Tuesday, August 27, 2013

European Research Exchange - Gamescom and WCS

So today is Tuesday. Now, I normally do my posts on Mondays, but I got back home from my trip to Cologne last night, and even though technically I could've still wrote it, I totally didn't really feel like it, so I'm gonna write it now.

My exchange here in Berlin is officially coming to an end! Finished work last week, and the day after I got on a bus to Cologne for Gamescom and WCS. Honestly was such an awesome trip. Was really tiring but I had a great time. As a result this is gonna be a long post, be prepared.

It only took ten freaking hours to get there. But I had these like, European instant noodles.

Me and my friend got to Cologne sometime in the late afternoon, so after dinner we went to the Cologne Cathedral because it's literally right next to the main station. The cathedral is pretty sick. It's really big and really detailed, and just overall looks pretty cool.

After that we went to Bonn because hotels in Cologne are expensive, so we booked a hotel in Bonn instead. It's not super far from Cologne, so whatever. Thursday was the start of Gamescom, so that morning we got up early and made a trip to the Messe in Cologne.

There were so many people.

It took forever to get inside. We arrived at like 9:45 and we managed to get in at like. 11:30. In that time a lot of standing occurred, which kinda sucked. But hey, whatever. This is my first large video game convention, so I was pretty excited for it. Especially because the WCS Season 2 finals were being held there.

The moment I got into the venue, the first thing I did was notice a souvenir booth that sold stuff like t-shirts. I immediately lined up and bought a Gamescom t-shirt because souvenir and I figured I could get awesome eSports people to sign it, so it would be an epic souvenir.

It ended up kinda wrinkley, but also ended up incredibly awesome.

Since WCS didn't start until Friday, my game plan was to walk around the venue on Thursday to look at the booths and to figure out where everything was. So I just started walking around. The first hall I went into had the Square Enix booth, and as people know I'm a pretty big Square Enix fanboy.

They had Lightning Returns, FFX HD, KH 1.5 HD and FFXIV as their main titles at their booth. There was a pretty big crowd for that stuff, but I managed to get in and play a bit of FFX HD. The graphics were polished up pretty nicely and I liked the interface change they made to the game. Made it feel a lot more modern.

Can't wait for any of those games.

The next hall I visited after that one was the one with Ubisoft and XBox. I didn't really stick around in that hall much though, since Ubisoft is cool, but I've never really got into the Assassin's Creed series, so Black Flag wasn't a big of a draw for me. Watchdogs looks sick though.

And the XBox section was like XBox. I'm a Playstation person, so XBox isn't really a thing for me. They had a pretty big section for XBox and their exclusives though, and a lot of people we're checking it out.

So green.

The next hall I visited was my second most visited hall because it had Blizzard and Sony stuff. Blizzard had announced their expansion for Diablo III at Gamescom, so they had a pretty big focus on D3's PS3 release and RoS expansion. The trailer is really cool.

They also had a big focus on WoW (obviously) and for their new free to play game Hearthstone. I actually went and lined up to play Hearthstone, and it was actually pretty fun. My opponent was kinda slow, so I didn't get to play too much, but it's like a simpler version of Magic that's kinda just fun to play.

The Blizzard stage.

They didn't really have anything for StarCraft II, but I guess it made sense since they didn't have any new content for it. Plus WCS was gonna go on during the event, and that's honestly enough StarCraft II. They still had some show matches though, so I got to meet my first StarCraft pro of the event that day, White-Ra.

Aside from the Blizzard stage I also went and checked out a presentation for Destiny, which seems like a pretty cool/interesting game, and I played a bit of Warframe and got a t-shirt for it because my friends lined up for it. Most of my time was still spent at the Blizzard section though haha.

White-Ra prepping for his match against Ret.

After getting White-Ra's autograph and a picture with him, we decided to call it a day and leave. I grabbed some food with my friends and afterwards we just kinda hung out around the area. Cologne at night is pretty nice since a bunch of stuff like the cathedral and bridges are lit up.

We pretty much just killed some time before heading back to Bonn for the night. Pretty good first day I would say.

Kinda wish I took a landscape version of this.

