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Musings of a GameDev.net founder, book author, and game programmer.

## Zeebo: Gaming for the next billion

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.

## Tweaking

After getting some feedback from a lot of people, I made some changes to my workout. Since my main goal right now is weight loss, I decided to cut back slightly on lifting, and do longer - but less frequent cardio sessions.

So 3 days a week, I'm going to do a full hour of cardio. I started today, running for an hour. I'm not sure that I've done an hour of straight cardio EVER, but it actually felt really good. I'm just glad that I've spend the past 6 weeks getting back in shape or it would've killed me. I'm also going to mix up the cardio a bit, with cycling, running, and jump roping.

For lifting, I'm currently doing a 2-day split 3 days a week - on the days I'm not doing cardio. My routine looks like this:

Torso day:
Flat bench press
Close grip pulldown (or Front pulldown, depending on the gym I'm at)
Incline bench press
Bent-over row
Shoulder press
Lateral raise
Rear lateral raise
Shrug

Legs/arms day:
Squat (or leg press, depending where I am)
Seated leg curl
Leg extension
Calf raise (or calf press, depending where I am)
Skullcrusher
Curl

One rather radical change I'm making is that I'm only doing one warmup set and one full set per exercise. I'm reading a lot of material that suggests that the benefits gained from doing a 2nd and 3rd full set are pretty marginal (as long as the one set is done at full intensity), so I'm going to try it for a while and see how it goes.

I'm going to do this for six weeks, after which I'll slowly start to drift back toward more lifting and working only one or two muscle groups per day. If things continue the way they've been going, I should be down to 220 by the end of the year - maybe even lower.

## To use a cliche

Old and busted:

New hotness:

Oh, and Weekly Weigh-in: 226.0

## The Future of Mobile

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.

## Stuff

Weekly weigh-in: 243.5, 35% body fat

I was at 40% body fat when I started working out again 7 weeks ago, so I'm pretty happy with the results so far, though I've still got a LONG way to go.

I've been slammed at work the past couple of weeks. The president of our division is doing a presentation for analysts in the UK, for which he's showing several game demos. We've been polishing up our internal stuff as well as having developers here in the lab getting their stuff ready to go. Overall, it's going pretty well. We've got good 3D content running at playable framerates on prototype handsets. I think people are going to be surprised and impressed. I'll post some screenshots here when I can.

## So much to do, so little time

Bug fixes and feature enhancements on the new forum and other software have sucked up almost all of my free time over the past several days, which isn't good. Good for the site, I guess, but not so good for my other projects.

Right now, I'm actually working on 3 books - sort of. Although Beginning OpenGL Game Programming shipped in March, Kevin and I are still obliged to put together a resource CD. BOGLGP was written so that it could be used as a text book, so the resource CD will contain slideshows, additional exercises, etc, for instructors. Needless to say, it's not the most exciting thing in the world to work on, which is why we're now 3 weeks late in delivering it.

The next book I'm due to finish (end of July) is OpenGL ES Game Development. I'm doing this with one of my coworkers. OpenGL ES is a subset of OpenGL developed for mobile devices, primarily cell phones. I've spent the past year working on a commecial software implementation of it (which will ship on hundreds of millions of devices), so I know a thing or two about it. Besides OpenGL ES, the book provides a lot of information for anyone doing mobile games, including information on the leading 3D mobile game engines, fixed point math, mobile audio, the business model, a case study of porting a PC game to mobile, and more. We were able to get quite a few leaders in the mobile gaming community to contribute to the book, so it should be quite good.

The third book is Advanced OpenGL Game Programming, which Kevin may or not be involved with. It'll pick up where BOGLGP left off, covering topics such as shaders (both OGLSL and asm shaders), VBOs, PBOs, special effects, occlusion queries, scene management, etc. The book's set to print around GDC next year.

But because of site related issues, I'm not getting a lot done on these books. Fortunately, we've got a number of people helping out (Oluseyi, Michalson, superpig, Sicrane, to name a few), so I should be able to stop spreading myself so thin, and actually get a few things done.

## Settling in

I've been in San Francisco since Saturday night. The GDC started a day early for me. QUALCOMM and ATI put together a half-day training session for mobile 3D game developers. It turned out to be a very good event. The presentations were mostly technical (including the one I did for optimizing for all of our platforms), and there were a lot of big name game developers in the room. We'll be posting some slides to our websites soon after the GDC ends, so if you're interested in OpenGL ES or doing 3D games for cell phones, definitely check them out.

I'm probably going to be tutorial hopping today. There's nothing particularly appealing to me today, so I don't think any one topic can hold my attention for long enough.

