The Best of YouTube: Andrew Huang

By Shamus
on Jan 7, 2018
Filed under:

If you’re on this site, then you probably have some passing knowledge of tabletop roleplaying games. Likely as not, you found me through this webcomic. Which means you know how it works when you create a character: You roll some dice, and the outcome determines your stats. Maybe you roll a 12 for Strength, a 13 for Charisma, a 3 for Wisdom, a 9 for Intelligence, and so on. The numbers fall on a bell curve, with the low and high values (3 and 18) being far less likely than the values in the middle of the range.

I actually experimented with this way back in 2006. The odds of you rolling the dice and getting a magical super-character with all of their stats set to 18 is an astounding 1 in 101 trillion. So if a player showed up to your game with such a character you’d feel pretty safe calling them a cheater, right? I mean, it’s obvious.

Now imagine they do one worse. Imagine they’re not just cheating at a roleplaying game. Imagine they’re blatantly cheating at real life. That’s what Andrew Huang is doing.

Huang runs a Youtube channel where he posts weekly videos about his experiments and adventures in music-making. I don’t know the full list of instruments he plays, but I know it includes keyboards, guitar, drums, and violin.

All by itself, that’s a little suspicious. It’s not unheard of or anything, but when someone has mastered that many instruments they’re clearly way ahead of the curve.

But then on top of that he’s also a composer and lyricist. And a singer with a pretty good range. Still not convinced he’s cheating at life? How about the fact that he’s also a rapper with amazing speed and he has a keen understanding of what makes music compelling.

Okay, I hear you saying this isn’t necessarily cheating. After all, guys like Beck have all these skills while also mastering a dozen instruments. It’s rare, but not impossible.

What if I told you he was also an accomplished sound engineer, producer, and that he is able to work in almost any genre? Is that pushing the limits of credulity for you yet?

Now maybe you’re think this is still possible if someone dedicates their whole life. Like sure, you can accomplish all of this, but by the time you mastered the big stuff you’ll be a dumpy middle-aged person. But Andrew is young.

And fit.

And handsome.

And he’s funny.

And he’s got a talent for making fun YouTube videos, which is another skill set entirely apart from the music stuff. Oh, and let’s not forget the time he did a rap song that incorporated five different languages. I mean come on, man. Did you think we wouldn’t notice?

Link (YouTube)

Anyway. It’s a really cool channel if you don’t mind the flagrant stats inflation.

Envy? What envy? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Comments (64)

From the Archives:

  1. MichaelGC says:

    Personally I found you expertly deconstructing Mass Effect, which I’d guess these days is, er, almost as likely as not?

  2. rabs says:

    It’s not uncommon among musicians to be have many related skills. An instrument is like a programming language. Voice is an instrument as well, and good ear / voice mastery helps with foreign languages.
    I noticed that on a friend that is an independent sound engineer (production soundtracks and whatever sound related), so he needs a wide range and audio related skills. Though he doesn’t do video.

    In this category, the most famous one we have in France is PV Nova
    I especially like his videos where he takes a popular style, explains some of his characteristics, and produce a typical/caricatural track in that style. He also enjoy to challenge himself, like he did 10 songs in 10 days with random constraints and other guys recording the process.
    His most famous video is “Evolution of Get Lucky”

  3. Liessa says:

    People like this seem to be surprisingly common in the musical world – it seems that people who have talent in one area of music are often good at other aspects as well. One of my friends is an excellent singer, plays several different instruments including piano/keyboard, harp, recorder and guitar, writes and performs her own songs (including a full-length musical), and is also a talented amateur actress and stage director. Oh, and did I mention that in her day job she’s a neuroscientist researching cures for degenerative brain diseases? Just goes to show that Real Life doesn’t have to play by the rules…

    Anyway, thanks for the YouTube links. Pretty impressive, indeed.

  4. Nick Pitino says:

    Off topic:

    Your website theme appears to have exploded, and is now some sort of black-n-white default theme.

  5. Thomas says:

    Shamus and Darth’s and Droids posting a link the original DM of the Rings strip on the same day?

