Thursday, February 17, 2011

Downtime

   Well, I have been working on this blog for about two months now; trying to deliver a new post each day. Unfortunately, I am extraordinarily busy this week with my move. I would love to post something each day; however, I simply will not have the time.
   With the expectation of winter weather throughout the southern CA mountain regions, I will be taking the scenic route up the coast of California to get to Sacramento. Route watching and planning has been taking much of my extra-curricular internet time up.
   I expect that I will be returning full-force next Wednesday, February 23rd. Until then, catch up on some free games over at Flonga. Help me out with suggestions for reviews. You pick a game, I will review it. Also coming soon, a postmortem review on the Hobo series in which I discuss some of the things I would have included had I been a developer for the series using my postmortem format.
   As always, thank you for reading. I shall make my return very soon!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Weekly Plan: 2/14/2011 - 2/20/2011


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* Objective *
****************
* SMS Graphics *
* SMS Sound *
* The Big Move *
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   This week will be a short one for me as far as being able to compute goes. Due to my move, I will be without the use of my computer for at least all weekend. This is alright. I might have some minor withdrawals, but with a little luck, connection will be back to quasi-normal ranges by Sunday evening. Anyway, the show must go on with Swap Meet Server. I am down to the last few things I need to do, so it is time to get most of that done.
   My first ambition for the week is to get the graphics done in Swap Meet Server. I have been practicing drawing every day for a few days now. My character sprite is looking better on paper, but I am still working with it, then I need to draw several poses on the computer. I also need to draw a couple of profile type pictures of customer sprites. I am fairly confident that once I have the main character done, I will not have an issue doing the customer sprites.
   The second to last thing that needs to happen in Swap Meet Server is sound needs to be added. This involves producing sound effects and music for use as well as writing the code that will handle sound. I know nothing about making sound effects or music, so this will probably be a tall order. Due to the learning curve, I doubt I will have all of my audio assets generated this week. Adding the code to handle the sound is not too hard though. All I need is to generate the code that plays sound both as looping sound for the music and as a single play for sound effects. The rest is just telling the program when to play the sounds. If I do get this done this week, then I will be right on track. If not, then I will not be far behind. It really is just four sound effects and a very basic audio track.
   Around the house this week, we have a lot of finishing up to do this week to be prepared to load it all in a truck this weekend. The reality is, my wife and I have done a great job getting it all together. It seems like there is a lot that needs to be packed up still, but not really. the televisions need to be put into their respective boxes and the beds need to be dismantled. Beyond that, everything is in a state where I could easily throw it into the back of the truck and go.
   Last time we did this, I did not do a good job listening to my wife when loading the truck. Everything fit, but the space in the truck was poorly used, making the last things fit in awkwardly. This time around, she has already given impossible orders on how to fill the truck, but I have a couple of thoughts on how to better utilize the space provided. We definitely have more things to put into the same space, so I will need to be wise about filling it this time.
   Of course, it is supposed to rain and possibly have weather conditions that close down the Grapevine on the 5 freeway this weekend. This means we will have to take the longer route around on the 101. I have never made this drive before, but I know it can be very windy and the road is not as straight as the 5. I am really hoping that this weather system coming through fizzles out and we are able to take the direct route through. However, if not, I guess I will have a nice, long drive up the coast.
   The final thing will be unloading the truck. Frankly, I like unloading more than loading, because it is easier. Taking the things from a restricted space to a less-restricted space. However, by the time I get to that point, I am so tired it hardly matters. With a little luck, we will be in Sacramento before 10 PM on Saturday evening. This would be great, because I would definitely get at least the same amount of sleep I do any other night.
   That is that. Throw in some playing with the kids somewhere, maybe some homework with them, a couple of video games, writing this blog, and working, and that is a full week. What do you have going on?
   Happy Valentine's Day everybody. I love you Jen, Madison, and James.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Weekly Progress Report


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* Objective Grade *
***********************
* SMS Font A *
* SMS Code A *
* SMS Graphics B *
***********************

   I am very happy with where Swap Meet Server sits right now. I have finished the coding for the game, which included finishing the transfer of the font object from DirectX to my own font object. The last touches of code actually fell into place rather rapidly. While I do have some coding left to add in the sound as well as the high-score interface, these are two separate phases of the project that will be able to interface cleanly when they are ready to be integrated.
   The graphics are really a hard deal to me. I make a lousy artist. Even my wife was easily showing me up on the art skills. To offer a little reassurance, she decided to tell me that it does not have to be perfect. Easy for her to say. I know it does not have to be perfect, but good would be nice. Really though, I just need a couple of images to go forward. I have been drawing a bit every day in order to try to generate something I like, but it is still a work in progress.
   As mentioned above, I am more or less down to just adding the sounds and the high score interface. This being said, I really hope I can finish up Swap Meet Server in the next two weeks. However, because I am moving next weekend, I think the more realistic date will be three weeks. In any case, I am incredibly excited to be done with the project and moving on to the next. I can see the light at the end of this tunnel. The next tunnel will be a whole new learning experience.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Rules of Toilet Paper 2011

While sitting on the toilet, I've pondered many things.

