Learn to Code, Learn Anything

May 17, 2012

There has been quite some debate recently about whether people should learn to code or shouldn't learn to code. I think this trite squabbling is ridiculous and misses the point entirely.

The whole debate originated from a post Jeff Atwood made titled Please Don't Learn to Code. The post establishes the fact that ordinary people should avoid learning to code because it's pointless. The post also mentions that the effort spent learning to code ought to be spent learning something else. The whole article reeks of an oppressive, elitist tone. As a fellow programmer I can't help but disagree with Jeff's post.

Learning to code is something that should be embraced by any individual that shows interest. Whether you are looking for a new hobby or career change, you should learn to code. Learning to code is one of the key building blocks of becoming a programmer. Just like with writing a book, you must first learn how to write.

The fact of the matter is that you should learn to do whatever your heart desires. Don't let other people dictate what you shouldn't learn.

Five tips that helped me become better at StarCraft 2

February 14, 2011

First, I want to share a little background information regarding me and StarCraft 2. I started playing StarCraft 2 back when it was first released on July 27, 2010. After finishing the placement matches to determine my league, I was placed in silver league. However, after playing more games I was demoted to bronze league. Today, I still remain in bronze league but I feel that I have improved my game drastically since I started playing by executing five basic tips.

Macro over Micro

You always hear people say that you should macro before you micro. This is true to an extent. I never used to expand to my natural or any other expo. This was a big mistake. The moment I started to expand, the more games I started to win. Also, don't forget to constantly be producing SCVs/probes/drones. Once your main becomes saturated you should already have expanded and should be ready to transfer SCVs/probes/drones. Obviously, this doesn't apply if you are using a one-base build. Once you become a more skilled player, only then should you focus on micro. Also, make it a goal to keep minerals and gas below 500 each.

Constant Unit Production

A unit producing structure should always be training units. Don't waste precious resources on additional structures if they won't be constantly training units. Instead, you could be investing your resources into units with existing structures.

Scouting

This doesn't seem obvious to many new players. It didn't to me. The key is map control and knowing what your opponent is doing.

Xel'Naga towers - If a map has Xel'Naga towers, then you should focus on controlling all of them. This can help reveal your opponents unit composition, or give you advanced warning if your opponent is getting ready to attack.

Look before you leap - If you're about to advance your units up a ramp of your opponent's main or expo, send one unit up the ramp to take a peek. This will let you know in advance if your units will stand a chance against your opponent's units. As as example, sacrificing a stimmed marine (50 minerals) might be worth it before you push all your marines into a line of colossi.

Scans - Being able to see and know what your opponent is doing without sacrificing units is powerful. If you deploy an orbital command, use your scans! I have been using the first 100 energy to call down two MULEs but using my subsequent 50 energy to scan my opponent's base. This allows you to quickly figure out what your opponent is doing in the early game that way you can counter accordingly.

Don't queue up units

This is a controversial topic. Queuing takes up precious resources that could be spent elsewhere. Try not to queue up more than two units. If you find yourself with over 500 minerals then you should probably be creating more unit-producing structures.

Don't get supply blocked

The most important thing to remember is never to get supply blocked. Always keep an eye on what your supply is at and plan ahead. If you notice that your supply is getting close to full, then build two supply depots to give you more leeway.

That's about it, for now. Keep in mind these tips are coming from a bronze league player. In no way are these tips perfect. They have helped me and I hope they will help you.

Review - Amnesia: The Dark Descent

November 10, 2010

Last week I finished playing through Amnesia: The Dark Descent and figured I would give a review of the game. This was the first survival horror game I had ever played, so I was very eager to start playing.

Amnesia is a first-person survival horror game developed by Frictional Games, the creators of the Penumbra series. When starting the game, the developers suggest playing in a dark room with headphones which will allow you to immerse yourself into the game. The game feeds off your fear of the unknown. After playing for about 10 minutes I turned the lights back on. 'Nuff said.

The setting is in the dark and gloomy Castle Brennenburg. You awake as Daniel, a man who has lost nearly all memory of the past. As you embark on a treacherous journey through the castle, you come across Daniel's journal entries which develop the storyline. Traversing down through the dreary castle also triggers vivid memories of past events. The more Daniel descends, the darker he gets.

Navigating through the pitch-black corridors relies on you using an oil-powered lamp or using tinderboxes to ignite torches or candles. As you might assume, lamp oil and tinderboxes are limited so use them wisely.

A key mechanic in Amnesia is that you are defenseless. The only way that you can survive an encounter with a monster is to run or hide. Don't stay in the dark too long as you will slowly start to lose your sanity. Other factors that impact your sanity are unsettling events and encounters with monsters.

Conclusion

Overall, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a phenomenal game. The work and attention to detail that Frictional Games put into this game is stellar. I highly recommend this game even if you are not into the survival horror genre. At only $20, this game is an absolute steal. The game is available via Frictional Games' store, Steam, Direct2Drive, and other popular online retailers.

The Good

  • Realistic and eerie ambient sounds really immerse you in the game
  • Environment is visually stunning
  • Does a good job at manipulating your senses and triggering fear of the unknown

The Bad

  • The ending is mediocre and leaves certain questions unanswered
  • Lamp oil and tinder boxes are sparse making it difficult during certain parts of the game
  • Some puzzles in the game are not as intuitive as others

Here's a video of some gameplay:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEHPwAvrc_U