Archive for the ‘gaming’ Category


Rainy Saturday

8 March, 2008

It’s pouring down rain today. So of course, I went out for a walk in it. = D

I had to go to the Post Office anyway, to get my tax forms. It’s only about 4 blocks away, so it would be ridiculous to walk, no matter how hard it’s raining (and it is raining pretty hard). Besides, I love weather. The more weathery it is, the better. Even though I was soaked before I even made it to the corner, it’s really more about the experience than it is about comfort.

As I was walking, I noticed that all the little birds were sheltering under parked cars. Which got me thinking… isn’t that the kind of place cats would go to get out of the rain too? Presumably, the cats and the birds aren’t under the same cars, sharing some kind of uneasy truce until the weather lets up. So there must be some cars with birds, and some cars with cats. Cat cars and bird cars. How organized, how civil. Maybe the birds can peer across the street at other cars and see cats glaring back at them.

I spent most of the morning programming up a storm. Now that I’m basically done my S.T.A.L.K.E.R. mod (maybe I’ll post a link at some point), I’ve started a new project. This time around, it’s my own game, from scratch.

It might seem strange that after programming all day at work, I’d want to come home and program some more. But the two experiences are totally different. At work, I’m often working within a huge, pre-existing code base, making small additions or fixes. On the other hand, when I work on my own games, I get to start fresh and write everything. It’s like the difference between driving in city traffic compared to roaring down a wide open stretch of highway. I learn different things from those experiences too. At work, I see the solutions that other people have come up with for certain problems, and get to see the results and weigh their merits. On my own projects, I have to come up with solutions for everything myself. I get to decide how everything works, in a much more hands-on, experimental way.

I like that when I start a project at home, I get to start out by writing reams of code. At work, I seldom create new functions and almost never create new classes. When I start an independent project at home, I might write a dozen classes in a day. Er… sorry for the programmer-speak. But the gist of it is that doing my own thing at home is often a much rawer act of creation, and a lot more satisfying.

Anyway, all of this is in its very early stages. It will be a while before I even have enough going on that I can start posting screenshots and talking about the game. But the important thing is that I’ve started it, things are proceeding at a good pace, and I’m having fun. = ]



21 February, 2008

I’m still alive, contrary to any impression you may have got from my neglected blog. I’ve just been working very hard lately, so that means I’ve had little time to post any updates on here, and even if I did, there would be practically nothing to report, since all I’d been doing was working.

However, last night gave a little bit of excitement, as we had a lunar eclipse. I had a great view of it from my apartment, since I’m on the third floor and the apartment is south facing. It all unfolded too slowly to just sit and watch it from beginning to end, but Blake and I made a point of checking on it every half hour or so, and we got a pretty good look at it as it went through all its stages. I don’t think I’ve really watched a lunar eclipse like that since I was a kid. I used to be wildly interested in astronomy… even thought I might become an astronomer when I grew up.

Not that I have any complaints, of course. = ] I’m still loving what I do. In fact, I would recommend that all of you


to see what I’ve been working on for the past several months.


Joy to the Whirled

26 December, 2007

Before I write anything else, let me wish you, dear reader, a very Merry Commerce and a Happy New Year. I hope the past year has been good to you, and you’re having a wonderful holiday, and there are good things in store for you in the coming year. I still recommend you usher it in blinding drunk, just in case that turns out to be the high point.

I’m having a great holiday so far. I will now present my bullet point list of highlights.

Dan’s Bulleted List of Holiday Highlights

  • getting blasted on French-Canadian beer (appropriately named “La Fin Du Monde”) with T&A, while playing endless rounds of TimeSplitters 2. I was the dinosaur on the rooftop with the chaingun.
  • my dad has finished his book on our family history. I’m about halfway through, and it rocks.
  • me, Vania, my two nieces, and my mom, all sitting around playing our respective Nintendo DSes. I got the girls Phantom Hourglass, and my mom is seriously hooked on Puzzle Quest.
  • Doing a grueling class of Hapkido with Master Forster. It’s a great reference point to come back and train with him each year, and make sure I haven’t been backsliding.
  • My eleven-year-old nieces know all about Thor and Odin. My sister has taught them well.
  • There is half a metre of snow here, and we’ve had more heavy snowfall the last two nights. This is the way a white xmas is supposed to be.
  • The devil invented a new card game and taught it to my mother. It’s called sets, and it’s cruel like salt in a paper cut. My mom loves it and makes us play it every night. Only for my mother…

In general, I’m having a great time. These visits home every year are like plugging in your cellphone overnight – it’s the only thing that keeps me going through the rest of the year. I find that as time goes by, my family becomes more and more important to me, so it means a lot to get back to see them every xmas. When people have known you this long, and still like you… you keep them close to your heart.


