Tribute to Past Ufopaedia Work


  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 MikeTheRed

MikeTheRed

    Sergeant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 95 posts
  • Location:Atlanta GA USA

Posted 11 March 2017 - 08:56 PM

Hi everyone,

I'm making a personal website that includes summaries of work I've done on games over the years. It would not be complete without mentioning Ufopaedia/XCOM.

I worked on Ufopaedia with many others from 2005 to ~2009. Many of you have also been on StratCore. Let me know if I remember anything wrong (!). Tell me if you'd like to change or add anything there, or write it here.

I'd also like to apologize to Zombie for being pigheaded sometimes. But wow we did some great work. It was a real pleasure working with you!

Long live XCOM! What a cool game it was/is.

   MikeTheRed

#2 Zombie

Zombie

    Mr. Grognard of X-COM

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,531 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Wisconsin, USA

Posted 12 March 2017 - 06:25 AM

Wow, that was a cool walk down memory lane MTR, thanks for sharing! My fingers still hurt from all that explosion testing, but boy was it worth it! Nice to see you still around, you're welcome to continue work on UFOPaedia.org. :)

- Zombie

My X-COM Patch Kit For UFO Defense | Emergency XCOM Meeting spoof on YouTube




JellyfishGreen said:

Zombie: Empirical data's your only man, when formulating a research plan.
A soldier's death is never in vain if it makes the formula more plain.
A few dozen make a better case for refining that third decimal place.
They call me Zombie because I don't sleep, as I slowly struggle to climb this heap,
of corpses, data points, and trials, but from the top - I'll see for miles!

#3 NKF

NKF

    Mr. Badger in disguise

  • Site Staff
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,423 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:In my mind

Posted 13 March 2017 - 05:08 AM

Ah, the many evenings diving into the executable and binaries with MS-Edit... we did so like to do things the hard way. Quite glad a lot of what we came up, along with the discussions and analysis that followed, were well along the right path. ;)

- NKF
NKF, narrow minded fuddy duddy who refuses to let go of the past and will not accept anything newer than 1979.

#4 Zombie

Zombie

    Mr. Grognard of X-COM

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,531 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Wisconsin, USA

Posted 13 March 2017 - 07:10 PM

View PostNKF, on 13 March 2017 - 05:08 AM, said:

Ah, the many evenings diving into the executable and binaries with MS-Edit... we did so like to do things the hard way.

Thing is, back then it was the only way. Well, short of decompilers, but not many of us used them. Or heck, even the brute force method I employed which provided a significant amount of discoveries. Posted Image I still miss MS-Edit though, was a very handy tool. Posted Image

View PostMikeTheRed, on 11 March 2017 - 08:56 PM, said:

I worked on Ufopaedia with many others from 2005 to ~2009. Many of you have also been on StratCore. Let me know if I remember anything wrong (!). Tell me if you'd like to change or add anything there, or write it here.

The way you wrote the part about recruit (soldiers) starting stats made it sound like nobody hardly knew anything about it until you did all that sampling. Not to discredit the work you did there (which was incredible), but the UN-official Strategy Guide by Kasey Chang already had this info in it. My FIRST POST on the forums here even dealt with this aspect, the primary reason being that the USG didn't provide the values for Strength or the Psionic abilities. But you know me, excess is my middle name and I needed trials to ultimately nail the values down (my first post had 200 manual trials via the Playstation version), and I eventually compiled 2000 entries if my memory serves. Not sure if I posted the ultimate max value a soldier could attain via training, but I must have somewhere (if not it probably was in my Comprehensive Strategy Guide I was attempting to write). So there were at least two sources where this info could be found. And assuming because the page didn't exist on the Wiki yet didn't mean nobody looked into it. Not to chest-thump bravado or anything, but most any topic you could think of, I probably did testing on. Posted Image

- Zombie

My X-COM Patch Kit For UFO Defense | Emergency XCOM Meeting spoof on YouTube




JellyfishGreen said:

Zombie: Empirical data's your only man, when formulating a research plan.
A soldier's death is never in vain if it makes the formula more plain.
A few dozen make a better case for refining that third decimal place.
They call me Zombie because I don't sleep, as I slowly struggle to climb this heap,
of corpses, data points, and trials, but from the top - I'll see for miles!

#5 MikeTheRed

MikeTheRed

    Sergeant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 95 posts
  • Location:Atlanta GA USA

Posted 14 March 2017 - 09:10 PM

View PostNKF, on 13 March 2017 - 05:08 AM, said:

Ah, the many evenings diving into the executable and binaries with MS-Edit... we did so like to do things the hard way. Quite glad a lot of what we came up, along with the discussions and analysis that followed, were well along the right path. Posted Image

View PostZombie, on 13 March 2017 - 07:10 PM, said:

Thing is, back then it was the only way. Well, short of decompilers, but not many of us used them. Or heck, even the brute force method I employed which provided a significant amount of discoveries. Posted Image I still miss MS-Edit though, was a very handy tool. Posted Image

The way you wrote the part about recruit (soldiers) starting stats made it sound like nobody hardly knew anything about it until you did all that sampling. Not to discredit the work you did there (which was incredible), but the UN-official Strategy Guide by Kasey Chang already had this info in it. My FIRST POST on the forums here even dealt with this aspect, the primary reason being that the USG didn't provide the values for Strength or the Psionic abilities. But you know me, excess is my middle name and I needed trials to ultimately nail the values down (my first post had 200 manual trials via the Playstation version), and I eventually compiled 2000 entries if my memory serves. Not sure if I posted the ultimate max value a soldier could attain via training, but I must have somewhere (if not it probably was in my Comprehensive Strategy Guide I was attempting to write). So there were at least two sources where this info could be found. And assuming because the page didn't exist on the Wiki yet didn't mean nobody looked into it. Not to chest-thump bravado or anything, but most any topic you could think of, I probably did testing on. Posted Image


Hi you two! Great to talk again; great to see you're here, after all this time!!

