All entries for September 2005

September 22, 2005

Revolving still

Follow-up to A Controlled Revolution? from Dan Lawrence's Blog

Further controller thoughts here

Analyzing the entire corporate startegy of Nintendo versus Microsoft and Sony. I'm sure there is lots to disagree with in there but I think the broad thrust is fair enough.

Other than reading that I've been mostly coding stuff up in a mixture of javascript(which I have no idea about) and php (which I also have little to no concept of). So far it hasn't been too bad with the internet, general all round coding skills and some helpful housemates, all chipping in to bash it into shape. Turns out the little tool I am trying to code up is actually just like a simplified JIRA. Its mostly to organise myself to do the coding on the Half-Life 2 game, but also to practice those web developer skills to add to the CV.

Good.


September 17, 2005

A Controlled Revolution?

Just to show, to those who doubted, that Nintendo haven't gone completely mad here's what they are doing to ensure support from third party developers.

If thats not enough to prove to you that this controller is very exciting then check out this teaser video.

I highly reccommend it.

In case you haven't been following the story (And who hasn't?), Nintendo have decided that the next generation of Console Wars will be won, not by the people with the best graphics, but by the people with the best ideas. This controller for their new Revolution console is their first blow (That bit in the middle slides out, looks like a TV remote, and can do all kind of fancy stuff – watch the video its the only way to understand how a game about chopping carrots could actually exist in the near future).


September 16, 2005

CSS Returns And Dan Gets Bed

After only a short outage I've bought the blog back up under my custom scheme.

After a few changes its now better than ever. With all kinds of magical stuff going on.

In other news, I have obtained a nice shiny new bed thus completing my furniture collection. Things are quite tightly packed into my new room with two desks, large chair, a cupboard, drawers and a double bed; but it does all fit and the new bed is truly awesome.

Found a bit of time to carry on playing Planescape: Torment this week, noticed a few bugs which have marred the play experience slightly but thats being picky. It truly is a shining example of a dialogue driven game, taking much of its best features from the world of the text adventure rather than fancy 3D graphics. Behind every door in Planescape lurks some mystery, and there are lots of interesting choices (Do I end the suffering of an old woman who I believe will not recover from her illness; by stabbing her? Do I kill someone just because they are a demon and someone has asked me to? Do the undead have a right to existence? Am I responsible for my crimes if I do not remember them or anything about the person I was when I commited them? Is immortality a blessing or a curse?)

Still jobless.


September 15, 2005

Life Long Hacking

Still awaiting that dream job here in Fort Awesome, how long will I last waiting for a call back from a place I actually want to work at, before I crack and apply over at MacDonalds or ASDA? Take your bets please.

In the meantime I've been trying to improve my C++ skills by moving them into the modern era of namespaces, I/O streams and design patterns. My current method is to mix a variety of reading material sources with some real world problems by coding up a mod for Half-Life 2 called The Opera. The mod is one I've been involved with for some years, through a release on the original Half-Life (netting 5 stars in PC Gamer I might add) to an abortive attempt on the Unreal Engine finally reaching the present day with a Half-Life 2 version. Previously I've always been involved in the level design and modelling aspects so this is my first foray at taking the very familiar design into my ill practiced coders hands.

I always feel like something of an academic leper, useless at the most high brow philosophical debates due to the large gaps in my knowledge caused by doing a split degree. Yet I have also never been able to quite keep apace of the computer Scientists either. While I have latterly felt more at home among them, I actually studied even less Computer Science than I did Philosophy. Maybe this is why I can't get one of them fancypants coding jobs.

So, with my degree a fading memory, I've decided that I don't really care too much for those high falutin' philosophical debates. Nietzsche was right. The End. I'm going to spend my post university time learning to be better at all things computerized. Soon I shall know my observer pattern from my bridge pattern and I'll write UML designed code that will make grown men weep in wonder.

If anyone has any essential C++ coding tips or, just tips in general then post up a comment.


September 11, 2005

The Heaven And Earth Show

Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/heavenandearth/

I've been unfortunate enough to be too lazy to change the channel when the Heaven and Earth show comes on, more than once. This show epitomises everything that is irritating about the charlatans that perpetrate most religions.

In the most recent edition I watched , a debate over good medical practice, pitted a bright pink tracksuited woman (yes, I know, don't comment on what women are wearing -sets back the cause of feminism, blah de-blah. However in this case it serves to illuminate her odious character) with a high wattage smile that looked like it had been drawn on by an over excitable five year old; against an actual medical scientist (a man, cleverly). The show seemed to be attempting to grant some kind of legitimacy to the 'complementary' medicine brigade, both through the complete lack of forensic questioning of the flimsy 'evidence' presented by the radioactive spokeswoman, and the transparent attempt to show alternative medicine as more friendly, spiritual and feminine than the cold, hard and masculine light of… truth?

