Monday, July 30, 2007


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Daft Hands

Holy Crap!

UPDATE: Oh shit! A parody! Again, hilarious

UPDATE 2: Oh shit! More! I'll never understand the relationship with some people and their pets.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I want 10

When I saw Jason (my high-ranked Telus salesman/karaoke friend) in Toronto this past weekend, he had taken a screenshot of an iPhone display and made it the background of his regular phone. I dropped to my knees involuntarily, fooled temporarily and praising him as a god.

In related news,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Games and Education

The link below is to "Statetris", a game where you play tetris with the States of America. After playing it for about 3 minutes, I think I've learned more about the geography of the states than in my previous 22 years of life. Awesome!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I'm stuck here.

I'm looking exhaustively at school programs for next year, specifically game design program. I have a little .txt file I keep full of all of them, and one has really caught my eye. It's the Vancouver Film School Game Design Program. It's a twelve-month intensive program, where I drop $29,000 to have myself shoved into the gaming world. It's exciting me a little too much, and I'm scared.

I mean, something I could have wanted very badly could become true, suddenly, with very little preparation or thought. There are two alternatives here:


The slow, easy, careful route. I take another computer science degree, maybe 2-4 years or something. Talk my way into a few jobs. Build some experience. Or, I could even try to start in Q&A right after this degree. Move to some a major centre first, and see what I can do.


VFS. My still-bloodied fetus being shot out into the games industry still crying and screaming and wide-eyed, unable to crawl.

<too much information>

Anecdotally, the way I was actually born was only my head popping out first. I then apparently looked around the room without any crying, taking it all in. Then, after a short pause, the rest of me came out. This came to my knowledge through an awkward conversation with my mother.

</too much information>

At some point, I want to be able to pursue game design from an academic standpoint, and I'm afraid that charging head-long into the industry, with only a superficial game-oriented education will limit me in that respect. I've been thinking alot about it, and jeff orkin seems to have done it right. He's an academic primarily who consults on some wicked games, like F.E.A.R., for example. Oh, and if you read this blog you should check out his "The Restaurant Game Project". He's trying to mine several gameplay experiences to create an AI. That's a really bad explanation - just check it out.

I geuss I'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Giggity giggity.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I just got back home from my glorious friend Ryan's house, where he introduced me to the Wii. Thus, I shall expound on it.

We played Wii Sports, as he didn't have any other two-player games, so keep in mind this is only reflective of Wii Sports on the Wii, not any other title.

After the first 10 minutes of "Holy shit! The pointer turns UPSIDE DOWN when I turn my hand UPSIDE DOWN!" and "Ahhh! It moves like me!" I got into the groove, while still being pretty damn excited. This console has a ton of potential, provided the design is done well. Ryan said that golf sucked, so we stuck to bowling, tennis, boxing and baseball. Overall, I prefer boxing or tennis, although I'm much better at boxing. Ryan likes baseball. I was struck hard at the intuitiveness of the game. Some things had to be taught, like in baseball you press certain buttons to pitch the ball particular ways. I loved how intuitive tennis felt, when your character moved around for you and all you had to do was swing the racket. In boxing, I think I felt more in control than I have in any game. However, there's no point in ranting how awesome it is, because I could go on and on.


There is, quite obviously, so much under-potential here. I began to notice that, while it seems like the characters are following your exact moves, they actually determine what type of move you are doing, and use that instead. For example, in baseball, a twitch will do instead of a full-fledged swing. I also noticed that during tennis, after sweating my ass off while swinging the Wiimote left and right, Ryan told me to calm down and just twitch my hand. Sure enough, twitching does it. It actually doesn't even matter which way you twitch your hand. The timing is more important than direction. Bowling got boring rather fast for more, but I'm not a bowler anyway. During boxing, I actually won 8 AI matches in a row, propelling my Mii's skill level up higher and higher. When the crowd cheered, I would raise my hands up high, but my avatar did not respond. How cool would it have been if it had raised its hand too, and the crowd had cheered louder? When you win a round, there's some deliciously funky music that comes on as the camera pans around your avatar. The music just DEMANDS dancing, but the avatar only responds by lamedly continuing to punch. I want to fucking dance! Why put dance music in there, and not let me dance? WHY?!

All in all, a great title for some quick fun, especially for non-gamers. I can see its just BARELY scratching the surface, though.

Now, I clearly haven't see that many Wii games come out, but I do hope that they continue to be well designed. Hopefully, the direct accelerometer data from the Wiimote comes straight into gameplay, not a simplified version. In my opinion, bastardizing such a beautiful wealth of real-world mineable data is, really, a huge waste. One can only dream.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Movie Sets and the World

I read very quickly. In fact, I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in the last two days.

