Diamond league

That was way back in the beta…

starcraft diamond league

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The world’s dumbest idea

Forbes.com is known for their over-the-top articles (with link-bait headlines). That’s the website, not the magazine itself.

This one is worth reading though: The Origin Of ‘The World’s Dumbest Idea’: Milton Friedman.

For close to 50 years, we’ve been told repeatedly that just like the rational economic agent (consumer) optimizes for his/her UTILITY, a corporation (or rather, the CEO) optimizes for one thing only – profits to shareholders.

You see, it’s not the corporation’s money, it’s the shareholders’ money. And when you have customer’s paying for a product, it’s their money too. Finally, if you are paying salaries (and everyone is), the money is also the employee’s money. So it’s anyone’s and everyone’s money but the corporation itself.

Now, I know that the none of these is an actual discovery, while the Corporation is. How? I play Civilization, that’s how. There’s no Milton Friedman great person either.

Go read it. Once you’re done, go back to Peter Drucker (I have his books in hardcover). His focus and eloquence is undiminished by 70 years of economic theory:

There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer. . . . It is the customer who determines what a business is. It is the customer alone whose willingness to pay for a good or for a service converts economic resources into wealth, things into goods. . . . The customer is the foundation of a business and keeps it in existence.

Forget shareholders, embrace customers. It was a dumb idea and it doesn’t work.

The rate of return on assets and on invested capital of US firms declined from 1965 to 2009 by 75%.

The rate of return on assets and on invested capital declined from 1965 to 2009 by 75%.

Zynga’s new CEO

Don MattrickTo quote GamesIndustry:

Don Mattrick’s jump from Xbox chief to Zynga CEO left many observers stunned this week.

Why would he make this move? And what exactly does this mean for Zynga’s future?

For one, I’m not stunned in the slightest. After Andrew Mason “left” Groupon, it was only a matter of time (one quarter) for Mark Pincus to move on.

I’m always surprised when observers are stunned when someone goes from a division that has experienced its zenith to a company that is in its nadir. Makes no sense to a salary man but it’s great for a person with a career.

Daniel Kahneman explained this lazy thinking process that assumes unlimited growth (or unfathomable depths) in Thinking, Fast and Slow. There’s a much simpler “truth”: you sell the highs, you buy the lows.

Zynga is at its lowest, Don is interested in buying. Xbox has seen its dominance shaken with E3 fiasco, he’s selling it as quickly as possible.

Sometimes, it is that simple.

The real question is… how do you mix oil and water.

You had Mark Pincus confess he cut every corner and broke every business rule to ensure revenue, i.e. he focused on the short term with total disregard to long-term consequences. Now these consequences are upon Zynga.

Don had his success with Xbox precisely because Microsoft’s deep pockets allowed him the luxury of long-term decision-making. He built strong game franchises exclusive to Xbox and he also priced the Xbox aggressively and always cut the price before the competition had the chance to do so.

I’m not sure you can mix the two approaches but one thing is certain, Zynga can’t go any lower. So it must go up.

Can’t innovate anymore

Phil Schiller did something unexpected at the WWDC 2013.

The first unexpected thing was him addressing Apple critics (as well as Wallstreet naysayers).

The second thing was him dropping the S-bomb.

Definitely, absolutely a must see. Rewind to 2:30 if you’re the impatient type.

P.S. Speaking of innovation, how about my pet project: adding real-time communication (via Jabber SDK) to IBM Connection.

Warhammer Quest guide (iOS)

If you are looking for an RPG with tactical combat, Warhammer Quest is a must-have.

It’s not as deep as say Final Fantasy Tactics (on sale now at 50% off!) but its simplicity and production values put it firmly on my iPad.

It provides about 20 hours of gameplay, more if you purchase the Skaven pack. I hope they add more levels, characters, and monsters.

Update: I got an email from the developer confirming the Skaven pack offers content (quests, enemies, items) in the same level range as the base game, i.e. level 2-6.

Hammer of SigmarWarhammer Quest Guide – Classes
The four starting classes are nicely selected. If you’d like to replay with a different set, it’s OK to get the additional classes (at $2.99 a pop) but that’s absolutely NOT needed.

Marauder – he’s the best front-line fighter, thanks to his early berserker skill. You can go with a 2H weapon or the classic shield and weapon combination. Both are viable but I prefer the heavy-hitting 2-handers. Especially at low levels, monsters miss a lot. Also, the best defense is clearing the mobs quickly.

Ironbreaker – another excellent fighter though I can’t say I like him as much as the marauder. You could spec him like a tank but there’s just one shield (blue one at that), so that’s not exactly easy. I give him a 2H warhammer and I’m done with him.

Wayfarer – probably the worst fighter, since ranged attacks miss a lot. I’d equip this guy with the best bow as a first priority. Also, get the helm/cloak that gives you an extra ranged attack. You can use him offensively (i.e. not just at range) to kill wounded enemies but he’ll fail that often enough to be a constant annoyance.

Wizard – useful as AOE opened and healer. Get as many items with +Power and power storage as possible. He doesn’t need equipment other than that. There isn’t much of a weapon choice anyway. Don’t spend money on him!

Warhammer Quest Guide – Equipment
I got Hammer of Sigmar from a random encounter in a dungeon. It was a patrol but I doubt that has to do with it. It’s probably a random drop. It crits for 65-70 and hits consistently for 20-25. It’s indispensable for hitting Orc Warbosses and Big bosses.

