Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I sat on the hilltop looking down. Below I saw the silence of my town. Settled peacefully into a rut that only a few had any idea what mud had gotten into it, the wagon wheel of progress slowed to a halt, or more amusingly from up here, it spun in place, going back and back again to the same innovation. How on earth could stereo sound still impress so many people? But I guess that's the way of the world. I knew history repeated itself, but seriously, it was a bit of a letdown.

I smiled, though. I was done with them all. I had set out with exactly three apples and 15 copper coins in a knapsack and a kitchen knife in my hand. Also, I was wearing straight-up jeans, no metal armor or anything for me, and a t-shirt that was far too comfortable to pay the holes in it any heed. At that point I turned around and headed down the far side of the hill. The grass was sorta green, which was better than the dead grass I had left behind. I meandered down the grade and found myself in a valley with a nice little stream. Trees filtered the sunlight upon me and I knew it was time for a little break and one of those apples.

Crunching into the delicious cherry-red apple I looked around. A sudden chill came to me, and I knew then that my kitchen knife would be necessary in a few moments. Mountain lion, bear, something unknown was watching me. But I wasn't going to get all worried. I had protection.

So down I sat with my back against a tree and the knife laying safely next to me and my hand on the hilt. I waited. Moments turned into minutes as I waited for the beast to appear. Minutes lengthened into large amounts of minutes. Still, I knew the beast would appear. Then I would kill and harvest the meat and make better protective clothing for myself, with an added bonus of such hides making me more stealthy.

All was going to plan as I waited for the beast.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I spent the past 3 months working nonstop on an animation project for my senior animation class at Northeastern. It was an intense process and indeed I'm glad I did it. I directed a team of 4 others and we attempted to create a realistic city block and composite a live actor into the cg world. In many ways I think we very much succeeded. There are gorgeous shots and the overall story seemed to be represented well.

I was the main camera and timing guy in addition to running the team, and it was spending those hours just running over the edit that I had the most fun. Really looking at what was important, what we didn't need, and just how it all flowed together. At a reasonably fast pace we were able to establish a character, a dilemma, and build it all up to a climax and a resolution. It was awesome!

So the story goes: this guy is walking along when he discovers he's walking along a glowing blue line. He tries to step off of it but the world rotates so that his step away from the line is now back on it. Confused and rattled, he tries again, but again the world responds, so that every time he tries to move away from the line it twists the world just so he's back onto the darn thing. Well now he's just gone loopy and going to have himself a ball. And he does, until suddenly a pot falls and almost takes him out. Flustered and fearful he takes off, only to discover that he's arrived at the end of the line where a glowing blue X awaits. He hesitates only to have the world tilt him forward. Bam! A girl runs into him and they fall to the ground. He looks up and- love! The end!

And that's my call to sleep.

p.s. urge me to write more, people. I love writing, I just don't do it often enough because I seem to think other things are more important. (and they're not)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

If a server goes down in the computer lab, does anyone survive? These are the questions we ask ourselves in the precious times when all that is near and dear crumbles under the fact that it is a collection of ones and zeros.

Sanity, my friends, that is what I'm losing. Madness, I am gaining. And now I'm hungry. Dinnertime!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Nerve endings
And salutations to you proud nations
With crumbling numbers
As colors crunch.
Fading leaves and tattered
While light dissipates
My blood accumulates in white cells
Where poetry dissolves back into energy.
Potential resolutions gone
And hoped for.
Fall, I fall
I whisper softly to my fate
While the heart yearns through years and sees nothing
But fading light
Burning brighter and brighter into the reversing night.

Friday, November 28, 2008

When the day came for the warriors,
They stood up and were counted.

The leader of them stepped forward and looked upon his fellow tribesmen. Boys danced among their ranks, eager to see those they would one day follow. Dark clouds held over their village as they listened to the rain fall upon their forests and their people. The hills glistened in the downpour as the glow over the hills raged on. The men were silent as they thought to themselves of their sons and daughters and wives. The children continued to dance and began to tumble about, warring in their own worlds as the chiseled faces and furrowed brows above relaxed at the sight.

Darkness was across the sky, a blood red hue, but beneath the pouring thunder there was light, shining beyond the sun.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


So I played the Tomb Raider Underworld demo and found myself begging for mercy. Tomb Raider is exactly the type of game that I love: acrobatic world-exploration with fighting interspersed. But the core of the game is movement around luscious environments with a plethora of movement puzzles that force Lara Croft to pull off awesome looking stunts. And when the events work right, then the game is really cool. Hanging on ledges, leaping to rock outcroppings, doing random backflips, awesome stuff. All of these things are set up in a fashion so that each puzzle is a twisting rail that you've got to navigate to create a beautiful balance beam routine.

However, between each routine the game hates on your movement. There are so many context-sensitive dynamic events that the computer doesn't realize when you're just trying to run around or enter one of these things, when you're near something. I have never experienced before a AAA-game where I pressed a few different direction keys and nothing happened. I don't know if I want to see my character run in place, but not even having that image of the game being confused, it threw me. When I press the forward key, something should happen! The game is a lot of fun when it works, but be cautious about approaching anything while running on level ground. You will be stopped and Lara will attempt to do something and often fail.

