Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I got my Dr. Horrible DVD in the mail today. I've never been so excited about the mailbox. Now, I don't know for certain why, but no one has been talking about the special features, especially the Evil League of Evil applications, so I won't get into them (I haven't even watched the whole thing yet). But I'm sure many of you (okay, if anyone actually reads this) know that I sent in my own application. I think I'm safe to say that I didn't win. And yet I had this strange excitement to see my video listed in the "Dishonorable Mention" part of the disc along with more than 600 other people.

Ideas That Have Already Been Done

I was going through a list of ideas that I had been keeping, and noticing some of them had already been done. One of them was No HUD. The first place I saw this was on an indie game called Dead Wake. But then I remembered that there was no HUD for the first part of Half Life. It only appeared after the main character got his power suit (or whatever it was called).

The screen shot above is from Unreal Tournament 3 (It's actually from a mod I found), which has a fairly clean HUD, but I still find it distracting. It just screams "I'm playing a game." In the real world, we don't have a percentage on our health. We have three major indicators. The first is pain. I'm not sure that there's a better way to indicate this than numbers, but we haven't even tried to find anything. The second indicator is our appearance. You would think that with today's technology characters could actually bleed when you shoot them, rather than just spraying blood momentarily. The third indicator is the effect an injury has on our body. It has always amazed me that I can still run just as fast with 1% health as I can with 100%. In the real world if I had injuries over 99% of my body, I'd be lying on the ground slowly bleeding to death, not running to the next room for a health pack.

Anyway, that's one idea that I'm starting to see a few other people have.

100 Things I Apparently Have To Do

I got these off of Tiffany's Blog. Not sure where they came from, but it seems like a fairly decent list, so here goes.

Anything that I've already done is in bold. 49 out of a hundred isn't bad.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a Praying Mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched an amazing lightning storm
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Visited Italy

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Current Project - Justice League Board Game

My current (slowly moving) project is a board game that I'm trying to include a few RPG elements in. I'm using the figurines pictured above. Each character will have different abilities, which makes it difficult to keep it balanced. In real life, would anyone want to be Flash? I don't think so. Superman all the way.

The game will go in two stages. First you'll go around the board fighting villains (on cards). The second stage has proved problematic. I've got a few ideas, but none of them seem quite right. I'm trying to make it fairly open, but it has to have an ending.

The biggest reason I'm working on a board game is for practice. I'm not a programmer. I do art and design, and board games require no programming. Sure, there's a lot of numbers involved, but not like writing a 3d engine.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Story That Never Gets Old

I was reminded earlier today of Romeo And Juliet, and it occurred to me that the story is completely timeless. This story could very easily be rewritten beat for beat as a science fiction epic (imagine a stasis chamber instead of faking a death). It could be a fantasy story as well (use magic to fake death). I think this is why the story is so well received. Anyone in any setting can relate to it.

This gives me two ideas. The first would be to write the sci-fi version of Romeo And Juliet. I don't know if I'll actually do it, but it's a fun idea. The other is that stories, even in games, should be written to stand the test of time. I used to think that in order for a story to be special, it should be entirely original, but the more I study and the more I think about it, the more I see that for a story to really resonate with people, it should seem familiar. Take Star Wars for example. Everything in it is borrowed from something else. The story is the same story as every other hero's journey. And yet we love it, and it will be around for as long as Shakespeare.

Keeping Things Separate

I started another blog that I honestly don't expect anyone to read. I know that sounds a little odd, but this is me we're talking about. I wanted a place to keep my game ideas. So if you're curious, give it a look.

Starting Another Blog That No One Will Read

I've been tossing around the idea of using my other blog for a place for game ideas, but I decided eventually to use it for more personal stuff, since so many people keep asking me what's been going on in my life. Whether they read that blog remains to be seen. But I decided that I should still have a place for my ideas. So here it is.

Now, anyone who's looking into the game industry probably has the same question I had a few years ago. What do I do to protect my ideas? Well, to put it simply, you give them away. Stay with me. It'll make sense. Four reasons for it: First, you can't copyright an idea. Sorry. Second, the only way you're ever going to get someone to let you make your game ideas is for them to know what they are. Third, ideas aren't games. The Force Unleashed had a great idea, but the execution was a bit lacking. Fourth, your ideas aren't original anyway. Take a look at almost any movie, and I'll bet that you can find another movie exactly like it. Compare The Wizard of Oz and Titanic sometime. You'll be surprised. And honestly, is there a real difference between the ideas for Halo and Doom? A little bit, sure, but the big differences are in the execution.

So, stay tuned for a really strange view into the mind of a very odd person.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Firefly Effect

I was reading a bit today about Little Big Planet, and I realized that I'm doing the same thing I didn't understand people doing with Firefly. I have avoided the game because of the hype. My wife refused to watch Firefly for two years after I bought it, simply because I was so excited about it. And she's not the only person to do that. I've even read about people worrying that Dollhouse may have the same problem, being a Joss Whedon show. But here I am, not playing Little Big Planet because it's been talked about so much.

It's worth noting that when my wife did finally watch Firefly, she liked it. She wasn't nearly as excited as I was about it, but she did like it. So I should probably give Little Big Planet a try (I think there's even a free demo).

But my question remains - Why are we so afraid of what the crowd is doing?

Monday, December 8, 2008

♪ Snow! Snow! Snow! ♪

Sure, we've been teased a couple times this year already, but today was the first big snow. Well, I say big, but in reality we had a few feet by this time last year. Today we got a couple inches. But hey, it's snow! And it hasn't melted yet!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

How Do First Graders Get a Grown Man All Emotional?

I've been volunteering at my daughter's school for a few months now, mostly just helping out in their computer class. Last week I brought in my computer with a trial version of the newest 3DS Max and did a real basic run-through of how a computer model is created and animated, using Wall-e as an example, since he's made of fairly basic shapes. The whole presentation, including the 10 minute clip from the Wall-e DVD, lasted maybe 20 minutes.

Well, I'm fairly certain that they spent a lot longer than that making all these Christmas cards. Tasha brought home a bag full of them, all thanking me for "drooling" Wall-e for them (yes, most of them spelled it that way).

It's good to know I'm appreciated sometimes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Full Screen Hulu On The PS3!

We turned off our DirecTV service a few months ago. It was getting hard to justify paying $70 a month for something we can get online for free at Hulu. For a long time we were watching it on my 21" computer monitor, which kind of works if you remember to disable your screen saver (why hasn't anybody written a Firefox plugin for that?). Then Sony updated the Flash player for the PS3, and we could watch it on the tv again. No full screen playback, but we could zoom in enough to fill the screen. Well, until a new version of Flash came out. Then it stopped working. I tried a few pieces of software designed to stream internet video from your pc to the PS3, but most of them require way too much processing power.

The latest update to the PS3 not only brought Hulu back, but it added full screen playback. And it's ridiculously simple to use. A mouse and keyboard might even make it easier.

This raises two questions. First, why hasn't the television industry realized that this is the future? I can watch what I want, when I want, and I don't have to worry about filling up the hard drive on some DVR. Second, why on earth would anyone pay for cable or satellite?

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Love Having Kids Around

Keith (my four year old) did the funniest thing the other day. He'd never seen Star Wars, and I thought that had better get corrected pretty quickly. We were watching The Empire Strikes Back, and I was curious how he'd react to the plot twist. I wasn't disappointed.

"Darth Vader is his FATHER!? I thought his father was a good guy!"

My P-A-L-N

My new plan is that I have no plan. I'm going to have this as a personal blog. Why not, right? No promises on how often it'll get updated, but it should be fairly regular.