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Spending far too much time on Empyrean Gate and University. Trading in Sleep for Coffee and Coke.

BANG! Statistics!

Statistics Exam is down. I think I passed (I was fairly confidently answering the questions at least), so we shall see if I was deluded or not.

Got the Accounting one tomorrow... damn I hate the boredom of accounting.

Uni and Forums

I have been busy of late with a few Assignments (which you should see above have diminished significantly). There are still some to go, but the majority of work is done for this semester. I am looking forward to getting back into Programming for next semester.

With all this work almost done, I am almost at the stage where I can put some more time back into Empyrean Gate. ArchWizard has added a couple of pages, but I have been living off 3 hours of sleep a night again.

The other thing that has been eating my time has been discussing the Columbine Game which is distastefully titled Super Columbing Massacre RPG. This game is significant, if not disturbing, but quite relevant today, given that nothing has really changed in society since that fateful day over 7 years ago.

Having suffered a lot of taunting at school myself and wishing to die and take others down with me I can sympathise a little for Dylan and Eric, but in the end despise what happened (and who really wouldn't?).

SRS'n along

So I have started playing with SyncToy for synchronizing files across computers/folders (in particular to my USB key which gets utilized so much as a Ghost Boot Device that it is common for things to get totally screwed up). One little gripe I have with synctoy is that if you schedule it, I find that if I want it to run through a user account that is not logged on (ie, background uninteractive) it tends to fail out. If I schedule it to run through my logged on user account then it likes to take poll position on the screen.

Even after running it through a VBScript to run in the background hidden, or minimized it would also fail. Additionally I have been having problems running it on my old K6-2 333MHz (download machine/webserver/ftpserver) I keep getting JIT Debugger messages. Maybe its time to reinstall dotnetfx... the second :/

and now for a word from our sponsor ... Project Game Demo ...
As a minor update, I continue to write the SRS for my Game Demo. As everybody could have guessed I am doing a small Isometric style game with emphasis on the story driven engine I had been developing some time ago (wow, has it really been 3 years?)

As for SRS, I really have to say I dislike documentation writing, though it has already given me insight into what I hope to achieve that I hadn't previously thought through. Indeed Documentation does make things clearer in the form of requirements that the project must adhere to, and for each feature what outcomes are to be expected. This is a great guard against feature creep (and aren't we all a victim of that at some time or other?) [grin]

Marketing

This subject is the bane of my existence. I could handle Statistics and Accounting with no problems. There is nothing creative that has to be done with those numbers. But Marketing... Sheesh.

First I have to search for heaps of information on market segments, growth etc, and consumer spending in particular areas. The only problem with this is that most of that information is owned by (you guessed it) marketing companies, and they are willing to give it to me for a meagre US$1300 (hardcopy) or US$3900 for PDF. How kind of them...

And of course now my assingment looks great with all these (assumed) tags in it because ther is no relevant data. Surely the universities should be providing mock data in these situations if they expect students to waste their time searching for non-existent data (or unrealistically priced data)

The Wiki Wiki Wild Wild Web

Well, it appears that my current Collaboration with ArchWizard has been Outed. So I have been trading in sleep for work. I wouldn't have said that it was a Baldurs Gate/NWN clone, because I couldn't hope to put in as much technical skill as NWN has, but I certainly hope to get something similar to a Baldurs Gate game finished (well, in terms of the game, not the content).

Additionally, I announce the release of The Wiki of RPGs. This is the long awaited wikification of that tremendously outdated document I wrote, The Future of RPGs. Now with some community help it can once again be considered relevant and useful to todays game developer generation.

Feel free to email off for an account, I just wanted to make sure there wasn't going to be any more defacement of the wiki by some unnamed Tiberians ;)

Glutton for punishment

So if it wasn't already apparent that I am far too busy for my own good, I have gone and put myself right into it even more: I have enrolled back at university with a goal to finishing the degree I started 6 years ago.

If it weren't already enough that I work full time and am studying for my MCSE's, I am now going to have to study full time (fortunately I am an external student so I just have to complete assessment in my own time) as well as I have on my plate the game demo that I have been working on.

So when it comes down to it I have been more than a little stretched, and something is going to have to give. It will more than likely have to be the Game Demo (again) that is put to the back of the pile until I can conjure up some extra time. *sigh*. Here we go again!

Time Management

I have been pushing hard to get a Management Assignment (or two) finished. They are both due this Friday, and hopefully I can finish off the 2500 word one today.