In addition, I found the camera far too sensitive. I would set it up how I liked, but moving only slightly would shift camera position dramatically. This is especially an issue in tight spaces, where you might suddenly get a wonderful close-up on Lara that is appreciated for the few seconds before you attempt any movement, and then the camera freaks out. Also, I actually found myself sometimes falling to my death because I would approach a ledge while the camera stayed too low for me to know that I was about to plunge very far down.

All of this is too bad, because the game has a lot of potential. It feels very fluid at times, and animations interacting with the world are very enjoyable, especially the often easy ability to pull off incredible stunts. Perhaps the final game will correct these camera issues and movement sensitivity, but I'm not holding out immense hope for these things to be corrected to the point that I'd buy the game...

We'll see, Lara, we'll see.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I'm not sure if this is an issue, but is it insomnia if I actually sleep quite well, it's just my inability to go to sleep? I find myself working here in the lab and it's almost 3am, I have to
get up in about 5.5 hours, and I only slept about 4 hours last night? I feel tired, but I find myself slightly strung out, not able to just drop things and leave? Am I allowed to leave? I've got more to do before I sleep but I think instead I should just sleep.

I want to play Mario Super Strikers though, or perhaps God of War, both of which have been preoccupying my random spare moments of late. Both incredibly addictive games for completely different reasons. But files are finished transferring now, so I best do some work and sleep while I can. I'll talk more about my respective experiences with those games in bit.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mass Across The Charles

I wonder how often people dive off this bridge.
And when they do, what are they thinking?
The challenge set, to enter and escape
Or let winter waters swallow one whole.
Do they see infinity or an end?
Does the city crumble in their vision?
Or conquer the sky?
Do they sweat or freeze with the serenity below.
How long will trees last here?
Laughter, what timeline for that?
There's so much clarity as the darkness cools to black.
How long will these lights last?
Will the wind ever die or the mirror give up?
The water answers,
Its four dimensions clear.
But I comprehend not,
I am lost in this moment.
Forever right now.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A new poem

Do I know what action is?
Sometimes I say the answer's yes.
It's not true, just a presumptuous guess.
And I know it's wrong
Through every note of this song.
From each thought unhad,
Action silence-clad
So don't ask me if I know the way
When I'm taut with decisions
Fraught with revisions
Molded into the fray.

I didn't ask for this confusion,
I thought I've always had questions
But now those questions are absent,
I search and wonder if I've curiosity left.
A million reasons in every direction
I can't be bothered to spell them out,
Stretching far as I can decipher
The way is clear but it's so dark out.
Even still, moves so fluid,
A partial step so long to start
Momentum is strong the action ain't over,
Silence keeps flowing, one part, next part.

These actions continue, seen or not,
In quiet, cacophony, calm or storm.
With winds whistling harsh approval
Of time exploding, reducing form.
So the ripples leave me,
A shell of previous,
True or devious art
I lose the blue,
As nothing grows
Swallow my absence
Tender reaction
That nothing knows.
Way, not way,
Path unwound
Bitter tear I'm sick and tired
You've done your damage, be gone I ask.
Inaction is the same as action,
Priorities, really, that's the task.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Extrasensory perception

I used to believe that I could sense when people were looking at me. In fact, even today I'm not sure whether it was my imagination or not. There was just this other sense when I was younger, much younger, that I could feel eyes looking upon me. I would turn around and people would be looking directly at me. I would glance over to catch eyes upon me. There was never a question in my mind that I had this power of perception, this sixth sense. It never failed me.

But then there came a point when it stopped working. Suddenly I had no idea whether or not people were looking. A sensation of people watching would come and I would turn to see nothing. Or people would turn to see me staring. What happened to what I had? My power of perception disappeared. Was it just simple science that when a little kid starts to turn his head you glance over at him?

I'm a strong believer in science, but I think there are elements of the universe that are beyond our current understanding of said science. Every couple hundred years we realize we missed something simple and yet extraordinary. So perhaps we're missing something big right now, like those things we can't "test". It's hard to justify this, yet I do believe there are things beyond our current understanding of reality. Ghosts, who knows? God, I think so. Everything being related, most definitely.

So maybe I did have this extrasensory perception and then I lost it because of my lack of belief in it or my increasing scrutiny of the ability. Trying to understand it, I lost it. That's how the tao works, after all. What does this say about life? I believe that we need to accept the wonder of it all, and hope that we maintain a sense of awe. Not that we shouldn't try and understand, we just need to love what's here and keep believing, keep stretching our thoughts and imaginations. Because maybe if we believe and keep believing, our thoughts will carry into our actions. And then who knows what might happen.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Election games

So we often call each other liberals and conservatives (I myself would probably/hopefully be labeled liberal), but what exactly do we mean? There seems to be this idea that liberals embrace change, whereas conservatives are, well, conservative and want to keep things the same. However, I view things in a slightly different manner.

I don't believe that liberals really like change any more than conservatives, or conservatives any less than liberals. Rather, I feel that the concept is more about what is change to the individual. A conservative has a more restrained view of how things perhaps "ought" to be. There is a tighter vision of what is normal and what is not-so-normal. Gay marriage, for instance, does not fit within the normal vision of certain conservatives, and as I see it, people are against gay marriage because it doesn't make sense to them, it is beyond them, and would require a change to reality of sorts. The liberal doesn't want to change things by making it legal, but rather sees it as something that was already there and is no change to reality. Therefore, a law would only enforce the freedom of what is already a fact of life.

