Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse

Dang! I haven’t posted in a long time, I’ve had my hands full with a lot of things. But a couple of interesting things happened along the way, for instance I watched the new Spider-Man animated movie <3

Looks might get a little deceiving with this one, the trailer is rad, have no doubt. But the movie got screened in the “Play House” section at my local theatre, and made me consider whether it was really only for kids or all kinds of audience. My skepticism had to eat crows, for the movie was way better than expected (well, actually I knew it had a great rating), but I would really say that this title is going to be remembered as one of the great animated movies ever created.

I should say that I am quite lucky to have watched this rare gem, I mean I went to watch it alone and came back to tell my friends how good it was. One of the best things about this movie was the unexpectedly great comedy that had the whole audience rolling on the floor with laughter. Then there was the childlike innocence that it came bundled with. The jokes didn’t contain any dark humor or anything, because let’s admit it, it was a kids movie. Just kidding!

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

You know when a game is good. When it has a good story, good gameplay, and for most good sound. BFBC2 offers all that, and also makes it really fun to play. I am not the kind of person who would wait for his computer to boot up for 5 minutes only to play a game to shoot up others. But yeah, this game gave me a reason to do just that. It’s the best FPS I’ve played, maybe even the best game so far.

The best part is that it even has this DLC called Vietnam or something like that and it’s just absolutely dope. No question about it, the developers who created this have done so with love and zeal. It’s so clearly visible. Even its reviews are fantastic on Steam at least. You’d be surprised to know that there is a multiplayer mode in that Vietnam DLC which works even in 2018. Like holy crap. DICE! I’m not sure many people still play that game, but I’d say that it’s totally worth every penny, and now you could get it for a huge discount every now and then.

What can I say, it’s definitely something that would set a standard in the gaming industry, and as a gamer that is something that I am proud of.

Getting a good deal from your Xbox One

I recently purchased an Xbox One X, mostly because it is supposed to be the most powerful console in the world (at the time of writing) and also because I thought the Xbox Live Gold deals seemed pretty good. As you might have already figured, I haven’t owned an Xbox before. Neither have I owned any other console for that matter. So I suppose I feel a little satisfaction at getting the most powerful console as my first console.

Well anyway, as I said I really liked the Xbox Gold deals. The part that I thought was really good was that you could play Xbox 360 games on an Xbox One. Also, the fact that I’d be getting 4 games a month with Gold. Little did I know that I had to download the Xbox 360 games on a Xbox 360! So when my subscription started, I was able to download the two Xbox One games but not the two Xbox 360 games. I really don’t know the point of this, but yeah it’s nothing short of silly.

I somehow got the intuition to contact customer support and ask them about this. Thankfully, I got a great response and a solution to my queries. Apparently, you can redeem the two other Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One by physically signing in on an Xbox 360 and then downloading them. Luckily for me, there was an Xbox 360 at my workplace and the rest was easy. But honestly, I searched high and low for this answer and I didn’t find anything that would help. Maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place. The Xbox at my workplace is 4Gb and the game was 12Gb, so I had to plug in an external drive. The download to the drive didn’t start however, but the game did get added to my list of games (the purchase was successful). So as long as the space on the drive is more than that of the game, you can purchase it.

Into the World of Japanimation

Prior to coming to Pune I was informed that we had to give a talk on a topic. Little did I know of the format of the presentation! Thinking that I should get it out of my way as soon as possible, I decided to present it in the 2nd week.

When I applied for the first Pecha Kucha, I wasn’t even sure what I should be talking about. I had two weekends and about seven working days ahead of me to come up with a topic, make the relevant slides and practise delivering it to my collegues.

I’ll try to not disclose any further spoilers about TWU to our fellow interns who would be attending TWU at some point in the future. But to give you a gist of it, all went well with my presentation although I wish I had gotten more practice so that even my perfectionist self would approve of my performance!

