Thursday, November 23, 2006

Day 162 - I actually drew a girl

Maybe it's just personal preference, but I don't really like drawing girls. But here's one, for our game.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Day 157 - Sammy

So I decided to get myself a Nintendo DS a few days before the Wii releases.

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His name is Sammy

I've heard a lot of good things about the handheld, but I'm still utterly amazed at the games they have on it. Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! is one of the gems where you can appreciate its addictiveness and humor just by looking at it.

With the deadline of the MSC Game Pitch competition just around the corner, there's quite a lot of work to do between Slade and me. The style guide is being re-written for the second time since we starter development, due to major changes in setting and storyline. Let's see... the story is moved another two hundred years into the future; we scrapped that whole 'replicating creatures from other dimensions' thing; we did lots of naming; and so on.

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The emblems of the three cities in the first edition of the game

Monday, November 06, 2006

Day 143 - rI csn't feel myllipsd

Oh snap.

Well, we gt a guy over."e s having the sme birthday as wme, but he hasn't drank efore in his olife. hristian or now, he's gona fish his first an.
/Slade, jEY and Mayr (slade's suter) RANKA S WWELL dunrng our birthdays, but the most I've drank wa dstree cans,. Thistime I drank sevem.

THere's 113.75ml millileters of alcohol coursiing theough my veins now.

A third of aa Coco=cola cale;.nes.

I'm feleing numf all over now. Is iy alcohol poionoing.?

THer's some rock playingin the dcbackrgron now.


Day 143 - Happy Birthday to me

And I'm onto my seventh can of Carlsberg now.


Day 143 - Happy Birthday to me

And I'm onto my seventh can of Carlsberg now.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Day 141 - Quest for a drink

And I thought Databases 101 was tough...

I was over at Slade's house to talk about the structure of the database we'll be using for our game. Last week there were only 8 tables, but after adding this really cool feature, it has bloated to 23 tables... and more. His finger drew a circle at the bottom right corner of the screen. "We've yet to fill up this part."

"Well at least I only have to do this once," said Slade while typing a five-line SQL query, "server side code will take care of the rest when the database is done." I didn't really like the sound of his keyboard, it's like scraping your teeth with the back of a spoon.

It all started when we were outside having dinner at this nice Chinese restaurant (Not a nice place, but nice food). I can't really remember how the conversation went, but the idea came when we were talking about how to get playtesters.

Me: We'll be having 180 cards in the first release. That's a bitch to balance.
Slade: Yeah, but good thing our game's online... screw playtesting, how about we just let the players make whatever cards they want?
* lightbulbs *

Of course, we don't let players create whatever they want, but more of the flexibility to 'customize' their own cards. Instead of getting 11 or 15 cards from a booster pack (Which most of them will end up in the cat litter box), he'll be getting some 'stat cards' and 'ability cards' as well. Most creature cards would then have empty 'ability slots', which then the player can insert stats and abilities into them, whether outside of the game when he's forming the deck, or inside the game where the effect would only last until the end of the game. Slotting the ability outside of the game would permanently imbue the effect into the creature, thus deleting the ability card from your library of cards.

A simple idea, but a pain to design. I guess we'll need more playtesting this way, but what the hell... the idea is too cool to pass on.

Back to present day. Slade had just Control-Home-Backspaced the eight-line query.

"You want some green tea?"

"Actually I'm in the mood for something cold and sweet."

"I don't have cold water."

"Let's just go get some Sprite and put green tea bags in it."

"... You sure it will work?"

"I dunno, let's try."

It actually tasted pretty good, but the sourness of Sprite sort of masked the fragrance of the green tea. The other problem was this:

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The tea bag was immediately filled with gas and refused to sink. We had to use a spoon to keep it down there.

Perhaps not the best use for two green tea bags... next time we'll try Earl Grey.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Day 123 - Media mediocrity

I was sitting in the car with my sister last weekend, going to new shopping mall on a boring and stiflingly hot Sunday.

And that's when I heard that song.

"Who sang this crap?" I asked my sister. She replied with a name of some currently famous Taiwanese band:

飞轮海, read as "Fei Lun Hai", is made up of four guys ranging from 20 to 25 years old. Apparently, they have starred in some serials and movies, one them won some modelling competition, and their first album sold like 50,000 copies.

