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Life starts at main

A long time, indeed. But a busy, busy cat I have been

This semester I have a game project to complete, and I'm trying to come up with an idea for a tool that I can develop within these 15 weeks or so. Who knows, the tool could actually end up helping you some day. So if you need something, be sure to highlight it here or by tossing me an e-mail.

I'm having a hard time coming up with a good list of what sort of tools are needed for game development, and that would help me when I apply to these game development companies. I figured I'd drop in to get some ideas.

The completely obvious tool is a 2D or 3D map editor. But beyond that? Or even integrated in that (what does a good map editor need?).

I notice for a lot of tool development positions require knowledge with MEL. What sort of tools are developed for aiding in the development with MEL?

Anyway, any help would be great.

Game Developers Conference

Hey! Just a reminder. If you're curious to see GDC and hear about it, I'll be writing about this event during my evening time. I've already thrown up yesterday (when I got here) and today, with some pictures. So in an effort not to double post the same content, I'll post a link.

Enjoy. Any questions, fling them my way. Hope to have some good stuff written up. I'll be attending the Independent Game Development summit Mon/Tues. The guys who made Aquaria and World of Goo will be speaking, along with several others.

http://www.david-mcgraw.com/

Check

Resume.... Check

Place to Stay (on the cheap, & 1 Mile Away).... Check

Airline Ticket.... Check

All Access Pass.... Check

Launching in T-26 DAYS!

GDC '08

Erm... Officialness!

Step 5 of 5: Registration Confirmation
You are now registered for Game Developers Conference 2008 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, CA on February 18-22, 2008.

Hope to see you there. Let me know if you're going, cuz I'd be nice to know somebody going! ;)

Game Developers Conference

The Game Developers Conference is early this year. Which, sort of hurts me since it isn't during spring break. But I won't be letting that distract me. This will be my first time attending a game development conference and I'm pretty excited. I spoke with an instructor here that has gone to the conference the past couple of years, and he had some great things to say about it [see: blog].

But, yeah. A few stars aligned, which gave me the opportunity to go to this event. So hopefully I can make the best of my time there. I'm currently trying to figure out if I want to spend the entire week there, or through weds - friday.

If you live in San Francisco and you have a couch that I can surf on, let me know!

If you're going, feel free to hit me up! I wouldn't mind meeting some of you motivators! Especially if it is your first time there, too! *bites nails due to being a networking n00b!*

I should add, for those that are curious: ">My dog is a nutty bastard... But it's hilarious

early progress

I started to work on my distributed network game a few days ago. Since then, I've basically got the foundation for the graphics system in place, and am now working to get the input system in place 100%. The input system is about 60% complete, and it shouldn't take much longer to piece together the rest of it. After I get all this engine related stuff complete, I'll start working on the network code.

For the initial phase of the network side of this project I'm aiming pretty low. I want to avoid writing any sort of GUI elements, and font crap, this early. The server starts automatically when the application starts. The client automatically connects to the server when the application starts.

-=| Read the rest of this journal entry on my personal blog.

*knock* *knock*

Hey, this thing is still on!?!

Plug> http://www.david-mcgraw.com

Edit: Like anybody wants to copy and paste... This is 2007. Linkified for easy access!

Giggidy Giggidy

So, since I can't get in touch with gamedev.net's billing support for a refund, I might as well use this beast to advertise my new blog!

Nothing special, just a random blog to check during your day, or week. ;)

http://www.david-mcgraw.com

Feel free to pop on, offer advice, share knowledge, whatever-floats-your-boat!

Take Care and keep up the great work gamedevers!

O_O!

...

In one-and-a-half years (December 2008), I graduate with a B.S. in Information Systems, and a minor in Business...

Whoah, where did the time go?

I could use an internship for the summer of 2008? Anybody, that knows anybody, that knows anybody- feel free to get in touch.

All in all, I can't wait to get back to work. I love learning, but dang I miss the paycheck, promotions, leading, collaboration, and all the other things that I can't think of right now.