Right NKF... MS-Edit was a blast. There was someone just starting to tinker with decompiling the code toward the end of my serious time there (maybe 2009?). I remember in one Talk place he sort of said in-game testing was worthless; only decompiling mattered. I agree that decompiling can be very powerful, and if you had to choose one, that's probably the best choice. Assuming, of course, it was straightforward and easy for whatever the topic was.

But in the best of worlds you want both decompiling and testing. And testing is always fine and should be encouraged, as long as it's feasible.

Decompiling can miss some critical things, such as dynamic interactions between parts of the code, and it's even possible to decompile the wrong thing (or vestigial similar code), or misunderstand it. In-game testing ensures one has a complete picture of how something works. Plus it can provide practical tips you might not think of, just reading code.

It's very much like "text book versus street smarts". Or science. You don't really know something works the way it's supposed to in theory until you actually see it happen.

But I guess I'm preaching to the choir about this, eh?


Zombie, sorry about missing that post of yours. I gave you a shout out... thanks for the link! I guess it's true for all the stuff I wrote up on the wiki, I was not saying no one else had looked into it. In fact, I rarely researched whether anyone had or not. (More precisely, I knew some other XCOM sites, and if I didn't see it there, I didn't look farther.) No, what I did was 1) mostly original research in the sense that I myself did it (which doesn't mean others didn't do it independently), and then 2) I was the one that posted it to Ufopaedia. Often quite nicely, I like to think.

I couldn't find Kasey Chang listing actual recruit stats on that link. Did I miss it?

Anyway... just saying... I just researched stuff and posted it. I didn't spend a lot of time seeing whether anybody else had done it (but not posted it to Ufopaedia). I think you and I are alike here... a lot of the joy is the research itself. So if we couldn't readily see that anybody else had researched something, we just did it ourselves. And sometimes we just did it again ourselves anyway, even if it did already exist, hehe


NKF, I wanted to say more on what you did but I was a little fuzzy. If I recall correctly you weren't in the thick of the in-game testing I did with Zombie (and Danial and BombBloke's maps), but I do recall you doing MS Edit testing... anyway, I'm happy to make what i wrote for you more specific. What might I say?


It's great to talk with everyone again. Great to see you're still around!

#6 NKF

NKF

    Mr. Badger in disguise

  • Site Staff
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,423 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:In my mind

Posted 15 March 2017 - 06:02 AM

I still log in regularly to check out the hot gossip (or rather which spambots have broken through) and if any discussions of interest start up like the various LP's we've had;. Same goes for the wiki, but I must confess I've taken a bit of step back since the reboot series. Hard to say why, but it's almost as if I don't belong anymore... No that's not quite it. Out of place, is probably closer to what I'm thinking of.

View PostMikeTheRed, on 14 March 2017 - 09:10 PM, said:

It's very much like "text book versus street smarts". Or science. You don't really know something works the way it's supposed to in theory until you actually see it happen.

Yeah, it's the difference between knowing the formula and knowing how the formula correlates with everything else.


Quote

NKF, I wanted to say more on what you did but I was a little fuzzy. If I recall correctly you weren't in the thick of the in-game testing I did with Zombie (and Danial and BombBloke's maps), but I do recall you doing MS Edit testing... anyway, I'm happy to make what i wrote for you more specific. What might I say?

True, I was never greatly involved in the more in-depth analysis. For me, my approach was to only run enough tests to study or verify whatever I was working on at the time and move onto the next thing of interest. Posted Image  

I'll be honest and say I'm a little fuzzy on my own contributions, having a finger in so many different pies at the time from things like trying to understand some of the less obvious mechanics like the reactions/initiative to working out unknown variables in the save files, etc.

I would like to think that some of what I did formed the seeds of ideas that were later pursued to greater depths by others.

- NKF
NKF, narrow minded fuddy duddy who refuses to let go of the past and will not accept anything newer than 1979.

#7 Zombie

Zombie

    Mr. Grognard of X-COM

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,531 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Wisconsin, USA

Posted 20 March 2017 - 01:26 AM

I think we aren't taking into account NKF's contributions to not only the games, but also the community. For instance, would I have gotten into game file/executable research/editing if NKF wasn't around? Probably not (or at least very little). If it wasn't for him (and later, BB's logger), there wouldn't have been any damage modifier tests which was the precursor to explosion research. If it was not for the support of the community at that time, we would know very little today I suspect. NKF was always more of understanding and applying results than in-depth testing. Also don't forget that a lot of the game files were originally decoded by him. ;)

View PostMikeTheRed, on 14 March 2017 - 09:10 PM, said:

Zombie, sorry about missing that post of yours. I gave you a shout out... thanks for the link! I guess it's true for all the stuff I wrote up on the wiki, I was not saying no one else had looked into it. In fact, I rarely researched whether anyone had or not. (More precisely, I knew some other XCOM sites, and if I didn't see it there, I didn't look farther.) No, what I did was 1) mostly original research in the sense that I myself did it (which doesn't mean others didn't do it independently), and then 2) I was the one that posted it to Ufopaedia. Often quite nicely, I like to think.

