Games, Tech and Blogging…I can't guarantee in that order.

Tag Archives: learning

Back To School, Here’s Some (not so bad) Advice

Probably around that time again when teens are going back to school. For some, it will be going through the motions. Some will be getting out of it while some are going to go into it with a fresh pair of eyes. But this week I want to focus on high school because I remember how crazy high school can be for me. Okay, it was fairly tame but I’ve seen people go through some heavy stuff.

If you are entering this year as a niner or a freshman, welcome to your teen years and congrats for making it this far. There is no trophy for making it to high school. As the 13 or 14 year old, you will likely be spending the next 4 years in a place I equate to a very liberal prison. From my years, here’s a few things I picked up. You might arrive at this place with some friends; in honesty, they won’t be your friends for long. Well, you may get lucky with the one friend that would stick it through with you for the entire time. However I’ve seen people’s social structures change through 4 years. So consider all your childhood friends to be a nice little stepping stone to reach out to the entire school. It’s good to meet new people and try new things because at this point in time, you cannot be faulted to finding a bit of your adulthood within those walls. Sure you may have a plan going in, but coming out you may need a back up plan. In my case I had a back up, back up, back up plan. Shortly and surely that little taste of adult life will shock you to consequences. As scary as it sounds; for me, it keeps me grounded. Understand the limits, ask and scrutinize everything. If you have a choice on the subjects you can learn, I don’t think I could recommend anything you can personally do yourself. You know what you want in the here and now. I never figured out what I want through high school. As a 20-something, winging it sometimes doesn’t yield the best results. However the subjects I took helps me keep my eyes open and head held high. I guess I have my history teachers to thank.

To those would-be sophmores, you are well versed and well adjusted in school. As well adjusted you can be, I guess. No less, there are a few things you should be aware of too. Mostly puberty; laugh and giggle, hormones are no joke. This is the one thing I hated going through and I’m a dude! Sometimes I would just be borderline angry and sometimes I just wanted to curl up into a ball and leave the world to its devices. All I can say the chemicals are a perfect storm for learning the extent of your personality. Are you a risk taker? Romantic? Creative thinker? Lots of things will grow out physically and personally, hold on tight and ride the waves. Growing up is complicated but it doesn’t mean you are growing into adulthood. You are more growing to learn to be yourself, keeping what you have and leaving some of it behind. I use to be blank canvas and even now, that canvas is constantly changing. I never liked reading in school, I now read a bit at a time. I might even read a graphic novel. Give it time to let it all sink in; be out there and explore the frontiers of what it is to be yourself. Remember: why should you run in the rain when you know when arrive, you will still be wet?

Juniors, you guys are almost at the end. Like one more year, nearly there. Time for your exit strategy, what are your plans for the next couple years. As you refine your academia, remember to pack your portfolios with something. In some places, 16 years old is the minimum working age. It’s a good time to explore those back up options. Those these options may never come back to you, you could get into them and it will just look good on a resume. Just go out there and gain the experience you want, learn how to work and manage yourself. When I was 16, I explored a back up option for post-high. Apparently out of all the options I could have, it is the one I am still into because I like the environment. Rather to disclose you what I do now; let’s say just go out there and find your backup options, you will be surprised what sort of jobs you can pick up and just love.

As for the seniors, I haven’t forgotten you. Whether you want to take an additional year in high school or leaving after 4 years, the upcoming years will set the stage for adventure. As much as you want to explore and learn from it, keep in mind to create a balance of curiosity and livelihood. You may be entering university or college, perhaps into a workplace full-time; regardless where the next 4-10 years will send you, remember to make friends and have a little fun. Life is about enjoying the fragmented moments. The joy and anguish, the angst and exhilaration that your life will take you. Be yourself. Make friends. Life is best spent with those you care about and the ones your love. Do not dwell on the actions you could have taken for all your mistakes will be forgiven in time. Trust me, there were a few people I wish I could have been honest. The “only if” statements I have given to myself the past half decade could fill another post. The big ones involved a few girls I still like and a few changes I wish I could’ve have embrace. I am who I am because I created myself, therefore I could still change if I’m willing. The you here and now is not your final form, still a long ways to figure it out but this is the transformation to being an adult version of you.

