The Animal Farm

April 29th, 2006
April 23rd, 2006


Is it bad that losing multiple consecutive games of chess makes me more depressed than all of my breakups with women? What if I tacked the word ‘combined’ to the end of that sentence? Few things send me into a third-grade-style temper tantrum, but mark my words: had someone walked in on me after loss number 2, a computer mouse would be sticking out of his head not three seconds later.

I frequently purge my buddy list of unnecessary clutter (read: unnecessary people). I recently cut the list down to ten people, and i could easily go to four without emotional distress. I suspect that many people do something like this eventually - they shed the internet conversations and lean toward actual human interaction. Except in my case, even my human interaction is at an all-time low. I’m gradually becoming more of a hermit.

And I blame chess. For all of it.


April 21st, 2006

Indie Films

I haven’t talked about Channel 101 or Channel 102 lately, but I feel there are some indie films that need pimping. Of particular interest are Channel 101: The Musical and Running from Johnny Law. Check them out. If you have a soul.

Is there a reason everyone is a drama queen?

April 20th, 2006

Project Geo

What is that big red thing? It’s a BIG SCARY TANK. Quite a nasty boss when you don’t have good weapon upgrades. But I digress.

You are witness to some of the first screenshots of Project Geo. Admittedly, it’s not a very remarkable screenshot. It doesn’t capture the full effect of the glow, and there are too few things on screen trying to kill you. I promise the game looks much better during run-time.

Parodica has also been progressing smoothly, but I don’t have any screenshots (remarkable or otherwise) to show off. I’ve run into another nasty bug (that’s like 7 since yesterday) that’s making me scratch my head in confusion. Something to do with alpha blending maybe, but it’s really not making much sense considering the only thing I do differently now than when there were no bugs is to load a different image. I’ll figure it out eventually.

Old MacDonalds Farm is moving along. There’s less than a week before I get to never look at it again, and that’s the most exciting thing I’ve experienced this semester. Nobody should look forward to an important deadline this much, but I’m eager to wash my hands of such filth.

In less than a week, I can be happy again. Maybe.

April 17th, 2006

Regarding Your Mother

I recently dropped all my money on a security deposit for a new apartment. I’m terrified.

Otherwise, I’ve been feeling particularly lethargic lately. A lot of my spare time has been - shamefully - spent in bed. This is doubly bad becasue there’s so much I could/should be doing, and I just can’t find the motivation. Even though we have the newly acquired Guitar Hero to keep us company along with over three major projects pressing for our attention, nothing is inspiring me to do anything. A shame.

Hopefully this will end soon, and I can get back to work on all the wonderful things we have in store. Project Geo, for instance, is looking especially good. It is only a few levels and a few hundred lines of code away from being complete. Parody (or, as it has been lovingly dubbed among its developers, Parodica), has some kickin’ art and a nice code infrastructure to get it going. Old MacDonald’s Farm is, well, still horrendous in more ways than thirty.

For now I shall leave you. The next time I update, we’ll have things to talk about. You might even want to canoodle.

Total fox.

April 17th, 2006


Left to right: Alex, Bekah, Beth, Cyan, Enora, Gabriel, Gxasddf, Mysterious Girl, Schmee

All art is the property of Mel.

I love knowing an artist.

April 10th, 2006

Regarding Criticisms

I was talking with my friend Phil today. I don’t quite recall the course of the conversation, but eventually it turned toward him potentially writing for the DA (WVU’s student-run newspaper). I encouraged him, because I like Phil and I also believe the current opinion columnists are no-talent hacks (with certain notable exceptions). Further harsh words were delivered, and eventually Phil responded, “Well, you do better, then,” and “that’s just one man’s opinion.”

At the time, I didn’t respond to those statements in any worthwhile way, because the conversation went down a childish, kidding route. But I think statements like that are a silly way to try and make illegitimate points which are perfectly valid. For instance, I’m not a musician. I can’t strum a single beat. But I can tell you - without reservation - that Led Zeppelin is a good musician and the Backstreet Boys are not. This is not a statement of opinion. It is an objective, qualitative assessment of their skills. I don’t need to be able to play Stairway to Heaven to tell you that Backstreet’s Back was no amazing composition. Further, I don’t need to be able to make Lord of the Rings to tell you that Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle is a bad movie. Even further, I don’t need to surpass either movie to point out flaws in those movies - whether you want to admit it or not, there are flaws which even common citizens can notice. Whether artistic or scientific, all mediums have certain qualities that differentiate the poor productions from the mediocre and the epic.