I couldn't find Kasey Chang listing actual recruit stats on that link. Did I miss it?

Anyway... just saying... I just researched stuff and posted it. I didn't spend a lot of time seeing whether anybody else had done it (but not posted it to Ufopaedia). I think you and I are alike here... a lot of the joy is the research itself. So if we couldn't readily see that anybody else had researched something, we just did it ourselves. And sometimes we just did it again ourselves anyway, even if it did already exist, hehe

Very true. Though for me, it was normally to verify someone else's research or to build upon it. Running 100 limited trials without regard to variable elimination never made a result trustworthy in my opinion. On the other hand, if I could get a result with 1000 or 2000 trials and eliminate any possible variables, I could trust that to be fairly conclusive. You need solid evidence to back up any claims, no matter the intentions. Take starting funding for instance. Stewart (from xcomufo.com) had a guide/worksheet with a lot of interesting things in it, including starting funding which I happened across after beginning to gather numbers myself. We shot ideas back and forth for literally months as I wanted to get him some more reliable data for his guide. It wasn't until we automated the data gathering process that we could really make some decent conclusions. In fact, in the end there was almost too much data to process, but it did give a better insight into that area. Later on, game file analysis showed the values, but we still don't know the exact formula the game uses.

As for the USG, my notes claim Kasey Chang had info on starting soldier stats, but I can't seem to find it in any revisions I have now. Maybe it was from a earlier or later revision, or it's possible I was wrong about the author and it was from someone else. Whatever the case, someone did do research on it because that's why I got involved: to fill in the blanks. :)

- Zombie

My X-COM Patch Kit For UFO Defense | Emergency XCOM Meeting spoof on YouTube




JellyfishGreen said:

Zombie: Empirical data's your only man, when formulating a research plan.
A soldier's death is never in vain if it makes the formula more plain.
A few dozen make a better case for refining that third decimal place.
They call me Zombie because I don't sleep, as I slowly struggle to climb this heap,
of corpses, data points, and trials, but from the top - I'll see for miles!

#8 MikeTheRed

MikeTheRed

    Sergeant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 95 posts
  • Location:Atlanta GA USA

Posted 23 March 2017 - 02:59 PM

View PostNKF, on 15 March 2017 - 06:02 AM, said:

I still log in regularly to check out the hot gossip (or rather which spambots have broken through) and if any discussions of interest start up like the various LP's we've had. Same goes for the wiki, but I must confess I've taken a bit of step back since the reboot series. Hard to say why, but it's almost as if I don't belong anymore... No that's not quite it. Out of place, is probably closer to what I'm thinking of.

Yes, unfortunately, the reboot sort of closed that chapter for good, for me. I remember being concerned about how the new game was going to be put into Ufopaedia (or even if it should). When my suggestion for handling URL phrasing (new game pages vs old ones) got ignored, I sort of gave up on Ufopaedia. At least, as something I still felt I was an integral part of. I wish them well, and I wish the site well, but it's not the same. A big part of the appeal way back when, was how it was largely forgotten. It was just us handful of guys, figuring out how an old, beloved classic works. But now there are hundreds of new fans of the new game, on Ufopaedia.

This touches on another topic, and why I ultimately made my own website: I've had a few serious problems over the years with wiki work disappearing... see my entries for Railroads!, whose entire wiki simply COMPLETELY disappeared a year after it was hot (Wayback to the rescue), and Sins of a Solar Empire, which got poorly grafted onto Wikia a couple years after it was hot, and almost all its original work was lost. And we've all seen our Wikipedia and other edits simply get wiped by someone who missed an important point or, worse, is anonymous (like on Wikia) and gives no reason at all.

Another reason I made my site is because I have done SO much work over my life... but almost no one outside of each particular circle (here, Ufopaedia) knows any of the rest. Nor do any of my friends and family have any real idea whatsoever of its scale. Yeah, sure, you can say "I've done a lot of game wiki work" in a conversation. But you can't say you've written encyclopedias; it sounds like hyperbole in casual conversation. You have to show you've written encyclopedias.

In the larger picture - within a few years - I hope to launch a larger service, for which this website foundation of game analysis and residential smart home and energy efficiency (soon to come) will be support for a commercial effort that also involves data analysis.


But it is also true that I don't want all I have done to simply be lost to time. It's happened for two entire wikis so far. More is bound to happen. And I had plenty that never got published anyway.

View PostNKF, on 15 March 2017 - 06:02 AM, said:

True, I was never greatly involved in the more in-depth analysis. For me, my approach was to only run enough tests to study or verify whatever I was working on at the time and move onto the next thing of interest. Posted Image  

I'll be honest and say I'm a little fuzzy on my own contributions, having a finger in so many different pies at the time from things like trying to understand some of the less obvious mechanics like the reactions/initiative to working out unknown variables in the save files, etc.

I would like to think that some of what I did formed the seeds of ideas that were later pursued to greater depths by others.

I would have loved to see if you guys had similar "achievement" pages of your work. I looked some and gave links to what I could find quick, but as is natural, I mainly remember what I did. And others closely involved with that. If I had had a place to look and see what others have done (like Zombie is now saying more details), then I could have said a lot more about them. But short of that, I don't have their perspective of their life and work, I only have my own.

