Tag Archives: Celebrity

#35 Day[9] Meetup March 2014

Well met, my friends!

I just came back from the Day[9] meetup at the Hae Jang Chon Korean BBQ. Repeating the ritual of the first meetup, we went to the dessert place Haus afterwards (thanks for the coffee and waffle, Sean!). Again, I did not manage to tell my story of how I almost got mugged in London or about that funny night out on my UK road trip in 2011, but since the conversation developed into other directions there wasn’t a good opportunity to share it. In general I’ve found once more that I am a lot better in one on one situations than I am in group conversations. For example, I met up with Michael, who organized the meetup (again, thanks for that!), for lunch and we had a good time talking about anime, computer games, game design and other topics until we met up with Jeff and Melanie later on (EDIT: Where we also had a good time – but I was a lot quieter then, by contrast).

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However, at the BBQ I took myself back and faded into the background, mostly listening and only interjecting a comment here and there.

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From left to right (I apologize for any misspelled names): Travis, Heather, Kevin, Jimmy, Melanie, Michael (in front of Melanie), Sean, Brit (in front of Sean), Jeff, Jason, Evanne, Kai, Kevin, Chris, Ross.

At the BBQ, Sean greeted me with “Good to see you again. How is the book going?” I was pleased that he remembered my novel, since I brought a copy for him. It’s still in the raw alpha stage, but I am convinced that with the feedback from my alpha (and later beta) readers, I can shape it into something worthwhile and entertaining. That said, I hope Sean and my other alpha readers do get some enjoyment out of the book in its current incarnation.

Of course I’m still not ritzy enough to justify flying in for dinner and dessert, so I actually arrived in the USA a week ago and went on a little vacation. I’ll have a blog up with the highlights from that California trip, soon. Nonetheless, just like last time, this was the highlight of my vacation – it was really great to meet everyone (or meet again in case of one third of the attendees) and hopefully I’ll see you all some other time (MLG Annaheim, perhaps?).

Until then,

pursue your dreams and see you next time,

Kai

#24 Some NaNoWriMo news!

Well met, my friends!

There are a few news regarding NaNoWriMo:

1. Today (actually Friday the 11th of October – I passed midnight writing this…) I found out that Patrick Rothfuss, the author of “Name of the Wind” and “The Wise Man’s Fear” is giving a pep talk sometime during NaNoWriMo. I’m excited! In other news, today he wrote a blog post, celebrating his 10000th piece of fan mail. I commented on it on the blog post and received a reply! That actually made my day. Here’s the photo of me and Pat Rothfuss in May 2009 – I was a spoilsport and couldn’t do serious :D

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2. Tomorrow (Saturday the 12th of October) I’m meeting up with some of the German NaNoWriMo people at the Unperfekthaus in Essen. Although NaNo hasn’t officially started, it’s good to meet old and new people, put the finishing touches on “Age of Torridan” and if there’s time outline November’s novel. Once more, I am excited.

3. The third exciting news is that Chris Kelworth is running a segment on his blog called the “NaNoWriMo spotlight”, where he interviews fellow NaNoWriMo participants. I’ve already received the interview questions and will send him my answers this weekend. Once the spotlight with my answers is up, I’ll link to it here.

Pursue your dreams and see you next time,

Kai

#17 Gamescom 2013

Originally I wanted to go to the Gamescom in Cologne on Saturday, but unfortunately the tickets for Saturday were sold out. Since I already have plans for tomorrow (Friday), I decided to go today. As an additional incentive, I knew that the masterminds behind Chip Power Play would be at Gamescom today as well.

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The event is running from 10 in the morning to 8 in the evening. I arrived at around 16:30, which meant I only had to pay half the regular admission price. As you can see, it was still quite busy.

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First I headed to the retro gaming area – nice shirt, dude! For any of the new releases it was standard to queue for hours in order to play for a few minutes. In the retro area long lines weren’t really a problem.

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Chip Power Play

Eventually I found the “Haus der Computerspiele” booth, with the old games magazines on display.

