Log in


(in the hizzup)

Journal Info




January 2nd, 2012

Great video game poem

I just ran across possibly the best video game poem I've ever seen:

Wakka Wakka Wakka
- by Dinog11
Running through the dot-filled mazes
You make that odd yet soothing sound.
In either normal or Pac-power phases
You make that sound and run around.
While chased by 8-bit ghosts
and eating bonus fruits,
You took our quarters, coast to coast.
Were you and Frogger in cahoots?
I respect you, Pac man.
You took our quarters and our dimes.
Your machines are gone
But you're still in our minds.

Found in the Globalization Issue of Interactive Age, a "twice-yearly" publication that's "for an international audience of executives and decision-makers looking at the business of interactive entertainment."

And, looking at the table of contents for this issue of Interactive Age, there are some fascinating articles. I'm going to have to read this feature on "Notes from the Global Job Market." This should have some great information for anyone working in games today.

December 4th, 2011

It feels like sometime around June or July I just got depressed. I don't know what, specifically caused it.

Well, actually I do. I had to give up my dog, Candy. Or at least I felt I had to. I'm still not sure. I keep revisiting that decision. I keep telling myself I made the best decision I could with the information available to me, but I don't think that's really the truth. I think I just made the easy decision. I didn't look for help. I didn't try to salvage the situation. One day I was just decided I couldn't take care of Candy anymore.

The decision came about because I was having trouble with finances, which isn't surprising. Until I think it was April I was paying over $1000/mo. in student loans. Even before I went into repayment I wasn't managing my money very well. When I moved to Seattle, I had nearly $7000 in the bank. I hit less than $100 in April. Simply put, I was being stupid with my money. I was impulsive and spent without realizing where anything was going.

I'm finally learning that skill: impulse control. I don't have it down quite yet, but I'm learning.

Anyway, I gave Candy up, which I feel I did on impulse. I had reasons, but when it comes down to it, I gave her up on a whim. I had my justifications, but ultimately I don't think it was worth it. I regret that decision.

I need to be more careful with my decisions. Even now I continue to do things on impulse, without a clear idea of what I really want. I need to establish my values and set some real goals. I need to be true to myself and let everything flow from that.

I got depressed when I made an impulsive decision that did not line up with my vision of myself. Now, several months later, I'm trying to dig myself out of a stupor. I've got to define who I am again and rediscover my passion.

May 19th, 2011

Live How You Want to Live


Throughout my life, I've often heard something to the order of "live how you want to live, and everything that is good will come from that."


Which to me always sounded like a bad idea. Even at a very young age (elementary, if I'm not mistaken). I didn't take the words of an adult as Gospel Truth.


Adults were often wrong. I realized this, even then. And if they're wrong on other things, they could be wrong on this. And if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.


Live how you want to live. Be who you are. Do this one thing and everything will be good. It will be okay. But it isn't. People live in bad situations. There are bad people out in the world…


It couldn't be true. It can't be true.


However, there are people who say these things. There are people who believe it. And these people have nothing to gain by telling you so.


There's no money involved. They can't profit from it. They gain nothing by trying to tell me that if I stay true to myself I can weather any storm.


If they believe it so much that they're willing to give it to you as advice, despite having nothing to gain from it, then it must be true for them. It's worked for them, so hey, it could work for you!


I never believed it. I always steeled myself against bad shit happening in my life. I've always been ready to be content with wherever I am. To live in the moment. To enjoy life now, because you don't know what'll happen next.


I was playing it safe, from my perspective. And that's allowed me to be happy with who I am. To live how I want to live, because hell, that's the safest way to do things.


And now…


Now, I'm starting to notice great things happen in my life.


And yeah, I've had my lows in life.


I've been depressed, I've been frustrated, I've been sad. I have hurt. Hell, I've even felt despair. I've been in a state where I didn't think there was any hope left.


But now, I've started to notice my life is pretty awesome.