On the Empyrean Gate front I have been discussing alternatives to the Class Selection Scheme that is used by so many RPG-likes. Instead of lumping the Player with the Character Creation Window at the beginning and leaving them to pick their stats, the classes should be decided through the gameplay and the choices that the player makes during the game.

Thats about all on that, and I am writing up my idea into the wiki. Catgirls are a must, you simply can't resist the feline femininity that only comes from a Catgirl [grin]

Oh my... Overtime is a killer..

I have been working pretty hard over the last couple of weeks on a Server that seems to have had a spike take down every component in it. The server still runs but I am unable to create RAID arrays in any way shape or form. I am still awaiting a replacement motherboard, but this has been far more trouble than I had anticipated. I have put in a fair bit of overtime including nights, mornings and saturdays to get something resembling the server together - and KEEP it together.

On the other hand I managed to get some time to myself yesterday and the day before. I managed to get some OpenAL with Ogg sample code up and running (after a fairly nasty problem with my alut.lib). So I now am looking at crossfading ogg streams now that I can mix them myself.

And thank god for being able to use two different ogg streams simultaneously! Thanks for NOTHING SDL_mixer.

One to go

So, Friday (Tomorrow) I have my final accounting test due. It is currently 75% complete, so I should easily finish that tonight.

I finished my Marketing Assignment, still under the required words. I think they actually require too many words in most of these assignments (or I am too concise) because I find myself needing a couple of hundred words to fill when I have already started waffling on. It isn't like I am missing anything from the assignment, but oh well.

The Stats Assignment I only did half of. I didn't have time for any more. Basically what I handed in was everything that DIDN'T require me to use SPSS. I had already worked out that I would pass my assignment quota even should I not hand the assignment in. So hopefully I get some marks for it.

On the EG front there has been some major reworking of the entire theme in order to fit with that damn Europe thing. At least the concept is sounding more humorous than serious fantasy like it was previously. I am looking forward to the concept of European Wizards Towers immensely [grin]

Also, 4 Exams coming up :(

Assignments Complete

Assignments have now been completed.

I have checked my overall Accounting %age which sits at 78.955%. Not bad considering that I don't own the text book (and the last assignment required me to use a table of data out of the book... there went about 20% [grin])

Time to use some time to read Magician (again), work on Empyrean Gate, and study for my Exams...

Countdown

Not long until I can kick these assignments in the rear, and then have to concentrate on exams.

Marketing is the biggest worry at the moment, as it is an essay that needs to be handed in (due in this friday). Once that is complete I have a weekend to complete an Accounting online test (that should take at least one day). Then I have until the friday to finish my Statistics Assignment.

After that, I have a little bit of time to work on Empyrean Gate before exams. The exam dates are 19th, 21st, 26th and 28th of June. Then I have some more time for Empyrean Gate (and heading down to Dreamworld/Movieworld).

Tomothy suggested that he might be headed up to Brisvegas over that period, so I may get the chance to head out to the pub with AndrewRussell, boolean and him for a few brews. Hopefully things go as well as the last BGDC :P.

ANGRY DWARF!

So Archy has been discussing Race Relations in his journal. He wants a peaceful world where harmony abounds... but realistically nobody wants to play in hippy fairy land. We want conflict, and thats what Dwarves and Elves do best when in the same room... CONFLICT!

ANGRY DWARF!

Another one bites the dust

Just finished my Statistics Assignment 2. This took a while to complete due to the fact that the student discussion boards were packed full of people disputing what the questions where asking. I should have just made up my own mind about what the questions wanted and continued with that.

One of the students who is really good at helping everyone out had me so confused because he over-complicated the problem. It wasn't until I took a step back and realized that he was trying to do something that didn't need to be done (the question didn't ask for it) that I finally was able to move on with the question.

So its 10:30am and I have now had 3 coffees and am onto my first can of coke for the day. I feel shattered. I didn't get to bed before 3am over the entire weekend.

Beginning of another year

So it has again been some time since my last Journal entry. Work goes on as does family life.

My wife and I have a dog now, Darcy, whose picture I now use as my avatar.

Work, like I said, goes on... Trying to find time to study for MCSE's and build a game demo up this year. Most of my coding for the previous year was creating Server Disk Health information and predictions on their estimated date of being completely full. On top of this I have finally been able to pull enough information out of Windows XP/2003 to find out Disk Extents information... but enough about server.

