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January-March 2002 (oldest-to-newest)

2 Jan 2002 - Happy New Year

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.

Game Progress 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...

14 Jan 2002 - It's tricky to rock around...

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.

21 Jan 2002 - I just made my own day

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.

30 Jan 2002 - A brief glimpse of hell

Want to know what I've been up to recently? Read this (long).

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.

11 Feb 2002 - A quick detour

Along with the release of the latest version of the NUON 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 NUON-Dome changed the graphics and sound to make it more like Pac-Man.

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 telling yet).

I'll return to coding my own game once I finish up on Chomp.

I just realized that the note to new visitors was way out of date so I spruced it up a bit.

19 Feb 2002 - More Chomp work

Hit a major revision this weekend with Chomp. Head on over to NUON-Dome 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 off.

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 web logs here. The sad thing is these games could have been for NUON had he not been sacked. I wish him well in all his goaty endeavors.

21 Feb 2002 - Back in my day...

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 30.

4 Mar 2002 - New web site pending

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).

18 Mar 2002 - Ta-da!

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...

20 Mar 2002 - "About" page added

Just a quick note to say that I added a real page for the About DSI link on the left.

21 Mar 2002 - Geez, do they every shut up?

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 demonstrated).

27 Mar 2002 - Playing & training

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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