## Reviewers wanted

So I was browsing through the books database today, and I noticed something. We have around 400 books listed here, and about half of them don't have any reviews at all. We'd really like the books section to be a comprehensive resource where our visitors can look to see what their peers think of the books they're considering for purchase.

The thing is, I know that in most cases, hundreds if not thousands of our visitors have read these books. So take a minute to look around our books section and see if you can add a review or two, especially for the sad, lonely, reviewless books.

To change gears completely, last night, my wife and I were watching Big Fish (finally), when we heard our cat (Anya) banging around her food dish in the garage - except that she's never that noisy, so my wife went to check on her. She flips on the light, and sees something duck behind our cabinets by the door to the backyard. She looks behind them and sees a black tail sticking out. Assuming it's the black neighbor cat that's been poking around our house lately (Anya's in heat), she rattles around an old ironing board that we have tucked behind there to scare the cat away. Except that the ironing board falls and lands on what turns out to be an extremely pissed off skunk. We know this not because we saw it, but because of the stench that suddenly filled our garage.

If your only experience with smelling skunks is from driving past where one has been killed on the highway, let me just say that you have NO clue how bad it really is.

So now the skunk is hiding underneath our freezer, not moving, and our eyes are watering from the smell. Finally, we were able to get it to leave by opening all the doors and jabbing a stick under the freezer. But then we've got the problem of the smell to deal with. We lit every candle we own, boiled cinnamon, and finally just burned cardboard to try to get rid of the smell. The result? Our entire house now smells like burned skunk. Hopefully after leaving the doors and windows open all day today, the smell will be somewhat bearable.

## Review rant

My books have received a number of reviews, mostly good, some bad. I don't really have a problem with most of the bad ones, as long as the person has actually read the book and has legitimate criticism. But occasionally people will write reviews that are basically just "this book sucks", which aren't really useful to anyone*. This happened with a string of reviews on Amazon for OpenGL Game Programming, and now it's happened with the latest Amazon review of Beginning OpenGL Game Programming. The review, which is accompanied by the lowest rating, states: The main thing that bothers me about this review is that Amazon greenlighted it. The reviewer states that he didn't actually read the book, and provides no explaination of why he considers it a waste of money. Why does Amazon allow reviews like this to waste space and waste the time of potential buyers?

As a technical author, I'd like to make a request of anyone reading this. If you read a book you like and that you think others would benefit from, take a moment to review it *somewhere*. Say what specifically you liked about it, and if there are things that could have been better, mention them as well. If you didn't like the book and you want to review it, be fair. Realize that you may not have been in the target audience for the book.

Oh, and if you have an Amazon account and agree with me about the uselessness of this review, you may want to use the "report this" link under the review to see if we can get them to remove it.

* - btw, the "this book rocks" type of reviews aren't really any better. As an author, I'd like to know what people liked about it, and I'm sure potential buyers would like to know as well.

## Resume mini-rant

I spent a couple of hours today going through resumes for a student intern position we're hiring for at Qualcomm. The position's actually pretty cool - whoever gets it will receive some valuable job experience working with games and graphics, and they'll be able to make quite a few industry contacts.

I was dismayed at how bad most of these resumes were. I'm not talking about poor grammer, or formatting, or anything else that they teach you in the typical resume writing class. And I'm not talking about lack of skills/experience, since these students were all from a prestigous engineering school. I'm mainly talking about irrelevance.

2/3 of the resumes failed to meet the minimum major requirements listed for the position. I don't mean that they were just missing some of them, they were missing ALL of them. No graphics, no gaming, no OpenGL, no exposure to embedded system. None of them even listed gaming as an area of interest. Seriously, I don't care how badly you want a job, if you're not even close to what a company says they're looking for, you're wasting everyone's time (including yours) by sending in a resume.

Some of these people even included generic-sounding cover letters stating that they are a perfect match for the job. [grin]

Many of them also listed their jobs at McDonalds or Walmart or whatever. I'm sure that some people out there care about the fact that you've at least held *a* job, but if you're applying for an engineering job, they probably don't. In general, don't bother listing information on your resume unless it helps establish you as being qualified for the job for which you're applying. You can get away with a bit - and listing things like hobbies and interests is fine - but keep it brief.

Finally, if there are multiple area in which you have skills/experiences and are willing to take a job in any of those areas, consider maintaing separate resumes, each focusing on a particular area.

Anyway, I hope that somebody finds this brief set of tips useful.

## Quick update

Weekly weigh-in: 235.0

After a couple of relatively slow weeks, I'm mostly back on my weight-loss pace. I'm taking this week off from weightlifting. I've been lifting consistently for 3 months, now, so my body is overdue for some time off. I'm still doing cardio this week, though.

