November 2003 Archives
It's amazing what one can accomplish in a year's time, and looking back, I have much to be thankful for.
The year 2002 will be remembered as the worst year of my life, for there was much pain, loss and depression. Following the loss of my job due to downsizing, I lost my townhouse, my truck, my cat, and nearly my life. Face down in the gutter I vowed to pull myself out. I focused attention on my love for video games to pass the time, and soon I found myself back home living with my parents who love me so much... exactly one year ago, and I have much to be thankful for.
The year 2003 will be remembered as the best year of my life, for it has been filled with much love, spiritual growth and joy. Soon after learning of the new games programs at RIT, I applied as an undergrad and started full-time in the Spring of this year. The way things are going I will graduate at the top of my class in the Summer of 2004, and I have much to be thankful for.
Life is a garden full of rare and beautiful orchids. By nurturing these flowers with mindfulness and love, balance is maintained within the ecosystem and life flourishes. Pain and suffering cause distraction from these responsibilities and inclement weather will leave life's flowers vulnerable to disease. By returning to the essence within and following one's bliss, even that which was thought to be lost can be resurrected and found.
Don't you know that the power of God is within you? And I have much to be thankful for.
Anyone who knows how particular I am about game quality will not be surprised to learn: I have been playing a lot of Mario Kart lately. Nintendo knows quality like Blizzard knows quality, and like few others in the games industry seem to understand. And what I mean by "quality" is that when you see it, and when you play it, the game reeks of high production values and rich gameplay mechanics. And Mario Kart: Double Dash!! does not disappoint in either department. There are tons of different characters and karts to mix and match and choose from, tons of rich and diverse tracks to race on, tons of different items to wield and a steep level of difficulty curve as you advance throughout the game. Which means, you won't soon play through this rich and wonderful game: it will gnaw and nag at you to come back and give it another shot.
In my humble opinion (IMHO), me thinks the game critics out there doth complain too much, as MKDD!! has been given a slightly bad rap since it had an enormous expectations list to live up to. Each iteration in the Mario Kart series has excelled and impressed and, above all, entertained the masses for years, and I believe it was impossible for this iteration to live up to the hype. But Mario Kart Double Dash!! delivers what every Mario Kart has before: quality through and through and then some... LAN support! And with the Warp Pipe project well underway, soon you'll be able to play MKDD!! over the Internet with a broadband adapter and a PC running the Warp Pipe software.
I love this game, and I can't wait for Thursday festivities to roll around so I can race my nieces with some genuine Mario Kart multiplayer shenanigans! Rating: A.
Today, news from the Warp Pipe project surfaced that their latest build was able to run Mario Kart: Double Dash!! at full speed over the Internet without a router. They hope to have a Beta version available soon (before the end of the year) with a full-featured client released early next year. You can download via BitTorrent a video of their program in action from their site. Check it out.
Nice work guys, but release that Beta already!! I can't wait to play some Kart races against real humans without having to use split screen (since I only have one Gamecube).
I am actually very excited about what the future has in store: with so much at stake and with so much cash backing each of the big-three console makers, the next round promises to be a no-holds-barred fight to the finish. Among the arsenals will be some truly spectacular innovative products as well as some of the best game software ever released.
The obvious winner will be the gamer. =)
First off, I'd like to congratulate you on shipping your latest game, "Manhunt", to critical acclaim. It is beyond a doubt an achievement of highest praise that a group of talented artists, developers and game innovators, such as yourselves, have collaborated on such a ground-breaking title.
As technology innovators, you have the enviable role of introducing to the world new and exciting technologies, gameplay mechanics and situations. As game industry professionals, you also represent the thousands of other game developers who, like you, are passionate about the games they create and are proud of their contributions to the industry as a whole.
There is no question in my mind that your latest game will be a phenomenal financial success, especially in light of the extreme violence that is portrayed in the game: Gamespot's Greg Kasavin, in a review of the game, writes: "The game unflinchingly depicts intense graphic violence, the likes of which you might expect from a slasher movie but not from your PlayStation 2." And although the game is awarded the Adults Only (AO) rating by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the successes of your previous titles suggest there will be far more than just adults who will be playing your game.
It was tough, but a lot of hard work paid off: four (4) core IT courses this Fall quarter in the bag:
HCI: Interface Design & Development
Interactive Digital Media
That makes yet another 4.0, and I am truly blessed. Thank you, God. And thanks to everyone that has been supportive and helpful to me in my endeavor to pursue a masters degree in games design and development, especially my parents (all 4 of you): you make fulfilling one's dream easy to do.
So long, bon voyage, arrivederci, sayonara, adieu, auf wiedersehen, au revoir, buh-bye now: Fall quarter you are history... be gone. Whew. Thank my lucky stars it's over. Ugh.
Finished my last final this morning, saving the worst for last: Internetworking Lab. It was brutal. As if... the rest of the quarter wasn't bad enough, adding insult to injury she went and made the final an ass-burner. Yeowch.
She handed back the graded outstanding assignments, so I came home and calculated what I'd need to score on the final to squeak through with an A: just a 76?! Do my eyes deceive? No, surely it can't be true. Miracles are possible.
Pray for me. =)
When taking my first web-oriented course this past Spring quarter, Intro: Multimedia & the Web, I purchased Macromedia Studio MX from the college bookstore at an educational discount, just $199. Not bad.
