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The nearsighted one cometh

Zeebo: Gaming for the next billion

Posted by , 24 March 2009 - - - - - - · 659 views

During GDC Mobile yesterday, Qualcomm's Mike Yuen and Zeebo's John Rizzo officially announced the launch of the Zeebo console. Given that I work at Qualcomm, with Mike and Dave Durnil, two of the people that initially came up with the idea, I've known about this for a while and was glad to see it finally go officially public.

Rather than attempting to compete with the Big 3 on technical level, Zeebo is targeting a niche, albeit a rather large one: middle class families in emerging markets, such as Brazil, India, and China. The console was designed with the following factors in mind:
  • The target audience has never owned a game console before, so cutting edge technology isn't needed
  • The target audience can't afford one of the existing consoles, so the much lower price (around 1/5 the cost of a Wii) will make Zeebo much more appealing
  • Piracy is rampant in the target markets, creating little incentive for publishers to develop for those markets. Zeebo addresses this by distributing games (at prices slightly higher than pirated prices) exclusively via their 3G network, using BREW

Zeebo features an 528MHz ARM 11 processor, Qualcomm Adreno 130 graphics core (OpenGL ES 1.0+), 1GB of NAND Flash, and 128 MB DDR SDRAM + 32MB stacked DDR
SDRAM. Being based on cellphone technology, Zeebo also draws very little power, further reducing the cost to own.

Publisher support of the console is already strong. The console will ship with 4 titles embedded, and another free to download. More than 40 titles will be available either at launch or within 90 days of launch. The console will launch initially in Brazil, with other markets to follow.

It's of course difficult for me to evaluate Zeebo without some kind of bias. I was skeptical of the idea at first, but it does seem like it has the potential to open a whole new segment of the market that currently isn't being reached at all. As one developer pointed out, it seems like the tendency is going to be for publishers to just port their back catalogs, rather than create new titles. I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing: it's cheaper for them, and the games will be new to Zeebo owners anyway. I do think it'll create opportunities for smaller, local developers to create games tailored to the culture.

Regardless, I'll be watching with interest to see how well Zeebo is received.

Quick note

Posted by , 06 November 2008 - - - - - - · 367 views

It's been a LOOONG time since I updated this, but if anyone is interested, I started keeping a blog again at WordPress. You can also follow me on Twitter, or add me on Facebook (include a note about who you are so I don't ignore you).

E3 booth babes

Posted by , 16 May 2006 - - - - - - · 483 views

I spent nearly all of E3 in meetings with developers, so I didn't have any material to do a full write up, but I did manage to take some booth babe photos with the new digital camera, so I may as well share them here:


Posted by , 11 May 2006 - - - - - - · 389 views

So, the handheld ISV team at ATI is looking to hire some engineers. We have an immediate need for someone who is entry/junior level (we'll be hiring more senior people soon). None of the resumes I've seen have been very impressive, and I *know* that there are a lot of people who frequent this site that would be a good fit. What we're looking for:
  • You need to be a college graduate with a technical degree. If you're graduating in the next month or two, that's fine two.
  • You absolutely have to be able to demonstrate a passion for game development in 3D. I'm really looking for someone who has done noteworthy projects outside of school.
  • OpenGL knowledge is good. OpenGL ES knowledge is even better.
  • Some knowledge of cell phones would be nice, but isn't essential.
  • You have to be willing to relocate to either Santa Clara, CA (preferred), Boston, or Toronto.
The nature of the position is such that you'll be doing some "grunt" work, but I think that this is a great path to breaking into the game industry. You won't be directly working on games, but you'll be gaining skills and experience that will be very valuable to game developers, should you choose to go that route after a few years.

So, if you or someone you know is interested, send a resume to dastle@ati.com. I'm not sure how many responses I'll get, so you'll probably only hear back from me if we're interested.

Job change

Posted by , 30 March 2006 - - - - - - · 371 views

It's been a while since I updated this, and this isn't exactly new news, but I thought I should post to let anyone who is interested know that I'm no longer working for Qualcomm. As of March 1st, I'm an ISV engineer in the handheld group at ATI. For the most part, my job is the same as what I was doing at Qualcomm: demos, training, developer support, porting, etc. The biggest change has been getting used to working from home, since I'm staying in San Diego and working remotely. That's taking some adjustment, but overall, I really like the change - especially the fact that I'm not spending 2.5 hours per day on the road, which buys me a lot of time back.

Portal trailer

Posted by , 24 October 2005 - - - - - - · 307 views

We demoed Portal at ATI's 3D Developer Days last week, and we'll be showing it again in Austin this week. We had a trailer made, and since a few people expressed interest in seeing it, here you go:


The Future of Mobile

Posted by , 11 October 2005 - - - - - - · 315 views

One of my coworkers just directed me to this article on IGN. The Slingshot is the device that most of my efforts for the past two-plus years have been centered around. I was involved with designing and testing the 3D hardware in it, as well as contributing to the design of the prototype itself. Most of my time, however, has been focused on developing content for it, both working with 3rd party game developers like EA and Gameloft, and developing content internally.

