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By theantix (Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 02:58:40 PM EST) I am off work from Wed to Sunday, suckas!, theantix was here (all tags)
Sometimes people ask was your greatest success, what you are the most proud of, or your greatest accomplishment.  That type of thing.  It was just a game, but this is the story I come back to in my mind.

Years ago in university I had a full-credit course which was actually a glorified turn-based strategy game.  In this game, we grouped off into 6 teams of about 8 and we would have a week to determine the parameters of our next turn.  When the turns were all contributed, the professor would fire them into the server and determine how successful each team was. 

The novel thing about the course (aside from the whole game=course concept) was that they had university alums acting as a Board of Directors, who our team would have to report to.  They would analyze our performance and question our decisions, and we'd have to defend them.  Our grade would be a combination of how the Board judged us, and on our actual performance in the game relative to the other teams.

Each team operated a factory making widgets, so the parameters we had control over were things like factory capacity, price, quality of source material, and so forth.  The one basic constraint was that you couldn't drastically expand capacity from week to week, so you had to play a bit conservative or go broke.   My contribution to the team was a spreadsheet using a evolutionary algorithm to optimize our decisions based on an array of probable actions by our competitors.  So our success would depend on the technical terror I had constructed.

The first week turned out to be a huge success.  We utterly destroyed the competition, so severely that it was kind of embarrassing.  The other teams sucked really hard and made a bunch of dumb decisions.  So as a group we decided to play the next round more conservatively, because obviously the other teams could now see what we did and improve their standing.

They did not.  We increased our lead over the competition, even in our conservative state... but now we had to report to our Board.  Obviously our top position was good, but they were not impressed that we didn't play our lead to the full advantage.  Which is all fine and dandy, so we played it less conservative the next rounds. 

Each time we started a new round we figured that finally the other teams would figure out the game and start catching up.  I mean, it really wasn't that hard to do.  Except each time they did not, and we steadily increased our lead to the point where by the last few rounds we were making the most expensive product on the market for among the lowest cost, and by far the most sales. 

The widgets our team made were the stuff that suits dream about, a blessed love child of Apple, Google, and Nintendo.  We owned, and it was terribly funny trying to imagine what these other poor teams must have been going through.  Our board kept on prodding us to be more aggressive, and eventually we stopped worrying that the other teams were going to clue in. 

However, the final glory was still to come.  Our final board meeting was up, and we had just finished a round of ultra-aggressive pricing and capacity and were now more successful than all of the other teams combined.  The board was going to love us, and we knew we were all getting an A. 

I had one more ace up my sleeve for the Board though.  I calculated the P/E ratio of our competitors and how that related to market capitalization in the real world.  I found that the likely market cap of our competitors was less than the in-game cost of expanding our factories.  So to bypass the game's constraint about adding capacity, I proposed to our board that the best course of action would be to purchase our competitors for their factory space.

The board ate it up like crack covered strawberries.  I ended up with an A+, by far the highest mark I ever received in any course.  And it was completely awesome.

< Fuck You Airlines OR Show Me the Way Away From San Jose | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
success | 21 comments (21 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
the problem here ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #1 Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 03:08:38 PM EST

... is that this is in the whine cellar.

Two points:


do we even have a FP here anymore? by theantix (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 04:06:16 PM EST

mns: oh, dude, join my facebook group!
[ Parent ]
Sure we do. by mrgoat (2.00 / 0) #10 Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 04:11:02 AM EST
It's where we keep the *FCs.

--top hat--
[ Parent ]
So why aren't you rich? by Roaming Philosopher (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 06:19:17 PM EST
Or are you....hmmmm

I forgot to add by Roaming Philosopher (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 06:20:34 PM EST
Awesome. Sounds like a lot fun.

[ Parent ]
well I don't live in a hovel by theantix (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 07:53:22 PM EST
But I've got less social skills than needed for a good CEO, and there are lots of people with higher IQs.

I'm mostly just good at strategy games, and "thinking outside the box".  Which happened to really pay off with this one course.
mns: oh, dude, join my facebook group!

[ Parent ]
Dood... by leviramsey (2.00 / 0) #15 Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 08:45:36 PM EST

...smarts and social skills are not the secret behind becoming a top .1%-er. Strategic thinking (whether performance in strategy games correlates with that is, I suppose, open to some debate) and the ability to think outside the box are.

Smart people and people with social skills work for the ones with strategic out-of-the-box thinkers.

Not saying that you'll ever be CEO of $FORTUNE_500_COMPANY, but you've hardly disqualified yourself.

