Sunday, December 10, 2006

Another month goes by without posting. The intention is there, just not the execution.
Anyway, Thanksgiving has just come and gone during which I spent the week in Jamaica with my family, Louise and family, and a big crowd of others. It rained or was overcast pretty much the whole time. I think we had about two hours of sun one morning and I still managed to get sun burnt. Regardless, I had fun and it was good to see everyone and I'm looking forward to coming home to England for Christmas in less than two weeks.
The day before going away the Nintendo Wii launched in the US. I tried to pick one up but couldn't find one anywhere. I was in line at Circuit City when it opened and they had 39 units. I was 41 in the queue. After getting back to work I had an email waiting saying I had one a Wii, (well, the chance to buy one,) in the company lottery so I did end up with one anyway. I've only got the Wii Sports game that comes with the system so far and it seems like a fun diversion, but I've only played for about 2 hours total. I've been letting other people play it more than I have myself, (I left it at work for two days to let people try it out.) I'm waiting to get Zelda for Christmas since it is the only game I really want for the system at the moment.
Gears of War finally turned up on Friday so I was playing that alot yesterday. The graphics are amazing. I first tried it at work on a small standard-def TV and it looked good even on that, but now I get to play in HD glory at home. I've been having problems connecting to online games for some reason, unless I pick sessions with low populations. I can guess why, but it is annoying.
Work is still going well and I'm still enjoying it. Friday was our company Christmas Party and they had converted a few areas into a Jazz Club / Casino. I had a laugh playing poker but ended up losing it all, but it was only for fun anyway, (though the two chip leaders won Wiis and third got a signed Ali boxing glove!)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

This week a truck load of PS3 test kits turned up at work. I now have a shiney new PS3 sitting on my desk along with 3 games. I'm not going to incriminate myself by saying anything about the it.
In unrelated news, I won't be buying one. Certainly not in the first year at least.
Other trivia:
  • Blu-Ray-R's are a dark gold color.

  • PS3s are big and heavy, but there is no power brick

  • The controller is a little light but its ok. It feels ok to play with until you press certain buttons. L2/R2 triggers are not straight buttons anymore, but act like the Xbox 360 triggers, (curving.) It feels weird though since the "turning radius" is so tight. The X button really needs to be pushed to get it to work. I guess the face buttons must be analogue again, but perhaps a little better than the PS2 ones.

Monday, November 06, 2006

So after just three months of working here at EA I've shipped my first title: Need for Speed: Carbon.

My name isn't actually in the credits of this one, but hey I know I worked on it. It will just make me more excited about the game that finally does.
Other than that, things have pretty much been going along as normal. I've been told I'm doing well at work and I am definitely enjoying it.
I got myself a copy of NFS and it is pretty good. I'm not a fan of such arcade style racing usually, (except in an arcade,) but this is put together quite well with a great visual style. I also picked up a copy of FIFA 07 which has been a bit annoying. Probably best to save that for multiplayer. I was given a copy of Battlefield 2142 for free and that game is great. It's a lot like playing Onslaught mode in Unreal Tournament 2004. I'm really into my gaming at the moment and I can think of three games I would like to get next month just off the top of my head.
Out of nowhere I won a free golf lesson. I've been meaning to take some for a while now but it has never worked out. We had a health fair at work and one of the stalls was from a nearby course. I spoke to them and was ready to take them up on their offer that weekend. They mentioned a prize draw so I put my name down and ended up winning. Exactly what I was after.
I couldn't use it last weekend however since I had to fly out to Orlando to help my brother move out. He has just graduated from the Computer Animation degree at Full Sail, (his demo reel is great,) but because the car was in my name apparently I had to be there to sell it. A bit of a pain being so short notice but I got to see my family for the weekend so it was ok.
All in all things are good. I'm looking forward to coming home for Christmas now.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I went to go and see Snow Patrol last weekend in San Francisco and it was a great show. I didn't have a ticket and took my chances getting one on the door. I would have booked one but a) I didn't have anyone to go with and b) I wasn't sure I could go. I could have been working over the weekend since I've been on-call a couple of times in case Need For Speed needs help as it gets close to launch. As for having no one to go with, well I figured I had to try and meet people some how, and I really wanted to see the show.
Anyway, I've decided SF is the weirdo/tramp capital of the world though. There were a lot of them around during GDC two years ago, but standing in line outside the Warfield Theatre made us sitting ducks for them to keep coming up. Haha, as I'm typing this I've just remembered seeing a guy fall off his motorbike while we were waiting. He was only going slow and must have been drunk or something, but he was fine. His bike was a piece of crap and one of the tires must have gotten caught in the tram tracks.
I'll leave you with the fact that I almost won a copy of Dead Rising, (mine was the first honorable mention, featuring Michael Jackson,) but no dice.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