I do hope all is well.

As for me. Game development has turned into a pure side hobby. I've decided that software development will be the best place for me to enter the software industry, grow, and eventually lead. I love games, and the pleasures from actually building one to make it work. But all in all, it just gobbles up too much time. Especially, since I was already behind the curve.

It's alright though. I met some great people. I got to spend 2 years devoting much of my time to learning new programming concepts, and applying them to create some awesome interactions with the computer.

I wouldn't say I'm out of the game. I'm taking a 3D game programming course here on campus next semester. So, I'll continue to tinker around with programming, and with time, I hope to come back to this journal to post some interesting things.

I spoke back in March about how I started managing my own stock investing portfolio. Things are going really well. I started March 1st, with my first stock purchase, and today my portfolio sits at a 13% gain. The second-out-of-five stock picks that I ended up choosing back in March, is up 55%. I give that to being most of luck, and part to understanding how valuable the company was undervalued. Not too bad.

Well I'm off! Take Care!

Personal Website

In the midst of a summer semester and working my ass off to do really well in this Finance course I am taking, I've got most of a personal website developed.

Feel free to take a peek. Any feedback would be welcomed. Specifically, how easy it feels for a person to move around the site to gauge my strengths.

This is the first website I've developed in a long while. I hope to have a better design in the future, but I think this will get the job done.

I CAN'T!

I swear, I really want to put something together, but I can't stop playing games. Now that the semester is over, I'm going balls-to-the-wall playing games. Where is the switch for this thing you call a brain? This thing needs to come on and get something rolling!

The End...

What a wild semester...
The Semester I worked on a literature review on 'Violence in Video Game Entertainment' that took a good portion of my time. The entire goal of the paper was to give parents, which might not be avid game players, an understanding of violent material in video game technology. I pretty much did this through research that I found and my own personal opinions based on my experience in the Marine Corps and, well, being an avid game player. I ended up finding a great deal of information electronically, including, two research studies that came out at the beginning of last month. At the end of it all, I gave a presentation to the class and did pretty well in my opinion. I could have bored the hell out of them for all I know, but I was energetic about what I was doing and I didn't stand there with my face to the screen reading from my slides. In fact, I hardly looked at my slides. For once, I had too much to say, and to little time.

Game Design In addition, I also worked on a project in a Game Design course that I took. You may have read a little about it in a prior journal entry. The game is called Scottish Insurrection and the team I was on did pretty well in my opinion. Given that we had about 15 weeks to do it, between the other obligations the team members had. I've followed game development for a while now and I sort of know that 15 weeks isn't a whole lot of time, even to build a great demo to show off. UNLESS, you're a machine... Which syncing 7 college students lives together is a monumental task in itself.

About the only thing that we could really do is work on the mechanics of the game. Our art talent just didn't have enough skill to really assist the people doing scripting/coding.

We ended up using the Torque Game Engine, which is a pain-in-the-ass... The random crashes about made the entire team pull their hair out of their head. Uh, yeah, but this isn't a cry baby thread so let's show off some pictures.

Also, note. My work involved User Interface Design/Implementation and Audio Design/Implementation.

// Coming into the game

So, here you come in the game with a screen that could resemble one of my prior projects. In Breakout, I used a scheme like this and people tended to say "Nice Job" on it. So, I just couldn't resist.

// Clicking New Game

Once the player comes into the game, they will be presented with a playbook. In the playbook, you are forwarded the opportunity to map out your troops path toward the enemy. You have no idea where the enemy is in advance. In the Demo, the enemy's path is hard coded.

// Flags

You map out your troops path by laying flags. These flags (don't currently), but are designed in such a way that you can send your groups of troops to a flag, make them wait, or tell them to continue, etc.

// Action

And we're off. The troops spawn and you assume the role as a "commander" in one of the groups. You lead this group where you want to. You are allowed to change to the commander of the other group and in that case, your prior group will find the closest Flag and begin to traverse it.

