Thursday, December 27, 2012

Natural Selection 2 - How to practice being a Commander

I like Natural Selection 2 - the Real Time Strategy slash First Person Shooter game.  In order to play it though a reasonably good commander is essential.  There are many YouTube videos out there that discuss the commander role in high level terms.   But I am seeing a lot of holes in these discussions, and without these holes filled in, no one is going to try to learn to be commander.   I played many games where the first 5 minutes were discussions on who will be the commander always like it's a hot potato.  By the time someone finally takes the chair or hive, the game is over.  And frankly as much as the "community" says it is willing to help, they are not willing to help.  They berate you, they say do this or do that and the first time commander is quickly overwhelmed.  Shortly after the game tips heavily in one direction or the other then half the players rage quit.  Rarely does the game play out.

More importantly questions such as: what do I click on? or what do I type? what can I do? are never answered anywhere and believe me I googled till my fingers hurt.  There are probably 500 YouTube videos but nothing that will help the first time commander.  They may help the tenth time commander but not the first time commander.

The training->explore mode does not help the budding commander because all the tech is already built by the time you join the server.   If you start a private server you have to wait till the server "starts"; meaning enough players have to join before you can "man the chair".

UPDATE: With the help of someone else I found out you can bypass the need for a friend by doing the following:  After bringing up NS2, in console type: map ns2_summit.  It will start the server then in console type "cheat 1" and you can join marines and jump into the chair.  Much easier.

This next paragraph is useful if you have a friend to help you.

So I did google and found out how to setup up a private "cheat" server which allows me to join marines and immediately jump into the chair.  In order to have a test server to play in you must have a friend who is willing to help you out.  I have not been able to figure this out without a friend, if I add bots then the chair starts setting up items to build on its own, so that is not useful to me either.  To get this working create a private server do not give it a password just hope no one joins.  If you put a password on it your friend will have a tough time finding your server.  When you get in to the ready room.  Bring down the console (usually the ~ key).  From the console type "cheat 1" this will allow you to join the marines and pop into the chair.  Your friend will need to join with the connect command from the console type "connect ip" where ip is your ip address.  There maybe a way to set the password after connecting but I could not get it to work.  To find out your ip address bring up a web browser and type "" and it will tell you.  Your firewall maybe a problem and that is beyond the scope of this document, seek help from other knowledgeable players.   Your friend can disconnect once you have it started but it maybe useful to keep him around.  Your friend could play alien commander while you play marine commander or vice-versa.

Now that you are in, jump into the chair:

First you need to know how to move the map, you can move your mouse to one edge of the map and it will scroll in that direction.  But that is not useful if you need to get to another part of the map quickly to help out your marines.  To move to another location quickly you need to go to the minimap which is already on the commander screen and click on that map and the main map will move to that location.  This is an essential function of the commander so you can quickly join the battle.

I needed to get a friend to join so I could understand how to give him a command.  To give a player a command you have to draw a box around them and that selects them.  Then click on the location of the map you want them to go to and they get a way-point for them to go to.   I am not sure if you can select the path or not, like through successive way-points or not, but at least they will know where they are to go.  Again this is a critical function of the commander.  I assume you can draw a box around a bunch of people and give them a group way-point but have not been able to test that since I only had one friend available to help me.

Marine Commander Basics:

It seems to me that the Marine Commander should build stuff in a certain order much like the build orders described for playing Starcraft and Starcraft2.  Since this game is about speed as well as combat getting off to a good start by building the essentials in a proper order.   I would assume different commanders using different strategies would use different build orders which emphasize and strengthen his or her plans.  So I will not argue the build order but using my cheat server I did the following.  I had to keep jumping out of the chair to do the building but that is to be expected for this exercise.

I got into the chair, placed an armory and infantry portal, I did this by looking at the menu at the bottom left.  The top row is a "header" of menus, so the first tab is simple build items such as Command Chair, Extractor, Infantry Portal, Armory, Robotics Factory and Arms Lab.  Next tab is advanced options such as sentry, sentry batteries, observatory, phase gate and prototype lab.  If you place an item, any nearby marines will be automatically given the order to build it, so you do not need to give an explicit order to build it.

In the building one thing confused the heck out of me.  I could not build the phase gates to save my life.  Here is what you need to do to build the phase gates.  You have to build an armory and an infantry portal (the first one is sufficient for the requirement, but you need a second one).  Then build an observatory, yea who would have guessed.  Once the observatory is built then research phase tech.  Then you can build phase gates.  Also don't hit the button that says "distress beacon" unless you want all the marines to come back to the main base.

