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

 Pixiv跟Skeb的約稿功能太爛了吧,完全沒有方法找到特定繪師。

Pixiv拿著一大個數據庫能做的事情很多:最簡單就是讓繪師在約稿系統中幫自己上tag,然後有一個按繪師發表過的作品中過濾合適的tag自動加上去。tag功能是最基本的,畫畫的領域太廣,沒法篩選繪師的話想找到合適的繪師只能碰運氣。

Skeb的話有相關的回答效率/交稿效率的統計也可用作過濾之用。

比較有爭議的應該是對希望金額的過濾吧?對用家來說十分方便,卻有一點不尊重繪師+促進壓價之嫌。

嘛,最近發了一堆委託,新的作品很快會登場(?)。夢十夜還需要一些靈感就是。

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?

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

30/3/2021 遊戲meta的三兩事

不知道算不算日記……來說一下meta好了。

遊戲只要含有PVP元素,那就總會有人研究更好/更有效率的打法,也就是所謂的meta。meta作為字根就是-後的意思,就是指在遊戲之外對遊戲的理解。

meta的平衡在遊戲設計中十分重要。meta太過單一的話所有頂端玩家都會用同一打法,這樣遊戲會變得枯燥乏味;meta多的話對遊戲多樣性來說肯定是好事,但要開發出多套meta又談何容易呢?只有最強最穩定的打法才會被當成meta,如果想要有幾套meta存在的話唯有讓這些打法產生相生相剋的效果才行。

屬性系統當然是一個方便的解決辦法。寵物小精靈的對戰中單對單的相剋非常明顯,就算是隊伍之間的比試當中,Uber Tier裡面也沒有誰一定可以橫掃同級其他精靈。最好的例子應該是2014大師賽的帕奇利茲,明明單隻只是幾乎沒人用的廢物,在隊際賽中跟其他精靈配搭卻可以出奇制勝。

很多遊戲當然沒有屬性系統,要維持meta的多樣性就更難了。「一代補丁一代神」就是最常見的現象:為了解決當下最流行的meta而引入一個新的機制去剋制,結果新機制成了取代舊有meta成為新meta。火炎紋章英雄最近為了解決比翼琳的再動大軍而弄了個擋駕的技能,結果重甲大復活重新成為meta--至於我這週差50點才到38階那又是另一個故事了。

不過現代問題有現代解決辦法。我在想……機器學習(ML)應該可以很好地預測非即時戰鬥類的遊戲meta吧?在投下新技能/角色以前用帶有新技能的trained model跟用舊有技能練出來的trained model對戰,如果可以打敗現行meta之餘對上其他打法沒有太明顯的優勢那就說明這個技能有創造平衡的潛力,如果新技能只是一通亂殺的話那只是用新meta取代舊meta的騙錢技倆而已。

也不是說騙錢技倆不應該用啦,人家做遊戲就是要賺錢的。你看IS現在一直用新技能蓋舊技能,舊角完全丟一邊不管不還是一堆人在舔嘛?立繪香一點,再多放兩個四維+5技能就一堆人抽下去了。

其實玩家思維領先於開發者很正常,因為玩家會絞盡心思去改進成績,但開發者還有一堆別的要兼顧。這點跟八十年代的港英政府很像,不過這點以後再談。新科技的出現讓開發者追上來出現了一點可能,前提是要他們肯砸錢下去。可能嗎?不太樂觀,連龍頭大佬暴雪都一副半死不活的樣子,其他小廠又哪來的資源請data analyst呢?

至於那個被擱置三年的ACGN萌戰2.0,在我們研究出meta之前,首先要找人把它寫出來……

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

夢.十夜 (6.5) Interlude



銀髮少女發了一個夢,那是她小時候生日會的回憶。

生於衣食無憂的家庭裡,每年辦生日會慶祝是必須的。對於大人來說那是社交的場合,對小孩來說玩樂一下也不要緊。只有身為主角的她一邊應付著那些大人帶著小孩過來的祝賀,一邊依從父親的教誨把小孩們的長相名字記下來,他們都是以後可以交的朋友。對她來說應付社交不是問題,但她更願意回到的被窩裡看小說或者美美的睡一覺。

有一堆小孩圍繞在鋼琴前輪流演著古典曲目。她雖然也會彈琴,但是在那些三四歲開始每天練兩三小時的人面前自己實在無需獻醜;有一些小孩則在大廳的角落裡玩起了桌遊,但對局已經開始了她也不好跳下去。剩下的小孩都正在被大人拖著到處應酬,除了一位正坐在電腦前不知道在幹甚麼。那台電腦本來是拿出來播放音樂的,不過那位小孩肯定在弄其他東西。

出於好奇心她貼了上去問道:「你在幹甚麼呀?」

被發現偷玩電腦的他閃過一絲尷尬。他老實回答:「啊……我試了一下感覺這裡上網很快,我就順手把網遊載下來了。」

在那個大部分人還在ADSL甚至撥號上網的時代,光纖提供的速度可是一般人不能想像的。那個快2GB的網遊安裝包居然二十分鐘就載好了。她一邊看著他把遊戲安裝起來一邊問道:「為甚麼要玩網遊呢?我平時都玩Flash小遊戲比較多呢。」

「因為好玩嘛!你等下就知道了,而且網遊可以累積進度,可以一直看著角色成長呢!」他孜孜不倦地介紹著遊戲內容:遊戲好像叫甚麼古龍同萌傳Online,是由古龍筆下的武俠小說改編而成。她古龍沒看多少,金庸的倒是因為動畫化而看了一些。按他的說法這個遊戲被做成網遊以前就出過幾個單機遊戲了,可是家裡從來都不會給她買單機遊戲,她也根本沒玩過多少單機遊戲--GBA模擬器例外,她玩牧場物語可多了。

他麻利地弄了個新帳號然後登入。遊戲剛開始玩家便看到江楓被憐星邀月逼上絕路的一幕。「我們是要救他嗎?」她好奇問道。

「呃……江楓應該已經沒救了。故事的主角是他的後代呢,不過我們要先打通新手劇情才能看到。喏,在地圖上點一下角色就會跑過去,點怪物就能攻擊了。你試試看吧!」

在地圖上奔跑是她玩Flash和GBA模擬器從未有過的體驗。眼前2.5D地圖上的角色比Flash的平面視角和GBA的320*240像素更為生動。她在屬於新手村的流星沙灘上把一隻又一隻貝殼和龍蝦敲成經驗值,快速的升級與新撿來的武器讓她的角色快速成長。剛好她又撞見被圍攻的小boss龍蝦王,沒被boss狙擊的她可以偷偷地刀下去,而尾刀幸運地被她撿去了。她不但拿到了稀有物品龍蝦冠,經驗值也一口氣漲到可以脫離新手村的範圍。