I would keep going, but I feel a crash coming. Before I crash, I have to mention that election games are awesome. I've now done a turn-based battle for the US, popped other candidates' balloons, and, probably best of all, fought kung-fu against the various candidates. Look up election games. Not very complex, not very helpful about the election, but fun. Definitely worth the search.

Edit: I was really tired when writing this post a couple nights ago, and I don't think I emphasized anything about the election kung-fu game and it's much tougher a game than the other ones, much more soundly built for what it is. It's fun, and you have to actually settle down for a little and learn how to block your opponent and take the open shots where you can and each one definitely gets harder. They're very aggressive opponents (except John Edwards...). You get many choices of the candidates (from about a year ago) and they all have special moves and really seem to have different styles, at least visually. The only way you'd know they were candidates would be from their faces, but it just makes the game all the more amusing when the rest of them is a sumo wrestler or some crazy assasin ninja. Go play it if you like fighting games or just want to see Bill Richardson as a sumo or Michelle Obama kicking some bloody hurt into any and everyone. Funny and fun.

And here it is: Election Kung-Fu

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Forgetful, but not about Crysis

Here I am, completely forgetting what I had thought of earlier. A muse that I thought would truly draw thousands to this blog. Bring people here every day to see if I've made another amazing philosophical breakthrough. But I forgot it.

But I guess that's alright, because that means that I don't have to post here every day or every other day. I can continue my sporadic entries, and I believe I shall.

So I've been playing Crysis, and I believe it to be one of the best FPSes I've ever played, and despite me not having played most of them out there, I'm sure most of you would feel the same with a computer that ran it so well. It's a gorgeous game, first off, really bringing you into your environment. A tropical paradise with waterfalls and beaches and villages...and explosions. The physics add to the beauty of the game, and the way things fall apart, the glorious fireballs that erupt from destroyed tanks, it all comes together in a beautiful opus of mayhem. What further enhances the beauty of it all is the free-roaming capability of the world. It supports stealth through the forests surrounding enemy encampments. Or perhaps you want to use speed and blow past the enemies. Or just blow the hell out of them with superstrength. It is your choice!

That might be the greatest strength of the game. Any play style can be fun, and whichever you choose, the nanosuit you start the game with allows you to play each role to its maximum potential. The enemies also really allow the variety in playstyles, being, overall, quite smart, and the game is good about throwing them at you, with reinforcements being brought in if you're overly aggressive or open about your attacks.

At the point I'm currently at, I have really come to appreciate the cinematic quality of the game. I just got dropped in to a war zone, and instead of starting out on my own, I'm taken through the US defenses as a jet crashes into the hillside next to me and I'm ordered to take out the AAA guns I can see across the harbor peppering the sky with shells. Maybe some stealth and some speed are in order. Maybe some raw explosives are about to be served up. This is good stuff. Highly recommended.

(I'll try and have some actual musings next time. I'm taking an Intro to Philosophy, so my brain has definitely been pumping with this jazz.)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New addition on the way

That's right folks, I just spent the last 5.5 hours on newegg and throughout the internetting finding and purchasing all the components of a new computer. Mmm, she's shaping up to be a doozy. I'm feeling great right now, as long as the newest nVidia card will fit into my case. And as long as Vista doesn't fuck with my soundcard as it apparently likes to screw with soundcards... But I'm happy and it's 5am and I really should go sleep now.

Here's to my next wave of gaming! (as my ps2 cries in the corner)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Space (Under?) Siege

So yesterday I spent a good chunk of the day downloading the Space Siege demo. About 930mb later I had the tantalizing demo waiting on my computer. I was ready to spend all night checking out the new action RPG from Chris Taylor.

Well, I watched the intro cinematic, a pretty looking attack on earth with capital and fighter ships dueling on the edge of Earth's gravity. Finally, the awesome movie ended, and I was taken to the intro menu, where the same movie began playing again, but this time with a menu around it... So I started a game and after a short in-game cinematic of aliens assaulting my ship I commenced my defense of humanity.

The game uses the WASD setup to control many things, except movement, and I have to say this threw me. The mouse moved and controlled firing while A and D were used to rotate the camera and W and S zoomed in and out. The controls otherwise were very convenient and straightforward, but finally as I began to get comfortable with the non-FPS scheme, the demo ended.

I'd say I finished the demo in not more than 30 minutes, after downloading almost a gigabyte. I was disappointed. I think it was a fun game, and it looked awfully pretty, but I'm back into a phase of trying demos of all the new games, and it's hard for me to discern if my excitement of a game is warranted after 25 minutes, especially with such a hefty download. I realize that's how games are today, but you'd think I could get a little more content for a gig. Also, I'm still trying to figure out if the game is deep or not. It was straightforward, and though pretty, also quite simple. Well, Chris Taylor, the ball is back in your court. I'm intrigued, but not sure yet about $50 of intrigue.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A game called reality

So I'm now home for a couple weeks recovering from actuality before I head back to my senior year of college and work and all that jazz.

What exactly is this actuality that I'm dealing with? I decided to ride a bicycle from Boston to Washington, DC. And I did it! I'm one who often doesn't do a lot of actual preparation, I usually prepare in my head and then either do something or don't. I find so many things fascinating that a large-scale project is daunting and unlikely. I do lots of little things, except for when I'm at work or school, because having that framework gives me a solid set of boundaries that I actually find the most comforting. Pressure, I need a box to not necessarily be thought within, but to allow myself to bounce off the edges and come back to reality.

