Project Wish  
Project Wish
Project Wish
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Feb 11 2013, 06:21 PM
So it's been almost 5 years since my last blog post. I've lost contact with many of the people I enjoyed working with so much, and a lot has happened since Project Wish disbanded. Too much to list here, so I'll just give the highlights.

I'm still working my job at Astronautics. Still working on the same project. We're finally on the last milestone, and scheduled to wrap the project up around the end of the year. I've learned a lot, mostly by observing failure, but that's how it goes.

I took about a year off of doing any sort of side projects. During that year I focused on getting in better shape, and it worked. I dropped between 80 and 90 lbs, and have held it off for almost 2 years now. It's still difficult to avoid slipping back into old habits, and I'll probably be struggling with that for the rest of my life.

I've got three wonderful cats now, which are surrounding me as I type this. Still no girlfriend/wife, but that's how it goes sometimes.

I still play hockey. Now I play on two teams, so I keep pretty busy.

I've got a new band, called else, that is finally starting to make some progress. My friend and I started out with a few ideas about 2.5 years ago, and we've refined them over the last year and recruited a few more members. Now we just need a drummer and we'll be ready to gig. We're online at elsetheband.com.

Now on to the exciting stuff. I've been getting back into side projects recently. One of my friends is having me do some embedded programming for him on the MSP430 platform. That'll be a new experience for me. I'm also starting up a project with one of my coworkers. We're going to create a Window Manager for Linux, partly as a learning experience, and partly because I haven't found one that I truly enjoy yet. In the meantime, I've switched to the Awesome Window Manager on top of Arch Linux. That's right, I've been in Linux land so long now for work that I don't run Windows regularly anymore. I generally only boot into it for playing games now.

Speaking of games, I haven't touched a line of game-related code, or Windows code for that matter, since the Project Wish days. Lately though I've been getting the itch to get back in it. I have an idea for a 2D game that I want to use to get my feet wet in the game dev world again. After that, I've been considering joining another game dev team, starting an open source engine, or joining the Ogre3D project. I'd like to get back to the game I was working on immediately after stopping development on Project Wish. I've never stopped thinking about it, so I'll probably get back to that sometime in the future.

And that's about all for now. This will likely be the last entry, unless I have some announcement to make.

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Sep 5 2008, 05:44 PM
So what's the big deal? Honestly it isn't much to talk about. It's a beta browser that lacks the features I need for surfing the web. I'm glad they changed the EULA, but I still don't like the idea of sending google information about everything I view. I'm sure that they'll put in ads before long too.

From a feature point, google's celebrated features can already be found in Opera or Firefox with plugins. The "new tab window" page is a clear copy of Opera's SpeedDial feature, except you can't control it. If it had mouse gestures, I may consider using it...sometimes.

I also don't understand the big deal about having tabs as new processes. I've had web pages hang before and they haven't affected my other tabs. Maybe I just have never come across a page that causes the errors they're so worried about (which leads to questions about the necessity of the feature). I'd like to see what google uses to test the browser.

Another thing about chrome is the speed. I admit for most pages chrome is slightly faster (maybe a second or two on an uncached page) than Opera. Not a huge deal, but it is noticable. However, this speed comes at a cost. I did a check yesterday of fresh starts of opera and google, took them to the same page, and compared the memory usage. Opera's footprint was at least 5k smaller, which is somewhat important on my aging system.

And then there is the famed increased Javascript speed. Is it really all that much faster? Actually, depending on the test, it can be significantly slower. I've already seen one article where FF3 was faster than chrome, and running the speed test at http://celtickane.com/webdesign/jsspeed2007.php tells me that Opera is still faster, by about 100ms. Chrome wins in every category except arrays and ajax, which is surprising since I thought Chrome was designed for maximizing ajax apps performance.

So that's about it for my mini-review of Chrome. I'm sure it will get better over time.

On another note, I still haven't heard back from my interview. I've been in contact but don't have an answer yet. I'm also taking a bit of a break from PW. Probably won't last too long, but I just need some time away, as I'm getting burnt out. Coding 8 hours a day and then coming home and doing it some more gets to you after a while.
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Aug 10 2008, 09:35 PM
It's finally time to take a vacation. I'm leaving this Wednesday and will be back a week later. I'm taking the S.S. Badger across Lake Michigan and going to my aunt's cottage, then coming back through the U.P.

Before I leave I've got some business to attend to. I've got an interview on Tuesday at a game company, and last Friday my current job gave me a fairly generous offer for a full-time position (I work full-time contract now).

No updates on Gremlin yet. I'll get to that when I get back. Last weekend I got MOgre working, and this weekend I brushed up on some A.I. in preparation for my interview.
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Feb 19 2008, 04:52 PM
First the bad....

I may not have time to work on PW much until the end of March. Our software for first-flight needs to be done and tested by then. We got the bad news, in the form of a rather moral-lowering speech/begging, that we may have up to 15 hours of overtime a week until that date. That means we may be pulling 12 hour days or even working on weekends.

The good news...