    With odds like that surely someone has been cheating ;)
    (Although seriously, I’m curious if that created a massive upswing temporarily)

  6. noahpocalypse says:

    I thought you were talking about Andrew ‘bunnie’ Huang, of Hacking The Xbox fame.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      So did I, and for a while, while reading the post, I was like “wait, so Bunnie Huang can also sing and play a few instruments? I’m impressed!”

      …although, to be honest a a proper 6 x 18 character should still be able to do more than that.

      That said: There are quite a few multi-talented people in the world. For example the guy who wrote this. He is not just a realy really good biologist but also played violin in proper professional orchestras, in Vienna, no less, knows his philosophy really well (mostly epistomology, but also a range of other things), is a very good writer (in English).

      I think those things, as well as the talents of Andrew Huang, actually go together quite well. Somebody who’l fluent in multiple languages is bound to have better control of their voice, and the rules of grammar and music are at least akin. Most Jazz big bands are not staffed by professionals, after all, and onec you’ve learned to play two or three instruments, the others become much easier.

      In Andrew Huang’s case: Once you’ve managed Piano, you pretty much “understand” music, and once you managed violin (which is HARD), your fingers understand it as well… after that, I imagine most other instruments to be not that difficult to get okay at.
      I think what he’s managed to do (and I don’t mean that to diminish him) is get to maybe 14-16 on many tasks which are loosely related (speaking languages, rapping, singing, writing and playing music, and mastering it), but it’s noticeable that he’s not at the very top of any of these. Which is again not to diminish his achievement (dude, I wish I could to any of these things as well as he does), but for each of them, there are people out there who will easily beat him in the respective discipline, because that’s their main specialty.

      All that said: I feel it’s as important what somebody does with their talents rather than how much talent they have, and the stuff that Andrew Huang does in his videos doesn’t quite speak to me… which is fine, I’ve got enough stuff I’m already hooked on.

  7. True story–I never used any editors in Baldur’s Gate, but I used to roll and roll and roll and roll until I got stats I liked.

    I once started up a character, rolled twice, and got 18 18 18 17 18 18. Not kidding.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      You know whats the worst thing that can happen to a tabletop player?To goof off with a friend and roll 6 18s in a row.That happened to a cousin of mine when we were kids and were just goofing off and making silly characters for fun.He was furious,because that night we were going to a friend to play a session for real,and here we was rolling all his good luck away.Never again did he touch any die when not actually playing.

    • djw says:

      Baldur’s Gate modifies the roll such that your character will always qualify for the class that you have chosen. There are at least two different ways to do this, and I am not remembering exactly what BG did, but they both improve the odds of a high roll.

      1. Re-roll until the character meets pre-reqs for the class.

      2. Just set the low value to the minimum for the class.

      I think 1 has a bigger improvement on the overall roll in most cases, but I have not bothered to actually do the calculation.

      My guess is that you were rolling a Paladin, which has very high stat requirements (17 charisma, decent scores in strength and wisdom as well).

      • djw says:

        Baldur’s Gate also apparently puts a lower limit on your total stat roll of 75. That is much higher than the actual lowest possible roll of 6 3’s (18).

        I don’t know how they actually implement it in code, but it seems that one simple way would be to throw out any roll that doesn’t add up to 75. This would dramatically enhance your odds of getting a really good roll, since the range of possibilities is restricted.

      • Fighter. I usually play a human dual-classed Fighter/Rogue.

  8. Philadelphus says:

    Many of the great classical composers of Western civilization were also ridiculously talented, often playing several instruments and being able to compose in a wide range of genres and styles.

    Though one particularly interesting example that comes to mind is Sir William Herschel, the guy most well-known for being the first to discover Uranus, the first new planet since antiquity. Before becoming interested in astronomy he was actually a successful classical composer and musician, an aspect of his history that’s completely overlooked nowadays. Most of his music isn’t available in recorded form yet, which is a real shame because from what little I’ve been able to find he was an absolutely amazing composer. (Here’s a link to an album of six of his accompanied keyboard sonatas which are just fantastic.)

    Though he probably didn’t have any funny YouTube video-making skills.

