Melvin's digital garden

FB posts 2014

Dec 31: One more release just before the end of December, makes 12 releases in 12 months. Bringing us from 1.46 in January to 1.57 in December, with a total of 3612 cards added.

Dec 18: The AI of Prismata = Monte-Carlo Tree Search + specialize algorithms to generate small set of “good” actions based on domain knowledge. Eerily similar to what we have in Magarena. Their use of AI for game balance testing might be something new though.

The Kickstarter campaign is winding down. Lets hit some stretch goals!

Dec 16: First pull request!

Dec 15: Code for the “Design your own Tic-Tac-Toe AI activity” developed during the Hour of Code SG event at the Singapore Science Center. Participants code their own AI (by giving a preference order for each square) and we will try to play against it and discover its strengths and weakness.

Then we show how programs can be used to automate the tedious task of testing the AI. We’ll use the code in the repo to find counterplays and quantitatively compute the strength of the AI.

The code can also be used to enumerate all 9! possible programs. There are some interesting ones, such as [[2 6 8] [5 9 1] [3 4 7]], that has only one way to beat it when it plays as first player.

Dec 15: First “Let’s Play” series for Magarena, an open source card game project I’ve contributed to since May 2011. Thanks Xorganth Xorganth!

Dec 12: “Dry air weighs more than wet air!”

Dec 06: “In the summer of 2010, they invented a tabletop card game and became obsessed with it. They did not know it then, but that was the beginning of Prismata.”

I’ve got an extra alpha key from the Kickstarter campaign, drop me a PM if you like to check it out. The TLDR is Prismata = Dominion - randomness + combat

Dec 04:

Nov 30: November release of Magarena is out! Magarena is a single-player fantasy card game played against a computer opponent based on Magic: The Gathering.

Nov 29: From Dec 8 - 14 at the Singapore Science Center

Nov 28: Demo for Prismata, a game inspired by Magic, Chess, Dominion, and StarCraft. It reminds me of turn-based battle systems in early Final Fantasy games, except instead of building up your team by leveling up/getting equipment, you use economic units like in RTS to gain resources to build stronger units.

One of the few games doing F2P right, where supporters get cosmetic items/additional missions. Just crossed the 50% mark on their Kickstarter, when it seemed almost impossible just a few days ago when I backed.

Nov 25: A Brief History of (Video Game) Graphics, a five part mini-series documenting the evolution of video game graphics. Via

Nov 22: > Think “turn-based StarCraft”, but without a map. Or, think of Hearthstone with workers and build orders instead of decks.

The choice to remove randomness and hidden information in gameplay makes this a pure skill game that is closer to classics like Go and Chess. Will this be able to break into the e-sports scene? I hope they succeed.

[Prismata’s AI] framework involves using Monte-Carlo Tree Search (MCTS)

Can’t wait to get my alpha keys to test our their AI.

Nov 21:

Nov 18: Mini documentaries (< 10mins) from the Computer History Museum: Charles Babbage and His Difference Engine Colossus: Breaking the Code Who Invented the Computer? Hypertext Pioneers Birth of the WWW Dot Com Boom and Bust The Cray Way IBM: Ever Onward Microsoft SpaceWar! Digital Dark Age The Art of Writing Software Artificial Intelligence

Nov 14: TIL you can login to NUS wifi with your AlumMail credentials

Nov 02: An unexpected find while browsing in [email protected]

Oct 26: New release (1.55) and new website for the Magarena project. We’ve moved to github @

Oct 19: Turned based card game using concepts from Dominion and RTS mechanics to be a finite, zero-sum, two-player game with perfect information. Fixed set of units at start (no deck building), any unit can be played when you have sufficient resources (no card draw, no hidden hand), win by destroying the other player’s units.