That is pretty much it, but this would have quickly overwhelmed me in a real situation and I am sure any other first time commander trying to figure this out.

Note: Command chairs and Alien Hives can only be built on 5 locations on the maps.  Therefore getting to 3 chairs or hives is usually going to win it for you.  Since you cannot "tie" on resources always one team will have more then the other when the map is maxed out.

Alien Commander Basics:

Once I got the server going I could go back and forth easily between marine and alien commanders to check them out by hitting F4 to get back to the ready room.

The Alien is more of a solo situation, he does not need his alien players to do anything in particular but it does help in combat situations.  The interface for the Alien commander is similar to the marine commander with a menu on the lower left with tabs.  Here are the choices under tabs, simple is cyst, harvester, whip and hive.  The advanced options require you to commit your hives to the different types, they can be found and discussed in other documents.

There is an assist menu like for the marine commander but it has an interesting command I never saw used before "bone wall" which puts up a temporary impassable structure but it looks like it only lasts about 30 seconds.

As the alien commander the thing that confused me the most was the "drifter".  It is discussed in great detail in many documents but not how to use them.  Here is what I figured out.  I clicked on the hive and saw the little icon for "drifter" and clicked on it and nothing happened.  I did this several times and was greatly confused.  After much play I figured out that when I created the first one, it apparently does not exist in real life only in some ethereal world, but a tiny drifter icon with a number appears just above and to the right of the lower left menu.  This is the key to using the drifter.  Click on that little icon, then it magically appears on the screen near the hive.  Then click to where you want it to go and it will go there.  After that you can then select it directly on the screen where you left it or by the little icon again.  This would have been a game stopper in a real game.

Anyway doing this helped me a lot.  Strategy guides and plans are plentiful but just doing the basic commands is not discussed anywhere.  If you were helped by this I will be pleased, trying to figure this out helped me a lot.

Friday, April 6, 2012

An unintended consequence of SCOTUS striking down Obamacare.

I do not think I have heard this angle from any of the pundits either Conservative or Liberal.

But in the event SCOTUS strikes down Obamacare, which I think they should, it could give an unintended boon to the Obama 2012 campaign.  Here is the scenario as I see it being played out.  Sometime in mid June SCOTUS strikes Obamacare down.   That means there are somewhere between 4 and 4.5 months of time between the strike down and the elections.  At this time businesses who have holding back on expansion and hiring start to hire because now that Obamacare is struck down, they do not have that hanging over their heads.  Combine that with the fact that once summer is over and the school year begins that is really when business gets moving anyway so the 2 positive things combined could mean a boon to the economy possibly even a large pick up in the economy.  If that happens then Obama can then campaign that HE turned the economy around but in reality it would be the actions of SCOTUS who brought the economy back.  Anyway that is my 2 cents.

'via Blog this'

Friday, November 5, 2010

Here is how we destroy liberalism right now!

We need to strike while the iron is hot!  Here is the situation, we have the House but not the Senate or Presidency.  This means we can do somethings but not anything major. But the jewel of our victory on Nov 2nd is that we now have control of most of the State Legislatures.  Using the State Legislatures we have the opportunity to destroy the pillars of liberalism in our country but we need to start right now, and here is my plan.
According the the Constitution we have two ways to adopt new amendments, up to this point we have only used one method.  That method is for Congress to pass the amendment and then and only then can it go to the States for adoption and if the correct super majority of States agree the amendment is adopted into the Constitution.    This path is not an option for us in our current situation.   There is another path laid out by the Constitution and it comes from the States.

This path is possible for us now, we get the State Legislatures to push for a Convention.   This process limits the discussion of the Convention to what it was called for.   We have the power and we need to use it now. We need to call multiple Conventions discussing in a prioritized order (this is my prioritized list)

  • Require the Federal Government and ALL State Governments to have a Balanced Budget.
  • Using proper lawyer language eliminate ALL entitlements and make sure the Government can not start new entitlements.
  • Define Citizenship in the United States (clear up the anchor baby situation) and prevent all but emergency services be denied anyone who is not a citizen.

I am only one person, I need your help to get this to the Tea Parties across the country and to VIP's like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman etc.   Get the word out, the time is now and I need your help

Monday, August 2, 2010

How about a Palin/Brewer Ticket?

I hear a lot of people in the GOP and Tea Parties indicating there is no GOP Presidential Candidates standing out at this time.   They say we need a leader, one with cojones, who has name recognition.   I love Palin for President and plenty are talking about her usually in a negative light even in the GOP.  Well frankly she is a powerhouse people will support her, but more importantly she said something this week that should have caught the Tea Parties attention.   Palin says that Brewer has more cojones then President Obama.  I agree.   How about a Palin/Brewer ticket or even a Brewer/Palin ticket.   Brewer with the current controversy has certain name recognition and she is on the right side of the issues.