  9. Anachronist says:

    For those who were hooked in by the lead about D&D ability scores, you may be interested in this statistical study I wrote about finding the most “typical” array of ability scores. Our DM used this result to offer to players as an alternative when they decided they didn’t like the array they rolled for a new character.

    • Viktor says:

      Yeah, I always preferred point-buy or a pre-set array. Letting luck determine something as fundamental as stats that will matter for the rest of the game seems wrong to me. (also, I once rolled in a 9 stat, 3d6 system and got 1 stat above 10. My average was about 7).

      I find it interesting that your numbers (9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16) are about the same as the elite array (8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15), meaning Wizards probably used a similar method to you to generate it, then modified things so it looked cleaner and made their game play better.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        A point buy system is good when you already know who you want to play.But when you have no idea,doing 6 random stats is a nice way to steer you in the right direction.Example:

        “So she is very strong,but has low constitution?Interesting.So maybe she is a former athlete who got a nasty disease that crippled her for a year and now she is recovering her strength,but her lungs are damaged beyond repair.And hey,she has high intelligence but low charisma.She spent a lot of time reading books while bed ridden,but that diminished her social skills immensely.”

        • Philadelphus says:

          Building on this, I think a random system is good for people more interested in the role-playing aspect, the kind of people who enjoy taking a procedurally generated set of information and making their own stories out of it. Whereas people less interested in that, or just people (as you mentioned) who already have an idea of the type of character they want would probably like a point-buy system better. I’m trying to decide if a game that featured a point-buy system as the default and a “hardcore roleplayer’s” option to roll stats randomly would cater to both types of people, or just make both sides mad.

          • djw says:

            The problem with roll 3d6 in the 1rst and 2nd edition D&D rules was that the stat system had a very top loaded bonus loadout, especially for strength. The difference between 18/00 and 17 was enormous, and even 18/01 was a fair bit better than 17 (both get +1 to hit, but 18/01 gets +3 to damage rather than +1).

            Most of the stats don’t have any bonus at all in the range 9-14 (ish, there are exceptions). What this means is that it is entirely likely that if you roll up a random character with straight 3d6 that you will have no bonuses whatsoever. Even a roll that is technically above average can still basically have no advantage over a 10.5 average.

    • djw says:

      Your page isn’t loading any words (in chrome). I do see links on the side bar, but they don’t do anything.

  10. Rymdsmurfen says:

    Shamus, just for the sake of correctness, “1 in 101 trillion” is not correct. I pointed this out in your 2006 post, but I guess you never read the comment, which is understandable because I posted the response two years later… (I had just discovered your blog and was reading the backlog.)

    You’re calculating the chance of rolling “18 sixes in a row” (1 in 6^18), which is not the same as the chance of rolling “at least three sixes out of four dice, six times in a row”.

    The actual probability is about 1 in 55 billion.

    Quoting myself (I posted as “Tomas” then):

    The number of ways to roll at least three sixes of four dice is 1 + 5 x 4 = 21, and the number of ways to roll four dice is 6^4. Thus the probability of rolling six consecutive 18s is 21^6/6^24, which is approximately 1 in 55,247,704,840.

    Reading that old comment I also just now noticed that someone responded to it a while later, with a really funny mix of rudeness and ignorance. :-)

    • Xapi says:

      You forget Shamus is old.

      You are thinking about 4d6 drop lowest, which has become somewhat standart for D&D, as a way to make the “heroes” of the game somewhat above average. However, in the old days, it was just 3d6, which ment that you were just as likely to be “heroic” as to be a wimp, and the median was that you’d be an average Joe.

      In the interest of this discussion, where you want to know how likely any random person is to be a savant, well, you should use the old method.

      • Xapi says:

        Sorry, I hadn’t checked the other article, it seems Shamus WAS talking about 4d6 drop lowest. I maintain that for this discussion we should use 3d6 straight up, since that is the true distribution for an average person we know nothing of. That is the way you reach 101 trillion.

