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Subject: First person video of a 2 player genie game with strategic commentary rss

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Rob Neuhaus
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I thought it might be interesting to post a video of me talking through a game on genie.

http://vimeo.com/10900671

Is the format interesting? I tried to keep talking through it, but I am certainly no sports caster, and there are periods of ~20 seconds of silence where I am just examining the board state. I could also get some closer games in which fate doesn't smile so nicely upon me.
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Eddie Mittelstedt
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There seems to be some sort of permissions issue with the video. Make it public?
 
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Rob Neuhaus
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I think it's public now (I logged out and can view it).
 
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Edward
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I think there were some too-long pauses, but overall interesting insight. You should focus on getting out as many thoughts in your head as you can; I would have added, for example, why you didn't want to reveal Dropships (and later, Improved Logistics) so early on. (Answer: Dropships telegraphs a settle, and playing Improved Logistics well often means slowplaying the opening with lots of +1/Trade/Produce so you can build up good cards before starting the settle/settle barrage after you have 6-8 cards on your tableau.)
 
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Dennis Bingham
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Ok i hate posting something negative but here it goes:

It's EXACTLY the kind of Video i would need but you simply move your mouse WAY too erratic, scroll fast up and down while explaining and sometimes you mention things and do actions so fast that it's impossible to follow....the way it is....it's useless to me cry

I'd love to see it better explained, less scrolling, less mouse movements, etc.
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Sean McCarthy
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Great idea! It was fun to watch. The scrolling is bad, and it might be worth editing out long pauses. Obviously it would be better with a trickier game; like you said, IL + TG is not the fairest.

What program did you use for video recording?
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Rob Neuhaus
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Negative is awesome, don't worry. Either it's the case that the idea is just bad, in which case that's okay, it's a failed idea. Or it's a decent idea with a bunch of rough edges, in which case I should fix the problems, and negative feedback helps me find them. The opposite of love is not hate, it's apathy.

Basically, in order of ease of doing this, so far the suggestions are

1) scroll less
2) talk more
3) edit out silence
4) comment on a closer game
5) Make some firefox plugin that bolds/enlarges player scores and role choices, so they are easily visible after the video compression
6) give more detailed strategy advice/reasoning

Also, I should probably find a better size so there are no black edges on the video.

I used gtk recordmydesktop to do the recording, and then ffmpeg to convert the ogg video into mpg and compress/resize before uploading it to vimeo. Probably I'll need to add some other video editing software to improve the production quality of the video, but I'll have to learn that later, I guess.

Also, I'd be willing to spectate a game and add commentary without playing in it. This would be especially welcome for a realtime match between strong players. We could either trust each other with genie passwords, or create fake accounts for the purpose of sharing them so I could see players hands for the video.
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Krzysiek
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I enjoyed the video as it was, but I second the order of suggested improvements. However I think 2 and 3 are mutually exclusive... ;)
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Dana Lacoste
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I love the idea (as someone who has played in real life but not on Genie) but I couldn't watch past 5 minutes: you are scrolling WAY too much and I was almost getting motion sickness.

Perhaps if there was a way to record the genie window at a different resolution somehow, so that you didn't need to scroll so much?
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Guy Srinivasan
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Can someone write a quick greasemonkey script to move the elements of the page around to take up more horizontal space? As it is when I ctrl+- enough that all the cards (2p) are visible on one page, they're too small to see well but take up only 25% of the horizontal space.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Interesting. A good effort even with the sometimes herky-jerky scrolling around.

You might want to back off your mic a little bit if possible as from the sounds of it its a bit too close? Headset mic?
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Chris
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I'm happy to play a realtime match that you commentate on. Let me know and I'll send you my genie password
 
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David D
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The idea is great,

Personally I would first record the game video

next I would do the game analyse off-line & record the audio commentary

Finally merge/edit both



 
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Serge Levert
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rrenaud wrote:
Is the format interesting?
rrenaud wrote:
Either it's the case that the idea is just bad, in which case that's okay, it's a failed idea. Or it's a decent idea with a bunch of rough edges, in which case I should fix the problems, and negative feedback helps me find them.