I'm a contractor, so I get paid time and a half for overtime. Full-time employees only get free meals (which I get too).

Also, PWToolBox 1.0 is nearing completion. This last weekend I got the Linux build working. Documentation still has to be written, as well as some minor changes to the code, and then we have to review and test it. We may be bringing on a few more programmers to help with that. Then we have to come up with licensing agreements and we can release it to the world! We'll have to find a place to advertise it on, since our site probably won't generate the kind of traffic we need.
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Jan 29 2008, 06:03 PM
I had my interview with a gamdev company today, and I think it went well, except for some technology problems.

I got home, made sure my cell phone was charged, and eagerly awaited the call. I prepared all of my materials on the computer for reference.

Not 5 minutes into the call and my cell phone reboots. Immediately I panicked. "What the hell?", I proclaimed, as I rush around the house looking for a phone charger.

You see, I've had this problem before. In fact, every Tuesday for about 3 weeks my phone has been doing this. I previously thought it was because my batteries were low, as I usually have the phone off the charger since Sunday.

Failing to find the charger in the house, I acted quick and bolted out to my car in my bare socks. With the aid of a charger, I thought my problems were over. I returned inside, discarding my muddy socks, and awaited a call back. Thankfully they obliged. With the phone in working order again, and several apologies and explanations later, I carried on with the interview.

About a minute later and the phone reboots again. Acting quickly, I once more made a mad dash to the car, this time with my bare feet. At this time I'd like to point out that the driveway is still covered in snow and ice, despite the warmer temperatures of earlier today. Once again I await a call back, and once again they obliged. I quickly gave them my house number, and returned inside, inadvertently leaving the keys behind with the electronics on.

By the time I was inside with my now muddy feet the phone was already ringing. I quickly picked up the phone and went through the apology/explanation routine again. I answered questions with what I perceived as great enthusiasm. Thankfully there were no technical questions, as my brain represented scrambled eggs due to the events of the day. Then it was time for me to ask questions.

As I was on the phone in the kitchen, I was a good distance, and several corners, away from my computer. I excused myself to the other room to grab the cordless phone. This phone, as it turns out, likes to play back your own voice when you speak, mostly obscuring the people on the other end of the line. This feature, as I found out, is particularly enhanced when the other party in the conversation is using a speaker phone.

I pulled up my list of questions and started asking them. In the meantime I had decided to make a hard copy of them and return to the other, more usable phone. Naturally this printer has about a 2 minute time period from when you turn it on to when it actually starts to print. Meanwhile I'm struggling to catch the conversation.

"Finally", I thought, as the printer spits out the questions. I return to the kitchen phone, continuing to ask my questions, and realized that I had printed off an old version. This is not to say the questions weren't good, but I had more that I could have asked. "Oh well, I'll ask them in the on-site interview, if I make it that far", I said to myself in a reassuring manner. I finished up the interview, thanked them, apologized once more, and we parted ways.

Now it was time to retrieve the keys from my car. I braved the trip to my car in bare feet once more, only to realize that I had locked my keys in my car. I hoped my dad left the spare at home, instead of attaching it to the key chain of his new car. I was in luck. I grabbed the key, ventured out once more, and retrieved my keys.

I took another look at my cell phone as I was coming to the conclusion of the epic battle, and found it turned on and with a full battery, mocking me with its innocent looks.

And thus ends the story about the unfortunate series of events that took place during what I perceived was otherwise a relatively good interview. Hopefully I'll get an e-mail back asking me to come in for an on-site interview.
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Dec 26 2007, 06:49 PM
So I got a lot of games for Christmas. Some new, some old. I got the following games:
  • Link's Crossbow Training + Wii Zapper
  • Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles
  • The new Simpsons game
  • Geist
  • Manhunt 2
  • Indigo Prophecy
  • Martian Gothic
  • Rule of Rose
  • Kuon
  • Second Sight
  • The Lost Crown: A Ghosthunting Adventure
I've only played a few of them so far.

I've gone through all the levels of Link's Crossbow Training. It's fairly short, but definitely fun. For $20 it's worth it, and it comes with the Wii Zapper.

I give the Wii Zapper 3.5/5 stars. It can be hard to aim properly. You really have to find a balance between TV height and chair height. I haven't had much luck being able to stand and play while aiming down the "barrel" of the gun. The stock of the gun is also too short. If you try to hold it up to your shoulder, your arm will be sore pretty quickly. Because you'll be holding the gun closer to your body in that position, your right wrist will bend backward a little too much to be comfortable for extended periods of time. The gun is fine when held with one hand or at your side. It seems like this wasn't put though as much ergonomics testing as it should have.

Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles is a great game for fans of the series. It's like playing an arcade game set in the RE world. It's also a great summary of the main plot of the story. In the game you'll be taken through RE 0, Remake, 2 (although not as much), and 3. The environments are excellent, and nearly match the prerendered quality achieved in 0 and the Remake. It's fun seeing those places brought to true 3D.