I have a job I love. I have a car that I wouldn't trade for anything else. I have a dog that I love and loves me back. I have great, steady friends. I have a family that will love and support me no matter what.


I have a great life.


And I attribute much, if not most of that to being who I am and loving who I'm being. I am living life as I would want to live it. And it's great.


And even now, I keep thinking, "if it's too good to be true, then it probably is."


It's a hard feeling to shake.


I don't want to be paranoid, but I feel like I need to play it safe and prepare myself for whatever bad thing might be coming...


…but it's hard to deny what's around me.


And as I look around at what's happening in my life, I'm also recognizing that by doing the things I love doing, I'm building a foundation in my life that guards against the things that have brought me down in the past.


I am exercising. I'm eating right. I'm relaxing when I feel stressed. I'm planning out my finances, I'm organizing my tasks. And I'm becoming more efficient at what I do every day.


I'm getting better at it.


I wonder if this is sustainable growth and I realize that it doesn't have to be.


I'm enjoying myself now, and I'm determined to enjoy myself, come what may.


When you can be happy eating a single can of beans every day for a week, sleeping outside, and peeing on flat rocks, you can be happy anywhere.


Now, I haven't done that specific combination all at once, but I've done each element individually and was perfectly content doing it.


In fact, the only time I haven't been content was when I wasn't achieving all the things I felt I could achieve.


The only time I haven't been content is when I wasn't being me. I wasn't realizing who I am, who I can be.


I hold myself to a really high standard, and it's because I know I can achieve it. I've always achieved it. I have always been a good person. Even if I haven't been doing the things I probably should be, my heart's been in the right place, and I've always fulfilled my obligations. The worst I've ever done has been falling short of what I might have been.


But if falling short of what I could have been then has gotten me to the much better place I am now, then hell, maybe it was in my best interest not to achieve what I could have then.


I might never have learned to be content with where I am instead of where I "should" be.


I may never achieve the multiple millions of dollars I think I might want to achieve, but I'll be happy and content slumming it with people I barely know in a country I've never been to, eating food that's completely unfamiliar to me, and sleeping under a sheetmetal shingle to keep the rain off.


That's an awesome place to be.


I have lived how I wanted to live, and it's worked for me. Maybe it could work for you!

September 11th, 2009

A few things I've done

In an earlier post I mentioned writing a Narrative Review for a contest hosted by the IGDA Writer's Association for the Austin Game Developer's Conference. Well, I and several others from the Guildhall "won" the contest and now have the opportunity to present at a poster session at the upcoming AGDC. This is an incredible opportunity to rub elbows with some of the Gaming Industry's big names and hopefully get my name out there to potential future employers.

This also means I get to fill this weekend trying to put together some kind of quick and dirty portfolio and hopefully show people what I can do (all while trying to finish up my whitebox for Sandy Petersen's Directed Focus Study class. Yay workload!). I'll try to get things started by posting a few things here ^^

Game Narrative Review
I won't post the full text here, but here is the poster I will be presenting on Wednesday September 15 from 12pm-1pm at the 2009 Austin Game Developer's Conference:

AGDC,Chrono Trigger,Austin Game Developer's Conference,Gaming,Video Game,Poster,Ozyda

I'm actually rather proud of the design on this one. It's been a while since I've been able to apply those Graphic Design courses I took as a freshman and sophomore at ACU.

Next up:
Bedtime Stories
In the same post I mentioned doing the Game Narrative Review, I also mentioned working on a Fallout 3 mod. My "finished product" still has a few bugs, but it does show off my ability to build a play space, some fun storytelling, and my scripting skills. Eventually I'd like to revisit this one to fix the bugs, clean up what I've built, and maybe even add a new story for Simon to tell.