So I've been working at EA now for about six weeks, (and it has been almost as long since my last post.) I think I've settled into the job pretty well now. I've been working hard and getting along just fine. I don't want to say too much about the specifics, just in case, but my work is going into actual-real-life games, including a port of one of my all time favourites. My first credited game looks like it will be either The Godfather for Xbox 360, out on Tuesday I believe, or Need For Speed: Carbon, multi-platform, due in the next few weeks. I think it is more likely to be NFS, but I'll wait and see. As soon as I find out, I'll buy myself a copy and try and get a screenshot of my name :)
Our Full Sail Final Project group put together Urban Annihilation v1.1 for the IGF Main Competition. Looking at the list of entries our chances are slim. Some of the games have been in production for four years, but we were ineligible for the Student competition because we were given help with some of our assets. Oh well, it was worth a go after the effort we put in, (and the time I spent putting together our entry.)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

What a week. First, I start work and all is fine. I'm shown around, told the benefits, blah, blah, setup all the software I need etc.
Then on my second day I start reading over the documentation I need to know. But then in the afternoon I'm told I have to go home since my work permit hadn't arrived yet. And no one had any idea when it would turn up. Checking online made it seem like it would be weeks, (mid July they were processing late April applications and mine was files 22nd May.)
So Wednesday I'm sat at home reading printouts and recommended books after picking up my Social Security Number. Oh, and there was a 4.4 earthquake that afternoon. I didn't feel it at home, (I just thought my neighbors were stomping about,) but apparently people at work did since we are on the sixth floor so you feel it more.
Thursday I wake up and find out that my work permit was approved over night! Unbelievable, so I headed back to work that day. Work, work, work, found a bug in the code all by myself, and fixed it, but didn't know how to report or check it in, so left it for the morning. I try to leave to go home and my car won't start. At all. I'm not happy. After spending about two hours phoning people, trying to get jump-starts and everything, I end up just walking home.
So that brings me to today. I walked in, actually got some work done and fixed two bugs, working on two more. My car was picked up by the dealer to be fixed and I was given a loaner.
Tomorrow I think requires a golf lesson, followed by a few beers to calm down and relax. What a week.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I am officially a game developer! I just finished my first day at EA and there was a lot to take in. I can't be sure what I can talk about, so I'm basically going to say nothing, but it looks like I'm getting thrown in pretty quick. Now I need to learn the ropes, then get my name on a game!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Its the day after my 23rd Birthday and I have been a busy boy. My last post was on the last day of school, so it should be pretty obvious a lot has happened.
First, I graduated from Full Sail, top of my class, (valedictorian,) no less! I also won class awards for DirectX, AI and Structure of Game Production, so I did pretty well!
The day after that I went home to the UK for a break and to sort out my passport and Visa for coming back to the US. During that I went off to Italy for a week with Louise and had a great time. We decided to travel about by train so that we could see a few different places. Rome had the most to see, Pisa was a one trick pony, Venice was beautiful and Lake Garda gave us a chance to chill out by the pool. I was hoping for more from the food though. Italy went and won the World Cup the day we arrived so it was good to see that while we were there. At first the reaction was muted, (although we were in the Hard Rock Cafe, Rome, surrounded by Americans...) but as we made our way back to the main square, the whole of Italy turned up. After a few minutes of feeling happy for them, thoughts turned to getting home and the nightmare that would be with all the roads blocked with traffic and people. Somehow, after an hours walk, we ended up getting in the back of a passing car and were given a lift back to the hotel. I can't say how grateful I was to the couple that picked us up! Also worth mentioning, I won the Fantasy World Cup with my friends from Coopers, which may be my greatest sporting achievement :)
After another week at home I moved here to California. It has been a hectic few days setting up here from scratch, but I had help from my parents and I think we are done now. Got myself a nice place, a little flat screen HDTV and a Jeep Grand Cherokee!
All I have to do now is wait to start work at EA on Monday. That's when the real fun should start!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Yesterday was our final day of Full Sail. Called Archive Day we were basically charged with having to create an installer, a CD label, compile our design and technical documents into a single file to be printed as a book etc. and turn it all in. That all went fine and the game is now done, (as far as Full Sail are concerned.)
I have been working on the website for the game and it is open for business. Visit and you can now download a copy of the game to play. We may be updating the installer from time to time, or maybe patches since we are working on getting better network play.
The Independent Games Festival website has been updated for the 2007 competition today and I have been reading the rules to see what we are eligible for. It looks like we cannot go for the student competition since we got some help with our character and weapon models and animations. We can however enter the main competition, so I think we will be doing that. The music may need to be replaced however, since I think it may be copyright infringement to use what we have if the game is no longer considered a student project. I may have to call and clarify if we can't get anything else easily.
After all of that I went to go and see Dave Chappelle live last night. Even the support acts were funny, but towards the end of the show the heckling Chappelle was getting, ("Yeeeeah!", "What?", etc.) was ridiculous and he seemed to be getting a bit pissed off. Things got more serious after that as he was talking more about why he ran off to Africa, (corruption and "The Game",) and that made me leave with a more uncomfortable feeling than I was expecting from a comedy show. But still, glad I went.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

