Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas 08

At 5am the party awoke,
except for dad, who needed a poke.
Santa had come and presents abound!
The gleeful joy a wonderful sound.

Having 3 kids in the house for Christmas changed the feel of it again this year. We had decided to donate to a charity instead of the usual present giving among the family, but somehow Mum disappeared a couple of days before Christmas and there were presents for everyone under the tree again. That started the floodgates as Dad and Matt headed out Christmas eve to match the effort. Cameron, Rachael and Rebecca had the lions share of the presents, but after all the paper ended up in Rebecca's clamshell pool, the pile was enormous.

We'll still be donating to Fred Hollows Foundation. On a mowing trip earlier in the month with Cameron I was idly thinking about how he looked in front of me with his gumboots, miner's hat and safety goggles. Safety goggles. Sandy's insistence he wore them as the dirt can swirl up a bit against the shed. What would you do if you lost your eyesight? Of all the senses, eyesight would be the most vital, followed closely by hearing & speech (too bad I've destroyed my eardrums frontlining speakers on many techno nights). My thoughts turned to the Fred hollows foundation and the ability to restore sight to someone for a mere $25. That's got to be one of the best investments ...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Card Chess.04

Card Chess.04 - Still more experiments into Flash. Hooked up some animation scripts to be called programatically to move the cards from one location to another. Currently only on the terrain cards, but I'll need it there too for a shuffle on game restart. Animation is currently triggered off mouse click and makes all of them go to the bottom right corner because they all belong to the same base class.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Flash Tests

Finally sorted out how to load up the Flash apps I've been tinkering with:
Hello World
Card chess.03

They'll live on googlepages until I've got Card Chess into a finished state to upload to Kongregate and link in here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

GameLog 71

Couple of extra days down at Andrew's and I got to jump on some of the 360 games I've been reading about. Even managed to make up a proper gamer card for XBox Live since Fallout 3 uses it on PC:

(Edit: Hah, gamer cards don't seem to be visible on Chrome, but Ok on IE & FF. That's 2 things I've found that don't work on Chrome, Hotmail and gamer cards, both Microsoft products ...)

Kongai (10h) - Been digging into the developer side of Kongregate to experiment with making a flash game based on Card Chess. It been taking longer than I thought, but at least I now have bouncing "Hello World"s and a pretty good grasp of the asset to ActionScript interface.

AS3 is turning out to be very much like C++, so it should definitely be achievable getting the game up and running, but it's going to be more plod than RAD. So far I have the 6x6 layout and the middle terrain area set up, but issues with VMs not writing consistently to local HDDs has caused a couple of hard resets and a rewrite of the code :(.

Gears of war (8h) - Played Co-op with Andrew to see what it's like. I still can't get my head around FPS on consoles. I'm constantly frustrated with aiming sluggishness when I need to change targets rapidly and aiming precision to track moving targets. I know it would be a skill learned eventually, but I've seen Zyos play in person and I still think he'd get raped by an average Joe with a mouse + keyboard.

Little Big Planet (6h) - Finally finished the campaign! I'd like to redo the levels again as 2 player as it's impossible to get 100% without multiplayer on the levels. With the new patch it's also a lot easier to search for new levels. Found a cool present delivery level that plays a bit like diner dash.

WoW:WotLK (4h) - BundyBear, 72 Warrior.
Sandy is forging ahead. I'm skipping sections so that I only have to do the areas where we need the 2 of us to get through when I finally get in there.

TrackMania Nations Forever (3h) - More circuit racing.

Atlantica (3h) - Got swayed by a kongregate ad spruking a free to play tactical MMO. Think Heroes of Might and Magic fights. It's got a great mentoring system that had a level 79 come and help me out once I'd been through the initial stages. Can't find any decent shops yet so I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with the junk I'm collecting, but at least enchanting gobbles up dupes into something useful.

Dungeon Crawl (3h) - Was leading the favourite roguelike of the year on Ascii Dreams, so I tried it out. The Win version with tiles and mouse control played a little differently, but I miss a shop or a form of information discovery.

Braid (1h) - Andrew had this on his XBox so I got to play a couple of levels. Feels very wierd coming from LBP back to a platformer with no physics, but I enjoyed the rewind ability and it did fit in well with the leadup story. Would have played it a bit more if given the chance.

Drumkit Warranty

Need to send away my GH:WT drumkit because one of the wires connecting the cymbals isn't working. Finally found the Warranty website for Australia

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Peter Moleneux at Living Epic


Catching up on the backlog of reading since the trip down to Brissie disrupted the schedule somewhat and I missed the biggest news to hit the VGHVI group; Peter Moleneux has done an interview for the Living Epic short course starting after Christmas.