Oct 16: Solving the mystery of the butt wiggle

Oct 15: “Anna’s new found interest in technology comes as no surprise to her son. “That’s an aspect of my mom, she’s been curious about everything all her life and continues to be curious,” says Harlan” via @[10643211755:274:NPR]

Oct 14: “Akamai’s beginnings lie in a challenge posed by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in early 1995. The father of the Web foresaw the congestion that is now very familiar to Internet users, and he challenged colleagues at MIT to invent a fundamentally new and better way to deliver Internet content. "

Oct 09: eXtremely Distributed Software Development

  • Everyone gets paid for verified deliverables
  • Defects are planned and don’t block delivery
  • Quality-of-code metrics are CI gate conditions
  • Master branch is read-only

Sep 29: “The Hearthstone team started with a love of collectible card games and embraced the idea of making them a game type that is fun for everyone. Along the way, we found ten design ideas that worked really well for us, and hopefully some of them will be useful for you too.” – GDC 2014 talk

Sep 23:

Sep 21: “In this year’s installment, Brian Schwab of Blizzard will show how the AI for the recent card game Hearthstone was approached to not only solve the hard AI problems of card battle games, but also to ensure a fun and engaging experience for the player.” – GDC 2014, AI Postmortem

Sep 20:

Sep 02: “In this talk, with Celine, we show how to use data analysis to find undervalued cards and how to exploit game structure use machine learning to predict your opponent deck.” via

Aug 31: Panel discussion: Building for Synergy – Symbiosis of Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering. On now on PAX live stream, 9 - 10:30am GMT+8

Aug 30: August is a crazy month for Magarena, we put out 1650 commits, the highest for any release so far. Major improvements to the card script, flip/transform cards are now supported, so is the morph mechanic which makes a return in the next set, “Khans of Tarkir”

Aug 27: I just bought tickets to GeekcampSG 2014!

Aug 25:

Aug 20:

Aug 17: Submitted a talk for Geekcamp.SG, to be held on Oct 18 @ NUS, School of Computing.

Aug 17: How Monte-Carlo Tree Search is used by the AI in Total War: Rome II.

Aug 17: 3SUM is subquadratic! gives an O(n^2/polylog(n)) time algorithm.

“The 3SUM problem is to decide, given a set of n real numbers, whether any three sum to zero. "

Aug 13: “The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories expands upon the epic legend of the dark elf with 12 tales performed by the all-star cast of Felicia Day, Dan Harmon, Greg Grunberg, Tom Felton, Danny Pudi, Sean Astin, Melissa Rauch, Ice-T, Wil Wheaton, Al Yankovic, Michael Chiklis, and David Duchovny!” @[566342860:2048:Natalie Tay]

Free to download for the next 40 days, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of D&D :)

Aug 04: Clips from the 7th UEC Cup held in March and the full coverage of the two Densei-sen matches: Crazy stone vs Norimoto Yoda and Zen vs Norimoto Yoda. In Japanese, except the parts where Rémi Coulom’s is speaking in English.

You can clearly see the anticipation in the UEC Cup participants as they watch the console output to see how their programs are doing in the match. UEC Cup is only for Go AI, the first and second place get to play a professional player in an exhibition match.

Aug 02: “Watch as Mark Rosewater, Mark Purvis, Doug Beyer, and Gavin Verhey discuss Magic’s future including looks at Commander 2014, From the Vault: Annihilation, Duel Decks Anothology, and Khans of Tarkir!”

Jul 27: July release of Magarena is out with more than 200 new cards and an improved UI for selecting decks.

Jul 26: Anyone going to Singapore Mini Maker Faire later today @ Senja-Cashew Community Club, 101 Bukit Panjang Road? I’m going to attend this presentation: “Tesla Coils – How to Make Lightning at Home, by GuangYan” at 2.20pm

Jul 24: Launching with 50+ titles with some classic games that are appearing on Linux for the first time.

Jul 24: “MCTS can indeed be useful for arcade games, as it produces gameplay that is not only strong but also robust.” Monte Mario, GECCO 2014

Jul 19:

Jul 18: Cats Of The World Photo & Art Exhibition: 2 - 28 July Last Saturday Purrzaar: tomorrow, 19 July Location: The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane Admission is Free

Jul 16: “When your cat comes and steps on Bistro, the built-in camera will be activated and stream the video to our backend server, which will run the cat-facial recognition algorithm to distinguish which cat it is.”

Cat-facial recognition algorithm!! Darn, should have work on that for my thesis.

Jul 14: A guide to naming servers and setting up DNS.

Jul 14: “Collaboration, teamwork and experiential learning happens every day at the Playmaker School, which is made up of the sixth graders who attend the private New Roads School. The Playmaker concept is based on using games and authentic experiences as engagement tools, and creating hands-on lessons that urge children to explore what they’re interested in within the boundaries of a given topic.” @[678566238:2048:Hon Wai Leong]

Jul 14: Mac and Linux ports on the way! Hope it gets done soon, would be nice to have something more polished to play while waiting for Starbound to be completed.

