Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A lot has happened in the last two weeks. It was Thanksgiving here in the States last week, at which point every single American decides to go to the airport or the motorway to try and get home for a turkey dinner. I managed to avoid most of the travel problems and headed to Antigua for a couple of days to meet up with my parents and Louise who had been there for a week. It was fantastic to see them but it was all too short. Luckily its Christmas holidays soon so I shall be back in (freezing) England to see everybody in about three weeks.
A couple of days before that trip the Xbox 360 was released here and I was one of the lucky few to snag one on launch day. I've been tempted to put it up on eBay, but the profits are not that great... and I really want to keep it anyway. I only have Perfect Dark Zero right now, but it is a lot of fun, especially in multiplayer. Last night me and some of my friends here at Full Sail got together along with someone else who managed to get a 360 and played 7 man multiplayer system link (we were short a controller...) for hours on two huge HDTVs. It was really good fun. I just think I should pick up an extended warranty since I move the console about so much. I think I have only played it at home twice!
Speaking of warranties, my laptop has died, (well the screen has,) so that is in for repair. Rumours are flying around the school that HP will not be able to honour all of our warranties since they have acknowledged this laptop model is terrible and has been discontinued. They have been running out of replacement parts, (mostly motherboards,) and don't want to help us out. When mine failed, it was one of three laptops in our class that hadn't broken down. That leaves two of nearly 70. Apparently Full Sail are now getting lawyers involved and are trying to get all of us affected upgrades to the next model. Time will tell if this is all true, but some people in my class have been without their laptops for more than 3 months while waiting for repairs.
Since Console Development has been removed from the course, we are in Engine Development and Networking this month. ED seems like it could be a waste of time, but it is a chance for us to work on a personal project for 2 months. I am going to try and work on something useful for final project and either do Skinned Mesh Animation or create a Launchpoint Exporter from Maya and render the results in a 3D world. At this point I am leaning towards the second, despite the fact I have found a decent amount of info on skinned meshes online. Networking seems simple enough, (after just one class,) but the teacher throws it at you fast and there is a lot to take in! I'd best get back to it.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