I hope you like what I added to the bit on you. Thanks so much for the reminders, Zombie! NKF really was important. Let me know if you think of other stuff I can add for you or anyone else!

View PostZombie, on 20 March 2017 - 01:26 AM, said:

for me, it was normally to verify someone else's research or to build upon it. Running 100 limited trials without regard to variable elimination never made a result trustworthy in my opinion. On the other hand, if I could get a result with 1000 or 2000 trials and eliminate any possible variables, I could trust that to be fairly conclusive. You need solid evidence to back up any claims, no matter the intentions. Take starting funding for instance. Stewart (from xcomufo.com) had a guide/worksheet with a lot of interesting things in it, including starting funding which I happened across after beginning to gather numbers myself. We shot ideas back and forth for literally months as I wanted to get him some more reliable data for his guide. It wasn't until we automated the data gathering process that we could really make some decent conclusions. In fact, in the end there was almost too much data to process, but it did give a better insight into that area. Later on, game file analysis showed the values, but we still don't know the exact formula the game uses.

Ah yes, Stewart from XcomUfo! So many names from the past...

Right, I think we all have our own particular style. It's truly amazing to see the depth of work you've done Zombie, including your commitment to detail. Like those Alien Stats. I imagine you have done that all over the place. I am more of a hit man... scoping out places I think I either really could use info, or that can easily give up their secrets. I will pore over it fairly exhaustively. But once I am done, I will move on. To other games entirely. In fact, XCOM is the game I spent the most time analyzing.

A part of me wishes I was like you two. You've stayed here over a decade, and are surely good pals, and will be for life at this point. the same goes for many other long-timers here. Frankly my approach to games (and life) is kind of lonely. But what can I do? I am what I am. Part of me hopes that by making my website I might start a conversation with others or meet others more like me, and make close friends that way. I recently laid in a forum on my site, but am still trying to get it to work. Right now I am not receiving notification when someone new registered and is awaiting activation. I am tired of all the details, so I'm hiring someone from Upwork / India to help with MyBB. It's a ton of work, making a new site, a new wiki, and a new forum.


Wonderful to talk with you two!

#9 Zombie

Zombie

    Mr. Grognard of X-COM

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,531 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Wisconsin, USA

Posted 24 March 2017 - 07:04 AM

View PostMikeTheRed, on 23 March 2017 - 02:59 PM, said:

Yes, unfortunately, the reboot sort of closed that chapter for good, for me. I remember being concerned about how the new game was going to be put into Ufopaedia (or even if it should). When my suggestion for handling URL phrasing (new game pages vs old ones) got ignored, I sort of gave up on Ufopaedia. At least, as something I still felt I was an integral part of. I wish them well, and I wish the site well, but it's not the same. A big part of the appeal way back when, was how it was largely forgotten. It was just us handful of guys, figuring out how an old, beloved classic works. But now there are hundreds of new fans of the new game, on Ufopaedia.

I felt the same things you did MTR, when XCOM came out. Antiquated, old, forgotten, like I didn't belong anymore. For the first time ever, I took a break from X-COM. I missed it everyday, thought of it a lot too. But, that time away gave me a chance to reevaluate things and I realized that here is where I belong. It's hard getting back into the swing of things though, a lot of the camaraderie which was present when UFOPaedia was formed is now gone. It's hard to get interested when you don't have a lot of like-minded people to bounce ideas off of. Thing is, all these fans of the new series are an opportunity... to get them interested in the original series, and to perhaps contribute in some way. Like it or not, we needed the new members to keep the site alive. Posted Image

View PostMikeTheRed, on 23 March 2017 - 02:59 PM, said:

This touches on another topic, and why I ultimately made my own website: I've had a few serious problems over the years with wiki work disappearing... see my entries for Railroads!, whose entire wiki simply COMPLETELY disappeared a year after it was hot (Wayback to the rescue), and Sins of a Solar Empire, which got poorly grafted onto Wikia a couple years after it was hot, and almost all its original work was lost. And we've all seen our Wikipedia and other edits simply get wiped by someone who missed an important point or, worse, is anonymous (like on Wikia) and gives no reason at all.

I hope you realize by now that the UFOPaedia wiki isn't going to fall by the wayside anytime soon. It's too important to fail now. And I feel we are in good hands with Jo5hua hosting it. I think that maybe the reason why those other wiki's failed was because of a lack of a dedicated community like we have here. That's the difference.

View PostMikeTheRed, on 23 March 2017 - 02:59 PM, said:

Another reason I made my site is because I have done SO much work over my life... but almost no one outside of each particular circle (here, Ufopaedia) knows any of the rest. Nor do any of my friends and family have any real idea whatsoever of its scale. Yeah, sure, you can say "I've done a lot of game wiki work" in a conversation. But you can't say you've written encyclopedias; it sounds like hyperbole in casual conversation. You have to show you've written encyclopedias.

Meh, bringing that up in conversation may be important to some people I guess but not me (of course I haven't written as much as you have). For the few times I talk about anything X-COM related with anybody, mostly it's about my collection or about administrating a fan website. For the people that really know me (like relatives and good friends), I'm fine to leave them in the dark a little bit. Really, this is a hobby which is important to me, but few people are as passionate as I am about it. If pressed about the subject I'm happy to spew all sorts of info if they are responsive. Mostly though, I just listen to the other person.