But rarely do I think about non-creative endeavors. I certainly think about travel, but just about how I should go travel, go visit other countries. Never solid plans. So lo and behold, I thought that this summer would be the ripest time, a last ditch effort to be crazy in college, for some sort of road trip. And I settled upon a crazy biking trip, realizing that a trip between Boston and DC would be feasible and probably fun. I started preparing by telling everyone I knew that I was thinking about it, so that if I didn't go they would call me out. Then I got a bike (somewhat necessary) and just started biking again. Then I alloted time for the trip, asking for a leave from work and not having school anyway. I followed this by continuing to tell people about my trip and started making a list of things I would need.

Then I just continued to ride and began to train with a friend. We went a solid 150 miles one weekend to test out the items needed. It was good we tested our equipment and what would be needed, because I was not entirely aware of all I would need. But then I bought that, I kept biking, and then, well, after some route-planning, I found myself stuck on the trip.

It was great. It was really a learning experience, a challenge, a mission, and just relaxing. I had worries during the ordeal, but they were so pure and simple that I think my brain really enjoyed the trip. Never again do I plan on doing a long challenging trip like that alone, because a pal would have made it so much more fun. But it was nonetheless an incredible experience that I definitely am proud to say I completed.

570 miles in 7 days of riding. Not bad, eh?

Now back to games!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I often find myself trolling from one classic game download to the next modern game trailer to a Flash game. Having not been a gamer for the golden age, or whatever you think the period should be called from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, I often download full games in about 20 seconds and then play a few levels. And then sometimes I find even older games and download them in 2 seconds.

A couple days ago I ran across Karateka, a game by Jordan Mechner, the creator of Prince of Persia. Clearly the precursor of POP, Karateka has the player moving a ninja forward through a flat environment and a wave of opposing ninjas. Like a typical fighting game you have movement and then keys for upward, straight, and down kicks and punches. Finally, there is one more button to switch your character from running to fighting stance. Your goal is to move forward and rescue your love at the end. So simple, and yet pretty enjoyable.

In terms of gameplay it was very simple and I never really felt much depth to the combat, but the simplicity of the presentation made it all work. You've got arrows at the bottom showing your health and your direction while whichever ninja you're currently battling has the same health arrows. Anytime you defeat a ninja your health returns to full and you can run forward until you hit the next ninja. Just be careful not to still be in running mode when they attack or it's game over. My fascination with the game ended, however, when suddenly a gate fell on me as I ran forward under it. No warning, just spikes falling on me. The revenge of old games and their arbitrary deathtraps! I decided then that I didn't care for my pixelated love enough to fight through the hordes again.

And I found out about this game because apparently Karateka shall be returning in next-gen form sometime in the future with Mechner at the helm.

the original Karateka

the new news

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Pox on me

So here I am, once again finding myself a couple months past posting. This is a tendency that I must correct. I did not realize that Trackmania sucked up that much of my time. I got pretty far in, but now, being without a computer of my own, I have turned to an online ccg by the name of Pox Nora. Partly the allure was joining the ranks of co-workers who play, but having had the opportunity to go through a few games, I think it is definitely an interesting ordeal.

There is always a bit of me that rebels at purchasing better cards, but I also have to admit that
I was an avid Star Wars CCG player for a few of my younger years. So here we are in a game that gives you 20 card decks (with cards having recharge rates after death/use) and, the kicker, an actual playing field with which to spread out and battle. It's definitely a fun system, though I am still coming to terms with the various abilities and perks that each unit has. The frustrating element of the game for me is that, though the entire system is basically supported via browser, I feel as if the whole interface was built somewhat poorly. Information in regard to actual decks and strategy and spells and such seem all to be very spread out.

The buddy system is also clearly unfinished, as it really doesn't allow much to be done. In the end, it seems that the game itself has quite a lot of potential, but much could be done about presenting information in a clear and logical manner. For example, when any action is taken by anything in the game, any tooltip you have floated open is then closed. Simple things could make the whole interface simply cleaner. Which is all too bad, since the actual artistic element is about as high as it could be. Beautiful art adorn the cards and make the whole game feel very rich. It has many factions, lots of depth to strategies, a quick pace via timer-constrained turns. So many good things. You really just have to get past the interface.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Trackmania Addicted

So I've returned to an old habit. That of spending spare minutes logging into the hypersensitive Trackmania United Forever. Right now I'm in fact debating whether or not to abandon this post just to grab a few more moments racing around a ridiculously large arena and its fascinating and varied tracks. Trackmania United Forever is the pseudo-sequel to Trackmania Nations, and it would seem to be almost identical in many respects.

The game is a free download available on Steam (maybe elsewhere) and tasks you with racing around ridiculously clean tracks, trying to beat a series of racing-times. The posted times are the classic Bronze, Silver, and Gold, but there is also a fourth medal which is unstated but won when you beat the fastest developer time. Only on a couple occasions have I won that medal, and only in the previous game. The fact is that the two games seem the same sans the different interface and the new tracks and track types. The game looks the same and plays the same, with simple arrow key controls and a convenient restart button. It requires careful handling as you progress through the game and much patience to master each track.

The game excels in its simplicity. I really don't have any complaints because there is so little to the actual design. You are given a track, a car, and a time to beat. The car handles beautifully, responding to the different kinds of tracks with great give, and there's much fun to be had in sliding around certain corners. The one gripe I have actually comes outside of the game itself. The game tracks your medals against all the Trackmania players in the world, your country, and your state. But for some reason when playing via Steam, the account only loads locally, so logging on to the server, I can't unlock my medals won on a different computer. Just a little frustrating.