This disinterest in facts and rationality continued to permeate the whole show. Next up was a priest who claimed, dramatically, that he could forsee the future due to a special connection with god. he demostrated this power by recollecting the time when he was holidaying in Rome, noticed all the birds had fled and thought to himself 'I bet there is going to be an earthquake', and lo and behold, by the grace of god there was indeed a minor one. Nevermind the dubious claim that he thought it, then it happened (surely I could say that I thought that a hurricane would strike New Orleans after the event) there is also the overwhelmingly less exciting explanation that his thought was merely coincidence. We can then add the fact that he saw the birds leave and was able to make a logical connection that something big was going to happen and then guessed that in an earthquake zone perhaps that might be it….

No, it must be the divine power of god.


September 08, 2005

The City That Sleeps

The way I have my desk set-up in the new house is perfect for encouraging me to sketch in idle moments when I'm thinking or otherwise being generally unemployed (yes, jobs are on my mind a lot right now). I've always been drawn to the image of a city at night; the shapes and dramatic lighting fascinate and excite my emotions.

The sketching is gradually improving almost a year on from when I decided to restart sketching and brought a whole bunch of fresh materials. A lot of higher priority things got in the way of my drawing ambition but I've hung on in there and drawn things throughout the year. I'll aim to do more.

I was generally in a bit of a useless TIZZ last night and this morning, got a bit over stressed by the whole employment search. Its easy to feel like the whole process is outside of your control, which can then become demoralising when things remain unchanged. At around mid day I relaxed a bit, made myself a nice cooked lunch, did a little bit of drawing and managed to take back some of that control by re-emailing the people I have contacted about jobs and tuning up my CV for some other kinds of work.

I've pretty much decided that my future lies in making games, but with my lack of experience and the difficulty of getting started in the industry it seems likely I'll have to take on some other kind of work in the meantime. Most of my proudest achievements however relate to the making of games in some way so the CV has required some highly creative editing.

I seem to have now gained coding control over my long running Half-Life 2 mod project so I shall be using that to brush up my C++ game programming skills while I hit refresh on my email account and glance anxiously phone-wards.


September 05, 2005

The Big Flake

Today I at last finished moving into my new home in Leamington Spa. With all the moving around I've been doing it feels like I've barely been living here, despite collecting the keys around three weeks ago. Now though its sinking in; phase one completed in the master plan, university is over and I've truly moved away from the family home. The safety net is gone and, along with my companions in Fort Awesome, Real Life™ must begin.

Phase two of the plan is to find a way of surviving (producing the hard cash) that I enjoy and this is likely to take considerably longer. I think many less than perfect jobs will have to be endured and discarded as I search for that holy grail. My current dream is to make money from designing indie computer games and selling them through a web portal. The problem with this plan is its very risky and provides no immediate cash injection of which I am sorely in need. Yet I suspect I will make moves in that direction anyway, while searching for something else with the other hand. What I am at core is a dreamer, I live in my own mind for a large part of my life and I want to bring these dreams to life. I'm not bothered by having large amounts of money. I'm not going to be a banker in the city. I just want to get by well enough and make challenging, groundbreaking, critically acclaimed entertainment.

I also want a robot.

I wonder what phase three is though? If I achieved the dream; what next? Is there something else to do?

Schopenhauer described life as being a cycle of desire, fleeting satisfaction and boredom. I guess for me I could satisfy myself by continually improving my creative output, maybe one day saving up enough cash to build my own house (with robots). Then I can retire and open that pub (non-smoking, no kids, no food – I figure we'll all need some way of making money in retirement plus I like sitting around in pubs). At weekends I will draw. Or maybe I won't, I'm not sure I like planning that far ahead. Makes life less exciting, If I stick to it I've already surrendered control of my life to a plan, I'll be stuck doing these things. Maybe I'll keep it loose instead, just go with what the mood takes. Make sure I'm enjoying myself all the time, that kind of basic stuff.

I'm always meaning to write more blogs; I've planned loads in my mind. There is the hillarious Jehovah's Witness Leaflet Parody Entry, The Entry In Which I Draw Your Attention To The Work Of Always Black and The Entry In Which I Explain The Educational Power Of Wikis. I think I'll have to come clean and just admit to being a flake, these entries will never get made. I'd just rather be doing other things, or else I would have done them.

Then again…


September 02, 2005

Sexy new CSS Layouts

Writing about BlogBuilder update: Custom CSS from Blogbuilder news

Looks like the good folks at Blogbuilder have pulled some rabbits out of hats and allowed us to "bling up" our blogs. Its all very exciting and persuaded me to spend a couple of hours today tweaking the source code to make this new layout.

I reccommend starting with one of the already made .css layout files and working from there. Also I've heard tell on the grapevine that all the hard work modifying may be broken soon when Andy Ingram uploads his fixes to the generic layouts. You might want to hold off till thats done.

Otherwise an excellent move for Blogbuilder which might spawn a whole mini culture of tech savvy types passing round css designs for the less tecnically minded. Lets see if I'm right.

Anyone got any jobs?


September 2005

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