Things Hunty Jammed in His Eye Today|
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|Monday, April 11th, 2011|
|Actionscript 3: An analogy
As a lot of people know, I really enjoy making analogies. Sometimes they're not very good analogies, but they're fun to make anyway. This is an analogy for why I don't like Actionscript 3. In the future, whenever someone asks me what I think of AS3, I will direct them here.
Being a game programmer is like being a sculptor, and Actionscript is like clay. AS1 was like Play-Doh; it frequently got all crumbly, and couldn't really be used for big projects, but it was good for playing with, and rolling into fun shapes.
AS2 is like Sculpey; a great, versatile clay that scales well and you can make pretty much anything with. Sure, it takes some getting used to and it smells weird, but once you got the hang of it the sky's the limit, and you can easily toss together something fairly impressive in like half an hour. You could also develop your own artistic style with it; one person might make a human figure by starting with an armature and building on that, another person might sculpt the body parts separately in molds and then patch them together, and another person might sculpt the entire thing freehand starting with just a blob of clay. I say this as someone who has literally done things with AS2 that people regularly tell me they thought would be impossible to do with AS2, and has made entire, robust games in AS2 starting from scratch in just a few days.
AS3 comes in a box that says "From the makers of Play-Doh and Sculpey, comes the new and improved Clay 3.0!" When you open the box, however, all that's inside is a hammer and chisel, and a note that says "Now you can sculpt with marble!" While it's true that making something out of clay and making something with a hammer and chisel are both called "sculpting", they're really pretty different, and require very different skills. If you sit a sculptor with a big block of Sculpey down next to a sculptor with a hammer and chisel and a big block of marble, and tell them both to sculpt The Thinker, it's gonna take the guy with the hammer and chisel ten times as long to do it, and they'll both end up looking pretty much identical. There's also the fact that I already HAVE a dremel, a jackhammer, and a bunch of other tools that are much better suited to carving marble (read: other programming languages and tools like C, C++, C#, Java, Unity, etc., most of which are available for free), so if I whip something together in clay that I then decide to re-sculpt in marble, I already have much better tools for that than just a hammer and chisel.
I could go on and on with this analogy, but this is a pretty good stopping point. In summary, the reason I don't like AS3 is because AS2 was the perfect tool for rapidly prototyping pretty much anything I could think of, and I could either leave it in AS2, or fairly quickly re-create it in C# or something else using my AS2 prototype as a reference. AS3 throws out everything that made AS2 the perfect tool for rapid prototyping, and instead it claims to be on par with bigger programming languages like C#, but it's really not. AS3 does
have an advantage over AS2 in that it has native support for joysticks and accelerometers and other hardware, but again C# and Java do it better and cheaper.
|Tuesday, February 8th, 2011|
|Japan's declining birthrate in a nutshell
So, there's a new game called Nier. It's about this badass dude
on a quest to save his daughter
, with the help of this barely-dressed woman
In the US, the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of this game are identical. In Japan, however, the two versions are slightly different. The Japanese Xbox 360 version is called "Nier Gestaldt", and is pretty much identical to the US version.
The Japanese PS3 version is called "Nier Replicant", and has identical gameplay, and an identical plot with a couple of important differences: Instead of the badass dude above, the protagonist of the Japanese PS3 version looks like this
, and instead of questing to save his daughter he's trying to save his "little sister". Also, the barely-dressed woman is a hermaphrodite.
Neogaf provides this handy flowchart
to help you decide which version is right for you.
I'll let you draw your own conclusions.
|Thursday, January 20th, 2011|
I don't know if there's anyone who reads my LJ but not my Facebook any more, but just in case I figured I'd mention this here as well as FB:
My new project is reccr
, an automated video game recommender. You rate the games you've played, and it'll tell you what other games you'll like. It's currently in beta, and it could really use as much input as possible at this point, so if you haven't checked it out yet please do so, and if you checked it out a few months ago but haven't been back since, please take another look and see how your recommendations are looking, and rate any games that you've played in the meantime. Thanks!
|Tuesday, March 9th, 2010|
|WIKIPEDIA IS NOT GOOD FOR LEARNING MATH.
I've gone to Wikipedia several times to try to learn new math concepts, and been completely bamboozled every time. I recently noticed that even the Wikipedia articles on math concepts that I do
know pretty well are really confusing, so I decided to look up the most basic mathematical concept of all: Addition. This is the result.
|Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010|
|darling it's better down where it's wetter
OK, duders. As a big fan of the original Bioshock
, I was obligated to play Bioshock 2
, and I finished it last night.