The next day was the beginning of WCS. Honestly, WCS was the main reason I was at Gamescom. Like Gamescom is cool, but it's not like, travel to the other side of Germany for 6 days cool. WCS on the other hand was the hypest thing.

We got to the stage two hours early because we figured getting seats was important. It turned out to be a good call since the seats were pretty much all taken 1 - 1.5h before the event actually started. It was awesome seeing so many people I've watched on stream live and in person. Felt really cool.

I also got to meet Jae freaking Dong.

The first day of matches were pretty exciting. The highlight of that day for me in terms of matches were definitely Jaedong vs MC. It was super tense and super exciting, and I was so happy that Jaedong made it out of his group in first place. It didn't even feel possible since his ZvP seemed so weak, but after his matches it seemed like his ZvP improved soooo much.

I ended up leaving a bit earlier though since there was a Team Liquid meetup for dinner. I figured I'd go since it would be kinda fun to meet other StarCraft fans, and obviously food is food and food is awesome.

Greek food.

Afterwards I went out with my friends to see more of the city and to do things. Pretty fun night overall, but again, pretty tiring. The next morning I went back to Gamescom, and even though I arrived a bit later, it was good because there was no lineup to get in.

I pretty much just rushed to the WCS stage and luckily found a seat even though the show already started. Saturday was the day of deciding matches and the round of eight. Highlight of that day for me was Jaedong vs Naniwa because obviously.

I really like this picture actually.

I managed to get a few more autographs from random pros. And pretty much building on what I said before, it was really cool to be at an actual StarCraft event, because you see so many people you normally only see on stream in person.

It's so much more awesome when you see players running around, interacting with fans, setting up their equipment, etc. Like, I never knew just exactly how short most of the Korean players were, or how awkward Maru was haha. And obviously being there live had a sick atmosphere. The crowd was good, the games were amazing, and the production was stellar.

Dat crowd. So glad I get seats since there's normally a ton of people waiting for a seat to open up.

After that day we went out and got Vietnamese food before calling it a day. I was really hyped for Sunday since it was the last day of Gamescom, and so the tournament would play their round of four and finals. Considering how the final four were Jaedong, First, Taeja and Bomber, it was gonna be a sick day.

And a sick day it was. Jaedong vs First was fantastic as Jaedong continued to prove that his ZvP is no longer his weakness, and Taeja vs Bomber was a pretty good TvT match between two SCII veterans.

And it all led up to this, Jaedong vs Bomber finals.

Going into the finals I was kinda worried. Jaedong's ZvP was great now, but his ZvT was untested in the tournament, and I had a feeling that either Taeja or Bomber would end up beating him. And it did happen. Unfortunately Jaedong got crushed pretty hard by Bomber and got 0:4'd.

Pretty sad for Jaedong considering it's like his fourth second place finish in a major tournament in like the last three months or something. But I'm glad Bomber won too. He's been around for so long and he's been pretty good, so it's nice to see him win something.

I got like, those paper things in my hair.

After that we waited around a bit more and got a few more autographs and pics from pros. I managed to also get Bomber's pic and autograph, which is obviously important since he won. I wanted him to sign the center area of the shirt, and he did, but I was hoping he'd fill up the space a bit better, but whatever.

Following that we went out for food. My friends were planning on bringing us to some Asian place, but apparently it was closed, so we ended up going to a Dominos (yea) nearby.

what is this racial profiling shenanigans

It was ok. Like still better than the Dominos back home, but it's Dominos.

So that was the last day of Gamescom. The following day, Monday, we had a bit of time to kill before getting on a bus back to Berlin. So we went back to the cathedral and climbed to the top. Surprisingly it wasn't as tiring as I thought it would be.

It's only like, a hundred meters up or something.

Coming down was kinda awkward though. Halfway down I recognized one of the Korean casters going up the cathedral. So I was like "whoa hey, do you remember me?" because I got his autograph the day before.

But he clearly didn't remember me, so it was just kinda awkward. But whatever. We left the cathedral and got some food. While coming back to the station after eating lunch, we saw the Korean casters again, but I was like no way man, and like avoided them to avoid another awkward interaction. Don't want to be remembered as that one random Asian guy who stalked them or something >_>

Oh, here's a pic of the cathedral. The casters were out of frame to the left.

