12/15/2008

1000 Words

If you haven't checked out 1000 words before, it's definitely worth a click. I have a love / hate relationship with it, because it has beautiful snapshots into how people see the world. Which is normally breathtakingly beautiful or soul cringinly painful. This one, although not a painful view into our society, is certainly one of the latter. Certainly got to me :\

12/06/2008

All in.

So here I am, sitting at a poker table, my favorite dress shirt soaked in red wine and water (excused and cleaned up in a manner that miraculously noone noticed), with another glass of blood-red shiraz swirling in my hand, an angry and stoic face staring into nowhere (my easiest poker face), taking and losing large ballsy bets, but all the while coming up ahead fairly substantially. It becomes very easy to ask myself...

What the f*** am I doing here? (Pardon my inner monologue, he's quite vulgar). I look around the table and see a friend struggling with being single but now with a girl he loves, multiple friends who are happy in thier take-what-they-can-get single lifestyle, friends happily married with just the two of them, and friends married, happy with children. All celebrating these victories over little pieces of plastic. Who the hell cares?

There are so many other things that I want to be happy about but am not there yet. I so desperately want a family, a person to wake up next to, to love and accept their faults, a child to love and nurture, and see the woman I love in their eyes. I am so damn jealous of the people I know that have found that that it hurts.

I wonder very quickly how it is that those people that have all this find joy in plastic chips, and all the while savor the sips of red wine while the night goes on, yearning for the moment when so many pieces of my life line up so that poker chips are enough for temporal happiness.

It's easy to struggle as well; as I've met plenty a person who "desperately wants a wife / husband" or who "so wishes they had a baby right now", but that's worlds away from what I'm looking for. I'm not looking for a wife, or a person to start a family with. Far from it.

I'm looking for the person that inspires that burst of life from me, and from that, spawns the love, the marriage, the family, the waking up next to her and being thankful that somehow my life experiences brought me here.

But I guess I'm not quite ther yet. In the meantime, I suppose my joys need to come in the forms of little plastic chips.

What's life without a little risk?

"I'm all in."

11/13/2008

Kids say the darndest things!

Anyone who thinks that kids aren't adorable needs to watch this video:



I love how it just keeps going on and on - she seriously has an imagination on her! I bet she's a writer or an artist when she grows up hehe :)

11/07/2008

A sense of humor is a terrible thing to waste

lol!

I do not have any money so am sending you this drawing I did of a spider instead

And yes Mike - my bday was not the same without you! I hope you dressed up :) Will post soon about bday pictures once I'm at home for more than 7.32 seconds per day :p

Sidenote: that might be my first post-request ever - woohoo!

10/30/2008

Hehehehe



It makes me want to get another kitten for Vincent to play with right now! :p

10/28/2008

Beautiful HDR Pictures

Absolutely breathtaking

I love my family :)



And my culture, honestly - even how much they might not seem perfect sometimes. I got this in my inbox this morning from my mom:

Dear Neesha and Vijay,

Wishing you a very

Happy Diwali

Tuesday, October 28th is Diwali. The day Bhagvan Ram returned from the forest after 14 years. All of Ayodhya celebrated his return after 14 years of banvas (banishment) from his kingdom due to a promise made based on his values and a life of righteousness. He set an example for mankind on the importance of living life honestly, courageously and with conviction. On his return all of the citizens of Ayodha gave thanks, wore new clothes, illuminated their homes with the divas (lighted candles), also prayed to Goddess Lakshmi for prosperity, ate sweets and Diwali was celebrated. The next day after Diwali is the Indian New Year. Families call their relatives and friends and wish them a Happy New Year.

So, tomorrow, Tuesday October 28th take a moment to give thanks, recap right values (ask yourself if you are meeting your ideals) light a candle (in a safe holder). If need be, place in a bowl of water. Wear something new, eat something sweet and have a Super day. A day illumined with the peace, knowledge and light of infinity. Tell your friends about Diwali, share some sweets.

Your are in our thoughts.

Love,
Mom and Dad

So happy Diwali to everyone! Give thanks, ask yourself if you're meeing your ideals, light a candle (if you so choose), wear something new, eat something sweet, and treat yourself to a wonderful day - be happy today, no matter what :)

And then do your best to do that every day ;)

10/27/2008

Time in a bottle

I had a quick, but interesting discussion with one of my officemates before I left last Thursday night explaining how a combustion engine works. Rooted in the concept of how to work on one's cars themselves and how simple of mechanisms the base is, the higher level discussion was much more one of how to spend your time. Specifically, in this case, whether to spend your few hours away from work (especially in our current state) doing things like car maintenance or not.

Bubble up to a higher level, and you get to something that's been on my mind a lot recently (and has always been, in a lot of ways). Combine the facts that work keeps me away from most everything else right now, my birthday is coming up, I'm not where I really wanted to be days before I turned twenty seven, and that I've been reevaluating my life goals, and you get a recipe for a certainly unhealthy level of introspection.

Needless to say, I thought about this weekend (the only free time I've had recently) and where my time went. Friday night I left work and took the bike to some shops and sat outside a Starbucks to mobile blog a little (yay PitchCar!) and then met up with some friends for a fun and ridiculous dinner at Manny's in uptown, surrounded by a Dallas crowd I had before oh-so unfamiliar with. Only to head home after a few hours and be greeted with a meow from my poor kitty begging for some quality time. I obliged and passed out.

Saturday brought another side out - started the day off with a goal to fix some cars and play some games. Threw some laundry in and fired up Dead Space, which I was determined to beat that day. After a few hours of that, I hung out with John to came to pick up the last of his roommate stuff, and went to the shop to sever my right arm and leg in exchange for my working car with a new fuel pump and window motor back. Spent the rest of the day cooking a late lunch and playing Lego Indiana Jones with Lee - literally the rest of the day, we finished the game at midnight.

Sunday starts up at the crack of dawn with some Discovery Channel with the washer / drier running loudly in the background. Queue up a few trips to Lowes, the bank and Autozone for parts to reassemble cars with, and I'm back on the couch rewiring the door panels to the Firebird that have been sitting on the kitchen table for six months or so. Lather, rinse, repeat the trips to Autozone and Lowes, add some time in the garage in / under the vehicles, and voila, out come a better working bike, a fully assembled Firebird, and a Mustang that still needs some love. A little bit more quality time with the Discovery Channel and some side project work, and end the day before the long week with some Iron Chef and Food Network Challenge.

Interesting that in a lot of ways, I could be spending my time better - not wasting time playing video games, working towards bettering my finances, and profitable ventures, pay someone to keep the cars running, clean the house, figure out what I should / want to be doing, read and expand my knowledge, and in general fix the stuff that's broken. But you know, I felt good at the end of the weekend. My car was all nice and pretty, working, running better. I was finally getting some traction on my side projects, I got to do some gaming, and my laundry was even done! Sure, I didn't figure out the meaning of life, or get a lot of the things done I wanted to, but it was a good weekend. It's a bizarre compromise sometimes, work and play (work, in my case being all the "better my life / fix stuff" things). And is honestly pretty difficult, given how many things I would love to accomplish in my life, and how much time you really have to do it all in.

