The Animal Farm

July 29th, 2007

The Zookeeper

His crew includes:
A badger with a troubled past and nothing to lose.
An elephant who never forgets… TO KILL!
And a seldom used crab named lucky. AKA citizen snips.

~Zach

But a kangaroo boxing a robot, now you’ve lost me. CITIZEN SNIPS!!!

July 29th, 2007

Brian’s News

Bad-azz mate.  I don’t have much to say, but I am glad you finally were able to tell us all what it is you are working on!

~Zach

July 29th, 2007

More on the Viv(a)

Okay, I wasn’t going to do this, but Brian asked so nicely.

The concept of Viva Pinata is that you are a start-up Pinata farmer with a legendary farmer backing you up.  You start off small, very small.  You have zero funds and little to no land to farm.  You get money at first by destroying the junk that litters your farmland.  Its nice that this gives you money as you need to get rid of it anyway to make space for plants, trees, and housing.  The first Pinata you discover is a Whirlm.  Basically a little worm-like creature.  They only require 20 or pinometers of soil or shortgrass to become a member of your farm.

More on that: Pinatas have four different lists of conditions, one for appearing, one for visiting, one for residing, and one for romancing.  Generally the higher up the list the harder the conditions are.  I’ve noticed lately that some of the residing conditions for some Pinata are much harder than their romancing conditions.

Anyway, the entire game is really, “Okay, what Pinata have I seen that I haven’t had visit/reside/romance yet?”  And just when you start shrinking that list down, a whole slew of new Pinata appear.  This is due to the experience system in the game.  As you get new Pinata to appear/visit/reside/romance, you get experience.  With more experience different, rarer kinds of Pinata appear for you to get.  You also gain experience by planting new plants and trees.

In addition to this there are bad guys/Pinata that visit your farm and try to harm/kill your other Pinata.  This doesn’t do anything but slow you down really.  As it turns out, Pinata LOVE it when other Pinata die, because they are full of candy.

I think that sums it up.  I am currently a level 24 or 25 farmer with the maximum amount of land to play with.  It is still getting cramped, but that just means it is time to sell off some of my lower-end Pinata.

~Zach

July 28th, 2007

Your Attention, Please

For those of you who want to know what I’m working on…

Click here.

Did you cry at the end?

July 26th, 2007

That’s Ill, Yo

Explain yourself, HaMilton.

Notice how I called you a ham and invoked your surname in the same dubious homage to Alexander Hamilton! It’s cleverness like this that makes me sort of a big deal.

But yes, I would like to know more about this game I have purchased and have yet to experience.

All over the world, they want to have fun.

July 25th, 2007

Viva Viva Pinata

I think it was mostly due to guilt that Ricky and I played Viva Pinata.  After all, Brian DID go out and spend a gajillion dollars and an elite and several games.  Ricky and I played a Lost Planet and Dead Rising a bit, but nothing to warrant Brian buying the elite.  This is when we decided to pop in Viva.

My. God.  This might be the best sim game ever created.  I am not gunna talk to much, just that I can’t seem to go to bed before 5am anymore.  I love this game.

Hrmm, I thought I had more to write about.. not feeling it.  Seems I want to get back to farming pinatas.

~Zach

July 21st, 2007

And with Strange Aeons

There is little in life less compelling than walking into a bookstore and screaming, “Harry Potter dies!” Mind you, I don’t know if he does, since I haven’t purchased the book and am too wrapped up in other things to bother quite yet. Ricky probably bought it, and I’ll just snag his copy when I get home. In the meantime, I just wrapped up the second Golden Compass book, which - even though I didn’t like it as much as the first - I found far superior to all three Potter books I’ve read. I’ve made more progress with Lovecraft, and he’s growing on me more each day. These are just short stories, though, and I still have to seek out Call of the Cthulhu. But I think before I do that, I’m going to finish up the other Lovecraft short stories (and the final Compass book) and move to The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, a book series which Doss recommended to me some time ago. Is there any logic behind my reading decisions? No, not especially.

Even death may die.

July 17th, 2007

Sounds good

I like the idea a lot. My one concern is your wealth of knowledge in the subject and vastly superior library of read books making it more of a one man show. That and I’ll probably get stage-fright :-p. I would still like to do it, it sounds like a fun way to keep me on my toes at least. Perhaps it could be what I need to start developing for realz again as well. I have been getting the feeling I am not doing enough with my free time. P.S. j00 > meh.

