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January-March 2002 (oldest-to-newest)
Let's hope 2002 is better than 2001. Not that my last
year was all that bad (relative to people that were
directly affected by September 11th). I just hope the
craziness that was 2001 is behind us.
Christmas with the parents was good, if a bit short.
Such is life when you don't have a lot of vacation
accrued. My pal Apophis hit me with SSX Tricky for
Christmas and I am eternally grateful. The game is
downright sweet! Much improved over the original as
amazing as that may seem.
I've come this close to entirely redesigning the
game engine on multiple occasions in the past. The
current incarnation is not the most efficient thing in the
world, bandwidth-wise. I've always convinced myself not
to bother. Partly because I really just wanted to get to
coding some game-like thing, but also because all the new
algorithms I considered had some drawback or another.
Well, recently I've pushed myself over the edge and will
be scrapping the current engine for a (hopefully) much
improved one. It will be faster and more efficient
allowing more objects on the screen. Heck, if this turns
out well I might not need to convert that section from C to
assembly as mentioned earlier (although I probably will
just to make it even faster).
Now where to find the time...
Finally finished off Moby in SSX Tricky. I got golds in
everything and completed his trick book. Next up is
Eddie. I need to get a second character done for those
rare times when I can play against another human.
I did boot up MGS2 and play it for a few minutes.
Looks similar to the first one which is good. I love that
cinematic quality. I'm still deciding how seriously I want
to take the game. That is, if I will try to get the bonus
for not killing anyone. I doubt it as I just don't have
the patience for it.
I found a great Sega Genesis emulator which also
happens to emulate Sega CDs quite well. I played Sewer
Shark just for old time's sake and had a blast. It's so
riddled with cheese you can't help but smile at it.
"Attention Sewer Mart shoppers, there's a mess of bogies
at bearing 6-12-3."
I also spent a lot of time setting up some auctions on
eBay. I'm selling a large percentage of my comic book
collection. As difficult as it may be to part with them I
must come terms with the fact that I'll probably never read
most of them again. And, as my wife likes to point out,
they're taking up quite a bit of room in the closet.
Take a look
if you're curious.
Completed Eddie in SSX this weekend so now I have two
characters at Master level. Guess I'll keep going with
another one - probably one of the top-heavy ladies next (as
they all seem to be in this game).
My hard drive has been giving me fits lately. I've been
getting blue screens stating "Error writing to drive C".
It usually doesn't crash the computer immediately, but it
makes doing anything a chore as the errors pop up quite
frequently. I've backed up everything on my other disk
just in case. I'm going to try some diagnostics, but may
end up buying a new disk soon.
Want to know what I've been up to recently? Read
I also got into Metal Gear Solid 2 in earnest. I just
love this type of game - very cinematic. MGS2 goes a bit
overboard in some spots (play game for 5 minutes, watch cut
scene for 10 minutes, repeat). The controls are a bit
touchy too. Still, I like it a lot.
Along with the release of the latest version of the
SDK came a game called Chomp. This Pac-Man clone was
created by Andreas Binner of VM Labs (hi Andreas!) and
uses the new sprite library.
Stephen Anderson took the base Chomp code and added
some improvements. He fixed some bugs and added a pause
feature. Also, Kevin from
changed the graphics and sound to make it more like
I have also been working on the game. I find it easier
to modify someone else's code than to create my own game
from scratch (duh, I guess). This weekend I hacked away
and made the game a bit more mod-able. You can now add
your own graphics for the maze walls, fruit, pills, and
enemies. The game selects one at random every level.
I have plans for further improvements too. I want to
get the player/enemy movement away from the rigid
tile-based scheme. I also want to add the ability to wrap
around levels so that we can have warp tunnels like in
Pac-Man. Once I get all this stuff out of the way I have
some other rather large improvements in mind (but I ain't
I'll return to coding my own game once I finish up on
I just realized that the
note to new
visitors was way out of date so I spruced it up a
Hit a major revision this weekend with Chomp. Head on
to take a look and download it if you like. Once again,
thanks Andreas for creating a great game. I've had a
blast customizing it.