「我現在可以繼續看劇情了嗎?」

「可以哦!不過你要先挑選一個主門派,完成轉職才可以繼續喔。」

「那個……門派怎樣挑啊?」

他打開遊戲官網把三個主門派惡人谷、移花宮跟天外天展示出來。少女心發作的她立刻就選了移花宮。當劇情繼續推進,花無缺的大頭正要顯示在屏幕上時,老爸卻不適時地喊她過去切蛋糕--

*

少女看了下一片漆黑的天花板,每次這個夢都讓她回憶起當初進坑以後發生的事情。

夢境每次都在切蛋糕時結束。那天後面發生的事對他來說不重要,她也沒有在夢中回憶過。後來她從老爸口中得知他父親是老爸的大學死黨,現在在不知道甚麼地方當教授。

那個新辦的帳號理所當然的成為了她的所有物,古龍同萌傳Online也成為她玩電腦時唯一會打的遊戲。但很快她便發現了一個問題:遊戲實在太肝了。那個年代的網遊經驗值不是二次方在長就是三次方在長,高等打低等的經驗值還會被扣掉一大截。明明從1等升到10等只要兩小時,升到20等卻需要兩三天,到50等沒三個月根本不用想。對她這種每天頂多能玩半小時一小時的人來說戰力根本不可能跟上。把等級推高除了玩得更爽以外也能解鎖更多劇情,對她來說就像追連續劇一樣停不下來。

雖然自己沒有時間,但是對她來說錢能解決的問題就不叫問題。

首先是包月制的雙倍經驗,然後是每日登入都能領到的30分鐘雙倍經驗卷;在商城花點小錢抽一些強力裝備,在組隊時稍微給一些甜頭對方也不會介意你整天在那邊掛機。到了後來與其到處找隊友還不如乾脆成立公會收集人材和資源,每次活動都算好物品價格與打獵策略,務求將更多的資源收到自己手中。

她只不過是想用自己的零花錢堆一個小小的城堡而已。回過頭來自己卻已經成為一個小有名氣的公會會長,還有兩個得力的副手忠實地按著她的欲望把公會發展起來。只要她有空登入遊戲隨時都可以拿著練好的帳號跟大家起衝副本。

至於後來隨著武俠網遊的衰落他們轉移到其他遊戲再到終戰幻想上,那是後話了。

*

她再次緩緩睡去。同一時間電腦上的After Dark剪刀石頭布的螢幕保護程式消失不見,Skype的視窗傳來了幾行新訊息。

是那個肥宅傳來的。

「您要他們的資料已經出來了。我在aoisora2的留言版上找到他們網聚的討論,他們都在同一城市沒錯。雖然大部分ID在遊戲以外都搜不出甚麼來,但是那個甚麼alex應該是做生意的。我找到一家公司的負責人名字跟他差不多,公司的業務動態跟alex的活動時間也相常吻合。我覺得要在現實中找到他們的話這個是個很不錯的突破口。」

「好消息是,您也居然跟他們住在同一城市耶!」

「這樣的話由您親自出馬應該沒問題吧?」

「……洛雪大人?」

=========

關於她的故事,上面只是一半。另一半關於她性格的故事以後再補上吧?當初給她設計的外型與最近炎上過的天使烏頭(うと)不謀而合,性格也有點像?演技派,可以成為舞會的大小姐也可以成為腹黑JK這樣(?

以前的社交模式還是以論壇/BBS為主,遊戲相關的社交還是以這些論壇為媒介。直到2004前後作為分界點,MMORPG的出現使得電子娛樂與社交可以真正合一。當然同期或者稍早一點也有Discuz!插件和江湖遊戲等社交平台娛樂化的嘗試就是。

也就是說,在這個時間點以前要以網上娛樂的人際互動為題材執筆的話可以選擇的題材十分有限。總不能寫以前他們怎樣拼speedrun紀錄吧?看Summoning Saltbismuth的影片就知道在那個時候紀錄和攻略心得都是用電郵或者頂多論壇傳遞的,與今天有一整個完整網站加上審查員的制度完全不同。

儘管如此,屬於那個年代的網絡回憶有趣的還是不少。只是我大概只能在小說以外的地方去講這些東西了。隨便舉兩個例(記得先開flash):本地的話當年小校園是開放註冊的,裡面的學會版面其實有不少小學生看不懂的東西;黃巴士作為香港的數碼藝術先驅,架設的網站雖然好看也是flash的先行者,但保安系統實在太差勁--可以換禮品的積分居然可以透過F5反複登入而取得!

同一年代外國的網絡世界同樣精彩。日本的先不說,在英美的科網熱潮雖然已經爆破,但那些公司或經營模式並沒有立刻倒掉,大部分都撐了好幾年,甚至有苟活到現在的(比如neopets),當年的網絡世界就因為這些注資而得以百花齊放。在商業角度來看它們不怎樣成功,對我們說卻是好玩就夠了。我比較有印象的應該是AlfyAdventure Quest(到現在還沒倒也是神奇)吧。

當年網絡世界的另一個特色是大量的個人網頁--那是一個free hosting滿地跑的時代。懶人可以直接用blogger、Xanga和各種奇怪的動態留言版,但更多人都愛用Frontpage express或者Dreamweaver寫自己的網頁。單說香港的geocities網頁數已經是世界前幾名,到現在去oocities能找到的遺跡也有不少。當年的網站都有一頁連結,專門放好友網站的banner,在社交平台還沒大一統的時代一個個小圈子就是這樣撐起來的。放到現代的話有點像噗浪?

所以說,我想寫的東西真的很多。不過發夢的話繼續打遊戲就好了。

順便一提,把網絡現象當背景的小說我大推M.S.Zenky的閉鎖密室系列喔。這個(偽)偵探系列中每一本都對應了不同網絡現象,比如第一本是病毒、第二本則是網絡文學這樣。實體書由鮮鮮出版,不過鮮鮮墳頭草已經跟人一樣高了。想看這本的話去Z大的網站看就好囉。

Friday, 26 February 2021

26/2/2021: Ebony & Ivory from Beatstream to Nos

 

An easy level 12, disappointingly easy. I got 98% on the second day.

I hate difficulty locks in MUGs by a lot. Games like Nostalgia, Chunithm and DDR partially, have an unlock system where higher difficulty unlocks only when one completes a lower difficulty with good enough scores. This is a complete waste of time because a large portion of advanced players simply do not touch the lower difficulties. Among these Beatstream had the most notorious system among all -- the nightmare difficulty only unlocks when the player completes a course with accuracy up to 95%-99%.

As a result I never got the chance to try the nightmare difficulty of Ebony & Ivory till the last play that was available to me via multiplayer game with my friend, and it plays as exciting as watching that on screen. It has one of the most iconic streams in Beatstream that is uncontested till the end of service. It's a nice song too, another great piece of work my long time favourite OSTER project.

Unfortunately the design of Beatstream is really incompatible with extreme maps. At note density as high as those top maps in Reflec Beat it looks really bad on Beatstream. This is apparent when they pushed Lv.神 on KAC which looked really unappetizing. As a result Beatstream had its service terminated on 31/7/2017. Still I am still waiting for its revival on mobile device as it is apparently one of the Konmai MUG that is more compatible with tablets (right after Reflec Beat). 