Initially I was wary of it, since like nobody from the original team was involved in its creation (or so I've heard), but then it came out and I heard it was "more of the same", which actually sounds like a good thing to me, and someone gave me a $25 Gamestop gift card for my birthday, so I picked it up. I will refrain from going off on a 30-page tirade about my experience at Gamestop. Suffice it to say I will make every effort to never set foot in a Gamestop again. Anyway, the game...( OMG this got really long.Collapse )
overall, there are a few neat improvements that could have made the first game more fun (the changes to hacking and the camera, and meeting some characters face-to-face), there are a few things that are kind of fun but which I think hinder the game's mood and pacing (summoning bots and recruiting enemies), and everything else kind of sucks.
|Monday, February 15th, 2010|
|Friday, January 22nd, 2010|
|busman's holiday for pathologists
and I played Pandemic
for the first time last night. We played the "introductory" difficulty level, and thought we were totally kicking ass but actually ended up BARELY winning (we won when there was ONE card left in the player draw pile, and if you draw the last card in the player draw pile as part of your mandatory "draw two cards at the end of your turn" EVERYBODY DIES). We drew role cards randomly, and I pulled Medic and she pulled Researcher, and the Medic was a WHOLE lot more useful than the Researcher, but that's OK because she was kind of playing "remotely" with the baby in her lap and having me draw her cards and move her pawn for her most of the time.
To back up for a little bit for anyone who hasn't played Pandemic yet (which is probably most of you), it's a co-op board game where the players are working together to stop four simultaneous, virulent, disease epidemics from wiping out mankind. Each player is assigned a "role" with one or two special abilities, and you all work together and coordinate your actions to cure the diseases. The diseases are color-coded, and to cure a disease a player has to discard five cards of the same color as the disease, while in a city with a research center. This is much easier said than done, however, because the game imposes a strict 7-card hand size limit, and the cards are also very useful for other things like building research centers and fast-traveling around the map. Once all four diseases are cured, the players all win. However, the players all LOSE if the deck they draw from runs out, or the stock of markers for any one disease runs out (meaning that all of the markers for that disease are on the board), or if there are eight "outbreaks" (an outbreak occurs whenever a city gets more than 3 disease markers of the same color, at which point it ruptures disease markers into all neighboring cities, which can cascade more outbreaks if they're already full). So, lots of ways to lose, one way to win. Also, even if you've "cured" one of the diseases it can still pop up and spread around until it is completely eradicated from the board, which is no mean task.
This game was originally released at the height of the piggy-pox and bird flu scare, so its theme was very topical a couple years ago, but I think they probably could've given it longer legs if they'd tacked on a "zombie" theme, even though I feel at this point that zombies have pretty much reached market saturation. With the current theme, it feels just a little bit like I'm playing an edu-game, and one whose topicality has passed. I also think (especially with a zombie theme) that this game could do really well on Xbox Live.
|videos that I wish were on the internets
There are many videos on the internets. But there are some that are not. Here are three videos that are not on the internets (or anywhere else that I can find, for that matter) that I wish were:
- The "60 Minutes" segment from the late 1970s on the negative effect that video games have on the minds of impressionable youngsters. I saw this once on a random cable channel as part of some sort of "the weirdest 60 Minutes segments" special or something, but of course I've never been able to find it again. The highlight of the episode was a shocking expose on how the 1976 game "Death Race" teaches kids to run over people with cars! (The kids, of course, keep trying to point out to the reporter that the stick figures they're running over with cars are supposed to be evil skeletons rising from their graves.)
- The "321 Contact" segment where they go to Williams and visit the people working on the Tron video game (from 1982), including a young George Gomez (who later went on to design a lot of critically-acclaimed pinball machines), and get a look "behind the scenes" of how an arcade game is made, complete with level designs that didn't make the final cut.
- "Color Correction", a PBS documentary on the evolution of the role of black actors in American TV. I watched the first half of this in a "Rave and Hip-Hop Culture" class I took at UNM (yes, there really was a "Rave and Hip-Hop Culture" class one semester at UNM), but the class was poorly organized and we didn't have time to watch the whole thing and the instructor forgot about it the next class. He was supposed to let me borrow it, but he never did.
Dear internets, please find me these videos.
|Tuesday, January 19th, 2010|
|in the land of the blind, be king, king, king, king
After an 8 year hiatus, I'm warming up to the tabletop games again. I've heard TONS of good things about Dominion and Pandemic, so I asked for (and got) both for Christmas. xuer
and I played some Dominion last night and we both loved it.