Since I haven’t mentioned it yet, let me not keep you waiting any longer. My topic for the presentation was:


How Anime is Made

If that seemed like an anticlimax, my efforts to lure you to read thus far have been successful. But pray, read on, I will try not to disappoint.

To the rest, let me explain, Japanimation and anime are one and the same. If you hadn’t heard of anime before, it is a category of cartoon animation which is produced in Japan. It is quite a culture similar to tech, programming, photography and the kind (I’m sure I’ve missed out a gazillion more things, but for the sake of this article let’s raise our glasses to inclusivity!).

My itch to tell the world about how amazing anime is has still not been satisfied. So, I must go on. But hey, you don’t have to if you don’t find it interesting!

This article is about the way I look at the different aspects of anime and the tremendous character and richness that it has got to offer. In case you want to get into the process of making anime you could take a look at this incredible article which I used as the base for my Pecha Kucha.

When someone asks me to recommend an anime, the first thing that pops into my head is Cowboy Bebop. It’s one of the most iconic anime in the anime community. It aired between the Spring of 1998 and 1999 and being an old gem, you would find the older members of the anime community being more familiar with it.

The story takes place in the year 2071 when humanity has achieved the technology to travel in space and colonize other planets. The story revolves around a group of bounty hunters who assist the police in catching criminals.

The show is a really carefree and mostly episodic but a non-repetitive bundle of joy! It follows the life of Spike Speigel and his squad (that grows in number as the series progresses) who have a variety of different skill sets that aid them along their journey and provide a living for themselves.

I personally love the jazzy outro and the retro-style intro music. Cowboy Bebop is a fantastic example of an anime that can be enjoyed by all age groups. There are so many elements that you can find in the story, a ton of comedy, adventure and even a little bit of romance, not to mention the badass action scenes, with episodes exuding a ton of creative ideas that make this two cour series an absolute delight to watch.

I would say it has a good re-watch value as well. I probably watched this before my Engineering had started, and I am ready for round two anytime. The features that make anime like Cowboy Bebop interesting are not just limited to the elements in the story, but it is also the characters that make it such a memorable watch.

Speaking of good character design, Seven Deadly Sins is an anime that definitely deserves a mention. Its name has been etched into my memory as one of the best shounen anime I’ve ever seen! There is a common pattern among shounen anime. They start off with an amazing premise but deviate towards a niche, uninteresting story during the end instead of covering so many more fascinating elements that the viewer is eager to explore in the existing premise.

But Nanatsu no Taizai (the romanized Japanese name of Seven Deadly Sins) takes a different approach. It is super crazy, hilarious and throws so much at you that, the best way to watch it is to turn off your brain and enjoy the ride! There’s an enormous amount of action packed into this two cour series, and I may also add that it has its fair share of light-hearted ecchi humor. That said, I would also like to put it out there that it’s got great reviews, but not an appeal that was as overwhelming as what I experienced.

I usually stick to a more serious genre of anime, not that that they do not involve comedy (just not slapstick comedy). The Seven Deadly Sins proved to be an outstanding exception in my anime comfort zone, and at the end of the day I learned something new about myself.

If you thought anime was restricted only to TV series, well, guess what! Some of the greatest creations in the anime industry are the anime movies!

You might have heard of the popular Studio Ghibli, famous for their movies like My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, etc. At first, they might seem like they are suitable for 6 year olds. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t watch them! People of different ages draw different insights, meanings and fun out the movies. But all the same, for everyone they could be an incredibly pleasant and enjoyable watch. I have watched most of the Ghibli movies along with my mum. Both of us are very fond of them!

Ghibli movies are known for their fantastical stories that capture our imagination and detailed and passionately drawn art that gives way to scenic visuals and characters that one misses and holds dear to one’s heart once the movie is over.

They span across a wide variety of genres, from a love story to a tragic loss, from a real world documentary to fictional islands floating above the clouds! I would be able to watch any number of them at a time.