Soon I'll post a demo up for people to fiddle with. It's nothing spectacular, but if any of you are interested in just tinkering around with it, it's coming.

As for if the team is continuing the project... That's up in the air. I personally don't see it being continued due to having some other thing I'd like to work on. And for the sheer fact that it would be a pain in the ass getting people together.

Next I'm not sure what I want to do next. I have several ideas, but I am not sure what route I really want to take.

I do want to put together a digital portfolio (www.david-mcgraw.com), if I could settle on a design layout.

I would also like to get rolling again on a modification to Neverwinter Nights 2.

I would also like to begin a puzzle game. A sort of find the object hidden on the screen type of game. I watch my girlfriend play those type of games fanatically, and I realize that the casual market is huge... Could be fun. As long as I program the core logic and get things working with sketches, I don't think it would be hard to pick up a good artist.

Stock Market Well, I did it. After debating for a few months on whether or not I really wanted to leave my full service broker. So far it's not treating me to badly for a newcomer. I'm sitting at roughly a 2% gain after two months; so, we'll see how it turns out.

Anyway, this thing is long enough. Signing off!

The Machine Is Us/ing Us

Either way, I think you'll enjoy it. An associate professor here at Kansas State made it and had presented it in one of my classes.

Hmph....

Not much of a development journal these days... I need to fix that...

Oh yeah, 1 year left on my contract for the Marines. Oorah. >;o)

An Update!

So, not to long ago, a great buddy of mine helped me get my own domain space. I'm currently building a site that will plop down at this url: www.david-mcgraw.com. I'll be using it for various purposes, but the main reason for it is that I wanted my own domain for a 'online' portfolio space - in the case that employers see the domain on my resume and decide to visit it. Aside from that, I only know HTML and I really would like to start learning some other web technologies.

Since my last update, I bought a systems builder version of Windows Vista Home Premium to install on my desktop computer. I snagged it from newegg for around $110 and the retail price of a full copy is$300. OEM all the way.

But, before I bought that, I bought a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate Signature Edition. That's right, the Signature Edition. If you haven't heard of this yet, it's an edition where A) they are limited and B) it has an embossed signature of Bill Gates (maybe there is a real one under the cardboard, but I'm not screwing with it). I ended up with copy 3,373 of 20,000, and I'm really torn on if I want to use it for my laptop and the family package. I bought it for $260 and it's now going on amazon.com for$340.

So I have Vista installed and I love it. The design is amazing and the functionality of a lot of things are drastically improved. This is also a great OS for the extreme noob that has never touched a computer... For example: My older brother, who wants to learn stuff about the PC, but can't manage to keep the spyware off the sucker. With the whole "Cancel or Allow" ">View Video, we can keep this crap off his PC long enough for him to learn something.

So the game design course is going well. Great concept, great ideas and Torque Game Engine is good enough to make it happen. I ended up purchasing the sucker, so I'll have to see about doing something else with it after this semester is over or use it to complete this semesters project (since we're only required to produce a demo). We've got to get a working demo going by Open House, so I'll have something to show off in journal land.

So, other than all that has been written, I've been playing Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Great MMO and I think I may have found the first employer to whom I'm going to bombard with my resume (when that time comes). If you want to give this game a shot, let me know. I've still got 5 buddy keys to pass out that will allow you 10 free days of play. www.joinvanguard.com.

Topic

I've got to write a paper in a technical writing course that I am taking this semester.

Can you think of a problem that faces the games industry that I could find a feasible solution for? (problem/solution paper)

Lack of _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _...

So, I'm in a Game Design course here at the University... Let's just say, the Game Development here is pretty, 'Up and coming", to say the least. It's been about 2 years and there are 2 classes devoted to gaming. A Game Design course, and a Game Programming course. I really support the coming of these classes, and when I graduate and make a lot of money, I want to feed as much as I can into the department. That's a goal of mine.

