December 2003 Archives


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I'm back from a much needed and deserved vacation break. Much of the time was spent catching up on the stellar video game releases of this holiday season: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time; Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando; and Beyond Good & Evil. While all three are excellent games, Prince of Persia and Ratchet & Clank stood out for different reasons.

Prince of Persia was a beautiful game throughout with very unique and compelling game play mechanics such as: the ability to walk across walls, and the ability to slow time as well as reverse it altogether. The ability to reverse time is the single game play element which makes the game so successful. When a failed attempt is made at a platform leap or other action, a simple reversal of time will take you back to try again: brilliant! The puzzles in Prince of Persia were mixed with stages of intense fighting, providing a delightful mix and balance to the game. I would vote this game as game of the year, 2003.

Ratchet & Clank was a delight in its heavy artillery and weaponry and the gratification it delivers by allowing you to smash and blow things up until your heart's content. We're talking robots, buildings, and other non-humanoid breakables here. There's nothing but good wholesome destruction in this game. The other element that makes this game so much fun is the variety of vehicles that you pilot during the many mini-games included: star explorer, glider, hoverbike, gigantic mech-robot, and rail boots. The action is always changing along with the game play which makes this game so addicting that you won't soon put it down before you complete it.

All things considered, it was a very pleasant holiday and thanks to all who made possible all the pure gaming goodness. Now it's back to work.


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A US federal appeals court ruled Friday that the recording industry can no longer subpoena Internet service providers to hand over names of subscribers they feel are swapping songs through file-sharing networks. A major setback for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the ruling was handed down with the explanation that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) could not have been written with file-sharing in mind:

"(The DMCA) betrays no awareness whatsoever that Internet users might be able directly to exchange files containing copyrighted works."

While the ruling doesn't mean the end to the RIAA's gestapo campaign against its customers, it will surely make it much more difficult and costly to them as a result. Thanks to Wired for running the story.


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Back on my feet today after coming down with a miserable sinus infection of sorts; fever and chills for days is not how I'd rather spend a weekend. But, thankfully, I had to skip only one class on Thursday as I was going down for the count.

Rude awakening: things don't stop when one is home sick in bed, the world keeps marching on. And all those things that were due on Thursday and Friday, guess what? They're still due, along with everything due yesterday, today and tomorrow. I think this is what was referred to when whoever-it-was once said: "There's no rest for the weary".

On an up note, I am so very much looking forward to the final installment of Peter Jackson's monumental epic Tuesday night at midnight. I watched the extended DVD version of The Two Towers over the weekend and I'm very excited, again. Very few movies are able to move me to such emotion as the LOTR movies have, and I am certain that Return of the King will be their finest hour (times 3).


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The National Institute on Media and the Family this week released their top 10 recommended PC and video games:

  1. SimCity 4 (Everyone)
  2. Zelda: The Windwaker (Everyone)
  3. SSX 3 (Everyone)
  4. NBA Street Vol. 2 (Everyone)
  5. Top Spin (Everyone)
  6. Rise of Nations (Teen)
  7. Madden 2004 (Everyone)
  8. Flight Simulator 2004 (Everyone)
  9. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (Everyone)
  10. Rayman 3 (Everyone)

...as well as their top 10 games parents should watch out for:

  1. Manhunt (Adults Only)
  2. Road Kill (Mature)
  3. Outlaw Volleyball (Mature)
  4. Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball (Mature)
  5. Def Jam VENDETTA (Mature)
  6. True Crime: Streets of L.A. (Mature)
  7. Backyard Wrestling: Don't try this at home (Mature)
  8. Max Payne 2 (Mature)
  9. WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne Expansion (Teen)
  10. Postal 2 (Mature)

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From an article on ZDNet comes some very wise words by Dan Bricklin, co-inventor of VisiCalc, the world's first spreadsheet program:

"Being a software developer, you need a combination of ego and humility. There are so many bugs and dead ends, you need the ego to keep going. But you need the humility to learn and make changes."

Wonderful words to live by no matter what the task is at hand.

Thanks to Prof. Liz Lawley for the link.


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I never thought there would ever come a time when I would find too many good games available to buy them all. Well, unless you just crawled out from under a rock, the proverbial hell has just frozen over: games for every platform oozing from every game orifice imaginable. And just because you're probably thinking: "hey jay, there's a special someone in my life who just loves games, which ones would you suggest I get for them for this holiday season?" ...I'm here to make a few recommendations:

First up, available on every major gaming platform, there's UbiSoft's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. The game looks magnificent, and from what I've read it will be a likely contender for Game of the Year. Be sure to pick up this one early, or you might not find it when it comes time for your last minute shopping excursion on Christmas Eve.

