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GeekNights 20110208 - The PAX Boston 2011 Pregame Show

edited February 2011 in GeekNights

Tonight on GeekNights we pregame PAX Boston 2011. We'll be there with three panels and a few tricks up our sleeves! Also, Rym is conflicted about Europa Universalis III, and Scott has harsh words for Stephen Totilo after his recent article Why I Let Nintendo Beat A Video Game For Me.

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  • While this episode was super useful for the food tips, now the anticipation has kicked in for the con. I'm probably going to be useless until PAX is over.
  • Glad you guys still enjoy the 2600, did you know you can also modify a 7800 to have s video out? Not as common and hard to do technical wise but is possible if you have any 7800 games.
  • edited February 2011
    Ah, so you got around to noticing Graphwar, and you mentioned me in the podcast! I won't kill everyone on the first shot every time, though :(

    I will make a couple of points in response to the podcast.
    1) The clipboard isn't really much use except when you want to re-use the same path for multiple men during the same game
    2) If you learn the shape of the function and which constants to adjust in order to get it to do what you want, you've learnt some maths - the function is its shape. Rym's point that some people don't know what their functions "mean" is silly.

    Basically, Rym has the right idea on how people win at Graphwar. You need to gather a repertoire of functions with constants that are easy adjust, preferably ones that directly correspond to x or y distances in the plane, and preferably ones that are "modular" in nature - basically, functions where almost all the change occurs over a small region, so that you can easily piece it together with other such functions.

    Polynomials, although highly versatile, are difficult to adjust, because they are relatively non-local - the change in the function occurs over the entire plane. I choose not to use them because of this.
    My preferred tools are the logistic function, Gaussian function, the high-frequency sinewave "shotgun", and piecewise linear functions such as x+abs(x) (this can be used in composition with a sine to make a "shotgun at the last second"). I worked these out myself, although I will grant that I have taken inspiration and learnt from my foes.

    I don't think you can really get around a repertoire of this sort being the best way to play the game, but I think testing the skill of estimating co-ordinates and adjusting constants still makes for a good game.

    So, anyone up for a schooling?
    Post edited by lackofcheese on
  • First of all here is the list of useful functions that Scott mentioned. If you don't want the game ruined, don't look too closely at this list.

    Credit to Lackofcheese on the first two. The rest were independently discovered by each of us.

    I just want to say that I'm by no means a math genius, and yet I fully understand every function on that list. Lackofcheese didn't tell me how to use those first two, he crushed me in 24/25 games one night, and told me to figure it out if I wanted to stop losing. So I looked at his functions and learned. In fact, I've probably spent a total of a few hours figuring out math so that I could play better in this game.

    I agree that using the clipboard isn't really cheating, it just saves time. The game could have been constructed such that you couldn't paste into the box, but since you are allowed to, it seems like we are just using a feature of the game to our advantage. That having been said, I rarely paste into the box because I know the functions so well that I can type them about as fast as I can alt-tab, select, copy, alt tab, select, and paste.

    I could rant for hours about why math eduction in the US and why it sucks, but the reason that there aren't more geniuses in math is that no one cares because no one knows why to care. I (also with two other forum people) we to CTY, where I learned math during the summers. Not school math, but fun math like cryptography and game theory. The TL;DR is that people don't see that math is more that just an arcane set of rules, so they don't learn it.

    Also, I think the real fun of this game was the act of solving it, and playing it was just a way to test our proposed solutions. In my school, we transitioned from polynomial, to sinusoidal, to using 1/x to make accurate kills, to using .5^x to change height to (eventually when I stumbled upon the idea) using abs() functions to create linear piecewise, then using the stuff that Lackofcheese wrote. Having written up that .pdf, my desire to play has gone way down. I don't really want to play for the same reason that I don't want to play Nim, except now the victor is determined by turn order, estimation, and luck of spawn points.

    That having been said, I'd be up for some 2v2.
  • edited February 2011
    Estimation and selecting the right functions in limited time still makes for a pretty good game, I'd argue. Solving the game was more interesting, but I don't know that we've fully "solved" it yet.
    Also, your pdf needs a couple more changes, such as correctly analyzing the width of the Gaussian. Plus, above all, it needs graphs.

    Something like Graphwar could be an extremely good educational tool. A friend of mine (don't remember who) put it this way - every time the students learn a new function, they learn a new potential "weapon".
    You could even design singleplayer campaigns to teach or examine knowledge; you'd just need a constrained random level generator so there is no single function that is the answer, but the strategy is always the same for a specific level.
    Post edited by lackofcheese on
  • SO true about the Ferris Bueller board game. It looks adorable, but it is more just a poster, NOT a game. But so cute!
  • I have to say the EU3 really reaches it's stride when you can get a large multiplayer game. Right now my game with five other friends is about halfway through (only took us about 40 hours haha) and shit is starting to get real tense. As each of us push closer against each other's borders, tensions are running high. Reflecting on the game so far, I believe there is a kind of emergent diplomatic gameplay that arises due to the sandbox nature of the game. In singleplayer, this can be a bit dull or obtuse as it's hard to reason with AI on high level concepts such as diplomacy. However, with several human players, we act as foils in which that gameplay is intensified. It's almost a bit like some sort of diplomatic Burning Wheel. You have some missions which can help drive your core beliefs or goals and you use combat to help resolve any narrative conflicts between players. While on the face of the game, it seems like all the players are cordial and friendly with each other, perhaps helping aid another against a war of aggression from the eastern hordes; deep down they are conniving, lying, bastards who want each other's land at any cost.