View PostMikeTheRed, on 23 March 2017 - 02:59 PM, said:

I would have loved to see if you guys had similar "achievement" pages of your work. I looked some and gave links to what I could find quick, but as is natural, I mainly remember what I did. And others closely involved with that. If I had had a place to look and see what others have done (like Zombie is now saying more details), then I could have said a lot more about them. But short of that, I don't have their perspective of their life and work, I only have my own.

I don't think it is a huge priority for a lot of contributors to "toot their own horn" so to speak of their accomplishments. Sure,they are proud of what they have done, but this is a rather humble community. There's a reason why I never fleshed out my profile page on the wiki, what's there to say? If you are interested in me, it isn't too hard to find out a lot of stuff just by looking at my edits or posts in the forums. Posted Image

View PostMikeTheRed, on 23 March 2017 - 02:59 PM, said:

Right, I think we all have our own particular style. It's truly amazing to see the depth of work you've done Zombie, including your commitment to detail. Like those Alien Stats. I imagine you have done that all over the place.

Thanks, I have my finger in a lot of pots, this is true, if only to understand the game better. The proof of the pudding is indeed in the details. We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard though as otherwise it's just conjecture. That's what I'm after: the truth... and data to back it up. Posted Image

View PostMikeTheRed, on 23 March 2017 - 02:59 PM, said:

I am more of a hit man... scoping out places I think I either really could use info, or that can easily give up their secrets. I will pore over it fairly exhaustively. But once I am done, I will move on. To other games entirely. In fact, XCOM is the game I spent the most time analyzing.

Yep, you pick your fights, focus exclusively on them for a while, then conquer. There were times in the past where I couldn't keep up with you, probably due to the fact I wasn't pouring 100% of my time into a "project of the week". I'd get a messeage, see a post or edit, take a look and offer some opinions or data on it, but in the end, I needed to branch out to work on other things which were important too. It's crucial to diversify a bit I feel, as you will always see somthing which will get you interested. Keeping curiosity alive leads to longevity. Posted Image

View PostMikeTheRed, on 23 March 2017 - 02:59 PM, said:

A part of me wishes I was like you two. You've stayed here over a decade, and are surely good pals, and will be for life at this point. the same goes for many other long-timers here.

Doesn't matter to me if someone's been here forever or just started paying the game, I'll consider that person a friend anyway. The community here is fantastic and the games are too, that's why I'm here. Stick around more, hopefully you'll see that too (hint, hint). I'd like to think we are pals, no? All the time we spent pouring over data, shooting emails back and forth or just chatting on MSN Messenger certainly deserves that hehe.Posted Image

View PostMikeTheRed, on 23 March 2017 - 02:59 PM, said:

Frankly my approach to games (and life) is kind of lonely. But what can I do? I am what I am. Part of me hopes that by making my website I might start a conversation with others or meet others more like me, and make close friends that way.

You might get lucky that way, but I doubt it. You get out of life what you put into it and that requires some effort unfortunately. We can't have stuff handed to us on a silver platter all the time. Just stick around, be visible (here or anywhere for that matter) and contribute. Friendship will follow, guaranteed... or double your money back! Posted Image

- Zombie

My X-COM Patch Kit For UFO Defense | Emergency XCOM Meeting spoof on YouTube




JellyfishGreen said:

Zombie: Empirical data's your only man, when formulating a research plan.
A soldier's death is never in vain if it makes the formula more plain.
A few dozen make a better case for refining that third decimal place.
They call me Zombie because I don't sleep, as I slowly struggle to climb this heap,
of corpses, data points, and trials, but from the top - I'll see for miles!

#10 Hobbes

Hobbes

    Peace through superior hairdos!

  • Fan Fiction
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,197 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Area 51

Posted 24 March 2017 - 11:28 PM

Lots of interesting points made by MikeTheRed and everyone else on this thread :)
Terrain Pack - 44 new terrains for the original game, using OpenXcom

My X-COM Fan Fictions: The Unknown Menace, Abyssal, Eulogy

#11 MikeTheRed

MikeTheRed

    Sergeant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 95 posts
  • Location:Atlanta GA USA

Posted 27 March 2017 - 03:09 PM

View PostZombie, on 24 March 2017 - 07:04 AM, said:

I don't think it is a huge priority for a lot of contributors to "toot their own horn" so to speak of their accomplishments. Sure,they are proud of what they have done, but this is a rather humble community. There's a reason why I never fleshed out my profile page on the wiki, what's there to say? If you are interested in me, it isn't too hard to find out a lot of stuff just by looking at my edits or posts in the forums. Posted Image

True, true. But if you want others (outside the community) to have some idea that you have been doing lots of real things over a long period of time, you need to show them. Most people here probably don't care enough to be able to show, and that is perfectly fine. But if you do... if you want to show a substantial foundation in data analysis for your new project, and you also don't want your past work lost to time... then you have to document it.

If a guy says he likes long distance running but can't really say when or how much, you shrug. It might mean he runs a lot. Or it could mean he likes the idea but actually only runs marathons once a decade. However, if he gives you a link to dozens of long runs he's been in across the U.S. over the past 3 decades, it's solid and real. And easy to check.

Other people are generally not actually interested in the details of what you or I did, and are not going to check the dozens of different websites and data collections to see what it could all mean. Especially not in this age of Facebook distraction. They just want one list of achievements page that makes sense of it all for them. And so you have to make one, if that's what you're trying to show.