So all went well with final presentation, and you can now see for yourself. My brother recorded us from the audience and I got the footage up onto Google Video for all to enjoy. They lower the quality to reduce the file size/download time, but you should still get the idea. We are actually sitting here polishing out some bugs right now, after which I'll throw a copy up to download.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

We need to turn-in our game on Monday for our Final Presentation to the school, friends, family etc. While we still have a little bit to do in terms of polishing out some of the bugs, swapping out some of the sounds and textures and what have you, I am really proud of what our group has managed to produce. Not only that, but without any major crunching or big worries. I'll get a copy online after our last turn-in in a couple of weeks.
I must have a lot on my mind at the moment since I've been having some trouble sleeping, (the project, graduating, moving, visas, starting work...) But hey, its going to give me time to add some help screens to the game right now. And from tomorrow I'll be able to watch the World Cup, (come on England!)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Our Beta presentation was yesterday and it went really well. We don't get feedback until next Wednesday since Monday is Memorial Day out here. At first the test machine we were all using to present from was playing up so none of the games anyone had produced would run properly, but everyone seemed to handle the situation well. Our build is pretty stable and really just needs some little things worked on like units getting stuck on each other and some HUD tweaks.
I managed to find a place to live in California for when I move, but it has been a stressful week trying to sort all of that out, and now it turns out getting my Visa is a nightmare in terms of timing, but I'm sure everything will work out.
The IGDA have finally put up the GDC reports from us scholarship winners, so you can go and read mine if you fancy it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I didn't realise it had been so long since I last posted on here. Things have been going well. Final Project is rocking along nicely but Beta turn-in happens on Monday. Problem is I have to take a few days off to head out to California to find a place to live since I signed my contract with EA and will start the first week of August.
Other things I have seen and done include a load of movies, ("Lucky Number Slevin", "The Sentinel" and "M:I:III",) a rocket launch here on the coast, and seeing Mum and Louise during spring break. Other than that it is mostly work, and I need to get back to it.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Final Project is still going well. Feature Fragment #1 was passed with flying colours and we are making steady progress. Since getting the Maya Model and Animation Exporter working I've mostly been making some models and putting them into the game. I've added some features like attach points too, so I'm pretty proud of it all. I could still add blending between animations, instead of just between frames though. Apart from that I've been making the menus and HUD. We are getting close to having some proper gameplay in the game so I'll need to make the HUD do more soon.
On the job front, Rare called and wanted to fly me out for an interview, but I've all but signed for EA now, which is really exciting. I'm finally going to be doing what I've always wanted to do. I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to talk about and since I don't want to get into any trouble, I'll just say I'll be starting in California later this year. All I need to do is read over my contract next week. I hoping Louise is going to be coming with me. We need to sort out a job and visa for her, but hopefully that won't be too hard. She and Mum are coming out to visit later this week too!

