The Animal Farm

May 30th, 2008

Recent Happenings

Well, I have been in Arlington for 3 weeks as of tomorrow.  I start work on Monday.  This fact leaves me both excited and kinda scared.  I don’t do well superiors, for some reason I am constantly nervous around them no matter how nice and friendly they are to me.  I am hoping this changes as I am a big boy now with a college education and a big boy job.

DCS, the company I am working for, recently sent me a large, very large, package of forms I need to fill out before I start on Monday.  They are the typical insurance, direct deposit, etc. forms.  One in particular makes me happy though, metro-checks.  I basically get to commute to work for free since I am using the public transportation offered here.  This is nice on two fronts.  1) I don’t have to worry about constantly having cash on me to recharge my metro-card, and 2) I don’t have to spend money to get to work.  These combined make it seem foolish to drive to work every morning and pay gas/parking every day.  Especially since I spend a grand total of 2 minutes outside walking, one from the apt to the station, one from the station to the work-place.  If it were longer than ten or fifteen minutes, I would probably drive.  Not because I am lazy, but because I wouldn’t want to deal with the elements.

Side note, the place where I catch the metro in the morning and get off at night happens to be the Pentagon City Mall.  This mall contains a GameStop.  This means I can just pick up the new games/games I want to get literally on the way home from work.  No dealing with traffic or having to drive for me!  I can just walk off the metro into the mall( all underground ) and walk about 50 feet to GameSpot in the mall.  Talk about tuff.

~Zach

May 30th, 2008

Nintendo Channel and Other Gaming Stuff

First, I like Nintendo. I wouldn’t call myself a fan boy, but I probably am one. I really enjoy the Nintendo titles and buy their consoles with full knowledge that their 3rd party games will probably suck and I will really only enjoy maybe 5 or 6 titles in the lifetime of the console. This idea isn’t the same for their handheld consoles, however. All of them since Gameboy have been amazing in my eyes. I always collect an absurdly large library of games for each one and love just about all of them.

Anyway, this post is more about the Wii’s semi-new channel, the Nintendo Channel. I really enjoy going to gamespot and watching the different video game trailers and such before games come out. Really gets me excited for the release of the games. Wii decided to add a channel that does just that for Wii and DS titles. I’ve watched all of the interesting sounding ones currently on there and really like the channel. They don’t just put trailers up there, there were a few interviews with celebrities and one with Mayomato himself about Wii Fit, a non-game I am really considering buying for the heck of it. The channel is a really cool little feature at any rate, I’d recommend checking it out to anyone who owns a Wii.

Now that my Wii is finally internet-ed and in my possession, I have the option to get Wii shop games as well as Wiiware games. 3 of the Wiiware games come to mind right of the bat, FFCC:My Life as King, Lost Winds, and Defend Your Castle. I played a heck of a lot of Defend Your Castle in my early college years, it was a game on Newgrounds. I might be picking that up soon. FFCC:My Life as King looks interesting, but I don’t have much to go on as I haven’t really researched into it. The Lost Winds trailer on the Nintendo Channel, and I am sure most gaming sites on the webz, makes the game look extraordinarily fun. I will probably be picking that up soon.

I’ve made myself a little wishlist of games that I want to purchase and that list is pretty big. The main want right now is a PSP and FFT:The War of the Lions. FFT for the PSOne was my all-time favorite game ever. I may have an obsession with all things Zelda, but FFT is and probably always will be my favorite game. When I heard they were remaking it for the PSP, I decided I needed a PSP. Don’t get me wrong there were plenty of other decent games that made me kind of want the PSP maybe, but FFT was an instant deal-breaker. In fact, if FFT was the ONLY game on the system, I would still buy it. Another nice thing is that the new PSP-2000s have component-out capabilities, which means I will be playing FFT on my new 42″ TV.

~Zach

May 26th, 2008

You’ve Got Mail

Everyone except Zach can disregard this post. It’s not for you.

Zach, you’ve got mail. Your Yahoo address. I notify you here because I know just how terrible you are at checking said mail. It is, however, vitally important that you change this habit. Vitally important.

First day of work tomorrow.

May 25th, 2008

The Dub See

Technically, Arlington.

I have been here for two weeks now and have one more week before I start working.  I love it down here.  The first week was nice because when Morgan was at work, my sister was able to come and hang out/play Mario Kart Wii with me.  The second week was nice because Morgan was on a business trip and I went with her.  This meant that I had internet/cable during the day when she was at work AND that she tended to get home around noon.

Currently I am stealing the internet from the Best Western Hotel next to us to post this from our apartment.  The connection is pretty shaky, but we won’t have internet/cable until Tuesday this week.

I am going to see the new Indiana Jones movie tonight, so let’s hope that’s good.

I’ll try to have some better and more frequent posts once I get the internet.  I plan on buying a lot of video games in the upcoming year so be prepared for some reviews.

~Zach

I could look at you for like 10 minutes before I got bored.

May 21st, 2008

Boston Legal

Ricky demanded, as is Ricky’s right, that I keep him up to speed with recent DVD enjoyments such that he can mirror my habits. An extension of my will in Morgantown, if you will.

Boston Legal was the most recent impulse purchase. Impulse because I had only previously seen twenty minutes of a single episode fully four years ago, and I based my purchasing decision solely on a scene which I completely misremembered. These are the kinds of expert purchasing decisions you would expect the fiscally responsible to light me on fire for.