Twenty seven years? Around ten of which there was really potential to do something? I would have expected more. But there are a lot of games played and friends I spent time goofing off with, and I wouldn't change a minute of that :)

10/24/2008

PitchCar

So we've recently taken to playing this board game called PitchCar at the office before work. It's essentially a giant, table sized, matchbox style race track with little wooden cions as cars. Confused yet? The box art essentially describes it all:



It's basically like a race track plus shuffleboard. Needless to say, its been quite a bit of fun - we even had a tournament last night! (I placed second in the prelims and fourth in the final race - playing with some pitchcar experts lol). Its amazing to see this wide range of people, all of whom have been stresses and working long, long days reverting to silly ten year olds, ooohing and aaahing and applauding each others' good shots and shouting out at each other's losses. Chanting out "knock off" to try and get your opponents to screw the other cars on the board - you can knock other cars off the track if you call it. It really reminded me of the simple pleasures - just goofing off and having fun :)

Strangely it got me really excited about the new opportunity after Ensemble - because it reminded me of what one of our leads on the management team said earlier while talking about the people who may come to the new company. (Paraphrasing and embellishing):

"I like working with these people - people where I feel like I can jump up and down getting excited about an idea knowing these people wouldn't be shooting everything down with realism and impracticalities, because they would get carzy excited with me, and riff ideas off of each other. People where I'm not afraid to be goofy and silly, because those people will do the same."

I want to be there - I want to work at a place and with people where we can be goofy kids together and try the craziest awesome ideas that noone else dare try. I want to work with those people becuse they're also some of the most talented people in the industry. I want to work there because I know with those people, that passion, that goofiness, that talent, we can make things noone else would have expected.

I can't wait :)

10/23/2008

*sigh*

Not exactly how I was planning to spend my Thursday, cooped up in my car outside of a Lifetime Fitness parking lot waiting for a tow truck. Oh that's right - car trouble yet again rears its ugly head like a damn plague.

Day started off nice and fine, with an alarm going off barely beating dawn, pulling me to the gym for a good workout and steam before a long day at work, only to come out and not have the engine start. Two separate cars and jumper cables later, the call to the trucking company starts the eventual path to the shop. I think the "tow truck ride to the mechanic" is essentially an adult "walk of shame." At least for a guy that works on his own vehicles.

*sigh*

This, of course comes after a constant berating from my parents to sell the cars and bikes and just buy a new car with a shiny warranty each time anything goes wrong with any of them. Which, by the way, really doesn't help when you're wokring to solve something and people tell you that you doing things totally wrong to begin with.

But for all the pains and nuances that come with them, I love my vehicles. I love that the Mustang is the car that my mom travelled cross country in with her sisters. I love that the Thundercat (motorcycle) gives me control and lets me get out and be with the outside world when I'm riding. I love that the Firebird is the car I always wanted as a kid, and that I can drop the top when it's beautiful outside. And they all look damn sexy.

But they are a lot of work, and (especiallly recently) evaluating where to spend my time is a non-trivial task. Oops tow truck is here, time to go.

10/07/2008

Anyone who has ever owned a cat...

Understands this video 100%

10/06/2008

LOL!

Hahahaha - ok, I normally don't post webcomics (with the exception of xkcd, which is actually the most discrete representation of awesome on the internet), but this Questionable Content had me rolling. :)



Happy Monday!

9/30/2008

Flash of a weekend

Busy busy busybody. I got the chance to make a super fast trip down to Austin - half business and half pleasure. Certainly worth the trip, but far too short.

I even tracked my ride with my N810 and plotted some of the data - pretty interesting, you can see when I got frustrated and just wanted to be home, when I was just cruising, etc. I was certainly surprised just how much the speed varies on the bike. I'm sure graphs in the car would look very different

Dallas to Austin:


Austin to Dallas:


And yes... I'm horrible - I speed too much on the bike - I'm usually better about that, but I was exhausted this weekend and wanted both drives to be over as soon as I got on the road.

Anyways, I digress - the weekend reminded me of many things - primarily how much I need to be spending my free time with the people that I care about, and doing the things I really enjoy. I was in Austin for less than 48 hours, but had the chance to see near a dozen old friends and had the chance to laugh so hard I cried, sit around and theorize about future prospects, and just sit and play some video games, remembering how nice it was to enjoy the simple pleasures :)

I would love to be more verbose as I normally do, but I'm as exhausted as ever with all the crunch from work, so it's time to pass out. On a closing note - to all my friends and family - I love you all very much, and I know I don't say it often enough, but I really do appreciate all you do for me :)

9/25/2008

Amazing.


A SHORT LOVE STORY IN STOP MOTION from Carlos Lascano on Vimeo.
Perspective

It's an interesting thing, perspective - something you've always got, but in a constant state of change. My perspective on a lot of things has changed pretty rapidly in the last few years - coming to realizations about my upbringing, my attitudes and my passions.

I remember growing up as a child in a cozy little house with loving parents - I have memories of a home that I loved - a room all my own that I got to spend my whole childhood in, a solid group of friends without a constant change of scenery. I remember my dad telling me, "We have the money to get anything you want, but you should only get the things you need." I remember working on cars and electronics with him, learning how everything in the world around us worked. I remember going to temple where I learned morals and values from my mother and other family friends, and disagreeing with my parents' strong religious views.

But what we see as a child is so different that an adult in hindsight. I spoke with my parents a few years ago about how much I loved the fact that we stayed in a cozy little house for so long without moving around all the time, only to hear, "Honey, we did that because we couldn't afford to move." Realizing that the computer my dad bought when I was just old enough to reach a keyboard was a huge investment for them, but important that my sister and I were aware of the cutting edge. Learning that while I got the passion to learn how things work from my dad, I also got the desire to be as independent as possible. To never pay someone else for a job you could do yourself. Something he did because he was forced into, while oftentimes, I'm not. Understandting that my parents and I are have always been on more similar pages on religion than I ever thought, focusing on being a good person and less on the specific path there. They just picked a religion to get those ideals across and related me pulling away from parts as a pulling away from those ideals, which coudln't be farther from the truth.

We are certainly nothing if not the sum of our experiences. One thing I guess I didn't realize before though is how much those same experinces can remold the person that you are as you see them from a different angle. The real difficulty, I think, comes in how malleable, how willing you are to let those experiences change you into becoming something new.

9/19/2008

Yarrrr!

Yarrrr there matey's! It be national talk like a pirate day! So avast ye scallywags and shiver ye timbers and go out and share some grog with yer mates!

Fer ya single lads and lasses, 'eres some help on yer quest fer booty!







9/18/2008

lol!

Ha! I found it! For anyone who doesn't understand the title of my last post, it looks like someone (fairly recently) finally posted it on youtube. I've been looking for this for ages. hehehe
I fear change, and will keep my bushes.

Change is certainly a tricky little bastard. It's probably the only thing that we widely accept will always be around, and yet it seems to sneak up behind you with a swift kick in the ass when you least expect it.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've had these whirlwinds of event happen to me before, but I think this one takes the cake. Specifically, in the last month, I've lost my girlfriend, my two roommates, my parents (in a manner of speaking, they're moving out of the country), and my job.

No need to panic, that last comment was purely for melodramatic effect. I actually find the summation of it all so ricidulous in its timing I can't help but laugh when I recount it.