Until next time; be the best you, you can be this year.

Sex Ed Curriculum

Recently my local government have decided to change up how sex education is deliver to students in public schools. Like anything coming from the government, there is always opposition against change or goes against their beliefs or opinions. In a recent news article, I read about the public school curriculum to include sex education to be more relevant to this generation. Which includes content about same sex relationships, masturbation, social media awareness like sexting and online bullying and gender awareness; the curriculum comes at a time where it’s more than a decade outdated. The opposition against these changes are those more focused on how the government came to a conclusion than considering how the content will be more inclusive to educate the next generation. Though both ends are in the right, I would consider how sex education should be introduced to children rather than what should be taught and who should be teaching it.

As a former prisoner of the public school system, I can definitely be sure, there are a lot of faults in the system. In particularly the routine of teacher within the confines of what the school board sets out. The system is effective at teaching however it doesn’t engage the students to learn. The only motivation when you reach high school is then to get into university. After a certain point it feels more like an institution that imprisons more than it educates. You go in day after day to learn and do things you don’t necessarily want but you need in order to satisfy the social norm of “successful”. Fact of the matter is success is within the diversity of knowledge we can pool from and not the knowledge base we are given.

Sex education like any other subject should be approached with a mindset of a diverse conversation. Not of a voice to tell you if you are right or wrong but should be inclusive to not discriminate. Our world has changed so quickly in the last 20 years, we went from homophobic and in the closet about gender and sexual diversity to embracing gender and sexual equality. Perhaps it is time to be on the vanguard to education in general if not just sex education. We are not born with user manuals so perhaps we should know how our own bodies work.

As we live in our lives, we will encounter different people and personalities. I think it’s more than appropriate to teach children to be open and objective about the world. A lot of bad things have happened when people act upon another group because they disapproved on their lifestyle choices. Are we going to be no different than those who came before us or can we create the change we want to be? Could we perhaps be the society open to new ideas? If we are, are we willing to accept ideas and concepts foreign to our social norm? As I can tell from these protests, some are ready while some are not ready for what they could possibly gain. Perhaps the protesters themselves should be open minded and see what ideas would be shared in this updated program.

Until next time, I would like to give my final thoughts. The public school system isn’t the only education system you can put your children into, yet not the only prison either. There are private schools you can enroll them in and if all else fails, you can just home school them. If you want to be ignorant, don’t enforce it to the entirety of the system. Take control of the situation yourself than relying on the system to be your children’s parents.

Things I’ve learned making Let’s Plays

I’ve never put in so much time for one thing I wanted to do; okay, I put in a lot of time for a few things. However I never been devoted to be a bit creative. It was always something I lacked. I can be creative at times to think of ideas (thus how this blog was born) but I never really been a visually creative person. Start of this year, I decided to make let’s plays on YouTube which somewhat harkens back to my old Black Ops gameplay. I always wanted to do something constructive or creative to develop something I had problem learning. For my new readers, I’m ADHD and I am not a very creative person; quite the unusual irony.

Over the past six months, I learned a few things from playing and recording video games. To veteran recorders and producers of gameplay, it may be obvious; but I do admire the fact the consistent and persistent nature of YouTubers. They remind me the humbling experience of being unpopular, bottom of the pyramid, way of finding a style. To those who haven’t had their mind set on WordPress wanting to do LP’s or record gameplay, I want you to learn from someone who doesn’t have a following and started with pretty much with a lot of time, plentiful amounts of procrastination and no money to put forward to upstart a hobby or interest. Take this as a warning or advice (or both).