What do you think?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Proposal for a Leaner Meaner Intelligence System.

In regards to the article "How about a leaner and meaner intelligence system?" I have thought about this a lot. I like and support Open Source Software and am a patriot, I know that is not a combination usually found in the real world. My expertise is software design and development.

My interpretation of this article and the "Top Secret America" articles also published by the Washington Post. Is that the DNI (Director of National Intelligence) is overwhelmed by the amount of data and articles published by the various Intelligence agencies that it is nearly impossible to "connect the dots" and finding terrorists before they attack. Although that may be true there have been no successful attacks on the U.S.A since the 9/11 attacks so they must be able to glean something of value from what data they have.

Considering the above listed problem of data overwhelming the agency, I have developed an idea for an organizational structure that should be able to help in putting the information at hand to good use in defense of the U.S.A. Of course I have no interest and prefer "turf wars" not happen and am going to ignore that for the time being, but will address it at the end in a more complete manner.

Basically the concept of the structure is to be a service organization, not a computer service, but a people service. I know coming from a software developer a "manual" versus and automated service may sound like I am nuts, but being in the industry for years and working towards the Holy Grail of Software Devopment by developing my own HAL 9000 computer system is not a realistic goal. I am sure the geeks over at NSA are working on the prototype for HAL 7000 right now and think I am selling them short. No I think improvements in HAL like systems will certainly enhance the Information Worker but never take his or her place in this world.

The organization will have to not be like any existing agency; it's people will need to have an outward face welcoming and helpful to the Intelligence community seeking their help. This agencies workers need to feel and be proud of the fact that they are helping defend this wonderful country.

The sole purpose of the workers is to help the Intelligence Agents that are seeking information about subjects or that are trying to generate leads on possible threats to gather information from the vast archive of articles maintained by the agency. The workers are to be Librarians who are also up to date on the jargon of the industry and are already well read on the subjects in question and can talk intelligently to the agents seeking their help. There should be Librarians that are available to the Librarians who are more subject matter experts, so when a Librarian is helping an agent, they may seek further help with the subject matter experts to help glean more information.

Now how does this help deal with the fact the agency is overwhelmed with data. First let me say there needs to be some software written to support the Librarians. The software support the Librarians in a manner like the Open Directory Project (DMOZ) where human interpreters are trying to categorize manually the web, a human run Google if you will. In this agency those human interpreters read all incoming articles and categorize and tag the articles with search terms that would help future searches in regards to those articles. Typically I see the subject matter experts reading all articles in a certain main subject and doing the categorization and tagging. This would mean there is a vast amount of knowledge already in their heads when they are approached by the Librarians asking for help.

In regards to categorization and tagging, I see this as likely a fluid environment, as current events change priorities the tags and categories may change. New tags will come along and as old articles are brought up in current searches they should be re-tagged by the subject matter experts with new tags as necessary. I see this being done not on all old articles but only on old ones that are brought up by new searches. This way the agency does not need to re-churn the entire archive every time new tags are added to the system.

Now about security, which would be of great concern for the folks in the Intelligence Agencies I have some possible security measures that can be developed into it. First the agency will have a search portal like Google usually run by the Librarians but can also be run by outside agencies. Assuming the structure is that an article is classified by a security level such as an integer, and an individual can only see articles at his or her security level or below this can be developed into the system. First the various Librarians should have sufficiently high security levels to view and categorize most articles in the system and a few Librarians that can work on the few that are of high level security. When a search is performed the articles that the Librarian and/or the agent can view are displayed. But also any articles that they cannot view because of security level will be listed as a number such as "There are 5 articles that may be of help, but cannot be viewed because of security concerns." Then a Librarian of a higher security level can review the articles and determine if they are of value and if they are of value, a determination by an appropriate authority can be made to decide if the agents can view the articles or not.

Dealing with "turf war" problems. Most bureaucrats like to strongly defend their "turf" and are not likely to give another bureaucrat from another "turf" anything useful. To deal with this I have some ideas, but not being a bureaucrat I do not know if it will fly or not. Pay incentives, all of our Librarians and subject matter experts will be given a base pay. But at each juncture with an agent from one of the other agencies, if the other agent feels the information was helpful to them they would indicate so and each time they get this type of acknowlegement they get a micro bonus (not sure what the actual amount will be). Make the micro bonuses be such that in any given pay period the worker can get maybe up to 50% more money then their base pay if they are being helpful.

Anyway please comment.