I finished F.E.A.R. last week and was very impressed for the most part. I didn't appreciate the terribly slow trickle of story until the very end, but it climaxed well. I gave Half-Life 2: Lost Cost a try too. Unfortunately the HDR lighting wouldn't work with my laptop's graphics card, so it kind of defeated the point. But having "directors commentary" within it was a novel concept. I watched the extras on the F.E.A.R. DVD too and it was interesting to hear what the developers had to say about the creative process. I'm giving The Matrix: Path of Neo a try now. It has some really dated graphics, but you do get to pull off some impressive looking moves.
In just over a week the Xbox 360 will be debuting, and I am one of the lucky few with a confirmed pre-order. EB Games called me a couple of days ago to tell me that they were only going to be receiving 40% of their expected allocation of 360's (and that the same was true of most other stores too including Wal-Mart and Best Buy who are official partners of Microsoft for this launch.) Luckily I had gone in to the store about two or three weeks ago and added some games and accessories to the order which helped bump me up the list. That and the fact I think I ordered back in June!
School is still going well but I am looking forward to a break. This month has been OK since we have had days off, which we used to play some sport and actually get off our arses. The class is AI which has been interesting too. Next is Computer Networking I believe, which brings us near the end and gives us just about all we need to know to make a game. Hopefully in my next post I can put some more in here about real life rather than just about games though.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I have been incredibly busy this past month, especially the last week or so. I was getting really stressed with the workload, but managed to get through it. I should have some decent grades too, which I wasn't sure about earlier. Infact, it turns out I may well be top of the class which I am really proud of if true. I was hoping to graduate Valedictorian and that may well happen at this rate! :) Anyway, enough bragging about that...
We were working on Optimization, which meant learning some Assembly and using Intel's software profiler VTune to make a program run faster. Definitely useful. More stressful was Real Time Programming. That involved messing with RenderWare to get the basics of a 3D game going. We had to get a tank driving around a hilly area and shooting at targets with various weapons. The 3D math was not a problem, it was the implementation in RenderWare which certainly handles things in its own special way. It took me a while to get going with that which is why I was so stressed out, but I appreciate the opportunity to work with something I may come into contact with again in the future.
I'm going to try and put some of my work together and up here after I post this, including some older stuff like the map for Unreal Tournament 2004 which I made for 3D Content Creation. Some things, like my Maya Model Exporter and OpenGL Model Viewer, I still want to work on. I want to get that working with animated models (the framework is all there, it should just be a slight adjustment to the exporter,) and then get it running on the Sony PSP, which I have had a quick mess around coding for.
Homebrew coding for the PSP seems to be the only decent thing to do with it since there is a terrible shortage of games for it. Grand Theft Auto will be coming out for it next week which I'm sure will sell a boatload more PSPs and bring some relief to current owners. Meanwhile I've been playing F.E.A.R. (which I have previously written about after playing the demos,) which was released a few days ago on the PC and so far I think the horror part is excellent. It is really a pretty standard FPS with a few gimmicky addons, (bullet time and hand to hand combat,) but the spooky atmosphere has made my skin cover in goosebumps at time. You can't ask much more from a game than to evoke a real emotion like that. There are some decent effects too, like the shockwaves sent from grenades exploding. Its a shame I have to run the game at 640x480 with pretty low settings to get it running at around 10-15fps on this laptop however. Chris has just gone out to buy a copy of Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, so I'll have a mess around with that later on too. Might be handy to stock up on entertainment since Hurricane Wilma is on the way. As long as the power holds out anyway... otherwise having all these games to stare at will just be cruel punishment.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I've finally had a chance to sit down and try coding some stuff for the Sony PSP. So far I'm just tinkering with the demos that come with the SDK and have successfully got a textured cube moving and rotating around at your command by combining two of them. I've been moving the code around into a more manageable format to make it easy to start new projects when I want to, without having to reinvent the wheel each time. I'm trying to mess around with the texturing abilities right now, but hopefully I'll get a chance to write some small tutorials and post up the code when I get a little further down the line.
As for school, another month has started and we are working on Optimization, which means more Assembly and bit operations, and Real Time Programming, which puts us in RenderWare implementing various algorithms including some decent 3D collision detection.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Hello once again. I begin with an apology to anyone that may have received spam email coming from this domain. I noticed a lot of strange emails coming from the "email ash" form in the left column of this website but didn't think much of it. After getting about 10 every other day for a week or so now, I just looked into it. It turns out there is a simple exploit to the PHP mail() function to allow people to hijack the form and send mail to whoever they want. Hopefully no one was really affected and it was just some kid somewhere who learnt a new trick. Anyway, hopefully I have plugged the hole and the form should still work. If you have problems using it, be sure to drop me a real email (Hi [a] HiAsh.com) to let me know.
As for real life, from the lack of posting for a while you may get the idea that I have been busy. Dad and Louise came to visit Chris and I last week, (thank you both for coming!) so we got to have a mini-holiday, shopping, eating, etc. I did have to go to school during that time which was unfortunate and I'm trying to catch up now for the time not spent working. The most unusual thing we did while they were here was to go swimming with Dolphins at Discovery Cove (Sea World). They felt squishier to touch than I expected, for some reason...
Now that I am back to school work I'm trying to get a 3D model exporter plugin for Maya done along with an importer to view them in OpenGL. I have it working so far, but I need to improve it by including texturing and hopefully animation. In Machine Architecture we have been doing some Assembly code which is a pain to write, but will hopefully be useful when we start making our next big project and want to optimize some of our routines. My grades still seem to be coming in high, although the group project in SGP last month was graded as a C, by far and away my worst grade so far. With a bit of luck I can choose some better group members for our next project.
Right. Back into Visual Studio I go. Bye!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Structure of Game Production is now over and IsoMechTric is the result. It is an isomechtric, squad based, mech piloting, shoot 'em up game. This was a group project and I acted as Project Lead. I have uploaded it as part of my portfolio, so if you want to check it out, click on "Stuff I've Made" at the top of this page. What an exhausting two months it was, and while the results were not of as high a standard as I would have hoped, (at least in my opinion,) I have certainly learnt a lot about structuring and preparing for a project.
I gave a copy of the game to one of my teachers, Keyvan Acosta-Villanueva, who is taking it to an exhibition later this week to show it off. I believe he said it was for South American game designers, particularly students, but unfortunately I'm a bit sketchy on the details, so I could be completely wrong!
Next up is OpenGL and Machine Architecture which hopefully means some GameBoy Advance development and a bit of Assembly.
Also of note, I earned myself a Free Sony PSP and I hope to mess around with some homebrew code on that when I get a chance. Right now though, I'm going to be working on a networked card game with some exciting features planned as a side project.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