Now that things have slowed down a bit at work I finally have time to work on an internal game. I'll be leading a team of a couple of programmers and two contract artists. We've been hashing out the design, and should start coding soon. If all goes well, we'll have a demo to show at GDC in March.

## Quick update

I took 21 pages of notes at the full-day OpenGL tutorial on Tuesday, but due to the number of meetings I had yesterday, I haven't been able to find time to finish turning them into a complete writeup. I should hopefully have that done by today. I've also got quite a few pictures that will be going up as well.

Can't believe I didn't go to the Microsoft keynote yesterday.

## quick update

Weigh-in: 206.0 lbs

Yeah. August was a good month for weight loss.

I'm in the home stretch for More OpenGL Game Programming. It was due on Monday, but since I'm working with 20+ authors on this, a few of them are late getting their stuff in. But, 95% of the book has been edited, and 75% has been turned in. I'm really quite happy with the way the book has turned out. I think that it's going to be an excellent intermediate-level resource for a lot of people.

## Quick note

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).

## Post-election blues

Weekly weigh-in: 241.0

I'm still kind of bummed over the election. I was never really pro-Kerry, and I'm not even really a Democrat, but I really felt that Bush needed to be held accountable for numerous major screwups, and that didn't happen. Worse, he now obviously feels that he has a mandate to do whatever the hell he wants to do ("I've got capitol to spend"), apparently including digging us into an even bigger debt hole. For all his talk of tax-and-spend liberals, he seems determined to set a new standard as a cut-tax-and-spend neocon.

There was one bright spot in the election for me. The incumbant representative from the district I used to live in in Utah is Jim Matheson, son of popular former Utah governor Scott Matheson. He's a Democrat, but a Utah Democrat is probably a moderate Republican in pretty much any other state in the union, and in any case he's a damn fine human being and good politician. After his election 2 years ago, state Republicans were so upset that a Democrat finally one a national seat that they decided to rezone the districts in an attempt to split up his Democratic base (which was centered in Salt Lake). Despite their efforts, Matheson managed to win again. I don't live there anymore, but it still counts as a small victory in my eyes.

## Portal trailer

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:

## Piracy, and our stance on it

Weekly weigh in: 238.0

I changed my eating patterns last week. I was eating 3-4 meals a day (usually 3) which isn't ideal for either weight loss or muscle building. I've now switched to 6 meals a day, which for me works out best as three larger meals spaced about 6 hours apart, and three healthy snacks in between, including a milk/peanut butter/chocolate protein powder shake at 9 pm. I've also bumped up my total calorie intake a bit. I think that my body was previously going into starvation mode occasionally, thus reducing fat loss and increasing muscle loss. Now, I never really feel hungry, and I'm still losing weight.

Anyway, on to other things.

The issue of piracy - and more specifically, GameDev.net's stance on it - has come up several times recently. Our policy to date has been to permanently ban anyone who posts on our forums asking for, condoning, or even admitting to using pirated software. We ran a poll to get some community feedback on this policy, and found that although most of you appreciate our anti-piracy stance, about half of you think that permanently banning people is a little harsh.

After some discussion, we decided to revise the policy, which will be reflected in the forum FAQ soon. To sum up: Asking for, telling people where to find, or encouraging people to use pirated software will still result in permanent banning.
Admitting that you use pirated software can result in suspension or warning, at the moderator's discretion. If you have a history of problems, a full banning may be in order.
Admitting to having used pirated software in the past will not generally be a punishable offense, unless you're doing so in a context that implies approval of piracy. This policy is only slightly less strict than the previous policy, but it gives the moderators more room to use their discretion and not be bound by an overly strict rule.

(Whatever) weigh-in: 215.0 lbs

I'm supposed to see a sports medicine specialist in a couple of weeks, but because I'm that way, I spent a great deal of time over the past week doing some reading (much of it at Testosterone Nation) to figure out what lead to the tendonitis in my shoulder, and to determine what I can do to prevent it from being a major problem in the future. The fact that it's currently preventing me from training my chest and shoulders is killing me.

Everything I read pointed to the tendonitis being caused by an imbalance between my chest and back strength (with my chest being stronger). At first, I dismissed this possibility, since I've been training both of them, and in fact, I train my back MORE than my chest (9-11 sets vs. 4-6 sets). But when I was talking to Kevin about it last night, I realized that most of my back work has been the vertical plane (pull-ups, pulldowns, etc.) and only minimally in the horizontal plane (2 sets of rows). That's been up against 2 sets of bench, 2 sets of incline dumbbell presses, plus dips or pec dec. Plus, I can lift a lot more with my chest than my back (e.g. benching 215 lbs for 2 sets of 6-8 reps vs. rowing 135 lbs for the same sets and reps).