I missed my chance to get some questions in for the interview, but it sounds like it's going to be filled with interesting Fable II inner workings from a storytelling perspective.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Packing VMs

Today was a complex chain of events. I went to bed last night with the hope of implementing my card chess game in flash for Kongregate in the morning. First up was a refresher on the exact type of flash required for Kongregate, and another hunt around for an open source alternative. Although ExplodingFerret wrote up a free tool version of the Shootorials, I was hoping for at least an IDE to work in. Flash CS4 wasn't available for trial the last time I looked, but it's now up so I grabbed it and started prepping a VM test box.

I had noticed on the Office 2007 VM that there were critical updates coming in thick and fast, so I thought I may as well update the base XP SP2 image. 50 updates and 3 hours later and it's ready to go, apart from the image now being 6Gb instead of the starting 1.7Gb.

After gutting the $ntuninstall directories and generally cleaning the image up the VHD was still at the 6Gb mark! A quick google revealed that I needed to zero out the VM before compacting. Still only reduced it to 2.8Gb. ~1Gb just for SP3 and windows updates? Ouch.

So now it's 7pm and I still haven't got Flash up and running yet. Not looking good for finishing something today ...

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Been delving into Scrum as a project development technique and this seemed an interesting analysis:

Usually, team members update the burn-down chart daily to reflect adjustments to the amount of remaining work. Such updates reflect a desire to have as good knowledge as is possible about the effort remaining. These estimates are made in mid-stream and reflect increases that arise from emergent requirements. However, given that one emergent requirement has been discovered in a task doesn’t imply that no others remain. While the confidence in an estimate usually improves with each revision and with continued work on the task, unusually wicked problems seem never to converge.

On the other hand the Product Owner is not centrally interested in partially completed work, only in items that are done and potentially shippable. Since the goal of Scrum is to achieve the Sprint target agreed with the Product Owner, and to reduce risk, the focus should be on done. Emergent requirements increase risk, and the Product Owner is certainly interested if estimates expand. Because there may always be emergent requirements, any estimate of remaining time based on work mid-stream in a task has a higher degree of uncertainty than the relatively risk-free estimate of zero remaining time for done items. In theory, it is possible for the remaining time on a burn-down chart to be quite near zero, yet to have few (or perhaps zero!) tasks in the done state.

Update the Product Backlog in only two cases: reducing the amount of remaining known work if the task is done; and increasing the amount of known work if the task grows in size due to emergent requirements or other insights gained during the Sprint. Do not reduce the amount of remaining work that arises from progress on partially completed tasks.

I'm guessing the size of the tasks need to be small (1 day?) and at most 1/2 the size of the sprint so that you don't have a velocity heading northward for a significant part of the sprint.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

GameLog 70

Puta's still playing up on boot, so I've been leaving it on for the past couple of weeks. Went down to Andrew's for a 5 day holiday so I had to turn it off for the trip and I never got it back up. Replaced it with a GTX 260 which surprisingly worked straight away. No power updates, no graphics driver issues. It's a little sluggish in WoW, but it's caining TF2 and TrackMania.

Little Big Planet (8h) - Made a new level called Sackboy Cannon: See how far you can shoot yourself. Basically a launcher on one side and a ratchet on the landing pad so that you collect more points the further you shoot. Simplistic, but I got 9 people playing it within 5 minutes of it being posted, so I'm impressed by the immediacy of the publish / feedback process. Almost done the story mode I'd say as there's little room left on the globe.

TrackMania Nations Forever (8h) - More circuit racing.

WoW:WotLK (8h) - BundyBear, 72 Warrior.
Finished up Borean point. Running around in a Murloc costume was awesome!

War3:TFT (5h) After playing some TD over the weekend, I felt the urge to run through DotA AI version again. The latest incarnation has the AI's levelling much faster than you can, so it becomes a race against time more than a better approximation of a DotA game. At least they can hold their own though, didn't manage to win a game against insane bots.

Z+Angband (4h) - New version of the Zangband code with more work on the outside and quests.

Depths of Peril (3h) - Hearing it mentioned in a top 10 list for games of 2008 I needed to check it out. I like the faction dynamic, but some things are too similar to diablo that it shows up the interface. I'll be giving it another go though.

Game On! arcade (3h) - Spent the main part of Saturday at the Game On! exhibition at the Queensland library. The setup was spread over 2 levels with old arcade machines and handhelds on the bottom level and most of the console stuff on the second level. The highlight was the original SpaceWar! game emulated from the PDP-1 version. It's quite advanced in terms of game concept, design and fun compared to pong.