But the show is good. It’s a legal drama far removed from Law & Order. First, it is entirely from the defense attorney’s viewpoint. Second, it is far more character-driven. The cases still play a vital role in the show’s development, but they take second stage to the characters Alan Shore, Danny Crane, and associates. This would only work if the characters were interesting, and they very much are. Alan Shore, especially, could hold his own against Sam Waterston and would be much funnier about it.

There are the cases, which are, well, law show cases. Some of the stuff mimics real-life events, some are more far-fetched. It’s clear that the show has a liberal bias, which is all good and fine, though it does get rather preachy at times. Especially in season 2 - most of the closing arguments seem to serve as a soapbox for the writers to stand on. I don’t really know what I expect here, perhaps the preachiness to be less overt, but in any case it rarely harms the show.

There are four seasons of the show and a fifth on its way if Wikipedia and my memory can be trusted (both of which I often deem suspect). I don’t know if I’ll make it through all the seasons. As a said, it’s a good show, but at its core it’s a law show. Can I handle five seasons of the same dynamic? I doubt it, but there’s always the chance they’ll mix things up and keep me interested. At the very least, I’m interested enough to plow through the first two seasons.

Creepy stalkers.

May 20th, 2008

Wiikly Gaming

In today’s exploration, I discovered that the University Mall GameStop had a single Wii in stock, which I went ahead and purchased. I then challenged Ricky to a Smash Brothers duel.

Of course, dueling is difficult when you don’t have a GameCube controller, which I neglected to bring down with me and also neglected to purchase. Communication is difficult when you don’t have a headset to hook up to Skype or a cell-phone, which I also neglected to bring down with me or purchase. Difficulties aside, it was good fun. Now I need to pick up the aforementioned along with Mario Kart and Mario Soccer, and we can setup a proper game night.

The mall I suppose isn’t a normal ‘exploration’ target, but I desperately needed a few supplies - towels, for instance - that I, once again, neglected. There’s a trend in this update, and it’s directly related to my incompetence.

It’s possible that you could jump between worlds.

May 19th, 2008

North Carolina, Day 1

I count today as my first day in NC, since all of yesterday was spent driving and holing up in the new apartment while it rained. Today it was much nicer, so I went exploring Franklin St, and here are my impressions:

This area seems like a much, much friendlier version of the part of Chicago I lived in last summer. It’s not as abrasive or loud, but there are still plenty of things to do. It’s colorful and breezy and seems like an all around cool place. The walk to Franklin is a tad longer than what I was hoping, but it’s certainly no farther than what I walked every day in Morgantown.

The apartment is nice. Alas, my room amounts to basically a small box. I made a mistake in getting a queen-sized air mattress, since it takes up fully 60% of the room. I’m hooking up my main computer tonight, and given that there’s no desk or chair, I imagine the experience is going to be mildly… uncomfortable.

So my goal is to visit a new restaurant each time I go out for dinner. Given the number of places on Franklin, I imagine I’ll have barely exhausted all of them by the time I leave this apartment.

I’m tired. I’m going to go watch Boston Legal (a fantastic show) and possibly nap for a bit.

Would they hire two flamingos?

May 17th, 2008

Stupid Comcast

I am currently writing this from my parent’s home in PA.  My new apartment in Arlington, VA has no internet/cable and will not until probable the 27th at the earliest.  This post is more of a response to whether or not the site will continue.

 I have full intentions of continuing my posts.  I can’t make a real post now.  But I plan to have pictures of the new place in the next post in a couple weeks.

 ~Zach

May 10th, 2008

Last Day in Morgantown

And it’s a heartbreaker. Zach’s already gone. Left a bunch of his crap here, which was a pretty jerk move. Watching an episode of BSG with Ricky, and then we’re going to do a little bonding taking out garbage and putting the futon somewhere… else. Finishing up some packing, and then I’m gone.

Goodbye everyone. I probably won’t see you again.

Memmoorrieeeesss.

May 5th, 2008

I’m About to Eat Pizza

Been reading about component-based design and thinking about playing around with it in a project of my own. My idea is to rewrite Magnetica to (a)use a component-based model, (b)have a cleaner design overall, (c)use some more advanced graphics effects, (d)allow for easier modification, and (e)allow for more variety in the levels. I say rewrite as opposed to modify because the current codebase is criminal; I tried previously to create a Magnetica 2.0 which would incorporate better graphics and cleaner enemy movement and quickly found that it was impossible to pinpoint where certain things were happening. This was immediately traceable to the inheritance tree - things had hardened to the point where modifying a single enemy was a not insignificant task. Given the size/scope of the game, this is inexcusable.

Interestingly, the component-based scheme seems similar to my process management scheme, but a little more controllable. Something I definitely have to look into is a signal-slot approach to event handling (as opposed to my monolithic event manager). I’m starting to think that my approach of “everything is an event” leaves something to be desired in terms of event ordering/determinism, and although this could be helped with a process priority scheme, it might be preferable to simply explicitly call things when they need to be called. I’m not entirely sold on this; I think I have some prototyping to do before I settle.

Component-based models seem to have a skew toward entirely scripted systems, which I’m not prepared to incorporate quite yet. It’s an area for future work. I still want to create a flexible 2D RPG system with a swappable battle system that could facilitate Parodica or the Guardian Sagas series.

On a related note, I think some more research into procedural content generation is in order. Here’s what I know how to generate: dungeons, terrain, simple textures, buildings, and trees. That’s close to enough to procedurally generate a large portion of a bad looking game.

Break the Chain.

|