The Simpsons game is surprisingly good. I expected an average game out of it, but I think it should rate a bit higher than that. The art style is amazing. For the most part it is like you are watching the show. The gameplay is solid, and reminds me of the Legend of Zelda series. Each character has special abilities that actually contribute to gameplay, and aren't just tacked on. The minigames are fun and lend themselves well to the Wii controls.

Geist is an interesting game. It's a paranormal FPS, which is a great premise and lends itself to creative gameplay. I happen to have had several conversations with the president of N-Space, the makers of the game, so I was interested in trying out this one. I shouldn't have waited so long. It's the most satisfying FPS game I've played in a long time. Being able to possess objects, animals, and people adds a new sense of control over the game. At one point there was a boss that would throw grenades. The best way to beat him was to stun him as he was throwing a grenade, then possess and explode the grenade. The best part of the game for me is scaring people so they can be possessed. Also, the guns feel like guns. They're nice and powerful, and very satisfying. A single head shot, or two body shots, is usually enough to kill an enemy. Not like today's FPS games where often times you can shoot many rounds into the enemy without much of a reaction. It also means it is easier for your host to die, meaning you have to find a new one in the heat of combat. Too bad I forgot my memory card at my dad's, so I couldn't save my progress.

I'm hoping to test out at least one more game tonight.

I also got an Xbox 360 controller that I hooked up to my PC. I want to experiment with it, and hopefully integrate Xbox 360 controller support into the upcoming input system.

[EDIT]
I played the first level of Second Sight tonight. I must have been the only person ever who has died in the first level, a tutorial level. I was getting used to my psychic abilities when I exploded a computer on myself. It seems to be an interesting game, but I hear the ending is really bad. The camera work could be better too. There is a static camera view, like the Resident Evil series uses, but the gameplay doesn't lend itself to that view easily. There is also a chase cam view that can be controlled with the right thumbstick, but it feels like it is constantly pulling, forcing the player to readjust.
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Sep 28 2007, 03:07 AM
When I woke up today I had a simple plan. Brush up on C, object-oriented techniques in C, and Linux (using Cygwin) because I start a new job on Monday using C and Linux. I never expected to be dual booting Windows XP and Ubuntu 7.04 by the end of the day. Here's what happened...

At first I was working with C and cygwin, but I really didn't like that environment and wanted a real Linux environment. I downloaded Ubuntu 7.04 (twice because the first time it failed at 97.3%) and explored VMWare Player. After downloading VMWare Player I realized I had to download another massive file to emulate Ubuntu. I decided to try out the liveCD first.

I decided I'd work off of an Ubuntu liveCD so I could refamiliarize myself with a real linux environment. Then I got an error saying that gcc cannot produce an executable. Not wanting to use VMWare, and lacking any better options, I set out to install Ubuntu on my Windows machine.

I spent about 2 hours defragging my hard drive about 5 times to create a nice block of empty space to which I could let GParted do it's stuff. I must say, GParted is quite a handy program. By the way, when defragging a Windows hard drive, if you disable hibernation and virtual memory, restart, and then defrag you can move those green "unmovable" files (just enable them again afterwards).

I'll admit I was pretty concerned when making the partitions. Windows needed a floppy disk to do a system recovery disk. Even though I have a floppy drive I have no disks, so I decided not to perform a back up. I only had applications installed on that drive anyways, so if something went wrong I'd just have to reinstall Windows and some programs (and honestly, I probably should reinstall Windows to clean out all the crap I no longer use).

Luckily all went well, and after the partitioning I was able to boot into Windows after letting the chkdsk program run. Then I was off to install Ubuntu. The installation went without a hitch. I'm setting up all the tools and the environment now.

Now the important question. What does this mean for PW? This means that I feel better about making official releases of PW software for Linux, as I am now able to test them. I also don't have to bug grey to implement 5 lines of Linux-specific code. This translates into a faster development time.

I never did get to coding today.
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Sep 15 2007, 12:36 AM
Not sure if Kent was planning on making a blog post about it, so I will, since some of you might follow the band. The new song is "Resound", and can be found, as usual, at http://www.alifeelided.net. The song "An Angel's Apathy" is also relatively new.
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Jun 16 2007, 04:32 PM
Today I decided to check out web browsing on the Wii, so that's where I'm blogging from. Pretty spiffy. So far every site I've been on has worked fine. Now on to finish Zelda!
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Jun 6 2007, 02:01 PM
It's been a while since my last entry. A lot has been going on. I got the PWToolBox library done, and Grey did the Linux port for it. I also have two interviews for game dev. jobs, one for Budcat on June 14th and one (a phone interview) for Incineration Studios tonight. It'd be nice to get one of theses jobs.

In other news, Kent (effigydrums) and I have another new non-PW song out, called "Draw In", which you can find at http://www.alifeelided.net/.

That's about it for news. We'll be having an ARB meeting in the next week or so to discuss the design of the graphics portion of the game engine, and joshpurple and Jerky are going to help me with a tech demo we will be putting together, mostly for us to play around with shaders. We'll probably end up releasing it eventually, to show off the kind of graphics we can expect for the game.
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