The Game Design course brings in the Computer Science students, Architecture people, and Art students, and we didn't have any music guys this semester, but you get the point. All walks of life are invited.

The goal of the class is to be introduced to a lot of things that go in to game design and making a game. Game proposals, design docs, and about games in general. The major project in the class is to split up in 3 groups to work on a Game Demo to join with a game proposal. Basically, a demo that would sell the idea so that a publisher would want to continue development on the game. We'll also be using the Torque engine for the devlopment.

So, our second day, we're required to give a pitch on a original game design concept. Well, since I've been working with Spherion for awhile, I decided to pitch it. Overall, it went pretty good. The art fella was impressed with the concept art and some people were with the story. But, the project failed to be selected by the majority. Damn. :|

So, what did pass?

Group 1: Ninja Dodgeball, which speaks for itself.

Group 2: DISMEMBERMENT, which, was really supposed to be:

D.I.S.M.E.M.B.E.R.M.E.N.T.

Digital
Integration
System for
Monitoring
Enemy
Movements and
Battlefield
Engagements with
Retaliatory
Manipulations proved
Essential for the
Negation of
Threats

But, he decided to take off the periods and just call it Dismemberment. The game: Basically blow everyone up, take parts and connect it to yourself. Missing an arm? Grab a tank cannon for an arm. Missing a leg? Why not grab that M16 overthere? But, yeah. Not quite sure what the real goal is for this game, other than not to get your head blown off. That'd cause you to lose the game, btw.

Group 3: Scottish Insurrection Strategy Game, which is the group I joined with. The game could be turn-based or realtime strategy set in late 13th century Scotland and England, based on the Scottish insurrection led by William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Overall, it had the most thought put into it.

My major vote went to this pitch:

Missing Mona Lisa: It is June 1994 and Paris is about to be liberated. The Mona Lisa has been stolen by the Germans and the French are afraid they will destroy it in retreat.

You are an allied spy and have been assigned to retrieve the painting which is supposed to be in a Villa outside of Paris designed by the famous French architect Le Corbusier.

The painting is hidden somewhere in the villa and you have to solve the clues to find it. On arrival you find out that the villa has been rigged with explosives and is going to blow up in 12 hours.

Challenge: Disarm the explosives, find the painting and remain undetected by the few German soldiers guarding the villa.

The puzzles are set up to reveal some of the architectural ideas in the villa. By solving the puzzles and picking up various tools or keys you can find the painting?

If anybody can fill in the missing word in my subject, i'll give you a cookie. There was some really interesting concepts that wasn't picked, but, bleh. Hint: Major problem in the academic environment.

GGE!

So... Raymond showed me this experiment... This, Great Games Experiment and now i'm hooked. I never got into this 'Myspace' thing, not my cup of tea... Couldn't get in this 'Facebook' thing, much, bleh... But, a game focused community like this looks amazing. Wooo, i'm addicted. Thanks Raymond.

If you add me, expect to get to know me a little. I don't like filling up my friend list and not knowing who the hell is on there. :)

Feel free to check it out here. If your not on it, you should be. Link to GGE Profile

OH NO! I just realized I missed the first episode of the new apprentice!!!! CRAP! :(!!!

So, i'm looking to get a domain this year and i'm wondering if the name of the domain matters all to much? I guess it being short would be easier for the fingers, but, eh? What do you think? It'll be on my resume, just in that case an employeer would want to look at some things i've completed.

http://www.david-mcgraw.com (www.davidmcgraw.com - taken)
or
http://www.ethanael.com (an alias that I use for, pretty much, everything)

That's all I've been considering. I need a domain.

Regards,
-Dave

Holiday Stuff

Well, hell. I was hoping to have something good to share, but, I don't. Talk about busy, busy, busy. The christmas spirit is wearing down, finally, but, right around the corner we have new years. Oh well.