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The chip power play journalists were there. From left to right: Sebastian Sponsel, Stephan Freundorfer, Heinrich Lenhardt, Michael Hengst, Boris Schneider-Johne and Anatol Locker.

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It was a pleasure to finally meet all of them, after reading their magazine as a kid and then finding and listening to their excellent computer game focussed podcast “Spieleveteranen” (apart from the occasional special episode, it’s entirely in German) as an adult. I hope I did not annoy them too much with my fanboy ranting – the podcast really is excellent, especially when there are guests like Smudo or Guido Henkel.

Talks

Apart from trying new games, there are also talks at Gamescom. I happened to walk by when Naoki Yoshida, the Producer and Director of Final Fantasy XIV, talked about the latest Final Fantasy in front of a massive audience.

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At some other stage near the retro area some guy told a story how he used to play Paradroid on his C64. Next year I should have a look at the talks and pick the interesting ones to attend.

The Titan Fall trailer looks impressive and so does this huge mech that they had on display.

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The head with the lights actually moved around. I thought that was pretty cool.

Starcraft 2 show matches

Eventually I ended up at the Blizzard section of the Gamescom. I caught the last part of a series of show matches between WhiteRa and LiquidRet.

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WhiteRa is one of the only (perhaps even the only?) professional Starcraft 2 players that is older than 30 years. Hats off for still being able to compete with the young ones! In the matches, I learnt a few new things: WhiteRa kept his sentries in the mineral line at his 2nd expansion, so that he could force field block incoming zerglings. LiquidRet eventually moved spore crawlers across the map, which I did not understand, until the commentator mentioned that the vipers are able to leech off health from buildings to replenish their energy.

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It was also very cool to see them switch races for the last game.

Hearthstone

Unfortunately the line for Blizzard’s new game Hearthstone was too long, so I did not get to try it. From what I have seen during Day[9]’s Day off, it looks a bit like Magic the Gathering. They’ve fixed a few issues that Magic had: For example, in Magic you need to draw land. Land produces mana, which is the currency that allows you to cast spells. If you don’t draw land, then you basically just lose the game, better luck next time. In Hearthstone, you always increase your currency to cast spells by one each turn, so this unnecessary luck element has been removed.

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Because Magic started out as a card game, the computer version feels clunky, since you have to wait for an opponent’s reaction to things you do. In Hearthstone, they’ve removed this interrupt ability, so that you can play through your turn in one go. The only way to interact during the opponet’s turn seems to be with so called secret spells that trigger when your opponent does a specific action as described by the secret spell. Those are just two things that came to mind, there are probably more improvements they’ve come up with by not being constrained with traditional cards. Day[9]’s demo certainly looked interesting, so I’ll check it out once it is released.

The verdict

The Gamescom did not impress me as much as the Spiel in Essen does, but it was interesting enough that I’ll come back next year to take another look and hopefully try one of the new releases that they are showing.

#15 Nike is right

I am, of course, referring to Nike’s slogan “just do it.” This is good advice, but somehow easier said than done. Listed below are a few things that complicate “just doing it”. I’ve included some advice (or rather, for the most part, links to other people’s advice) to tackle these challenges.

Analysis paralysis

People get caught up with weighing the pros and cons of different ways of dealing with a problem. Most of the time, figuring things out in detail to choose the optimal course of action isn’t necessary. In fact, it’s only going to cost a lot of time, without contributing to the solution.

In part 3 of day[9] daily #342 Sean Plott advocates being more resolute. Around the 8 minute mark he states that he spends very little time in this deliberation mode and that in his opinion it is better to decide to do something than it is to figure out what the best solution of two different options is. If you have a moment, go watch the entire daily, as there is more awesome stuff in there, for example his take on the benchmark he uses in all walks of life (at around 14 minutes).

Seemingly herculean tasks

Most things look daunting when viewed in their entirety. When faced with a huge challenge, it is easy to despair. Procrastination is not so much a sign of laziness, but rather avoidance of what seems to be an impossible task. The late Randy Pausch lectured on the subject of time management. Not all of his advice proved to be useful for me, for example the four quadrant to do list does not work for me – interestingly enough, he mentions in the same talk that he does not use the four quadrant to do list either. His tip to split big tasks into smaller, manageable chunks and to start with the ugliest one of those is spot on, though.