UbiSoft scores another instant hit with Beyond Good and Evil for all major platforms. The stylish action-adventure is very Zelda-like though stands on its own merits. It looks fantastic and has been very well received, I'm seriously looking forward to this game.

Just released for the PC and XBox, Ion Storm's Deus Ex: Invisible War has been received to critical acclaim due to its exemplary design and moody sci-fi experience. Game industry luminary Warren Spector's last game, Deus Ex (2000), enjoyed much praise and won many game of the year awards. He's back again with this latest installment.

For the platformer aficionado in your life there is Naught Dog's Jak II and Sony's Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, both highly rated sequels surpassing the merits of their highly rated predecessors. I really enjoyed the originals of both games and I am looking forward to playing the sequels. And both exclusively for the PS2.

Capcom's Viewtiful Joe is simply amazing. I've been playing this game since it was released in October and cannot recommend this game more highly. Mentioned previously here, the game is stylish and the gameplay is phenomenal. Don't think, buy it... now. Only for Gamecube.

And don't forget Nintendo's latest masterpiece Mario Kart: Double Dash!! The game, previously written about here, is a guaranteed hit with anyone with a Gamecube. You can't lose by picking this one up, 'nuff said.

And for that blood-thirsty serial killer in your life, Rockstar North's Manhunt is the game to get. Boasting reviews like: "(Manhunt) unflinchingly depicts intense graphic violence" and "the most appalling scenes of violence ever crafted for a videogame" ...how can you go wrong with a game like that? =P


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With a little slight of hand, some movable type and a pinch CSS comes: 2D Classic Gamers!

Gentlemen, start your engines.

Update: Sorry, I had to remove the blog I kept for the 2D Graphics Programming class due to account space limitations. =(


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Winter quarter kicked off this week and I'm really stoked about what I've gotten myself into this time:

  • I'm finally doing some hardcore development in 4002-501 (2D Graphics Game Programming) with Professor Andy Phelps. We have the task of developing a full blown windows application game program in C++ using DirectX. It's time to roll up the shirt sleeves boys and get our hands dirty! Yeehaw!
  • I've accepted a Teacher's Assistant position with Professor Nancy Doubleday--who is wonderful to work with--and in my favorite class from last quarter: 4002-330 (Interactive Digital Media). The position also comes with a very nice perk: use of an office on the 2nd floor of GCCIS which has lots of desk space, 2 computers and a place to store my coat during the cold winter months. It also has a great view overlooking the walk to the library. And I have much to be thankful for! =)
  • Music theory with Professor Schell is wonderful food for the soul after so many technical courses I've been through. Enough said.
  • And I've taken on a grader position for Professor Whittington to make some video game money and keep brushed up on my Java skills. The course is geared toward students who had some difficulty with their first Java course, and is perfect for me to get my feet wet having never graded for a professor before.
  • And then there's Professor Liz Lawley's 4002-409 class (Web Site Design and Implementation). What can I say? The woman is brilliant and I'm very excited about the prospects of what I can learn from her. Webmaster In a Nutshell is the text for the course, and that pretty much sums up my feeling of Dr. Lawley. Oh, and Brendyn and I wound up sitting right next to each other the first day in class and didn't realize it until half-way through the class. Go figure.

And I'm sure there's more, but suffice to say that after only 3 days, I'm feeling like things are just as they should be. I continue to feel that I am at the center of my essence advancing towards my destiny. It's a truly remarkable experience... and I have much to be thankful for.


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If you see this guy walking around the campus at RIT today, wish him a Happy Birthday! (Psst... But don't ask him how old he is... he might not tell you the truth =P).


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Ribbon of Red by Michael Watts

A woman came up to me and said
"Why do you wear that there"
I said "To show I remember to show I care"

A man came up to me and said
"Why do you wear that there"
I said "To show it's out there to show I'm aware"

A child came up to me and said
"Why do you wear that ribbon of red"
I said "I wear it for the living and for the dead"

A Teenager came up to me and said
"I know why you wear that ribbon there"
"Oh" I said "Please tell my why"
"I don't need to" he said "I can see the pain in your eyes"

The above poem is from WorldAIDSDay.org. Five (5) people worldwide die of AIDS every minute. Do you have time? Take a minute, click the ribbon and visit their site today.

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