It has been a hard two months in Structure of Game Production. And it is not over yet. Yesterday was our Beta milestone which meant working until 3am that morning to have some semblance of a demo to show. We ended up burning about 8 CDs that night since the plan was to stop working at 10pm Thursday, but when things can change with just one more tiny tweak, it is hard to resist. The demo we ended up with was nowhere near as good as I hoped since we seem to have a bug-to-lines of code ratio of about 1 to 1. And with around 25,000 lines of code, that is a lot. But after our presentation we got cracking on fixing some of the problems and the rate of improvement was astonishing. With a bit of luck, the game may actually be finished by the final deadline of Friday next week, but we also have to bug test another team's game at the same time to simulate the QA phase of production. Another group gets your game to test and report bugs, and we do the same for someone else. It is gonna be a tight finish, but to be honest I will be glad when it is all over. I have not even had time to go to the supermarket for food while working on this thing!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Yesterday the demo for upcoming PC game F.E.A.R. was released. I just played through it and was quite impressed. The shooting parts were fairly average, but then this is a first person shooter after all. There is some variety with the inclusion of Max Payne style bullet time plus various melee attacks such as a bicycle kick. The real draw for this game however will be for the freaky haunted house style goings on. They use the "little girls are scary" thing, but they do it well. You will see her scuttle infront of your path or she'll appear right infront of your face as you turn around. There are also scenes that either you are imagining or someone is putting into your head, (I suppose I would have to play the full game to find out,) again similar to Max Payne which is a game I really enjoyed. Its a shame the best part of the demo for me ran so laggy, even at 640x480.
Apparently my NeoFlash kit is finally going to be sent out. That means I can get down to some Nintendo DS coding when I get some spare time. I've also nearly earnt myself a Sony PSP so I can do some hacking away at that too when it arrives.
School work is coming along. It seems like either everything will come together at the end for this project, or it will fall flat on its face. We will certainly have a game to demo, but unfortunately I don't think this game will be very fun to play. You never know though, we may get lucky. If I have not mentioned already, the game is supposed to be an isometric, squad based, mech game for one or two players. I'll get a demo up at the end of the month. And then I'll get to spend some time with Louise who is coming out to visit!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Yesterday was my 22nd Birthday, which I celebrated about 4 different times throughout the day (midnight UK time, midnight USA time etc.) The day wasn't great since I had to go to school to do a presentation. Our group had to wait around all day since we were chosen to go last. I didn't feel much like working after busting out some late night work that week to get our game demo done in time. Neither did anyone else, so we ended up watching a load of movies including the new Family Guy straight-to-DVD movie out in September.
I got some nice presents, (Thank You everyone,) one of which was three tickets to go and see Franz Ferdinand at an MTV taping at Hard Rock Live! The show itself was pretty good, and there was a surprising amount of Scottish fans there. But before it started, they were making people cheer and dance to the CD so they could get some crowd shots and I thought that was utter crap. I went with Joe and Duke and got very, very drunk. In fact I ended up sleeping on someone's lawn last night.
In more sober news, I got to see NASA launch their new shuttle into space this week from the school car park. Incredible. There are people out there in space, how weird is that?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

I've just got back from watching The Wedding Crashers at the cinema and thought it was hilarious. There are so many great one liners in there it is incredible. Plus a Will Ferrell cameo, what more could be asked for?
I also saw Hitch Hikers Guide today, and while it had its moments, I'm sure it is infinitely better as a book, (now ruined for my by my laziness and the movie.)
Work is coming on strongly on our group project game, (at least mine is, not sure about the rest of the group yet until I see some results.) It has the potential to be quite good. An isometric, squad based mech game, which plays in a way similar to Desert Strike. I have been working on the tile engine and editor so far, and it is not too bad. Let's just see how it turns out in a month or so.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

As a Londoner, (living in the US right now, but I just so happened to be back this week,) I have to give my condolences to the families of those killed in this morning's bomb attacks. It was a cowardly act on a city while the world had its back turned, focusing on the G8 summit in Scotland. It is impossible for me to comprehend how you can hate a group of people so much as to try and destroy them. Why can't everyone get along? Seriously, its like these terrorists are children that need to grow up and realise we all live here on this planet together. We don't get a long run at life, so just enjoy what you have, not go out and hurt others.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I've just seen the announcement that London have won the bid to host the Olympic Games in 2012. Great news!