I have also pondered creating a game in Batch just for the fun of proving it can be done. Perhaps this can be a 4eX entry, as in the first Four Elements competition someone had a batch file as a joke.

Anyway, lets hope I can get the Requirements done on the Game Demo first. Hopefully I can find some time to update the journal on at least a 6 monthly basis in future :)

Skill Trees

It's amazing what you can accomplish at 2am, when you think that your brain is completely asleep you can come up with some surprisingly interesting ideas.

I will check back on what those ideas were when I wake up tomorrow morning. In the meantime, I might see if I can have some more creative ideas to put into the Skill Trees.

Maps Maps Maps Maps Maps! Wonderful Maps!

So Archie and I started talking mappage, and how the ingame will work. We are going to stay true to Isometric, and use the Baldurs Gate method of being able to 'travel' back to already visited areas.

We may introduce some of the funky 3D hacks that Diablo II did to make things not quite just 2D Isometric, but that will remain to be seen.

Nearly Sober...

OK, I am nearly sober after the "Brisbane Game Developers Conference" which consisted of Andrew Russell, Evolutional, Boolean and myself getting together for a few beers and general discussion.

By the time I had to leave things were fairly interesting and the discussion had ranged between GameDev back-end code, Stick Soldiers 3, GameDev teams, Uni, Workplace, Servers, Goatse, and the old Lounge.

Having left at around 6:30pm to catch my bus out of Brisbane back to Toowoomba (after drinking since 12:30pm) I am only just starting to sober up. The challenge is simple; should Oli be at the same drinking table as me in the future I shall endeavour to drink him under the table ;)

I am nearly sober, and shall go to bed now :P

Nearly forgot to mention that a couple of pics are available from http://dwarfsoft.com/GameDev/BGDC/

Releases of Tension

So I was just reading Mithrandirs latest journal entry and I was quite surprised when I started a slight introspection on my own life. I have recently become quite an angry bastard, or at least grumpy might be a better way to describe it.

I think I can put this down to a few reasons:
My parents show favoritism towards my sister, have been eager to help her out financially, talk to her constantly - while I have been left to go it alone and talk to them a couple of times a month. This doesn't bother me in itself, but leaves me feeling somewhat left out.
My mother in law decides when she wants to turn up and live at our house and I have almost no say in telling her to @#\$% off (except after she has been there a month).
I moved 1200km away from my friends to please my wife, and as such am stuck in a place where I get on with relatively NOBODY (for over a year now).
I used to play Indoor Cricket as my relief of tension about 3-5 times a week before I moved. I have not played Indoor Cricket (or any sport) in the 14 months since I moved here
I am now studying full time as well as working full time, which leaves me with - no time (or -1*time).
My other outlet for frustration used to be during programming. Time contraints now pretty much eliminate that (though perhaps next semester I can do this on assignments - since I am not doing any programming related classes at the moment)
Gaming is non existent. I still haven't had any time since I bought Morrowind and NeverWinter Nights however many years ago to actually play them. The Warcraft III Collectors Edition Chest is relatively unopened.
Having to care for my dog takes up more time, and my wife now resents that I spend no time with her (despite the fact that she pushed me into finishing uni).

Don't get me started on the little things that piss me off at work either :/

Now when I should be blowing off steam by smashing runs or bowling bodyline I tend to rant and shout. Not very good for relationships that, ranting and shouting. I feel like I am in a permanently grumpy mood. If it wasn't for the couple of beers on the weekend with the GDNet guys I wouldn't have seen any friends in over a year.

Systems Engineer

So I am now sitting here at 11pm on a work night, trying a little to get a business working, and also trying to learn whatever I can about Windows Server 2003, and more importantly Group Policies and Active Directory.

I somehow managed to land myself a fulltime job doing server builds and maintenance for Schools here through a pretty good company. What I lack at the moment is the skills they require, but I am happy to say I am learning the ropes, and I am glad they were desperate.

This is still a long way from the dreams of programming I had starting about 12 years ago, but I guess we all have to be content with what we get to do in life, and my job is pretty good now. At least I wont get put off programming from being forced to do it day-in day-out, and can then use income and free time for future pet projects.

I seem to be working 24 hours a day 8 days a week at the moment as I have the captioning contract stuff coming up in Brisbane over the next week when they need some hand-holding while they go live. This is a being a little crazygonuts with my schedule and I am just gonna have to ride it out until I have time to swim in my pool.