After killing a bit more time, I got on the bus and headed back to Berlin. The trip back wasn't as bad as the trip there since it was only seven hours. Less stops, so it was quicker. It also had Internet. But unfortunately the power plug didn't work, which sucked.

Regardless, super fun trip. It was nice to go to my first live eSports event and to meet a bunch of players and other people in the scene plus I was on stream in the crowd haha. It was also pretty cool to just go to another German city to check it out. Lastly, it was nice to see some of my friends again before I head back to Canada.

Bomber's interviews took forever to finish.

I'm back on Friday guys. Kinda excite, but kinda sad too.

Monday, August 19, 2013

European Research Exchange - Last Weekend in Berlin

So my time here in Germany is rapidly decreasing. Last weekend was my last weekend in Berlin since I won't be here this weekend. I'm not leaving Germany just yet, but I'll be going to Cologne for Gamescom, which is why.

I'm pretty excited for Gamescom, but before that, I need to recap my last week! So Friday was supposed to be my last day at work, but because I have a few more things I need to finish up before leaving, here I am on Monday back at work. Tomorrow will be my absolute last day since I'll be going to Cologne on Weds.

In the meantime, R. Ugh, R.

After work on Friday I went to my final StarCraft II tournament at Meltdown for the foreseeable future. My best finish up until now was a second place finish (which I would've totally won if it wasn't for that loser's bracket..), so my goal was to win the tournament.

I managed to beat my friend in the first match, but then I got matched up with the eventually winner of the tournament in my second round. Naturally, since he won the tournament, I ended up losing. I got eliminated a bit earlier than I wanted to, but there really wasn't too much to do about that.

Don't worry, I'll be back eventually to win the tournament.

On Saturday I went to go shopping. I wanted to buy a new pair of shoes since one of the pairs I had was getting pretty nasty, and it was pretty worn out. Plus on Friday night when I was coming home some drunk girl threw up on the train and my shoes got some splash damage.

Luckily I had some friends to block most of the splash, but a bit got on my shoes, so that tipped me over to buying a new pair. I went back to pretty much the only mall I buy things in, Alexa, and ended up getting some pretty ok Viet food before buying a pair of shoes.

Old on left, new on right. If you zoom you can see the vomit stains.

I also found this one bubble tea place oddly enough. So I ended up getting a green apple green tea. It was ok. Nothing too special. However what was special was this caramel ice cream I got sometime last week. Man. It's like, caramel ice cream covered in caramel chocolate. So good.

After my shopping and stuff I just went home and worked on stuff. Pretty much the same deal on Sunday. So nothing too super special this weekend, just mostly taking it easy and stuff. Oh, I also bought some grilled chicken for lunch on Sunday and it was given to me in a paper bag.

Seems legit.

I've been slowly wrapping things up here in Berlin, and soon enough I'll be gone. But first things first, Cologne on Weds. Gonna be so sick. Depend on the time I get back on Monday, I may or may not do a blog post on Monday. Stay hyped for the #ESPORTS.

Monday, August 12, 2013

European Research Exchange - Complex Event Processing

So this week was pretty standard in the sense that it was just like, another week. I've been in Berlin for pretty much 3.5 months now, and I've settled into a pretty decent, uh, lifestyle? Not sure what word I'm looking for haha.

Anyways, I figure since I didn't really anything special this week I'd talk a bit about the work I've been doing here in Berlin. I haven't really mentioned it much, but I'm in Berlin because I'm on a research exchange, so for the last 3.5 months I've been working at the Freie University of Berlin.

Also known as FU. (Wikipedia)

The thing with being a Game Dev student is that there aren't as many Game Dev related research projects as there are regular Comp Sci stuff, so I've been working here at the Corporate Semantic Web group on complex event processing (CEP).

Complex event processing is like, well, the processing of complex events haha. Events happen everywhere, and figuring out patterns and stuff related to a stream or collection of events can result in valuable data. A good example is the stock market. A discrete value at a certain time is meaningless, but if you are given a group of data, you can extract information from it and it's a lot more meaningful.