Anyway, I saw War of the Worlds last night with Louise and thought it was absolutely brilliant. Gripping throughout I think it does a really good job of showing how useless a screaming mass of panicking people really is. A couple of questionable moments, such as the blatant product placement right at the beginning of the movie, ("You should get TiVo, its awesome!") or the fact that no-one dies in the tree (I don't want to spoil it, so I'll leave it at that and you will know what I mean when you see it) but apart from that, fantastic. A bit on the scary side for a 12A rating I would say though.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

CBAnimator.com is my brother Chris' site which he opened recently and has some of his work to download. The animations are really quite impressive. Try the second Lip Sync and 5 points to anyone for naming the sound clip used.
PSP-Files.com is my PSP news site which has just been totally redesigned to make it easier for me to update and be a lot easier to read. I've just kept it nice and clean and simple, although maybe it just needs something...
After getting some 99.x% marks in my classes these past few months I have managed to out do myself by getting a 102% in Structure of Game Design. Yes I am bragging and I don't care. The big grin on my face says it all! :D
* Update *
Incredible I know, but I have actually gone and updated my portfolio and uploaded some new work. itsajobthing.com and psp-files.com are mentioned and two games have been listed, Arkanoid and Teenage Mutannt Ninja Turtles! Be sure to read the notes on those since DirectX patches may be necessary to play.

Monday, June 13, 2005

I've been to EB Games at the weekend to trade in my klapped out XBox, (which has been opened and abused) for an XBox 360 pre-order. I managed to distract the guy while he was looking at the bottom, so he didn't notice the warranty voiding sticker damage and got myself $70. A problem arose that they no longer had any pre-orders left though, already! If they are in this short supply this early, I think I should pick one up then just stand outside and flog it for $500. I said that to the clerk and he told me I would probably get it too. He also said to phone them Tuesday morning as they might be given another allocation from head office.
Still no NeoFlash and the Half-Life book has been pushed back to August.
School has been a bit of a bitch so far this month as it is a late shift 6 days a week. And one of the classes is Media and Society, which I feel is a bit of a waste of time having done this stuff loads before. Structure of Game Design is quite good though. We are actually making real games! Expect them to appear on the site by the end of the month as no new work has been put up here for ages.
I wish I could go to one of the Live8 concerts, but they are on the Saturday I'm flying back to the UK for a break. Not the weekend I'm there, or even the next day, the day I'm flying. How crap is that? Poor me, *sniff* ;)

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I would have updated sooner, but I've just got back into the USA after taking a last minute trip back home to surprise everybody. It all went very well and everyone was gob smacked. Cheers all for going out and getting drunk over the weekend, and thank you Louise for getting the day off work for me :)
Last month, school finished well and my marks should be high. This month is a nasty 6 day week schedule though.
Congrats to Liverpool and West Ham, but why did Palace have to go down when they were 8 minutes away from safety? Rubbish.

Friday, May 13, 2005

My Half-Life 2: Mod Maker's Source Guide is still yet to arrive, as is my NeoFlash DS Linker.
School is going well though. DirectX lessons have been heating up and we have been making some nice plugins for Maya in ATP. Its feeling like we can make something more substantial with every class that goes by. Even if the labs can be a struggle and you might not have 100% understanding of what is going on...
Last night Microsoft used MTV as a platform to launch it's new Xbox 360. Not much in the way of "Revolutionary" games is known yet, but I can see myself getting one at launch for many reasons. One quote from Microsoft's official Xbox site has this to say:
"The Xbox 360 supports progressive-scan for DVD playback functionality, including a control for opening and closing the tray."
Wow. It must be great! But seriously, I'm looking forward to more at E3.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Playstation Portable is now somewhat codeable thanks to an ELF to PBP converter being released. Oh, and ISO files of the games have been released too. Its a big day for the Sony PSP.
I noticed Google has put a line of text advertisements into GMail now, but more importantly, random links to recipes using SPAM in the spam folder.
Finally, in an update to this site, you may have noticed a link to Stuff I've Written at the top of each page. That is where links to articles I write will go. So far only the Blogger Hack is there (restyled), but with my NeoFlash DS Linker arriving soon I was getting prepared for posting a review.