Either way, I highly recommend the game. Especially for the price of nothing. I'll be the Randallion Stallion, crawling my way up the leaderboards.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Spring time and early birds

On my previous internship (last January through June), 5 students total were brought on as paid interns. One of the ice-breakers the leaders of the company did was to have everyone (including the heads of the company) go round and declare their favorite toy. I was amazed to discover that at least three of my fellow interns chose Sega Genesis. Having played many games on the system, such as Shadowrun (as previously mentioned on this blog) and Aladdin (one of the funnest platformers I've played through), I can attest to the Genesis being the 2nd heyday of the consoles after the original NES.

My favorite toy was something else entirely, though, and it was actually somewhat sad for me to hear that a favorite toy was a gaming console. Don't get me wrong, I love games in every way, yet my favorite toy was my bike. Shouldn't that be what we strive for? I realize that as American children we go through so many toys so that tools (the game system and the bike) become the single object we remember most. But is that what we want of children in the world? I hope that if I ever have a son or daughter, he/she will not choose a gaming console as his/her greatest possession. I hope to raise a different child.

And on a final note: I love spring. Right now there are birds in the trees at this early hour (3am) chirping away beautifully. My close friend informed me that the lack of darkness in Boston (so many streetlights and such) is the probable cause, screwing up the sleep patterns of birds. Either way, it's a great way to leave a building early in the morning.

I'm out, gnight everyone!

Monday, April 7, 2008

By the way, the point of the previous post was to encourage any people who haven't to find and play Shadowrun.


Shadowrun ROM:

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Fantasy on the Street

One of my favorite games of all time is Shadowrun, a game for Sega Genesis (and SNES, but I don't know how that was between differences and control scheme). The game created a full region of Seattle and surrounding regions where the player could choose an amazing number of paths, from working with the law or against it or working for or against major corporations. It was an incredible experience where I really felt like I was part of a major city with the choice to actually attack large million-dollar corporations if I wanted, and not only physically with guns or stealth, but also through a whole secondary game mode via hacking through cyberspace. I liken it to a more open-ended gta 3 and I still wait for them to produce a true remake to that masterpiece. They recently released a team-based shooter and though I haven't played it, I know that a team-based shooter is not what I'm looking for.

The reason I bring this game up is that it took a cyberpunk world and placed elves and dwarves and ogres into the world. It was thrilling and totally worked. Sometimes when I'm walking (a surprising amount of the time) I will encounter people that look like they should be in a storybook. I see gnomes and elves and it's awesome. I'm not sure if I had the power to place them in their appropriate world, if I would. Because after all, they also make this world a little more magical to me. Getting to walk by a man who should have a hut in the forest where he cooks food for his numerous wolf-friends, it makes my mind wander. I'm thankful for so many things that make this life awesome, and just having a little fantasy in reality satiates my imagination.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

So let's just say that it's really late at night and I'm not that tired but realize I will be in a few hours. Sometimes I work really late in the animation lab even though I've not the heart. I am finding myself more and more drawn to interactive simulations. I've begun to read up on AI and I'm really just fascinated by the concept of emergent gameplay. How will my personal project end up actually feeling in style, I wonder, as I know that the development of the world in my mini-game will be entirely dependent upon balancing variables correctly. I believe that these variables will determine the mood of the outcomes, so how difficult will it be for me to actually find the correct values? I want to start building a mock-up/alpha of the game, but I fear that if not everything is spec-ed out, then things will unravel.

In other news, Geckoman, the game I've worked on nearing 2 years now, finally got its release at the Boston Museum of Science. It was fantastic, but unfortunately my eyelids have decided that now they are sleepy. So good night to all.

p.s. my boss has worked with: Richard Garriott, Doug Church, Shigeru Miyamoto, Chris Roberts, Ned Lerner, John Romero, Warren Spector.
This. Is. Awesome. Methinks I need to drill him for more advice.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Unnamed project

That's a lie. My project does have a name, but I'm trying to keep it off the web, as it's still very much in the design stage. I mentioned this, but I am trying to work on game design daily, because persistence is the key to success. Right? I love simple ideas like that and all the exceptions they allow.

But onto the project. Tonight, since I must get up early, I am combining my blog with my game design thoughts and musings for the night. The questions I have to ask as I'm constructing this series of game vignettes is: what do I want the player to experience? What is my goal for making this game? Do I want the purpose to be on an individual level? What should the player feel after playing? Do I even want to use the term that the person "plays" the vignettes?

The potential I see within games and the particular area that fascinates me the most is the idea of simulation, specifically an organic simulation, such as Will Wright's godly game Spore set to arrive in a few months. I have not really gotten into playing an MMO for the simple fact that I want my environment to be authentic. I'll admit that I'm looking into Lord Of The Rings Online, as I heard it was a great game for entering the environments, but in general, the environment within an MMO is set by the players, and thus just another social world. The possibilities that I see revolve around creating entirely new simulated systems and placing the player within. How does a player react to the world around them depending on how that world lives? MMOs are safe social environments, they're about the interaction with other humans.