The following are shots from a game called Portal, which we developed internally, and for which I was the team lead. It's been under active development for about four months. The game is fully 3D, includes a lightweight physics and collision detection system, camera animation, triggers and other basic scripting, network-based resource streaming, and basic AI. We're looking at adding a multiplayer component to it for high speed networks. The game was shown for the first time at CTIA Wireless a couple of weeks ago. We'll be showing it again at ATI's 3D Developer Days, and at the Austin Game Conference.

Anyway, I thought that some of you might be interested to know what I'm working on.

In other news, More OpenGL Game Programming is done, and it will be released on the 18th. I'm very happy with it.

One year anniversary

Posted by , 15 September 2005 - - - - - - · 653 views

A year ago today, I weighed 265 pounds. I was wearing size 40 pants. My ankles were starting to give me problems from the strain of the extra weight. This is what I looked like at the time:

Then I made a Decision. The capitalization is significant. I’ve heard many successful people talk about how it all started with a Decision. I’d made the decision to lose weight many, many times before, but I ultimately ended up falling off the wagon after a few months (at best). But on this day last year, I knew that I was starting something that I would see through to the end. I felt a very palpable shift in my attitude and outlook on life that hadn’t been there when I’d made the decision previously. I knew that this was a real Decision.

So, on the one year anniversary of that Decision, I thought I should share my results. I know that many others have struggled with reaching their ideal body composition, so I hope that by sharing I can offer encouragement to others.

As of today, I weigh 205 pounds. My pants are size 31. This is me today:

The most common question I get when people notice how much I’ve changed is “How’d you do it?” I did it through a number of different things (which I believe is necessary for any major body composition change) which I’ll lump into diet and exercise.

I’d been eating a lot of crap, as typical for an American: lots of high fat, high sugar, highly processed foods. I knew I had to change that.

A year previously, I’d tried the South Beach Diet, which worked pretty well for about a month, until I quit due to “getting to busy to cook the meals”. Although I now think that most low-carb diets are too extreme, I did learn some useful things from South Beach that I applied. I also started to educate myself online, both on diet and exercise. (As an aside, I think this was key in not only helping me lose the fat, but in developing lifestyle changes that will help me keep it off forever. I’ve probably spent several hundred hours in the past year reading up.)

My diet immediately started looking better, and I’ve continued to refine it. Rather than go through the evolution, I’ll just describe what my meals look like now.a

I eat 6-7 meals per day. That’s not 3 normal meals and a 3-4 snacks, that’s 6-7 regular meals.

Every meal includes a source of protein as its main component. This is usually chicken, lean beef, turkey, fish, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, or cheese. I also usually have a couple of protein shakes a day, and will add protein powder to some of my other food (like oatmeal).

Each meal also includes several servings of fruits and/or vegetables.

I don’t really eat much bread anymore. I’ll have maybe a couple slices of whole grain bread once or twice a week. I use low calorie tortillas a bit more often than that. I usually have one diet soda a day, though I’m trying to phase that out. Other than the occasional glass of milk, I don’t drink any calorie containing beverages. I drink a lot of ice cold water instead.

I take fish oil and flax seed every day to ensure that I’m getting enough healthy fat.

Initially, I focused on cardio, with some weight training mixed in. My cardio sessions were 45-60 minutes long, and consisted of treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, and rowing.

I gradually moved more toward weight training, and I try to stick to short, high intensity cardio activities on my off days. Right now, I’m weight training four times per week, training my full body each day. On my off days, I’ll spend 15-20 minutes doing hill sprints, uphill treadmill walking, HIIT, Tabata protocol (either running or front squats), jumping rope, etc. The only high-duration cardio type activity I do now is cycling (on a real bike).

Besides scheduled exercise, I’ve formed habits to make myself more active in general. I always take the stairs, I avoid parking in the stalls closest to the building, I stand instead of sit whenever it’s practical to do so, etc. I even bought an old-style push reel lawnmower so that I’d have to work harder when mowing the lawn.

What’s Next?
I’m very happy with what I’ve accomplished in the past year, but I’m still not where I want to be yet. I still have a layer of fat around my waist that I’d like to get rid of. The problem is that after a year of being mostly hypocaloric, my metabolism is in the tank. I can eat as little as 1500 calories a day (way below what someone my size needs) and not lose weight.

So I think that until at least the end of the year, I’m going to forget about losing fat for a while, and instead focus on building muscle and getting my metabolism back up. I’ll slowly start increasing my caloric intake each week, and monitor my body composition to make sure I’m not gaining the fat back. Hopefully, I can gain 10-20 pounds of muscle and get my metabolism back high enough to lose the rest of the fat at the beginning of next year.

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