Jul 13: “Instead, pixel art is best thought of as video gaming’s most characteristic visual style, one that was forged throughout the history of the medium and is inextricably linked to it.”

Jul 07: Register at

Jul 06: “Join Mark on a quick-fire, whistle-stop, shallow-to-the-point-of-vacuous tour through the history of programming and programming languages, from the surprise twist at the beginning, through the Golden Age of LISP, C and Smalltalk, right up to the present day. What was the Greatest Programming Language ever? Which is better: dynamic or static typing? Why is Java? What does the future of programming hold for the brave adventurer? Discover the answers to none of these questions or indeed any others in this utterly pointless but hopefully entertaining talk. Warning: not suitable for children or IT managers.”

Jul 02: Friday, 4 July 2014 from 19:20 to 22:30 @ National Design Centre, IDA Lab, Level 3, 111 Middle Road

Jun 30: Magarena 1.51 is out with 285 new cards, bringing the card pool to 7076. For the first time, our card pool is over 50% of all tournament legal cards.

Jun 28: Just tried out Hearthstone at Campus Game Fest. The interface is user friendly and the mechanics are simple and clean. A good source of design/gameplay inspirations for Magarena and other MTG engines.

Jun 27: Looking forward to attending the day 2 events (talks/anime movie marathon) after one week of wearing green.

Jun 21: Breakout characters of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Along Complex are the tachikomas, who became sentient over the course of the season. Their curiosity helped them achieve individuality.

Jun 19: Mercury dishing out advice for cats. Can’t seem to find part 1 :(

Jun 18: Linux support for free Portal 2 mod, Thinking with Time Machine, is out! Can’t wait to try this out later.

Jun 17: “I’m the programmer on Catlateral Damage, which means I stand on the keyboard until the game works” – Lyn, Catlateral Damage programmer and a Cat

Jun 16: Beautiful eyes (and great lightning) via

Jun 16: Interview with Leslie Lamport, post Turing Award.

Jun 15: TIL when neither -> nor -» works for you, there is as-> (since 1.5)

Jun 15: Confirmation of previous meeting minutes = Block chain in real life. What are other examples of real world block chains?

Jun 14: The gameplay looks fun, love the “A Link to the Past” esque graphical style. Unfortunately look like it will be Windows only :(

Jun 14: “What happens when you challenge hundreds of elite programmers to put on their robes and wizard hats, enchant their minions to solve a constantly shifting multi-agent traveling salesman problem, use the loot to build mighty armies, and vie for eternal glory and tournament prizes?

You get a lot of clever coding, dirty tricks, attempted exploits, brilliant strategies, and an epic programming war that left millions of human and ogre widowers weeping for their fallen wives. And you get two unspeakably powerful Archmage champions.”

Jun 13: Erik presents the foundations of Reactive Extensions with lots of MS bashing and wise cracking along the way.

Jun 11: Identify the business objects and logic that form the core of your application, isolate them from IO (web), persistence (database), and frameworks.

Jun 10: Different kinds of boop, via

Jun 10: I scratched a cat’s chin for the first time :)

Jun 08: “Our [artificial intelligence] is conservative, but brutally efficient. When you’re starting out your base, you’ll build a few metal refineries and a couple of factories. That’s what I do at least. I’ll take my time, make my base all nice and neat. The computer doesn’t give a f***,” Uber Entertainment community manager Brad Nicholson says, and he would know.

Jun 08: Just signed up for Campus Game Fest. Looks like a fun event with talks, gaming, and a movie marathon. Heading down on 28th to catch the talks on competitive gaming and 2D art fundamentals. Anyone keen to go as well?

Jun 08: Patches vs Lyssa zampa

Jun 07: RFC2616 is Dead, Long Live HTTP (RFC723[0-5]) via

Jun 07: “Despite a drastic decline in the provision shop business in Singapore, owners from a 53 year old provision shop share their feelings and work in the trade. Rediscovering relationships between people of yesteryear, keeping a memory of what will be history in the near future.”

Jun 07: Going to replace my desktop OS from Linux Mint Nadia to Linux Mint Debian. Hope the display drivers in the installer works in this newer release. Last time I tried, I wasn’t able to install Linux Mint Debian due to display issues.

