Archive for the ‘Technology and News’ Category

15Jul

Ok, so it has been a while since I’ve posted. It has been a busy last couple of years! I’ve been working at NetApp but just gave notice to start working somewhere new. I had a few abandoned side projects and I am now embarking on a brand new one. I’ve learned a ton. Mostly, I’ve learned what might make a project successful and what makes it fall apart. Today I am going to talk about a little game project we are putting on hold.

There was a project a few of my friends were working on where we decided merge music and gaming together. We had this epic plotline, with awesome episodic content in mind, and various other great concepts. We even had a working prototype of the game engine with some programmer art and some actual artist content. We had plenty of concepts, but when it came time to tying things together and defining deadlines everything would fall apart. We ended up in endless development time for various animations. Promises of “it will take 4 hours” turned magically into 4 months later. When it came down to it was too hard for a half committed team to execute, and definitely too hard for some of the team’s first game.

I stepped back. I know we had a talented team, but I really wanted to make a big impact at a smaller scope so I went back to the drawing board. We needed to get our little team to start thinking smaller/simpler so I threw out the idea of putting our current project off in favor of something more easy to execute. I proposed a standard shoot’em with a few twists.

The other thing I realized is that our team was missing a dedicated game designer. Someone who would really drive the game mechanics and be a champion for awesome level/game design. I reached out to one of my old friends from the Game Development Club at SJSU. He grilled me initially (mostly about how I didn’t think the iPhone was all that special when it came out to which he scoffed), but I think he liked the new premise for the game. I proposed a simple shoot’em up targeted at the OUYA with timed music elements for combos and such. The convo took a life of its own. We both proposed extremely stupid things and expanded on them to make them great. We thought making this a purely cooperative type game. We instantly considered latency issues and how that might impact the gameplay mechanics. We decided to go back and do some research and mock some things up. I immediately opt’d to get an early developer OUYA, which should be coming in by the end of the year some time and in the meantime start developing a simple engine to get us started!

Starting over is somewhat disheartening, but I think it can be refreshing and freeing as well. I am not considering anything a failure. They were all good ideas and could all potentially become something with the right direction. They all taught me a little something though and aided in focusing and explicitly defining my intentions. There is a concept in software development called “coding by coincidence”, it occurs when you achieve your desired outcome but aren’t quite sure why it occurred. I now think that this rule could by altered for the business world as well. You should always be deliberate when designing a product. Magical spurts of popularity do occur, but you should know exactly why and how they occurred. It is possible to “get” lucky, but I believe intent will deliver more guaranteed results.

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23Apr

This week has been a bit intense. I am currently sitting at the San Jose Airport waiting for my flight to DC. Can’t wait to get on the plane because it is the first time I will have had a chance to sleep in the past 36 hours. (There are not enough hours in the day…)

Between binging on coffee and binging on energy drinks Andy and myself got a significant amount of work done, including but not limited to: having our program becoming autonomous and killing off Visual Studios, staring at code for about 2 hours before realizing it just needs to be pluralized to make it work, and of course a celebrator breaking of chair after I realized yet again that the letter “s” has ruined another  2 hours of my life! WOO!

Not only did we break chairs, but we also got an awesome GUI going and I migrated the original Tesla app into a plugin for Croogo. This allowed for Access Control, Auth, and an awesome template system. It also allowed for making Tesla modular enough to be run on any server!

I got 2 more features to wrap up before tomorrow night though :(. So there may be 1 more all nighter in my future for this contest. But hey, this is what I live for! It feels like 4 years ago when I was getting on stage for my first “big” concert. Lovin’ the pressure :-D!

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19Apr

We need your help!!!

Andy Manoske and myself are representing the fine people of SJSU, CS Club, Game Dev, California and our respective organizations and communities this Friday in Washington D.C. for Project Tesla, a software tool.

But we need your help. Tesla has been well-recieved with 33,000 votes by people all around the world, and it’s battling neck and neck with some other folks for the coveted People’s Choice award. We need YOUR vote to help us clinch this award and EVERY vote counts.

How do you vote?

1.) Go to http://www.imaginecup.us/peopleschoice.aspx
2.) Click on “The Tesla Project”
3.) At the bottom rank us x-number of stars and submit your vote.

Please tell EVERYONE you know! We’re SO close to winning this, and we really need all of your guys’ help!

I will post video updates as the week goes on showing off our progress towards and during our stay in DC.
Technologies Used: CakePHP, .net C# (client), and tons of math!

We have significantly upgraded our project since the video mentioned earlier.

If you would like to be part of our testimonials at the competition please leave me a comment with your name and organization! You just need to discuss the value and importance of the Tesla Project!

Thanks! 🙂

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14Mar

Game Developers Conference is the “Mecha” for many game developers. It features the up and coming, the new common trends, and the stuff you already knew about but now get to see in action. This holy land that developers migrate to has been long been a staple of passion and a way to display achievements in the past year, and every year they open it up to students for 1 day. One may wonder… well… what do they offer students. Upon entering and completing registration I realized there were only 4 talks I could attend. I really had wished to attend “C++ is a bad language to make games in… so what should we use,” but no such luck was afforded, and in fact student passes couldn’t even get “free coffee.”