View PostZombie, on 24 March 2017 - 07:04 AM, said:

Doesn't matter to me if someone's been here forever or just started paying the game, I'll consider that person a friend anyway. The community here is fantastic and the games are too, that's why I'm here. Stick around more, hopefully you'll see that too (hint, hint). I'd like to think we are pals, no? All the time we spent pouring over data, shooting emails back and forth or just chatting on MSN Messenger certainly deserves that hehe.Posted Image

Thanks so much brother, it means a lot to me. I would love to stick around more here. But I feel very driven, like I have to be doing new stuff. Maybe I can find a way to translate that into sticking around here? Not sure how it would work on top of all the other stuff. Making your own website (and then company in a few years, maybe) is a never ending trove of challenges. On top of all the regular stuff of life. Maybe I am a little crazy. But I hope it's in a good way.

View PostHobbes, on 24 March 2017 - 11:28 PM, said:

Lots of interesting points made by MikeTheRed and everyone else on this thread Posted Image

Thanks, man! Good to see you after all this time!

Nice hairdo to the rescue, as it were, on your avatar!  Posted Image

#12 Bomb Bloke

Bomb Bloke

    The Smily Admin

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,625 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Tasmania (AU)

Posted 30 March 2017 - 12:28 PM

View PostMikeTheRed, on 14 March 2017 - 09:10 PM, said:

Right NKF... MS-Edit was a blast. There was someone just starting to tinker with decompiling the code toward the end of my serious time there (maybe 2009?). I remember in one Talk place he sort of said in-game testing was worthless; only decompiling mattered. I agree that decompiling can be very powerful, and if you had to choose one, that's probably the best choice. Assuming, of course, it was straightforward and easy for whatever the topic was.

Sure it's "easiest", but it requires knowledge and experience that most people will never have. Heck, I've been programming since before I hit my teens; but "regular programming skills" don't cut it when it comes to reading op-codes. It took less time to nail down certain data points via empirical research than it would've to learned how to read the code directly.

Well, certain data points, anyway. "All of the ones I was interested in"? A different story - so I do regret failing to learn machine code.

For example - firing accuracy. We all did tests on it. I did some seriously convoluted ones, writing custom software and automating thousands upon thousands of shots to generate enough data for just a notion as to the "real" chance to hit. It wasn't until kyrub weighed in with what he'd read from the code that I could say "yes, that's how it works!", though. And, um, then I never got around to integrating that information into a rather more visible article.

But no one's contradicted the formulas I posted here yet, and I was pretty quick off the mark in figuring them out using observations alone... I do take a small measure of pride in that. Mind you, these "newer" games are far simpler than the originals.

View PostMikeTheRed, on 14 March 2017 - 09:10 PM, said:

Decompiling can miss some critical things, such as dynamic interactions between parts of the code, and it's even possible to decompile the wrong thing (or vestigial similar code), or misunderstand it. In-game testing ensures one has a complete picture of how something works. Plus it can provide practical tips you might not think of, just reading code.

It's more precise to just say that formulas derived from decompiled code should be tested for accuracy to guarantee a complete reading. In theory, a thorough analysis will cover all edge cases. In practise, a thorough analysis will only ever be performed if plenty of testing is done on any proposed results.

The issue is that just as it's difficult to be sure that the formula you've found in code is the only *relevant* formula unless you observe the in-game behaviour, likewise it's difficult to determine how many formulas are producing in-game results without in turn reviewing the game's code.

But that led to a more realistic and in-depth game (certainly compared to the modern titles) - the developers threw in a bunch of principles, play-tested a little to make sure they more or less worked, and then called it a day. If you'd asked any of them, even at the time of release, what the odds of hitting a Sectoid at a given range with a given weapon through a set of different terrain obstacles were, they'd've had no idea. Half of the relevant details weren't solved until well after the bullet was already in the air. Even today I'm sure there are game mechanics buried in there which no player has a clue about.

View PostNKF, on 15 March 2017 - 06:02 AM, said:

I must confess I've taken a bit of step back since the reboot series. Hard to say why, but it's almost as if I don't belong anymore... No that's not quite it. Out of place, is probably closer to what I'm thinking of.

They came about around the same time as OpenXcom really seemed to be taking off. Personally I felt like a member of an older generation watching a younger one take over - happy to provide help when asked, but I didn't see any need to impose myself on them, as much of what I had to say related to games they just weren't playing. For a time there was a renewed interest in image editing tools and then that was that.

View PostNKF, on 15 March 2017 - 06:02 AM, said:

I'll be honest and say I'm a little fuzzy on my own contributions, having a finger in so many different pies at the time from things like trying to understand some of the less obvious mechanics like the reactions/initiative to working out unknown variables in the save files, etc.

I would like to think that some of what I did formed the seeds of ideas that were later pursued to greater depths by others.

This sums things up rather well, perhaps. The bulk of my own research has been filled in around the documents you wrote before I got started. There's a reason you're called NKF-sensei.  ;)

View PostMikeTheRed, on 27 March 2017 - 03:09 PM, said:

True, true. But if you want others (outside the community) to have some idea that you have been doing lots of real things over a long period of time, you need to show them. Most people here probably don't care enough to be able to show, and that is perfectly fine. But if you do... if you want to show a substantial foundation in data analysis for your new project, and you also don't want your past work lost to time... then you have to document it.