But my vignettes, I've realized, along with the games that I'm either most interested in or most interested in making, create simulated worlds. Set the starting conditions, and let artificial life have its go. Indeed, one of my games will be a derivative of pac-man and part of the reason for that is that pac-man is one of the earliest game biology simulators. It puts the player into an environment with 3 hostile creatures that will navigate terrain to eat the player, meanwhile the player has to consume all the food (white bread tablets?) to survive until the next environment. And maybe I'm putting Pac-Man on too high a pedestal, but that simple game still is one of the most renowned "video games" of all time and I would argue it is because it created a simple simulation system with varying environments to change the challenge. And so, in addition to attempting to create a variation on that, I'm working on multiple other knock-offs of other games, all the while trying to make it worth my while. Hopefully my imitation will pay eventually.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Surfing my music

Well, I've discovered the game that everyone else is discovering via Steam, and that game is Audiosurf. It would seem that I've become most enamored with 5-minute games of late with my limited free time, and Audiosurf is the perfect game, because it's a game that makes music interactive. I am a radio dj on my college station, wrbb (, Sunday nights 9-11pm EST ::wink wink:: ), and part of the reason I volunteer my time 2 hours a week to working at the station is that I love the depths of the music world. There are so many genres and so many amazing pieces of music that I can't help but enjoy playing music for others.

Meanwhile, Audiosurf allows me a new way of interacting with music by building a simple Puzzlequest/Guitar Hero game on top of any music you have on your computer. It analyzes your music and constructs a 3 or 5 lane track with various blocks spread out over the length of your song and placed on beats. You must collect the blocks into groups. The thing that makes the game great is that it gives you a real sense of the flow of your music, from the tempo changing how fast your character moves to the beats determining the frequency of collectible blocks. Also it gives a multitude of play styles available through the choice of avatars, which interact with the track in different ways or affect the difficulty of the track. I've been playing on the simplest mode (albeit at medium difficulty) and the game has allowed me to explore my music. It's a fun diversion for random times and further destroys the little amounts of free time I still have.

So don't play Audiosurf unless you're in the mood for only listening and experiencing music. It's great for that, but an evil timesink otherwise.

Meanwhile I'm trying to work on game-design half an hour a day no matter my other tasks, because I need to start really getting better at this stuff, and only with persistence can I complete my goals. Struggle onward, readers, fight through. And rest once in a while, that's the other thing I gotta work on...

-the musater

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Cell-phone waist clips and Fez

What do you think about people when you see that they're wearing their cell-phone on a waist clip? I think nerd, and I wonder if the person wearing said clip thinks nerd? There is something about wearing a utilitarian item in view that makes people look like they want to be known for what they do. And so you're either a sandwich-board crazy or you're a nerd. Well, I guess you also have policeman with their belts, and then there are construction workers with their tools. But nerds break the boundaries, because they continue to exist as such beyond their working hours. Even the sandwich-board guy probably doesn't wear his hellfire filled piece of plywood around during all of his waking hours. I wonder if he has some sort of carrying case for it.

Has anyone ever known they look cool when they have something clipped to the side of their clothing? I often forget to take my nametag off after meetings/events and realize a couple hours later while riding public transportation. I know right then I'm not cool. I also will check my hair in the windows of the subway at that moment to check for double-humiliation. I guess my point is that I found recently the waist clip that came with my cell-phone and I laughed at its existence. I realize and want to acknowledge that some will wear the clip for a set period of time and with the utilitarian view in mind. I just want to be there for the person that found that clip and couldn't wait to try it it.

And how many people wear fezzes? Is that a common thing elsewhere? Where? The reason I bring up fezzes is that I was recently shown a game called Fez that looks brilliant. In the vein of Paper Mario (which I have not played but seen), this game takes a 3d world and brings a 2d element to it. But one of the coolest interpretations I've ever seen. The basic task I saw was to ascend from one floating platform to the next (woop-de-doo, every platformer ever...) in a 3d world. However, when you switch views, you go into a 2d-view and the z-depth is no longer relevant. So if something is almost directly North of you by a couple hundred feet , go into the North-South view, and suddenly the North-South distance is taken out of the picture! Only East-West and up-down matter, the other axis is negated as it becomes a standard 2d sidescroller. And then once you've gotten to the new platform, go back to 3d. Awesome. Check it out, people, check it out.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A plethora of people

It still amazes me to encounter the variety of characters that exist in this world. At times I'm saddened by it, other times overjoyed, and in the last couple of days I have just been perplexed. Maybe it helps that many of these perplexing people are out on the streets, but I am amazed at how people survive, how they actually stay alive in the winter streets of Boston (and everywhere else in the world).

A couple nights ago I went for a walk out to the Charles. It was snowing and the atmosphere just felt right for an evening stroll through the powder white streets. It was snowing a little heavier than my ideal conditions, but nonetheless well worth it wandering that evening. During this walk, however, I encountered some of the strangest people I'd ever been near. They were a couple old men, must have been at least 70 each, and they were standing in the doorway of a store, just out of the snow. They looked normal enough, almost what I would picture as the standard fellow in London a hundred years back in terms of garb. But one was snarling, almost like a dog. Just standing there, like a rabid animal, a man of some 70 years. What can I feel about his situation, because I was definitely lost for words. To think that this man has lived to this age, and something in that time has created who he is now. An old man snarling like a dog in the snow in some closed store's doorway. And right behind him another man stood, speaking random things, occasionally singing. After we had passed, I turned back to look at them, and the more sane [?] man was peering out from the doorway, looking quickly back and forth and then withdrawing back to shelter.

