Learning to not care

So I’ve been really busy trying to knock out my thesis proposal. For some strange reason, I used to be a pretty good writer up to when I started work. I never had any problems writing essays in school, although I do write pretty slowly so sometimes I didn’t finish all the questions in stuff like geography exams where you’re supposed to absolutely regurgitate PARAGRAPHS of stuff. But somehow in my first job, I started developing hangups when writing papers. I worried about whether I was doing it the “right way”, whether I had the proper subsections, or formatting. I worried about whether my boss would like the way I was phrasing things. I worried about whether I needed more supporting data.

In hindsight this may have contributed quite a bit to why I did not particularly like my job. It paid decently and I think I had a decent reputation amongst management (having received a scholarship from the company obviously helps). But I just hated writing papers. I always felt unhappy for perceived criticisms from my bosses about my papers, sometimes over obviously niggling details. Amongst us we used to joke that this was just the way all bosses were, they had to “value-add” otherwise their job would be redundant if all they said was “OK looks good”. But even though I knew this I think I still felt a little bit unhappy, particularly if I actually respected the management.

So fast forward to the past few weeks (months?) where I’ve been trying to knock out this proposal. It sounded so simple and yet it was taking me so long to do it. I worried about whether I had enough references. I worried about whether I was making statements that were just plain false and I was too ignorant to know it. I worried about the formatting and structure of a proposal. I worried about my datasets and what kind of tests I needed to do. Writing this proposal has been horrendously painful, and for no real reason. It got to the point where there were actually things I wanted to blog about, but the mere thought of writing would put me off. Kinda ironic considering I retook up blogging to help me in my thesis writing. I worried about making my posts interesting, finding pictures etc.

Then after a conversation with my wife one night, she decided to help my son make me a sign that now sits right on my desk. It’s written on plain white paper, with lots of random stickers on it (there’s a pickup truck, a red sports car, baby Lion King and… a butterfly). And it says “Write for Yourself”. Of course underneath it is a scraggly letter “S” written in yellow crayon by my son, with explanatory note that “S is for stencil”.

So now I try to remind myself not to care about what others are going to think of my paper, and just write what I want. If I need more data, I’ll go get some. If my advisor thinks I need more references, I’ll put more in. If it’s just plain bad then I’ll work on it some more. I don’t have to get it done right the first time and it’s ok to get criticised.

As a corollary, I’ve actually resumed playing a bit of World of Tanks. WoT and EVE have this love-hate tango going on where basically I seem to play one or the other, but never both at the same time. I guess they satisfy similar yet subtly different itches. They both have that collector aspect of driving/flying different tanks/ships, and making ISK in EVE is as rewarding as getting credits in WoT. However, WoT satisfies a bit more of a PVP itch and in fact I wish EVE had 15 v 15 battles rather than random ganks where one side is normally hugely outnumbered. Of course ganks are actually much more realistic but… When I get tired of mindless PVP, EVE starts looking attractive because of the complexity of the universe and the multitude of options, rather than just fighting in the same maps over and over.

So I actually quit about a year ago, and a large portion of that was that I felt that I was performing poorly in the game. There is a mod called XVM that measures players according to various metrics, such as win/loss ratio and other arcane formulae such as efficiency and WIN8 (some kind of weighted index of damage dealt, spotting, etc etc basically being useful). According to those metrics, I was a fair to good player at about 54% win rate. I had tanks of all tiers but at that point I was playing the E-75 German Tier 9 heavy tank and the Object 704 Russian Tier 9 tank destroyer, both of which were supposed to be pretty good tanks.

And I was (am?) horrible at them. Even now my E-75 has a 46% win rate, I think the Obj 704 is 47%. I actually performed decently well with their tier 8 predecessors (50% in the Tiger II, 52% in the ISU-152 respectively) so I was getting so frustrated that I was sucking at their supposedly better versions. I guess I found out that tier 9 is markedly more difficult as tanks start getting a lot more armor and their guns start doing ridiculous damage, so any mistake (like showing your ass to them…) gets punished extremely severely. My stats started taking a nosedive and I started getting frustrated playing instead of enjoying the matches.

In retrospect, a very large problem was also that I was trying to get better, funny as that sounds. I had read a lot of guides by very good players on strategic moves to pull, like trying to move into a position near the middle of the map early on. This gives you the highest chance to do the most damage to the enemy team and also gives the flexibility to react to any other flank falling. However, in practice this meant that I would often come up against the great players on the enemy team early on, or I would simply lack the skill and knowledge to survive in those areas resulting in a derp moment and our team would be down a decent player (i.e. me). I knew I played better in slow, heavy armored tanks with big guns at long range because I liked sniping and I didn’t react fast enough to changing tactical situations. Yet I felt obligated to put myself on the front lines with the E-75 because it’s strong point is great frontal armor and it’s good at brawling, and with the Obj 704 I kept pushing aggressively because it’s strong point is that it mounts a FREAKING HUGE GUN and hiding at the back may not give me any targets until my team is dead at which point my FHG is moot.

So now, upon picking up the game again, I told myself to ignore those stats and accept that I am at best a slightly above average player. I’m not going to be great, so just play the way I want to and if I lose so be it. Hang back, let the truly awful 43% win rate players rush in and die and reveal the enemy (hopefully doing at least 1 shot worth of damage) and use my knowledge of the game to do what I can. And it’s working. I’m not winning drastically more, but there has been an improvement and most importantly I’m enjoying the matches. I don’t have that impotent feeling that I can’t control the match, because I’ve accepted that at this tier I’m not going to dominate anyway and I’m just going to try to hold my own and rely on my team (which is a dicey proposition considering that the average skill level of WoT players has gone waaaaaay down).