When it comes to bought weapons, Wayfarer should get the Elven weapons from the last town (Eleven Quarter), save about 7000 gold. As a general rule, skip blue-level weapons and go for the orange ones.

I also bought the 2H warhammer because it can be used by both the Ironbreaker and Marauder. That way when you find Sigmar’s Hammer you can equip both with the best 2h weapons. My Marauder leveled up a lot faster, so I moved Sigmar’s hammer from him to the dwarf once I maxed him at level 6.

Healing is important, so stock plenty of potions. Especially late game, it’s tough to find an available slot. Don’t forget if your Wizard is down, someone needs to get close to him (bandages) or heal him remotely (scroll). If you lose him (at hardcore!), the dungeon is probably lost as well. His healing is needed between battles.

Warhammer Quest Guide – Battles
Moving in the corridors is different from battles. It’s important to get it right, not at first, but later when you get patrols of 7 Black Orcs hitting you.

If you use the regular formation of 2 fighters front, 2 ranged in back, every random encounter will be a PAIN. Instead put the dwarf as leader, second row is wizard + marauder, and the wayfarer as rear guard. That way the marauder can face both directions and you can switch the positions of your troops as you see fit (i.e. not be pinned in a 2×2 formation).

Most rooms, you’d want to open with AOE from the wizard. Especially at low levels, monsters have few HP and the fighters can move in the room to locations that maximize the number of targets.

The key to positioning early on is getting as many enemies in a row around the fighter. That way you can maximize your Deathblow hits.

What’s deathblow? When you kill a monster in one hit, you transfer your attack to the next one. It has to be a continuous line, so gaps in the line will stop your deathblows. The second thing is preparing monsters for deathblow sequences. You can reduce their HP by AOE, another fighter, or by ranged attacks. Get them to within the lower end of your current weapon (e.g. 6-8 HP in the beginning, 12-20 by end game).

In the last dungeon (see below), you need to be wary of patrols, which demand a change in tactics. But it’s just for the end battle. Normally, going into a room is OK.

Warhammer Quest Guide – Idol of Mork
The last dungeon/quest is the Idol of Mork. It can be replayed as many times as you want though the reward is an exceptional item only the first time around. After that it’s just consumables.

The enemies are Black orcs, Warbosses, and Big bosses. You need to be hitting hard by this point (Sigmar’s Hammer hits can kill a Black orc in one hit, if it crits). Yet, you’d want to set aside slots for consumables. The best are those that give you extra melee attacks (+2) or weapon mastery and strength.

I’ve hit a number of patrols when I’m already engaged in a battle, so I had to change my tactic from storming the room to stalling the entrance. You don’t get to kill as many as you want but you only get hit by two at a time. And because shaman and archers can be dealt with, it doesn’t really matter that there 10 orcs in the room, you only fight two at a time. Plus getting 10 orcs at the entrance is the perfect chance to get two AOE spells every turn.

Last, staying at the entrance for the first couple of turns, allow you to move back when the patrol comes. I’ve had patrols of between 5 and 7 black orcs hit from behind. Not having fighters to burn through them (relatively) quickly, will be the end of your wizard and wayfarer. When the patrol hits, I usually kill the two orcs in the doorway with the dwarf, so I can unpin my Marauder who goes on a killing spree with the patrol – killing 3 with some help from the wizard/wayfarer. Next turn might be hard to survive but if you’ve packed some healing, you will survive and you’ll thin the patrol some more, while healing the dwarf too.

The setups below are NOT the end-game setups but they’re pretty close. They are also a good guidance on what items you’ll be able to get. By the end, I also got everyone 5+ rings: strengths, hitting, +wounds, ignore hits, etc.

marauder

wayfarer

ironbreaker

wizard

Idol of Mork

Idol of Mork

Tech bubbles

David Cummings is looking for ways to justify the prospects for growth in tech. That’s in response to comments that there’s a bubble in tech.

I’d say perspectives (or potential) and bubbles are not the same thing. So here’s my response (below):

I was looking for a good definition of a tech bubble myself. Here’s the best I found so far.

Traditionally, bubbles need to components: easy credit and an inflatable asset that can be used as security to get more credit. This describes well the bubble phenomenon: from the first bubble in France (the Mississippi Company) to the latest housing bubble that burst in 2008.

So what parts of tech are bubbly these days?

Here and there, you can see bubbly activity. For example, we might focus on the 170M dollar investment in Supercell on the strength of their #1 position in the appstore (best monetizing game, at rate of 2M/day).

How does Supercell spend the money? Let’s speculate a bit. They could invest them in direct marketing and paywalls. In 6 months, they could be raking in 5M a day and ask for 250M at a much, much higher valuation. The question (thanks, Zynga) is how sustainable these games are.

But is this a bubble?

First, it’s definitely not wide-spread. Second, product usage and revenues are a pretty good indicator that a company is doing something right. Although they can be viewed as an inflatable asset, you’d be hard-pressed to find an alternative measure of company progress and success.

So, no, there isn’t a bubble.

Creativity and borrowing

As a big fan of Whitesnake (and David Coverdale), I was always aware that he “borrowed” heavily from blues – both music and singers.

However, in this interview, DC confesses to borrowing from spaghetti Westerns too!

I realized that “borrowing” and improving doesn’t have the same stigma in music! Especially, if you compare music to other arts (and God forbid, technology). There are no patents when it comes to on A-B-C.