I've been working on a modification for Neverwinter Nights 2 and things are going great. I'm basically taking Spherion, which was designed to be fully developed from a ground zero isometric RPG, to be a MOD. I stood back and realized the amount of time I really have and the programming experience and said, "Hell, why not make a MOD?" Well, here I am.

In addition, I've been planning to do an entire code revamp for Breakout Returns. Yes, It may be a simple clone, but, it is a completed project that needs polished.

Right now, my mentality is in a mode of keeping programming as a hobby. In all honesty, I am completely lost as to what exactly I want to do with my life. There are so many things that I would enjoy doing, but to pin something down right now is turning out to be tough as nails. All I know is that I want to keep the freedom to move up the ladder, eventually working in a Management/production type roll in the future. I've also had really fond interest in the Finance side of business. Many, many options.

Goal for Next semester: Straight A's for the first time in life. Wish me luck...

Over and out,
-Dave

Break!

I enjoy quick updates. Quick and straight to the point.

Christmas break has started and now it's time to get to work. Expect something good in the near future.

Peace,
-Dave

2 Finals Complete, 2 Remain

Hey, are you looking forward to Lords of the Ring Online?

Are you in Beta? (Not that your actually able to tell me... So, if your really not, say No and forget the question if you are)

Just curious...

Kindly,
-Dave

Ahhh...

I really enjoy this Christmas theme... So refreshing.

My First Console Camp

So, I never thought I'd do it. But, I did and I feel pretty darn good from going through the experience.

What experience is this?

Having the satisfaction of sitting at my local Wal-mart for hours, holding spot number 9 of 9 for the Nintendo Wii! The entire experience was quite an experience to add to the story collection (with the whole military duty collection, that is).

So, I find out that Wal-mart is doing their sale on Weds for the Nintendo Wii last Sunday and I guide my target right over to getting at Wal-mart 4 or 5 hours early on Weds. So, I get home from school on Tuesday and finish up some CIS homework. Now, I've heard from a few people say that they go on sale at 12:01 A.M or 8:01 A.M, depending where you live.

So, I decided to head over to Wal-mart right after I finished my homework to ask the electronic guy when they go on sale. Upon arriving at 5:00 P.M, I was like, "Hmm, I wonder if the line started?" I walked back to the normal area is where they stash people for console camping and sure enough, I see a line of people sitting in chairs! Score! They must go on sale at 12:01! I walk over, and look at everyone and a kid goes, "Are you here for the Nintendo Wii?" I was like, "Yeah..." and responded, there is 1 spot left!

A sigh of relief fell on me. I sat down, got cozy and realized that I was completely taken off guard... I wasn't expecting people to line up 7 hours early, so I didn't bring anything with me.

Insert some military thoughts.

In the Marines, every month you get the pleasure of sitting in a 6ft by 6ft room with white walls, a desk and a chair. No T.V's, Books, or entertainment devices allowed. About the only thing that was authorized is actual military related handbooks. You normally post at 8:00 A.M and get off the next day at 8:00 A.M. Some duty stations allow the guard to post his assistant, while he sleeps for 2 hours. But, It wasn't always the case of me having that luck. So, sitting in that room for 24 hours, and then returning to work that next day until 4:00 P.M.

Sitting, with nothing, is nothing to me.

Back to the story.

The manager walked out after me being there for almost 2 hours and said, "You all know that the console is going on sale at 8:01 A.M right?" Sure enough, everybody did, except me. Having those military thoughts on my mind, I was like, 'Ah, what the hell.' So, I stayed, the guy next to me left because of his friend backing down from wanting one and throughout the night about 6 of the 9 people fell asleep for a few hours. Luckily, we don't live in an area where you'd likely get your chair swiped from under you if you were to fall asleep.

Fast-forward through the boring night to about 7:00 A.M. Everybody wakes up, sits up on their chair, filled with excitement. And then it starts...

A mother walks in at about 7:15.