It has, however, put me into quite a self-reflective state, trying to take this "life reset" of sorts to heart. I think my friend put it best - "It's like your fresh out of college again, and can go do anything." Asking what you should be asking yourself all along the way: What is it that you want to do with your life?

With the job situation, we were left with a pretty slick severance package thanks to the effort of the management of the studio, which opened a good many opportunities for people. Left and right, coworkers and friends around me dive headfirst into risk and oppurtunity. Following their dreams, be it ambitions of money, of that one game they've always wanted to make, of spending time with their families, or of travelling the world around us.

So I sit down to think about what it is that I want to do given the chance for a fresh start, which of the numerous dreams and ambitions I've had in the past to follow?

...

And nothing happens. Nothing. Have I really become so entrenched in this day-to-day world that I've made for myself that's so far away from where I actually feel like myself that I can't even figure out what drives me anymore?

What's number one? Is it to make the "great american video game"? Is it to lead people to do so? Is it to be led and learn? Is it to be my own businessman? Is it to take the steps to start a family? Is it to start a karate school? Is it to go back to school? Is it to absorb all the knowledge I'm curious of? Is it to become a professor? Is it to do everything I can to help those I care about? Is it to get the heck out of Dallas? Is it to get the heck out of this country and see what the rest of the world is? Is it to reconnect with my culture?

So many questions, and nothing pulling in any direction. One of my largest personality flaws is that I often take the path of least resistance, and there is one available, to work with some amazing talent with a simply ubelievable professional opportunity at a start up in Dallas. I can't make that decision because its the easy one. If I decide to go there, it needs to be my passion that pushes me there. The clock is ticking there.

I have no idea where this is going to take me or how I'll get there. The only thing I'm sure of is that this is the chance to start over, a rebirth in many ways, and I need to treat it like that, no matter what I do.

8/01/2008

Dream car



Do you have a dream car? I do. It's a commemorative edition LeMans blue C5 Chevy Corvette, and it might be the most beautiful piece of machinery man has ever created. And whats worse is that fate seems to be taunting me with it, since it would appear that I've seen these (somewhat rare because of the color and the fact that the C6 has alreayd come out) on multiple occassions - twice today! On the drive to / from work.

So pretty. Maybe one day - for now, I'm quite happy with my vehicular combo at the moment: the Firebird, the Thundercat, and the Mustang. Now if only I had the time to give them the care they (and many, many others things in my life deserve)...
One long day

Have you ever woke up, got ready, hopped in the car and heard the exact same song playing on the radio as the one from the night before? It's a bizarre little feeling. Yesterday it was that crazy song by the new song by the Pussycat Dolls, When I Grow Up. Needless to say when your brain is a pile of tappioca from crunching for two weeks, a little bit of high pitched pop about rock starlets that wanted to grow up to be rock starlets is not the way I would choose to start my day. It made it feel like one continuous, 48 hour workfest. But, it's Friday, and only good can come of that - hooray weekend! :)

7/30/2008

*Crunch crunch crunch*

Just crunching along over here, and in the far-too-long breaks between compiles, the chair-sword-fights just get old after a while.



Would be pretty awesome if that actually happened. Instead, I usually write on this thing or poke around on the internet. Which, is where I found the current distraction: GamesRadar.

As proof, check out this post about Japanese box art vs. US box art. Warning: may only be funny if you've played all these games.

Alright, back to crunch. :D

7/26/2008

Lake weekend between crunch...



Well, there's been lots and lots of crunch recently, so all the breaks that come up are good ones. Needless to say, the chance to go out to my friend's lake house and relax for the weekend was not something I was going to turn down. Friends, fajitas, margaritas, and a lake - what more could you ask for?

Incidentally, I finally caved and bought an N810 internet tablet, and am mobile blogging this very moment on the drive back, since Lee was sweet enough to drive back. So here's hoping for a relaxing weekend and more posts - happy weekend everybody! :)

7/25/2008

Want to know where I disappeared to?

This is why - if you weren't excited about Halo Wars - maybe this will help :)

7/14

G4: Halo Wars Hands On - http://e3.g4tv.com/e32008/videos/26921/Hands_On_Halo_Wars.html
5 Star Rating!
"Relax, relax, it’s still Halo"
"When can fans start sleeping outside their local BestBuys?"


7/15

IGN E3 2008: Halo Wars Hands-on - http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/890/890357p1.html
"...Ensemble has achieved what many thought was impossible - it has created an action-packed real-time strategy game that stays true to the Halo universe..."
"...more importantly it's made a game looks capable of hooking in shooter fans and armchair tacticians alike."
"The streamlined controls mean it's a game that very easy to pick up and play..."
"We only wish we had more time with the game, because our brief taster has left us wanting more."


1Up Halo Wars Impressions - http://www.1up.com/do/previewPage?cId=3168721
"These special attacks give an extra slice of "Halo-ness" to the game."
"..seeing a MAC blast tear into a Covenant Scarab, or a carpet bomb lighting up all the Grunts on the ground, or seeing Marines take over a Covenant sniper tower, all give Halo Wars an extra bit of "oomph.""
"That marriage of Halo flair plus solid Ensemble RTS gameplay makes me a lot more hopeful for the game -- and also a bit annoyed that it's officially slipped to early next year."


7/16

Kombo Hands On - http://360.kombo.com/article.php?artid=13556
"After playing Tom Clancy's EndWar, it's hard to get excited about controller-based RTS controls, but to Ensemble's credit, they've crafted a scheme that is clearly superior to the various clunky solutions currently available from EA and others."
"Halo Wars surprised the hell out of us. A title we weren't expecting much from, the sad little RTS banking on the Halo brand to sell, is now back square in the middle of our radar."


GameSpot Halo Wars Co-Op Hands On - http://e3.gamespot.com/story.html?sid=6194187
"Controlling your units in Halo Wars is a cinch. You move the cursor with the left analog stick and select individual units with the A button."
"...the development team have done an amazing job of capturing the look of the Bungie series."
"As well as creating a brand-new engine and control system for the game, they had to capture the distinctive look of the source material--no mean feat given the complete change of perspective."


7/17

Joystiq E3 hands-on: Halo Wars - http://www.joystiq.com/2008/07/17/joystiq-e3-hands-on-halo-wars-xbox-360/
"The easiest way to describe Halo Wars to a gamer would be to say it is to RTS games what Civilization Revolution is to Civilization. It's not RTS lite, but just RTS different."
"A judgment on the game is going to require giving the title a chance and seeing how it shakes what Ensemble gave it over many hours. It could introduce a new form of RTS we haven't seen yet."


GameVideos - Dave Pottinger Walkthrough - http://www.gamevideos.com/video/id/20150
Dave P. "We want those choices in the game, giving that map investment in the game is huge for a strategy game."


GameSpy Halo Wars - http://xbox360.gamespy.com/xbox-360/halo-wars/891470p1.html
"Ensemble has done a great job bringing the brightly colored, almost neon sensibilities of the Halo world to life in a god's-eye perspective."
"The upshot of all this is that Halo Wars felt good to play during our limited time with it."