Starting off, I needed a recording software. Something light on the system and can record the amount of time you need. For me, I need it to record continuously because I never know if there will be some good action bits. At the moment I’m using Open Broadcaster Software because it allows a one click solution with minimal set up but enough functionality to make changes to the encoding. At the beginning, I downloaded the program to replace CamStudio because the installation file I downloaded for The Dead Linger didn’t work. Both are free, but after having an experience in both products, I’ve come to realize the interface with OBS is easier and built towards online streaming and local recording than for tutorials and short presentations.

When I started with Banished LP’s, I recorded them in large huge batches. I’m talking like files sizes of 1GB times how much time I had. So in under x amount of hours, my hard drive would be capped out on raw video files. I think at one point I had 10 files lined up for uploading and those uploads would take up to 12 hours per file to upload. So it would take about 10 days to upload if you include time for me to just use my internet connection for anything besides uploading. So in the 30 plus episode run, it took a day each. However in TubeStar, the same 20 minute file would take about an hour or two. So if the game is very action based would require more frames. Therefore the file size will be larger compared to text based or 2D games. This is true in OBS by the way, try with your recording software of choice!

In making The Dead Linger, I found a difficulty with sandbox games where travelling is required. For one thing, you have to fill the time walking with something interesting. If you are a quiet gamer, definitely cut out the nothingness. If you have something to talk about, just talk and don’t hold back until you’re done. It can be interesting, informative, funny or just be somewhat like a small video journal about your life while you play. Just let it out and even if you are going to cut it, then cut it but it’s always to have some extra bits to have more to add if the video is a bit short.

Length of the video to me is only the limitation to the audience and your hard drive. However personally, I think people have a bit of a short attention span. With that in mind, I do my best to make my videos 20 minutes or less. At first, I aimed for 20 minutes. Now I end it when I think I have enough content or I set an end point. I guess it’s because Defiance has missions unlike The Dead Linger. So I can end one mission as a video. What I’m trying to say, find a way to end a video.

Early on, I said I’m not a very creative person. The truth really unfolds if you watch my YouTube channel compared to everyone’s LP. I don’t have a visual introduction, no end cards or effects. I just play as is and I do that because two main reasons. First being theory; I don’t really want to promote myself, I want to promote the games I play. The games are the feature on my channel and I want people to find their niche in video games. The large part I want them to see my video and try the game themselves. I think the second reason why I don’t have visuals is obvious. I’m not the best editor or graphic designer. I’m usually the idea man, the guy who wants to do it and get it done. I like to be the person to establish point A and point B and let people define the direction of travel. But at times, I do regret I’m not a visual person. I wish I could have some creativity so I could make graphics. But for now, you got to like where you start out. You don’t have to be established to start something, you just have to start.

Have I learned everything from making videos? I’m just about to get started. I don’t have a job, I don’t have the creativity, I don’t have best of anything. I just do it because I go in knowing I could fail and I would learn something from it or succeed and gain something I don’t really know and I could get interested into it. I might not make money from it because I consider myself small time but it doesn’t matter. For better or worse, I do what I love. I love video games, I love playing video games and I want to share my love with people who are still finding their love.

If someone who loves to teach a noob about graphic design and video production, let me know!

Into Indies

At the moment on my YouTube channel, I have played a couple indie games but I never really just picked something up to just display it. Recently, I thought I would use IndieDB to help me find some games to make short playthroughs. As a starter, I have downloaded TubeStar.

TubeStar is a parody to making videos on YouTube and “simulates” being a YouTuber. I wouldn’t be so sure what that would actually be like but I thought I would give it a shot. Though there is a bunch of games out there so why would I pick something so obscure? Simply, I picked one at random I can download and gave it a shot. From the recorded gameplay footage, I somewhat regret my decision. It was very dull to say the least and the gameplay was not compelling.

