Friday, 9 April 2021

08/04/2021: Neo The World Ends with You revealed

There aren't many things that could catch my attention immediately and motivates me to address on my blog that is three entries in four days, but the following is one of them: the true remake of the best RPG game in the DS era, The World Ends With You (TWEWY) is finally getting a true remake this summer! The game that I have awaited for finally is finally here 13 years after the debut, along with the animation that will be on air in the coming 24 hours.

Final remix works as a memory freshener but merely amazes players simply because Switch is not DS, and many features tailored for DS were gone. This is just a porting attempt that wasn't very successful.

I am not fully prepared to write something about TWEWY in full length, at least not before we are a few episodes into the animation. But there are sooooooo many things that I would be hyped for the game:

- Story: The original 3 weeks + another days + secret report wasn't complete. And neither did the extra days from the final remix. But it is a good time to let go and enter a new chapter, and we can leave the details to the animation or novels if necessary. I look forward to a completely new story but also with reference to the old world.

- Artwork: TWEWY perfected their art expression (some complained the skinny skeleton but I don't mind really). The characters, the items and the pins all reflected the taste of Shibuya in 2008. I know Shibuya so well that I can surf freely there without getting lost on my first arrival to Tokyo. The caption in fashion with extreme variation is the key element of TWEWY that is uncontested in the DS era, and I would say it even trumps the Persona series.

In the Neo trailer Rindo and other characters are clearly dressed in the 2021 fashion. We also see a revamped Shibuya yet familiar. I look forward to the art elements in the game very much.

- Combat system: historically unique is what I would describe the original combat system. Two screen sharing the same HP bar with a completely separate input system that is controlled by a single player. Without the help of game breaking items, beating the post-game contents is a supreme but very interesting challenge. Final remix is a pain to play not just because this is stupidly ported into switch, and even all the stylus related psych's are not working as smooth as in the original version. 

In the Neo trailer, we saw a completely redesigned system so hypes are there. We also observe multiple characters on the screen so there might be another form of multi-controls. There are also discussions on Reddit finding that it is possible for the characters to be binded to a few pins. It makes sense just to consider Neku was the only one who mastered so many pins in the original game, but I still regard the variety of pins to be a great selling point of the game. We will see how that works out.

And, the 3D fighting scene. Who doesn't love Genshin-like fights?

Music: No more words are needed I guess, TWEWY contains some of the best game soundtracks around. Twister, Someday, Calling or not -- just bring it on. That is the part that I never worried about.

Misc: there are many features in the original game that was not even properly handled in the Switch version. Tin Pin is one of them. We need more multiplayer content, as it fits the current trend anyway.

...and yes, what about more Radian and So Zetta Slow noises?


Update after the second trailer: 

It's been a thrilling day. Having hundreds of TWEWY fans hyping the same trailer in the same chatroom is simply unreal. Everyone is shouting about what they found in the trailer with the slightest references to the original game. Pin style, Tsugumi references, Minimimoto....and of course Neku.

WELCOME BACK, Neku. We look forward to your performance.

I really like the deluxe package but all I want is Mr. Mew plushie and the artbook. It is a bit unfortunate that the artbook is not included in the NA version but we will see. It is also good to know that they are releasing all regional versions on the same day so that I won't need to buy the Japanese version first before going back to the English version. But maybe I will again, because it's TWEWY...

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

07/04/2021: 約稿相關






Monday, 5 April 2021

r/second: the Reddit April Fool 2021

Every year on the first of April, Reddit hosts a "social experiment" which is nothing more than a time limited inspiring minigame. One of the greatest example is the r/place which is truly impactful as a precious snapshot of the Internet on April 2017.

Many abandoned the tradition of making something funny for the day on 2020, but fortunately Reddit held on and again delivering something simple but funny this year. Introducing the r/second

This is a simple game: each round consists of three pictures sampled online including memes, vintage games, among us mates or even simple words. People would vote for one of the three, but only the one ranked the second would be considered victorious. 

There are 3 phases in total. Mid-term results are revealed during the two transitions, giving hints on which one to vote for. That of course comes with a penalty. 

Those who voted in the first phase gets +9 for a correct answer and -3 for an incorrect answer.
Those who voted in the second phase gets +6/-2.
Those who voted in the third phase gets +3/-1.

Unlike those redditors who eat chalks and murmur about tendies (you pretend that you don't but actually you do, especially those with diamond hands), you actually smelled a way to score effectively. What would you do?

The correct answer is: you should find a time machine and travel back to 96 hours ago, because the event has already ended. But let's assume that it hasn't, how can we perform well in this event?