Unreal. The other person I was walking with thought that perhaps they were intentionally trying to weird people out. I feel different. Society does not always work for people. People grow up and are molded by their environment. But what happens when their minds fight back against what society is teaching them? Is that what happened to these men? When did people know they would be doomed to such a life? Did their relatives once take care of them and then, upon passing from this life, leave them to their own confused lives? I don't know why the world works the way it does, but it boggles my mind. I can only hope that I maintain my own hold on society. I care about these snarling, confused men, and what does it mean to share or not share their fate?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Rules of Fashion

So every once in a while I have to stop and stare at the people around me, because people dress so amusingly (here's one of my "usually amusing muses"). Like, just last night when I was walking home from the gym, I saw this kid across the street and his beanie looked like he had pulled it too far down, as it more than covered his ears and hair, and it looked as if it was even over his eyes. But I considered it only a trick of the light and the distance. Until I realized that he actually had his neck craned back. He couldn't look straight forward without tilting his head back to see from under his beanie. That, my friends and readers, is stupid. It reminds me of one of the characters from a comic book, I think one of Harvey Pekar's tomes, if I recall, with a character so strangely stylized as to have his beanie pulled down over his eyes (but if I recall correctly, he also had holes in his beanie).

But let us move on to gangstas. Gangstas, so called because they are incredibly hardcore, have often been spotted wearing airbrushed giant t-shirts of Captain Crunch and Mario (one of those two famous brothers) blinged out. This is clearly a sign of subtle corporate branding that was somehow successful when they were little children. And now that they aren't little, they see these commercial icons to be role models of cool. And Mario and Cap'n Crunch are cool, but we respect their coolness by eating their cereal and crawling through sewers. Hmm, Nintendo cereal, sounds fantastic.

And then we get to the main focus of my post on fashion. Girls who wear EVERYTHING. There seems to be this trend, intensifying since probably about 2000, where we no longer create anything new. Thus, instead of new styles (architecture, clothing, movies), new fashions, our fashions are the remixings of previous eras. And this, my dear readers, has ended in disaster. There are certainly people who know what they are doing when they select from their variety of clothes and create an intriguing ensemble. But the majority of people don't know what the fuck they are doing. Hell, I don't know what I'm doing when it comes to keeping up appearances. Just please, people, clashing clothes are, almost always (in fact, let's just say always), unpleasant to look at. Don't wear clothes over other clothes that aren't intended to be layered.

And for heaven's sake, just think about how you want people to see you. I don't care, much of the time, so that's why I wear the easiest thing I can find. If it's clean, I'll probably wear it. And that's how my rule of fashion works. How do your rules work?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's late, and I'm just back from the gym, about to go to sleep (or rather, about to lay in bed and play Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for a bit), but I've been pondering at random points during the day (at the encouragement of my wonderful girlfriend) Christianity in today's world and I feel I should solidify my thoughts.

You might be noticing a sort of God/religion trend in my posts, and I hope you don't mind, but I'm not trying to make any of you Christian that don't want to be. In fact, let me tell you that, after talking with my animation "professor" this evening, I apparently have a mindset much closer to Eastern (Buddhist?) thought, as I look often at the environment before the individual. For, well, the environment is what is beautiful to me, and this is apparently what Easterners look at first, whereas Westerners are much more likely to look at the individual (Jesus!).

So while I sip my apple cider and deal with this slowly overbearing mustache getting in the way of drinking fluids, I wonder how the transition came about that has changed what exactly a Christian is, and in fact, what has a Christian meant throughout the ages? Unfortunately, I am no scholar at all, more a naive philosopher, who likes to think that Christianity was the socialist struggle against capitalist/totalitarian oppression. Jesus fought with his words (and miracles of healing) against doing everything for oneself. It was always about doing things for others and ultimately, for God. And God was everyone! That seemed always to be the point he was making. In letting a poor man die, we were letting God die. In praising God, we were praising our own existence. The path, Jesus argued, was to live in harmony, trying to bring everyone up rather than creating crisply defined tiers as are found in capitalist societies then and now. He and his disciples fought to change society.

But what is society now and where does Christianity lie in the spectrum? Christianity now is about maintaining our current values. So what that says is that we have done what Jesus asked, and we want it to stay that way. We have found Jesus's path, and need no more. But what is Christianity really like as seen by myself? (I would argue "as seen by the majority" but I won't pretend to know such statistics.)

Christianity is a force by which many are led to believe that only belief in Christ will save us. Only by strictly following guidelines set forth by one man (and later translators) may we shine in the light of God. No! Jesus was against that! He wanted us to break with the standards of the time and be willing to LOVE EVERYONE. He didn't have contempt for others. And my issue with this whole thing is that Christianity can still be found marketing itself as "underground". Various Christian organizations promote themselves as the new underground. Join in counter-culture, they say. But Christianity is the culture, and the problem is that what Christianity has become is not a way of life, but rather a set of beliefs.

Get it? Christ doesn't matter. As far as I can tell He knew that. He only wanted us to look at him for inspiration. He would have preferred us to follow him like many follow Buddha. A teacher to mentor us. A light burning strong in the night to find solace in. And if we don't see that light, or we don't need that light, then fine. As long as we try to find our way through the rocky tumbling seas.

