Category Archives: Daily Scribble

My random thoughts of the day.

Call of Duty: Mobile

《Call of Duty》(以下簡稱CoD)是老牌子射擊遊戲,自2003年面世以來,前前後後推出了超過三十個續集。騰訊與雪暴傾談版權移植成手機版,在十月初很低調地上市。手機版很忠誠地保持CoD的軍事風格,畫面精細度與家用機版自然不能相提並論,但與其他同類型的手機遊戲比較毫不遜色。射擊遊戲很講求流暢度,在我那台三年前的旗艦機上玩,絲毫沒有跳格和滯延的問題,在程式碼的優化上騰訊做得不錯。自推出以來我差不多每天也有玩,午飯時段在公司幾個大男人圍在一起打CoD,重捨當年讀大學住宿舍晚晚LAN party的樂趣(噢~ 不小心暴露年紀,我讀大學的年代,還未有Wi-Fi)。

遊戲本身相信不用我多作介紹,遊戲分為兩個主要模式。有傳統的五對五計分戰,殺死一個敵人有一分,死後可以立即復活,那一隊先取五十分為勝。另一個就明抄PBUG的大逃殺,一百個人兩手空空跳傘落戰場,鬥快執武器執子彈執裝備,殺至最後一人(或四人小隊)就食雞。

裝備畫面

傳統計分戰勝在速戰速決,地圖不算很大,梗有一個敵人係附近。最快可以三分鐘KO對家,慢也最多不過十分鐘。有時上飯堂飲咖啡或下午茶時,可以蛇王偷懶打一兩局。在計分戰玩家可以累積經驗解鎖不同槍械和配件,資深玩家或課金金主有理論上有優勢。不過遊戲配對盡量級數相近的玩家,所以打起來其實分別不大,最多是我能使用的絕技只有自動機關炮,而敵人有高一級的直升機轟炸之類。絕技要累積殺死一定數目的敵人才可以使用,去到可出絕技時勝負已經很明顯,那只是錦上添花讓遊戲早點結束矣。

至於用經驗值換取或用課金賣的各式不同槍械,我個人主觀地認只是另類skin,沒有太大實際用途。沒錯遊戲中準確重現不同槍械的特性,不過我通常只會用習慣了那枝9mm衝鋒槍,很少轉用其他槍械,其實初始武器那枝M4也很好用。計分戰不時會搞搞新意思,例如萬聖節有鬼屋地圖,只準使用狙擊槍或火箭炮的限定戰,那些槍械在正常戰中很少人用,當每個人都被迫用不就手的武器時,遊戲又幾有趣幾好玩。

大逃殺

大逃殺一局十五二十分鐘,自己一個人玩不太好玩,因為很容易死掉出局。但四個人組隊面對面坐在一起玩,感覺完全不同非常好玩。戰事中不幸身亡的話,只要隊友拿到狗牌你就可以復活,縮地後重新跳傘返回戰場。我不喜歡《Fornite》的古靈精怪的戰術,所以很少玩,比較喜歡《CoD:M》與《PUBG》的真實軍事風格。《PUBG》推出時我沉迷了好一會,不過我已經沒有玩好一段日子,只有最初那張地圖的記憶,不能說是很客觀中肯的比較。《CoD:M》執槍方便很多,只要跳落地圖上主要區域,沒有遇對敵人或立即殺死他,就可以執到足夠玩到尾的槍械和彈藥。《PUBG》的槍械和裝備種類繁多,時不時要手動去清理裝備。《CoD:M》就相對地簡單,主要分三種口徑的槍械,散彈槍和火箭炮,我的最愛是一枝5.56或9mm輕機槍配一枝7.65狙擊槍,遠程偷襲和埋身肉搏都得。