Game Informer - http://www.gameinformer.com/News/Story/200807/N08.0716.1459.01666.htm
"Just because Microsoft didn’t talk about it at their press conference doesn’t mean that Halo Wars isn’t worth mentioning. We just got back from some hands-on time with it, and it looks as though the folks at Ensemble Studios have found a solid way to incorporate RTS gameplay with a standard 360 controller."
"Rather than forcing players to memorize arcane button combinations to group units and select those group, Ensemble has instead made it simpler to do it on the fly."


Gamasutra - http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=19465
"The Ensemble Studios team spent six months fine-tuning Halo Wars' potential control setup before approaching Microsoft and Bungie about developing the project, according to previous press reports."


ShackNews - http://www.shacknews.com/featuredarticle.x?id=935
"As was the case with last year's showing, I came away impressed by Halo Wars. It certainly seems to be coming along well, but my experience has been quite limited thus far."
"What I've seen and played has been good, and I'm looking forward to more."


7/18

PC World Previews Halo Wars - http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/index.php?id=1903314381
"Why there was no mention of Halo Wars at the MS press briefing is beyond me, and in fact, we at GamePro think someone dropped the ball."
"I really enjoyed the time I spent with the game despite not being much of an RTS gamer."


XBOX 360 Fan Boy Hands on with Halo Wars - http://www.xbox360fanboy.com/2008/07/17/e308-hands-on-with-halo-wars/
"So, Ensemble set out to build an RTS title for the Xbox 360 from the ground up, a game designed to work with a controller and work. Did Ensemble do it? Based on my time with the E3 demo, I'm inclined to say yes."
"As a game that promises to reinvent the console RTS, and as a Halo title, Halo Wars has a lot to live up to."
"...I can tell you one thing: now that I've played Halo Wars, the 2009 release feels very far away."


Thunderbolt E3: 2008 HaloWars - http://www.thunderboltgames.com/previews/article/halo-wars-e3-preview-preview-for-xbox360.html
"One of the biggest games this holiday season is going to be Halo Wars."
"Halo Wars definitely seems like another great entry into the already solid Halo universe."


Game Daily Halo Wars on Xbox - http://www.gamedaily.com/games/halo-wars/xbox-360/game-features/impressions-halo-wars/
"...Ensemble Studios (makers of the Age of Empire series) took Bungie's celebrated FPS and produced an original and immensely entertaining experience..."
"...it'll be one of the year's coolest games."



Post E3

GameSpy Halo Wars / Halo Universe Live Blog - http://xbox360.gamespy.com/xbox-360/halo-wars/893524p1.html?RSSwhen2008-07-24_140400&RSSid=893524

Kotaku Halo Wars is in Control - http://kotaku.com/5027722/halo-wars-is-in-control
"Keep your eye on Halo Wars, even if you're not a fan of the franchise or traditionally an RTS fan. It looks and feels like a console strategy game should."


GameSpot Halo Wars Stage Show Demo and Gameplay Movies - http://www.gamespot.com/video/935835/6194686/videoplayerpop?

GameSpot Halo Wars Co-Op - http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/strategy/halowars/news.html?sid=6194187&mode=previews
"...the development team have done an amazing job of capturing the look of the Bungie series. As well as creating a brand-new engine and control system for the game, they had to capture the distinctive look of the source material--no mean feat given the complete change of perspective. Thankfully though, the game is not only technically impressive, but it really succeeds in immersing you in the world that you've come to love."


Evil Avatar - http://www.evilavatar.com/forums/showthread.php?t=58033
"The controls work. There, I said it. No, wait...the controls REALLY work."


Game Trailers Interview with David Pottinger - http://www.gametrailers.com/player/37498.html



Awards

ActionTrip - Halo Wars Best Strategy Game - http://www.actiontrip.com/features/e32008showawardsandwrapup.phtml
"Very nice indeed. The developers have improved things drastically since the last time we saw it. Ensemble Studios succeeded in conveying that familiar spirit of the Halo universe. It has the potential to become a great real-time strategy and they obviously made a huge effort to fine-tune the game for console owners."


Planet Xbox - Best Strategy Game - http://www.planetxbox360.com/article_4305/PlanetXbox360s_Best_of_E3_2008_Awards
"Having some of the simplest controls for any RTS on the consoles, Halo Wars is user-friendly and should have Halo fanatics excited when they have the ability to have a handful of Spartans on the field defeating Covenant troops."


Gaming Excellence - Best Strategy Game - http://www.gamingexcellence.com/xbox360/games/1336/p20080720.shtml
"Halo Wars is shaping up better than anyone could have expected. It’s looking like a great, yet unexpected addition to the series, and was our choice for best strategy game of E3 ’08."


G4 TV - Best Xbox 360 game - Nomination - http://e3.g4tv.com/e32008/blog/post/687264/XPlays_Best_Of_E3_Awards_Tonight.html/

GamePro Best of E3- Silver - http://www.gamepro.com/gamepro/international/games/features/205615.shtml
"Halo Wars was looking sharp at E3 2008. The new demo version included the first implementation of the new Spartans supersoldiers, who can kick ass with the best of them (and even take over enemy vehicles). The controls are simple - crucial for a console strategy game - and the graphical polish is looking better and better. Can Halo Wars overcome the console RTS curse? The evidence is promising."


3/31/2008

Everybody scream your heart out



Started simple enough - the end of a Friday night, coming home from the bars. I had come from some plans of my own and met up with a few friends to finish off the night. Leaving the bar, I offered up to drive some people back, since we were all going to the same place anyways. The car's a three seater at best, and is really more suited to two, but Lee and Shan both came along regardless.

Starting to drive a ways down the road threw the suggestion out there to put the top down. The wind was a little brisk, but got acceptance from the other two, as long as we cranked the heat up. Pulled off to the side, put the windows and the top down and turned the music up.

There's something enthralling about having the world fly by with nothing separating you from it. We cranked up the music, singing along at the top of our lungs while driving by the fancy ritzy Uptown bars that we were far too dressed down to be at. Each person drunkedly wandering down the sidewalks giving us looks - some smiles, some laughs.

Our last turn of the night was about a block away, and I let slip, "It's times like these when even though I'm already at my destination, I'm enjoying the ride so much, I just want to keep going." to which I got from my copilot, Lee, "Let's do it!" with a smile. With a grin on my face and my foot on the throttle we went.

Anywhere and nowhere, we drove around Dallas - through crowded shopping areas and deserted streets, doing nothing but cranking up the music and singing along at the top of our lungs, laughing like sixteen year old kids taking dad's car out for a joy ride. Making only a pit stop for Shan to relieve himself (and of course driving off, even if only for a second), and to grab Shan a jacket from the trunk, the night was ours for the taking.

The sound of a slight squeal out of the tires, the roar of the engine, momentum pressing us deeply into our seats, hands tightly clasped, huge smiles and laughs on our faces as the wind tore over our heads. The music style didn't matter, jumping from traditional mellow acoustics to upbeat rock to dance music that had us all dancing and moving from our hands down to our hips as much as possible in little seats.

Those moments just don't get old - we finally went back after our friends called for the second time, and even then, half a block before that same last turn that we saw an hour before, a simple comment from my fiery passenger, "Oh, this is such a great song!" sent us on yet another slight detour before finally making our way back ;)

I simply couldn't stop smiling - even the next day, it just felt great. A momentary return to just being a kid again - no cares in the world but the night, the music, and the people you're with, and enjoying them for everything they are. I said it that night like I've said it before - that's the reason I bought the Firebird - to have and enjoy nights like that. That hour driving around was undoubtedly the most fun I've had in years. Simple, and amazing.