I also did some posture analysis yesterday and found that I have internally rotated humeri and mild kyphosis, which confirms the imbalance.

So for now, I'm going to train my back hard to try to reduce the imbalance. I won't be working my chest, since it still hurts to do so anyway. I'll also be doing some additional exercises to strengthen my rotator cuff.

While doing my research, I also came to the realization that my current workout philosophy is no longer working very well for me. I've been using high intensity training (HIT), mainly because it takes less time. For those unfamiliar, it basically boils down to doing a low number of sets with heavy weight and training to failure on every lift. I got good results from this initially, but over the past 4-5 months, my gains have been pretty minimal. Since I believe that I'm getting adequate nutrition, I suspect that my training is inadequate.

So previously, I've been working one body part per day, several exercises per body part, with 1 to 2 sets of 6-8 reps, adjusting the weight so that I train to failure on the last set.

But after the reading I did over the weekend, I'm changing to a more high volume approach. I'll focus on doing compound lifts (which I was doing previously, but I'm going to drop a few isolation exercises that probably aren't that effective) with setXreps in the 10x3, 8x4, 5x5 ranges with 80%+ of my max, alternated with 3x10, 4x8, etc., with slightly lower weights. I started doing this on Monday, and I already feel that I'm getting more out of my workouts, but I'll see what kind of results I get after a few months.

## One year anniversary

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.

Diet
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.

Exercise
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.

## Not quite as funny, but...

I just got this from a Russian email address. The subject was just "Article correction":

## New shirts

Weekly weigh-in: 227.0

We getting some shirts made to give away at the GDC. The one I'm wearing here is the demo shirt they sent us before printing the whole batch. We'll probably run out, so stop by our booth early and pick one up.

## My car

Weekly weigh-in: 246

Down 2 pounds from last week. I figure that tracking my weight here will help keep me motivated to stay on the wagon.

Anyway, this is my car:

It's a '93 Mazda Protege, which I bought in 1996, and have since put over 100K miles on (it's at 160K now). The car has served me well, but it's starting to have a wide range of problems that I really don't want to spend money to fix.

This past summer, I started looking for a replacement. I've wanted a roadster since I was a teenager, so I was looking at the BMW Z3 (which I like better than the newer Z4), Audi TT Roadster, and Chrysler Crossfire. But after a few test drives, my wife pointed out to me that I really needed to get something with more than 2 seats, since we have 5 kids, and I regularly have to pick more than one of them up while she has our minivan.

Fine, I started the search for an alternative. I really want something that I'm going to enjoy driving, so I came up with several criteria: It has to be sporty. I don't need a rocket, but I want something that can move when I feel like it.
It has to be somewhat unique. I don't want something that looks like every other car on the road.
It has to be convertible.
It has to have a back seat.
It has to cost So I spent months looking for a car that fit these criteria, with little luck. Everything I looked at failed one or more criteria. I was beginning to feel that I was going to have to settle for something less than ideal, until I went to London.

There, I saw a car that I'd looked at before, and really liked, but passed over because it wasn't convertible. Except that the the one I saw was convertible. Turns out they had just come out with them, and they hadn't yet appeared in the states.

I went back home, did some research, read some reviews, and came to the conclusion that this car was exactly what I wanted. Last week, I paid my deposit and ordered a MINI Cooper S Convertible.

Buying a MINI ended up being more complicated than expected. There's only one MINI dealer in San Diego, and they charge $4-5,000 over MSRP (which is already$1-2K over invoice). There are a few dealers in LA that charge MSRP, but they have really long waiting lists (up to 12 months). Checking out some MINI driver forums, I found out that the prevailing recommendation among SoCal MINI owners was to buy your MINI out of state, and then either ship it or fly out and drive it back.

I did some more research and found out that the MINI dealer where I used to live (Salt Lake City) has a really good reputation and charges MSRP, so I ordered it from there. I'm still going to have to wait until late Jan/early Feb to pick it up, but that's much better than if I had ordered in LA. And the drive back should be fun.

In the meantime, here's hoping that my Mazda holds up for another 3 months.

## Mobile games

I was browsing our news the other day, and again encountered something I've seen fairly often. When we have news posts about mobile gaming, particularly ones mentioning speculation about the growth of mobile gaming, there's invariably a few people who come along, pooh-poohing this entire segment of the game industry. Mostly, their arguments against the potential of mobile gaming are based on anecdotal evidence, e.g. they played a few games on a single handset, and those games sucked, so why would anyone pay for cell phone games?