Beatstream machines were transformed into Nostalgia machine since then. It's properly designed and is connected to my beloved piano based songs. I have spent around 1000 credits since its introduction -- but I still miss Beatstream time to time. And with Ebony & Ivory became available I am triggered so write this diary as a record just in case I cannot retrieve my score screenshot anymore (I am pretty sure I have a screenshot on my Beatstream score for Ebony & Ivory but I failed to find that somehow).

Oh and something about the Nos map: the lack of Real difficulty is really disappointing, cause I have been waiting for that for a long time! The expert map yields 1009 combo whereas the nightmare difficulty from Beatstream contains 991 combo where most notes are single notes. This song is perfect for a real lv.3 I am not joking...

My Jubeat emblem, since 2017 and never changed


Saturday, 20 February 2021

The bullshit "equity math"

“You are a slow learner, Winston."
"How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four."
"Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”
-- George Orwell, 1984

*

Recently schools in Oregon are sent toolkits about teaching maths in "proper" way and to "eliminate white supremacy". I usually don't care about lefty nonsenses but this time they went too far and touched my beloved mathematics. It went so far that I can't stop myself writing a defend against it.

Macroscopically this is just another batch of money wasted onto the "political correctness" industry, where you will only find in the States. Their way of philosophy and action are quite similar to that those from the cultural revolution in China in the sixties. Even back then when rocket scientist Qian Xuesen had to lie about agricultural production, their revised mathematics curriculum is still mathematical in context, only with a political twist in it. You get questions like "in accord to instructions from Chairman Mao we seized X acres of land yesterday and Y square meters of land today. How much land did we recover from the damned landlord in total?", and yet they are still doing proper mathematics.

We need to stop the horrible wave of decontextualization, in all possible fields. It's not just only for mathematics or science, but also in history, literature, social science and so on. Today as an math educator I feel like I should break the myth of the so called equity maths.

First of all, what is mathematics? Well this is a very complicated question with diversed answers. According to Wikipedia mathematics can be treated as a symbolic logic or its dual pair as operation of a formal language (the logical or mechanical one, not the linguistic one). Or if you like constructivism then there is also one definition for intuitionists. However if we lower the bar and ask the same question for primary/secondary school level mathematics, then it will for sure be the operation based on Peano axioms on integers, which is then extended to the rational (or real) number system. From such aspect the logic induced is consistent and unique. For every question you ask within the logic they is one and only one answer. If a quadratic equation has two roots then you don't call another root be "an alternative" to your first root. The answer is to include both roots. Giving only one of them is mathematically wrong.

For the rest of the article I want to focus on the part of solving questions within the mathematical logic. That means questions that can be completely described in propositional logic. A famous example is in Laudau's book "A Course of Pure Mathematics", where he wrote in the preface that he expects the deduction of "2+2=4" to be:

2+2 = (1+1)+(1+1) = ((1+1)+1)+1 = (2+1)+1 = 3+1 = 4

which uses the definition that 1,2,3,4 are right next to each other on the sequence of positive integers and the axiom of associativity. Similarly arithmetic calculations are within mathematical logic. High school algebra are also within mathematical logic using statements like "for all x if x^2-1 = 0 then x = 1 or -1". Geometry is a bit tricky, but we can also form a first-order logic using Euclid's axioms (with parallel postulate) and so on. I stress that this is just to give a more concise definition of the part to be taught in the subject of mathematics to be discussed in the following, but not the axiomatic approach that should be taught. For kids 2+2=4 just because "two steps after two" is four and that's it, but the problem itself can be described as in mathematical logic, that it is within scope of our discussion.

The truth of a proof for a question in mathematical logic, is purely objective. This is due to the uniqueness and consistency in the logic. In a more practical level when we assess student's work, logical errors are one of the two types of mistakes (or imperfections) from students' work. The other type of mistakes would be stylish problems (presentation, key steps being skipped etc.) which are subjective. That does not change the fact that the logic or rather the core knowledge of the subject is objective. Relativism does not apply in mathematics or other sciences.

With precise definitions, a grading scheme can also be objective by exhausting possibilities. While grading remains objective under proper settings, this is by no means an attempt to promote quantity over quality -- it is just a statistic showing the estimated understanding of the students. Grades can be used solely for the purpose of improving teaching quality. This is just one of the many standardization for the sake of efficiency, which we shall cover again later. 

The goal of solving a question within the mathematical logic is of course to complete the deduction. Focusing on intermediate steps does not mean the final answer is not important. In fact, the answers obtained in previous questions are often step stones for a consequent question. In such sense the answer is of no less importance than the middle step. Getting the right answer, is of course a major goal in a maths class. (And right here means correct(ortho-), and does not imply that political or social rightness is of the same correctness. Such discussion is a pure waste of everyone's time and resources.)

One very important consideration when you teach someone mathematics is called mathematical maturity. Roughly speaking, it is your exposure to different levels and fields in mathematics so that you can understand a new topic quickly without spending 10 minutes on every definition. Due to the correctness and uniqueness of mathematics it is always possible to introduce someone a highly sophisticated tool and he can do mechanics out of it without sufficient maturity as long as he can follow the logic. However his lack in maturity means that the process will take exponentially longer, and that is a waste of time. When I was year 1 in university I joined a open courseware site and took a course in functional analysis. Yes I can understand every word about the Arzela-Ascoli theorem, but I had truly zero idea what it was doing. This is because I simply did not have enough exposure in function spaces as well as point-set topology that I couldn't visualize what is going on (unlike now I can casually use that a few times in a single article).

For primary and secondary school level mathematical maturity applies as well. At a lower level this is almost equivalent to arithmetic fluency which is gained by repeated practices on calculation, hence the teaching sequence is almost linear. At high school level there are various topics that are indeed taught in sequence. While they may or may not be taught independently, these are designed in the way that previous topics would boost the exposure and maturity of the students to equip better against the next topic. 

Topic sequencing, alongside with many other existing standards and practices, are based on years of professional experience (bottom-up) and research (top-down). They do not come for whatever supremacy theories, but rather efficiency in teaching (and learning). We focus on formalism and mathematical rigorousness because these are the core of mathematical maturity and the key to master those topics. We grade the assignment as to reflect the portion of question that students are able to tackle. We standardize tests because that gives us an objective, scientific and reliable way to understand the progress of the students. And yes we need objectivity, just because this is how the world works.

Talking about efficiency, there are always idealistic imaginations on how education could be at its best: teachers tailoring materials for every students, personalizing feedbacks and updating goals constantly; school preparing the best peer environment and passive resources (e.g. library) for them. Is this possible? Yes and it exists -- in the few top high schools over the world, particularly in the States and Scandinavia (note that top secondary schools in western Europe and Asia took completely approaches). They mimicked what Euclid or Socrates did in the ancient times with the best possible teachers and resources around. That comes with a cost though: the tuition fee would be up to hundreds of thousand dollars if not millions per year, and this is open to the only half-hundred geniuses every year. 

