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Member Since 22 Aug 2010
Offline Last Active Sep 26 2011 06:13 PM

Topics I've Started

Advantages of MBA?

03 September 2011 - 07:10 PM

Hi GameDev.Net Community,

I am employed full time as a software engineer and I am currently less than a year away from completing a Master's degree in computer science. My employer has paid for all of my schooling and will continue to pay for a large portion of my schooling should I continue to pursue an MBA (after completing my MS in CS). Someday, I would like to start/run my own small business and this would be my main reason for even considering pursuing an MBA. However, after looking through the courses offered in most MBA programs, they didn't seem to interest me near as much as those in my CS studies. I am on the fence on trying to determine whether an MBA is worth the time/effort

My main questions are:

Is an MBA actually as helpful as everyone seems to make it out to be? Or is most learning done from experience?

With other employers, does having an MBA help open opportunities for management positions/promotions?

Does it make sense to pursue an MBA on top of a M. in CS? Will I make myself "overqualified" in the future?

If I decide I want to "stay technical" will my MBA degree be wasted?

Thanks for any input. Its always interesting hearing different views!

Shifting pixels in a drawn display

09 June 2011 - 11:20 AM


I am relatively new to using OpenGL and am needing a bit of guidance.

I am working on a project that draws a 'display' using opengl. However, the coordinate system all the drawing routines use is setup such that instead of going from (0,0) to (x,y) it goes from (-x/2, -y/2) to (x/2, y/2). Another (proprietary) library I am using allows be to use openGL to draw "overlays", however, its coordinate system uses 0,0 to x,y.

So essentially, I am wanting to draw everything to the screen and then "shift" it to the coordinate system that other library expects. I hope this makes sense...

All I really need is a routine that would allow me to shift all the pixels that have just been drawn by an x and y offset. Otherwise, I will have to change all the old drawing routines which will be messy and daunting.


Machine Learning with Multiplayer games

09 March 2011 - 11:49 AM

Hello GDNet Community,

I am software engineer and I have become quite interested in learning more about artificial intelligence and machine learning. My interest was initially in the domain of robotics, however, I am currently interested in how machine learning might be applied to multiplayer/online games. Is anyone aware of any research that uses machine learning techniques to create 'smarter' enemies. For example, take 3D FPS like Halo. It seems that games could benefit by 'watching' players when they compete online. If it is possible to identify patterns over several iterations that lead to a winning strategy (i.e. 60% of the time the winner of the match is invisible and has a rocket launcher for 70% of the match duration) perhaps the 'game' could take note of this and attempt to derive new strategies when a player competes against the computer rather than a human.

This could offer several advantages:
- Gameplay could change overtime. The more you play, the smarter the opponent gets
- Computer AI could possibly begin to mimic that of human players and thus even when you aren't playing 'real' opponents, the gameplay will feel the same.
- If this strategy could be successfully implemented, it could allow for a completely new gaming scenario. I am imagining players conducting 'bot' wars where each player would pit there 'trained' bot against another's. Theoretically, the player with the most experience would have the 'better trained' bot.

There would clearly be some disadvantages as well...
- Takes control away from game designers. Who knows what the AI would do!
- Player could get frustrated by 'dumb' opponent while the game attempts to learn and possibly deploy ridiculous strategies based incorrectly using recognized patterns through previous game play

I realize this may only be a pipe dream and I know there are a large number of issues with what I proposed above (also with machine learning in general). However, I am only looking for more information about what machine learning techniques have been used in games (if any) and trying to figure out to what depth this topic has been explored.


Forgetting How to Play

24 February 2011 - 09:46 PM

Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to make video games. Video games were my life for a good portion of my childhood. At the time, I had 1000's of ideas for what I thought would be the most amazing games the world would ever see. I would often create my own games (the kind that weren't digital), change the rules of existing games, re-enact stories/TV shows/games leading to my own unique adventures. I also developed a passion for books at a very young age. I even started writing my own stories and adventures. My teachers and parents all seemed to think that I would be a writer. Looking back on it now, it seems it was during this time that my imagination was at an all time high (peaking around Jr high). I would assume this is rather true for most people. It was around this time I received a PC for Christmas. Most of my day outside of school was spent playing computer games or play with HTML to make fun little websites. I eventually started teaching myself to program, in order to help achieve my long term goal of creating games for a living.

I decided to go to college and study computer science. It was around this time I believe my imagination and creativity started to fade. My leisure activities went from video games and books to girls and booze. I too imagine this is somewhat typical. I soon lost all interest in gaming and my dream of developing computer games died. I remember distinctly talking to a recruiter from a game production studio at a career fair. He asked me what my favorite video games were and if I would be interested in developing games for a living. I more or less blew him off, thinking to myself "I have more important things to do with my life than make games". I am not sure what had changed, perhaps my creative side had been drowned by all the science/math/logic I was studying? Whatever it was, the change definitely took place in college.

After graduating with a respectable GPA, I took a job as a software engineer working on flight simulators. In an attempt to build upon my technical abilities I decided to pursue a master's degree (on top of a full time job). This semester I enrolled in a video game programming class, thinking it would be a fun/easy course. Since then, my interest in creating games has been revived. I started some small projects but they all tended to flop. It wasn't until tonight, after driving home from a seminar by Ernest Adams (founder of IGDA) that I realized why my projects had been failing. It wasn't because I was technically incompetent, which had held me back as a child. After some serious thought I have come to the conclusion that the problem is a lack of inspiration and creativity. I find this ironic, since I was FULL of imagination/passion/creativity as a young adult. Upon gaining my technical ability it seems my creative side has diminished.

Has anyone else experienced this? What is the solution? I have decided to make an attempt to make some time to start reading fiction again (last book fictional book I read was probably in high school). I also have picked up some video game and plan on trying to make time for some long needed play. Does anyone else have any suggestions for sources of inspiration or ideas for game design?

Board Game Prototyping / Initial Playtesting

17 February 2011 - 09:55 PM

I have stumbled upon an interesting and helpful method for VERY early game design testing. After reading through the Art of Game Design, I began putting together an idea for a very small, simple game using some of the approaches Jesse discusses in the book. One of the approaches he discussed is creating a board game first and doing play testing before even touching any code or further development. I was very hesitant to try this, as my game was going to be a first person "shooter" style game (kinda).

I didn't think this would translate well to a board game. However, my group created a quick prototype and began having people play test it. I was amazed to discover that after a couple iterations of testing, we were able to identify some very key design issues and work them out as well as observe various strategies players might use in the actual "video" game. It showed us what parts of the design had potential to be really fun and what parts still needed work. It also demonstrated how players might use/abuse the mechanics of the game in way we never imagined! Finally, it helped us identify what aspects of the game are going to need to be focused on to create balanced game play.

I was just curious, does anyone else use methods like this during there design phase? Are there any early prototyping techniques you can recommend for a novice game designer? I am also always looking to read some more great books on game design, so any recommendations you might have would also be greatly appreciated!