SFV Streamer Highlight: Chris_H_Nguyen

chriswins

While looking for a good Akuma stream, I stumbled upon Chris_H_Nguyen. He’s very relaxed, even when grinding ranked games. The fact that he’s playing the Ambition’s Lofi Hiphop Playlist certainly helps with that.

Chris continually engages with his viewers in discussions about tech, frame data and tests lots of things in training mode whenever it is mentioned in chat. He’s never worried about looking bad, but just focuses on improving. That’s why he actively invites viewers to correct him if he makes a wrong assumption somewhere.

I started watching Chris at the tail end of his climb through Ultra Diamond, and as of yesterday, he officially hit Master rank. He’s confident he can hit Grand Master soon, and I tend to agree, seeing as how he recently got 65th place at EVO Japan 2018. I’ll be there when it happens :)

Below you can find the last 4 streams before he hit Master league:

2018/02/09:

2018/02/10:

2018/02/11:

2018/02/12: (hits Master League at the very end of the stream)

SFV – Streamer Highlight: AMKIDD

Image result for amkidd

Where were you when AMKIDD became the first US Ryu to hit grandmaster league in SFV-AE? You can read about the achievement in this reddit post.

I went through some of his VODs and have started watching him stream and he is the perfect embodiment of both the street fighter mentality and his main character Ryu in particular (though not quite as boring as the latter). He doesn’t look for excuses anywhere, just works really hard and is always actively trying to improve on his game. On top of that he’s very entertaining, is great at commenting his play while he’s streaming and drops some dope rhymes on a regular basis. If you’re trying to learn the game (especially if you’re doing it on Ryu), he will serve as a great example of a player with priorities on improvement, not winning, resulting in an extraordinarily tough mental game.

Below you can find the VODs of his streams that led up to him hitting grandmaster:

2018/02/06:

2018/02/07:

2018/02/08:

2018/02/09:

Started working with TL.net writing staff

 I’m a huge fan of StarCraft community website teamliquid.net, so after years of reading their content, I applied to start doing graphics work for them. They said yes! So that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the past 4-5 weeks.

Below you can find some articles for which I made graphics:

 

 

I hope to start contributing articles as well in the near future. Will keep you posted!

Learning to Draw 01: Basic shapes (and getting ahead of myself)

I’ve always loved to draw, but never received any formal training. Because I’m getting a bit more serious about improving my drawing skills, I started taking an online class. Rich Graysonn goes over the absolute basics that make up the fundamentals of drawing in How to Draw and Sketch for Beginners.

So far, I’m mainly doing lots of basic shapes exercises:

20180213 Pulling Lines20180213 Rectangles20180213 Squares20180213 Triangles

But then of course, I got a bit antsy and way ahead of myself. A good friend of mine made a series on house dust mites a couple of years back, and ever since seeing those I’ve wanted to do my own series on insects. I’ll gradually keep drawing insects throughout the course. I’m not unhappy with how the first beetle came out, but there’s always things to improve on. Hopefully I’ll be able to do so by the time I’m done with the course.

20180213 Beetle

SC2 Streamer Highlight: DeMusliM

DeMusliM largeBenjamin Baker, aka DeMusliM, aka The Devil Terran has been a part of SC2 since its inception. He was a staple in the earliest tournaments, but he’s been focusing on streaming more than tournament play for the last few years. He was recently picked up by team Wind and Rain, though, so maybe we might see him at more tournaments again?

His stream is super fun to watch, he’s often memeing around with his viewers and on more than one occasion I’ve seen him facetime other pros to have a beer together. Support Benjamin, drop by at the stream. You might even see him break out the ol’ sunglasses:


Edit:
DeMusliM will be at IEM Katowice 2018, but he got paired with Stats in the first round. Here’s what he had to say about that:  

SC2 Build – TvP – SpeCial’s Ghost Rush

ghost

During the Corsair Cup S11 Round 3, 2017’s breakout Terran SpeCial played a proxy ghost rush into double cyclone cheese build in his series vs DnS.

Build:
Venipenny posted the following build on Spawning Tool: SpeCial proxy ghost into cyclone followup (TvP Cheese).

special ghost rushAnalysis:
This is a cheese build. You will be behind in economy and have to deal a lot of damage to be even in the midgame. Ideally, you just deal game-ending damage with this build, otherwise you will be playing from behind.

You should try to lift your barracks into their main, and hide it in the fog of war. Immediately start a tech lab and when the ghost is halfway done, send the scv that built the barracks to the natural to build a bunker right next to their nexus/pylon. This will draw units and attention to the front of their base. Then you can run the ghost into their main mineral line and start killing probes. Hold off on cloaking immediately. Even when their stalker/zealot comes back to the main, you can take a few hits before turning on cloak. This allows you a little bit more time to kill probes, as well as giving you more energy to stay cloaked longer to be able to get away.

If Protoss doesn’t defend the initial ghost rush well, this can be an auto-loss for them, but as they get better in defending with shield batteries, it will usually not deal game-ending damage. As your expansion will be later, it is imperative that you do a followup attack. That’s why you absolutely have to get both ghosts out in time, so that you can have them start charging energy. By the time the first two cyclones are at their natural, you’ll have enough energy for 1-2 EMPs. This can instantly deplete the shield battery as well as damage the Protoss units’ shields enough to be able to push in and kill the Nexus at the natural expansion.

Edit:
I asked DeMuslim about this on his stream (05/12/2017) and he said he really disliked the build, because protoss can just react correctly with shield battery in both mineral lines and it doesn’t work at all. Stalker will force cloak too soon and you don’t get enough out of the build.

Seems like this was an interesting experiment, but it honestly shouldn’t work.