Assume the following. 

1) The three images are indistinguishable. 
2) The population's strategy remains constant.

The first one is actually reasonable even to those who knows memes well because of the dynamics. Even if you can tell which is more popular, comparing the three is a completely different story.

A quick glance at the leaderboard reveals that top players score around 4.7 points per win. Points gained per game is actually a hidden stat, but assuming that he only goes for phase two then he has been correct for about 80% of the times. That says, his average point per game participated is around 3.7. Can we get close to this number?

Attempt 1: Blind guessing

Well if you decided to vote every time on phase 1, then according to the assumption the only thing you can do is to guess blindly. That gives a 33% correct rate and an average of 1 per game. Not bad, but we can definitely do better.

Attempt 2: Blind guessing, no middle

Someone took record of the first 500 games and found that the middle come second at only 20% of the times in contrast to 40% for left and right. If we guess blindly without middle the correct rate is raised to 40% and the average point per game would be 1.8, still far away from optimal.

Don't forget that skipping a particular round is actually a viable option, but only when you are not guessing on phase one because guessing on phase one this round or next round are indifferent according to our assumption. But what if we start to take mid-term results into consideration?

We shall note that the target average score implies that guessing on phase three is inefficient, so we now consider strategy on phase two.

We observe that when mid-term are released, people vote for both the first and second. They vote for second of course for free win, but they also vote for the first in hope that the second would overshoot. One certain thing is that no one is voting the third unless the three are close.

Attempt 3: Guessing first or second randomly

That gives a correct rate of almost 50% and an average of 2 per game. Can we do even better?

We assumed that the population's reaction to mid-terms is consistent. This is actually in line with the observation. We may therefore apply kernel estimates to create a map $f(x_1,x_2) = p$ meaning that when the mid-term reveals that the first has $x_1$ of the votes and the second has $x_2$ of votes then there is a chance $p$ for the first to win (i.e. for the first to come second at the end). 

Note that it is the percentage difference that matters: dynamics from a 45%-40%-15% distribution should be almost the same as a 40%-35%-25% distribution. So we may compress the data into a single parameter distribution: $f(x_1-x_2) = p$ when the percentage difference is $x_1-x_2$ then there is a chance $p$ for the first to win. 

Attempt 4: KDE prediction + skips

Although I never traced the numbers seriously, it can be observed that when the first leads by a large margin (say 10%), the second is almost certain to win despite everyone voting for it after mid-term. We expect the function about is quite close to 0 or 1 at the tails. We can then maximize the integral

$R(I) = \left ( \int_I g_X(x) \right )^{-1}\int _I g_X(x)(6\max(f(x), (1-f(x)))-2\min (f(x), (1-f(x))))dx $

by choosing the interval $I$ properly. The above may simplify into 

$R(I) = 2 + 4 \left ( \int_I g_X(x) \right )^{-1}\int _I g_X(x) |1-2f(x)| dx = 2+4E(|1-2X| \mid X\in I) \geq 2$, 

where $g_X$ is the probability density for the parameter $x_1-x_2$. Since $R(I)\geq 2$, this strategy is strictly better than attempt 3, and this is a strong indicator that the mid-term results are extremely useful. If we smoothen $f$ and $g_X$ so that it is differentiable (in the computational sense) then this is just a simple exercise of calculus.

There is a problem though. If we take $I$ a very slim set then we win almost every time but voting may only happen for every 5 or 10 games, but top players win 55% out of all games! That means they probably have voted for at least 75% of the available games (not taking sleeping time into account even). 

Instead one may want to maximize the score gained per game, whether you skipped or not. This is simply the maximization of score! Since the expectation is always positive for any approaches mentioned above, what you should do in this case is to participate all games and always vote in phase two. When $f(x)$ is close to 1 or 0, vote for the indicated one, and otherwise vote randomly between first and second. (Or if you trust your function $f$, always follow the indicator, since your correct rate should always be above 50%.) 

Unfortunately I never collected the mid-terms and I don't notice anyone else who did. All that was left is the final result of the rounds, which do not help too much. Yet I believe this approach will be good enough for us to match the top rankers.

One last note: the mid-terms are not fixed snapshots. You actually get to see the votes in live for a few seconds. I do not think that helps much however as the dynamics largely depend on percentage difference of the round, hence nothing significant can be extracted out there. 


Let's be honest -- there are many more valuable things we may do if we had the chance to travel back to 1/4. r/second is no match against r/place after all. This is merely a little game that expires so fast. One better thing to do on 1/4 would be watching Your lie in April in my opinion. Yes?