Why do I bother with all this planning?

As a computer science student or even as a professional programmer, you can get annoyed with requirements to plan for even the simplest of things. We could be working on a simple problem where teachers can store grades for students but the requirement for the assignment would make us create UML diagrams, CRC cards, and so on. You just think, “This is pointless. It’s much simpler to just begin programming, there is no need to do all this planning and documenting.”

After taking a software design course, I’ve come to appreciate the documentation of code a lot more. I’ve always been a programmer that follows good style with good comments but I would never plan my projects. I would begin coding and add on features and make changes as necessary. This was working great for me but this could not continue when the project was done with a group.

Our term project was a simple Android application where nurses and physicians can add patients and store their vital sign and other medical information. It was by no means anything complicated and could have easily been done without creating any documentation. Being a software design course, you were forced to work in a group of four.

The project consisted of many phases such as planning, programming, and updating requirements due to client changes. With this project I could easily see the benefits of UML diagrams. Since we were working with a group, we decided to create UML diagrams to clearly see what each class and its methods should do. By simply taking a look at the UML diagrams you could see what other methods would return in the exact form with its type. There was no need to wait around for other group members to finish their part so you can take a look at their code and build your portion that uses their code. Look at the diagram, know what it will return, and get coding.

This group project really helped to teach me the benefits of planning and documentation. You could say that the benefits are only helpful when you’re working with a team. I do agree that it is much more useful to create diagrams when working with a team but it is still very useful when working alone.

For example, at one point in the project, the requirements changed to simulate clients changing their minds. Because we had all the UML diagrams and tasks split up efficiently due to planning, the change was as simple as extending a class. If these plans had not been made a lot more code would have to be changed.

Even if you find the creation of diagrams, planning and other documentation troublesome or pointless, keep at it as it will be beneficial. If these techniques were truly pointless, why would professionals keep using and teaching them?

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Dota 2: Recommended Beginner Heroes

Dota 2 has a very high learning curve. It can be very difficult and frustrating for newer players to get into the game. This causes many to give up and hate the game before they are able to give it a fair chance. I’ve compiled (along with suggestions from the OnRPG community) a list of heroes that are relatively easy for beginners. This should ease the transition into learning Dota 2.

These heroes are selected due to not relying heavily on farm, skills that are easy to hit and understand and single mistakes do not decide team fights. Of course, even if these heroes are good for beginners, many will still be played by top tier players due to Dota’s naturally high skill ceiling and learning curve. They may be easy to understand but definitely hard to master.

This list will change and evolve based on the community’s collective thoughts on what heroes are good for beginners.

Intelligence
           

In order: Windrunner, Zeus, Lina, Shadow Shaman, Jakiro, Ogre Magi, Keeper of the Light, Lich, Lion, Dazzle, Crystal Maiden, Death Prophet

Strength
           

In order: Sven, Beastmaster, Omniknight, Huskar, Centaur Warrunner, Tusk, Axe, Sand King, Tidehunter, Night Stalker, Spirit Breaker, Undying

Agility
          

In order: Juggernaught, Vengeful Spirit, Sniper, Luna, Bounty Hunter, Ursa, Bloodseeker, Razor, Venomancer, Viper, Nyx Assassin

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Dota 2: The First Blood Update

Dota 2 First Blood Update

We haven’t seen many (big) updates to Dota 2 since the conclusion of the International III. Everyone is really looking forward to a new hero release but instead Valve has brought us other features many of us were looking forward to.

One of the main features Dota 2 was missing was the ability to plan on LAN. Now there is no need to worry about connection issues when having a LAN party or competing in a professional event. All of us can simply forget about networking issues and focus on what is important, Dota.

The popular Captain’s Draft mode has also been brought over from Warcraft III Dota. This is similar to Captain’s Mode where a captain must take turns and choose heroes, but this time you are limited to a randomized pool consisting of 24 heroes. Sounds fun, can’t wait to try this out!

The inventory system has supposedly been improved upon. Currently it was really difficult to organize and browse through when you had lots of items. Hopefully we see some improvements.

A Portal Pack has finally been release. Now we can feed and listen to GLaDOS make fun of us. Oh and use our little robot friends as wards. Instant buy.

Full patch notes: http://www.dota2.com/firstblood

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Site Redesign, New Logo, and Plans

As you should be aware, the site is still in it’s very early stages having just been setup on September 15, 2013. The layout may still be heavily modified to please the audience. In an attempt to brand the website, a new logo has been created. I personally think the logo looks great in the banner (minor tweaks may follow) but could use some work in the favicon to make it more simple for the small resolution.

Big thanks go out to my friend Kai who helped with the logo design.

Currently the audience is still very small at The Game Stack. As more and more readers begin to follow this website, better content should follow. Please help as much as you can by sharing with your friends as the current strategy for growth is through our personal connections.

Did you know? The average number of links you need to get to any other person around the world is around 7. It’s crazy to know how easily we can communicate in this day and age.

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Guardians of Middle-Earth Review: Huge Disappointment

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I did not have a very good time playing through Guardians of Middle-Earth.

There are many issues with the game but the main ones include over simplifying the game play and the system requiring you to purchase additional Guardians even when you’ve bought the game!

The full review can be found at the following link.

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Guardians of Middle-Earth: Playing Tolkien’s Characters Should Be Fun, Right?

I was really looking forward to trying out Guardians of Middle-Earth upon learning that it was an Action RTS game featuring heroes from Tolkien’s popular books The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It should be fun to play these heroes in a genre I already love, right? Well, Zombie Studios made some terrible game design decisions that completely eliminated any chance this game has to become popular as other games from the genre such as Dota 2 and League of Legends. In an attempt to copy League of Legend’s success due it’s simplicity compared to other games such as Dota 2, GoME has taken out a lot of the staple features from Action RTS games such as the in game shop used to purchase items and customize your character.

This resulted in a very simplistic, too simplistic for my taste, game that takes very little thinking and strategy. It may be a good game to get used to the camera style and general controls of games from the genre but this will result in players becoming immensely overwhelmed when they are introduced to more complex games. I cannot seem to find any reason to recommend this game even if it has ties to Tolkien’s amazing series of books. Save your money and look elsewhere.

My full review will be posted on OnRPG in the near future, keep an eye on OnRPG’s homepage and this blog for updates!

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