最緊要坐直升機

《CoD:M》每個隊員可以選一件特殊技能,最基本的回血和偵測敵人,到進階的飛索爬牆等等。我最喜歡使用的技能是招喚喪屍,看見敵人躲在屋內或張開防壁時,隨手扔一個喪屍手榴彈過去,趁他被喪屍圍咬時,衝過去亂槍送他歸西。另一個很好用的技能是彈射椅,當用跑也不夠藍圈縮地快時,用彈射椅射上天空滑翔飛行逃脫。組小隊玩大逃殺勝算很高,尤其是隊友能夠溝通合作無間。我們的戰術是跳傘後不要爭食,一人一個各落去執槍執彈藥。如果有敵人不幸與我們降落同一地區,我們保持數量優勢逐個擊破,兩把槍一定射得快過一把槍。執完裝備後就坐直升機走人,接下來的目標只有一個,就是追著空投裝備的貨櫃,不停執天掉下來的高級武器,遇到敵人就順道殲滅。去到最後縮地時,全隊人從直升機跳下,佔領高塔山坡等等制高點。如果之前執到紅外線狙擊槍,基本上敵人連影也看不見我們就全滅了。遊戲中火箭炮是直升機的天敵,不過很少人浪費一個槍位去執,直升機是最全安全的交通工具。

噢~ 幾乎忘記了,《CoD:M》是課金手遊,不過我玩了成個月,完全沒有理會那些課金升級買皮的選項,連按入也費事完全沒有看過。不要問我這個遊戲值不值得課金,我真的不知道,亦沒有興趣去知道。我完全沒有課過金,整個小隊都沒有人課金,不過我們玩得很開心,而且日日有雞食,有得贏特別覺得好玩。我們幾個中年男人組小隊打大逃殺打過不亦樂乎,誰說打手機遊戲是後生仔的專利。

Children of the Mind – Orson Scott Card 心靈之子

《Xenocide》是《Ender》四部曲的最後一部,感覺上卻像第三部寫得太長,要分開上下集兩本書出版。《Ender》系列首兩部小說連續兩年榮獲星雲獎和雨果獎,可惜第三部把故事寫爛了,第四本小說有點雞肋,平心而言寫得其實還可以,只是有失科幻大師的聲名。

繼續上本小說的故事發展,耶穌三位一體,Ender就一位三體。他在超空間走了一圈,創造多了兩具身體出來,於是一個靈魂有三身體。Ender的年老身體在這集退場,整理好與老婆感情關係的後事,就化成灰消失了。代表Ender美好一面的少女版姐姐身體,與養子一起尋找可以移民逃難的星球,然後Jane派遺他們秘密任務,找出製作基因病毒的始作俑者。代表Ender邪惡一面少年版哥哥的身體,則與天材少女去說服聯邦召回艦隊。作者有關未來的想像很八十年代,八十年代日本經濟世界第一,於是他就理所當然地認為在未來世界,日本財團仍然在背後操聯邦政府。一個星球一個民族的想像,寫小說寫起來很方便,小豬星的西班牙天主教殖民地,中國星,日本星,還有太平洋島國星。

天材少女與大和哲學家在語言上的交鋒,互鬥謙卑讀起來是很有趣。作者論述日本人的民族性,中央大國與邊垂小國的不同心態。以日本為唯一原彈受害國的身份,去對照小豬星球面臨黑洞彈的滅絕威脅。可以說是作者嘗試將歷史申延去科幻未來,他在小說題出的論點很有啟發性,不過為了劇情需要論據太一面倒。若果他可以在不悶死讀者的大前題下,更深入探討不同文化的根基,如何申延去適應外太空時代,也許這本小說也能贏得科幻大獎了。