        • Joshua says:

          I think officially they’ve used 4d6 drop lowest since at least 3.0? 2nd Edition gave you the default of rolling 3d6 six times in order and then immediately followed it by several “alternate” ways of rolling, which may have included 4d6 drop lowest.

          Which is awfully odd, because 3rd Edition is when slightly above average stats became playable. In 1st and 2nd Edition, you needed at least a 16 in Strength to get the minimum bonus, and at least 15 in Dex and Con to get a bonus as well. A Fighter with a 15 Strength, and a 14 in every other stat was little different than one with a 10 in everything, and the system default was a pure 3d6….

          • djw says:

            Yes. I really don’t like this stat system.

            I think random stats would be much better with two modifications:

            1. The roll is a single die (d20, d100, dwhatever) in order to guarantee a flat distribution of values.

            2. The bonus/malus that results from a stat changes linearly with the stat. So in d20 a 20 strength is better than a 19 strength by exactly the same amount that 11 is better than 10.

            • Xapi says:

              That is really a very bad way to represent the actual variations amongst the random process of people with diferent genes and or upbringing.

              The bell curve that comes fom 3d6 or 4d6 drop lowest is a much more reasonable approximation.

              Also saying that you can use a d20 or a d100, “whatever”, is really not knowing what you are talking about, because that would change the granularity a LOT.

              • djw says:

                I know exactly what I am talking about, I suspect that you just misread my comment.

                In any case, I agree with your point about modeling reality. Bell curve does do a better job of that. However, modeling reality properly is not usually the goal of a fantasy RPG. Rolling your stats with a bell curve is just frustrating if you want to play a hero rather than a peasant.

              • djw says:

                To clarify my point, granularity is not really the issue. What I am after is linearity, and you get that when you roll ONE die, rather than a bunch and add them together.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Except it wasnt linear to begin with.You had regular humans,which went from 3 to 18,and then you had dragons and gods at 25.Later this got changed a bit,but still not very linear.A 36 strength dragon should not compare to a 18 strength human the same way as that human would be to a 1 strength human.

          • djw says:

            4d6 drop lowest was an option as far back as 1rst edition.

          • In old school D&D most checks were passed by rolling *under your stat*. So, yes, having a 15 instead of a 10 meant you would succeed on stat checks far more frequently.

      • Rymdsmurfen says:

        You forget Shamus is old.

        So am I… :-) Just two or three years younger I think. I hadn’t even heard of the 4D6-drop-lowest system until I read about it in his article. Seems like a good system though; a nifty way to shift the distribution curve a little to the right.

    • djw says:

      This topic has come up more than once in the past. Given the name of the website, this is not a surprise.

      I remember at least one other occasion when I argued with somebody about the likelihood of a straight 6 18 on 3d6 rolls (I still don’t believe it happened, but I’m not gonna argue it this time). I’m pretty sure I didn’t start posting until after 2010 or so, though.

  11. Wow Shamus, mancrush much? *laughs*

    Rapping in different languages was impressive. I’ll have to note that as a Norwegian his enunciation of the word “Det” sees off, maybe a Swede can confirm that or not. That “t” should be almost silent if not silent AFAIK.

    His voice is somewhat narrow in range (it lacks bass), although that could be by his own preference.

    But the dude is definitely multi-talented and seems to be having fun doing what he loves, which is certainly praiseworthy.

  12. BTW! Shamus. Chrome says that your SSL certificate (from symantec) will be distrusted in Chrome v70 and basically prevent the site from loading for visitors.

    Also, as to the error messing up the pages on your site etc. The bootstrap CSS and JS files(urls) are basically empty with a empty comment in them.

  13. Dev Null says:

    We actually had a guy in our high-school gaming group turn up with a character with like 5 18’s and a 17, that he’d rolled up at home before arriving, “to save time”. I think he’d gone with 18/98 for strength – presumably because he wanted to be subtle.

    (We made him the GM. It was a hilarious game. I played the berserker cleric to a death god; closest thing I has to a healing spell was Animate Dead…)

    • djw says:

      That reminds me of a fairly recent Slate Star Codex post (link so to the blog, not the post, because I can’t remember which one) where he mentioned that it was easy to tell when a criminal was trying to “fail” an IQ test (presumably to avoid the death penalty).

