Category Archives: Thoughts

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Horizons, horizons

Just thought I would post a small update on the off-chance that anyone reads anything that I post!

I am currently doing some work for the Union initiative at Unity Technologies. It is an initiative designed to bring current and future games to emerging platforms whether they are set-top boxes, TV internals (play a game on your Bravia without having a console), or cellular platforms. We are doing most of the business-end deals with manufacturers and hoping to bring a great catalog of stellar games made with the engine to them.

I am also still doing community support for the Torque line of engines, though I cannot really announce anything officially until the trigger is pulled by Eric Preisz. But the future there is bright for all Torque licensees.

I am also applying for a position with District 25 as the Technology Coordinator. I have no idea yet if I will even get an interview. I am hopeful, but I also really enjoy working at ISU as a Computer Analyst.

So that is just a small update on some of the things going on in my life right now. Thanks to the two spammers who are reading!

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I have a pretty good life, you know?

Category : Thoughts

I have a solid position as a programmer/analyst at Idaho State University. I also have a great job with InstantAction as a community manager/e-mail support tech for the Torque team. I know a lot of game developers out in the "real world" and love the projects that they are working on. I somehow became the president of the board at the Westside Players, a community theatre organization that I've been a part of for a long time. I see more excellent theatre in a year that most people see in a lifetime (which I just find sad, actually...for them). I have three kitties (Sam, Beckett, and Topher) and two ferrets (Zoe and Broots). And most importantly of all, I have the most amazing wife in the world.

Even though money is tight she lets me indulge my tinkering side by licensing game tech. Someday I might actually make use of it--a sadly, mostly empty threat, but I could train a ton of people on using a lot of engines if I had to. I often think that I should teach a game development course. Then I think: who the hell am I to teach such a course?

Who knows, there is a strong chance that no one in the area would be interested in a course on game logic using engines like Torque, UDK, Unity, or Pushbutton here in Idaho. I think I'll leave the teaching to my wife. I doubt there's much interest here. I still need to head down to the Utah Indie Game Night and meet up with everyone down there. I haven't seen a lot of them since 2007 in Eugene. It's been a long time and I want to see how their projects are faring--I know how Ninja Bee's projects are doing since I've been playing everything I can get my hands on from them. But others, I keep track of on blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

There are a lot of times that I feel disconnected from the game scene since I'm a remote employee in the remotest area (okay, Josh and Lara had be beat before moving to Cali). But then I think about the people I've met, conversations I've had, and the very, very cool developers who stopped by to chat at GDC and I feel at least a little connected again.

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My life, recently

Category : Thoughts

For the last couple of weeks, I have been working 12-14 hour days at ISU to try to get the massive multitudinous mountain of problems to subside. I think tonight I got the last of the big ones that will make me stay late. I also work at InstantAction in the Torque division as well, and adding that on top of 12-14 hour days has been killing me lately.

So if I seem out of sorts or in a daze or not as nice as usual, that is why.

I do know exponentially more about Windows Server 2008 R2 than I did before. Hopefully I can kill some of the weird bugs we're seeing as a result of extremely old code and ad-hoc design practices.

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I dreamed that Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Julia Roberts were in a children’s cancer ward film…

Category : Thoughts

I'm never quite sure where my mind goes when I go to sleep, but I seemed to have Julia Roberts on the brain (which is not surprising since Marni and I watched Sleeping with the Enemy last night). In the dream, Morgan and Roberts were doctors in a children's cancer ward. They were surrounded by beautiful and gifted children frozen in pain and ugliness. It had the actor's usual flare for romantic comedies as well as their keen abilities to perform serious roles. I loved that movie.

To bad it was just a dream.

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Do what you are good at.

Category : Thoughts

I often hear the phrase "do what you know" or "do what you are good at", but the problem is that I'm a bit scattered at times and have difficulty pinpointing just what it is that I'm good at.

I'm quite competant at computer programming. I've been doing it for a long time and have several languages, development environments, and projects under my belt as a result of it. So it seems that I should run in that direction, and at times I have. My latest little foray into the programming world off-the-clock has been a little RPG engine that currently makes use of Flex. If I go much further with it, I will be using the PushButton Engine, which is a great Flash-based engine that has some very strong developers behind it. It is well-organized and can efficiently push what I am doing in the right direction (ie. I will not have to build an engine from scratch).

But I find the RPG to be a diversion; it is a way for me to avoid doing other things because I'm having difficulty with them. Not real-life stuff. I clean the ferret cage, do laundry (sometimes), and putter around the house or yard. But those things that I do not have to be doing but enjoy...but and stuck on.

Like Manifest Destiny. I had a dream about a little girl who could manifest herself psychicly. Then I began to flesh it out. Suddenly, I had a slew of ideas , none of them well-formed but all of them intriguing. Maybe ideas would be too vague a term. Instead it was a series of imagery or lines or situations that I found intriguing. Unfortunately, since they are ephemeral in nature, they are having trouble manifesting themselves, which is a problem with the premise. If I cannot dilineate a single arc with these phantoms, then having a lot of partial arcs that never go anywhere would be extremely annoying and irritating to write, develop, film, and watch. So I am thinking of back-burnering it for a bit. I feel bad though, because Chris is an amazing help and helped me hone ideas down a bit...but they are still so scattered that I think it would take much, much longer than we have to even make something baseline presentable.

Which makes me look at other projects.

I have thought a lot about the pioneer slasher because it is mostly a single location with a smallish group of actors (and a similarly sized crew). Unfortunately, I would have to travel and take these people with me to a location, which I cannot afford. Strike there.