    Needless to say, once I'm finished with this game, an FRC game could be epic. That is, if people are willing to put the time into it. Also, voice chat is a must.
  • Every show about PAX or other full convention reviews only serve to fill me with horrible envy.
  • Damn why must I get excited for PAX when it is still a month away and I have several over events to get through first!

    Waiting in line for that keynote has led to some of the most fun I've had at PAX. Meeting great people and playing games with them on the floor for four hours. It's why you go to PAX. Like Scott said in the podcast, there's nothing else to do Friday morning, so just pack up your games and join the line.

    Make a Strip has always been an absolute joy to watch. You basically get to watch Mike draw incredible art live, while Jerry hosts the Penny Arcade Q&A 1.5. There's also some great humor elements of Mike drawing ridiculous or funny shit into the strip that shouldn't be there to test whether people are paying attention, etc., and he will occassionally entertain requests to do some side sketches for the crowd when asked. Go to keynote then Q&A #1, but definitly place this higher in your priority list than Q&A #2, regardless of whether you go to Q&A #1 or not.

    The second hotel you guys were thinking about is the Renaissance. It's directly across the street from the con and I got a room there instead because I take baths in Marriott reward points every night. I do believe it's totally sold out though now as well.

    PAX Forums are an interesting animal. They're better than the rest of the PA forums, but I find them to be thorny in the "crazy moderation" aspect. You really can't have a simple disagreement over there without getting an infraction. I was very active on the before my first two PAXes, and I HIGHLY recommend following them if you are new to PAX, but now they just seem to be rehashing the same stuff. I'll be hitting them up occassionally to see if someone discovers food in the BCEC area, as I do not look forward to missing chunks of PAX to travel far for a good dinner with friends.
  • You lucky bastards! Bostonian high schooler, school gets out at 2:15. Can't get to PAX for the keynote and Q&A. Also, Banana-grams is not going to be the big hotness. Banana-grams is old, and I don't see any reason for it to get a big uprising. Dominion (duh) will be the big thing, as will '7 Wonders,' a game that I don't really like, but everyone I know loves. My hierarchy of needs is this:
    1) Expo hall
    2) Pannels
    3) Play games I don't get to play elsewhere (demos, games I haven't bought yet, games I'm iffy on, retro novelty games I can say I've played like ET.)
    4) Play board games/RPGs

    As a local Bostonian, my recommendations for transportation is to walk. We call it the T. It stands for stupid. The public transportation infrastructure is fucked up. If it's 15 degrees outside (Fahrenheit) and you need lunch, go to the WTC station, take the Silver Line to South Station, and get the fuck out of there. Admittedly, I'm not very familiar with the area, but I can't think of anywhere to eat around the BCEC. Get on the red line and go to Gov't Center, or transfer take the Red to Park street where you can transfer to the green to go to Kenmore, but that's a little farther than I would go. Lastly, stay off the Purple rail, it's not part of the subway, its a fancy word for commuter rail. Like I said, its called the T, which stands for stupid.
  • Banana-grams is old, and I don't see any reason for it to get a big uprising. Dominion (duh) will be the big thing, as will '7 Wonders,' a game that I don't really like, but everyone I know loves.
    I'm going to disagree here. While Dominion is tons o' fun, there are many other games that are easier to learn and play.

    Also the extra copies of Dominion that the PAX Table Top has to offer will more than likely be used up for the various Dominion tournaments they will probably be having. So unless you bring your own copy of Dominion, I don't think you'll see as much as you predict.

    The new D&D; game will be out or is out soon before PAX East, iirc, so that may be the new hotness to PAX. I can say that Banagrams will be very prevalent there. Possibly Dixit.
  • Bostonian high schooler, school gets out at 2:15. Can't get to PAX for the keynote and Q&A;
    Skip. It will be worth any punishment.
  • Is this suitable time to start asking if you have any plans of getting some version of your panels to the Internet for people who are unable to come and see you live? Anything would be nice, video, audio + slides, audio + slides as two different files. Just something, because your panels always sound like they could be interesting things to see (or hear, hearing is the important thing).
  • , go to the WTC station, take the Silver Line to South Station, and get the fuck out of there. Admittedly, I'm not very familiar with the area, but I can't think of anywhere to eat around the BCEC.
    Quincy Market isn't THAT far from the Waterfront.
    its called the T, which stands for stupid.
    The T isn't that bad, dude. Well, maybe the green line, but that doesn't really COUNT.
  • Oh man, The T. You know, I miss the smell of T stations. I smelled that scent over here only once and it brought back so many fond memories.