There's lots more to do before I move on. I can see
three more major milestones. The last one will be a
doozy, but will make for a great game if I can pull it
I should give a link to another VM Labs alumni Yak, not
that he needs it. He's coding for the Pocket PC now and
is neck deep in his second game. You can read his daily
The sad thing is these games could have been for NUON had
he not been sacked. I wish him well in all his goaty
Just a single character update to the
Staff section. At least I won't
have to change it ever again since I have no plans to turn
While I did get some Chomp programming in yesterday,
I've largely been focusing on a new web site design. The
current one (or current as of this writing) is shown to the
right. Seems rather silly to show that image at the moment,
but it will make more sense once the site has been switched over.
The new one doesn't use frames, is much cleaner, and
emoves lots of the now obsolete material. I'm also working
on a way to post updates remotely so I can do so from any
computer. I'm learning a ton about style sheets and cgi's in
the process so it's been rather fun. Hopefully the new site
will go live in a few weeks.
I'm almost done with MGS2. I just need to sit through some
more long-winded cut scenes and probably fight the last boss
(multiple times if history repeats).
So what do you think? As promised, the new format is a
lot cleaner. A lot of the links on the left are broken for
the time being. I'll be playing the navigation bar for a
while. This is by no means finished - I have a few things
left to implement. I just wanted to get this out there.
Another significant change is that there is no main splash
page anymore. I'm not overly fond of them in general so I'm
glad it's gone. The old Insider page redirects here. You
can still find the old site here.
However, I can't guarantee the links on there will still
work. Make sure to update your bookmarks (ha!) as this is
the place to find updates from now on.
I realize the site is a bit lacking in the color area.
I plan to put up some more images when I get time.
I've tested this site in Netscape 6.2 & 4.7, IE 6.0, and Opera 6.0. It doesn't look perfect in Netscape 4.7 - I think
that's due to its incomplete implementation of cascading
style sheets. I thought about trying to make it look the
same in every possible browser, but that would just make the
HTML a mess, which defeats the purpose of using style sheets
in the first place. That having been said, if something
looks funky in your browser, and you're not using one of
those mentioned above, send me a mail and I'll try to fix
it. I don't want things to look that bad.
Also, I know it's a no-no, but I'm using fixed-sized fonts
as both IE and NS 4.7 looked too large with their default sizes.
Now the un-fun task of converting the old news...
Just a quick note to say that I added a real page for the
About DSI link on the left.
I finally finished off Metal Gear Solid 2 this week. Boy
that game had potential. Too bad they spent just as much
time talking than actual game play. The plot was just too
convoluted for my tastes and got a bit too much into the
ideas about information passing through the generations.
Still, it was fun. And if I ever play it again I can skip
over all the yappy bits.
I must say I really like being able to edit news posts
from the browser. Not only will it let me post from any
computer, but it also simplifies posting in general. I no
longer need to open my FTP program & text editor, edit the
text, save, and upload. The one bad thing I can think of is
that since I no longer compose updates on my local computer
I don't have a copy of my news posts offline. If anything
should happen to the files on the site I could lose a lot of
data. I definitely need to be more diligent about backing up
often (as my recent experience
I've been in a game playing mode lately. With MGS2
finished off I've been working on Rez. There's lots of
stuff to unlock in that game so it should keep me going for
a while. I just love its sureal nature and the theme of
hacking into a computer system. It's how I would imagine a
modern Shadowrun game would look if it were ever made.
Also, I'll be testing for my 2nd degree black belt in
Tae Kwon Do at the end of April. They're working us pretty
hard almost every day of the week. So my free time is pretty
scarce nowdays and I much prefer to chill with a controller
in my hands than at the keyboard. Once the test is over and
done I can concentrate more on finishing the next version of
Chomp along with some other stuff.
My wife and I are heading out for a long weekend in
Sonoma. We're going to a golf camp in an effort to improve
our games. I haven't gotten much better lately and have
never taken a lesson so I think this is overdue. We'll be
back Monday so I won't update again until after then.
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