Silver

Silver is a bit of a cult-classic among RPGs. Unfortunately, because it was released around the same time as Baldur’s Gate 2 and Diablo 2, it never really got the widespread attention it deserved. The game was also released on SEGA Dreamcast in 2000. In recent years, the original PC version had become buggy and downright unplayable on modern machines, but there is now an updated version available on Steam.

Story
The game is set in the world of Jarrah. David, the protagonist, is introduced when his wife Jennifer is kidnapped along with all the other women in his village to satiate the desires of the evil sorcerer Silver. While trying to rescue his betrothed, David gradually learns of Silver’s true goals, and how those do not necessarily involve a fun time for the rest of Jarrah. The story itself is not all that special, but it serves the rest of the game well. Many of the dialogues are well-written, and there is a very rich cast of memorable NPCs.

Graphics
The game combines two different techniques to craft its own unique graphical style. The player, the NPCs, enemies and most of the interactive game objects are represented by a low-poly 3d model. While these obviously look rather dated, their animation is still surprisingly good. The main graphical feature, however, are the monumental, pre-rendered backdrops. The image quality of these has faded a bit over the years, but the designs are still amazing.

Controls and UI
The controls are quite different from a lot of its contemporaries and still feel fresh and responsive. Silver uses an elaborate input system of mouse clicks and swipes that allow you to perform several different types of attacks. As long you perform the correct input command, you can slash, sweep and lunge in any direction as well as block incoming attacks. (But why equip a shield when you could dual-wield swords? Madness! Madness, I say!) The system is pretty intuitive as well, so it really is a major bonus and one of the main reasons the game still has a dedicated fan base today.

Sound
The sound design is excellent. In many regions of the game there’s no real background music, but there’s always some appropriate ambient sound (e.g. chirping birds, leaking sewage pipes). When the background music does appear, it’s always dramatic classical music, which really adds to the epicness of the scenes. The voice acting is outstanding, which lends most of the NPCs bucketloads of character.

Gameplay
There’s combat with mobs of enemies, boss fights, puzzles and a bit of exploration in the game. Combat is the main course, though, and it’s usually a bit on the easy side. The enemy AI isn’t very aggressive and as a result combat tends to be rather easy. Some bosses are a bit more challenging, but overall the game is definitely on the easy side.

When a PC-game is close to two decades old, things starts going wrong. The original PC version had become literally unplayable, but the steam version runs very well on modern machines. However, I have experienced a crash or two. Both times this happened right before a save point, which was a bit frustrating. Because of the spacing of the save points, you rarely have replay more than 10 minutes, though.
More annoying is the fact that at a certain point in the game there’s a timing-based puzzle. Because modern machines have increased the frame rate, what used to be a fairly easy puzzle has become a veritable nightmare. I passed it after around 10 minutes of trying, but I’ve read accounts of people being stuck for hours. There’s only one such puzzle I know of, and with some help from YouTube you should be able to complete the puzzle too.

Verdict
Even two decades after being published and in a world with an incredible amount of competitors, Silver is still worth your time. The controls are still innovative, the graphics hold their own, the music is as good as ever and the few times the game did glitch out never prevented it from being a really nice experience. The game is super cheap so you have no excuse not to play it.

Simple Lamp Animation

I modeled and animated a simple lamp to learn about rigging and kinematics. Below you can see the complete process.

First I modeled a simple lamp, using both box modeling and bezier curves:

wip lamp wirewip lamp renderwip lightbulb materialsThe light bulb was also modeled through bezier curves. It was given a blackbody material to more realistically represent the colour tone of a light source when interacting with another surface (see the slightly warmer colour on the inside of the lamp)

wip lightbulb wirewip lightbulb renderI then rigged the entire lamp and constricted its movement to rotation around a single axis depending on the type of joint.

After the basic rig worked, adding reverse auto kinematics made all the bones in the rig respond when only a single one was being manipulated. This gave the whole rig a more realistic feel to it.

Next up was animating the scene:

I found the scene to be more dynamic once I also animated the camera:

After adding some simple textures I rendered the entire thing:

A simple 6 second animation at 720p 60fps still took well over 12 hours to render. I sincerely hope I will not have to render Full HD or 4K projects any time soon.

I’m glad I finally learned the basics of animation. I had been putting that off, but it’s really not that difficult to get a working rig.

Chessboard: Modeling and Texturing

The latest assignment in my Blender course was to model and texture a chess set. This is a classic assignment because it allows for a wide variety of modeling techniques to be demonstrated. On the other hand, the scope of the project stays manageable.

This section was really cool. I feel like I learned a lot. Below you can find my chess pieces and final renders. The last 4 renders display a famous game between Garry Kasparov and Veselin Topalov.

Pawn:

pawn reference pawn wire pawn solidRook

Rook referenceRook wireRook solidKnight

knight referenceknight wireknight solidBishop

bishop referencebishop wirebishop solidQueen

King

King referenceKing wireKing solidFinal Scene

I changed the texture of the chessboard. I initially went with adding a texture per square and duplicating that to all squares of the same colour and keeping the rosewood texture around that, like we did in the lecture. However, I found the squares to be quite repetitive, so I made the whole playing field from one piece of wood (source:  wildtextures.com) and changed the squares’ colour in GIMP. This way uses more memory for rendering and in game, but on the upside: there’s no texture repetition between all squares from the same colour, as the grooves carry on from one square to the next.

The wooden pieces use a seamless texture (source: maxtextures.com) mapped with coordinates “generated” and projection “tube”.

If you want to use the textures, you can find them here:

Board:

Center Diffuse

Outer Diffuse

Bump map

Reflection Map

Pieces:

Light diffuse

Dark diffuse

Bump map

Reflection map