Taking a step back, there are new AI technologies which automates some of the assessing steps freeing more time for the teachers to work on more inspirational stuffs. In China they took a step further by monitoring students' reaction during class as part of the assessment -- I am against such measure though, as it hinders the students' privacy.

But now...we are talking about reforms of public schools, and most of them won't have the resources to take any of these measures. Sadly this is the fact as supported by the highly valued private education sector both at the institutional level and also the individual level. Over the past 30 years, teachers have spent more and more time on out-of-the-classroom matters. It is almost impossible to squeeze out more time to boost the quality of teaching. Unless significantly more resources are being put into the sector, what we observe nowadays is basically the equilibrium point of public school teaching. 

I believe most math teachers are in the classroom to teach mathematics, and I expect most students are there to learn mathematics (at least, not politics). We separated the curriculum into various subjects that teaching and learning are specialized. What we do in the classroom can be evaluated, but only in the context of mathematics. We do not need the interference from dumb politicians and their fanatics. 

I tried to write the article without real criticism on the reform. But since I mentioned the cultural revolution at the beginning, I shall quote from Andrea Widburg something that I also observed from that horrifying cultural revolution: 'the only way to achieve the left’s beloved “equity” is to lower the standards or abolish them entirely'. Think about a world where hospitals were run by youngsters without medical knowledge, and bridges build by "engineers" who had no idea about civil engineering. As scary as it sound that really happened in China, just 50 years ago. Would you like to see the same in the western world?

Saturday, 13 February 2021

FEH: thoughts at the 4th anniversary mark

Friendship ended with Olivia. Now Dimitri is Ayra's best friend!



A typical game in its fifth year -- rigid system with stable and visible powercreeping. Since I am not really into the meta (got stuck at AR tier 36-37. I really need to get more whale units...) I am not at a good position to talk about these, instead I would like to write something about the new events.

Also, it's good to see Yuri scoring 6th in CYL, I hope that he will be in a banner soon!

*

Changes in Mjolnir Strike

Hmmm...the change is weird.

For now I have Cherche(Effie) and Ayra(L!Micaiah) on one side. The galeforce tactic is greatly hindered and sometimes she'd rather go to the other side and kill some blues instead. Ayra still works well as a tank on both phases, but sometimes it's tough for her to deal with half the units, basically without healing.

On the other side I have the summoner, Itsuki(B!Dimitri) and Genny(Flame Emperor), and it's basically Itsuki and Dimitri doing all the tanking and the summoner sweeps the rest. Genny sometimes need to heal on the other side, and that is essentially the same problem as for Cherche.

Larger maps means more separated unit, but the enemy is also further away from the portal. In previous maps you need to hold the line till turn 6, but now enemies at the top aren't threats anymore after turn 5. Defending the portal is definitely easier in such sense.

Difficulty-wise I simply don't see much point in the change other than finding a random place to fit the summoner in. Or to boost the sale of mystic units? AR has been the main attraction and they just don't need Mjonir Strike for that...

Pawns of Loki

Definitely a very interesting game mode. Unfortunately the same problem as for arena kicks in, that you need extreme luck to get a top score. Given that every complete playthrough lasts 12 turns it takes much longer to grind a top score out of it.

At intermediate with a proper setup, the later turns never cause any problem. Instead score optimization relies on having optimal choices during the first four turns. It's almost necessary to obtain 26+ combo score before turn 6, or you will lose a significant bit of score.

It's even harder at advanced where you get disgusting opponent with high combo score. Getting perfect score out there is simply brutal and extremely luck dependent. 

The game mode is fun, but the grinding is so painful. The only good news is that you only need a decent score at intermediate level to stay at tier 9.5, while a top score at intermediate suffices for tier 10. I really hope that they will listen to the players and change the matchup mechanics.

*

14/2/2021 update: the latest survey on reddit is out! The general feedback is of recent high due to accumulative improvements during the past year, altogether with the really welcomed 4th anniversary update including upgrade of the old legendary heroes, sparking on more banners and the 4* special rate which is essentially demoting all gen 1-2 units to 4* but better! We have to say that IS is doing great listening to the players over the past year, and I hope they will continue to do so in the coming days.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

31/01/21: Gamestonk

 
來源:Praeter之傷04 // 無關內容的插圖,不知道對誰說的,總之這番很潮,建議看看。
人生如遊戲。

初音是這樣說的,No Game No Life的空白也是這樣說的。本季新番弱角友崎同學也是這樣說的,雖然他本人不一定這樣認為。

其實反過來也一樣,遊戲如人生。特別是成本(Stake)越來越高的時候遊戲與人生的界線就會變得模糊。

以往打過的網遊,雖然遊戲早已不復存在,但遊戲裡留下的人脈和情誼卻成了人生的的一部分。當然我可以肯定地說像我這樣看待網遊的人只是少數。

把規模拉高一點,看看那個一隻滿裝泰坦要八萬美金的EVE Online。看看那個將紀律帶到現實生活的帝國,看看那些進去連打17小時的駕駛員,這個遊戲就是他們的人生。

遊戲裡的物品可以炒起來也可以衍生出期權,那麼現實裡的股市也不過是遊戲市場的放大成熟版而已。然後現在最流行的當然是那個任何人有三百美金都能參加的全球賭場。到底我們應該把它看成用零錢進場玩數字遊戲(這樣看來CP值比抽三單高多了),還是把它看成散戶對抗大鱷的聖戰,大概每個人心裡都有不同想法。

我無意也沒有能力在股票層面作出任何分析,但這場注定會被載入史冊的事件在金融層面以外還有更值得所有人關注的地方--那就是科技金融霸權對自由民主的影響。

這些醜惡的嘴臉在美國大選時就已經暴露了出來,但部分人士可能因為政見而將這些行為視而不見;這次無關政治的事件卻又遭到它們的莫名封殺:Google將Robinhood(RH)的負評大量刪除、Reddit將r/wsb暫時封鎖、Facebook與Discord將群組以「仇恨言論」為由移除、CNBC將大散戶肉搜並公之於眾、媒體紛紛發佈空倉已平的假消息,一切都是針對無關政治的散戶行為。先不論這次震盪引起左右川派大和解,光是民間對這些deep state操作能有更深入了解就已經對國家發展來說是天大的好事了。

從2019反送中到2020武漢武炎與大選再到2021的今天,我們身處這個大時代裡,許多事情都可以歸到美中各自制度遇到的挑戰上,這正是維尼論述裡「百年未有之大變局」的精華所在。我們也許沒法在這種事情上幫上甚麼,但是活好自己跟Don't be evil就已經很好了。

最後……

#NotFinancialAdvice
#ApeStrongTogether
#DiamondHands

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Flash player

 


The end of flash player. 

Technically the phase out started quite sometime ago, when apple stopped supporting flash in 2010 (still remember the "cannot learn the move flash" meme?). Then NPAPI was gone in 2015-16. Then mainstream browsers started creating difficulty for one using flash. Adobe officially stopped supporting Flash by the end of 2020 and now chrome is stupidly blocking flash.

