Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Wii Game Worth Owning

Boom Blox Rocks.

Target had a big 2 day sale which included Boom Blox for $20. Target was sold out, so I went to WalMart and had them match the price.

Totally worth it! It's a Wii game that I actually turned on to play when the kids weren't around. The wife and I played for almost 2 hours after the kids went to bed. My eldest son Aidan (5 years) was so excited to play it some more, he got up at 3:00 am to play it.

Tried to play it with my second son, Nathan (3 years) but he had a hard time aiming and then letting go of the button at the right time. He's not really into video games.

Wii Music isn't so bad

My wife rented WiiMusic for Thanksgiving weekend. Turns out that it isn't that bad of a game. Who knew?

When E3 was on G4 I showed my wife Nintendo's presentation keynote where they debuted WiiMusic. She thought it looked stupid and I agreed. It just had zero appeal at the time. The 40 somethings playing it poorly didn't help either. It's more than what you might expect, though I think its target audience is still young children.

The picture above shows my son Aidan (5 years) trying to figure out how to play violin. He is using my Mii. Note, the Christmas tree lights confuse the WiiMotes quite easily.

However, I don't think it has much longevity. I can't see myself, or my kids, coming back to it day after day. After trying out a couple modes and eventually unlocking the Mario theme song, I had enough.

More Torque

I've got some more custom textures, some animated things and some particle effects going. I've got some enemy AI in there too, but they don't fight back quite yet (for some reason they don't get their weapons).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Torque Moonbase

I wrote a crazy complicated pitch for my class, something ambitious requiring a lot of determination, sweet and coding. Problem right there, I don't have all the time I need. So I switched gears entirely and spent much of the night getting my world ready.

This is based off the starter.fps project. The character is default, but the terrain and skybox (the planet and space background) are custom. Check out the crater in the lower right, I'm able to paint those around. Looks pretty cool I think.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

African Pumpkins

As part promotion for my movie Bill's Big Pumpkins, we sell pumpkin seeds. A couple days ago I got an e-mail from a customer from South Africa. He said he's having some success and included some pictures.

His only problem lately is that the baboons are getting into his pumpkin patch.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Just something I'm playing around with for my Modification and Level Design class (GSP 340 at Devry). Its a modification of Chapter 5 from 3D Game Programming All in One using the Torque Game Engine.

I keep tweaking and changing. This is fun!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Torque Me

In my Modification and Level Design class (GSP 340 at Devry) we're using the Torque Game Engine to "modify" a game. I'm behind in the class because I don't put my nose to the grind stone until 11:00 pm, and then I get distracted.

Were using the book 3D Game Programming All in One by Ken Finney, and I'm through chapter 5. Chapter 4 and 5 have the template started with running game levels. I couldn't resist and took their default player and put my face on him.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

XBox Experience

I got the New XBox Experience tonight. I was excited for some reason and started downloading as soon as I got home from work. I thought it would be pretty cool, but sadly I'm not impressed. Perhaps its better than the blades (and in some ways it is for sure), but my initial impressions are ho-hum.

I'm disappointed with the character creator. I really like the look of the characters, but its too limiting for body part selections. It feels very Mii-like, especially the eyes, eyebrows and mouths. I had a hard time making one look like me. Hopefully, unlike the Mii, they'll expand the selections in the future.


Got to play with some XNA today at work. I whipped this quick generic gun model up to prove out the content pipeline (Blender and textures). This is a modification to the BasicModel project, but with my parts and textures.

It was a lot of fun, and whoa a lot of learning. I see I have my work cut out for me, bot as a programmer, but as an artist.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

3 Year Olds Amaze Me

My son Nathan is a thinker. You can just tell. He has focus to the point of concern. His creations with legos are developing in a way that makes his engineer father proud.