In order to play this mod, you must have the PC version of Fallout 3 installed. The mod file is on my page at www.fallout3nexus.com/downloads/file.php. My page over at TES Nexus also has a more detailed description, some screenshots, and a full rundown of some of the compatibility issues (patch 1.6 introduces some conversation bugs, so you may need to download and install the Unofficial Patch). TES Nexus has instructions on how to load the mod, but just in case: place the mod file in C:\Program Files (x86)\Bethesda Softworks\Fallout 3\Data, and run the Fallout 3 launcher. From the launcher, select Mods, and check Bedtime Stories 1.0. If you don't have a saved game in Fallout 3, you'll have to play until you exit the vault. Otherwise, go to the outside of Vault 101, where a strange encounter will start you off on the Bedtime Stories quest.

This is a multiplayer map for Unreal Tournament 3 and is loosely based on the Quake 3 map: The Longest Yard (aka DM-17). I chose an Asian theme for the map, and created a "mountain top temple" area for UT3's generic space marines to play in. I focused mainly on the visuals of this map, and I'm rather proud how it turned out. Of course it still needs some tweaking, especially in filling out the "non-playable" space (i.e. all the stuff that surrounds the level, but which you can't actually reach) and fine tuning the optimization. Still, I'm satisfied with it until I can catch the time to do the work needed to bring the level to its full potential.

Bah, enough rambling. In order to play the map you must have Unreal Tournament 3 installed on your computer. Then, download the map at www.filefront.com/14514647/DM-DM17RTM_Brannan.ut3. Once you have the map file, place it in (My) Documents > My Games > Unreal Tournament 3 > UT Game > Published > Cooked PC > Custom Maps, and run Unreal Tournament 3. From the main menu, select Instant Action, then select the Death Match gametype and my map should be at the bottom of the maplist with the name DM17RTM. Set the game up however you'd like and hop right in!

Well, that's all the major stuff I've been working on the past few months. Of course, I've done a lot more including some basic models in 3ds Max; extensive documentation including full GDDs, LDDs, Level Abstracts, and even some basic business plans; a basic 2D game demo using TorqueX 1.0; and I have the beginnings of a Single Player Gears of War level in the works. I'm working hard and at a mile-a-minute pace, so check back with me in a few months when I can catch the time to post the stuff I'm working on now. Trust me: you ain't seen nothin' yet!


August 23rd, 2009

Secret to creativity?

For the longest time, I have kept getting hung up when trying to start any kind of creative project. From what I've heard, I'm not the only one who hits this block. See if this sounds familiar to you: You want to write a story or paper, draw something, or whatever but you find it difficult to start, thinking, "Oh, that sucks," or "This isn't turning out the way I want." Whatever you're working on just isn't up to the standards you want it to live up to, so you keep going in circles and never actually produce anything.

I think I may have found a way around this mental block. Realize that the first time you try anything (indeed, the first 3 or 4 times you try anything), it's probably going to suck. Your first ideas are rarely your best, and your first attempt will always be pretty weak. Once you have this in mind, it frees you up to crank out those first few crappy attempts and arrive at something you can actually be proud of. Creativity has always been an iterative process, so anytime you want to be creative, realize that you have to crank through the first subpar iterations and get to the good stuff hiding away at the back of your potential.


April 20th, 2009

Picking Up and Working Hard

Been a while (again).

I am currently in Mod B at the Guildhall and I have an uphill climb ahead of me this week. I procrastinated last week, and I am way behind where I should be at the moment.

I think I have been relapsing into the ADHD with which I was diagnosed back when I was 8. I have been getting distracted too often and for too long. However, after a talk with my dad and some refocusing, I believe I am getting back on track. I have worked by butt off this weekend and am on the way towards catching up with my work. I still have a long way to go, though, and I'm looking at about 20 hours of work to do before Wednesday.

Right now I have three main projects going on.

The biggest one by far is our Team Game Project (TGP). We are creating a 2D game demo in Torque in small teams. I am the team lead for this project making a game we call T&H Delivery Service. We are doing well so far, though I have had some problems managing the team. We have some ongoing personality issues, but generally everyone on the team works hard and gets their stuff done.