擊退聯邦艦隊和尋找基因病毒的元兇,去到最尾都是依靠Jane的外掛大能輕易解決,《Ender》四部曲去到最後一部,說她是正印主角也不為過,反而Ender的本體變成路人。之前說到聯邦超空間網絡大熄機,企圖去消滅Jane,原來她早有後著,在島國星自稱宇宙神招收了信徒,幫她的記憶備份。作者花了很多筆墨去描寫Jane熄機後靈魂的經歷,在越來越細的超空間網絡游走,與蟲后和小豬星母樹的集體意識共嗚,最後取得少女版姐姐的肉身,由智能電腦轉生成為人,仍然要保持與網絡的靈魂連系,根本就是一個犯規等級的存在。作者長篇大論寫Jane初進肉體的感覺,太慨後來的科幻作品同類橋段寫得太濫,先入為主地認為這段寫得有點俗套,儘管很有可能後來的作品都是參考它。

《Ender》系列本傳完結了,還有外傳《Shadow Saga》和前傳《Formic Wars》十多本小說,心大心細不知應否繼續看Ender世界的故事。有點擔心作者不斷食老本呃讀者,看十多本小說需要很多時間啊。

Granblem 滿月之戰

當年《魔法少女葉奈》採用高達式的戰鬥,我已經在等待何時才有正式的魔法少女機人番,上季原創動畫《Granblem》終於珊珊來遲,完美地將魔法少女與機械人結合起來。故事是很典型的魔法戰爭,七個魔法少女參加月滿之戰,爭奪被封印千年世界的所有魔法力量。打到剩下最後一人就可以當上至尊魔女,雖然不是聖杯但功能大同小異,都是萬能願望機之類。

天然呆系可愛少女,意外被卷入魔法機械人大戰,坐上擁有強大魔力的白色機械人,每逢月圓之夜參加聖杯爭奪戰。戰鬥在結界內進行,地形和背景相對簡單,製作組可以集中資源描繪機械人。機設走頭大身細的SD風格,二來戰鬥以魔法為主,反正打打下可以召喚大魔獸,機機人被破壞的手手腳腳,也可以借用魔力重生,觀眾不會有真實系般追求戰鬥合理性的期望,只要打得爽就可以了。雖然有近身格鬥戰和滿天飛的槍戰,戰鬥還是以大場面和氣勢主導,有點似當年自由高達開彩虹炮削人棍的速度感,不過今次就沒有濫用兼用卡的問題,電腦模型去畫機械人戰鬥有這個優點,一場追逐戰可以拍很多鏡頭角度。《Granblem》戰鬥場面的質素,以一間新的動畫公司來說,特別是在有限的製作成本,算是交出亮麗的成績了。

故事的角色全女班,一個男性角色也沒有,亦沒有什麼百合情劇,很簡潔清新。雖然是打生存戰,魔法少女分成兩派,主角的朋友們和敵方壞人。頭兩個被打敗的魔法少女,機械人中魔法石被破壞就強制退場,完全沒有生命危險。有點似是在玩運動打比賽,出局後在校園日常中做朋友做喇喇隊,壞人也不過是小孩子妒忌爭勝的情緒,表面上很歡樂和平。

下文包含劇透,未看的朋友慎入。

中段開始故事轉趨黑暗,在魔法戰爭中死亡,整個人的存在會被抹掉,沒有人會記得她,聖杯有可以改寫現實和歷史的能力。原本只是紅髮魔女跟班的青髮魔女,忽然搖身一變成大魔王,她是聖杯製造出來的人偶,原意是試煉聖杯爭奪戰的參加者,在漫長的歲月中暴走了,想自已做至尊魔女。演她的女聲優很出色很入戲,青髮魔女十分搶鏡,相比下兩個主角就平淡無味了。後段也不知算不算超展開,反正萬能魔法可以把任何事情也合理化,觀眾只好講故不要駁故。主角的好朋友黑髮魔女,原來才是真命天子,而主角只是她潛意識製造出來的人偶。說起來這個遊戲很不公平,其他魔女只有一台機械人,黑髮魔女就開外掛,開多一個分身駕多台機械人參賽,原來冠軍是一早內定的。

