Tuesday, March 25, 2008

oh dear

man, it is a slow day. Perforce is crawwwwwwling since I have walked in (hours ago!) and until it finishes updating, I can't really get much done. This is unusual, but after last week's crunch, it fuels my lethargy..

Things are alright, our game has been on the public's tongue for a bit over a week (and change?) now, since there's not been quite so much of a media blitz it is sort of quiet mostly - I would imagine that will be different down the road, as usual. Anyway it is certainly interesting (in both good and bad ways) to watch the public reception to the announcement, and the initial articles.. too bad no one leaked any information about the PIRATE NINJA SPACE VIXEN levels in our game yet, oh well.

In the meantime, as usual I have loads and loads of things to say about game development (specifically, about finagling management of the unreal engine) but of course I will keep my cards close to my chest. Needless to say, I am sure I am thinking many of the same things that my counterparts in other companies would. It's very interesting, this development cycle, to see how things are handled "for next gen" (i know, can't really call it that anymore!) compared to the PS2 days. So much more overhead, to say the least. Sigh, I remember the times when I'd be meticulously cutting out shadow geometry all over the terrain "oh my GOD when will these times be past us! All will be valhalla!" Oh but y'know. It's always something, it really is.

I have had a slow trickle of game purchases lately, actually picked up a couple of Sega 32X games if you can believe that (hey, I acquired a unit for free, alright?) There were literally like 2 games for it that I was somewhat interested in looking at, I found them for a song so why not (no haven't even hooked the thing up yet anyway). I still have Bioshock sitting in my bag, as it's been for.. a long time, I really need to play through some more of it but in these times of wayyyyy too many good games, it's hard ot keep one's momentum with nearly anything, at times.

I got a couple big scores, relatively - mentioned previously, of course. First up at bat would be the Vectrex, old console (with built-in monitor) circa 1983, came out juuuust before the Video Game Crash. An impressive little device, I picked up a multicart for it as well (hey man, I just wanna play the games!) It's pretty sweet! I guess I did not know totally what to expect - I do remember the Atari 2600 era fairly well, and what kinds of games it inspired, so with that all in mind the uniqueness of the Vectrex is quite a treat. Disappointed not to see a straight-up Tempest clone amongst the titles there, but what's included is certainly worth the cash I spent on the whole kit (not too much, anyway...) Yeah, the thing looks neat. The controls feel a little touchy, you can tell this controller was designed in the days before hardcore ergonomic testing - as a result there's certainly a much more raw and pure feeling about the whole ordeal. When I ran it the first time, hearning the strange old-fashioned calliope/carnival music sort of made my heart warm a little (as dorky as that sounds!) The games look cool! They look weird, abstract, Janky. The pacman clone makes you laugh. The.. character game makes you.. scratch your head (game design was just in different places in those days). Scramble is as cool as ever. The little space invaders, Asteroids, and Missile Command knockoffs all look, sound, and play great. The pole position game is just like too cute for words, I guess. (trust me, it's cute with the little powerlines and trees and crape). Okay maybe that was Hyper Chase. You get the picture.

The Vector display is something else - you turn the thing on (it's a circular knob, how is that for quaint?)and the thing hums at you. The tube glows strangely, like a great-grandparents' TV would.. it looks odd, but still very neat. A lot of games use these small tiny specks (for stars, bullets, whatever) that just look like glowing bits of too-bright magnesium. It really looks unlike anything else you see in gaming, that's for sure...

Overall the thing is supercool. I wouldn't say I was "glued to it," it's nice to have it here (though it is really just more clutter) but the design and aesthetic from the top-down just makes me feel at home with my roots (my roots-roots!) you know? If anything, it frustrates me because now I want someone to make a similar little desktop MAME cabinet, or something, so I can go even further with it. Wait don't I have a GP32 alrready?

Friday, March 14, 2008

the news is what's news

Lots going on in the world right now.

1. Alpha Protocol, Obsidian's latest project, was announced in the current Game Informer Issue. I guess I can finally update my resume. That's what I have been working on for awhile..

2. Frontlines: Fuel of War released (at last!), the game I turned down for AP. Watching it like a hawk, and I replayed the SP demo, it's fun!

3. Ebay has been xmas for me lately. I have got a lot of goods out of there lately - a couple of Sega 32X games (yeah, really!), a Vectrex circa 1983, a Turbografx-16 CDRom unit (one that works, actually) and an upgraded system card for the unit ("to play Dracula-X"). I will write about these things in short order, haven't spent much (or any) time with any of this stuff since work's been rather hectic. In light of the vectrex, I'll say this - it's weird, which is cool! I set it up next to my monitor at the office, so I get a lot of confused stares these days (more so than usual). Anyway, all I need otherwise is a Gamecube Pad and then I am done shopping online for awhile, I believe.. something tells me that those cannot be too hard to find..