We have hit some major snags, though. Our game will not port over to the Xbox 360 like it is supposed to due to some old placeholder art that breaks the 360 naming conventions. I am looking at either finding a way to remove this art without breaking Torque (no easy feat), or rebuilding the entire project. Rebuilding the project will not be as difficult or time consuming as it was to figure everything out the first time, but I still predict it to take close to 14 hours by the time it is all said and done. I also need to completely redesign my levels, as the current level has a ridiculously steep learning curve. I lost track of the game's difficulty because I have played the game so much while building and testing. I have already planned out the level redesign, though. I just need to implement the changes. Lots of work ahead on this one.

The next most important project is my Fallout 3 mod for Level Design II. We are currently building the "whitebox" for the mod. Basically we make a very basic rendition of what our level will be. No clutter, nothing special. Just the bare bones of the level layout and flow. We also have to build the our "quest" within the level using the Fallout 3 scripting language. For the whitebox, this is just the bare bones. Conversations have to be marginally functional, but not completely written yet, and the quest objectives have to advance in some way. The finished whitebox is due Tuesday and I've already built my playspace. I just need to add the basic talking characters and build the quest skeleton. This should take about 4-5 hours.

Finally I have a portrait due on Wednesday in my Art for Level Design class. The portrait, unfortunately, has fallen and will continue to fall by the wayside during my work crunch. Believe me, I would LOVE to finish working on and detailing out the portrait I've been working on, but it is the lowest priority item on my list. I have already gotten the eyes looking good, and I have detailed out parts of the nose and mouth, but to properly finish this portrait would take more time than I am willing or capable of giving. I will try to get the portrait looking decent enough, but it will not be the quality I nor the professor would want.

So, that is where I stand. I am picking up the pieces of my poor decisions and plowing ahead. I am confident that I can keep up my pace and complete my projects, but it will take a lot of determination and discipline on my part. I just hope that I can keep up the pace that I will be working at this week on into the following weeks. If I do, the quality of the work I turn in will be much higher and overall my stress level will go down. I just have to keep focused, but then again, that has always been the hard part for me.

February 17th, 2009


Since my last post, Barack Obama won the presidential election, the world finished another lap around the sun, I graduated from ACU with a degree in English, and I was accepted into a graduate-level game design program with the Guildhall at SMU. There are volumes I could write about any one of these subjects, but I'll save that for another time (maybe).

My most recent piece of news is that I was appointed lead for our first team game project. It's an exciting opportunity, and I'm looking forward to working with the two other people in my group. Already our discussions on what we want our game to be have been promising, and I'm thoroughly excited with the game concept we've come up with. We now have one week to create a concept document and present our idea to the class. As is the norm with the Guildhall, we've been given a task and told to complete it in about half the time the task should normally take...which means this'll be fun! ^^ (I'm not even joking. This pace is challenging and fun.)

Also on my list of stuff to do: write a 500-word paper on the significance of Metroid on the gaming industry (much harder than it sounds), program basic movement between rooms for a text adventure (also harder than it sounds), and create a 2 scene level in the Torque X Builder (so much harder than it sounds that it makes my brain bleed). The first two are due in two days, while the Torque level is due by the end of the term. I already have 350 words on the paper--I just need to finalize my sources and make sure my logic is clear-- and my framework is almost all set up for my text adventure.

So far this whole Guildhall experience has been a blast. I always knew I wanted to create videogames, and now I'm learning all the skills I'll need to do so. It's difficult, the hours are long, and the payoff will be immense. Not necessarily in the way of finances--I'll be looking at something like $30k-$60k/year for my first position from what I understand--but more in the way of getting to live the life I've wanted for nearly a decade. I've got a long road ahead of me, and that's gonna have to start with me getting off and finishing these assignments.