至於黑髮魔女要消滅所有魔法的願望,理由其實十分牽強,似是編劇看完Fate Zero,順手拈來求其給她一個大義名份。至少我在故事中看不到魔法之惡,聖杯已經被封印千年,基本上世界已經沒有魔法。主角最後因為沒有魔法,所以從世上消失有點造作,反正是萬能願望機,怎樣不選擇一個聰明的願望。選擇要消滅所有魔法,還是選擇永久封印所有魔法,對現實世界來說沒有差別,只要魔法繼續還存在,就可以順便讓主角成為人了。不過有編劇一點抵讚,故事沒有長篇大論扮高深講為什魔消滅魔法,反正就只是一個推劇情的工具罷了。

既然連魔法少女也可以crossover機人番,還剩下什麼類型的動畫未玩crossover機人番呢?

平凡職業造就世界最強

異世界輕小說改篇的動畫,近年多不勝數,大部份都沒有什麼看頭。這部《平凡職業造就世界最強》,男主角穿越到異世界,機綠巧合下獲得天下無敵的武功,然後開掛打怪順便收集後官。明明是很例牌公式的故事,可是就有魅力讓我看完第一季動畫版後,還忍不住好奇心追看輕小說至最新連載。

這部動畫故事真的很平凡,戰鬥畫面亦有時偷功減料,平心而論實在稱不上佳作。大慨優點就只有一個「爽」字來形容,亳不拖泥帶水的男主角,異世界越穿中少有合常理的性格。全班同學被異世界神召喚去當勇者,每個人都獲得不同程度的外掛技能,主角南雲始是技能是鍊成師,在故事中設定為最弱的職業。不過「鋼鍊」實在太深入民心,感覺上鍊成師都可以好好打。而後來故事發展提及一千年前的人神大戰,反抗軍七大元帥之一就是鍊成師,所以最弱職業這個根本是偽命題。在一個劍與魔法的世界,鍊成師把現代兵器,甚至非常宅的空想科學兵器,一一鍛鍊出來投入戰場,來福槍和飛彈打魔龍,衛星光線炮打魔人大軍,又是這套作品的另一個賣點。

主角在攻略迷宮時被人陷害,掉落迷宮底層大難不死,執到神仙水後打怪食肉升級,救出被封印同樣有外掛威能的吸血鬼女主角,兩人終於成功挑戰迷宮破關,取得上古魔法並告知神玩弄世界的真相。有趣是主角對拯救世界毫不感興趣,一心只想攻略其餘七座迷宮,集齊所有神代魔法,找出返回地球的方法。可惜旅途上總是好事多磨,只好順便做好人拯救其他人。主角只求回家,遇神殺神,遇佛殺佛,面對敵人更是一槍爆頭,絕不囉囉唆唆說教。

異世界男主角一定要收後官,但他不是見一個追一個那種,更是來者一律拒絕,不過女角仍然投懷送抱,反過來要女追男才修成正果。後宮十分階級分明,沒有三角戀爭寵的無聊劇情,所以至少收後宮那部份,並不至於惹觀眾討厭。後官的順序最先有吸血鬼蘿莉,然後暴力免女郎,接下來還有變態龍女,人魚小孤女,神官變改造人女同學,王國的公主,另一個劍士女同學,去到後期男女通殺,連光之勇者男同學也收編為後官。

這部作品意外地受歡迎,動畫版將會開拍第二季,大慨作者自己也感到意外吧。當大多數異世界類作品都是廢萌,只要是合情合理正正常常,雖然情節有點老土展開有點公式,也可以在芸芸眾多的異世界小說中跑出啊。

褲襪視界 Miru Tights

關於三個女高中生日常的五分鐘杯麵番,無故事無劇情,角色甚至不萌,面相平平無奇,不過全部都沒有關係。故事說什麼不重要,總之鏡頭就是對著女學生的大腿。其他部份的作動水準很普通,唯獨黑絲襪和腳趾的特寫鏡頭,畫功一絲不扣栩栩如生,絲襪的線條肌肉的動作,甚至鈎破絲襪的音效,比真人拍攝更加有真實感。這套《褲襪視界》販賣就只是有黑絲襪,一套專門拍給黑絲控和足控的獵奇類動畫。

