Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Some more news

1. The Lego robotics thing won't be starting until the 4th week in October, and will only be once a month on the 4th Sunday of each month. So there will be no more news about that until then.

2. I will be presenting my work at the CS Grad Expo on October 4. I will try to get some sort of picture up then.

3. We just submitted our annual report to the National Science Foundation. If you want to see it I can try to put it up here soon.

4. I have gone to several Magic card tournaments in the past few weeks. I have started to get better at the tournaments and I actually got in first place in one of tham (out of about 12 people or so). The only problem is that now whenever I play multiplayer (that is, games with more than 2 people) everyone gangs up on me because they assume that I will beat them if they don't. It is impossible to convince them otherwise even if there is a situation where, say, I have no creatures with any useful powers on the board but the person across from me is just one turn away from using his power that will make all his creatures indestructible for the rest of the game.

5. At Belegarth, I have identified several things that I need to get better at, and I have devised a plan for doing so, as follows. These plans have not been implemented yet but I will post again as I see how they come out.

PROBLEM: Sometimes I can't remember who is on my team. Asking the target is rarely useful because it simply alerts them that I am about to shoot them. Not asking is problematic because it sometimes results in me shooting people on my own team.

SOLUTION: Take photos of as many players as possible. Write a computer program that will do the following: (1) display a random selection of these images, each labeled as "red" or "blue", then (2) display images one after another and ask me to identify which is on which "team." This way I can practice team identification.

PROBLEM: I am supposed to only "half draw" the bow back when shooting from under 15 feet. However I sometimes have a hard time determining whether it is 15 feet.

SOLUTION: Tape a piece of tape near the side of my glasses, with two tick marks on it. The distance between the tick marks will be calibrated such that the apparent distance between the tick marks is equal to the apparent height of an average-height target at 15 feet. (The principle is similar to the principle described here, except that I don't need to know the exact range, just know whether it is more or less than 15 feet.)

PROBLEM: Different people have given me conflicting answers as to what exactly "half draw" means. Basically, the "draw length" is the distance between the nock (the place where the arrow is attached to the bowstring) and the front of the handle of the bow when you draw it. The maximum allowable draw length for full draw is 28 inches. The question is that even if you just put the arrow on the bow in the "neutral position" and don't draw it at all, the "draw length" is not zero; it is about 7 inches or so (because the bow is curved.) So does "half draw" mean 14 inches (halfway between 0 and 28) or 17.5 inches (halfway between 7 and 28). I have gotten both answers from different players, and sometimes they tell me one thing but when I have them demonstrate and measure it, it's clearly something else.

SOLUTION: Bring a tape measure to practice. Have as many archers as possible demosntrate where they think "half draw" is, and measure it. Take the average of all these measurements, then put a "half-draw mark" on the arrow at that location. Get the half-draw mark checked by a herald (that's like a referee). Additionally, in case I am playing and there is a different herald who disagrees with the first herald on where half-draw is, bring replacement tape so I can re-mark the arrows if necessary.


Dan Mont said...

Hi Alex,

Great to hear from you...and I wold really like to see your presentation and NSF report.

Sorry that people are ganging up on you in Magic. But that's what always happens when someone gets too good.

As for your solutions to your problems, I think some work better than others.

I like the averaging the measurements for the half-drawing of the bow.

I think the tick mark thing on the glasses is going to be too hard to use during the craziness of combat. Why can't you just measure out a circle radius 15 feet and put some targets on the circumference and pratice hitting them with a half draw. I think if you do that, you will develop a feel for what 15 feet is. If you want to play it safe, make the radius 17 feet so you internalize a bit of a buffer zone.

The problem with the photograph idea is that you will remember the photographs and not the person. What I mean is...things like the color of their shirt or what is in the background. Is there any way to crop the photos so there is no background and to black out the clothing so you can retain body shape but not other verbal clues as to who the person is? Anyway...I think a better strategy is to make some red armbands and ask your teammates if they wouldn't mind wearing them.

Alexander Mont said...

"Anyway...I think a better strategy is to make some red armbands and ask your teammates if they wouldn't mind wearing them."

I've already asked about that. The problem is that at the practices the teams keep changing from round to round, so it would be too much trouble to keep changing around the armbands. Sometimes there are "unit battles" with fixed teams, but with those it's not a problem because units have distinct garb. Also, occasionally where there is an event where there are lots of proplr from out of town, they will bring strips of cloth of different colors to give to people. In my experience, these don't help very much because (1) they're too small to see clearly in the heat of battle, (2) they frequently wind up hidden behind shields (because people tie them to the wrist of their shield arm, and (3) they're not distinct enough from the other garb.

Nanette Goodman said...

I think that you should go to the owner of the game store who invited you to join his unit and explain the problem and see if he has any suggestions.

You should try to talk to him at a time other than during the Belegarth game.

I loved reading about your research. I will try to incorporate the term "Stanford bunny" into my vocabulary. :-)