One of my favorites from Studio Ghibli is a film called My Neighbour Totoro. It’s really a very light-hearted film to watch. It’s about two little girls, Satsuki and Mei and their Dad who decide to relocate to the countryside to be closer to their mother who is hospitalized. The story revolves around the little ones and the extraordinary creatures they encounter living peacefully in their surroundings. It’s a very beautiful story with beautifully drawn art.

Tonari no Totoro (romanized form of the Japanese title of My Neighbour Totoro) was aired in the year 1988.

One of Ghibli’s underdog titles is Whisper of the Heart although its Japanese name “Mimi no Sumaseba” (romanized) translates directly to “If you listen carefully”. It is one of the rare Ghibli titles that has romance at its heart and is executed stunningly well. According to MyAnimeList it is a shoujo movie.

Unfortunately, I remember very little of it. Which means it is time to re-watch! I might remember things vaguely, but I do remember that I had absolutely loved it! Also, I take a minute and listen to Country Roads by John Denver anytime I think of Whisper of the Heart. Here are some enlightening facts from MyAnimeList:

Mimi wo Sumaseba is the highest-grossing Japanese film of 1995. It is also the first Studio Ghibli film that was directed by someone other than Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, and the first Japanese film that used the Dolby Digital sound format.

While we are on the subject of Romance, let’s take a dive into one of the most heart-breaking love stories I have ever seen. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso takes the cake. If you’ve watched that series, just taking in the significance of the movie title might moisten your eyes. What can I tell you, it’s so beautiful and sad at the same time.

Your Lie in April (synonymous with Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso) brings out the power of music in transporting you into the harmonious mind of the player of the musical instrument and letting to get a glimpse of their emotions. As a fan of deep themes, Your Lie in April was an absolute delight to watch! If you are touched by it like I was, you might even take up to playing a musical instrument.

If you are into sword fighting, and can tolerate gore you might like this anime movie called Sword of the Stranger. One of my friends had suggested it to me. It is honestly not a very popular film, since I haven’t heard a whole lot about it, but it is really good nevertheless. The animation and orchestration of the sword fighting are really top of the class. It’s really more of a thriller than story-centric and I found myself enjoying the film even though the story seemed a little difficult to grasp at the time. I would sum it up as an action flick, and just as with every other action flick this one has a good re-watch value.

Possibly a more story-centric samurai anime would be Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal. It is an OVA that gives birth to the popular Samurai X franchise. I won’t go into details because I can’t remember a whole lot, but I remember that it has got a lot more gore and bloodshed. I wasn’t really able to stomach that much violence, but that’s just me. It still has got pretty good reviews.

Steins;Gate might not have a great re-watch value but it’s number one on my “mind-blown” list. It’s about time paradoxes, time machines, and a really confusing plot which has got me goosebumps plenty of times through the course of the series! I would say that it’s a must watch. The outro music gives me shivers every time! Also, don’t miss the specials at the end of the series, they are totally worth it.

The re-watch value of this particular anime is less because once you know how it’s going to play out it won’t “thrill” you like it did the first time. So I’d recommend you to jump right into this masterpiece rather than reading reviews or summaries first. During the middle of the series it might get a little boring, but keep at it, because it will get interesting very soon. If you need more convincing, let me say this: it’s captivating enough to make you believe that time machines do exist (oh yes, they do!).

My most recently watched anime is coincidentally the highest rated on MyAnimeList. I do agree with the community on this one. It’s an extremely engaging story combined with stunning art-style and these elements together combined have resulted in a masterpiece created by the one and only Makoto Shinkai. The name of this masterpiece is Kimi no Na Wa.

Kimi no Na Wa was a highly anticipated movie prior to its release and once it was released people instantly started falling in love with it. It overtook the long standing Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood at first place. I believe that Makoto Shinkai has been on a course of progressive improvement due to the experience gained from his previous creations such as Garden of Words and 5 Centimeter Per Second but he hit the nail on the head with Kimi No na Wa.

I won’t give away anything even for this one, because I care about you and I don’t want to spoil the fun for you! I’ll say just this: it’s a very sentimental story which has a delicate way of tugging at your heart and reminding yourself that if an anime can be so beautiful, how much beautiful can be reality.