I intend to do it more. I'm a kid at heart. I want to assert it as often as possible and with friends. So the next time you have a bad day, let's go driving - bring some music you love, and we'll drive and sing and dance our hearts out. The drive is on me - totally worth the chance to just be a kid again with a friend and no cares in the world ;)

3/27/2008

Zzzzzz...

Amazing how quickly midnight can turn into 3:30am. Finally time to go home -_-

3/26/2008

Late night work ramblings



Pulling a late night tonight, helping test out the builds for Halo Wars as they get near a deadline tomorrow morning at 8am. Of course, late night playtesting (since, when QA is needed, it's basically all the devs who step up to play) isn't nearly as bad as crunch late nights, or late nights other places. Hell, we're basically just sitting around drinking beer and playing games. Just, lots and lots of games, for a long time, looking for lots of bugs. It's nights like this that confirm the fact that I could never be a tester. I would actually go insane.

I'm really tired. Which usually leads to less coherent, train of thought posts. *shrugs* In the time of friends coming and going (or rather, not going, but stepping aside for a chapter or two) that I've had recently, I sat down and really started thinking about the friends that are closest to me now, and who have been closest to me in the past. Those friends where anything and everything is ok - you know, the ones where you feel like you could call anytime of any day when you really needed it, and they feel like they can do the same? I hope everyone has at least one of those people in their lives.

Anyways, I got to thinking about those people, and came to realize that in a lot of ways, I've treated them terribly. Not all the time, but at some point, I've done something that was just downright not right. Regardless of the circumstance, something that I'm not proud of. Strange to think that those people are strong enough to be a close friend to someone that has wronged them in the past. Or maybe it's the other way around. Maybe the people that are really strong enough to stick by you as a friend even after you've wronged them. The people who you can simply open your arms and show that, "I'm human. I make mistakes. I'm not a perfect person of a perfect friend. I'm sorry." Something to which they respond with, "That's cool, turns out I'm human too." and you simply can move past with a stronger friendship. Maybe that level of imperfection is in some ways required to build a bond deeper than on the surface.

Now this of course isn't me saying there's an excuse to treat your friends like crap, because well, that's freakin' terrible. Just musing aloud. I know in some ways there's a similar connection with family and other loves, to which the quote, "You only hurt the ones you love," is far too true in too many situations. It's so easy to take that forgiveness that friends, family and loves will give you and unwittingly cause harm. I guess those people love you for more than those human mistakes, and only hope that you can do the same for them.

Reminds me of the end of a quote from Scrubs that I've posted before, but hey, what the hell.

Dr. Cox: Bottom line, the couples that are truly right for each other wade through the same crap as everybody else but the big difference is they don't let it take them down. One of those two people will stand up and fight for that relationship, if it's right and they're real lucky... one of them will say something. - Scrubs

Alright kiddos, time to play some more games for another hour or so, and make the quiet drive home. Have I ever told you how much I enjoy the silent night sky? I used to walk around the UT campus on late summer nights when the weather was nice, just enjoying the calm and quiet streets lit by the stars in the night's sky, soon to be bustling with thousands of students in the next few hours.

g'night all.

3/25/2008

Ideals



Ideals are such a strange thing when you really think about them. Primarily because they're almost always just that: Ideal: a conception of something in its perfection (as dictionary.com would tell us). The epitome of our mind's eye's view of the most perfect example of something. And well, let's face it - perfect never (maybe almost never) exists in real life.

So why is it then that since we're born we're constantly told to strive for these ideals? When you're a kid you think of the ideal job, start to grow to look forward to the ideal friends, the ideal school, the ideal mate, the ideal college, the ideal city, the ideal job (again, but in a different perspective), the ideal project, the ideal hobby, the ideal lifestyle, the ideal house, the ideal kids, the ideal life for them, and the whole cycle starts all over again. Kinda funny that we go from wanting to be an astronaut to a white picket fence with two and a half kids and a dog. So why this constant obsession over idealism?

"Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." - Les Brown

A quote that of course, starts to articulate an answer to the question I posed. Never mind the fact that the quote doesn't make sense scientifically, since technically the moon is much much closer than the stars, so it should be the other way around, but that doesn't sound nearly as poetic :p I digress. The point is that we should, as people strive towards perfection, to always work towards this goal of infallibility, and if you don't make it there, you'll get pretty close, and that's not half bad. A little depressing when you really spell it out, isn't it?

"The perfect is the enemy of the good." - Voltaire

A quote from the email signature of one of the lead designers at the studio. Something that literally takes the other stance - striving towards perfection is so inherently unattainable that the quest for perfection most often leads towards mediocrity instead of something good. The project that I'm currently working on is incredibly ambitious, and to many our goal is a sort of Holy Grail. There's a reason so many other studios and teams have failed at it. So for many weeks after we started, we we killed any and every idea we could come up with if it strayed from our perfect definition of what the game should be. After all, the game we made had to stand up to our ideal vision of it. Which, not surprisingly, left us spinning our wheels, and not moving forward. Since then, we've changed our strategy and are starting to make changes, work towards our ideal, while making compromises along the way.

"It's just depressing man, I mean, if something that looks that perfect can fail, then it's like... what's the point?" - Someone over the weekend

So what's there to talk about then? It's a fine line, and there's compromise, simple as that. Right? This last weekend, I had a chance to do a lot of traveling, and a lot of visiting with people I haven't seen in a really long time. A close friend from a long time ago got engaged, and I went down to Houston to visit the family, and to go to his engagement party, where I got the chance to meet his fiance and many old friends. The next day, I flew out to Los Angeles to see a huge portion of my extended family for my grandmother's 90th birthday. Lots of catching up - on dreams in the making, new ideals, goals to strive for, new conflicts, struggles to work through, and just lives to catch up on - after all, many of those people I hadn't seen in multiple years. Enlightening, to say the least.

"I just want the fairy tale." - An old friend, a long time ago

There really aren't a lot of people that know me well. I've been blessed to have a variety of spectacular friends and family, ranging from people that I've known my entire life, to strong bonds that I've made in just a few months or years. But the list of people that really know me well is probably countable on one hand (maybe two). Underneath the (shallow as it might be) shallow exterior that comes across with bleeding elements of sarcasm, bitterness, harshness, and an insane amount of criticism towards... well, anything and everything, I'm so much more of a dreamer. I live my life (internally) up in the clouds. Hell, I often sit back and just daydream to see what kind of beautiful things my mind can come up with. I believe firmly in the ideals and good nature of people. I love expecting the best of people and who they are. I live constantly striving for ideals, for dreams, for perfection in practically everything I do. Self-admittedly to a fault.