Jun 07: Kitten neck exercises

Jun 06: The Unbelievers documentary featuring Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss is finally out!

Jun 06: Having a proper subwoofer made all the difference when listening to this.

Jun 04: One of the take home message for me was her observation that all of us are handicapped in some way, some are more obvious than others.

May 31: PGCon 2014 keynote talk by Richard Hipp via

May 31: Darius Foo (2yr CS student at NUS) won fourth place for implementing an Io parser that enables Io to be used in CodeCombat. On a personal note, happy to see Clojure supported on the platform as well :)

May 29: TIL that on Arch Linux, json-c-0.12 is not compatible with latest postgis 2.1.3, must downgrade to json-c-0.11. Source:

May 28: Was doing some research on keyboards when I came across this lovely arm rest. via

May 28: Attending [email protected] tonight 7pm at Shaw Alumni Foundation House.

May 28:

May 25: Home desk upgrade complete. Now it feels more like an office, cause I’ve had a standing desk in office for ages but I’ve not bothered to set it up at home.

May 23: First pull request, and it got merged upstream :) Work done as part of @[151727941562094:274:Cosmiqo International] backend development.

May 22: “To celebrate the publication of the eBooks of The Art of Computer Programming, (TAOCP), we asked several computer scientists, contemporaries, colleagues, and well-wishers to pose one question each to author Donald E. Knuth. Here are his answers.”

May 18: Inside R&D: Journey into Nyx

May 16: Pro Tour “Journey into Nyx” starts in 1hr. Look forward to watching the new Inside R&D videos for JOU.

May 16: 1/1 Cat token in real life via

May 15:

May 13: “The challenge is daunting. In 1994, machines took the checkers crown, when a program called Chinook beat the top human. Then, three years later, they topped the chess world, IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer besting world champion Garry Kasparov. Now, computers match or surpass top humans in a wide variety of games: Othello, Scrabble, backgammon, poker, even Jeopardy. But not Go. It’s the one classic game where wetware still dominates hardware.”

May 02: Generate architecture diagrams from text, uses graphviz for node layout.

May 01: Making of the art for Ajani, Mentor of Heroes, via

Apr 28: Don updates TeX and friends, via

Apr 27: April release of Magarena is out, major addition is support for casting/activating cards from the graveyard.

On the AI front, the parallel MTCS implemention is now lock-free. It is simpler and has a higher win rate as compared to the previous version that locks each tree node for updates.

This marks my third year with the project, my first commit was made on 4th April 2011.

Apr 23: Came across this while reading up on how btsync works. Modern BitTorrent nodes uses µTP, a UDP based protocol that maximize throughput and minimizes network congestion. Also used by Apple for software updates. Key idea is to measure latency per packet and reduce transmission rate to keep increase in latency within a tolerable threshold.

Apr 19: “Your Inner Fish is a 3-part science series that takes a fresh look at human evolution.” - PBS

Apr 19: Journey into Nyx available on! Looking for players to draft 3 x Journey into Nyx at

Apr 18: Random fact from G4 Icons series: Tetris is a combination of Tetra (all pieces are made up of four squares) and Tennis (Alexey Pajitnov’s favorite sport)

Apr 18: Web based deck play testing against other players, supports multiple card games, including MTG.

Apr 18: Full visual spoiler for Journey into Nyx is out! Goal for the weekend, implement in Magarena.

Apr 17: > scp/rsync for moving files into your mobile. I suppose most people use Dropbox for this but since both devices are on the LAN, btsync really shines.

Apr 13: Magic the Gathering panel at PAX East 2014, recorded earlier today (1:30am GMT+8). More details of Journey into Nyx and M15.

Apr 12: Discussion thread on the welfare of indoor cats. I’ve had similar concerns as the OP, the responses are a enlightening read. Perhaps time to start on “Animals Make Us Human” by Temple Grandin.

Apr 12: Happiness is when you wake up to see other contributors build upon your work from last night.

Apr 10: Feels good to delete code.

Apr 08:

Apr 08: TIL that William Press discovered a new class of strategies for the Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma when a program he wrote to answer a different question keeps crashing, via

Apr 08: “In 1964, Dartmouth math Professor and future President John Kemeny and math Professor Tom Kurtz, along with a handful of Dartmouth undergraduates, revolutionized computing with the introduction of time-sharing and the BASIC programming language.”