Monday, May 02, 2005

I have secured myself a Nintendo DS development kit from NeoFlash.com. Hopefully I can port my Educational Software for GameBoy Advance project onto it. I'll post some pictures when it arrives. In preparation I have been brushing up on my GBA coding skills and have started using VisualHAM which helps make things easier. I am, however, trying to stay away from the libraries since they may be too GBA specific to work on the DS.
Also arriving this week should be my copy of Prima's new book Half-Life 2: Mod Maker's Guide which I am looking forward to diving into.
I have also volunteered as a web developer for the IGDA (International Game Developers Association) which should, among other things, allow me entry to the IGDA VIP Luncheon at GDC next year! I found out it will be in San Jose next year, as it usually is, after their trial of San Francisco this year. That should hopefully make it a more intimate affair allowing me to chat to a few more people here and there.
All this and I am starting a new night-shift month of classes, DirectX and Advanced Tools Programming. So much to do and so little time to cram it all in!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I took the test at Who Should You Vote For to see what party I am best aligned with, (well, after answering a few basic questions) and I end up being more or less in the middle. Great. Oh well, I'm not at home to vote anyway.

Labour 12
Conservative 3
Liberal Democrat -1
UK Independence Party 5
Green 9

Thursday, April 21, 2005

It can be really annoying not knowing your schedule for the next month or two ahead of time. I would really like to go and see England vs USA in a friendly match next month and the US F1 Grand Prix the month after.
Anyway, it has been a while since I last posted and a few things have happened. Thanks to Louise, her sister and my Mum for coming out to visit during Spring break. Nice to see all of them and see America as a tourist again.
I have been playing Cold Fear which has been OK. Basic zombie blasting after following what is really a linear path to find item X to unlock door Y. Certainly not a bad game, but probably not quite as good as I hoped. Resident Evil 4 is supposed to be better.
I am trying to earn myself a Free Sony PSP. If anyone would like to help out on that front, please sign up by clicking that link. Much appreciated.
I have also opened a new website dedicated to the console, despite my lack of one, at PSP-Files.com. Bit empty right now, but more will come. Mostly when I have long weekends to spend some time on it.
I have been doing some 3D modeling this month and am now working on a level for Unreal Tournament 2004. In Windows Programming we are wrapping up with a Tile Map Editor. It should be quite good by the end. As effort affords me, some of this stuff I have been making will end up online.
P.S. Incredible. As I was typing this my friend was calling Microsoft Tech Support... and got his problem fixed in all of about 5 minutes. Yes! That short AND its fixed. Amazing.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

I got hold of LEGO Star Wars for the PC and have been playing it for the past few days during breaks and after class. I was unsure whether to play through Episode III since it would obviously contain spoilers for the movie. I went ahead though and have completed the story mode and am now going through the Freeplay mode to try and unlock all of the bonuses, (such as extra characters.) It is a great, simple little game that is fun to play, (even if there are a few frustrating sections, such as the jumping around at the end of the last level.) In between all the usual lightsabering levels are the occasional vehicle levels which add a bit of 'on-rails' action for a change of pace. I would probably give an 8 overall, with a high recommendation to try it. Marks are only lost for being a little short, (but the replay value is quite high,) and a bit of repetitiveness creeping in. Hey, you get to be Samuel L Jackson in LEGO form. It has to be good.
Having played it I am looking forward to May 19th even more. If the movie is anything like the game, this is going to be a high action Star Wars film, which has always been the best part of the other films. Lets face it, star fighters and lightsabers rock. Trade blockades don't.