The gist of Dominion is that everyone starts out with 10 cards; 3 "victory point" cards, and 7 money cards. Available to buy with your money cards are money cards in higher denominations, more victory cards, and 10 different types of "action cards". When you buy cards, they go in your discard pile, as do the money cards you spent to buy them, and the entire rest of your hand. When your deck runs out, you immediately shuffle your discard pile and turn it into your deck, so as you play you're building a deck tuned to whatever strategy you want to use. At the end of the game, whoever has the most victory points wins, but victory point cards are dead weight otherwise, so you have to strike a balance between having enough to win but not so many that you clog up your deck with them.
This game is also incredibly "elegant". There are no cards that "stay out" on the table, so you never have any cards in front of you except when it's your turn and you're showing the other players the cards you're using that turn; otherwise everything stays in your hand, your deck, and your discard pile. Also, the game runs a lot faster than you'd expect it to, since the next player starts his turn while you're discarding the cards you've used that turn, shuffling your discards if your deck has run out, and drawing your new hand, so when play comes back to you you've already had time to look at your hand and you already know what you're going to do.
The 10 types of "action" cards that I mentioned in the beginning are pulled from a pool of 25, so not only are there multiple strategies for whatever set of 10 action cards are available, but there are also tons of different possible combinations of 10 action cards. The rules suggest three different "themed" sets of 10, but they also encourage you to make up your own sets, or choose the set randomly, or democratically, or however you want. There are also expansions for the game that add EVEN MORE possibilities, but I think we'll stick with just the core game for a LONG time before we exhaust all the possible combinations and strategies and start to crave more variety.
Based on the three games we played of this last night, this is far and away my absolute favorite tabletop game EVAR, and I very highly recommend it.
|Monday, January 4th, 2010|
|a list (in order)
Richard E. Grant (shalka, not the parody)
Peter Cushing (probably goes here even though I haven't seen either movie)
|Sunday, January 3rd, 2010|
and some other people are making their "top [quantity] albums of the 00s" lists. I haven't bought or listened to very many albums in the last ten years, though, so I could only scrape together a top 5. So, here's my top 5 albums of the double-oughts, in no particular order:
Underworld - A Hundred Days Off
Thievery Corporation - The Richest Man in Babylon
Daft Punk - Discovery
Yuzo Koshiro - Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 2 OST
Kylie Minogue - Fever
honorable mention goes to:
Paul Starr - In Lieu of Talent
Perhaps this will give people who have been asking about my musical tastes some insight into my musical tastes. Also, in case anyone's wondering, my favorite album EVAR is Underworld's "Beaucoup Fish", which came out in 1999 and thus, sadly, missed being in this list.
|Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009|
|Monday, December 21st, 2009|
|my big break has finally come!
OMG! So, I'm probably not supposed to talk about this yet, but I didn't see an NDA, so I'm going ahead...
I've been hired to write a flash-based web game tie-in for a new movie that's coming out called The King in Yellow
! I hadn't heard of it before, but apparently they really liked my work on In the Pit, and my flash games, and my work on The Sigil
(which is really weird because Sigil isn't even finished and I don't remember posting any of the work-in-progress stuff to the internet, but I guess one of my actors must have). They sent me a copy of the script with a cover letter and, oddly, underneath the cover letter addressed to me there were other cover letters offering roles in the movie to Brittany Murphy, David Carradine, and Heath Ledger. So, I guess I'll wait to hear who they actually
end up casting in those roles, and in the meantime I can start working on the game's core mechanics. I'm gonna go read the script now and I'll let you guys know what I think!( UPDATE:Collapse )
|Monday, December 14th, 2009|
|the left brain doesn't know what the right brain is doing.
so, there are two XNA video-game-making programs at UNM; one in Fine Arts, and the other in Engineering. There's no overlap between the two, and they seem to barely even know each other exist. Last week I went to the final project presentations for both of them. The Engineering class made arcadey games with an emphasis on 3D graphics,and the Fine Arts class made "serious" games with an emphasis on promoting a specific message.
I mentioned to some friends over the weekend that I thought it was ironic that the "engineering" group made something fun and frivolous, while the "art" group made something utilitarian and serious, and my friends pointed out that this wasn't ironic at all; fine arts people are pretentious bores who look for "meaning" in everything, while engineers just want to build cool stuff.
This explains so much...
|Friday, December 4th, 2009|
|re: working in a vacuum
The ancient Greek sculptor Polyclitus once performed an experiment where he worked on two sculptures simultaneously, one in his private workroom and one in the room where he often entertained guests. Whenever someone commented on the viewable sculpture, Polyclitus would change it as they suggested. When both sculptures were finished and showed to the public, the private one was declared a masterpiece and the public one considered an artistic disaster. When asked how the two sculptures could be so drastically different in quality, Polyclitus answered, "Because I made this one (the private one) and you made that one."
|Thursday, December 3rd, 2009|
|Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009|
|Friday, October 30th, 2009|
|Tuesday, October 20th, 2009|