Friday, March 31, 2006

I have been meaning to post here for weeks now. It has been over a month since last time I did and a lot has happened. First, Mum and Louise were supposed to go on a cruise but ended up staying in Orlando instead, (long story, but it was nice to see them. They are back in a couple of weeks too!)
Our Feasibility and Proof of Concept presentations went really well for Final Project. POC was done infront of Digital Art and Design students that are hoping to help us gamers out for their portfolio. It seems like we are going to get the cream of the crop to help us out since they pretty much all chose our game or one other group's. The students with the highest GPA get their top choice downwards. Works out well for us!
I'm not sure how much I am allowed to say about my job hunting, but I've been doing well with EA. I passed the programming test, spent all day in an interview during GDC and have managed to get myself two offers! Details pending on that one. I'm also getting a phone call from Rare in the morning.
Speaking of GDC, that was fantastic. I was disappointed to miss a day since there was so much I wanted to see, but I still managed to get to most of what I wanted to. The IGDA people and mentors were great, the sessions interesting and the free t-shirts of good quality. I have already written up a report on what I got up to for the IGDA, so I'll post a link here when they put it up on their site next week. Just let me say thanks to all of them, especially Rudy Geronimo for all the leg work and Mike Mika & Chris Charla for mentoring me.
Right now I'm back to work on my Maya Model and Animation Exporter. Models are in, but there is some issue with the animations. Some of the matrices for the joints seem to be in the wrong order or something... Getting annoying, but I need to get back to it. Feature Fragment 1 is on Monday.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I was not allowed to post until earlier this week, but I have been awarded the scholarship to attend GDC from the IGDA! Thanks again to Rudy Geronimo and everyone at the IGDA for the opportunity. That is really fantastic news for me and I am now even more excited about going. I have just planned out which sessions I hope to attend when I get there. I can't make it to all of them, so I have had to prioritize my choices. There is a lot in there about Microsoft and the Xbox 360 along with some Sony PS3 and PSP stuff. I have to attend some talks on Half-Life 2 and F.E.A.R. too since I love those games so much.
Since I had already booked my hotel, flight and Expo pass I had a nightmare changing things to fit the new schedule, (and it has turned out to be pretty expensive too.) Still, I get all the added bonuses of the trip to EA and having a mentor etc, so I am still really pumped about it. Since I could not return my Expo pass I donated it to my friend Duke who came along last year but wasn't planning on making it this time around.
I mentioned that I get a mentor. I am not so sure about what that entails, but I know I have been paired up with Mike Mika, Studio Head of Backbone Entertainment Emeryville. They are the creators of Death Jr. for the PSP and I can't wait to talk to him. I would like to thank him and the other mentors for giving up their time for us helpless students ;)
What else has happened recently? Well this was our last week of Game Project Preproduction and Game Design Fundamentals 2. The presentations I gave in GDF2 rocked the house and I think the design doc our team produced in GPP came out pretty well. I have started coding out a prototype of the animation system for the game today to see if it would work. I got it going after a few hours and a little debugging help from the team. I just need to modify my Maya Model and Animation Exporter now.
I started playing Condemned during the week and it looks to have a lot of the promise of F.E.A.R., which it should, being from the same company. I picked up EA Sports' Fight Night: Round 3 today too and that game is a hell of a lot of fun. I was playing it at Duke's place last night with a bunch of friends (after losing at Poker,) and it made me want to run out and get it. There is a lot more to it than the demo lets on. I probably would not have gotten it until I saw the full thing, (in HD quality no less!)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