      Basically, they would get the really easy questions right, but they would miss more of the “medium difficulty” questions than you would by just random guessing, because they actually know the correct answer, and pick something else on purpose.

  14. default_ex says:

    I’d be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt if one thing is true about him (which I don’t know if it is or not). Is he a social outcast?

    The reason why I say this is because I was a social outcast myself, had friends but they were all gone come puberty, only one of them remained in my life. As a result I spent much of my earlier life learning a lot of skills. I learned to work on cars well enough that I have torn down engines, cleaned them up, reassembled them and in the end they ran better than ever. Learned many different programming languages but always find myself returning back to C# after having learned it. As far as my C# skills you would be hard pressed to find many that work at the level that I do, most of the way through writing an OpenGL wrapper that abuses undocumented MSIL instructions to achieve near native speeds. Good with graphite pencils, acrylic paints, photoshop, 3DSMax and bizarre forms of artwork that were just a spur of the moment thing. Work with electronics well enough that I can build working computational and memory circuits out of transistors. Play electric guitar, made my own guitar and at one point my own guitar pedals though I love my GNX3 pedal more than anything I’ve ever produced. Better than average at cooking, can make most dishes I’ve ever had from scratch and have a good amount of my own recipes that are easily better than what most restaurants bring to you. Plenty of other skills that normally people struggle their whole lives just to get decent at let alone good at.

    The reason why I built up all of those skills was due to being a bit of a social outcast. It’s no stretch to call me a socially awkward nerd. Didn’t even experience my first kiss until I was 28 despite doing lots of things are typically considered cool or desirable in a prospective partner. That’s what drove me to do a lot of those things, to attract girls and later women but of course none of it ever worked.

    Thanks to YouTube I’ve learned I’m not the only one to pull off such a wide range of skills. I like to point out channels like Cody’s Lab for examples of such people. After lots of thought on why this happens only to a small subset of people. I think it comes down to true confidence. The kind of confidence that doesn’t show externally. The kind that tells you that you can learn anything and do anything (reasonable) as long as you really try and don’t give up. To such people a whim to begin learning something complex with rocket science turns into actually learning rocket science and building scale models to test what you have learned.

  15. Arkady says:

    I don’t know the full list of instruments he plays, but I know it includes keyboards, guitar, drums, and violin.

    All by itself, that’s a little suspicious. It’s not unheard of or anything, but when someone has mastered that many instruments they’re clearly way ahead of the curve.

    I think people *way* underestimate how easy it is to switch from one instrument to another, and it gets easier with experience.

    When you learn your first instrument, you’re not just learning the instrument you’re also learning:

    1. Music theory – at least how scales and keys work. Likely how to build chords. Probably how to read music too.
    2. A feel for rhythm.
    3. How music is meant to sound (i.e. ear training) so you can hear much faster when you make a mistake.
    4. How to use dynamics (i.e. volume) effectively
    5. How to practice effectively
    6. Finger strength and dexterity necessary to play (more applicable to stringed instruments) (and similar for lips on woodwind/brass instrument)
    7. How to perform music effectively.
    8. How to work with other musicians in an ensemble.

    Those are all things that you don’t have to re-learn on another instrument (mostly… a guitarist is still going to have trouble getting sound out of a flute, until they learn the proper technique, but… y’know). Many instruments are so close to each other that they barely need any re-learning at all to play competently (i.e. well enough to convince a layman than you know the instrument – actual musicians would probably be able to tell.)

    You can play a bass guitar like it’s a regular guitar tuned lower and missing two strings. The same applies (but tuned higher) with guitar and ukulele. A violin player will find much of what they know lets them play a mandolin pretty well – after all, the strings are tuned the same, so you can just repeat the same patterns you know on the violin.

    Converting from guitar to violin, say, isn’t just easier than learning the violin from scratch. It’s orders of magnitude easier.

    It’s very analogous to this: once you know one programming language, the others become much easier to pick up.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      This is impressive, but it makes him slightly better than most of the music teachers I know on campus (I teach at a university; these are all people with at least MFAs -so that isn’t an insult). Learning piano is, of course, the haxxor of music.