Now to translate this to my pickup basketball games…

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Wow… anyone in here?

Ahem. Well. Hiya blog, it’s been a long time. Hope you’re not mad at me for bailing out for like…oh… more than a year. I’m sure it went by in a flash, no hard feelings?

Anyway… I’m still alive, unless the blog evolved A.I. while waiting for me to log back in. And strangely enough, in the great big migratory cycle of Currently Played Games, I find myself back in EVE, which is where I left off last time.

What’s been happening

In real life, I’m still trucking along in my PhD studies. Right now I’m coming up on my third year and have mostly finished my classes and will be concentrating on research and writing that pesky formality known as a thesis. In fact that’s part of the reason why I’m here, I thought it would be a good idea to get used to doing a bit more writing again to try to get the brain cells working.

Spaceships

Dakka dakka dakka

Dakka dakka dakka

Shiny gold space tick

Shiny gold space tick

During the hiatus I stopped playing EVE for a while, for a couple of reasons. I was in a great corp, but unfortunately corp operations were not really very regular and a lot of them were in an awkward time zone (since they are mostly Aussies). I kinda really feel bad about not telling them though, since I basically just stopped logging in. As a matter of fact I think they demonstrated enormous patience by only just kicking me from the corp in July (one month before I resubscribed…) I’m going to try to reapply but they have a rule saying even returning players need to play EVE for a month before reapplying, which understandably helps to cut down on the number of applications from people who just want to come in and see what’s new (*cough* not like me at all, uh huh). Part of it was also that I got ganked moving 1.5 billion ISK worth of modules from Jita to Amarr in a T1 hauler. First time I’ve been ganked, and probably a story I will tell later. The monetary loss wasn’t a big deal, but I felt bad about it nonetheless especially as it greatly impacted the corp’s killboards. Lastly, a large part of the fun in EVE is based on having some kind of goal or plan. I felt kinda aimless at the time and was basically just spending time updating orders and training skills again, and so eventually I just let my sub lapse.

Tanks

I started playing World of Tanks again for a period of time, but ultimately stopped as well. I ground up the German heavy line to the Tier 9 E-75, expecting to be a bulletproof monster romping on the battlefields (based on my own experience from the other end of the 128mm cannon). I also ground up to the Tier 9 Russian tank destroyer Object 704, a.k.a Boomstick. Unfortunately, I came to the realization that I mostly just suck at higher tier matches. Also, I got into a streak of incredible losses where my win rate just plummeted drastically and I felt that I was just spending my evenings grinding out my daily doubles while getting aggravated. Part of it could be that I got too caught up in my stats, but at the same time I didn’t want to be one of the facerollers that present a bigger obstacle to their own team than the enemies.

Cute rabbit-eared things with big swords

Ferociously cute

Ferociously cute

I believe it was around December 2012 that I bought Guild Wars 2, after hearing so much hype about it. Some delicate negotiation had to be handled with the wife, the tight-fisted Scrooge McDuck in charge of finances. Mostly she just wanted me to concentrate on my work and stop playing so much, but eventually my devastating charm (or maybe the pathetic puppy dog eyes) managed to secure the go-ahead.

Guild Wars 2 is pretty fun, especially for a title which only requires a box purchase. I think I tend to have pretty positive impressions of any cash-shop game which allows you to trade cash shop currency for game currency. This is probably no surprise to any reader (hah!) who has read some of my earlier posts, especially since Scrooge McDuck also got interested in the game and predictably proceeded to amass a gold stockpile to fill her swimming pool with. I’ve converted gold into diamonds to buy 2 more character slots and a pack of miniatures. I’m generally pretty indifferent to any sort of cosmetic upgrade, so most of our gold just sits there looking sparkly. It does make me snigger whenever I see anyone in chat talking about how they earned 2 GOLD OMG I’M RICH, but at the same time I’m pretty sure that there are people out there with tens of thousands of gold so yeah best not to feel too snide. So far we have a level 80 warrior, necro, ranger, mesmer, a mid-level (and abandoned) elementalist and now I’m leveling a guardian. We participated in World vs World quite a bit early on, but nowadays I just PVE and my wife has stopped playing.

Mining and crafting

Wow, I did a lot of things didn’t I. I also started (and stopped) playing Minecraft for quite a bit. Maybe it’s a sign of my old age that my interests tend to drift around a lot more nowadays, at least compared to when I played WoW for what, 6 years? Minecraft has grown quite a lot since I first tried it out, and the modding community is amazing. Mods really add so much more to the game. I tried out quite a few of them and had quite a lot of fun, even going to the Nether this time and building a base inside a stronghold I found there. Ultimately though, I’m not a very creative type and most of the fun I had was in setting up a home in a new place. Once it was actually set up though I start feeling aimless, and eventually I felt that there was no point exploring for resources to obtain if I never build anything with those resources.

Back to spaceships

Which brings me back to EVE… again. Even though I wasn’t playing EVE, I still maintained a distant interest through reading blogs like Jester’s Trek or The Ancient Gaming Noob who basically is 80% of the reason I even started to play EVE anyway. After the Odyssey patch, I realised that there was a bunch of new stuff in EVE (ship rebalancing, hacking mini-game, salvage drones) and decided to resubscribe to check it out (hope my corp doesn’t read this…). So far I’m pretty happy in space, getting back in the flow of things and blowing stuff up with my two accounts, which shall be detailed in further posts since this is getting way too long. And of course, part of the joy of EVE is new shinies.

Slayer of evil pirates everywhere

Slayer of evil pirates everywhere