But I am sure there are many who would like to use flash anyhow for whatever good ol' online materials. It could be flash games in Kongregate, Neopets or Asiadog, flash vids from Newgrounds and oocities archives, or the for once state-of-the-art flash online RPG the Adventure Quest (AQ).

All you need is a get around, and here is one.

Before windows officially work against flash, the main obstacle would be flash player itself and the browser, so we need to deal with them separately.

Disclaimer: there are security problems with flash itself, even more for the older versions. This is the primary reason why it was phased out in the first place, so use at your own risk.

Flash: install a much older version of flash with update disabled.

The current one might have been disabled/uninstalled by windows/flash itself. What you want to do is to uninstall the current one (if it is still there) and install an older version. 

The reason to get old versions is to prevent adobe putting anything related to end the use of flash player into the software. In that sense any version that is more than a few years old should be fine. I tested 15.0 and 18.0 and they both worked for me, but I suspect something more recent should also work. 

I got myself the old installer from my old download stuff, but I am sure there are archived installer online with some simple googling.

Browser: DO NOT USE CHROME. Firefox and IE should be fine. Vivaldi maybe?

The picture of flash blocked that everyone posted is a result of chrome blocking flash, not that flash blocked itself. That basically means that there is no hope using flash with chrome unless you downgrade it significantly. 

I experimented with Firefox and it works even on the latest version (at least for now, not sure if flash ban is also scheduled for Firefox). Allow flash to run and disable any update prompts. You should have no problem running flash from there.

If you use modern browsers then you would like flash player that supports PPAPI (or flash for Firefox/chrome, simply speaking). If you are using old browsers then you will need flash player that supports NPAPI.

I feel like modern browsers have problem coping with really old flash versions (8/11/12), that's understandable because PPAPI were not fully established at the time, but it's also weird considering that almost everything in Neopets were build well before these flash versions.

*

It is definitely an incorrect approach to force the users to adapt something else by mandatory updates including updates from windows and chrome, and of course finishing flash this time. Sadly it has been the practice of those IT giants, among many of their ignorant moves.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

夢.十夜 (6) Fire in the hole

 


- happysky1(小紅)的隊伍 -
2 x 「赤銀騎士」雷音 [PVP:四連擊]
2 x 「無畏劍士」西薇爾 [擊退6][PVP:麻痺]
1 x 「靜默無聲」德蕾婭娜 [擊退7][PVP:遠狙7]

- 攻城戰 -
1. 每場正式戰鬥時間為一小時整。
2. 玩家可以攻擊對方陣列、城門或進行砲擊得分。
3. 玩家攻擊對方陣列時只能攻擊敵方最前排玩家。
4. 只有當對方陣列全破時玩家才可以攻擊城門。
5.  玩家卡片攻守皆共用同一血量,所有卡片血量歸零時則進入擊破狀態不可戰鬥。
6. 當卡片並非滿血時,玩家都可以發動回復將血量補至全滿。
7.  玩家攻擊對方陣列時,若結算時未被擊破攻方可取得分數。分數與卡片戰力與剩餘血量成正比。如果攻方被擊破則只能取得極少分數。
8. 玩家直接攻擊城門時可取得大量分數,約為以同樣隊伍攻擊對方陣列時得分的兩到三倍。
9. 玩家可隨時進入探險模式收集砲台零件,期間不得進行任何戰鬥。
10.玩家在探險模式時主戰場上會視為已擊破,無法進行任何防守。
11.當砲台零件集齊後玩家可進行一次砲擊,有若干機會直擊城門取得大量分數,亦有機會打中我方或敵方陣列造成傷害。
12.戰鬥中所有行動,包括對方陣列或城門、進行回復或探險都會消耗體力。體力會隨時間少量回復,也可以用一般物品[體力藥]直接補滿。
13.戰鬥時間結束時以較高分的隊伍獲勝。

- 獎勵 - 
1. 獎勵分成隊伍成績與個人成績兩項。
2. 隊伍成績以勝場數及總分作排名,只有排行的獎勵。
3. 個人成績即玩家在攻城戰的個人總輸出,有排行及固定獎勵。

*

在那個昏暗的機廳裡。

深夜的機廳裡只有我們兩人。平日在照相機裡打情罵俏的情侶和打戰機STG的中年大叔通通不在,跳舞機的音樂在空蕩蕩的機廳裡悠悠響著。

跳舞機正在播放的是與季節相反隅田川夏戀曲的鬼譜面。這首樂曲的鬼譜面難在大量八分跳音連打,與其jubeat譜面一樣擁有「鬼怒川大濁流」的惡名。

跳音,也就是同時踩兩個箭頭的音符,對玩家的平衡和回復能力的需求比一般箭頭大得多。在等級16到17這個區間裡,玩家逐漸接觸到更多連續跳音的譜面,但像是隅田川夏戀曲這種長串帶跳音的八分連打還是極少數。不少人認為這樣放在16算是詐稱了。

「哈……哈啊……」把結尾糊過去的我倚在扶手上喘息。總感覺我開始打終戰幻想以來打跳舞機的機會變少了,體力也沒以前好。

與我相比旁邊的卡羅只是稍露疲態。他把放在一旁的珍珠奶茶遞了過來:「休息一下吧。吃完宵夜才一小時這樣打當然會累呢。」

「嗯……也對,等一下又要開打了。」現在是凌晨三點半,三十分鐘後又是公會戰。

「贏了奧林匹克神眾的話這場大概不是打一檔土豪就是打弱隊吧。你想跳過的話我跟他們說一聲就好啦。」

隊伍的匹配系統會優先匹配勝場數相近的隊伍,但每個對戰組合只能出現一次。勝場數接近的隊伍都打過的話就會對上比自己強很多或者弱很多的隊伍。除非勝場數落後要對上強隊掙扎一下,不然剩下四天半的賽事都沒有認真打的必要。跳過戰鬥對我來說肯定是一件好事,不然再打幾場超高強度的戰鬥的話我的熱情就會被燃盡吧。

與「奧林匹克神眾」的戰鬥是我打過最剌激的比賽之一。我現在滿腦子都還在想那場比賽--

*

為了方便不同隊員,我們選擇使用聊天室而不用語音交流。但一句句「開火」在聊天室裡快速刷過彷彿能像戰友們的怒吼一樣真實。

隨著這場正式開打,我快速進入戰場,裡面雙方玩家已經全數出現。開局前幾分鐘大家都把戰力投放到正面進攻上,因為先摸清對手陣容至為重要。被分配到後排的我當然也攻了上去,第一次進攻打到對方的中排。應該說對面不愧是土豪隊,他們手上的角色不是超強的課金角就是好看的活動獎勵。我的隊伍雖然沒法打敗對面,但是在雷音和西薇爾的拖延下我的德蕾婭娜成功解決了對方的輸出。想必下一次進攻就能把他打趴了吧。