Contrast ~ An Amazing Puzzle Game

Recently, I completed this game called Contrast. Not sure how popular it is, but if you had heard of it before, I suppose it is famous!

You play as Dawn. Who is a Ghost? I do not know, but I didn’t ask myself such questions while playing because the puzzles and the graphics in general were really captivating. It was created in the Unreal engine. It has a good replay value too, but after a while. I mean the puzzles can get so hard at times that… Whew, the satisfaction you get from completing them is beyond GODLIKE! So yeah, it’s mainly a puzzle game with the puzzles getting increasingly complex as the game goes on. It even has a really good story and absolutely fantastic ambient lighting!

For some puzzles you need to find luminaries. It’s usually easy to do so, because they are in easily accessible places, you just have to look around a bit. But I think finding all of them in a level can be a little difficult (because I couldn’t). It’s essentially an open world puzzle game. A small world however. But it’s still very chic. It’s always night time in the game. The entire gameplay time is not too much, maybe for experienced gamers it would take 5-6 hours. Though a lot could be said about the puzzles. Some of them are outright challenging and require you to use a whole lot of creativity in order to solve them. Others require you to have good control over your button pressing since there is a lot of jumping around and dashing through the shadows involved. I would say that it requires a crazy amount of thinking because the developers were super creative in making this masterpiece. So if you are not ready for that, don’t buy this. But anyway, if you think your brain needs a little intelligent stimulation, this is the game for you. Don’t worry, the difficulty of the puzzles increases progressively. And I’m sure people online would have posted walkthroughs for them in case you need them.

Highly recommended, 10/10 would love to play it again!

Doki Doki Literature Club ~ The Review

This was my first VN, and I’ve just played one ending till now. Went with my instincts 😀

But I thought it would be good to share a few thoughts about how my first ever VN was. To be frank, this was an quite extraordinary VN (I keep saying VM in my head lol) even for those who are well versed in playing VNs. So, first off I’ll tell you how I found out about this game. Through Twitter and Reddit mostly. Saw a couple of posts relating to it, and especially one which was a picture from Twitch that showed that DDLC had more viewers than DotA 2 (I find that surprising no more, sorry DotA folks!). Well, anyway it just took one search to find that game on Steam and add it to my library. I hadn’t played it for a week or so, it was just sitting idly in my library. But I have this friend who was playing it and recommended it to me. So I was like, “Okay, let’s give it a shot.”

I won’t give away any spoilers other than the fact that it’s a psychological horror game (I didn’t know that when I started playing). Take the warning on the loading screen seriously if you are a sensitive person. Jokes aside, the story is about four cute girls and is essentially a dating sim. You are supposed to understand the personalities of all the girls and pick words that match their personality. Based on the highest number of words you pick for the girl that you want, the story changes and takes different routes.

It was definitely more fun than what it was worth (it’s free). I am going to support the developer (Team Salvato) for this amazing game. From a reviewer’s point of view, it could be said that the narration and dialogues were very well written. Just enjoy it! It’s worth playing, and recommending to friends 🙂

Get out of the trench!

It’s not a surprise that such a thing actually exists, and even more so that the internet has come up with a taxonomy just to classify it. Frankly speaking, the Internet has hit the nail on the head with this one, the reason behind which I shall explain to you shortly. The infamous MMR trench in Dota 2 is the MMR below 1000 and is notoriously difficult to get out of simply because the skill level of the players in that zone is really, really low. Why is it so low? I can speak for myself and say that, I had pretty much no gaming experience other than a few bouts of osu! from time to time which does not help much in the vast and versatile world of gaming. Another reason is that lots of people who are playing Dota 2 for the first time and calibrate once they reach the required level to play ranked matches usually aren’t good enough to get past 1000 MMR. As for myself, I calibrated at around 650 MMR. Which isn’t anything special. But what is special is that, at one point in time, I was down to 1 MMR! I had to climb the entire ranked ladder to get to 1000, which is my MMR now. But the biggest and exuberant achievement of all is that, I made all the MMR playing support!! Take that bitches!