Recently I feel like things are changing. I feel like it's harder and harder to believe in those ideals, to strive for them. I'm not sure if it's a lack of sleep, this last weekend, the last few years, or just society constantly chipping away at my shell for the last twenty six years. But something is starting to feel different. I've talked with the friends I grew up with, and we're so lucky to have a supportive and challenging upbringing that fostered building a desire to strive for the best in us. To do the best that we could in everything. Surrounded by so many people - our parents, friends, instructors, illustrating so many ideals. Ideal marriages, ideal relationships, ideal friends, ideal situations. Supportive roles constantly building belief in dreams, and a desire to follow them. It hurts so much to imagine those illustrations of ideals being torn down. It's been on my mind and scratching at my insides for the last few days. Which is strange, because I was surprised to hear Paul (one of my closest friends up here, whom I also work with), tell me Monday that I should go on more trips, because I always come back a different, more excited and energetic person. I guess strife makes me positive at work haha.

Anyways, I tend to be able to look past these things, to work past tough problems that directly challenge my core personality, and soon after wake up with a refreshed outlook - a stronger, more firm confidence in the ideal of a world of happiness for my family, friends and myself. A rebirth from the ashes of a previous struggle. But I'm not there yet. The struggles, the changes, the realizations have finally scratched the surface and taken off the shine I had on the surface of my views. So until I wake up with my rose colored glasses on again, what the hell is the polishing compound to life? Anyone have some I can borrow for a little while?

3/22/2008

A different perspective

Is often incredibly inspiring and eye opening. I'm sitting out on the balcony in Los Angeles, after spending a day with my cousin, and relaxing before a wonderful family get together celebrating my amazing grandmother's 90th birthday. Essentially just a reason to get together with family, catch up, and just embrace what a supportive family really is.

The weather out here is gorgeous - I couldn't help but sitting out here after driving around with my cousin blasting music at the top of his car speakers. It really reminds me of the kind of nights I enjoy the most - sitting out and just listening to the world around you. Of course, I sat and listened to my cousin selling me on how wonderful of a place LA is. And let me tell you, it's a compelling sell ;) Weather like this every day would be something absolutely worth a change for. I guess those kinds of decisions are the ones you have to make now, in your twenties, before you have a lot of ties you really have to consider.

For some reason, the weather, the family, the friends, the conversations, have put me in a really contemplative mood. It absolutely makes me really realize the spectacular family I've been blessed with - how similar we all are as people. Even though we range from Los Angeles to Detroit to Boston to Texas to India, we're all very similar, and quite frankly, some pretty amazing people. I'm SO proud to call these people my family. It's taken quite some time, (many many years), but I think our generation is really starting to appreciate what we have here, and I think we're going to start pushing to spend more time together. This hundreds, and in some cases thousands of miles isn't going to keep us apart anymore. At the very least, I'm going to work to put more of an effort to making sure that's not the case.

Ok, this weather has already gotten me late for the get together. Pictures to come, hopefully. Also, (more as a reminder to myself), I have a post regarding ideals I need to type up.

3/03/2008

Texas + March = Snow



... wait, no! Texas + March != Snow! What the heck?! I think mother nature is quite confused. Seriously - here's the view outside of my house right now. It was around 80 over the weekend, now it's snowing huge flakes outside. Texas confuses the crap outta me :p
Just me

A small sidenote: I really appreciate the people that read this, even if it's just something you stumble across when you've run out of other things to do on the internet. People who know me know what this blog is - just a random dump of my thoughts when I have a chance to put them here. Because of that, it's wonderful to see your comments and hear your opinions on the same things. I'm far from brilliant and my random rantings are certainly nothing more than that, so I love to hear what you have to say. So, if you're reading this, thanks :)
The emotion of games



There was a lot of inspiration floating around at the Game Developer's Conference this year. It's always what you make of it, but a huge inspiration came from the design rant session this year about Making Games That Matter. I've been trying to find a good video / audio or transcript of it, but this is the best I've got - a chopped up video of it here, and some notes from it here. Here's one of the smaller transcripts of it:

The problem game designers face isn't creative stagnation. It's having the courage to create something that challenges people...that's f---ing hard. Yes, games are art. Yes, games can make you cry. Why don't we learn from the creativity of small games? Why doesn't that get plugged into our blockbuster games? Why can't Call of Duty be about DUTY? Why isn't Medal of Honor about HONOR? What if you could put HONOR in a box and SELL it? Package the experience of knowing what it is to be honorable? 90% of the people in this world have never felt honor, and probably would love to. Imagine if you could be awarded a medal of honor in a game where you had to be HONORABLE to do it. Instead, we spend millions on games, many of which are DOA. Meanwhile these great, meaningful indie games are unknown. I'm not saying we should all quit our jobs and making quirky small games. I'm talking about using proven techniques to make things that people CARE about. Even with 6 million Halo users, you've reached only 10% of the audience size of the LoTR movies. That movie is fundamentally about the mechanics of TRUST. Those should not harder to simulate than the mechanics of ROPE. Product fetishism keeps trumping everything else--is it any surprise that the game of the year is about a f---ing CUBE?! What we lack is not creativity, what we lack is the courage to show we care about real stuff. Every time we make a game that fails to be about what real people care about, we're letting ourselves down. We have the creativity, the money, the demand. "F-ck, it's code. We can do anything."

And really, it's so true - why can't we make games that really actually mean something? Games that are about using our medium to create a connection with the player that is deeper than other mediums can.



Passage is one of the independent games that really starts to do that, and in my opinion is one that succeeds amazingly at its goal. Initially a project in a competition about creating a game with a limited resolution, it's more of an art piece than anything else, but I appreciated it. I strongly encourage you to play it and develop your own opinion of it.



Marriage is another one of those games, again created by an independent developer. It's more of an art piece, and is all about the experience. It's one that you definitely have to play, really embracing and understanding the mechanics, and then read the author's intent of it. Again, I strongly encourage you to develop your own opinion of it.


But seriously - why the hell as an industry do we find it so hard to create games that actually have some meaning and emotion to them? I hope that we start to see more of these games that actually mean something - games that I can sit down in front of my friends that aren't gamers and give them that "holy crap" moment.

Is there a reason why only small, single person independent developers are the only people doing this? Or rather, the only people succeeding at this? I think a lot of it boils down to the simplicity of the experience that's trying to be delivered - you don't need next-gen graphics or a beautiful physics engine or a motion tracking device to evoke human emotion. Maybe it's even easier without those things clouding the path?

I want a game that can make me cry. I want a game that can make me really feel for the characters in it. I want a game that tests my own beliefs. Passage really delivered on that for me, and Marriage really got me thinking about relationships more than any other game has. I want to be able to create that, take it a step farther, and deliver that experience to people. One thing Clint mentioned in his talk was:

Two guys tinkering in their spare time have moved things forward more than the rest of the industry. I'm not saying we should all quit our jobs and making quirky small games.

But I almost want to do just that. Clearly that's an extreme, but I almost feel like the way to really push the industry forward in a revolutionary way might be in an independent way. After all, it's not like it takes a lot of smart people in a team with art, design or software experience is necessary to actually feel something human. Hell, most of the most compelling feelings I've experienced in my life were from people that weren't gamers. I really want to be able to push that part of our industry forward.

Being creative is easy, the courage to create something that challenges people ... that's hard.