I think it's a very good idea. Way more manageable than any ideas i've had about game history posts.

rrenaud wrote:
I tried to keep talking through it, but I am certainly no sports caster, and there are periods of ~20 seconds of silence where I am just examining the board state.

The video quality is extremely low. I'm clueless about these things so i may be out of line here. I don't know if you've worked with videos a lot (i.e. the quality is the best we can expect), or if it's just that you're new to it (i.e. the quality could be way higher). Resolution is extremely low, which is largely why there's so much scrolling. It looks you are playing/recording in 640x480 or even less.

A couple cards were barely recognizable (Colony Ship), and of course handsize and such was invisible. That was the major lacking information, opponent handsize. It's hard to make or evaluate decisions without that.

Other random comments:
-move the mic away from your nose/mouth a bit, so we don't hear you breathing
-say everything you're thinking when examining the tableaus, so there's no lulls
-edit out the "waiting" periods, where you have nothing to say but are waiting on your opponent. This would also avoid opponents having to play superfast and suboptimally just cuz you're recording.

rrenaud wrote:
4) comment on a closer game

IMO don't worry about this at all. You don't get to choose how interesting a game will be in advance. Just record games with comments, and the interesting games will eventually happen.

davidoux wrote:
Personally I would first record the game video

next I would do the game analyse off-line & record the audio commentary

Finally merge/edit both

I'm not sure i agree, a large part of its usefulness is that the commentary is not results-oriented, nor are any details forgotten.

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Jacob Ossar
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It might just be that I don't use Genie so I'm not familiar with the interface, but I had some trouble following the action choices. The video quality was such that sometimes I couldn't read what the phases were from Genie. Sometimes you explicitly said what actions you and your opponent had chosen, but sometimes you didn't. I could infer the game state from other cues, but paying attention to those distracted me from your commentary a bit. Maybe be more consistent about announcing action choices?
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JW
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jossar wrote:
It might just be that I don't use Genie so I'm not familiar with the interface, but I had some trouble following the action choices. The video quality was such that sometimes I couldn't read what the phases were from Genie. Sometimes you explicitly said what actions you and your opponent had chosen, but sometimes you didn't. I could infer the game state from other cues, but paying attention to those distracted me from your commentary a bit. Maybe be more consistent about announcing action choices?


Yes. I guess make a format of sorts like at the beginning of every turn, you announce the role choices made by both players, and the number of cards in both players' hands. I personally had no problems watching the video as I've played a lot of Genie, and I'm also used to the crazy up and down scrolling because I do it too (and it gives my girlfriend a headache when I try to explain to her what I'm doing )

Also, like other people have mentioned before, maybe state more clearly each strategy decision and why you're making it. For example, at one point the opponent picked Settle and you were choosing which of 2 worlds you wanted to settle first. You then realised that it didn't matter (because you didn't get any Settle bonus from it). Newer players might not realise the strategic decision at that point if you didn't explicitly explain it.

Another example was at the point where you accurately predicted an Alien Toy Shop from the opponent because it was 'his best play'. Even I don't know how you did that. Would you mind explaining your thoughts at that moment? Was it because that you think that the only way he could compete was by going for an x2/produce strategy?
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Rob Neuhaus
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A lot of the times that I play on genie, especially when I get into a good position, I start thinking about playing vs a theoretical opponent who isn't contained by luck, and get in theory play the best possible card at every instant. If I am capable of beating this best theoretical play, then I certainly win (this is a little bit of a lie, maybe the best and second moves best are wildly different, and I can't cover both cases). Early when I predicted ATS correctly, and later when I predict LSAW incorrectly and theorize that he will either play fed + bank or double settle, I am giving him the benefit of luck.