Here’s the story of my Road to 1K

I started out by analyzing the general picks of the lower MMR brackets. They mostly pick carry heroes, that’s really no huge surprise because once they are six-slotted they can get out of control. Everyone likes RAMPAGES. Even supports (but let’s get real now). PA, LC, DK, CK, Riki, Sniper and even a few bouts of Axe and BB are prevalent at the lowest of the low MMR (0 – 400). You really can’t do much other than hope that you get a good team and try your best to win. I spammed Vengeful Spirit in that MMR range, and I even hit 100 games with her! VS can be a really good hero who can transition to carry role depending on how the game goes. We had to win the laning phase, and the game was pretty much ours. This fact is true throughout the low MMR range. Get a medallion, with stun and right click to win the lane. So, spamming heroes is actually a good thing. Don’t think too much, find a hero that you like to play, or a hero that suits your style of playing and start winning games. Don’t feel that you are inferior to others by having a smaller hero pool. I will explain to you later why.

One of the obvious things in the lower MMR brackets is that everyone plays carry role. So, I chose to play support. Well, at least for the first half part of the game. Once I got high around 400 – 450 MMR, I got stuck. Spamming VS no longer worked. My play style did not suit the changing skill of the players. As a tribute to my winning strategy of spamming heroes, I realized that I had to analyze the game and chose a hero (to spam) which better suited this bracket.

Jakiro was it! It was exactly the kind of hero that I had been looking for! THD or Two Headed Dragon is the alias given to him. He is the only hero who has 4/4 AoE active abilities (Underlord is similar but has one passive)! Isn’t that awesome! I knew I had to continue to play support, because the rest of the team would anyway pick cores and there would be farm deprivation. Basically, in every game my job was to make sure my carries had the best game of their lives. But when I started playing Jakiro, I went for the lane winning harass build, maxing out E. My current build isn’t the same, since my play style has changed a whole lot from that time. THD has a AoE stun, AoE attack slow and tower push, an AoE slow with DPS and an AoE DPS ultimate. In addition to that, I always made a Veil of Discord and Euls (which proved incredibly useful to dodge attacks like sniper’s ult). He was simply the perfect hero and won me another 400 – 450 MMR, till my MMR was around 800 – 850.

Then I faced the same problem that I had faced with VS, a saturation where I couldn’t win any more MMR. Once I was watching Artour’s stream when I heard him say the enemy team had the 2 most cancerous heroes in dota. Indeed, one of them was Treant Protector, a strangely good support. He hadn’t been played much (due to the fact that he’s a “shitty hero”, not my words, mind you). I played a couple of Normal games with him, and immediately realized the latent potential. So that was it, I became a hard support in all my games, I played in safe lane healing all the heroes on the other lanes. But towards the end of my pursuit to 1K, I just pulled creeps and gave my safe lane carry a solo lane while healing them up. I maxed out E and W although that’s not the build pro players use (but it certainly paired well with this MMR bracket). I seldom reached level 25, but the talent at that level just takes Treant to the next level. It’s so good that I have seriously considered building Midas on him. He gets an additional 5 stacks of E. All your teammates will instantly become unkillable. I went Arcane to Medallion to Solar Crest to Guardian Greaves, and by then we had won the game already!

Why should you spam heroes?

It’s actually a good question, much debatable among dota players. Some would say, play different heroes so your versatility would eventually pay off when picking a counter for the enemy team. Or simply that playing just one hero every time can become boring. It doesn’t, once you start raking your MMR like a popcorn maker makes popcorn! You want to win! Don’t you? So focus on winning. Versatility comes later, at least in my books. Just master a couple of heroes first. Learn to use items, be versatile with items and leveling up your abilities and learn from those. Win some MMR, practice other heroes at that bracket, then win some more. That’s how you can rise. Playing with people who are better than you will make you better, and dota is no exception to that rule.