In other, completely unrelated news, I recently( as in within the hour ) beat EBA on hard mode. For the most part, the difficulty started out rather basic. But at about song 10 or so( Canned Heat ), it really, and I mean really, picked up. I probably only beat one or two of the remaining 8 songs in one go. The last one, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, seemed to be impossible. I actually failed it so many times at the 3rd section that I could get straight 300s( perfects ) on the first section fairly often. There is one part in the 3rd section of the song that I literally failed at every single time. The one time I actually didn’t fail there, I beat the song. I just could not get the pattern down. The beat was fine but the location of the notes was really hard for my mind to register at the speed the song goes. They did a lot of stuff in there that consistantly had me messing it up, even though I knew it was coming. I beat the song with an A( second best ), scoring 284 perfects, 43 greats, 3 oks, and 2 misses. I don’t know if I will ever go back and try to get rid of those misses( that would practically double my score ).

I have to say my DS has been played more in the past 2 weeks than it has in the past 6 months. The last time I played it this much was Potrait of Ruin back in December. I think that is a good thing, though it is hurting my pseudo-need to actually do something with my free time.

As a final note, beating it on hard unlocks the final mode, HARD ROCK! or something, that changes the characters from 3 males to 3 smokin’ hot women. The final mode is just hard mode with the notes flipped 180 degrees. The notes also appear just before they are meant to be hit, giving you no time to actually process the patterns. It is pure reflex. I’ve no idea if I will beat this mode any time soon, or at all. I hope I can at least try though.

~Zach

P.S.Look at this.

Elite Beat Divas here.

July 17th, 2007

The Podcast

In this case, the iPod is only the medium. Any other device would satisfy my podcast hunger just as well, though iTunes does have a really nice way to grab a podcast and all its related episodes. Thusly, I think I have over 100 podcasts on my little toy now, but I have no clue when I’m going to find the time to listen to them all.

But about the podcast. The thing I’ve found most… unsatisfactory about all the game dev podcasts I’ve found is that they don’t contain much about game development. Most of them are a bunch of interviews with producers or marketing specialists or column editors who, while I’m sure are knowledgeable in their field, seem to be giving more in the way of opinions on tangential topics than actual information about development. Learning about the state of the industry is great and all (though if I listen to one more person bemoan the lack of creativity in modern games, I may give up the whole field entirely). However, it’s hard to find something that isn’t an interview, and it’s nigh-impossible to find something technical. I want to fill that gap.

Basically, I want it to be me and you talking about our current projects, our current solutions to some of the problems we’ve encountered, the books we’re reading, the research we’re doing, etc. I want to talk tile-based games, particle systems, scripting in C#, resource management, simple engine architecture, rendering interfaces, different libraries we’ve encountered, etc. I want to talk about the various books we’ve read and what we think of the information they demonstrate (I, personally, have been pouring through books this summer and have a pretty sizeable collection in the apartment, as I’m sure you’ve found). I want to talk about Parodica and Zakarus’s Tale and the myriad small games we’ve worked on, both in relation to how they were designed and how they were/are being implemented. I’d like to deviate ocassionally to talk about our research (where it’s relevant) or classes we’re taking (Neural Nets might make for an interesting conversation). There’s also the potential for ocassional interviews, since we know artists (Szarko and Mel) who can provide stuff on the artistic side, and we also know a lot of other developers (ie, Ricky) who might be able to talk on tangential topics (Tao?). The list goes on, and I think on any given week we’ve got a pretty good selection of things to talk about.

The format I had envisioned was sort of us asking each other questions as though we were ignorant of the works of the other. For instance, the first could start out with us asking about our respective larger projects (Parodica for me and Zakarus for you), giving the design processes we’ve gone through and also our methodologies for how we’ve been working. Then further ones could be a bit more specific. The next one could talk about your work in Flash and the subsequent move to C++ or my particle system editor or your isometric map system and how it evolved. For these, the person not involved would serve as the ‘host’, furthering discussion by asking questions or presenting other ideas. In the event that one of us isn’t available, the other can still provide information regardless or fill in with a book review. Alternatively, a book review could follow each podcast, since we have quite a lot lying around.

So, yea, that’s the idea. I think we have enough to talk about to make this a weekly thing, either an hour or half-an-hour in length (or, really, until we run out of information for the current topic). Most podcasts seem to burn out at around 6 or 7 episodes, but I think as long as we stay dedicated and push on with different topics (and keep developing ourselves) we can easily surpass that. I’m not sure about sound setup, but the technical details can probably be worked out at a later time, and Ricky might have some information there. Finding an audience might be tricky, but from my short experiences with game dev podcasts, we’d be filling a niche. Could be a lot of fun.

You can’t discrimahate because you’ve read a book or two.

July 17th, 2007

Dear Brian

Wow, you are really hooked on this iPod thing, eh?

I don’t see why I wouldn’t want to do that, but humor me and elaborate on the details of our future-podcast.

~Zach

These quotes never have anything to do with the post.