I can understand skepticism regarding some of the numbers being thrown around about the potential size of the mobile gaming market (e.g. \$7 billion by 2008), since these numbers are guesses at best, and are far too reminiscent of the types of things people used to say about the market for PDA games several years ago, which of course never really materialized. But...

1) Even if the numbers being thrown around are overly-optimistic, the fact remains that there is significant growth in this area. Hundreds of millions are being made on mobile games now, and with better gaming handsets coming out and new markets opening, that number is increasing rapidly. So even if mobile gaming is unappealing to some people, it's clearly true from the numbers that there are lots of people who enjoy it.

2) The cell phone market is very different from the PDA market. Besides being several orders of magnitude larger, people are upgrading their cellphones every 2 years on average, and because the technology is advancing so rapidly, every time they upgrade, they are getting a device that is better suited for games. Also, the distribution models on phones are much better than they are on PDAs.

Granted, the mobile game industry isn't without its challenges. Variance among handsets means a huge porting effort if you want to make your game widely available, and some handsets simply aren't well-suited to gaming. But standards are emerging (i.e. OpenGL ES) and developers have become very efficient at porting to multiple handsets.

As for handset design... I have sitting on my desk a prototype phone that we (QUALCOMM) made. Here's a photo of it:

This isn't intended as a commercial handset. Rather, we use it as a development platform, as well as something to show to handset manufacturers to give them an idea of what a gaming phone should be (and hopefully, they'll improve on the idea).

As you can see, the thing has a joystick, d-pad, shoulder buttons, and can "transform" into gaming mode. The screen is about the same size as that of a GBA, but higher resolution (320x240), supporting 16-bit color. It also has hardware accelerated 3D (exposed through OpenGL ES) on par with the Playstation. We've been working with developers like EA, Ubisoft/Gameloft, etc., with developing early 3D games for it, and I honestly enjoy playing games on it.

I think it's unfortunate that many small development studios and individual developers have missed out on opportunities offered by mobile gaming. At least until recently, the bar for entry was fairly low, both financially and coming up to speed technically, so this has been an area where someone who wanted to start their own dev studio or even just break into the industry could have done so fairly easily, at least in comparison to other platforms. That's unfortunately changing now, but if you currently have experience as a mobile game developer, you're in a good position. Pretty much every major game publisher is trying to establish a presense in mobile. To do this, many of them are buying up as many mobile development shops as they can. If you have experience in mobile AND 3D, you're golden.

In reality, the window of opportunity for breaking into the industry relatively easily through this route probably isn't closed yet, so if that's something you're looking to do, I'd suggest not being too quick to dismiss mobile gaming.

## Laying low for a while

Because of my role here at GameDev.net, over the years I've interacted with a huge number of people, so it's no surprise that despite my best efforts, I've made an enemy or two. I've also seen many strange emails. But I've never seen anything like this:

Besides the obvious concern about his unusual interest in my ass, there's the fact that I'm really too busy to entertain a guest tonight.

## Late week

Weekly weigh-in: 237.0

I know it's retarded, but I'm a little disappointed that I only lost a pound last week. I didn't really eat more than I have been, and I've been exercising religiously, so I expected the 2-3 pounds I've been consistently losing every week for the past couple of months. But I think that my fat loss is having a hard time keeping up with muscle growth, so I can't complain. I also had a more accurate bodyfat test done, and I'm at 26%. I'm going to start doing that monthly, since I think it's a better indicator of the progress I've made.

I'm late posting this week because I was in the hospital from Sunday night until Monday evening. I was there for a sleep study to see if I have sleep apnea. I won't know the results for a little while, but I will say that the sleep study was miserable. I know that sleeping doesn't sound too tough, but try it some time with over a dozen electrodes taped to your head.

I mentioned that last week, our company did a big presentation for investors/analysts in London, and that I've been busy working on some demos for the presentation. Some of the key demos were games developed by outside game developers, that we were supporting here in our lab (optimizing, fixing bugs, etc.) Here's a shot of one of the games we showed:

It's a port of EA's Need For Speed: Underground 2. We showed 2 other games from Gameloft and Hudson Soft, which due to unfortunate circumstances were also racing games. But all of the games look great (the screenshot doesn't do NFS justice), and play really well on our demo phones. The attendees at the meeting were blown away. Although we had demos for many other phone features (e.g. GPS, camera, video), the games stole the show. Not that that was a surprise to me.

Finally, here's my familiar:

I didn't put him up there. He climbs up on his own while I'm at my computer. Usually he's facing the other way, watching what I'm doing.