Lessons learned from this little let’s play recording session? First would be to read about the game, then download it to play a bit to see if it’s compelling or has something worth showing. Secondly, compelling gameplay; honestly I got kind fo bored halfway through the game. Most definitely trust my ADHD-meter for interesting games. Last point to make would be pick from genres I would enjoy and not through a mystery bag system.  

So the first indie lets play on my channel is a semi-success, but I’ll let the viewer make that count. Until then, I’m sticking to my laggy playthrough of The Dead Linger. 

Look at me…I’m learnding!

When we grow old, it seems like we don’t really learn much anymore. We learn everything we need to survive; whether job or otherwise. I’m way too young to come to this realization, from observation of peers and other people I do find myself at an impasse in education. By now, I should be in a college or university – well realistically, in bed since it’s way too early for a blog. I had aspirations mind you, but I had my sights on something bigger than myself. I still do but it may turn to a pipedream if I can’t find any way to really doing. What I do with my life isn’t on the firing line for now; but my education retrospectively. From once we start learning to the beginning of our adulthood, we either consciously and unconsciously choose what we want to do. We might enjoy science so we choose courses tailored for science to refine to a specific field of study. In some way, I think this isn’t really learning. Obviously it is since you are learning about a particular academia; but overall when you put it deep down, you don’t learn anything else.

Way before we had academics et cetera, we as humans learn from our predecessors (parents, guardian, non-biological adult) to survive. Considering all the life sustaining systems we take for granted – agriculture, self-defence, cookery – they were all taught by the adults to help their prodigy to survive because it’s what they did to survive. This wisdom was not tested by numbers or tests, but by livelihood. Meaning, if your parents taught you to cook  you can survive well by cooking food; if your parents taught you to hunt animals, you would be able to track and kill wild boar and whatever else you can kill and eat. Nowadays in the land of money and urbanism, we seem to survive on what we learn from society itself. Learning has been to been turns into a product and not really a necessary skill. Rather than things we need to do to survive, we receive what we need to make money to survive. The complexity of this generational survivalism from just living to living with set duties within a society. I’m not demonizing the system, but amount of academia and demand is very high and it’s coming up to the point where it can develop into a class differential between secondary and post-secondary education. Purist, we are all dumb in a sense. To a degree, we all do have certain amount of knowledge of everything. However this is starting to be not the case in the new century.

Now education is more focused on social needs. If the society needs geologists, there’s a program for that. If the society needs financial advisors, there’s someone out there waiting for that job. It’s not really about the needs of ourselves in education, but the need of the social environment and the incentives thereof. Problem with this is that now in a world of billions, we have excessive need of people for those small amount of jobs. Where does the overflow go? Well either they move somewhere where they can get that kind of work or simply pay off debts with small wage jobs. Surgeons as taxi drivers, linguists working behind a a register. In it’s infancy, academia encompasses classical and contemporary learning. What we use to learn in family and what the society may need. You would learn because you wanted to find out more and to to satisfied with discovering something. Now it seems more and more from observation, learning is more is to fit a social need. Back then many aspired to be a renaissance person (one who specialized in many studies), now it’s primarily the false aspiration of “I want to be this because it pays well.” So are you learning for yourself or learning for society.

Beside the philosophical pondering, I think intelligence is from what you know and not of what you specifically know. Applicable intelligence I think is more useful than academia. It helps with survival in terms of a life or death scenario. Likely in a land of plenty and a city of abundance, academia is a survival trait now. But when society collapses, are we prepared to survive on a natural capacity? Matter of speaking, we have so far. But we should focus learning and questioning everything rather than accepting what is provided. Of course it’s the basis of science to ask the how and why, I think it’s more importantly to learn everything and ask anything.