In the end, we will be embraced one way or another and rejoin the universe.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Saturday nights, a broad

I clear the night sky of electricity
I arch my back but lean forward
I'm lost in the tunnels and streets
Carried by no particular feet
To destinations of comfort and social ambiguity.
You're not here
Not so near
The waves smear
The shores
Of refuse.
And you'll sit thinking of me, beside the lonely crowded bar
Where I'm not.
I'm caught.
I fought
For you from my heart
Random chances blown out of proportion.
Dissolved into mists around who I am.
In your arms
I fade into you.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Good and Bad

When I was a little kid I took CCD classes. These were Catholic church lessons that I went to once a week to color in pictures of Jesus and learn that God loves us. One of these times our teacher asked us who God loves, and I've always been one to answer the questions in class, so I did.

"God loves good people," I responded, feeling pretty sure of myself. But the teacher looked at me and explained that no, God actually loves all people. This was new to me, yet as soon as she told me this, I knew my answer had been deeply wrong. How could the world really go on if God had it out for bad people? cause people do lots of bad things. And then how do we define people as good or bad? Do we average out the good and the bad elements? How many of our thoughts on even those attributes are just opinions?

I still struggle with accepting people. It's funny, because I'd like to think I'm tolerant, but it is a constant battle to look beyond the faults of others. Maybe I can't get beyond my own faults? God loves all of us, but does he love me? If he doesn't, then I need to be better. If I need to be better, certainly every flaw I spot in someone else could be improved upon.

God loves all people. But I don't. I get stuck in the mires of judgment. I wade through the swamps of filth that inhabit my mind as I look up at the countless bright leaves that inhabit the character of people. I see the red, poisonous leaves. With difficulty I look at the other leaves of green. Couldn't I just drop my head instead of craning it, couldn't I just take note of the thick, well-worn and comfortable trunk of that person? Or maybe the spindly trunk, trying to hold up poison while green leaves struggle forth? Or even the branches, couldn't I tell which ones have the fungus eating away at them and which others are strong and peacefully climbing to the heavens?

I am in the forest, and I can't see my own leaves, I'm caught under them, and not letting them be part of me. I need to become all of myself, I need to accept what is me. Then I might notice how beautiful the trees are, how glorious this forest is.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


That's right. The arduous task that many billions of people go through everyday to get from their home to their place of work. Of course, now that I'm thinking of my commute, I wonder what exactly would be the shortest commute. If a homeless man begs for change, is his change from unconsciousness to consciousness a commute? Well, I guess now that all depends on your view, but in the end, I guess the point is that no matter the distance, physical or psychological, it is a task. And I think I have a great commute.

My commute takes approximately an hour, with me leaving me walking to the T (the Boston subway system), taking it for about 15 minutes, waiting another 15 minutes, and then riding a train for about 20 minutes. After I leap off the train with a superhuman jump, I walk not much more than a minute to work. That is a great commute because I don't do anything for that time, it's a period where I can focus on my own thoughts or read the thoughts of others. I love that feeling. It gives me peace for a good 45 minutes, amidst the madness of others rushing from point to point (not that I don't sometimes [read: often] run to the T). But I get to relax for a time, and I like to read or play games on my Nintendo DS. These two activities allow me to settle back and enjoy the work of others, instead of feeling like I should be accomplishing something.

There is something about the environment as well, with the throngs of people milling forward and backward, shuffling and asleep standing up or hyped on coffee, that impresses one with society. Why, I can't really say at this point. [Or perhaps I'm just leaving out a voluminous tangent on crowd dynamics.] But the unique people who don't accept normalcy or strive for that impossible standard are the ones that I love to watch. The man I enjoyed watching this week was a musician in a T station, and I agree with my friends who are impressed by the T performers, he was good. He was a flutist! How about that? And he was playing Ravel's Bolero, a song I don't normally care for (too repetitive), but this man standing in the middle of the crowds playing Bolero, it really was a wonderful experience.

That man made the location. He transformed it with his simple and well-intoned flute-playing. I love that kind of person, and I wonder who he is. What brings such inclination to him? Does he enjoy playing the flute as much as I enjoyed hearing it? When did he start? Was this always what he wanted to do? Probably not, but to him I tip my hat. He was stepping out of the crowd. He didn't hurry along like myself and the thousands, millions, and billions of others. His art made my morning better. And now don't I wish I could pay him to continue his art.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy new year

In new years
That might surface
With no purpose
But end
That tear and rend
A vicious blend
I’m seeking to fight
Late in this night
With victomless might
I’ll try to write
Against those leaders
Ignoring the bleeders
Losing limbs and other parts
Maybe most of all hearts
Can I see you cry
Without celebs in your eye?
I try to fly beyond it,
But I get hit
In the pit of my stomach
Dark and black
Take me back
To where I was
Looking on war
I dropped my jaw
At what I saw
The children dead
The parents bled
Wounds I read
In newspapers and nets
On trains and jets
But I just did nothing
While they cried and died
I think I’m running
From the monster come munching
The grass and trees
He don’t notice the pleas
Masses on their knees
Just more of the same
To put up buildings in some name
Does Dubya get the blame
Or a dedicated building for his crimes
Cause presidents so deserve
No matter how they serve
In these trying times
I’m sick of these rhymes
And their associated subjects
I wish they were rejects
Instead of the headlines
Pumped out for deadlines
That take in the cash
Like Iraq
Overbearing like Shaq
A slowdown for us
We took the wrong bus
I guess I better get off and start walking
Cause I'm sure tired of talking.