Today Nathan and I were playing legos and he asked me "remember the time it was you and me and mommy and Aidan in bed with food?" I responded no. He went on to explain in more detail about how we got the food and got a board and brought it upstairs to mom. It took me a moment to realize he was recalling the time we made mom breakfast in bed. That was last December, almost a year ago. He recalled something from a year ago, something we've only done once. He also said he wanted to do it again. Timely! Perhaps mom hinted at this since her birthday is coming soon, though I doubt that because she doesn't like breakfast in bed.

Regardless of her distaste for breakfast in bed (is that a pun?), I think its good for the boys to do this sort of thing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


My wife writes haikus.
I really do enjoy them.
I wish to read more.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hologram BS

Have you seen this? It's CNN's "hologram" technology they used for their election coverage.

I caught a glimpse of it on election day, but CNN isn't HD, so I watched somewhere else. Their little gimmick didn't keep me (though the HD gimmick did, hrumm).

This "technology" is stupid and wasteful for this purpose. You're telling me that the 35 HD cameras recording her for this "hologram" can only make her look low quality, poorly lit with a halo. BS! Come on, are we stupid? It was made to look low quality for effect. What really bugs me is the name, hologram. I'm supposed to believe that this "hologram" is on the stage with whats-his-face, as that is what a hologram is. But no, this is just some fancy overlay BS composite. She isn't there in reality or in some projected image. He is looking at nothing, looking at where she will be inserted/composited, and only the viewing audience can see her in the scene.

Unimpressed because they called it a hologram. Otherwise, its kinda neat though IMO they dialed down the quality to make it look more Star Wars-ish. I think if they really did what they say with all the quality possible it would have looked as if she was really there, perhaps with a little oddness due to lighting differences and such, but still almost seamless.

Behind in Level Design/Modification Class

I've been very distracted lately (damn you Shiren!) and I'm so far behind in my class I'm starting to get worried. Of course that is a good thing but I can't help but get worried. I'm also behind on a project at work, but that's partially because it is super boring and there are some very interesting distractions.

Anyway, week three just started tonight and by Sunday I have to have 2 of the 7 items listed below done, with all 7 accomplished by week 7.

1) The level must be based upon a storyline created and outlined. The storyline should be typed and included in the final presentation of the level
2) The level must include at least 20 rooms or playable spaces
3) The level must demonstrate the appropriate use of textures included in Torque;
4) The level must demonstrate appropriate uses of lighting tools;
5) The level must demonstrate the appropriate use of at least three different sound effects
6) The level must demonstrate appropriate use of at least one vehicle; the level must demonstrate the appropriate use of at least three interactive elements
7) The level must demonstrate the appropriate use of terrain features

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wanderer! Nooooooo!

Upon recommendation from a podcast I listen to, the Video Game Show, I picked up Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer and although I love it, its a cruel, cruel game. When you die, you die. When you're battery runs dead, so does your character. Oy!

I'm stocking up supplies now, trying to give myself an advantage.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Android Me ASAP

I've been waiting and waiting for an Android phone to come out, and now I'm waiting to be able to afford one. Although from the sidelines, I had big hopes that Google's OS for phones would change the market. An open source mobile device OS is something I think that could really make a lot of things possible, and stymie some of the greed and corruption and monopolization of this mobile device market.

Now I hear that Android has a GameBoy emulator, something that you don't have to jailbreak your phone to get like on the iPhone. Regardless of any legal issues, I think its a shining example of open source OS and Google's open market concepts for Android development.

Although I think the devices Apple makes are testaments of style and function, I dislike their pricing practices. I think they will soon feel a backlash as other devices start to show up that allow much cooler things to happen without someones pocketbook in mind. (Microsoft, I point at you too FYI!)

All hail Google! Kudos.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Random acts of Comedy

Being infatuated with video games and also a father of three young boys, I'm inclined toward research when the two come together. Violence and video games is often discussed, but I've yet to find something that seems truthful and shows real insight. Anyway, I came across this article at CNN and found it to be more of the same. I found the comments insightful however. It seems the video gaming public retaliates quite quickly. My favorite post, "If kids play funny games do they commit random acts of comedy?"

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