So many great arcade machines there from my childhood. Tron was awesome, as was 1942 and Asteroids with a vector monitor. It reminded me of nearly purchasing a Vectrex as my first console purely because it had inbuilt asteroids.

Of interest was a large absence of PC games. Although there was presence of Spore and The Sims, there were some junky console games there that could have been replaced with genre' defining games (Eg, no MMO or RTS at all)

Kongai (2h) - Showed Fr. Andrew how to waste away time playing Kongai instead of Desktop TD.

Guitar Hero: World Tour (1h) - played a couple of songs at Andrew's place on the 360 version.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Crowing about FPS skillz

Interesting article about the latest remote control guns used for the US army:
The accuracy of the fire, and uncanny speed with which the CROWS gun moves so quickly and deliberately, is due to something few officers expected. The guys operating these systems grew up playing video games. They developed skills in operating systems (video games) very similar to the CROWS controls.

Now all we need is a remote fetching device (named NINJA) that goes out onto the battlefield to collect the phat lewt ...

Talent Identification

Are you, or one of your friends, Australia's next world champion or Olympian?

Wow, searching for Australia's next superfish with an online test? I wonder how many Crikey Steve's are going to be doing laps in under a second?

Maybe I'm just cynical.

(Would have been more funny if it was a flash game)


I'm bored.

Bored of the games I have, bored of the games I'm finding to fill the boredom.

I blame crunch month. 6 top notch games all in the space of a month festooned my PC and PS3 and the desire to play as fast a possible to clear space for the next game was incredible. I don't think I've been through a month like that before. Now it's over, I'm wondering if the Play & Expunge mechanic is still in my system. With no new games left and nothing on the horizon I'm wondering if I've cleared space in my calendar for a game that doesn't exist.

Usually when I get bored looking at the row of game icons it's time to add another, however I'd really like to get back to finishing Fallout, or pick up the FM season that's ready to go, or make a new LBP level. Instead I find myself downloading a new angband variant, or old indie games, or stuffing about on Kongregate.

Hopefully I'll get the GTX 260 on Saturday, and that will be the spark to get back into FC2 or Fallout. I'm also hoping to get some games developed while down at andrew's place, but the schedule is looking pretty full already. That would be the most effective venting of boredom though. Make a game yourself.


GameLog 69

War3:TFT (8h) Had a LAN on the Sunday after church with Sam, Joseph and Levi to celebrate school finishing. After a bit of demoing of the new stuff, we settled on tower defence and battleships.

WoW:WotLK (7h) - BundyBear, 71 Warrior.
Almost nightly sessions with Sandy.

TrackMania Nations Forever (6h) - More circuit racing.

Little Big Planet (2h) - Cameron's fave.

World of Goo(2h) - Fiddling through level 2. Damn OCD's.

Early Childhood OECD figures

A new UNICEF report out shows that Australia is ranked 3rd last, only gaining 2 out of 10 assessable criteria. Some of the criteria looks a little odd, like 1% GDP on ECS. Why would the amount a country spends on early childhood be a criteria? How does that take into account stay-home moms? In fact the majority of benchmarks indicate that you should be using childcare. What about a mentor / student ratio of 1:2 as it is in our home?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

google toolbar SendTo test

my.stlukes - 3.0: "For your convenience, my.stlukes is available from within the school network, and from any computer with an internet connection!"

Testing SentTo with text highlighted.


my.stlukes - 3.0
Test for Google toolbar SendTo

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Just ran a typalyzer check on my blog to see what personality type it thinks I am. I've gone from INTJ to ENTP in my recent repeats of the test for Uni, but I've never ended up Sensing over iNtuition before.

I can relate to The Mechanic, but I could also relate the the others too. Maybe my blog highlights my analytical side?

ISTP - The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

GameLog 68

Puta's been playing up recently. First it was a blank screen on boot ~2 weeks ago that a reboot fixed, then 2 reboots to fix, to now about 1/2 hr of fiddling just to get the screen to come up. It's the 8800 dying a slow painful death. Hopefully a GTX 260 is on it's way soon...

Fallout 3 (7h) - VRBones, Level 13. Got a GECK, got a shock, woke up in a strange place with 700pounds of crap stored in a cupboard.

Little Big Planet (6h) - Cameron's fave.

TrackMania Nations Forever (4h) - More circuit racing.

WoW:WotLK (3h) - BundyBear, 70 Warrior.
Another quick session with Sandy. Scott's down too, so he's playing it lots.

Guitar Hero: World Tour (2h) - Band with Sandy. Also found out the drums are broken :/.

World of Goo (2h) - Back up to level 2.

Football Manager 09 (1h) - Gateshead ECN XXth - Barely loaded up the game. Haven't even played a match.