故事基本上很零碎,換一個鏡頭角度去拍的話,可以說是極其沉悶。以前動畫是在故事裏加插服務鏡頭,這套動畫反行其道,主打五分鐘全服務鏡頭,五分鐘長度剛剛好,太多長就流於乏味。關於三個女生的部份就是賣腳,沒有什麼特別,行為本身很純潔無邪,但從畫面上看起來就淫者見淫。其中一集三個女生沒有出場,改為路人甲男生當主角,有個靚女教師主動挑逗,然後被奪去貞操,滿足思春期少男的終極幻想。我很好奇是否每個少男,都曾經歷過這個幻想階段呢?

每次播這類輕色情的動畫,總會有衛道之士跑出來,投訢說會教壞細路。同八十年代的動畫相比,主流動畫輕色情的情節其實乾淨了很多,若果你有看過《山T女福星》或者《亂馬》等經典,你會覺得尺度在自我審查中收緊了。當然深夜番,裏番,其至打正旗號的H動漫,又是另一個目標觀眾的市場。在唔輩成年人的眼中,現在連AV都可以上網輕易找到的年代,這種程度的輕色情真的很小兒科。介乎純情和意淫之間,真正不懂人事的小朋友看不明白,老練的成年人又不覺得一回事,只有對男女之事半懂不熟的青少年,才能真正領略和享受輕色情的精萃。

My first IPSC competition

I just completed my first IPSC competition today. I took the black badge course last year and it is required to complete one match to be fully certified. Unlike the elaborate match setup in the movies “double tap” or “triple tap”, a real IPSC match is more down to earth. We don’t have old school bus or custom built course with lots of props. All we have are empty barrels and mesh screens pretending to be real combat setting. We also have to help running the match by patching and setting up the target between each shooters. In today’s match, I worked in the morning and shot in the afternoon.

My instructor gave me some good advices, for the first match, try to finish last. It is better to finish the course last than being disqualified. The most common mistake is finger in the trigger while moving or changing magazine or the muzzle of the gun points more than 90 degrees when running to the side or running backward. Once your are disqualified, you are done for the day. Following all the procedures and do not violate any safety rules has the absolute priority.

The second advice is take your time and focus on accuracy first, don’t rush the course. On the stage that an average player takes 30 seconds to finish, while the best players take less than 20 seconds, it took me over 2 minutes to finish. I have fairly good accuracy and had completed a couple stages with most my hits in the A zone. However, at the last stage, I was very tried and start losing focus. I totally missed two targets and screwed up big time. That is partly due to I have to wake up at 5:30am in the morning to arrive at the shooting range on time at 7:30am, and partly due to the stress of shooting over 150 rounds in previous stages really worn me out.

People are friendly at the matches and I learn a lot just by watching how other people shoot. I also meet some interesting person in the match, an old lady play the match to company her husband, a mom using a baby stroller to carry her ammunition, a teenage boy shooting in the match with his dad and his time beats everyone in the group. The majority of the people are middle age men or old men, just like me. To my surprise, I see a lots of Chinese faces, probably a third of players speaks either Cantonese or Mandarin. Looks like shooting is a popular sports among the immigrants.

Playing IPSC is a very unique experience, totally unlike target practice. I felt the excitement and adrenaline rush, but at the same time I have to stay calm and stay cool. A match day is pretty slow, you are sitting there watching other people shoot most of the time. I stayed in the shooting range from 7:30am to 5pm, even longer than a normal work day, but the total game time is probably less than 15 minutes. However, this 15 minutes make the other 9 hours worth waiting for. It would be more fun if there are friends shooting the match together. I should starting promoting IPSC to my friends and lure them to join the game.