Until next time,

September 18th, 2008


Imma just ignore the gap in posts...

So I went to the Austin Game Developer's Conference yesterday. Was lots of cool stuff to see and do there. What's really exciting is that Bioware, White Wolf/CCP, and several other developers were there, and I got to talk to some reps from each place and found that what I was planning on doing to build my portfolio is exactly what they weigh the majority of their hiring decisions on: a short demo mod of a game. This is especially true of Bioware, who suggests that prospective writers design a short section for NeverWinter Nights. I've been planning on writing a mod for this game for a while, and hearing that that is exactly what they're looking for is very affirming.

One other thing that the trip finally made me realize is that my usual mode of just doing what I'm doing for class isn't going to cut it. I can't just read for class and play videogames, I need to start making mods, planning stories, and generally putting pen to paper (to write I actually have to write!? How novel!!). So that's what I'm going to do. I gotta start taking my own time to be creative instead of waiting for class projects to force me into that mode. In the past it's always seemed like such a duanting idea, but for some reason I feel that it won't be much of a switch anymore.

There's more that I can say, but that's all that's on my mind at the moment. Time for more studies.

July 25th, 2008

(no subject)

I've been in a bit of a funk recently, and understandably so I believe, considering the emotional roller coaster that was Wednesday. I've been wanting to work harder than normal, which is good both because I'm working harder, and because it's helped keep my mind off the whole situation with the Porsche. I really want to get that thing up and running, and I'm sure I'll feel better once I get everything taken care of there. However, despite my recent work dedication, I'm also feeling more tired than usual and actually took off from work early yesterday. I'm sure it'll all get sorted out soon, though.

On a very positive note, I think I may have a place to stay this coming semester. The guys who are living in Charlie Wadley's old house are going to need a new roomie for the next few semesters, and I already talked with Clint about the possibility of living there. It's looking pretty good, and the rent will only be $180, which is absolutely freakin' amazing. At least that's one item off my plate. Now I just need to keep an eye out for a good grad school, car insurance, TTL for the Porsche, and continuing to juggle two jobs. Despite all appearances, I'm actually not too worried about it all.

July 24th, 2008

Well, yesterday was eventful to say the least. My mom and I had been planning on heading to Dallas to check out some cars I had found during my long aforementioned car search (me to check out cars, my mom so we could get the van back home in case I found something). Unfortunately I misunderstood the time mom wanted to leave the house, so we left about 30 minutes after she was wanting too (still about an hour earlier than I was originally planning). We grabbed breakfast and got onto the highway, only to notice that, despite the best laid plans, I had gotten everything ready and in the car...except the $$ with which to buy a car. One quick jaunt home later, we were rolling right.

The next mishap was because either their site, google maps, or something else had gone haywire and I had the wrong address for the place with the 300zx I was going to look at. It was apparently East Division street and not West Division street. We eventually found the place (I had the guy's phone number and we sorted it out that-a-way), and I got to test drive a 1990 Nissan 300zx...that absolutely sucked. I'll be the first to admit that that car could move, and move fast, but there were a lot of things wrong with it that did not show up in his online description. The windshield was cracked, there were quite a few more bumps on it than showed in the pictures, there were several bad spots in the interior, the A/C didn't even freaking work (apparently it exploded on him 2 days earlier), and the syncros for third and fourth gears were in bad shape. Test driving the car was a trial, and I actually had to stop to grab something to eat because of the toll it took on me (and also to get directions. Test driving a car on streets you're unfamiliar with can get you turned around quick). The guy had listed the car at $4995,  but I wouldn't have paid even a cent over $2.5k to fix the thing up.

After that, we had a bit of an adventure in the Six Flags Mall looking for something to eat. The place is apparently a ghost mall with I kid you not something like 3 stores, and only two places to eat, both of which are both sketchy beyond all get-out. We decided to roll on towards Randy's house and ate at a Jack-in-the-Box just up the road from him instead. This was probably the best part of the day to be honest. That whole e.coli scare back in the 90's really helped the quality of that place's food. That was an excellent hamburger, and mom and I had a good conversation.

