02 July 2009

Short Update

Some Building In Montreal

Since a year between blog posts would just be crazy I figured I'd should aim to have another post in before that occurs. That maybe if I started a few months early then it would give me plenty of time to finish writing it.

Anyway I now live in Montreal and I've finished on Dragon Age and I'm now working on Mass Effect 2.

That should be short enough for me to actually hit the Publish Post button.

02 October 2008

Google Gets It Right Again


I've been meaning to post about this for a while. I'm pretty sure I've already started a draft to something of this effect over at Facebook but then I saw something on Google's Blog that was spot on. As someone who recently moved and is wanting to know what is going on in my friends' lives then I can entirely relate to what they are saying:

What makes two friends feel "close" to one another? I'd argue that a big part of it is the small details that you know about each other. The funny comment your friend made about a billboard they saw while driving down the road, what they had for dinner, a person they ran into on the street, their comments about the movie they saw two nights before. Closeness often comes from knowing the small things, not just the big things. Distance makes knowing those small things harder. When you live together, either with your family or your friends, knowing the small things is easy. They get conveyed when passing in the hall, sitting down to a meal or just hanging out. It's effortless.

When you live apart, things change. Suddenly it takes effort. It used to take a lot more effort when writing a letter was the primary way to communicate over distance as opposed to email or IM or telephone. But, even with our current technology, it still takes work. As a result, we share less with our friends. And when we do share, we tend to share the big stuff (big shifts at work, major family events like birthdays or school milestones) and leave the small stuff behind. We start to feel less connected because we don't know the details.

And they are right, Facebook and such have the Twitter functionality of micro-updates but, despite the fact I laughed at Twitter when I saw it, it makes such a difference. When I read about little things they begin forming a big picture of what is happening and it keeps me that little closer to them. No one would email or call people to tell them about such minor things but it makes such a big difference.

I might not have been able to go to Utopia in Edinburgh but seeing a bunch of peoples' statuses about getting ready before the event; comments after the event and the collection of pictures and videos managed to keep me connected to their lives in ways that an email from a couple of them stating they had a good time never could have. Though seeing events like that, or a lovely friend's video recording of people saying little messages at Southport, bring up such a strange mix of happiness and sadness (sadness at not being there, I guess). It's a lovely thing though.

So basically, I ♡ the social web and I'm looking forward to the future of it.

13 July 2008

The Future of TV

HDMI Cable

It's moaning time! I went out and bought a stupidly large TV (which was quite expensive but not as expensive as our bed; so that's fine). I also bought a HDMI cable to connect my PS3 to said TV. It failed to work. The TV seems to assume it is picking up a signal and the PS3 seems to assume it is giving one but something in-between seems to stop it. Of course it could have something to do with the PS3 outputting a 576P (PAL) resolution and the TV expecting a 480P input. In any case it doesn't work. What does work (though only to 1080i :'( ) is the YPrPb Component in. So once again I'm on analog input. Given the fact I also couldn't get a HDMI->DVI cable to work probably last year so far this new era of digital goodness hasn't exactly been all that good. I'll try and borrow a HDMI cable and, possibly, a PS3 and see what's failing.

Anyway I was generally unimpressed with Sony's customer service. After them stating that the PS3 will work fine on 125V it doesn't (I've got a transformer though). They didn't mention the fact that a PAL PS3 doesn't actually have the option of choosing an NTSC output. I also tried to register a Canadian account of the Playstation Network (like they told me to) and have it reject because the email address is already in use (for my other, UK, account). So I gave up on that.

What I have been impressed with though is Metal Gear Solid 4. The polish of the cutscenes in that game are amazing. Though I don't always agree with the direction that game has taken (or even understand half of the references to the previous games) I'm enjoying the points I get to play the game (which is less than you might expect an interactive experience to have) and enjoying the many cutscenes in the game.

02 July 2008


Maple Leaf

Well I was going to make some long post but, lets face it, that will never happen so I'll probably keep this short. I've been posting a bit of Facebook as Blogger has no idea of a friends only concept (with OpenID in place maybe it will come) but quite a bit has changed in my life and I guess that very business has kept me from posting.

I've moved to Canada last month to start work with BioWare. That time spent making demos really did pay off and I've been enjoying working there.

At this stage of the year I'd reflect that it's been three years since I took up dancing and what progress I felt I've made. Being in a new city in a new country has somewhat slowed me down. There isn't a modern jive scene here though what I've seen of hustle; it looks similar (not like there is a scene for that either). There is a small west coast swing scene which I attended an event for recently and a larger east coast swing scene which I've been getting involved in but I'm finding it a bit tough to be a beginner again (even if a lot of the technique can carry across). Still it looks like I can probably get something in every week now so that's awesome :D (not entirely since I'm going from three times a week to maybe one).

Well I might not leave three months between this and my next post. Maybe.

23 April 2008

The Weekend Post


Now I'm going to use my blog in the more traditional sense. That is to just witter about what is happening in my life; well really to just talk about what a fantastic weekend I had.

I went to two fantastic dance events. Red Hot and Blue on Friday and a Ceroc Tea Dance on Sunday. Maybe it's the music, people or atmosphere at Red Hot and Blue but it felt like a bit of a weekender at home. It was lovely; I guess my only complaint was that we arrived quite late so I didn't get to enjoy it quite as much as I liked. The tea dance was also great; there were those few key dances that just made it wonderful.