經過一輪衝鋒後,雙方各自喝藥回復進入消耗戰。其實玩家可以隨時消耗體力把血條補滿,所以只要瘋狂吃藥回復的話是很難被擊破的。但是這樣體力藥的消耗會變成本來的四到五倍。考慮到體力藥本身就是交易貨幣,一直用這種打法還不如把錢留下來抽活動卡把對面碾過去。

此時雙方大概都在考慮,到底贏下這場成本要多少呢?有沒有可能大舉投入還是輸掉呢?戰力更高的隊伍在戰略上擁有主動權,只要保持進攻便可將領先擴大;戰力較低的一方想得到更多分數只能採取其他打法,比如裝作投降等對面收手後再反撲的裝死打法之類。但是這些方法對上要衝個人排名的隊名是行不通的,奧林匹克神眾很明顯就屬於這種隊伍。

眼前的聊天室全是「我方中破」或者「XX快回復」之類的簡短情報。顯然我們中排破防的頻率比對面高一點,分數上的差距也在慢慢拉開。我上前攻擊的時候大部份時間都打到對面的前排,就算打到對方的中排,滿血的隊伍也讓他們難以被打穿。

情況很不妙啊。

不同的應對方案在我腦海中閃過,但大部分都很快被否決了。狂吃回復藥拼下去嗎?對方同樣可以跟你拼;全員同步攻擊?這樣的確更有效率地擊破對方,但每一次都同步等於攻擊速度取決於打最慢那個,這樣也太浪費了。簡單來說只要摸不到城門的話就只能一直這樣混戰,混戰裡輸出更高的一隊怎樣打都擁有絕對優勢。

可以摸到對方城門的方法--對了,砲台!我在群組裡留下訊息便匆匆進入探險模式。

探險模式與探險活動的介面十分相似。不同的是這裡你只會撿到物品和砲台零件而不會遇上怪物。由於不用載入戰鬥的關係,體力的消耗速度一點都不慢。砲台零件沒法儲存起來,每次發射過後就會清零,所以要集滿一套還是要一點時間。

我大概花了兩分鐘把零件湊滿,期間我們隊的防線可謂風聲鶴淚,本來就被頻頻摸到後排的防線幾乎失守。所幸的是對方沒法把握機會直接攻擊城門,兩隊分差仍然在緩慢地拉開中。

就像要進行轉蛋十連一樣我不安地按下「發射!」按鈕。

碰--沒打中。

開甚麼玩笑!我趕緊再次進入探險模式收集零件。隊上開始傳來哀號,看來真的快防不住了。我一個勁地在手機上不停按「前進」按鈕,希望快一點把零件找全。

這次我花了不到兩分鐘,體感上卻比上次慢得多。我毫不猶豫地再次按下「發射!」按鈕。

碰--直擊城門。

主頁上顯示的分差比我剛進入探險模式時收窄了少許,代價是本來弱勢的隊伍陣列幾乎崩潰。如此看來砲打城門的確可以分擔少許輸出功能,但不足以逆轉目前的劣勢。

眼前的聊天室閃過「大破」的求救,但是抽得正起勁的我才不可能停下來。我再花了兩分鐘把零件集滿。發射--

這次沒打空氣也沒打中城門,而是打到對面陣列上了。

我們隊顯然在剛才的兩分鐘裡失守了兩三次,砲彈直擊城門的拉近的分差幾乎又吐回去了。剛剛的砲擊使得對面全員重傷,前排的坦角幾乎全滅。這可是難得的進攻機會!我趕快在聊天室下指令:

小紅:「砲彈打中對面,快上!」
Lampbear:「レ(゚∀゚;)ヘ=З=З=З」
Sora:「幾乎都秒殺呢」
飛:「爽,不知道能不能摸到城門呢」

探險期間玩家不會遭受攻擊,所以我的卡片得以滿血發起進攻。第一次把對面中排某一個玩家秒掉,第二次把對方後排最後一隻也打下來了。遊戲此時顯示出對面全滅而可以攻擊城門的標誌,但打下去時迎接我的只是滿血復活的前排坦角。

Lampbear:「……_(┐「﹃゚。)_對面回防了」

對面回防跟是否知道被砲彈打中沒有關係,只要卡片血量不夠玩家自然會跑去回復。從砲彈打中對面到對面完全回防只有一到兩次的進攻機會。

但這樣已經足夠了。對上半血的卡片的戰鬥比滿血的戰鬥要快得多,趁對方殘血時一刀一隻,第二次進攻應該便可以摸到城門。更重要的是對面在這段時間沒法形成有效的進攻,我方也可以趁機重整隊形。

一小時的攻城戰已經過了一半,剛才一波攻勢打下來我們追回了一截。更重要的是剛才即將崩潰的防線已經回過神來,雙方回到在一開始那種混戰。

這樣看來砲彈最大的戰略效果可能不在於直擊城門而在攻擊對方陣列,但兩分鐘一砲的話平均六七分鐘才有辦法砲擊對方陣列一次。按目前的分差來說這樣追成平手不是不可能,但對面瘋起來的話肯定能打穿我們的防線。要繼續執行砲擊戰略只能用突襲的打法。

另一個考慮是怎樣將砲擊的利益最大化。如果說打中對方陣列會造成固定比例的傷害的話,最佳的砲擊時機必然為對方滿血的時候。而對方唯一會同時回復的時機是--

小紅:「我們輪流進入探險模式收集砲台零件。前面盡力守住別被摸到城門,必要時浪費一下體力藥也沒有問題。」
亞歷克斯:「可」
天天下小雨:「想到打法了嗎?」
小紅:「大概吧」

單一玩家沒法儲存砲彈零件,這個設計無疑是正確的--但我們有九位隊員啊。只要製造幾次砲擊對方陣列的機會我們就能大量得分,而且在他們剛回復過來時再施以砲擊的話就能將傷害拉到最大。砲擊的當下他們也可能帶著半血的卡片上前攻擊而自滅,這樣我們的攻擊都可以灌在城門上。就算不施行連續砲擊,砲擊的主動權一直都在我們手上。他們只知道自己的卡片受創,但短時間內他們是沒法分出事否被砲彈打中的。

依照計劃我們輪流收集零件。按次序由一個前排先去,之後是中排和後排再回到前排,這樣可以最大限度減輕防線的壓力。對面似乎除了用力打以外沒有甚麼特別的動作。或者說,他們就算發現了有古怪也不會做甚麼。這就是公會戰有趣的地方:以個人分數為目標的話正攻法就是最優解,而只要隊伍足夠強大時正攻法也是穩贏的最佳打法。但當兩隊實力接近時戰術便能發揮作用,以個人分數和資源為代價可以拉近兩隊之間的差距。現在我們的對手是土豪為主的隊伍,瞄準個人分數排分也是理所當然的。