I've been a busy boy, especially since Final Project has now started. We pitched our ideas and were denied making our potential million dollar idea. That leaves us with a game that is more fun to play, (I hope,) but a lot harder to make at the same time. Being an RTS/FPS it is also pretty complicated which has made decision making in the group difficult. Discussions can become very tiring, but we do seem to be making some slow progress. We are meeting over most of the weekend so that we can really get the gameplay concepts down into our design document.
Other things that have been happening: SuperBowl XL took place last weekend, but it wasn't as close as last year's game, so not as fun for the neutral fan like me.
I gave Auto Assault a quick spin while it is still in beta and it was a fun time. If the Mad Max universe were a game, then Auto Assault would be that game.
I applied to the IGDA for a scholarship to GDC this year. Hopefully I'll be chosen and given a Classic pass which is much better than the cheapo Expo pass I have ordered. I wasn't going to enter but they added the fact that you are given a mentor from the industry to hang around with during the conference. That could really help boost any networking I hope to get done while I'm there. I'll find out this week if I am successful.
Speaking of GDC, I have been trying to set up some meetings today using their new GD Connect website. You put in your details and what you are looking for at GDC and you can get a list of people that have done the same that may interest you. I have already sent messages to people from Valve and EA.
Last night two designers from Midway, Harvey Smith and Ricardo Bare, came and spoke to us at Full Sail. It was interesting to hear some of their techniques and I got to ask a question too, so I learnt a little something.
Finally, I won $20 singing karaoke last weekend at a bar here in Orlando. Not because I was good, just because singers were given raffle tickets and mine was pulled out. Some of my friends won too, including another $20 and a $50 bar tab. Good times.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Tomorrow we finally start our Final Project. At least I hope so - our timetable is a mess as it stands. As I mentioned last time the group of guys I'm going to be working with needed to get some ideas down on paper, and we did just that. We narrowed a list of around ten down to two. After working on those two for a week or so, Joe and I resurrected our idea for a game we were going to do on the side as a business. We figured we may as well work it as a group project and get it done, rather than never make it at all. We'll just see if Full Sail lets us make it. I hope so... I can't wait to say more about it!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

It has been over a month since my last post and that puts us into 2006. Networking went well and Engine Development is rolling along. I've finally started on my Maya Animation Exporter which I am heading back to after posting this. Our new class this month is Software Architecture which is still a bit of an unknown at the moment. It will probably be a bit of a boring necessity, though we may learn when we use certain techniques we have already learned and why, (rather than just being told we have to use them for an assignment as has been done so far.)
But that is all current stuff. The past month was Christmas which gave me a much needed break and a chance to come back to London. It might have been cold, but I had a great time seeing family, friends and Louise. Thanks for all the presents everyone :) I got to go to Stamford Bridge and watch Chelsea beat a poor Birmingham, along with clothes and a couple of Xbox 360 games. You may well see ashleydb racing around in a Lotus on Xbox Live! for the foreseeable future in Project Gotham Racing 3.
Also last month I finally reached $100 in Google Adsense payments for after about seven months. I checked my balance again for December and I earnt a futher $70 from that alone! I don't suppose people are very interested in that, but I am over the moon with that perfromance!
As soon as next month we start our Final Project. The groups seem pretty much decided amongst the class at this point, and the people I'm going to end up with will be meeting tomorrow to try and come up with an idea. Other groups seem to have already started this, so we thought we should get our act together. Not to say we haven't been discussing it. A few ideas have been floated around in the past few months, but the conversations usually end up succumbing to stupid jokes and Futurama quotes. Or discussions about the meaning of the universe and how things work.
Chris will be back by the end of the month to start his Bachelors in Computer Animation. That means I lose the car, but gain a cook ;)