However, today I called the company to inquire how to upgrade to their latest Studio product, MX Studio 2004, and I was told that there are no upgrade paths for educational versions(!) Not believing my ears, I parroted back what I had just heard to make sure that I understood it correctly... yes, indeed I had:
"Students wishing to upgrade to the latest version of Macromedia products must purchase the product at it's full educational price again."So, in other words, I had just purchased the product in March and my $200 is now worth $0 towards the latest version just 6 months later. Needless to say, learning of this wonderful customer relations policy of their's really irks me, not to mention even their educational discount price for Macromedia Director: only $499(!)
Gee, I wonder how many college students turn to the file-sharing networks to get these necessary software applications for free due to Macromedia's exemplary concern for the financially struggling student?
I've been spending the last few days tidying up loose ends from Fall quarter. With only 2 final exams left to go, the stress has pretty much packed up and moved on. Looking back, I am amazed at the quantity of work I accomplished this quarter and some of my best work as well. All things considered, it was well worth the pain and effort expended.
Case in point: the knowledge and skills I gained from one particular class this quarter, Interactive Digital Media, just boggles my mind. We worked primarily in Macromedia Director with a smattering of Flash towards the end of the quarter, and I have to say that it's no wonder those two programs are defacto standards for multimedia authoring and interactive web content: Phenomenal cosmic power in an itty-bitty living space. Flash was a little more difficult to harness its power, though I buckled down this weekend and forced myself to complete the last and final IDM project for the quarter using it. It turned out very nice, that is if your CPU can handle the number of polygons I crank through it while approching 120 frames per second, and while synchronized to an audio track.
If you can view the multimedia intro, drop me a line and let me know how it looked on your 'puter along with your CPU and platform (mine is a 1.7GHz PC and runs perfectly... my mom's CPU is 350MHz and the animation ran so slow the audio didn't synchronize quite as nicely).
Winter arrived a little early today and in no uncertain terms: winds gusted to 60 MPH as a cold front moved into the area. Power went out a couple of times here at home in Rush, and a tree fell blocking the road in the neighborhood earlier this morning. And yet with all its fury that it packed, the storm dropped about 2-3 inches of blowing snow leaving a beautiful winter wonderland scene in its wake.
I love the peace and the calm and the family gatherings this time of year brings.
I finally made it to week 10 of this Fall quarter 20031 at RIT and the end is finally here. My nemesis this quarter, Internetworking Lab, barely posed a challenge for me today: I aced the final practical after studying for it over the past several days. What a sense of accomplishment following the mid-term practical where the experience was anything but pleasant. My Technology Transfer group's MemoryFoam presentation went very well yesterday as well. It feels so good already having just those two responsibilities successfully completed.
And I am already looking forward to Winter quarter: programming, programming, web site design/programming, and music theory. As a friend likes to say... "Life is Good!" ...and I couldn't agree with her more.
Thanks to Slashdot for their story on Pepsi's and MacDonald's recently announced promotional campaigns to give away 100 million and 1 billion music downloads from Apple's iTunes Music Store. They go on to suggest that if these music downloads catch on with the mass market, it could certainly spark the beginning of the end of the (retail) Audio CD.
I just got home from seeing the last of the Matrix triology, "Revolutions", and all things considered it was pretty friggin awesome. I left the theatre soaking wet from the intensity of the action and the fact that it was sold out and there were a lot of bodies generating a lot of heat. Neo, Zion, the machines, the war, Trinity's classic slow-mo bird-hand kick... it's all in there and concludes with this movie, or does it? There is so much more to any Matrix movie than meets the eye. The special effects and quintessential Matrix-style fight scenes are all there and balanced nicely. A fitting capstone to the series. B+
Have you ever been just lying there, slightly more conscious than sleeping though not fully awake, and suddenly the answer to a puzzle or project you've been working on magically appears in your thoughts? This has happened to me on a number of occasions, and interestingly these occurrences have been more frequent lately while attending RIT than ever before that I can remember. Twice while working through projects for Interactive Digital Media, and once for a project for Technology Transfer, did a vision of what-to-build and how-to-build-it come to me by epiphany.
I awoke from a dream-in-progress by the telephone ringing. Though not completely awake, I was conscious enough to know that I was, in fact, awake and that the thoughts my mind had been engaged in just prior were indeed part of a dream. Thus set the stage for what I believe to be the sudden manifestation of the essence of dreams: dreams are merely play time for our subconscious-self while our conscious-self and higher-order cognitive processes rest. Furthermore, the images, memories, emotions and other experiential information we have stored in our brain become the 'building blocks' and 'toys' our minds play with... and here's the epiphany: there isn't much thought processing occuring during our dreams, just thought handling.
The epiphany was perceptible both analytically and emotionally: I actually felt that I had walked in on my subconscious and caught 'him' playing with my toys. It was also at that moment I realized, with a knowing grin, that although he was caught in the act, he was also unable to derive any meaning between the images, memories and emotions other than the experiential meaning stored with them. I perceived a distinct difference between the 2-dimensional objects he was playing with and their 3-dimensional meaning to my conscious-self. In other words, he had found my computer but didn't have the password!
I'm not sure if what I experienced has any relevance to fact, though at the time it was real enough to be able to articulate what I felt that I thought I had better write it all down. So there you have it.