I would like to think that if anyone cares what "Bomb Bloke"'s done, then I've left enough of a trail around the web that it's not all that hard to figure out. I don't much care about anyone who can't (ie most people), as they'd be unlikely to have any interest regardless. Which is fair enough.  ;)
BB's X-Com Projects Page - X-Com Games At GamersGate
You're just jealous 'cause the voices only talk to me :P
We love Tammy! :)

#13 Tsathoggua

Tsathoggua

    So twisted, my laevo is on the right hand side

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 314 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Peeking through your letterbox at night whilst molesting a roadkilled badger with a rusty fork tied to my cock

Posted 02 April 2017 - 06:14 PM

Things like openXcom are a hell of an achievement IMO. Decompiling the code from the game running in memory and then writing a functional (and decently so) improved version in ASM...that isn't trivial, and deserves some recognition.

Just my two pence.

And as far as book smarts and 'street' (practical) smarts, actually I can relate a lot to that. Being a chemist, there is a lot you can learn from books,  but so much you learn on the job, so to speak, and through others who have performed whatever reaction, there are so many things the books don't tell you and you have to learn through experience. To give just one example, books will tell you a stronger base will displace a weaker base, such as caustic soda and an ammonium salt giving ammonia, but through experience, you find you can generate anhydrous ammonia without the need for drying tubes by using quicklime (calcium oxide) as the base rather than an alkali metal hydroxide. Both liberate NH3 but CaO is a powerful dessicant and generates no water during the displacement reaction with the ammonium salt, so it dries the ammonia directly as it is formed. Just one of those little things you learn through experience.

So IMO a combination of 'book smarts' and 'street smarts' is the best viable approach. One not only needs know how something works, but actually doing something, getting your hands dirty standing at the bench performing whatever process for oneself, gives as much benefit with regards to knowledge and success as reading even the most detailed textbooks. Sometimes, what SHOULD work, on general principle, doesn't, or, in the chemistry field, gives shitty yields of whatever it is one is seeking to obtain as final product. The book learning gives one the background to understand the 'tricks of the trade'. Say, its all very well saying electrolysis of fused caustic soda works to produce sodium metal, but the books neglect to tell that theres about a 15, maybe 20 degrees 'C difference between the electrolyte melting point, and the produced metal dissolving back into the melt and you don't get so much as a pinhead sized piece back, or to melt it, then the moment electrolysis begins, take the heat right down or even off and rely solely on ohmic heating if you actually want anything but blue-grey stuff thats highly caustic and sparks in water, something halfway between the two.

The likes of Xcomutil and openXcom are real achievements IMO, that took some doing, and its impressive that it got done at all.

As for the more recent games in the series (post-apocalypse) haven't had the chance to play them yet, but when I do get round to it, you can bet I'll still be playing UFO and TFTD. They have nearly unlimited replay potential, I've been playing those since they came out, probably more than any other games

#14 MikeTheRed

MikeTheRed

    Sergeant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 95 posts
  • Location:Atlanta GA USA

Posted 04 April 2017 - 09:54 PM

View PostBomb Bloke, on 30 March 2017 - 12:28 PM, said:

Sure it's "easiest", but it requires knowledge and experience that most people will never have. Heck, I've been programming since before I hit my teens; but "regular programming skills" don't cut it when it comes to reading op-codes. It took less time to nail down certain data points via empirical research than it would've to learned how to read the code directly. Well, certain data points, anyway. "All of the ones I was interested in"? A different story - so I do regret failing to learn machine code. For example - firing accuracy. We all did tests on it. I did some seriously convoluted ones, writing custom software and automating thousands upon thousands of shots to generate enough data for just a notion as to the "real" chance to hit. It wasn't until kyrub weighed in with what he'd read from the code that I could say "yes, that's how it works!", though. And, um, then I never got around to integrating that information into a rather more visible article. But no one's contradicted the formulas I posted here yet, and I was pretty quick off the mark in figuring them out using observations alone... I do take a small measure of pride in that. Mind you, these "newer" games are far simpler than the originals.

That is some really fine work there, Bomb Bloke! It's great to hear that you took it farther. I guess I must have moved on by then (and/or simply wasn't watching that page). I stuck in a mention... wow, what a lot of work!

One of these decades, there will probably be AIs that will figure out all kinds of things. Running countless variations on testing, or just figuring it out directly from code. Then we can sit on the beach eating grapes and stuff all day, I imagine.

Very interesting examples, Tsathoggua! It makes sense that experience pays off in chemistry. There are so many variables, even past the theory. Thank you for speaking up.


Cheers everyone, it's great to talk with you again!  Posted Image

#15 Zombie

Zombie

    Mr. Grognard of X-COM

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,531 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Wisconsin, USA

Posted 06 April 2017 - 03:10 AM

I was just looking at your page today seeing all those user names and it really hit me how much Seb76 contributed to understanding the game at the time. What we couldn't figure out via empirical testing, he normally weighed in with a piece of executable code which did. It just seemed like he was present in every discussion to offer up useful tidbits. It's too bad he disappeared though, think of all the stuff we could have found out. ;)

- Zombie

My X-COM Patch Kit For UFO Defense | Emergency XCOM Meeting spoof on YouTube




JellyfishGreen said:

Zombie: Empirical data's your only man, when formulating a research plan.
A soldier's death is never in vain if it makes the formula more plain.
A few dozen make a better case for refining that third decimal place.
They call me Zombie because I don't sleep, as I slowly struggle to climb this heap,
of corpses, data points, and trials, but from the top - I'll see for miles!