Can I write better than many of the DA authors? No, probably not. The entire site is a testament to that. Do I need to be a Pulitzer Prize winner to tell the difference between a poorly written, simple-minded opinion article? No. I can still find flaws in their writing and their arguments. An inability to create does not equate to an inability to observe and analyze.

Anyone who releases something into the public domain recognizes that they are going to receive public criticism. The good people - the ones who grow and become better - are the ones who realize that some of the critiques they receive are legitimate and thoughtful. The bad people - the ones who end up bankrupt and despised - are the ones who shrug off all criticism, saying, “Well, they aren’t creators. They just don’t appreciate what it’s like.”

When I am a professional game developer, there’s a good chance a reviewer is going to give my creation a bad review sometime down the line. My repsonse is not going to be, “Well, let’s see him do something better.” My response is going to be, “Well, let’s see if I can do something better.” I think it’s the right response.

Up next: hypocrisy.

April 8th, 2006

Mutant Ninjas

“In 1614 AD, the 19th year of the Keicho Era, wretched deep within the Edo Castle, loyalties lie in a twisted socio-political tangle. In penitent disarray, the rooted partisan siding with Hidetada’s heir and first-born, Takechiyo, fear the untried insurgence backed by those devoted to his younger son, Kunichiyo. If this treacherous rupture goes unresolved, the whole Tokugawa kingdom will be torn apart, leaving the high-priced samurai to battle for a new heir. But, Lord Ieyasu won’t allow the Tokugawa samurai to perish when mutant ninjas can be spared at no expense.

April 3rd, 2006

Appropriate Way to Play

With my upcoming purchase of Kingdom Hearts II (!!), I’m reminded of a constant argument Zach and I used to conduct. You see, when I play an RPG, I play it for the main content. I sit down and start plowing through the main quest without any regard for side events unless they are within immediate reach. If a game’s main quest takes 20 hours to beat, I have it beaten in 19. I don’t backtrack dungeons for treasure chests. I don’t talk to every random villager looking for secret items. I find out who the villain is, and I dedicated myself to saving a world before the weekend ends.

When I saw Zach play Secret of Mana for the first time, I watched in shocking disbelief at just how differently he played. He stopped to level up his characters. He wandered around in circles, killing the same thing over and over so that his sprite would cast a bigger spell. He backtracked to the begining of a dungeon to get a piece of candy, and he talked to every villager ad nauseum. The main quest was just an excuse to max out his character. He was my polar opposite.

Me, being the generally agreeable and open-minded person that I am, immediately called shennanigans. “That’s boring,” I would shout. Aside from the mindless tedium behind it, it also ruins the challenge of the game. We would bicker back and forth about the pros and cons of each playstyle, until we filed this alongside movies as a generally untouchable realm.

Then we played Xenosaga over Easter break once. Together, we devoured that game as one would a chocolate covered rabbit. I converted Zach to my style, and only once did he find it necessary to revert (and indeed this was necessary - that game had some righteous bosses). Since that weekend, our RPG game playing has followed the following pattern:

One player grabs the controller while the other watches. The player keeps going until a boss puts him in his place. At this point, the player gets scared and doesn’t want to play anymore. The other person takes over until the cycle repeats. When strategy fails and there is no other recourse, Zach takes up the role of “level monkey.” The pattern repeats until the game is finished, which usually happens within the same weekend that play began.

This is an excellent way to play an RPG. We don’t always do it - I played Suikoden 3 and Wild Arms Alter Code F solo - but we always enjoy it when we do. I can’t wait for the weekend, where I will get to see Sora in a Tron outfit smashing Heartless to death with his keyblade.

If only the week did not stand in my way.

April 2nd, 2006


I’ve had it out with both Popcap and FOX regarding documenting publicly available software, and now I’d like to add someone else to the list of shame: Tokamak. As if physics simulation weren’t hard enough, you have to provide dodgy, incomplete documentation and uncommented code samples. I’ve found one good tutorial series on the internet which helped me get rigid body simulation working, but I’m rather lost when it comes to setting up joints/ragdolls.

Is it really that hard?