Apr 06: “Leslie Lamport inventor of Paxos and developer of LaTeX introduces techniques and tools that help programmers think above the code level to determine what applications and services should do and ensure that they do it.”

Apr 03: “The film takes a critical look at the lives of Benedict “Hyhy” Lim (Singapore), Danil “Dendi” Ishutin (Ukraine) and Clinton “Fear” Loomis (US), three professional electronic sports players who participated in The International 2011 Dota 2 Competition”

Mar 31: I’m giving a talk at Friday Hacks this week about developing efficient algorithms. It traces the ongoing story of the Gene Team Tree problem. I hope this talk will spark off some new ideas towards a simpler and more efficient algorithm.

Mar 30: March release of Magarena is out! Brought to you by ten contributors and one dedicated play tester. Together we fixed 41 bugs and implemented 315 new cards.

Mar 30: Frontiers has come a long way since the Kickstarter campaign. An RPG focused on the wonders of exploring a massive world.

Mar 29: “A channel dedicated to the preservation of G4/TechTV’s endearing & fascinating retrospective series on various people, companies, & events that helped pave the way and shape the video game industry.”

Mar 25:

Mar 21: Proving more properties by extending Java’s type system with annotations.

Mar 20:

Mar 19:

Mar 18: 2013 ACM Turing Award goes to Leslie Lamport for his work on distributed systems.

Mar 14: TIL don’t slam the safe door when in a secure data center

Mar 11: Program an RTS AI using Javascript in a Humans vs Ogres battle!

Mar 02: Twitch plays Pokemon Crystal, 5 mins into the game.

Mar 01: Videos from Niklaus Wirth’s 80th Birthday Symposium at ETH

Feb 28: Dancing kitten gif via

Feb 28: Indie sliding puzzle game from Singapore developers. I had a chance to try it out during a local convention, great UX and puzzles.

Feb 27: TIL that chapters in the book “Postmortems from Game Developer” are taken from

No need to worry about the book getting due as I can load the printer friendly version of the article into :)

Feb 27:

Feb 26: Finally!

Feb 25: Time to join the messaging crowd, the new TextSecure is here! Previously TextSecure only supported sending over SMS which leaks metadata to the telco, the new version added support for sending messages over the data channel.

Feb 24: TIL packet switching was invented by applying the concept of time-sharing to communication

Feb 23: Released version 1.47 of Magarena on the last day of Pro Tour Born of the Gods. Fixed 18 bugs and added 396 cards.

Feb 22: Fan made “Let’s play Magarena” video :) Homepage:

Feb 21: Visual summary of “Continuous Delivery”

Feb 19: X-Men Origins (Cats version)

Feb 17: King of the Cats.

Feb 14: New favorite subreddit :)

Feb 13: Switched from Spotify web player to Streamus, due to Chrome 32 crashing on Spotify. A very slick chrome extension for listening to music from YouTube videos, it has a radio mode to play related songs automatically. Wonder if they are using YouTube’s recommended video?

Feb 13: TIL that you can play a Druid that shifts into cat form in Pillars of Eternity and they are expected to ship end of this year, via

Feb 08:

Feb 02:

Jan 26: Magarena 1.46 is out with new mulligan screen and 308 new cards. Downloads are now hosted by GitHub, code and wiki still on Google Code. Can’t help but feel that Google Code is going the way of Google Reader.

Jan 24: Six roguelike games for six dollars via Humble Weekly Sale

Jan 16: New season of Friday Hacks :)

Jan 16: Warren Spector’s talk at Practice 2013 on creating emergent gameplay

Jan 13:

Jan 11: “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, via issue 183

Jan 11: Leiningen template to create a project from a problem. Great way to work on 4clojure offline.

Jan 10:

Jan 09: TIL that Facebook’s main source repository is Mercurial + FB extensions. The extensions are open sourced on FB’s bitbucket page @

Jan 06: Finally got my HP chromebook 14 from Courts. Posting from it while waiting for crouton to install Debian.

Jan 04: Just finished watching The Lost Room. Great series with a gripping story line. The idea of ordinary objects with paranormal powers is interesting, no need to create special physical objects for the show, just use everyday ordinary objects.

Jan 04: RTS engine by startup Oxide Games, via

Jan 04:

Jan 03:

Jan 01:

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