Jumping back and forth between tasks

This used to happen to me a lot – I would have so many things on my to do list that I felt I was neglecting important tasks, while working on one of the items. I switched between different things, which resulted in none of them getting properly done. It is much better to prioritise the to do list and then to tick things off one by one. In order to facilitate that, I found it useful to devote dedicated time slots to certain things, so that I can shut out all distractions and focus on one task. Case in point, we are at a certain bakery/coffee house for the Thursday writing sessions and every Saturday I’m at the library to write my novel.

To summarize

When you need to get something done, don’t spend too much time weighing the pros and cons of different options; don’t deliberate. Split up the task into smaller, easier to handle portions. Find a time and place to work on these tasks without interruptions.

See you next time,

Kai

#10 Meeting the Day[9] community

On the 18th of May, I flew to London to hang out with friends, but left for Las Vegas on the 20th of May. I can see why people, who don’t play cards, tell me that Vegas is only interesting for a day or two. However, if you are playing poker, it’s great fun. Tournament poker can be a cruel game sometimes, so by mid thursday my profits amounted to an impressive two dollars…

That said, I am fairly happy with how I played. Besides, the most important thing is to enjoy the time spent, which I did, with winning merely being a plus.

On Friday the 24th of May I flew to Los Angeles and met up with some people from the day[9] community for korean BBQ. I actually made the mistake of walking all the way from my hotel near USC to where the BBQ place was – one and a half hours and some sun burn later, I arrived at the place, the Haejangchon Korean BBQ.

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Since it was still early, I continued walking around the city a bit, stopping at coffee shops and fast food places to A) get something cold to drink, B) cool down inside an airconditioned place and C) use the free wifi there to check facebook and twitter. I did manage to go all the way to the walk of fame, but took the subway to go back. No way I am walking again.

When I got to the place at 17:45, it was packed. There were a few people sitting outside and one of them looked familiar, so I asked him “Are you Chris by any chance?” Fortunately he was and so I had just found the early arrivals of the day[9] group. By the way, if you do not know who day[9] is: He is a celebrity shoutcaster / commentator / video producer, mostly known for his involvement in starcraft with his webshow, called the “day9 daily”, running Monday to Friday. A good introduction to what he does is the often quoted daily #100. He has also got over 150k followers on twitter – for reference, as of writing this, Boris Becker is shy of 200k followers.

Anyway, we chat a bit and eventually everyone gets there, including Sean “day[9]” Plott himself.

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Despite having a reservation, we still had to wait and were then spaced apart on several tables. The place is just that busy, which means that it is pretty damn good. Originally Megumixbear, another Starcraft celebrity, was supposed to join us, but alas her car broke down. Ah well, maybe next time. Here is a picture of me with some of the other attendees. Funny thing, at this table we’re two computer scientists, one electrical engineer, one aerospace engineer and one physicist.

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I’m not exactly sure what the thumbs down was about, as everyone had fun and the food was great as well.

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Here is a close up of what the barbecue looks like, although this was the more exotic stuff. We had “normal” types of meat, too.

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The crux of being the guy with the camera is that you don’t get too many pictures with yourself. For a while Sean joined our table and we ended up talking about various stuff – I bothered him with my excitement about the new XCOM and my work in progress. To my surprise, he said something to the effect of “Oh yeah, send me a draft when you’re done.” The first draft isn’t even ready and then it’s going to take a while until a half way decent, polished version is finished, but I’ll take it at face value and have added him to my list of beta readers :)

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After the BBQ we headed over to “Haus” for dessert and talked some more about all sorts of things.

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This went on till about 22:30 and then Michael, who actually organized the meeting (thanks for that!), me, Jeff, Andy and Alex still lingered and talked for another hour. Jeff and Andy kindly gave me a ride to my hotel. All in all a fantastic evening with great food and awesome people. Definitely the highlight of my USA trip so far.

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