We had my brother and sister over on Saturday night for Ultra-Boggle Extreme. It was meant to be an extended Boggle game but we didn't really play that much of it; maybe a good thing given how ridiculously good my sister is at that game. It was lovely to socialise with them though.

Other than that I finally got around to watching some of the Unreal Tournament III video tutorials (they came with Collectors Edition which I bought for these videos; otherwise I would have bought it on Steam).They were great; I wish I had these the first time I was working with the Unreal engine; it would have made my life much easier. Anyway; even though I haven't actually played Unreal Tournament III beyond one quick single player match I've very much enjoyed building a few levels with it (they aren't multiplayer balanced, more just playing with the editor).

Since I'm now on talking about games I also played some Halo 3; a bit of single player and my first multiplayer game. I've heard great things about the Halo 3 multiplayer and I thought I'd finally check it out. The great things are completely accurate; you start up the matchmaking and it has a Starter Playlist which takes you to a simple deathmatch game. It managed to match make me with three people; two of which had also never played it before and another who had played it six times and lost five. Maybe you can attribute that to the number of people playing Halo 3 but the ability to actually find other people, in a couple of minutes, who have a workable ping and have only just started is a real testament to the game.

15 April 2008

What I'm Playing

XBox Controller

Did I not say, earlier in the year, that I wouldn't post a What I've Been Playing? Well due to lack of any other blogging here I figured that maybe this post is something I might finish (it still took me days to get around to posting it).

I've been playing Company of Heroes and Burnout Paradise both of which, mostly, on multiplayer. Burnout Paradise's multiplayer component is great; it's really a great model on which others should base how to get into a multiplayer game. I'm looking forward to one of their forthcoming patches that include a lot of the stuff that is great fun in the singleplayer to multiplayer. The recent Company of Heroes patch includes team matchmaking (which seems to work ok) and the stability seems to be much improved with is great.

I played a bit of Kingdom Hearts 2 last night. I know it is upscaled on the PS3 (last time I played it was on the PS2) but… that game looks fantastic. Seriously the art style is fantastic, the character animation is great. It seems such a shame that new PS3 owners (with no backwards compatibility) won't be able to enjoy games like that.

I also bought Prey when it was going real cheap on Steam. I never really enjoyed the demo (I think I might have played it on the 360 so that might have had something to do with it) but I've been playing the full game and I've been really enjoying it. It pre-dates Portal in the use of a portal like system; though, in complete contrast to Portal, you don't have any control of the portal system. The portals are used by your enemies and the game world to send you around places. It also uses things like different gravity (including some that you control) and gravity walkways to send challenges at you in all sorts of strange angles. It also has this interesting art style which consists of a mixture of alien technology and organic material (which is unpleasant at times); since the aliens have teleported chunks of the Earth then there is also a blend of the familiar. Maybe it was the low expectations I had when starting this game but I've been impressed so far; I shan't go into any more as Shamus Young, over at Twenty Sided, did a much more in-depth look at it.

05 March 2008

Checkpoint Features


Rant time! I got Lost Odyssey on Monday and I'm still at the very early stages. Anyway I encountered the second boss fight (if you count the big, weird looking flame thrower, masher tank thing as the first). This boss is some big bird creature (not actually Big Bird from Sesame Street; though that would be interesting). You get to it by going up a mountain side finally hitting the top and cresting the hill into a long cutscene. The cutscene throws you straight into a boss fight.

The boss fight, for me, pretty much went you've got to be kidding me while it proceeded to rip my characters into tiny little bits. I had previously seen a save point before the boss which you can't reach due to triggering a cutscene before you get to it. I wondered, with baited breath, if it would make me do the whole mountain again. Thankfully the game designers had thought of this and put an respawn point just before the boss; yeay! sensible game designers. I tried a few more times; each time the bird showing me that immortal is really a relative thing and that my character, who apparently has lived 10,000 years up until now, is as fragile as the next guy. So I thought Why not go back down the hill and do some level grinding rather than hit the cutscene? So I did; after many pointless battles making my way down the hill I went and healed up in some conveniently placed empty cabin before saving and making the trek back up the hill again.

Once again my characters stood on top of a hill. Thankfully I discovered a way to skip the cutscene so I skipped past that to fight the BoD. I got further but it still kicked my not-so-immortal immortal ass. The Game Over words hauntingly appeared before the dialogue for Retry/I Can't Be Bothered Any more came up. I hit Retry and… was put back to my little cabin. Maybe the playtesters were just better than me but surely someone went the same direction as me back down the hill and many fights later? Maybe I wouldn't be so annoyed with the checkpoint logic not being set up to allow for it being invoked again if it wasn't for the fact that I can see a save point when I go into the cutscene. I got annoyed with the prospect of climbing the hill again (after doing some more of the grind) so I gave up for now.

I wonder if this has a place in Ernest Adams No Twinkie Database?

The thing is, some games, like Call of Duty 4 do such a good job of checkpoints that you don't even pay attention to things like saving. Unfortunately for these games the designers getting it right means that no one really even notices what a great job they do. It's only the games that frustrate you that you notice how bad it can be.