New Summer Project And Enjoying The Frustrating Thrill Of Macro/Script Programming

So with my last post, I did talk about scripting and macros for Runes Of Magic. After that little blog post, I began learning how to make simple tweaks and commands to make a few simple things the game has yet to really own up to from it’s vanilla UI (vanilla is lingo for original/regular especially about modding and UI stands for “user interface”). So I think it’s up to me to learn a bit about how the game works. So I’m starting a new project for the summer to learn about programming for the UI and maybe produce something simple at first. Then maybe expand on making something complex. I’ll try and stick to chat commands since I find it handy to know a few to see what’s going on and such. From there, I hope to achieve making frames (the UI windows). The end goal if I fully choose to go with is a full suite of new things in-game I could do.

Along the way, I think I’ll publish them to people reading my blog (that’s you!). Probably incremental versions with little or no tweaks. I doubt I would really release one big one for people to explore.

You must be asking “Can’t you take someone else’s program?” or “Can I contribute?”. First off I would like to say, I rather learn about it thank just taking people’s work and working closer to my own. Though there are many add on’s in this game that likely they’re all clones anyways. This is more strictly to learn about programming in LUA and just experiencing a portion of what it’s like to be a developer. And to that, people can contribute by offering to test it out and provide feedback on my work. Though it’s not my first time handling code, it’s definitely a new programming language that could be similar to Turing or HTML (hopefully what I’ve learned in high school can help me).

Of course it’s going to be awhile until I have the first addition. So keep checking back. For now I leave you with a few questions if you guys wouldn’t mind helping me out. Leave me comments on the following:

-What should I name my add-on?

-Would you like testing it in Runes Of Magic? (Of course everyone will have the opportunity, I just want to know)

-Have you ever downloaded an add-on to an MMORPG? If so, why did you do it?

For now, I leave you with a screenshot of what’s going to be an adventure of the frustrated mind of an add-on developer.

...okay, now what?

Runes Of Magic: Macros And You

Ever since I started playing with Runes Of Magic, I always though it would be pretty bulky in terms of casting and item usage. Of course, I vowed not to ever alter the behaviour and aesthetics of the game so people who start playing can see what I’m really doing. However, you can’t help but to do something the game will allow you to do. So today, I begin updating my macros for the game and maybe share my insight on macros.

Before we begin, lets talk about what is a macro (those who already know, skip ahead…it’s just me helping people). Etymologically, it originated from macroscopic. Since the digital, a macro is set of instructions performed under a single command. Lets take something simple like shortcuts on your desktop. Say you want to open My Computer, you can just click it and you have it. Now lets get crazy like accessing Skype while opening My Computer. Traditionally you would have to click on both to start or have them highlight and hit your Enter key. Either case, that’s about 2-4 keystrokes (a press of a button if for those who are technologically illiterate). Now you can however work around this by having software installed to allow you to hit that button and it would do both at the same time. So you can assign your F10 as the “Open Skype and My Computer” key and with that single keystroke, will allow you to perform the action of 2-4 keystroke. Of course this idea really catches on in the gaming world were ever action needs to be set as quickly as possible.

Currently I’m a level 44/46 Priest/Knight and as part of the Priest class, I have to heal and buff and all that jazz. It gets difficult when I have to cast many spells all in a span over multiple keystrokes. So around level 25 or so I began to the long road into learning keybindings and macros which still follows me to this present day. It started with learning basic channel commands, those little slash commands that would switch channels much easily. That was rudimentary as in Runes Of Magic, there a just a few:

/s For local. Only people nearby can see.

/world For Server Channel. Everyone will see this.

/r For replying to whispers or tells

/t For whispering to someone. /r is also acceptable.

/z For Zone. The region you are standing in can hear you.

/[number from 1-9] Private channels you’ve join. They can be named, but the commands are for each sequential channel  you join.

/p For party, with players just killing stuff or raiding and watchnot.

/g Guild channel, let your guildies know what’re your thinking and such.

Fairly straight forward as you can tell. As I moved on from that, I start to learn some more secretive commands that worked in chat. These of which I’ve used up to this day is my form of casting magic, setting wait times and using items. These were the introduction to the real awesome stuff.