Short entry, but things are quiet right now. More to come soon - I am anxious for the weekend!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

games are boring

.. just like the title says. Post-Holiday season means cooling down, and overall I gotta say it feels pretty "blah" overall in videogameland. Smash Bros is just out, and yeah there's the usual expectations of good times from the new Metal Gear and GTA installments due soon.. but man, if you're me, not any of those does much to tickle the pickle. Where's the new, unheard-of experiences in gaming which are alas being heralded about, then? Trapped in a time capsule or wha? Well, far be it from me to dip into that well, so I might as well tread laterally..

I have a nice backlog of games to work through, though by my mood you can tell I am not too terribly psyched to work my way through them. I think it's time for a vacation from videogaming, or something. On the other end of the world, I booted up RC Pro-Am for the NES in what must have been the first time in at least half-a-decade, memories of struggle rushed forward but that game is still a pleasure, I got to say. I am turning into my Dad "everything from the past is better than anything made since!" Ok it isn't that bad (feels like it sometimes!) I am just a fuddy-duddy I guess.

I am waiting for my vectrex to show up in the mail still, likewise Turbografx CD Rom (man, can you believe I actually write about this stuff AND have a girlfriend.. and she isn't even fat or gross? Well maybe as she gets older, I suppose.) I feel like I have been on an ebay shopping spree lately, as one gets older and has slightly more disposable income, online auctions are definitely a dangerous place to hang out. Anyway that's pretty much all that's got my eye right now. I've a mind to throw some roms on the GP32 and give them a spin, but that thing's aged and it's experience sits not too wonderfully in my memory (this is a very spoiled brat gamer typing here, damn you gameboy micro). They were on route to put out a very gameboy-micro-looking device, those GP32 people, but as with many of their projects it seems to have got sucked up into a fuselage somewhere along the line. This is the part where I waste 20 minutes and look around, fruitlessly, for any more info on the thing (I would still buy one of those in a heartbeat, mind you!) My gameboy micro is easily the most used/most enjoyed gaming platform I own, for a few obvious reasons - most people would like to slap me upside the head and tell me to get a goddamned DS, I am sure. Buy me one if you like, I still won't play it that much I am sure (though I can't argue there's tons of great games on it).

Anyway, enough about my nerdish habits, it's time to rant about my nerdish job. Things are going along alright at work, at this point I am a year in with comfortably intimatizing myself with the unreal 3 editor. It's got some awful sticking points that, I guess, I have gotten pretty used to by now (but why, oh WHY?) - though so long as one is coordinated/thoughtful enough, it's more than useful and powerful. I think I would enjoy taking some downtime to mess with it, at this stage - and likewise, to get way familiar with a lot of other apps/tools that I "should" be more proficient with, 'cause sometimes I just feel like a damned dinosaur. I watch my coworkers bat stuff out, and the way the work - it makes me scratch my head a little "why don't I use those methods?" At this point it's easier to work in my old-fashoned ways to properly get things done, than to try and learn all these weird different abstract approaches to get to the same place (although, they seem much more efficient and faster). At least I don't feel like my eye has suffered much (well.. except perhaps becoming a bit too exacting for my own good).

I am coming up quickly on my one-year anniversary of employment with the curret studio. One year already! Doens't sound like much, but if one looks at my resume, they'll see that one year is by no means not a SHORT duration for me, historically and relatively, to be with a single company. I guess, roughly, the average length of time I've got by now, overall, is something like 1.35 yrs/job. Something like that - doesn't sound too good. But again, considering this industry, and the track record of so many of my peers, I would venture to guess that it's not too far away from the normal. Ah well, so long as I kkeep doing something, then c'est la vie.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

hate you xbox.

my girlfriend bought me rockband for my b-day last month. seriouslythat box is bigger (and heavier) than she is. anyway easily it's the most-played game on my xobx (aside from Pacman, but that's a DL). Anyway not even a month in and the thing won't read. Will not read! "wipe the disc with a damp cloth" it tells me. I take it out and look at it - a little scratched, like these little circular scrapey-scratches as if a certain xbox tray busted it up a little. i wiped and wiped some more but the thing is mostly more and more useless. sigh. I know, i know.. life is tough. homeless people are dying in the street, starving.. little kittens are being raped by the millions every day, I know I know. I just want to hit my drums. i am just whinin'. Xbox is a big piece of malware alright? Hopefully I will not have to replace more than once (rockband), and hopefully no other games will get eaten. Otherwise I am going to make some homeless guy happy with his own brand new slightly busted xbox 360.

shoot. PS3 works.