Business people love their stocks. And their graphs and stuff. (First Class Business)

So my main project here is working in Java (ugh) with the Esper EPL engine. Essentially what I've worked on so far consists of a bunch of different modules. At a high level, essentially I have a class that generates a stream of events, another class that processes the stream of events, and a few other ones which do calculations related to the stream.

The goal here is to essentially measure the effects of different variables on the efficiency of the Esper engine and to figure out how certain variables influence the amount of complex events that are detected.

This is my favourite class, just because I'm a sucker for string manipulation.

So in my time here that's the primary thing I've been working on. Making classes, adding features to them, making sure they work, etc. The goal now is to get it running on a separate server so experiments can be done.

My supervisor wants to write a paper on this stuff, which is pretty cool. It would be nice to get a paper for my work. Granted even if I didn't, I still learned a decent amount. Obviously now I know a lot more about CEP and it has refreshed and developed my Java skills and introduced me to Esper EPL.

I still don't like you though Java. (Wikipedia)

So this should be my last week here at FU, so hopefully everything will go pretty smoothly so I can just wrap things up. The plan is to take the last two weeks off before I go back to Canada so I can just kinda relax and chill in Berlin plus do some travelling.

I'm pretty hyped actually since yesterday I finally got everything finalized for my trip to Gamescom in Cologne. Pretty psyched for that since the WCS season finals are gonna be held there, so it's gonna be a fantastic weekend of games and eSports.
Ten more days! (Wikipedia)

And as we all know, I'm a pretty big fan of videogames and eSports.

Monday, August 5, 2013

European Research Exchange - The Legend of Jesse the French Canadian

So Jesse came to Berlin for the weekend. At one point I thought about just having that line as my blog for the week, but I figured I'd expand on it a bit more haha.

So for people who don't know, Jesse is my friend that went to HK with me last year. He went to Portugal for an exchange this summer, and after he finished work his first stop on his Euro trip was to Berlin.

In a nutshell.

Anyways so he arrived on Thursday so I picked him up at the station and after he dropped off his stuff at his hostel I took him sightseeing around Berlin. So that was like, the second week in a row I was kinda just chilling in downtown Berlin at night, and it was pretty fun.

Again, the city is a lot different at night. We went to similar places like I went to last week, but we went to like a few other places that I haven't been to at night either.

Lights make all the difference.

Friday was once again StarCraft night at Meltdown. Being the alpha nerds we are, we obviously had to go to Meltdown. It was 2vs2 night too, which worked out perfectly. Unfortunately we lost pretty hard in the first game. But whatever, it was fun.

Saturday was the Berlin International Beer Fest. Which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. They had like a two kilometer road where they just had a bunch of booths serving beer and random food.

They also had green beer.

So essentially how it worked was that you could buy one of those mugs for 3.5€ (as an aside apparently if I hit num lock and then Alt + mjk8 I can type the Euro sign) and then you can get it filled up at most booths for 1.5€. The mug itself is only 0.2L, so it's not the cheapest deal in the world, but they had a lot of variety.

Plus obviously you get a sweet commemorative mug, so that was fun. Afterwards we went back to Meltdown because I met a guy whos going to Canada for an exchange in a few weeks, so Sat was his farewell party.

I don't have any pictures of the past weekend, but here's me awkwardly playing on a laptop last week.

I was invited to a barbeque on Sunday, so that's what we did yesterday. It started off kinda badly though, since I told Jesse to meet me at a station at 4:30. But apparently there was some sort of accident at one of the previous stations so the trains weren't running to my station.

So I was like. That's not good. He had no German number, no data plan, so I had no way to reach him. So I went back to my flat to see if I could find him on Facebook in case he found some wifi, and after almost an hour the door bell rang and apparently he just took a taxi. What a guy.

Rooftop barbeque? Woot woot.

The barbeque was pretty fun. But man, bees. Bees everywhere. They went away after a bit, but for the first hour or two bees everywhere trying to steal our food.

Overall fun but tiring weekend. This next week is probably going to be a rest week for me haha.