時間還剩下八分鐘。分數差距在過去二十分鐘拉遠了一點,大概比我開砲前再多一點的程度。要追回來並非不可能,但前提是我們有辦法打到城門--這正是我們要做的事情。

小紅:「時間無多了,來輪流發砲吧!發出去後立刻上來報告打中哪裡了。前排Alex卡羅先上」
亞歷克斯:「沒打中」
卡羅:「沒中」

以之前的數據來看打進對方隊伍裡的機會恐怕比三分之一還低,不過我也只能硬著頭皮上了。

我暗地嘖了一聲繼續指揮:「阿飛你其中一個號發砲吧」
飛:「中城門」
小紅:「另一個號也發砲吧」
飛:「中人」
小紅:「總攻擊!」

對面的隊伍瞬間變成殘廢我們也沒必要防守了,全部壓上去就好。我的雷音[Rain]每次發動四連擊剛好可以將對面一張卡片打掉,使得戰鬥成為單方面的砍瓜切菜。我在第二次按下攻擊之際再次下令發砲:「Sora跟熊熊發砲!」
Lampbear:「(´ー`)沒中」
Sora:「中城門」

我的第二遍攻擊對上是對方後排最後一個,相信其他隊員應該摸的到城門吧。九星連珠砲發的計劃中最重要的是連續的砲擊壓制,連續Miss的情況下再叫其他隊員可能就趕不上了。我回到主頁面上把自己的砲台掏了出來,發射。拜託一定要打中對方隊伍--

準星彷彿回應了我的願望,砲彈直直地打進對方的陣列中。

連續命中的砲擊之所以能構成更大傷害,是因為對方的「硬直」時間更長。剛剛用體力回血的他們,按下攻擊按鈕之際其實已經吃到砲擊了,這樣相當於他們拖著殘血隊伍上前攻擊(自殺)。等我進攻時對方的隊伍已經失去防守能力,我們就能直接進攻城門了。本來只有半輪能摸到城門,活用硬直時間的話便能拉到一整輪以上。

本來都在攻擊的隊員們繼續壓了上去。我第一次攻擊打到對方中排,第二次已經打到城門上去了。雖然我還沒檢查分差,但是代表兩隊分數的紅藍分數條以肉眼可見的差距縮小著--不,說不定已經追平了。

小紅:「最後是小雨阿秋,一起發砲吧!」
Lampbear:「٩(ŏ﹏ŏ、)۶我好像看到反超了」
飛:「太強了吧,最後五分鐘反超」
卡羅:「不愧是小紅呢。」
亞歷克斯:「還沒打完,小心一點」
帕斯秋:「沒打中呢」
天天下小雨:「我也打中人了!」
Sora:「那就再一遍總攻擊!」
「「「喔喔喔!」」」

這次總攻擊並沒有收到甚麼成效。

原因大概是對面突然發現自己落後了,在時間無多的情況下唯一可以做的是吃藥瘋狂輸出。這樣打三分鐘的話成本也不會差很多,比起輸給比自己弱的隊伍來說瘋狂吃藥根本不算點甚麼。吃藥的打法與其說是提高輸出還不如說是提高防守從而壓低對手的輸出。砲擊的優勢在於製造削弱對方全隊的機會,但對方一直吃藥的話這個機會根本不會存在。

不過我們已經不需要再把差距拉開了,只要把優勢守下來就好。人家可以吃藥猛打三分鐘,我們同樣可以吃藥守下來。分差在緩緩地縮小,剩下的時間卻在快速地流逝。

六十秒,三十秒,十五秒--我心裡默默倒數著,手上機械式地不停按著回復,偶而還能上前攻擊個一兩次。最後的一次攻擊按下去後遊戲彈出「戰鬥已結束,結算中」的訊息,我才終於放下心頭大石。

贏了!

分數的差距定格在一萬五千左右,那是消滅對方一兩個玩家就能得到的分數。這樣算的話再多三十秒就可能撐不住了吧。當然這些已經不重要了,我們從第二檔強隊的嘴邊搶下了一場勝利,在勝場排名上形勢一片大好。

就像足球比賽裡領先一比零然後苦守了整個下半場的球員一樣,我沒有理會聊天室那邊的歡呼而是站起來對著空氣揮舞拳頭。我把坐椅推開正想跑起來,卻發現房間裡空間不足。保持著單腳站立雙臂舉起的姿勢五秒後,我的肚子適時地響了起來。

那就下樓吃宵夜吧。

*

「你為甚麼知道我會知道我住甚麼地方,為甚麼知道我會下樓吃東西啊?跟蹤女性可是一件非常危險的舉動呢。」

卡羅擺出一個我哪知道的表情:「嗯~我只是想深夜吃點東西而已。至於你住哪裡,大致可以從你的出沒範圍猜出來吧,不過詳細地址我真的不知道哦。

至於下樓吃宵夜這件事,我在聊天紀錄裡感覺你不論是音遊刷新紀錄還是終戰幻想裡打完活動也好,只要完成某個指標你都有找美食的習慣呢。我就在想你打贏這場比賽的話應該會想找吃的吧?至於你會在家裡吃泡麵還是下樓吃宵夜,這就不是我能控制的了。所以說,這應該算是緣份吧?」

雖然很想吐糟,但是他很快接了下去:「但是--我必須感謝妳。妳的加入讓大家團結起來打活動,這是我以前沒法做到的。

我很早就說過我們群組之中不乏各種類型的高檔玩家。不單是擁有神抽之手和交易人脈的熊熊,也有課很兇的亞歷克斯跟農很大的Sora和阿飛。這些人足以組成一支很強的隊伍,但在你進來以前這個群組不過是交流必要資訊的平台而已。新活動出來,知道要怎樣打就潛水埋頭去打;活動結束,誰要買賣獎勵就上來說兩句,僅此而已。

在你進來之後感覺你的熱情跟分析讓他們變得更投入,大家的交流也變多了。以前的攻城戰隨便組一隊出來有空就上線打,沒空就放過;跟強隊掰手腕是從來都沒夢到的事情,也沒有想過除了正攻以外還有這麼剌激的玩法。」

說罷他雙手按在扶手上,形成一個奇怪的扶手咚。帥氣的臉龐露出燦爛的笑容,這是我第一次看到他拋棄CG式表情而從心底裡笑出來:「所以說,能邀請你進來玩遊戲實在是太好了。」

這……應該算是……嗯?

