Category Archives: gaming

Evolutionary computing close to proving the superiority of the Zerg

Lee Graham has developed software which allows users to simulate Darwinian evolution on their home computers. He asks for a little use of your CPU in exchange for a download of the program.

The software generates virtual creatures in a 3D environment and tests them based on their locomotive capacities, or other user-controlled selection criteria. Generation after generation is spawned, with the “genes” of the more successful creatures propagating, and mutation allowing for new body structures to come into being. Youtube hosts numerous videos of creatures that users have submitted after running the software long enough to get interesting results.

Of course evolution, like geopolitics, isn’t fun without the competition getting violent! What would happen if you put all the most successful creatures in a single environment and ran the program allowing them to duke it out for as long as it takes in order for one species to convincingly establish itself as dominant? I think you would be left with a creature that looks kinda like this:

My recent family history

Zerg play report

What was kind of surprising was how far one had to progress to whip up a couple Hydralisks and make them useful. The unit had always felt a little overpowered in the original StarCraft, but Blizzard looks to be limiting their effectiveness by way of high cost, long tech progression and a more widely spread tech tree.

Looks like I’ve been downgraded. Or is it an upgrade?

Blue sky in games campaign

This is for zugman.

edit: Due to personal health issues blogging will cease for awhile.

All I really needed to know I learned from playing Starcraft

Michael Shermer wrote that “ever since Skeptic magazine published an investigative article on the 9/11 ‘Truth Movement’ and analyzed their claims, which were found wanting, I have been hounded by the so-called 9/11 ‘truthers’ because I am the editor of the magazine and therefore am suppose to be a ‘skeptic’ of the official explanation for 9/11.” Thereafter, it became difficult for Shermer to give a lecture anywhere on any subject without a truther present in the audience to stand up and press him with uncomfortable questions. When he reported this at his website, truthers emerged from the four corners of the Internet to argue in the skeptics’ home court.

Truthers come out forcefully in large numbers in the least expected places, as you can witness for yourself by browsing the comments on any Youtube video remotely related to the topic. Their efforts have not been entirely unsuccessful. A poll indicated that over a third of Americans believe it likely that the government either allowed to happen or carried out themselves the attacks of 9/11. (Naturally, the number goes up when you leave the States; a majority in India do not believe that al Qaeda was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Bin laden is very furious about this)

I admire the tactics of truthers. They are the same tactics which countless hours playing the Starcraft Zerg–hours which I would not trade for all the ice cream in the world–have burned into my warfaring soul.

What the Truth Movement, the Zerg race, the ancient Persians, Carl von Clausewitz, the commanders on both sides of the Battle of Stalingrad, and Eric Shinseki have all understood is that victory on the battlefield–as well as truth and right–is decided not by quality but by quantity of attack. The greater the number of troops, the more annoying, the faster you can produce them, the better. Also, I believe Clausewitz included in his famous treatise a chapter on the importance of spawning enough Overlords <- Yes, do click that.

Gaming news that affects you

Via CBS News:

Expect cheers among hardcore online game enthusiasts when they learn Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year. Or, more accurately, expect them to “w00t.”

“W00t,” a hybrid of letters and numbers used by gamers as an exclamation of happiness, topped all other terms in the Springfield dictionary publisher’s online poll for the word that best sums up 2007.

I suppose this means that the most notable event of 2007 is that a lot of guilds won a lot of gold killing orcs.

Via BBC News:

Greenpeace has called on gamers to persuade Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo to make their consoles greener.

According to the environmental campaign group, game console makers have so far “failed to reduce the toxic burden of their products”.

As part of its campaign, Greenpeace has launched a 90-second video featuring some of the iconic games console characters – Microsoft’s Master Chief, Nintendo’s Mario and Sony’s Kratos – competing for the prize of a greener games console.

Now Kratos — there’s a fellow who really cares about the environment.


Whether or not you missed the unveiling of the Polystation 3, enjoy a YouTube tour of exciting Chinese products with exciting Chinese names.

I want a war sim…

Den of Hydralisks urges anyone with an interest in present US military conflicts and/or Starcraft-style real time strategy gaming to read this piece of genius by David Wong. It is all kinds of awesome. I nominate it for web article of the century. Excerpt:

I want that Public Support Meter to rise and fall according to Troops Lost, Length of Conflict, Innocents Killed and Whether or Not There is Anything Else On TV That Week. I want to lose 200 public-support points because, in a war where 8,000 units have been lost, one of my Mutalisks happened to be caught on video accidentally eating one clergyman. Then, later, my destruction of an entire enemy city will go unnoticed because the Nude Zero-Gravity Futureball championship went into overtime.

A little bad press would serve those mutas right for being all pomp and glory up there in the air while we hydras do the dirty work on the ground and get scant credit for it (not that we’re complaining, mind you).

H/T to Dean’s World

World of Datecraft is here!

Thanks to this fantastic new site, single male game geeks at last have someone they can romantically pursue — each other.

Site’s mission statement:

“To provide a simple and intuitive website which assists and facilitates the building of relationships between World of Warcraft enthusiasts.”


Due to some PC security issues we’ve been having here lately, I won’t be able to participate in Datecraft (shucks), and blogging will be light for awhile. Oh yeah, it already is. Okay, blogging will be etheric.

Male brain development

When I was a tot (don’t you miss that word?) the contents of my head looked something like this:


Life was good.

Along came a second competitor for the brain’s stretched resources. By high school it was looking like this:


The Games part was compelled to cede about that much ground. It could live with the compromise as long as the newcomer didn’t intrude any further (hasn’t retreated either). What it didn’t count on was the arrival of a third competitor.

By college or perhaps earlier the contents of my head began to look like so:


This third category refers to that part of the brain which grapples with such questions as “What is the root cause of terrorism? Is it the Vietnam War or is it greenhouse gases?” and other problems of the sort that this blog used to deal with back when it was almost worth taking seriously.

Of course Games again was the one yielding this brain space, in much the same way that Nintendo was forcably made to allow Microsoft to track mud into the house after it had at last evicted Sega and learned to live with Sony.

In recent years things have even gotten this bad:


But Nintendo has had enough. Nintendo is putting its foot down and reclaming territory rightfully its.

I mention this to let you know that if blogging gets light around here, it could mean I am busy, it could mean I am not feeling well, or it could mean I am spending quality time in front of a TV set with a controller in hand.

An android playing Tetris

I can’t blog this week but here’s the most insane Tetris video you will ever see. (the ending is the most insane part)

Chinese entrepreneurial creativity

Good news for gamers! There’s a new company entering the console market with a revolutionary game system that offers gaming enjoyment through use of a remote controller that the player points at the screen. As you can see from the magazine ad, they’re calling this new revolutionary game system the “Vii”. I’ve never heard of anything like this! Have you?


Will Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo be forced to make room for this new intrepid competitor?