But their singing sucks.

The first sentence of that song, "Please Leave Me Before I Regret", displayed a shaky voice, probably unsure if he hit the right note. I thought I heard it all until I reached the chorus. Four voices, sounding like they were singing while running wildly because their backs are on fire, exploded from the speakers. Harmonics were thrown out of the window. The timing wasn't synchronized. In short, it was bad.

"People actually buy this crap?" I asked my sister. She shrugged.

The Yahoo! HK music review site received 42 reviews for the album, all giving it the maximum 5 stars out of 5. Two-thirds of the reviewers commented that "[so and so from the band] is cute", or something along those lines, paying no heed to the horrendosity of their singing.

I so wanted to keel over and moan, but I couldn't, because I was in a car.

I'm quite aware of the complaint among game developers that gamers nowadays care more about graphics than gameplay... but seems like it applies to the music industry as well. I mean... what the hell? If I buy a CD, I'd listen it. I can't see any of those so-called "handsome", "cute" guys; I only hear post-teenage whiners that sound like they're drunk in a karaoke bar after a can of Tiger. So does it matter so much? Hell, why did the record company even sign them up for an album?

If that's what the new generation wants for the entertainment industry, I'm not giving them that.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Day 116 - The language gap

Project KEO is a project where a time capsule will be sent into orbit, stay there for 50,000 years, and drop back to Earth in year 52,007 A.D. Inside it are high-definition DVDs containing messages from people all around the world, as well as photographs, maps and recorded sounds of the current world.

I think it would be pretty fascinating to receive a package from your grand ancestors. Imagine opening it up to see some crazy ass moon language written on it.. and proceed to use the disks as frisbees.

Ever since civilization started, written and spoken languages have been evolving. New words are added into the English language every now and then (mostly portmanteaus and technology-related terms), and some of them grow increasingly obsolete (How many times have you seen people use the word 'perchance' or 'exacerbate'? Or typing 'you' instead of 'u' in online forums and chatrooms?)

With the (relatively) stable global relations and international communications, I think it's pretty crazy to come up with a new language and ask people to use it. The global language wasn't that successful either.

Thank God for creative literature, we have people speaking Klingon and Sindarin.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Day 109 - A hundred years hence

As a game designer, a fundamental part of my job is to lay down the setting for the game. It's like decorating a stage for a play, you choose the backdrop, lighting and props for the actors to present the story. Without the actors, the stage is but a still three-dimensional place; actors are needed to bring the stage forward temporally. On the other hand, actors can still act without stages, though there will be this inevitable feeling that there's something missing.

Our game takes place a hundred years from now, in a parallel world similar to Earth. I've always been excited about great leaps in technology, but the problem was: Was a hundred years too short for a technology leap?

I spent the whole of today reading articles in Wikipedia about space elevators, transhumanism and a few dozen other related subjects. How far can a hundred years of unmarred technological advancement bring us? Will we finally get our time travel and space vacations? Will mankind decrypt the code of life and break the curse of mortality? Those are the big questions to ask. To really flesh out a plausble futuristic world, however, there are some other smaller points to note:

- Politics. On a bigger scale, are there still any more countries, or has the world united under one government?

- Language. In a hundred years, has 'you' finally degraded into a single letter? What are the new euphemisms for 'goddamn'? I want 'ng' and 'th' to be one single letter, though.

- Fashion. In a hundred years, are cotton T-shirts still available, or everybody wears skin-tight synthetic fiber suits, like the Jetsons? Would technology enable one to design and create a new outfit every day just for herself?

- Popular culture. In a hundred years, do people still listen to iPods, or they have neural implants to playback music, using a partioned part of the brain as storage? How many more features they can add to mobile phones, or will there be mobile phones at all, now that people can communicate telepathically?

- Jobs. With the advent of robots, are people still required to stand in assembly lines? My personal belief is that barbers will never be obsoleted.

- Education. In a hunred years, will primary school students be required to know how to maneuver a flying vehicle? Do people still go to school at all, or can they just download stuff into their brains?

Well, I'm pretty sure that there are a lot more things to consider. For me, I just start sketching the world out of several major points, then slowly going in detail as well as patch up any missing aspects I forgot to look into previously. And hopefully in a hundred years, if the Internet is still around, people can laugh at my crazy predictions.