2/26/2008

Tears



Yeesh, I'm sitting here watching this crazy strange show, Quarterlife, which I suppose is trying to appeal to the nerdy, sitting at home, emo, angsty, or whatever blogger through the "main-ish" character. Which, this episode appears to be ending as most pilots do, with lots of horrible timing, sadness, and cheesy friend jokes. But a short scene of sadness just made me think of the role of tears, how rarely we see them in other people's eyes, and the ones I've seen most recently.

It almost seems like we've been trained to see tears, crying as this horrible thing - this sign of weakness, this sign of falling apart. So we hold them back - we don't show them to anyone, sometimes holding them back from even ourselves. Is it so hard to let the tears flow when we really need them to? Where do we need to be - who do you need to be with to feel comfortable just letting it happen? It seems like even tears of happiness we tend to hold back instinctively, and seeing those tears of happiness can initially seem sad from the outside. I wish I knew why we're so ashamed of that, why we choose to hide, instead of letting it come out however it needed to. Anyways, I really don't have a point I'm trying to make, it just happens to be something on my mind at the moment.
Rebirth



The phoenix is a mythical bird with beautiful gold and red plumage. At the end of its life-cycle the phoenix ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix arises. The new phoenix is destined to live, usually, as long as the old one. The bird was also said to regenerate when hurt or wounded by a foe, thus being almost immortal and invincible — a symbol of fire and divinity. Although descriptions (and life-span) vary, the phoenix became a symbol representing resurrection, immortality, and life-after-death.



I bought this ring a little over a year ago and have been wearing it ever since. For some reason the ideology of the phoenix resonated with me, as did this ring when I first saw it. Something about the whole concept of rebirth, of starting anew, starting fresh. Treating each event in your life, each year, each month, each week, each day, as a a new dawn built off the basis of the lifetime before it, not held back by it. It's an aspect I want to embrace more, so I choose to remind myself of it whenever possible. I want to be able to look forward to the excitement each new day presents, and let the struggles from the day before dissipate like ash in the wind.

2/25/2008

Home Sweet Home

Seriously, being home has never felt better. Vincent (my cat) agrees, since he was weaving between my legs or finding a spot on my lap for hours after I got home.

Anyways, thought I would post up my notes from GDC if anyone was interested in them. I figure I may as well, for people who couldn't go. I'm looking for mp3s or videos from some of my favorite sessions, and if I find them, will post them up.

I just took these notes as a train of thought (as I normally do), so my apologies if they don't make any sense to you.

Here are the sessions I went to:

Storytelling in BIOSHOCK: Empowering Players to Care about Your Stupid Story
MGS Keynote (no notes, just a keynote, IGN has videos)
The Technology of UNCHARTED: DRAKE'S FORTUNE
I-fi: Immersive Fidelity in Game Design
Ray Kurzweil Keynote (no notes, read his book, and IGN has an article)
UNCHARTED: DRAKE'S FORTUNE Post-Mortem: Amazing Feats of Daring
'Do, Don't Show' – Narrative Design in FARCRY 2
Taming the Mob: Creating believable crowds in ASSASSIN'S CREED (no notes, had to stand in the back)
Pouring Gas on the Flames: Game Designers Rant

And, if you want to read my notes on the ones I took notes in, here they are.

Happy Monday everyone - hope your week treats you well...

2/22/2008

Redefining forever



As is really not that surprising, we had plenty of interesting and deep discussions regarding the topics in the keynote over lunch. It was certainly interesting and in depth for the few of us that had actually read of some Kurzweil's books, but pretty open to all. The primary interest of the conversation was based off of the postulation that Kurzweil made regarding the eventual eradication of human mortality within the next two decades. So, for the sake of this post, bear with the science fiction and believe the plausibility of this science becoming realized.

The social and global implications would certainly be huge, given how many assumptions our laws, economy and lives have on our life cycle - social security would no longer exist, and if we really could live productive lives for thousands of years or more, we would potentially be in a state of constantly learning, jumping from job to job, furthering our personal knowledge in much less finite ways than we currently do. Perhaps our required knowledge sets would evolve and we would all be learning and moving higher along the intellectual food chain, which our jobs would then reflect. However, what struct me as most interesting (which will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me) was something that a close friend of mine at work stated. He read The Singularity while we was dating his wife, and before he felt comfortable marrying her, he wanted her to read The Singularity, understand and accept the possiblity of a less traditional existence in their lifetimes. That this could be more infinite than they could comprehend right now.

Certainly not surprising to hear that from Paul, but certainly an interesting concept. Removing the concept of death to part us, the romantic vision of a "forever" that lasts longer than our inidividual lifetime, and a potential existence of infinite change, would you be able to jump headfirst and without looking back at the concept of being with another person literally forever? Once that contract of marriage extends longer than the 70, 80 or a 100 or so yaers that currently times them out, does anything change? Already we've proven as Americans that the statisical chances of staying with soomeone over the span of your current life expectancy is less than 50%. For that matter, look at your current girlfriend or boyfriend - would you be as happy or happier 200 years from now still walking by their side? Hell, is there anyone in your life that you could make that claim with, blood relatives as well? Or does the fact that the timeframe of that connection extends longer than we expect even matter? Shouldn't the fact that you could remain so deeply in love with this person and the other people you care about in your life for infinitely longer than you originally anticipated just heighten the potential joy of the experience? Shouldn't the ideal of being able to live an infinite range of lifetimes to be able to experience new adventures and challenges with that person in the context of one lifetime be the most exciting thing in the world that overshadows those other worries?

I certainly don't know, but I would love to stick around to find out.

2/21/2008

Futurists, today



Just had the pretty wonderful experience of seeing Ray Kurzweil talk - Kurzweil is an absolutely spectacularly intelligent person who spends a lot of time looking out towards the future and speculating where we're going and where we'll end up. He's written The Age of Intelligent Machines, The Age of Spiritual Machines, and most recently The Singularity is Near. Given our current rate of advancement in technology, which icreases exponentially, and not linearly (which is strange to imagine, since we instinctivly project linearly), will be advancing faster than ever before and are rapidly changing our society. So much so that the line between technology and biology is becoming more and more blurred, and that within the next few decades, extension of life expectancy will start to increase faster than we can age. That is, for every one year you live, the life expectancy will increase by at least one year, almost certainly more, leading to a sense of immortality. He even postulates that within two decades, computing will reach orders of magnitude over the computing power of the human brain.

Ponder that for a while. Crazy science fiction? It's certainly pretty hard for a lot of people to swallow. But if you this is interesting to you at all, and even if you read his books as fully fiction, I would definitely recommend The Singularity. It's a brick of a book, but it's interesting in a really nerdy, tech way. It certainly paves the road for the imagination to run wild at the potential futures. What would happen in a world where nanomachines could augment your health to always be in a spectacular state? A world where it was possible to actually live (essentially) forever?

Stuff that's really out there - but wouldn't it be intersting if that's where we headed?