雖然感覺到他的弦外之音,可是我一直盯著他的眼睛,嘴巴張著卻久久說不出話來。

不知道過了多久他往後退了一步差點就摔下腳踏台,算是緩解了一下尷尬的氣氛:「那接下來的攻城戰跟以後的活動也多多指教囉!」

「嗯!」

「然後,看起來下一場快要開打了呢。」他看了一下手錶:「還沒打算回家的話要不我們再找點宵夜一邊吃一邊打攻城戰?打音遊後吃美食最棒了。」

「嘛……其實我很少深宵溜出來吃東西啦。這個時間附近有甚麼好吃的嗎?」

「下半夜的話最好的選擇一定是喝早茶呢。我知道附近有一家不會太擠的,在那邊打個一小時應該不成問題。喏,我來帶路吧?」

少女隨即收拾自己的東西。說是收拾其實沒有甚麼東西,本來就只是下樓吃東西而已,連抹汗用的毛巾都沒有。把喝光的的奶茶杯丟進垃圾箱後少年把手搭在年少女的肩膀上,二人慢慢地步出機廳,留下跳舞機「See you next time」的音效在機廳裡迴蕩著。

*

嚴格來說,打輸低一檔的隊伍不需要甚麼不可饒恕的低級錯誤,最常見的原因就是缺人所以戰力大減。這種事在來自單一時區的隊伍時有發生。視乎匹配的進度,落後的勝場也不是不能追回來。系統會低估落後隊伍的實力把它配給「高檔次」的隊伍當沙包打,但實際上這兩隊是同一檔的。贏下這場的話勝場數自然就能補回來。這樣樣玩難度當然會變高,成本也會跟著漲上去,但並非完全不可能。真正一場都不能掉的的只有前三到五名而已。

從外人的角度來看,「奧林匹克神眾」輸了就是輸了。他們甚至不在意是誰打敗了它的。而我們隊,靠著這場勝場位列第十五。第十一場我們幸運地被配到較弱的沙包隊,如果亞歷克斯在線的話很大機會能打贏。這樣形勢對我們隊相當有利:第十二到十五場的時間正好對應我們睡醒的時間。只要這幾場不要輸給同檔次的隊伍,第四天開始對手強度就差不多往下了。

這場激烈的戰鬥除了我們隊,或許還有神眾他們以外不會有人記得。我們的砲擊戰術倒是帶來了一點影響。雖然網上沒有人討論,但從這個活動開始到以後的攻城戰大家砲擊的頻率都變多了。即便是頂級的隊伍都願意犧牲一點刷分的時間進行砲擊。從我們收集到的資料來看,主流對砲擊的理解只停留在「打中城門能賺很多分、打中隊伍有助擊破對方」而已。至底有沒有隊伍學會連續砲擊的玩法,在我們碰上實際會這招的隊伍以前根本無從知曉。

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銀髮少女現在相當不爽。

她身處的隊伍總成績是33勝2敗排名第三,兩場敗仗理所當然地是面對前兩名吃下的。不過前三名的隊伍都可以得到最高檔次的七星勝場獎勵,排名第三本來就在她的預料之內。

問題在於個人輸出排行。只有前20名才能取得最高檔次的獎勵,一隊九個人的話光前三名隊伍就分不完了。用過去的數據來看,這二十個名額一般會由前三隊各取五到六個,剩下則由其他隊伍的主力輸出拿下。

但這次她們隊只分到了三張。虧掉的資源暫且不提,更氣的是這都是隊上一直有人跟著喊砲擊大法好的錯。

對上第一二名不抵抗意味著那兩隊白白多了一個免費刷分的機會,而我方也失去了一次刷分的機會。個人排行這東西不進則退,不在餘下的場次瘋狂刷分的話是追不回來的,偏偏部分隊員擅自跑去撿砲擊零件。她當然十分清楚砲擊的戰略價值,但在她看來她的隊伍在滿員情況下對上下位隊伍的優勢是絕對的。只要可以在九打八的情況下快速擊潰對方,砲台的戰略空間就不復存在。因此跑去撿零件只是白白損失百分之十的刷分效率而已。就是這百分之十決定了她隊上有四個隊員輸出排行都在21到30之間,他們跟第二十也剛好只差百分之五左右而已。

而嚷著要玩砲擊的正是那位對她俯首貼耳的肥宅--看來必要更改一下調教的方法了,她暗暗地想著。

拋開自己隊上強差人意的結果,這次攻城戰還是有讓她感興趣的東西。那就是排名第九,戰績為28勝7敗的「熊熊」(Bear Eats Meat)隊。隊上的Rainmi0031(小雨)aoisora2(Sora)Lampbear(熊熊)全是她在關注的人,從來不認真打攻城戰的他們居然進入前十。主力的七名隊員都是遊戲常客,兩個新人名額的帳號的其中一個的正體到底是誰,她有八成把握能猜出來。比較可惜是這次活動他們沒能對上熊熊隊,沒法了解他們的打法。

前十的隊伍不比前三,不需要毀天滅地的卡片組合,但也不是一張七星活動卡就能躺著進的。這就只剩下一個可能了,少女喃喃道著--

「激活一整個玩家群、制訂出可行戰略並帶領隊伍走向勝利。妳越來越有趣呢--」

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有沒有想過,在沒有發生疫情的平行時空裡你在怎樣過新年呢?

我的話可能會是喝個紅豆湯,然後下樓看箱根驛傳吧。

本來這篇應該在聖誕前後發出來的。在平行時空的聖誕節我們本該在在涉谷狂歡,準備迎接那個沒被東京奧運耽誤的コミケ,然後在コミケ拼盡後迎接新一年的來臨。

但是一切都改變了。

武漢肺炎改變了世界,正如國安法改變了香港。世界沒法回到過去,正如香港也沒法回到過去。世界必須向前行,香港……人也要活下去。新的一年世界似乎不會變得更美好,對於香港來說更是the worse is yet to come。但是我們必須堅守我們的信念和身份,等到黎明來到可以光復那一天。不論你是義士還是只是星斗市民,我在此獻上微薄的祝福,唯願你們在新一年仍能緊守崗位,做正確的事。

回到正題,說到多人網遊會戰,最近最受關注的應該是EVE Online帝國與聯軍的大戰。這幾天聯軍挾連勝之勢進攻M2星系,卻因為伺服器過載的原因導致聯軍戰艦只能逐隻出現在帝國大軍面前慘遭砲決。有關這次大戰的細節可以參考這裡

這次伺服器過載是因為這次戰鬥一共擠了差不多6700人進去,大概是遊戲史上最多的一次。要知道要同時處理不同人的指令並將結果發到每一個人手上,要處理的資訊量不是線性的。營運方用的已經是能處理五千人同接的超級電腦,卻還是被玩家給擠爆。把這個反高潮的戰果去掉的話,這場戰鬥絕對算是史詩級的一役。當然聯軍雖然損失慘重,但也還沒像兵敗列寧格勒的德國一樣徹底失去進攻的能力。這場戰役最終鹿死誰手現在還很難說。

在這種極大規模的會戰中成熟的指揮系統當然不會差到那裡去。可是你作為6700分之一難免有種自己作為棋子沒法看透大局的感覺。相較之下在人數較少的PVP裡隊員的關係可以更緊密一些,即時的配合變化也可以更靈活一點。在我看來,一隊九人正好是十分合適的人數。

我不是要說這個遊戲比那個遊戲好玩,不然其實OGame的大戰也挺剌激的--當然OGame比EVE還要肝上十倍……每一個遊戲的大型PVP都有他們自己的魅力,而我在終戰幻想中找到跟隊友分享戰術、還有分享喜怒哀樂的樂趣。

哦對,還有一點。那就是星際科幻對我來說太硬核了,還是紙片人的世界比較好懂。

畢竟,萌就是正義嘛?