Despite these barriers and initial disappointment I went to 3 talks, of which I really enjoyed one, enjoyed parts of one and utterly despised the other. I had wished to hear about some cool new design practices or whats new in the world of game development; however, as students, this apparently over our heads.

The first talk I attended was enjoyable. The speaker talked about what it takes to make it in the Game Industry; however, his advice was more general and about what it takes to live a happy life and have a job. It is all about the passion and about honing your craft was essentially the gist of it. Later in the day during recall him saying such things, but it wasn’t new information. I have been telling computer science students for the past 2-3 years that if they are not passionate they should find something they love or else they will be miserable.

The next talk was amazing though. I really enjoyed this one, and it actually made looking back at the entire experience a pleasing one. They brought 4 developers from popular indie game studios (including developers of Flow/flower, pb winter bottom and portal) that recently made it big in the industry. These speakers talked about their successes, the challenges they faced and how to potentially make it. Once again the deciding factor is passion and actually going for it. My big take away was perhaps I should actually drop everything and pursue the games I am trying to make more seriously rather than make them back burner things. Later in the day as I other events impacted me I kept drawing back to this talk. Perhaps the life of the indie developer, the developer that wears many hats is the life for me…

The final talk I attended was just about resumes and interviewing. Once again no new info. They really just stated please be passionate and don’t lie. It somewhat irritated me. All their resume critics seemed fairly obvious.

Between the talks I attended I strolled over to the Expo. On the floor I hear people cheering and then see them huddling in a massive group around the Intel booth. I turned left and see the Unity booth and played with that for a while (Unity is essentially a really powerful 3d game engine with dev once deploy everywhere philosophies).  I saw the guys from Mono (.net for any platform) and recognized one of them that I met at Mix last year. They gave me a monkey with a Mono t-shirt, I think it was their last one, and definitely the best piece of swag I received. I saw the giant hamster ball in which people played a first person shooter. This was right next to the Indie Game Festival booth which showcased their best of show.

Finally, on the floor, companies set up booths for job opportunities; however, almost none of them were taking resumes (sounds like a career fair at SJSU). They told everyone to sign up online. I walked over to the Blizzard booth, trying to initially start up friendly conversation, which then turned into me getting slightly told off. “No do not sign up for Senior or intermediate game developer positions at Blizzard.” They only hire people who have worked on other AAA titles or pull people up from QA. If you ask me though why would you pull up someone from QA if he is doing an awesome job there. In any case, I refuse to start off as QA. It wasn’t even the good QA where you can script. All they would want me to do is fill out bug reports and a be a game master.

So let me ask you “forum” where does that leave the Computer Science student with passion for video game development who has been putting in extra hours developing games whenever he gets a chance? Where does it put the person who has worked with graphics algorithms and really honing that skill for at least 1.5 years if not more? Why does the industry put these “senior level” positions at such a high pedestal. I can write a report, I can develop, anything I don’t know I can learn in a few hours.

For some reason many companies in this world assume every person exiting college is a completely useless. In reality we are the ones with new ideas, the passion and the excitement to get things done. So am I going to ever apply to Blizzard. Well maybe. For now that I am giving the imaginary middle finger and I think I am going to go off and build my own games.

I am not trying to fight the system, and I know I am definitely hire-able despite how rejection feels. I just think with amount of experience candidates like myself have, and with amount of passion and potential we have we should be given the benefit of the doubt more often than not. Like the speakers kept saying… At the end of the day it is about the passion. Would I recommend going to GDC for other students? Yes. I just think if they are giving us a student pass we should actually “learn” something, and not be “lectured at”.

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5Jan

So after much debate on how a useful CMS should function in this day and age I decided that a CMS is no longer something like joomla, and in fact should function like wordpress but allow for easy plugin development as well as management. Many of you already know my love for cakephp. I have many plugins already developed for cake, and other people do as well so my team’s current plan of action is to create a plugin manager of sorts… The way I see it, thats all a CMS essentially should be when everything in cakephp can essentially be a plugin. The plan is to load it up with some basic plug-ins that we have created (that can be replaced easily if desired); however, there may only be 1 or 2 core MVCs for settings purposes, auto updating and possibly a really slick GUI… I think the plugin manager as well as everything else can be a plugin, which allows for a great deal of modularity.

I feel that wordpress has it down right; however, services on linux machines like apt (synaptic) also work well to consider different repositories in existence, which I find ideal. Trying to host all plug-ins from 1 centralized source or even serve them through 1 centralized source isn’t the correct solution… instead it is better to simply allow different repositories to be added manually. That being said, we are currently trying to develop this plug-in we will see where it leads, but things are looking bright :).

Ideas? Comments?

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