2/20/2008

Democratizing distribution



Well, the keynote to fire off the conference was given by John Schappert, an ex EA employee who is now the Microsoft Corporate Vice President. There were a lot of interesting things - Ninja Gaiden 2, Gears of War 2, Fable 2 (lots of sequels, actually). But the thing that was really interesting to me was the announcement of Xbox Live Community - a venue for anyone who takes the initiative to write a game in XNA to share their game on Xbox Live, have it rated by peers, and playable by the tens of millions of people with 360s. That, and that XNA will now be playable on PC, 360, and on the Zune out of the box! I'm sure it's not flawless in practise, but it's an absolutely awesome idea that I would love to see take off. I hope this is actually a step towards the industry opening up and respecting the fact that anyone out there can have a killer game idea, and let those passionate people go out there and create their own games for their friends to play. Let the gamers become developers and protoype ideas they think are cool. I really hope this becomes a totally open, self-regulating community, because I think it could be really powerful. Hell, I'm working at a company where we make multi-million dollar big titles, and I feel inspired to spend my time at home making little, simple fun games - the games I dreamt about in college :) Here's hoping this lets other people out there to do the same.

I guess I am starting to get a little more inspired about where we're going as an industry, so this trip may very well be succeeding with its goals :)
Game Developers Gather!



Ahh, the Game Developer's Conference - undoubtedly the largest gathering of people who are passionate about games as a medium each year. I think my friend Paul put it best - "You don't really go to GDC for the content, you go to become re-inspired in the industry, in where we're going, and what we're doing to forward that. To catch up and meet up with our friends and feelow people that are solving the same problems we are in other places." If you come across some good sessions (one thing this industry isn't great at is public speaking...), that's just icing on the cake. After all, what's the point of working if you've not super, insanely passionate about it? Also, Ray Kurzweil is giving a keynote this year, and his books are just awesome from a "Holy crap if would be so cool if any of this came true." I can't wait to see what he has to say about gaming and the industry as a whole.

It's pretty insane how much the industry has been changing. They estimate this year that thirteen thousand people are here. Thirteen thousand! There are now tons of different people and disciplines here now. Game developers are really no longer the traditional view of the nerd in the garage programming all day long (hello Grandma's Boy). Now we're an industry that is starting to pull in cinematographers, writers, composers, men, women, families. It's pretty cool to be able to see it all change before us. Even in the content that we now talk about - it seems like this year is focused on storytelling in games - how to do it, how not to do it. What are the chances you can have the same emotional connection from a video game that you might have in the best movies that you've seen, or the best books that you've read? What's the last medium that influenced you as much as a movie like Children of Men? (if that movie was impactful to you - I know it was to me) What are the chances that a game can pull you in just as much if not more? Why not?

We already had an insanely pasasioned discussion about some of those topics over dinner last night. Pretty crazy and nice that me and a few coworkers have the ability to get in a pull-no-punches dragged out verbal argument, both playing devil's advocate on both sides (not to be dicks, but to challenge the other party to articulate and defend their views), and not have any of it be personal - we know we're all excited about what each other is doing, and we just want each other to succeed. It's like working in a team back in college again.

Which is an awesome feeling - working with friends to make something cool :)

2/18/2008

We're all human, after all

It's always interesting to see how people view themselves - especially their bodies. We've been raised in a society to almost be ashamed of our appearances. There's always someone better looking - someone in better shape - some 'beautiful' airbrushed stereotypes made to convince us all that we're not good enough. What ever happened to appreciating the person and body we were both with, imperfections and all? To just be proud of who we are and be happy about it. Now, I absolutely think that we should be working to stay healthy and to better ourselves, but that shouldn't prevent you from being happy with who you are along the way.

A lot of this stems from thoughts running through my head while in figure drawing sessions at work last year. I'm lucky enough to work at a place where they let the few programmers that are artistically inclined (not nearly as talented as our artists) as least tag along and practice their skills with the other artists at the studio. We do nude figure drawing of various time lengths and mediums, which has proved to be inspiring in a wide variety of ways each time. For one, it provides an avenue for me to really tap into the artistic side of me that loves to capture inspiration however possible. But one thing that has always stood out to me is the amazing amount of confidence and pride that the models who come in have about themselves. They are of all shapes and sizes, from full figured to average to supermodel thin, but each one has the same level of confidence in what they're doing. I often find myself enthralled by it and downright curious of the person behind the flesh. There have been times where I've finished the pose early and just took the opportunity to look into their eyes during their mannequin-esque stillness and see nothing but a blank stare - so confident that the fact that they are fully nude has no effect on them. I often have bene curious whether I would have the strength and confidence to do that. Truly amazing.

The thought was rekindled after talking to a friend who exudes the same level of confidence, in an alter ego-esque way. She's helping out a friend with his portfolio by doing some non-nude poses, and I was amazed to hear the level of confidence she had in herself, in her body, and who she was. I don't know that I've met many people at all who held the same level of confidence in their physical appearance - especially not women. Needless to say, I was very impressed with her :) It seems like we focus so much on the harsh line between covering ourselves up in a utilitarian line and any form of nudity (even partial) being pornography. Has the concept of the human body as an art form totally escaped us? Is it possible for us as Americans (many other societies are unlike us in this respect) to see our bodies as beautiful, sexual, sensual art forms and be able to celebrate that? To be comfortable with the fact that the human form is inpirational on an emotional as well as a sexual level? To be able to embrace the imperfections we have and be able to wake up each morning, look in the mirror and be inspired by the person and body staring back at you?

Backdated post - completed 12/20/07 02:29:00 AM

2/17/2008

Same story, different audience

chance to catch up with a close friend that I haven't seen in a really long time. Turns out that he's had his share of drama recently - a lot of pain and heartache that taking risks with your heart can often lead to. I had never really talked to him about that sort of stuff before, and he happened to be dealing with something that he drew parallels to my past.

I had really underestimated the differences between going through these stories - these experiences, these troubles yourself, and seeing people you care about going through them. When it's your problem to deal with, it's so easy to be strong - to fight your way through it, to 'tough it out'. After all, it's your problem to work through, right? Of course you rely on your friends, your family, your loved ones - draw support from the structures around you, but in the end, you're the one who has to work past it. To make the decision to go through the hard times for the greener fields on the other side. I never really expected that to be the easy part.

But hearing a close friend, someone you really care about, someone you want to see happy going through similar struggles? That hurts. To see them really struggling and fighting through it in their own ways - knowing full well that you can help, offer support, do what you can to alleviate the effect of the whole experience, to just be a sounding board sometimes, knowing full well that when push comes to shove, they'll make the final step on their own? That sucks. A lot. It might be a lot of the personality I (and a lot of my friends) have - the 'parental' personality trait that makes you want to improve peoples lives', (sometimes - hell, oftentimes so much that it's a personality fault). But it is a lot harder when it strikes a chord that's so familiar to your own life - hearing those exact same phrases, those exact same thoughts that you thought yourself echoed. Love... forever... if only... it made me realize... I wish... I really thought... Knowing full well that they will make it through the process, but that it's a tough road. A part of me wouldn't wish that upon anyone, and another part hopes that everyone gets the chance to experience something similar in their life at least once. Seeing a friend go through it is damn tough.

Especially when they draw the parallels themselves, "I gained a whole new respect for you after this. When you had to go through the same things, I never realized how hard it must have been for you and I can't believe how well you handled it."

That's the thing man, I didn't handle it that well back then. But I'm confident you will.

Backdated post - completed 12/20/07 02:25:00 AM

2/14/2008

Happy Singles Awareness Day!

But if you're not, you can give these nerdy video game Valentines to your sweetie! :p
















The metroid is my favorite :) Happy Valentine's Day!