Monday, March 21, 2005

A friend of mine tried Googling my name this week and I was surprised by the results. Searching for "ashley bennett" will show my IGDA membership page as the fourth result. Adding developer to the end will get you HiAsh.com as the first result. That's not too bad!
With the PlayStation Portable (PSP) launching in the USA this week I have to rant about game retailers blatantly taking advantage of the early adopters. Searching around for prices on the console at stores such as EB Games, GameStop and Best Buy all bring up overpriced bundles. The console should be $250 on its own, but I can only see the major retailers selling packages of at least $350 with many more being $400+. I'll wait before I get a new portable anyway. Nintendo have another one on the way to go with their Revolution console, and my GBA SP gets little (read: no) play as it is.
The Matrix Online Beta is over with the game to launch on Tuesday. Apparently the last few hours were great, with characters such as Morpheus, The Merovingian and Niobe all turning up for a huge war involving the Matrix's virtual world being set ablaze by a fire virus started by the Machines. After my experience with the game I can say it could be fun to play in the long term if you could get in a good "clan" and there were some more events similar to the last day of the beta. Or of course if you are a rabid MMO fan.
I also tried out the Lego Star Wars Demo this week and I have to say I'm very impressed. Clean, simple fun with basic puzzles, 3D platforming and lightsabers. As long as the levels are a little longer and more complex than that presented in the demo, I would have to recommend this game. The replay value is great since you can go back and play each level with access to all of the characters in the game, each with a unique ability allowing you to open up previously inaccessible areas of the map. Buy it next month.
Finally, congratulations to the boys at Elemental Entertainment who's title Wingmen, which I have mentioned in previous posts, will be featured in an upcoming issue of Computer Arts, top digital design rag, as part of a piece about the MediaLab Arts degree, (or rather Digital Art and Technology as it will soon be known.) Well done!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

I'm back now from GDC and it was pretty damn cool. Highlights include getting completely drunk for free, all the food we blagged each day, getting my arse handed to me in a game of Doom 3 by a professional girl gamer, oh, and the show was there too.
On the first day a lot of stands were giving out beers and stuff at about 5, so we went around each of those booths and had about 6, then went across the road when the show finished and had a few with the Full Sail staff that were there. The next night Playstation held a private party that we all got into.
As for the show, the fact that Microsoft wasn't really showing anything was a surprise. I got to have a go on the PSP a few times and there were some entertaining things to do at the booths. But overall there was nothing amazing gaming wise. It was more showing the new technologies and tools we as developers can use, which was cool to see and try, but its not like E3 - place of shiny things.
We spoke to a few people too, which was good, including getting some good advice for next year, so I would say it was definitely worth the trip. It should be better next year since we will be looking for jobs and should have some stuff to show. It was a bit pointless talking to companies about it now, apart from seeing what they wanted and what they offered (such as internships.)
I just got back this morning and had some sleep. Apparently we didn't have power for 2 days since the power company cut us off thinking we were someone else. I'm pissed.
In totally unrelated news, I'm on the front page of the MediaLab Arts website in a beautiful pic. Lucky me, thanks Chris! ;)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