When the Problem Is the Problem

This is the only thing I learned from my master degree. Asking the right question is half way done to get the right answer. In fact asking the right question probably more important than getting the right answer. Once you stated the question correctly, things magically fall into place and you can outsource the work to someone else.

Finding the right problem is half the solution
By Robert W. Lucky, July 2011, IEEE Spectrum

A problem well stated is a problem half solved.
– Inventor Charles Franklin Kettering (1876–1958)

We’re all fairly good at problem solving. That’s the skill we were taught and endlessly drilled on at school. Once we have a problem, we know how to turn the crank and get a solution. Ah, but finding a problem—there’s the rub.

Everyone knows that finding a good problem is the key to research, yet no one teaches us how to do that. Engineering education is based on the presumption that there exists a predefined problem worthy of a solution. If only it were so!

After many years of managing research, I’m still not sure how to find good problems. Often I discovered that good problems were obvious only in retrospect, and even then I was sometimes proved wrong years later. Nonetheless, I did observe that there were some people who regularly found good problems, while others never seemed to be working along fruitful paths. So there must be something to be said about ways to go about this.

Internet pioneer Craig Partridge recently sent around a list of open research problems in communications and networking, as well as a set of criteria for what constitutes a good problem. He offers some sensible guidelines for choosing research problems, such as having a reasonable expectation of results, believing that someone will care about your results and that others will be able to build upon them, and ensuring that the problem is indeed open and underexplored.

All of this is easier said than done, however. Given any prospective problem, a search may reveal a plethora of previous work, but much of it will be hard to retrieve. On the other hand, if there is little or no previous work, maybe there’s a reason no one is interested in this problem. You need something in between. Moreover, even in defining the problem you need to see a way in, the germ of some solution, and a possible escape path to a lesser result, like the runaway truck ramps on steep downhill highways.

Timing is critical. If a good problem area is opened up, everyone rushes in, and soon there are diminishing returns. On unimportant problems, this same herd behavior leads to a self-approving circle of papers on a subject of little practical significance. Real progress usually comes from a succession of incremental and progressive results, as opposed to those that feature only variations on a problem’s theme.

At Bell Labs, the mathematician Richard Hamming used to divide his fellow researchers into two groups: those who worked behind closed doors and those whose doors were always open. The closed-door people were more focused and worked harder to produce good immediate results, but they failed in the long term.

Today I think we can take the open or closed door as a metaphor for researchers who are actively connected and those who are not. And just as there may be a right amount of networking, there may also be a right amount of reading, as opposed to writing. Hamming observed that some people spent all their time in the library but never produced any original results, while others wrote furiously but were relatively ignorant of the relevant literature.

Hamming, who shared an office with Claude Shannon and knew many famous scientists and engineers, also remarked on what he saw as a “Nobel Prize effect,” where once having achieved a famous result, a researcher felt that he or she could work only on great problems, consequently never doing great work again. From small-problem acorns, great trees of research grow.

Like a lot of things in life, it helps to be in the right place at the right time. Sometimes all the good and well-intentioned advice in the world won’t help you avoid working on a dead-end problem. I know—I’ve been there, done that

Double Down

It seems everyone is crazy of KFC’s new double down sandwich. It is two piece of fried chicken sandwiching bacon and cheese. Colleagues at work made a trip to KFC during lunch just to try it out. When I was in KFC today, everyone is ordering a double down. I don’t think it taste that great and it’s really greasy. Probably after the novelty wears off, the hype will fade. The hype partly thanks to the stupid Ontario Premier who propose ban the selling of it and make it a national news. It sounds very unhealthy but it’s actually not worse than a Big Mac. Both of them has 540 grams of calories and 30 grams of fat. A double chess whooper at Burger King is worse, which has 670 grams of calories and 30 grams of fat. If Ontario going to ban double down on the risk to health, they pretty much have to ban all fast food.