One other thing that I had forgotten to add before is the fact that timings can play an incredibly important role in you winning ranked matches. By timings, I don’t mean your reaction speed but the time at which you play. If you look at the stats, you will see that the highest population of players exist in the 3K MMR range. Surprising, right? As a 1K player, reaching there seems like some dream! How did they even grind for so many countless number of hours? Well, that’s a question for some other day. As I was saying, the population is highest not in the < 1K range at all! In fact, it is very low in there. Which means that there is a high chance that the matchmaking will result in you having a bad team. At the end of the day, your chances of winning a game also depend on the kind of team that you get.

At least, in the region that I play in (SEA), I have observed that both my team and the enemy team get good players when I play between a certain time range. So now, I only play during that time and not so surprisingly enough, it has won me a hell of a lot games! It’s not the matchmaking fault by all means that you get bad teammates. If there simply aren’t good players around when you match make how can you expect the MM to be so good? You really can’t. This is something that’s out of your control as well as Valve’s control. But you can do something about this, how about converting LoL players into Dota 2 players? Ahahaha…

Code::Blocks: Switching to a previously active tab

This was one of my qualms with Code::Blocks when I started using it. I’m used to working with VSCode and even with Visual Studio which have the feature that allows you to return to the previously active tab with Ctrl + Tab. While it might be a little annoying to get used to at first, it’s a really handy feature.

In Code::Blocks the same key binding does something else, it switches to the next tab in the chronological order that they are placed on the dashboard. For this reason, I began to search if there was any possibility of there being a way around this. What I found was surprisingly simple. The shortcut here is Alt + Arrow_Key. Might take a little getting used to, but I am glad that it exists!

Strong and Weak Minds

What makes a strong mind strong? It might be apparent to you that strong minded people are the ones who become really successful in life. How does one create or develop their minds to become strong?

I found this helpful article on the in a simple Google search. They make some incredibly valid points. Meditation especially does a huge help for your mind. It is as they say in the article,

If you want a stronger mind, you can achieve it with some work and patience, just like you would train your body in a gym.

This fact is absolutely true. Even your mind requires exercise just like your body does, and it is meditation that entails these benefits into your life. Meditation is simple. All you have to do is focus, concentrate on something. One of the ways I do it is by visualizing a burning candle without losing focus. Your concentration needs to be so good such that it feels as though you are staring at a candle in real life without blinking. So, not even once do you divert your attention to other thoughts or sounds. All this with your eyes closed, obviously. It might sound simple at first, but it’s really really difficult to accomplish. It will take a few days to get better at it.

I have discovered while experimenting with myself, that diving into such states of meditation is linked to how much betterment you want to do to yourself, because meditation is naturally linked to your body’s mind.

Another practice of creating a strong mind is again very rightly stated by the earlier blog.

Develop your mental toughness by knowing what you believe, having the conviction to live by your values, and becoming resilient enough to recover from adversity.

This is the part where you have to show the courage to change, once your mind is able to sort out through thoughts and an orderly fashion (thanks to the meditation), it’s time to take the controls in your hands (or in your mind’s hands) and steer the vehicle in what which way that you desire it to go.

I know that sounds abstract, but the gist is that you must have the willingness to become a much better person, only then can that willingness drive you to make the right decisions and choose the right words in your life. A Positive Mental Attitude is something that needs to be forced into your thoughts for a while until your mind subconsciously starts using that approach.

It’s easy, requires a little work, but certainly possible by anybody.

Best Hack in the Office!

We have whiteboards at the office, and like an idiot I found a marker (thought it was a whiteboard marker) and used it on the whiteboard and later realized that it was a permanent marker! I was not sure how to fix it so I went to the obvious place (Google of course!) and searched for this. Turns out I wasn’t the only one, well I wasn’t very surprised by that, but the most astonishing fact was the answer!

Simply put, fight fire with fire. That’s it! Use a whiteboard marker to erase the permanent marker! What an unbelievable solution! Best office hack.