Certainly this model isn't appropriate in close games, but I think it's a good way to minimize the probability of losing when you have a big lead. To the degree that the game is close, you have to switch to a more standard model when you play against a luck constrained opponent, and you need to exploit the unluckiness. And going even further, when you are losing big, it's worthwhile to assume the opponent will make some critical error (because if they don't they certainly win) or hit a string of bad draws, and play to exploit that error or bad luck. One such error might be not calling a late game produce, on the presumption that they will end the game. Sometimes players will be relying on me to consume a vp or two (and I trade or put down a no VP consume power). Exploiting bad luck might be just violently chasing after a goal they have, even though it's likely they will be able to keep it with my opponents reasonable card flow, just because there is some chance that they will not.
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Rob Neuhaus
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I am mostly clueless about video as well. From an information theoretic perspective, there isn't really all that much information in the video, and once you have the images cards, there is basically nothing else to store. On the other hand, sadly, I think the video codecs used in popular sites intend to capture real life, and not me playing a board game on my desktop, and so they aren't doing things like caching the card images.

Someone mentioned using codecs designed for anime, which might work better.

On the other hand, I am using Linux, and so everything is just damned broken .

Of course, if I want to invest a lot of time into it, I could just write some custom game state renderer in javascript, and then it would look good and be reasonably small/fast.
 
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JW
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I understand the bit about giving the opponent the benefit of the best luck possible. What I didn't get was why you thought that ATS was his best card at that time. From his tableau at that point, it didn't seem like anything could be a best card at all.
 
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Rob Neuhaus
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Heh, he was just uniformly screwed?

He called settle/trade, so it's almost certain that the best card will be high value. What are the options? Without any knowledge of the particular game, just from stats, I'd say if you have to pick a "best possible world", especially in the early game, it's going to be ATS. In his particular situation, what else might be good? Pirate World (+ spice world or merchant world followup?) maybe or Rebel Warrior Race + eventual NGO? I suppose ultra novelty trade would be alright, but trade strategies aren't that effective in 2 player anyway. Certainly challenging me on a military game, with a 7 to 1 disadvantage and no improved logistics seems like a bad idea.
 
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Matt N

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I suppose I'm obligated to comment on this... unfortunately, I haven't watched the video yet. I would encourage you to put down a bare bones text recap as a spoiler in white, similar to what the AI puts out. Graphics, etc would largely be a waste of time, but if someone watches a video and forgets what happens on a turn, they can't easily scroll up and take a look back.

As for a competitive game, I had some issues finding the right competitive game as well... mainly I'd track the game for the first few turns, and just stop if it appears I will win by a big margin, or if there's too much overlap with a previous session.

Games where it's close and you play perfect cards in the last two turns tend to be more interesting than games where you have a big lead and they catch perfect cards to close within ten points anyway.

I'll have better, more detailed suggestions when I watch the video tonight, but I've been crunched for time this week.
 
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Brandon M
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Higher resolution would be good. I don't know what Vimeo allows, but Youtube supports higher resolution than that.
 
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Dave J McWeasely
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Be a radio sportscaster: assume the audience can't see much of anything, and say it all. A third of your audience is audio-learner anyway, so talk to them.

Ham it up. Get excited.

Use Flex. There is a hell of a lot less scrolling. I'd forgotten how crappy the UI at Genie was.

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Matt N

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Alright, finally watched it. I definitely think this is a good idea, and a good niche; many people don't want to read giant blocks of text, embedded graphics or not.

When you're waiting for him to go, that is a good time to talk about hypothetical situations or general strategy points. I liked what you did at the end where you pondered various other plays and counters even though you had the game wrapped up.

I would have liked more analysis on the 2nd turn phases; in particular, I think that double develop would have been a nice play given that you had public works in hand and the goal was out. I would have picked that over develop/produce myself.

It was a bit hard to read anything smaller than a card in the video, and the scrolling (as mentioned by others) is a bit much. If it is possible, taking screenshots or still frames (one with goals + your hand, the other with both tableaus) after each phase and using those as the visuals, instead of just the live feed, would make the video easier to watch. It's hard to focus on any one aspect of the game when you're scrolling around, even though my screen probably looks pretty similar when I'm playing. The video would take about twice as long to make, but it would be a lot nicer to follow.

I'd second that hand size is very important, but hard to read when looking at someone's Genie screen. Maybe sneak it into your discussion when picking phases each time?

morningstar is a BGGer, right?
 
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Serge Levert
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Stunna wrote:
morningstar is a BGGer, right?

Greg Jones
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