I really like these books. They are nice and imaginative, but I find myself getting frustrated with the details. Like how the book seems like a movie set, and not a world. A movie set is one push on a poorly-supported flat away from being exposed as virtual. While I can appreciate that the story is good, I keep finding myself asking questions that seem to make the world inconsistent. A few examples:

- The ministry arrested an innocent person who was under the Imperius curse in this book and put them in Azkaban. However, when Sirius was in Azkaban he was able to escape because he was innocent.

- The books are very Britain centric. I rarely hear a reference to the outside world. As Voldemort is gaining power, you'd think they would bring in Aurors from the outside, but this isn't even considered or mentioning. In fact, we have no idea what goes on in the international wizarding community, or if all the wizards are mentioned.

- Cornelius Fudge talking to the Muggle Prime Minister was the only time we've heard of Muggles. Are muggles generally ignored? There can't be that many wizards compared to normal people.

- The book is also very Harry/Ron/Hermoine centric. It almost seems like they are the only character who are conscious, or whose decision processes we see. Nothing really happens, and I'm exaggerating here, without their thought or intervention.

It's not that I have trouble with accepting wizards - it is because I can, rather easily, ask questions about the world that make it look inconsistent. A book that is good at avoiding this is Perdido Street Station. It can be classified as "really fucking weird", mentioning thaumaturgy (magic), vodanyoi (human-sized sentient frogs), crisis energy and elyctrons in the same sentence. However, the world for all its un-Earthness seems to be real. It doesn't seem to be a film set that is just constructed to lead us around some plot points.

But maybe that's the point of Perdido Street Station, as opposed to the Harry Potter books.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Self-Referential Multiple Choice

I'm currently writing a multiple choice placement test for engineering calculus students. I wrote a draft, and sent it in to the professor I'm working for, where he found an error in this question.

Which statement is correct about the f(x) and its inverse, g(x)?

1. g(x) is the reciprocal of f(x)
2. An output so that g(x) = - f(x)
3. g(f(x)) = x
4. g(x) undoes the action of f(x)
5. 3 and 4
6. I don’t know

Have you spotted the problem?

In the question, #3 is right, #4 is right and so is #5. Or is it? The choice #5 doesn't say that it itself is right. #5 needs to state this fact, given that it isn't talking about statements about calculus, it is talking about statements which may or may not be true.

I'm reading too much Godel Escher Bach.

Monday, July 09, 2007

What I'm reading right now

In light of yesterday's post on the newest book I've got, I'm going to reveal what Dustin's reading on a regular basis. I'm actually a ways off from breaking into Second Person - I have several books to go through before that.

Usually, for books, I have one fiction and one non-fiction going at the same time. For the last few months, I have been wading through Godel Escher Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. Don't get me wrong, its a great book, but it is hard for me to digest. For fiction, I just finished reading Perdido St. Station, by China Mieville, and now I'm into Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. These two books are great. Perdido Street Station is fantastically imaginative, and Haunted is deliciously weird.

I constantly keep a list of books, movies and video games I need to play through posted on my bulletin board, numbering about 20 each. Sometimes on a whim I will go internet shopping and actually go out and buy these things, so they physically end up in the "cue" bookshelf above my desk. Next to me right now is: The Diamond Age or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson, Collapse by Jared Diamond, Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, AI for Game Developers, The Long Walk and finally, at the bottom, is Second Person. Whew!

I also read graphic novels. I read Y:The Last Man (whenever it comes out. the publish schedule is damn slow) and I'm reading through a friend's 100 Bullets.

With games, I take a similar approach I do to books, except instead of fiction/non-fiction I do casual/non-casual (A non-fiction game is, well, The Internet). I'm playing through Syberia, an adventure game, and Wik and The Fable of Souls (a really innovative arcade name with a stupidly pretentious and misleading title). I'm also playing through an interactive fiction game called Savoir-Faire by Emily Short. It's a parser adventure, very well written with an aristocratic flair. On the cue (ahem, shelf), I have Indigo Prophecy, known for its excellent writing.

As for TV and movies, I almost never schedule my life around TV. Except for Battlestar Galactica, which is between its 3rd and 4th seasons. Usually, I download series, and I just started watching Dexter two days ago. It looks pretty interesting so far, but I'm not sure if it will hold my attention.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Peppering of Humour

Perry Bible Fellowship has been going slowly for the past few months (although I did still check it obsessively while I was in Southeast Asia), so I'm happy to resort to xkcd for my visual endorphin needs.