I have also thought a lot about a zombie musical. This is my favorite idea that I want to work on, though it is also one of the wackiest since I do not want a comedy show-piece, but a full-on in-your-face ultraviolent hyperactive zombie bloodfeast...with music and lyrics. I will see how this idea shapes up this next week.

I have also been doing a bit of 3D modeling in Modo. I'm relearning the interface since it has been a while since I got into it. It is easy enough that it truly is like riding a bike. I have been modeling a high-school, because I'm a fan of modern games that take place in hellish environments.

Which brings me back around to doing what I know. I do a lot of different things, but I do not know how well I do them. From work, I know that programming is something that I can do well, but it is also my job day-in-and-day-out.

Time to go and act for the final weekend of Relatively Speaking. We should have a good house tonight. I know tomorrow night is sold out.

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I love my jobs

Category : stuff I'm doing , Thoughts

I have to say that I love my jobs. Sure, there can be horrific pressures. ISU is seeing budget freezes, layoff's, hiring freezes. I get people who scream at me to support their non-existent C++ coding knowledge when they were told repeatedly that certain features require C++ changes to the engine (PhysX in TGE, for example). But 99% of the time, I quite enjoy my jobs.

I enjoy getting to work with Chuck and Ron on our lab issues. I really enjoy getting to sit down, test logic, and program. My boss, Tony, makes chatting about extremely important issues seem light and much less stressful than they could be. In all, it feels like a pretty big win situation.

Working at ISU and GG is an Epic Win!

Working at ISU and GG is an Epic Win!

On the GarageGames front, I really enjoy Deborah, Mich, Brett, Jacob, and Michael who I seem to be in constant communication with about any given number of things that are going on in my work-day. Sometimes I feel a bit out of the loop, as can be expected from a remote employee, but Matt and the rest of the Torque 3D crew and contractors keep me well-versed in everything that is going on in the development shell. Jacob is excellent at keeping me updated on what is happening with web pushes that he and his team are working on. Mich is a powerhouse when it comes to documentation and community presence. His GDC interviews and documentation are absolutely awesome.

"Read More"

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Is Your Hair on Fire?

Category : Thoughts

It never ceases to amaze me how people get bent out of shape about little things and infer huge things from next to nothing. I'm all for drama; otherwise I wouldn't be in the theatre. But sometimes I see drama get blown out of proportion and all I can think is "WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?"

Maybe it is just me. I don't understand road rage. I cannot comprehend how someone can get so worked up over being cut off or someone driving slowly that they get out of the car and bash the person's head in or ram them constantly. It makes no sense to me at all.

I deal with the public all the time, and I very, very often have people around me flying off the handle for no apparent reason.


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Sammy Hagar’s “Loud”

Category : Thoughts

When I was heading home from work yesterday, the radio station I was listening to played a "crank it or yank it" tune. The idea is pretty simple and has a ton of different names on other stations (and some with the same name). Listeners vote for whether they want to hear the song ever again. It was Sammy Hagar's "Loud". I missed the final verdict, but from the polls at the time, "Loud" was going to be yanked from the airwaves; and I agreed.

"Loud" was a revisiting of what made Sammy sound good back in the early 1980's with his album VOA and the now-classic hit "I Can't Drive 55". I have never been a big Hagar fan (in that I don't go out of my way to buy his music or go to his concerts), but I have always had a rather healthy enjoyment of his music. "Loud" is definitely the exception. Whereas I enjoyed a number of his solo albums and work with Van Halen, "Loud" felt like it was trying entirely too hard to be "I Can't Drive 55", but without the fun, edge, and excitement.

The formula is there. The song sounds like Sammy. It is structured the same as his other songs. But the vibrance is not there. There is no excitement. It is a formula without the life behind it. It feels about the same as being a lit major studying algebra. It just doesn't connect. Whereas his previous work had a certain life that caught fire like a PhD in engineering hitting the cherry equation to make the project click. AC/DC's albums have that life; their similarity is their comfort. "Loud" sounds like his other stuff but without the impact.

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Underminding Your Message: Dodge Radio Commercials

Category : Business , Thoughts

We have a commercial for Dodge trucks that is running on our local radio stations. The commercial plays out like this (paraphrased):

"I'm a truck driver. I drive big rigs all day long and I know trucks. When I get home, I love to drive my Dodge."

That's the base message of the ad. And it makes sense to me. I've known a lot of truck drivers in my time, and they definitely know a lot about the trucks that they drive. It makes sense that they would choose to drive good-q2uality, heavy-duty trucks in their regular "off-duty" time as well as when they're on the clock. The authenticity of the messages is almost self-fulfilling.

But then at the end of the ad, there is a disclaimer. Aside from the various APR commentary and such that is included in such commercials, there is a notice that the commercial is not based on actual customer experience. Which throws a huge red flag in my face. Could the marketing department or ad agency not find a real truck driver who is a Dodge fanatic? I know several, and while some would definitely not be the poster-children of articulate radio ads, there are a lot who are very articulate and very, very supportive of their trucks.

Living in Idaho, I know people who have gotten in fights over their favorite truck being dissed by someone with a different favorite. While those people are not the fans that marketing hype want to focus on (they are already caught), there are a ton of enthusiastic and well-spoken fans ready to scream down the competition. Why not make use of them? Especially in ads that will otherwise deflate themselves when it comes out that the whole thing was a marketing sham?

If you happen to have a fanbase, make some good use of them. People like to state their opinions, and if they love you...let them.