This and That

8 December, 2007

Sorry I’ve neglected to post for the past week or two. Things have been pretty busy at work, lots of overtime again as we work on finishing up Bully for the Xbox 360. But all of that is behind me now – I started my xmas holidays today. I’m taking a glorious, well-deserved 4 weeks off. I fly out to Vancouver tomorrow, and then on to Prince George the following Saturday.

I should also report that I have had my first encounters with the American medical system. I will now unfold a litany of terrors!!!

Not. Actually, I don’t have much to complain about. It all started with some pain, inflammation, discoloration and finally an obvious infection in my big toe. I will not provide photographs. Since I didn’t have a doctor yet (this is my first medical complaint since arriving here) and couldn’t arrange an appointment in short order, I took myself into a local Emergency room. Where there was no line up, no chaos, and I was seen to immediately by a nurse and then a doctor who informed me I had an ingrown toenail. But enough about the toe. What I found interesting was that the capacity to serve (with medical care) seemed to outstrip the need for it… they were able to treat me immediately and could have treated more people in the same time.

Then this week, I went to an actual doctor’s appointment. I had to wait a while for the appointment (the earliest the could book me was a week and a half after I called), but once I got there, again, I had the same impression. The doctor did not seem to be rushing between patients – instead, he spent a fair amount of time with me and chatted about random stuff like his college basketball days.

All of this is in stark contrast to my visits to doctors and Emergency rooms in Canada. There, you could always count on having to wait several hours in Emergency (my last visit, with a bleeding injury, involved a 7 hour wait). My visits to the doctor involved being shuffled into one of a battery of examining rooms through which the doctor then rotated as rapidly as possible, spending no more than a few minutes with each patient unless it was absolutely necessary.

Now, two more obvious differences. I had to pay a nominal user fee in each case. The Emergency room visit was $50, and the doctor’s appointment was $15 (with the rest being covered by my medical insurance, of course). And yes, I have medical insurance, which not all Americans do. However, it’s significant that in Massachusetts, everyone is legally required to have medical insurance, and for people with low incomes, this insurance is subsidized so as not to be a burden. So in fact, everyone here has access to the same level of care that I received (unless they’re refusing to buy insurance on principle, which apparently some are).

To be sure, there must be many other factors underlying the differences that I’ve noticed. But it’s just interesting to find, given what a sacred cow we’ve made of our universal Medicare, and the wailing and gnashing of teeth that meets any move to allow privatization, that the American medical system is actually pretty friendly, competent and more than able to meet the needs of its patients.

In other news, I’ve updated the Reading List again.


Hitting Town

6 November, 2007

And by “town,” I mean Vancouver. That’s right, Santa Claus isn’t the only one who’s coming to town this Xmas. Having worked so hard on Empire Earth III (which hit the shelves today, by the way), and now on a new project, I have more than a month of holidays and comp time coming to me. “Compcember,” they’re calling it. I’ll be spending most of that in Prince George with my family (and where I hear there is already snow), but I’ll also be knocking shit over in Van for a few days on my way through.


I get in on Dec. 9th, and fly out again on the 14th. Things will need to be done, people will need to be seen, and that likely includes you. A game of Risk? A Chong Qing run? Some sushi? An Xbox night? All necessary parts of the experience. Sign up below. I’m looking forward to seeing you all again. Try to stay out of trouble till then.



30 October, 2007

Why are people so worked up and worried about violent videogames, when they should be worried about DOGS WITH GUNS?



Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town

11 October, 2007

Last week I had to take my car in to get a new alternator. Since I knew I’d have to wait around while the installed it, I brought my Nintendo DS along to keep me out of trouble.

So I’m sitting there, playing some Animal Crossing, and even though I made a point of turning the sound all the way down before I turned it on, I keep thinking I hear the distinctive sound of the game’s music. I check the volume, and bring the DS up to my ear… but no, the sound is definitely off. Yet I keep hearing the sounds and music, just faintly. Finally, I look up at the front counter, where the young woman who works there has her head down, working intently.

“Excuse me… are you playing Animal Crossing?”

And she was! Apparently she had just got the game a few days ago, and was just figuring it all out. So while I waited for my car to get fixed, she came and visited my town (Pawston), gathered some fruit, bought up all the stuff in Tom Nook’s store, and even got a new hairdo. It was all quite amusing, and it definitely helped pass the time until my car was all ready to go.