#16 Bomb Bloke

Bomb Bloke

    The Smily Admin

  • Admin
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,625 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Tasmania (AU)

Posted 08 April 2017 - 08:20 AM

kyrub and Tycho provided me with plenty of data afterwards. I wouldn't've been able to merge UFO with TFTD if not for their efforts.
BB's X-Com Projects Page - X-Com Games At GamersGate
You're just jealous 'cause the voices only talk to me :P
We love Tammy! :)

#17 Tsathoggua

Tsathoggua

    So twisted, my laevo is on the right hand side

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 314 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Peeking through your letterbox at night whilst molesting a roadkilled badger with a rusty fork tied to my cock

Posted 08 April 2017 - 06:25 PM

Yes, its pretty critical. There is an awful lot the books DON'T tell you, that you can only learn from actually getting your hands dirty.

Another one would be fine-tuning the Birch reduction (Birch-Benkeser variant, Li metal in anhydrous ammonia..I've never seen anybody, ever, in a book, suggest performing the reaction in ether, it was somebody on one of the chemistry forums. Had an accident once due to somebody messing with my equipment, that almost blinded me thanks to the meddling ignorant prick in question. As it happens, I was doing it that way, in-situ, partly so I didn't have to buy any dry ice to condense the ammonia, partly due to safety. If I'd been doing it the traditional way, I'd have been killed, or at best, permanently blinded and had my flesh melted down to the bone.

Another example, would be a synthesis I did recently, iodine monochloride, for future use in organic chem work, made quite easily by passing dried chlorine gas through elemental iodine, if there is a 1:1 molar ratio of I2 to Cl2, you get that product, ICl, if there is excess, you get the somewhat unstable iodine trichloride, a yellowish-orange colored solid, whilst ICl is a dark, fuming liquid that looks and behaves very much like bromine, in that it is quite the talented escape artist, similar color, volatility and general appearance and behaviour. It was easy enough to work out how to make it and easy enough for me to do it, what they don't tell you, is if excess chlorine is used, and ICl3 gets formed, all you need do is leave the column containing the iodine attached to the glassware, set up as if for distillation, and can avoid ever having to distill the product by leaving the collection flask attached so the vapor interacts with the residual iodine and turns any ICl3 back to ICl. Or that even covered with teflon tape, don't try using most greases, because it'll turn pretty much most of them from grease into something resembling cement, or to use all glass syringes to handle the product, and mate it with a short length of teflon tubing to a glass pipette, rather than using a steel cannula (more or less a big long wide-bored needle, similar to what would be used to give a human an injection, only its about a foot long) because it has a good chance of disintegrating, and to plate keck clips, using metal ones, since I found out, after using plastic ones that not one of them attached to a joint anywhere near the stuff didn't disintegrate into crumbly little pieces, and quickly too, I don't think I've had one, even again wrapped completely in teflon tape, that survived more than an hour. Maybe half that.

I've probably learned several times as much what I have from books on forums for other hobby chemist/biologist/pharmacologist/physicist types, and plenty again being my own teacher. One thing in particular you can only get from actually doing things and not at all from books is confidence, and another would be with following examples of procedures in patents. There are SO many of them out there that claim an awful lot, but when whatever it is be done, exactly as its allegedly been done, that it doesn't work at all. Or things like my finding out that in one particular type of nitroaldol condensation, called the knoevanagel, or henry reaction, often as not, I can get a lot better results using of all things, the curing agent part of certain brands of two-part epoxy resin glue kits than with many of the traditional catalysts. In fact for that particular reaction, I haven't used the usual suspects, like ammonium acetate, cyclohexylamine, n-butylamine and similar in pretty much forever now, since the epoxy resin hardener, once given a clean up works that much better its just not worth the waste of substrates in terms of yield loss with the conventional approach. Or that a half decent catalyst can be had from over the counter glyphosate weedkiller with a minor extraction and recrystallization, since its formulated often as the isopropylamine salt and can be had for peanuts rather than either buying the isopropylamine or making it from scratch.

I've ended up with a fairly decent mental little black book of tricks, short-cuts and tweaks for improving this, that and the other that has seen me spend a lot less than I would have if I had to use for example, my contact that can buy things from sigma-aldrich (one of the large chemical companies, very large, very wide range of awfully useful products but they won't sell so much as a square of used bog roll to private individuals. But on the other hand, because of that, prices for things that are on watch lists can be really low compared to the sorts of sources that would otherwise be catering to the clandestine crowd as their specialty. Since they don't take into account how difficult it is for private people to do business with them in their pricing, I can for example, get red phosphorus at 90 euro a kg, whilst the ones that specialize in shadier customers would inflate the price because they know such people usually don't have a choice if they want it at all (not saying I'm a meth cook, lol, I wouldn't use red phosphorus-iodine reductions for that task if it were something I was doing anyway, its dirtier than other routes, requires high temperatures and produces an awful lot of foul smelling fumes regardless of your substrate, and at that, fumes of a particularly poisonous, nasty, corrosive nature and potential for things like phosphorus fires...which I've seen, and seen what one can do to anything it touches or that the P2O5 smoke cloud will do to anything it touches and really are not in the least pleasant or conducive to people's good health :P)

Mikethered is right, in that there are just so many unknown, hidden variables that don't show themselves until you either do something, or have a good long chat with somebody who already has.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users