      From the looks of his playing, I’d guess he’s a pianist first and foremost, and he translates that the string instruments. He’s weakest on the drums, and doesn’t seem to use his feet much, which suggests this isn’t a native instrument to him. Based on the way he holds the sticks, he’s not learned traditional percussion technique, but I think the traditional grip is falling out of favor these days, so that could just be a generational thing.

      He’s very impressive, but definitely in the range of what a talented individual could learn with dedication and practice by his mid-20s (I don’t know how old he is, but he’s not implausibly young to be able to do this).

  16. evileeyore says:

    So in addition to revealing your blatant jealousy at his prelife picking skills, you also posted the entire screed to the front page.

    See, that’s one of your skills, so you’ve clearly got this Huang guy beat on that front.

  17. Xapi says:

    To continue the RPG stats discussions on a different tangent, it’s pretty clear that this person is not necesarily an 18 all around, although he does seem to be a remarkable specimen of human being ;)

    His Charisma is probably a 16 or above, as is his inteligence and probably wisdom. His dexterity to be able to handle the instruments correctly should be a 14 probably, but I don’t think more is required (it is the intelligence that is strained when learning new instruments, I think. The dexterity is either there or it is not).

    Being somewhat fit doesn’t mean anything more than a 12 on strenght, probably. In Constitution we probably don’t want him to die young, so we’ll give him a 10 or better.

    Using the probability distributions for 4d6b3 found on, you get that the probability of a score being 10 or higher is 94%, 12 or higher 62%, 14 or higher 36%, 16 or higher 13%, and 18 is 1.62%.

    This means that a person with STR = 12+, CON = 10+, DEX = 14+, CHA&INT&WIS = 16+, is one in roughly 2000.

    Now, I said myself in an earlier comment that the “average joe” 3d6 should be used instead of the “heroic” or “elite” 4d6b3.

    Using the probability distributions for 3b6, you get that the probability of a score being 10 or higher is 84%, 12 or higher 37%, 14 or higher 16%, 16 or higher 4.6%, and 18 is 0.46%.

    For these numbers, a person with STR = 12+, CON = 10+, DEX = 14+, CHA&INT&WIS = 16+, is one in roughly 200.000.

    Now, if we up the ante a bit and ask for an 18 in charisma instead of a 16, you’d be a one in 2 million. if we ask an 18 on all 3 (CHA, INT and WIS), he is one in 200 million(*).

    If we go overboard and also assume his Dex is a 16 at least, then he is one in 700 million. These numbers are clearly high, but certainly not unachievable by the seemengly infinite gene lottery that s the human race.

    (*) I swear it is a coincidence (to the best of my knowledge) that all numbers round up to a 2 x 10 (exp). Some were 1,9 something, others were 2,1 something.

    • Xapi says:

      I don’t seem to be able to edit. I wrote 10 for CON in the post, but throughout all my math I used 8 for that stat. So assume I said his CON was 8 (he’s still probably not dying young, not from bad constitution at least).

    • djw says:

      Many human traits are distributed like a bell curve, and 3d6 does model this sort of distribution reasonably.

      However, most human traits are correlated with each other. Strength, dexterity, and constitution are not really independent of each other. Sure, you can make up an interesting back story about the really strong warrior with a constitution of 7 who catches colds easily, but people like that are the exception not the rule.

      Most real people who are above average in one stat are above average in the others too.

      I think that the real life equivalent of “six 18’s” is still pretty rare, but because the stats in real people are correlated rather than completely independent the odds are a lot better than 1 out of 101 trillion.

  18. Dreadjaws says:

    So, he’s the Batman of music, then?

  19. Vi says:

    Thank you so much for the recommendation! He sounds like another great person to learn music from!

    Fun fact, I was forced to play the flute from elementary school onward. By the time I graduated I still hadn’t figured out how to blow into the stupid thing.

  20. Decius says:

    I would also accuse someone of cheating if they claimed to have rolled 4d6k3 and gotten an unmodified 26.

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