands 2

Very much like Diablo, Borderlands 2 is also a dungeon looting game. However, the art of it makes it an amazing experience.

8. Perseverance

Games: Karateka, UFO:Enemy Unknown (X-Com), Ultima

Karateka
Karateka

Back in the good’ol Atari days, I played Karateka at my cousin’s place. Level after level, it keeps getting more difficult. Have to just keep going and hope you beat all the bosses.

X Com
X Com

I believe I got stuck quite a number of times while playing XCom. So just need to keep at it and keep trying to pew pew the aliens away.

Ultima
Ultima

To me Ultima was borderline Role Playing Game and Sandbox. At times, I got no clue what to do next. Back then there was no wiki or walkthrus to refer to.

9. Troubleshooting

Games: Any game that required you to edit CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT

Edit Config.sys
Edit Config.sys

In the Pre-Pentium, 386, 486 days, before being even able to start playing a game, you need to make sure you have configured the computer in a certain way. Those who have done this, please comment below and don’t tell me I’m the only one who did this.

10. Getting a Wife

Game: Romance of Three Kingdoms 2

Romance of 3 Kingdoms
Romance of 3 Kingdoms
Romance of 3 Kingdoms
Romance of 3 Kingdoms

Yes its true. RTK2 thought me how to get a wife and I’ve blogged about it here.

Summary

So here is it again. The 10 things I’ve learnt from games.

  1. Demand & Supply
  2. Teamwork
  3. Geography, Map Reading, Situation Awareness
  4. Taking Risks
  5. Resource Planning
  6. Thinking Ahead
  7. Motivation
  8. Perseverance
  9. Troubleshooting
  10. Getting a Wife

So what about you? What have you learnt from games?

Minecamp SG 2013

#minecampsg2013
#minecampsg2013

So I got into Minecraft earlier this year and somehow along the way, I decided to run an event in Singapore about Minecraft. Ended up calling it Minecamp SG 2013 and ran it last Saturday 8 Jun 2013.

Collected sponsored giveaways from Epic Loot
Collected sponsored giveaways from Epic Loot

To make the event different from other events, I got Lauises my brother to assist and we toyed with a few ideas. We managed to get Epic Loot to sponsor some goodies as give aways and they were generous. They gave 8 Tees, 1 Creeper head and 1 Enderman head.

Epic Loot Rocks!
Epic Loot Rocks!
#minecampsg2013 swag
#minecampsg2013 swag

We printed swags as we felt that everyone should walk home with something. Something that they can remember having attended Minecamp SG 2013. We also built a 40cm cube and made it look like a Minecraft Grass Block.

Directions at 50 Scotts Rd lobby
Directions at 50 Scotts Rd lobby

My wife was busy that afternoon, so all 3 of my girls hanged out with me at the venue 50 Scotts Rd (WPP Building). Its good that Clié and Cleo are bigger now and don’t really need much of my attention so I could focus on running the event.

The core MinecampSG2013 team. Lauises and me
The core MinecampSG2013 team. Lauises and me.

I’m so glad to run this event with my brother Lauises. We had NO MEETINGS and almost NO CALLS. All we did was Facebook Chat + Google Docs. How awesome is that.

Jervis, event sponsor from Vodien addressing the audience.
Jervis, event sponsor from Vodien addressing the audience.

We got Vodien as a sponsor as well. They agreed very quickly when I bounced the idea off them back in April. Jervis shared who Vodien is, what Vodien does, etc. They provided us funds inorder for us to get the swags, the grass block built and also some refreshments.

The crowd
The crowd

The event started with almost a full house. When people trickled in later, we had to add chairs at the back. Awesome turnout. To think that this was just a Facebook Event page and with minimal marketing, still 70 people turned up.

iquf presenting on CubicWorld
iquf presenting on CubicWorld

iquf starts off the presentations with their world CubicWorld. I think it could be one of the oldest Minecraft Multiplayer Servers in Singapore. If you know its someone else, do let me know in the comments below.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/C-lv2Qz94Jc]

York Seng sharing about Hardware
York Seng sharing about Hardware

York Seng then shared about the hardware aspects of operating a Minecraft server. They really seem complex.

Ian sharing on CubicWorld
Ian sharing on CubicWorld

Ian, being an aspiring architect shared his perspective of the buildings and architecture in CubicWorld.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/CfNK_VjtWUE]

Audience listening attentively
Audience listening attentively
The creeper is in the audience
The creeper is in the audience

Someone brought their own creeper head and when he stood up, then room bursted into laughter.