Mother: "Are there any spots left?"
Me: "Last one was taken 14 hours ago... (thinking, is she serious?!)"
Mother: "Aww... (while giving us a sad look, which didn't phase anybody)
Mother: "Anybody here wouldn't want to give their spot to a poor old, hard working mother just trying to get her son a gift for Christmas, would they?
Me: Blunt as hell, "Nope, sorry... (thinking, did she just ask that?!?!)"

She leaves, this other family walks in. Butch looking grandma (intimidated me!)... She, basically refused to believe that we were saying that they were all sold out 14 hours ago. She stood in her spot until the manager came out to affirm what we had already told her. Some people. Was it not enough to listen to us say that there wasn't any left, the chairs we were sitting on that was labeled 1 of 9, wasn't enough either.

This other lady walks in at about 8:45 and goes, "There isn't any spots left?! I just called and they said that to be guaranteed a Nintendo, show up before 8:00!!" Needless to say, she probably went to cuss out the Manager for her not showing up early 'enough'. I tried to tell her that, "Yeah, early as in 14+ hours ago," but, that didn't fly.

Overall, the experience was great. I knew that if I didn't huff it out tonight, that I wouldn't be experiencing any Wii action over my holiday break. Being in Kansas, or anywhere for that matter, getting your hands on this console before Christmas is a pain-in-the-ass. Which, is understandable. Having had my hands on it, it is an absolute revolution (probably why they code-named it that) in gaming technology. Sure, Sony is doing it with the PS3, but just the design that went into this is much more intuitive. Being able to immerse yourself with hand actions that we've all been doing since we started gaming (some people, for example, driving a racing game and jerking the controller to dodge something) is just really fun to watch come to life on the screen. Overall, the \$250 price tag of the system, plus it is included with a fun game (unheard of these days) makes it that much more better.

Coming from a guy who hasn't bought a console since the Sega Dreamcast (Failure, I know), this was most certainly a worthwhile wait. I thought I'd be a PC gamer for the rest of my life. Guess Nintendo proved me wrong on that.

Oh... I picked up Zelda: Twilight Princess with my McDonalds Best Buy bucks a few days before the camp. So, that was a tease in and of itself. Overall, from what I've played, the storyline is absolutely wonderful. Coming from somebody that want to eventually get into the industry as a designer (since programming is a far fetch), I'm taking a lot of great things away from the experience with this game. Having those chills run down your back is something I'm wanting to replicate in future projects that I'm involved with. Hopefully, soon, I'll be able to have something tangible to show you all.

Well, if you've made it this far, you deserve to play some Wii. Feel free to drop by and I'll pass on the controller. If you haven't played a buddies yet, go do it now. You shouldn't be disappointed.

Back to finishing up this semester.

Regards,

-Dave

Zomg!

The semester is nearly over...

Woo!!!

Regards,
-Dave

Entry

How is it in journal land this evening (or morning, afternoon) for you? Hope all is well and enjoy your Thursday. ;)

A few days ago, I decided to purchase a handheld console and I decided to go with the Nintendo DS. The ultimate factor in the buying decision landed in the games. I couldn't find hardly any games that I had interest in playing on the PSP and I found quite a few that I could see myself toying around with on the DS. So far, I am pretty impressed with the device and it is a joy to have around when I need that intermediate study break.

The touch screen is pretty darn sweet. It definitely goes that extra step to add a different dynamic to the game play. I have a game; 'Mario vs Donkey Kong 2' that relies solely on the touch screen to move around your Mario's to solve the level.

Another tiny feature that I found was its microphone sensitivity to air being blown into it. In the new 'Super Mario Bros', there is a puzzle game that relies on you blowing into the microphone to lift your character. At first, I thought it was being lifted by the noise going through the mic, but sure enough, it was the wind coming from my mouth. Unless it is being activated by noise, but no finger snapping or tapping on the mic did any justice at all. Pretty neat.

Finally, the WiFi. Nothing like sharing the levels that you design and/or playing people from across the world. :)

Regards,
-Dave