Did I mention that? I have recently moved from Canberra to Toowoomba (a good 13 hour drive it was) and am now living here with my wife (Philana) in our lovely 3 bedroom house and Pool. We have left the Appartment in Queanbeyan behind (currently tennanted) and moved on to bigger and better things. The only downside is the huge amount we are now indebted to the financial institutions for our mortgages, but I guess you can't just buy a house outright without that kind of commitment (or lottery winnings anyway).

Hope somebody reads this one day, someone that isn't me that is :P

Statistics

I am sitting here at 3am wondering if I am going to get through this Statistics Assignment by the end of Monday. I may need to take the day off work in order to manage it, unless now that I have almost figured out how SPSS works that I will be able to finish the other questions a marked bit quicker than the first few.

I haven't done any work on the Baldurs Gate Clone document, except paste in a complete template for the Design Doc. I have taken to listening to the Baldurs Gate 2 game music in order to get me motivated to complete this project.

I started talking to ArchWizard today about the possibility of Dynamic music. As a concept it seems relatively straightforward to me, but the real test is whether content can be made for the system that is workable (and worthwhile) in the game.

And now some short videos...

So I got a couple of short Videos (mov's) of Darcy running around. Seems like this is turning into the Darcy fan club journal.

I'll probably start posting code up from some of my recent work (well, over the past year of scripting, coding and ideas)

Movie 1 and Movie 2

Some Peace at Long Last!

Well, after loafing off us for over a year, my brother-in-law finally moved out. He is moving over to the US to live with his Uncle and go to Uni over there, which has finally given us back that other bedroom. Now, to turn that into an office so I can start studying/working in there ;)

I would really recommend to anybody who is planning on having family move in and live with them: get the ground rules laid down before they step a foot through the door, or else they will treat the place worse than if it were their own, and they will treat you doubly bad. Respect for anothers property just seems to go flying out the window after they start to feel like they own the place.

Another thing... Try to recommend that either they SAVE their money, or they pay board. I got sick and tired of the fact that he was working about 12 hours a day 6 days a week, then going out buying electronic gear. I wouldn't have minded so much if he had used ONLY his gear and not ours, and BROKEN our gear in the process of using it. Includes DVD/Mp3 Player w/ Microphone (for Karaoke) and CD Player/Clock Radio.

And if you think I haven't got more to bitch about... HYGENE! OMG, the place stinks! His bathroom has more scum in it than the rest of the city from what I can gather. And he doesn't flush the fecking toilet, which I notice after the odor starts to penetrate other rooms :/

Finally his dog has gone too, which I am probably a little more sad to see leave. Habibi is a fairly good guard dog, but suffers from an inability to stfu when told, and also seems to think he is the boss of us all and snaps and generally misbehaves constantly. Not to mention that he tries to eat any guests we have over, including my father-in-law. He is simply an untrained mutt, so I really wonder how he is going to cope over in the US.

I think that is enough of a rant for today, so now that it is off my chest, I can look forward to cleaning up the two bedrooms (Mother-in-laws and Brother-in-laws boxes to be removed and placed in the ceiling). A general clean of bathrooms, bedrooms, hallways, etc.. not to mention clearing the garden of all that dog mess.

Ah the joys of owning your own home...

Accounting

I just completed an online test for accounting last night. Wouldn't have been such a big deal had I done any previous accounting study in my life. So apparently this online exam takes about 1.5 hours for students who are enrolled in the course to complete. Well, I started at 8:00pm, and I finished at about 1:00am. 5 hours with all that study and searching.

So after that I ended up with 92.92%. Not bad, I thought that the last 5 (out of 45) questions were suspect because my judgement had gone to hell by then... but looking back over the answers I gave I found the inconsistencies in the first 10 questions... And they were simple errors in calculation. Don't you just hate that! ;).

Remember that server I was talking about?....

Well, the Server with the mysteriously degrading array seems to be down on its knees begging me for forgiveness. It has only taken about a month and far too much overtime to sort it out.

So I just replaced the motherboard on it (Dual Xeons annoy me with their 8 screws under the heatsinks... why can't I remove the board with the CPU's/Heatsinks still attached is beyond me!)

So after all this we have replaced:
Motherboard, SCSI Card + ECC RAM, Backplane, SCSI Drives, and a SCSI cable...

Finally things are on the up and up! The SCSI Array build process was twice as fast as before, so obviously something went better (perhaps it was getting Intel Certified ECC RAM for the SRCU32 SCSI RAID controller that made the difference) [cool].

Now... to Ghost from the Temporary SATA installation back to the RAID 5.