ToadKing sharing on Realms of Walrussia
ToadKing sharing on Realms of Walrussia

ToadKing and RNinja shared about Realms of Walrussia and also their collaboration with Sudden Dawn.

WurmpleAss sharing on town plans
WurmpleAss sharing on town plans

WurmpleAss is the server admin of Sudden Dawn and I feel he is so knowledgeable. He shared on how he used custom terrains for his server and if you login today, you will see trees that are not typical and areas within the world are not typical as well.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/ZIc_WxqkIBU]

Kids having fun
Kids having fun

My kids were outside and this is a wonderful picture taken by Lenon I beleive.

Cleo playing Minecraft
Cleo playing Minecraft

Cleo plays Minecraft when ever she gets her hands on them. She is quite an addict, so as parents we are trying to control her.

Panel questions and answers session
Panel questions and answers session

After all 3 servers have presented, we had a panel session and allowed the floor to ask them any questions they may have. For every question asked, we gave away a Minecraft Tee and when that ran out, we gave away Epic Loot vouchers.

Some of the questions I recall asked if the servers had a specific target audience, someone asked about the server’s vision, someone asked how long will they remain server admins, etc.

nickpansg
nickpansg
ToadKing
ToadKing
Staff from CubicWorld
Staff from CubicWorld
The speakers and organisers
The speakers and organisers
Lucky draw winners
Lucky draw winners

The last two final prizes was done lucky draw style and here are the two lucky winners.

Event group photo
Event group photo
York Seng using a pickaxe on the Enderman
York Seng using a pickaxe on the Enderman

We had setup a photo taking area at the back when the event was over. People could take pictures with the heads, the grass block and also a pickaxe.

Leon doing an Enderman with a Creeper head
Leon doing an Enderman with a Creeper head
Cleo the Enderman
Cleo the Enderman
The organising team. Lauises, Hwee Peng, Nick Pan.
The organising team. Lauises, Hwee Peng, Nick Pan.

This is the full team that made this possible. Lauises for making the grass block, getting the stickers printed and negotiated the sponsorship with Epic Loot. Hwee Peng on registration and event day support. And of cause me.

End of MinecampSG2013
End of MinecampSG2013

It was a successful event and we managed to get to know so much more people.

Some people who got to know about this event ask me why I did it. Well, I work at VML Qais which is a full-service digital marketing agency, so its natural that I love virtual worlds and online communities, more so when its filled with passionate people doing epic stuff. Also I think Minecraft succeeded in where Second Life failed by lowering the barrier of entry as users in Second Life did not really get to enjoy the platform if they did not know 3D modeling.

Till next time.

Photo Credits: Lucian, Lenon, Sam. Thanks guys.

Toiling

I awake as the sun rises from the east and like clockwork, the music of life plays in the background and I wonder what I’ll do today. Will I be doing the same as I did yesterday? Should I go out and do something epic today? No matter what, everyday is an adventure. I got ready for the day, grabbed my gear and left home.

As I make my way to the place I call work, I look around and soak in the beauty of life. The grass, the tress, the clouds, the sky. The serendipitous face to face meetings of people whom I don’t know with names that are a string of alphabets that were given much thought at some point. They too are on their way to wherever they are going. Its not me to question the path that they are taking, as like me, I believe they too have a rich story in life where their yesterdays made them who they are today, hence the possibly unrelated choice of what they will do tomorrow.

As I settled down, I toil away at my daily duties.

Toiling… toiling… toiling away…

My mind drifted away and the nagging thoughts of the possibilities that I could do with my life gnawed my brain away in unproductive nibbles. Maybe I can be somewhere else today. Maybe I can travel the world. Maybe I can be a world renowned architect. Maybe I can forge a new friendship with a total stranger today. Maybe I’ll regret not achieving any of these before the day ends.

Maybe If I started my life again, I could become another person. Maybe if the people I knew were different, I might not be doing what I’m doing today.

Stop dreaming! I told myself. I need to focus on the life I have and make the best of it. Life is short, time is short, no need to be doing mental summersaults knowing that nothing much will change even If I had the most intense of thoughts.

Back to amassing stuff in life.

Toiling… toiling… toiling away…

Its getting late, I gotta work tomorrow, I log out of Minecraft and join my wife in bed who was fast asleep already three hours ago.

Maybe I’ll start another life on another server tomorrow.