I have managed to get myself on the Matrix Online beta which is pretty sweet. Its the first time I've signed up for something like this and is the first MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) I have ever played at the same time. Signing up involved agreeing to an NDA, so I can't say too much, but it seems like it could get quite deep. I was thinking it would be a terrible game, but being a fan of the Matrix series I signed up for the beta as soon as I heard about it months ago, however it wasn't until Tuesday I was accepted. I have only played for around 2 one hour sessions so far, having to restart with a new character for the second hour since I switched servers to try and reduce the lag. It was bad yesterday, but it was acceptable today. I'm more impressed than I thought I would be, but really don't think I would pay a monthly fee to keep playing. I'm going to try and get the most out of this free beta as I can.
I also had a quick go at Cold Fear for the X-Box today. It looks impressive. A more action oriented survival-horror game, along the lines of Resident Evil 4, but based on a large ship in the middle of a storm. The movement is exaggerated based on huge waves crashing into the hull, making your character sway as they move. After playing I was watching the TV and everything was 'moving' infront of my eyes, which is a little worrying for a 20 min play!
This time next week I'll be at GDC and I'm looking forward to that. Just need to keep on top of the work at the same time!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Last week I added to the list of strange meats I have sampled... this time Dolphin. I have to say, Flipper is pretty bland. Also that week I had a chance to speak to Sheri Graner Ray, author of Gender Inclusive Game Design and who now works for Sony Online Entertainment. I got to ask her some questions about the content of her book and how we should approach marketing to try and gain a larger female audience, increasing our sales potential. It was an interesting conversation and a great opportunity to speak to someone in the industry, so I would like to thank her for that.
Yesterday I sent some voice recordings over to Elemental Entertainment for them to put into their game Wingmen. Its a fun little multiplayer 2D space shooter which is nearing a milestone right now. Check out the impressive website and grab the demo when its up, they are a good bunch of lads.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Fantastic! Bloggers are considered dangerous to society due to the potential inaccuracies... despite blogs bringing up some major scandals recently. Scare mongering by governments, (and other idiots who have no idea what they are talking about) really is crap.
But anyway, school is going well so I booked myself a trip to San Francisco next month with a few friends as a reward. The reason? The Game Developers Conference 2005 baby! I can't wait. Its just a shame students cannot attend E3. When I go, I'll try and post some photos and news live, or at least at the end of each day.
Oh, and Dad visited us here last week. It was great to see him and have a few beers. Just thought I'd throw that in. Thanks Dad.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I took a look at the Half-Life 2 source code in order to start making a mod or two which I have planned. It is a bit intimidating to look at at the moment though, since there are no real guides out there for the coding, they are all for map editing.
I noticed that Prima are coming out with a new guide in the next few months however, The Half-Life 2 Mod Maker's Guide, so I may pick that up to get some pointers. Even if I don't end up using it directly for HL2 modding, I'm sure there are some good general tips in there, and it is less $15.
Just one last note, I have been using Vonage (who use VOIP technology which lets you make phone calls using your Internet connection so you save money, especially on international calls!) as my telephone service for a while now and I can only say good things about them. If anyone out there is thinking of signing up, email me, (or use the form on the left of this page) an I can send you an e-coupon for a free month of service, whichever plan you choose.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Another month down, and it went fairly well I think. I did not really enjoy the Physics class, but it has been a good reminder of my old Maths and Mechanics and how to implement it in code for games.
Unfortunately I didn't get to see Louise while she stopped over in Miami tonight, sorry honey. That's what accelerated school does to you.
I did a quick update to the site, making the most changes to my CV, (or resume for any Americans reading) :) I think my portfolio could do with a spruce up, but I doubt that will happen for a while! I hope tomorrow to take a look at the Half-Life 2 source code and see what the chances of making a mod are.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I have been getting a lot more mail about my Blogger/Atom/RSS/MagpieRSS tutorial recently. Most are to say thanks, but some with questions. To that end I've updated the guide to add a little more detail since it seems to be helping quite a few people out there.
Full Sail is still going well. It has been harder this month I think, but I'm doing pretty well with my grades, and that's what matters.
I went to Disney Quest at the weekend, which for those that don't know is essentially a big arcade with some virtual reality rides. It is billed as an indoor theme park, and while that may be a little over the top, it is still a good way to kill a few hours. I haven't been there for ages, so it was good to see they had updated some of the games, but it would be nice to see a greater number with a bit more variety. I haven't seen a decent new arcade machine in a long time. Rocky's Arcade doesn't do badly with their games like the full size F-Zero cabinet, but I have been dying to play a game I once played in a GameWorks. It was a Virtua Cop style affair, but with firemen. You had to hold a fire hose as your controller and put out the fires to advance through the building, like House of the Dead. I remember it being a Sega game (hence all the Sega references in describing it!) but haven't had a chance to play it since.
While driving back from Disney Quest I managed to have a car accident with a Lexus RX300 which was less than fun, but that's what a long session of racing games in an arcade must do to me!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

I received an email this morning from the people at jenniferavalon.net who said they had used my Blogger / MagpieRSS tutorial as the basis to develop their own technique for publishing posts on a set date. They were good enough to then write this up in their own tutorial: Autopublish-on-date, using Blogger and Magpie/PHP which you might want to check out.
On a completely unrelated note, I have come up with an idea for a Half-Life 2 mod (or maybe mods,) but don't want to reveal too much just yet until I get things going, either on my own or in a group. I got the SDK from Steam yesterday and had a brief look. Map making doesn't seem too bad for what I want to do, but I'll have to start taking a look at the code and see how to edit it to make the game.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The first week back is over and it has been tough going. It doesn't help that we had a two week break to forget everything, but the work seems to have ramped up a bit in terms of how challenging it is. I'm still doing ok though and my tests have been turning out alright.
I have finally fixed my XBox and after posting this I'm going to do the last bit of tweaking to get it running the way I want it, then I can sign up for an XBox Live trial.
Season four of 24 starts here tonight with two episodes today and two tomorrow before getting back to a normal once-per-week schedual. I love that show!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

First post of a new year. I'm back in the USA and I have an exam today, my first day back.
New Year was good. I spent it in Norwich with the boys and we had a laugh. Cheers Doc for letting us stay.
I have just updated a file on this site that fixes a bug in MagPie RSS, but I don't think it was a bug that affected this site, so you may or may not notice a difference. I need to update loads of stuff I have realised, like my CV. But for now, I should really get back to my notes.