    I miss Boston.
  • edited February 2011
    Personal experience from 23 years living in Boston:


    The area around the convention center isn't that bad. There are some good places (Legal Test Kitchen, Barking Crab) for sit-down dinner. There are some excellent bars as well, such as Lucky's (though it's hidden) and Drink (you should go here at least once for the experience). If you want the classiest of restaurants, go to Anthony's Pier 4.

    If you want an extremely quick and relatively inexpensive lunch, the Westin usually has a small setup where you can get a sandwich, hotdog, or chicken fingers for less than $7. Might be a bit less expensive than whatever the convention center holds.

    Honestly, your best bet for food is to walk 15-20 minutes and jump into Chinatown: there's everything there. Chinese, some Japanese, some Korean, some Vietnamese. Great Shabu Shabu. On Sunday, dim sum gets EXTREMELY crowded, so not recommended for PAX. There's also a McDonald's on the farthest end (closest to the Theater District).

    An extra 10 minutes beyond that will get you to Tremont St./Back Bay area, where there are classy, chic (and some not-that-expensive) restaurants.

    If you want your run-of-the-mill fast food, there's a food court at South Station (again, ~15 min. walk). Alternatively, you can get yourself over to Downtown Crossing for various cheaper options (a bit farther walk), and there are some not-so-fast-food restaurants that might be worth the travel away from the crowds, like UFood Grill.

    If you are planning on going drinking, bring more than one form of ID. Massachusetts law allows bartenders to reject every form of ID if it's not strictly a MA ID (even a passport!).

    TRANSPORTATION (also related to food):

    It takes about 10-15 minutes to walk from South Station to the convention center. If you want to use public transportation, the Silver Line is your only option (and keep in mind it's a very different schedule, since it's a bus line). The only problem is transferring to other lines: it'll be a hassle if you want to save the half-hour walk to the North End to grab some excellent food, because you'll need to change to the Red Line at South Station, then to the Orange Line at Downtown Crossing (or, likewise, to get to the Hynes area after transferring to the Green Line). There's also a possibility of walking to Haymarket/Fanueil Hall (otherwise accessible by the Green and Orange lines), but it'll probably take you 25 minutes (great high-end food court options, though).

    The late-night taxi situation is going to be the worst part of the convention.
    Post edited by Alex Leavitt on
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns is more Donkey Kong Country except better. I completely ignore the Super Guide stuff and just play the game.
  • I agree that Bananagrams is old, but the Penny Arcade crew just discovered it, and there is a certain push they can give to things. Their fan base by and large trusts PA's judgment wholesale. If they wanted to, they could suddenly create a fever around an old game. Simply depends on whether they want to or not.
  • 999 on the DS is a bit frustrating, having to repeat the same path twice to finish it, and with multiple fail endings.

    But... The actual puzzle rooms themselves are pretty good. I can understand youtubing the ending, but with text skip you can quickly get to a new point in the game, even if you do have to repeat 1 or 2 old puzzles.

    That's all I did. Skipped through until I had played each room at least once, then completed the final story path.

    I personally think the 20-ish minutes spent skipping text were worth it to get to a new room and have a brand new puzzle to solve.
  • Anybody have information about parking at the Westin Waterfront? I can't find any pricing information.
  • Anybody have information about parking at the Westin Waterfront? I can't find any pricing information.
    You'd save time by parking your car in Providence and walking to Boston, rather than trying to find a spot in Boston.
  • edited February 2011
    My only advice would be to not do it and take the T into at the very least. Parking in Boston is bull-fucking-shit.

    Edit: Damn, ninja'd again
    Post edited by Jordan O. on
  • You do not want to park in Boston. We used to park in this lot near the Hynes that was attached to the grocery store. It was convenient, but ludicrously expensive.
  • Yeah you're looking at $40 per night. Maybe it would make sense if you were cramming 4+ people into the car but you could do a lot better for your money parking at a T station elsewhere and taking that in. It's expensive but available. Just gotta way money versus convenience and make your own call.
  • I went to the MLB All-Star game when it was at Fenway. Parking next to the stadium was $125. I'll never forget that.
  • If you really, really need to bring your car, park out at Braintree station and take the red line to Park Street, then change to the Green Line and take that to Prudential or Hynes/ICA.
  • You could always try to paaak yaa caaa at Haavaad Yaaad.
  • edited February 2011
    If you really, really need to bring your car, park out at Braintree station and take the red line to Park Street, then change to the Green Line and take that to Prudential or Hynes/ICA.
    Braintree! lol
    Post edited by Apreche on
  • Thanks for the advice guys! I'm very glad I asked. I'll be coming in from 90 so as cool sounding as Braintree is, it looks out of the way for me. I found some other ways in via the T website with even free parking, but will my car be safe there? I've never traveled the T before and have only been to Boston twice, maybe. This is very new to me =P
  • If you really, really need to bring your car, park out at Braintree station and take the red line to Park Street, then change to the Green Line and take that to Prudential or Hynes/ICA.
    Braintree! lol
    Yay Neopets references! >_<''
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