/cast [Skill] Used for casting skills available to your character. the [Skill] portion is case sensitive.

/use [Item] Just like /cast but for items in your backpack/inventory.

/wait [number] Pretty much a simple command to pause the macro for an amount of time in the [number] variable in seconds. Whole numbers only.

That’s worked pretty well so far. I haven’t ran into trouble. Though some are really annoying since you have to account for cast time and cooldown using the /wait and the /use is very specific on the item when you really need mana or health. So I’m kind of suffering from a mid-level crisis; it’s like mid-life but I won’t buy a motorcycle or dye my hair and stuff like that. I’m beginning to understand these macros that I’m confident enough to begin adding more and more into them to make them pretty fun and complex.

Rather than completely destroying my macros I can easily edit, I created a text macro to program in the Macro tab in-game. You can go there by hitting ESC and clicking on the Macros button. From there, pick an empty space and hit that “new” button.

Macro Screen

From this little window, you can change the icon and name which will appear when you hover over it. Here’s an example of my basic macro for casting Group Heal:

Example: Group Heal

So those are pretty easy; just casts Group Heal which heals everyone in the party. The wait command is given so that the /s command will be sent at the moment the Group Heal is completed it’s cast. Now lets go to our new macro, Lets learn some simple that I caught on real quick; the /run command (come people use /script, but /run is easier). All it does is executes certain functions from the game files that are limited to buttons, events and certain windows. It goes something like this:

/run [Function] [Parameters]

/run is used to tell the game to run a script within it’s files. The function is the specific function you wish to run and the parameters are sets of conditions to add on to the function. So now we got that down lets do “DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME”. I only know one command that goes along with this which is called “AddMessage”. What this two things are is to indicate the function will be in the main chat window and it will be an internal event message (this is used mostly as a chat logger for event in the game like an event dungeon, a celebratory greeting or festival). In this case, we’re going to make it say something. Noticed I added the parentheses there which will contain our conditions.

First Function

Now that we got that, lets add in what we want to say in the message. As part of the example, I’m just going to put down “Hello World!”, but put down whatever you wish. This condition is a string so you have to put it in quotation to indicate to the game that it is a string (a string in terms of macros is just a bit of information that’s not in relation to the function but for the use of the function to use as part of it’s action). Be sure to save it, it will close the window and now you can assign it just like a skill. I’ve placed mine in the 4th action bar which I’ve allocated to the right side of the screen.

Test Drive

Now lets try it, by now you should know how to activate skills and assign skills through the NPC-led tutorial so go ahead and hit the hotkey or activate it by clicking it.

It Worked! That and I was gathering herbs.

Cool! Your first macro. This really does nothing but displays a message which can come in handy in terms of knowing which skills have been casted and where in the sequence you casted it from. Now lets try making it change colour. To do this, after your condition you can set the RGB percentage. The percentages should range in a decimal from 0.0 to 1.0 where 1.0 is 100%. Be sure to separate the message with commas to indicate you want to change the RGB scheme. In this example, I’ve make it white by setting red to 100, green to 100 and blue to 100 percent. To set it to black, it’s the opposite (0.0, 0.0 and 0.0).


Sweet! We have colouration. By now, you must this “worst macro ever”. Totally wrong consider we’ve only scratched the surface. Here’s some screenshots of some other tests I’ve tried.

In-game Time: What do the numbers mean?

Tried to tinker with if statements. Failed...good thing no one was around to hear me...

UnitTitle...really? Guess that's good.

A few things to note; the max characters is 255, you cannot link one macro to another and you only have 49 macros.

Next up on my way of learning macros is creating my own slash commands and building a library of stuff I can add to. Dare I say my own shoddy chat commands?

Have fun playing around and get back to me on making your own macros. What you found and what you’ve learned. Share so maybe I can learn a bit too!