After that, I got a hold of Randy and he brought the Porsche up to the Jack-in-the-Box. That car was amazing. Everything on it looked crisp and pristine, and it even still had the original spare, toolkit, owner's manual, etc. The only faults with it were 2 spots in the upholstry that have come loose, small chips in the paint, a slight yellowing on the hood and roof, and the clearguard strips on the lower body panels were a little cracked. The car was excellent to drive. It shifted smoothly, the sound of the engine is amazing, and it moved like nothing I've ever driving. I must clarify just a little. I have driven fast cars, and I've driven cars that were both quicker off the line and hit higher speeds than that Porsche, but I have NEVER taken a car as fast through a corner as I have with that Porsche. That car will take you as hard through a turn as you're willing to throw it, no doubt.

I was convinced. We exchanged $$ and title right there, and I am now the owner of a 1985 Porsche 944. Randy was a good guy, too. He really knew the car, and had obviously taken good care of it.

After a quick bout with the insurance company to make sure we were actually covered for the trip home, mom and I were back on the road heading to Abilene. Everything went pretty smoothly (well, I didn't notice a taxi early in the drive which scared the bajeezus out of everyone involved, including my mother in the van up ahead) until a small stretch of highway between Weatherford and Ranger. Apparently tires don't do so well sitting for several years in a garage, and the heat from the 5:00 highway took its toll on my right rear tire. I had a blowout right there and limped to the side of the road. Mom circled back and called AAA while I started trying to work out how I was going to get the spare on the Porsche. Unfortunately the side of that highway isn't nearly big or level enough to be able to safely put on a spare, and we were basically just stranded there until the tow truck came along. We were fighting with AAA to find us a tow truck, and had been for about an hour and a half when an old, beat up school bus pulled up behind us.

To tell you the truth, I had no idea what the hell a school bus was doing pulling up behind us, and my thoughts immediately strayed to some pretty horrific scenarios. However, the man who came out of that bus wasn't a serial killer or rapist as my overactive imagination had suggested. He was, in fact, a major blessing, and in no small way our savior that day. Apparently this man by the name of John Bonner had gotten stranded himself some 8 years ago and had to sit there helplessly as people sped by on the highway for several hours. He was a mechanic himself, but as it was he was completely unable to get help that day. Ever since he's vowed to help people in exactly the same situation he had been in, and travels coast to coast in his bus (which was donated to him by a woman he had helped just like us) helping people stranded on the highway. He had all the tools we could need, including an excellent shop jack and air compressor. We shortly thereafter had the small spare the Porsche came with inflated and on the car, and I was able to limp, slowly, to the Texaco station about a mile and a half ahead of where I blew out.

The only thing we had smaller than a $100 to give him was just a small $20, and I don't think this was nearly enough to repay him the help he gave us that day. I got his contact information, though, and he agreed to do an interview with me sometime. Hopefully I can get this man's story out there, because this man has a story to tell. I fully support this man's efforts, as his is definitely a cause worth supporting. It's simply incredible.

Well, about 15 minutes later, the tow truck finally arrived, and we strapped the Porsche to the truck and got it pulled to my mechanic, Big John. Thankfully we had been able to catch his wife at the shop (via phone) earlier, and she agreed to open the lot for us when we got there. We arrived at about 10PM, unloaded the car, locked everything up, and mom and I finally headed home after one of the longest days I've ever had.

All in all, yesterday was an adventure I'm not likely to forget. Despite the difficulties and setbacks, some very good things happened yesterday, and I'm hopeful that even more good will come from yesterday's ordeal. In the end, I am still the proud owner of a 1985 Porsche 944, and I'm looking forward to getting it fixed and ready to go.
Powered by LiveJournal.com