Could I be the next Lee Abrams?
[ Parent ]
I think they are by theantix (2.00 / 0) #18 Thu Nov 22, 2007 at 11:48:05 AM EST
Every decent CEO or self-made wealthy person I have met has had an aura to them, of the sort that Tony Robbins and alike try to sell to wannabes.  A kind of commanding presence which I believe comes from a combination of experience, risk tolerance, and confidence of purpose.  Whereas I am relatively risk averse and self-doubting, which is why I generally leave my strategic maneuvering to places where the worst than can happen is my imaginary cities get nuked by the imaginary russians.

And other perhaps more important aspect of these people is driving ambition.  The founder/chairman of the company I work for is way too often the person who first finds bugs and discovers outages which our staff missed.  When the reports database crashes at 3:00am, he's the one who calls me since he was up watch sales data.  I'm just not quite that dedicated -- even as a workaholic I have a separation of work and play.

I'm not saying that I can't do it.  I've had some ideas which predated their actual implemenation by others including: subscription satellite radio, ubuntu linux, and livejournal.  Maybe I can do it, and maybe someday I will.  But in the meantime I'm happy leaving the strategy to games and getting a regular paycheque.
mns: oh, dude, join my facebook group!

[ Parent ]
it doesn't look like you actually learned anything by dr k (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 08:41:27 PM EST
from this exercise.

:| :| :| :| :|

I learned that I was awesome! by theantix (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 09:06:24 PM EST
Isn't that enough?
mns: oh, dude, join my facebook group!
[ Parent ]
For an "A+"? by dr k (4.00 / 1) #9 Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 11:09:13 PM EST
Yes, that is all you needed to learn.

But then again, university professors are well-documented chumps.

:| :| :| :| :|

[ Parent ]
Not only that, but by skippy (2.00 / 0) #13 Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 09:03:33 AM EST
I also learned that you were awesome.  And that was an important lesson for me to learn.

[ Parent ]
your brother was on my team, btw by theantix (2.00 / 0) #14 Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 09:49:31 AM EST
We were both awesome!
mns: oh, dude, join my facebook group!
[ Parent ]
Oh yeah, that's right by skippy (2.00 / 0) #17 Thu Nov 22, 2007 at 08:53:30 AM EST
that was pretty cool.  Wasn't there some other class where you realized that the next round's data was actually embedded in the file itself?  Or was there it a class where you were trying to determine that?

/me can't remember...

[ Parent ]
It would have been that class by theantix (2.00 / 0) #19 Thu Nov 22, 2007 at 11:49:19 AM EST
But I don't remember that... so either it was someone else who tried to do that or we tried and failed and I forgot.
mns: oh, dude, join my facebook group!
[ Parent ]
oh wait by theantix (2.00 / 0) #20 Thu Nov 22, 2007 at 11:50:34 AM EST
I think we did hack the file to determine what the other teams precisely did in the previous round.  Not that it helped us all that much though, since they all sucked. 
mns: oh, dude, join my facebook group!
[ Parent ]
like drizzled with crack, or just a light dusting? by Horatio Hellpop (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 11:08:17 PM EST

"You can't really know something until you ruin it for everyone." -some guy who used to have an account here

Best Semester Ever! by reza (2.00 / 0) #11 Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 05:44:21 AM EST
We had the same course, similar setup, except the Board we answered to who did the grilling were all retired execs.  Our widget was "prop wash" (as in like bottled slip stream....think compressed air canisters).

JJ Kustura was the prof in charge and that was my best college class!!

" Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind do not matter, and those who matter do not mind!" Dr. Seuss

Games by duxup (2.00 / 0) #12 Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 05:57:24 AM EST
I recall doing a few of those games although not as the whole course and probably not with such and elaborate simulation.  I remember that the biggest lesson I learned was that my classmates were idiots.  We also would pound or competition while other groups would demonstrate their critical thinking skills were painfully undeveloped.

There were lots of:

They did what? heh

(Comment Deleted) by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #16 Thu Nov 22, 2007 at 12:05:51 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by yicky yacky

This one time... by 606 (2.00 / 0) #21 Mon Nov 26, 2007 at 11:20:58 AM EST
in a course on web applications in Java me and a bunch of engineers worked together on a course-long project. Every two weeks part of the project was due, and what was done was built on for the next period.

In the first period we were given ten features to try and implement. We worked pretty hard (while working on 4-5 other classes, natch) but only got 4 features done. We were devestated that we failed so hard and went to the tutorial expecting to get a grade-based thrashing. Instead we witnessed the four other teams bitch and whine at the TA and demand extensions because they were unable to deliver a single complete feature.

We handed in our project and went to drink beer.

imagine dancing banana here

success | 21 comments (21 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback