Life lessons learned from XCOM Impossible Ironman

To be outnumbered is a typical situation in XCOM.
  1. Mindset is your most powerful weapon, but not in the popular “you can do it” way. “I can do it” is bullshit. Well, not bullshit, actually, but is only a part of the solution. The full and correct version is “I can do it, let’s find the proper way”. You cannot win just because you believe in yourself. You have to experiment and find things, which work and those, which do not. The easier difficulty, the more strategies works. The harder — the less. Things, which allowed you to win easily now lead to disaster. There is even a DeepMind paper about it.
  2. You don’t play when tired or angry. Once I have an argument in a cafe and end up upset. I have opened the game (I play on mobile) to distract myself. Two turns — and half of my squad was wiped out. Luckily, I have found the only winning move — close the app and go for a walk. The problem is that when you are tired or angry, or upset, your attention is flawed and you make mistakes without realizing it. XCOM I/I is unforgiving.
  3. Discipline means not to play the lottery. Ever. Imagine you take a risky decision and got lucky. Good for you. Actually, not good. If you get away with it once…you will be tempted to do it again. And once it will kill you. This takes us to the next point:
  4. Bad and risky decisions lead to even worse and riskier decisions. What bad can happen, if you just reposition that soldier one tile away, right? Well, for example, alerting three Chrysalids. Now, to get away from it you HAVE to get the rest of the shots to hit. Which they didn’t. But…that were 80% and 90% shots, how can it be?
  5. Humans are bad at interpreting probability, expressed in numbers. How likely is it to miss two 90% hit shots in a row? The answer is — it happens every single day. I have read Taleb’s Antifragility, but only now I am starting to understand what he meant.
    You don’t operate in probabilities, you operate in possible outcomes. “First, avoid ruin” — great wisdom from Taleb.




Computer Vision researcher and consultant. Co-founder of Ukrainian Research group “Szkocka”.

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Dmytro Mishkin

Dmytro Mishkin

Computer Vision researcher and consultant. Co-founder of Ukrainian Research group “Szkocka”.

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