One thing that bothers me is the amount of toilet people some people use. I swear, I've seen a girl wrap half a roll around her hand to wipe one time. Seriously, you don't need that much. Toilet paper should be rationed out. The government should literally monitor the amount of toilet paper the people use and tax people like crazy for over-usage. However, in the meantime, I have some simple rules for conserving toilet paper:

1) If it is the nasty fast-food restaurant paper-on-a-roll TP, you must wrap about 2 feet of paper down to a square of comfortable amounts to fit over your hand. The key here is, you want to fold it enough times to not rip during the wipe, but don't just crumple it. A little bit of order never hurt.

2) If it's 2 ply, you must understand there is 2 different types of 2 ply. There is the quilted and non-quilted. Quilted 2 ply is often found in America's residential bathrooms. By far, my favorite TP. Usually with this TP, two sheets folded over once will be good for a nice wipe. For the heavier leakages, 3 squares should be sufficient. Now people who work in office environments need to be careful to spot out the non-quilted 2 ply. Sometimes, this is tricky, because the manufacturers put little prints on the TP to almost make it look quilted. All them blue-collar guys (and gals) should use 3 or 4 squares, to avoid rippage, depending on the situation.

3) 3 ply sucks. Seriously, who uses 3 ply? What's next, grated TP? Wiping with 3 ply will cause cause rug burn and should be avoided at all costs.

4) 1 ply, the lesser known cousin of 2 ply, is sometimes found in peoples homes. Mostly in the homes of parents that don't want their children living at home anymore. (My parents stock quilted 2-ply, FYI) You're on your own with this one. What can I say, I can't do everything for all you people. You live and you learn, right?

5) The absolute worst TP ever? Cottonelle. This stuff has ridges in it that causes it to rip if you hold it one way and come unrolled if you hold it the other. Who designed this stuff? I don't know, but I hope he was awarded a lifetime supply of his crappy TP for doing it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Free / Indie Game Review: Hobo 4: Total War - A Little Love


Title: Hobo 4: Total War
Platform: Flash - Plays in browser
Sponsor: Armor Games
Site: http://www.flonga.com/play/hobo-4-total-war.htm
My Rating: 8. Well-Targeted, Short-Lived Fun

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   Hobo 4: Total War is the most current entry in a series of brawlers that I have given a beaten to ratings-wise. The Hobo series is a fairly well targeted series of short and easy brawlers that will give any older gamer all the laughs and giggles they need to get through the day. My desire to see something new in this series has clouded my vision to what is really there.
   Hobo 4: Total War, being a true successor to the series, takes place a few days after the events in Hobo 3: Wanted. Now our Hobo has taken infamous to the next level and is being sought by the army. Hobo must punch kick, belch, and crap his way through three different areas, killing everybody that stands in his way.
   While I was not happy with the added guns in Hobo 3, I find the new additions in Hobo 4 to be pretty fun to use. They do go a long way to making the game easier overall, but it is fun to be a powerhouse like that.
   As always, the combos are just hilarious. Hobo's most powerful weapons are his body fluids. By pressing different combinations of 'A', 'S', and 'D', you can release all kinds of body fluids on all of the foes. The whole scene with beautiful graphics, nice sound effects, and facial expressions of the victims is almost too much to bare.
   While I would like to see something new from this series, I can no longer deny just how entertaining the Hobo games are. The game play itself may be a bit easy, but the fighting is too funny to miss out on. If you have five minutes, head over to Flonga and check it out for yourself.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Review: God of War - Super Epic


*********************************************
* Title: God of War (Collection) *
* Platform: PlayStation 3 *
* Release Date: November 27, 2009 *
* Developer: Bluepoint Games *
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment *
* My Rating: 9.7. Excellent *
*********************************************


   I think I may be the last person in the world that may have an interest in God of War, but had not played it yet. God of War is an epic action game a la Soul Reaver and Prince of Persia that was originally released for the PlayStation 2. God of War already has two successors, and the first and second have been re-released as a high definition collection for the PlayStation 3. On a whim, I decided I would have my wonderful wife pick it up to me. Now, many years after its original release, I understand just how awesome God of War really is.
   The story in God of War is set in Greek mythology. The main character, Kratos starts as a commander of a small army, but eventually leads a legion. During a particularly nasty battle, Kratos turns to the God of War, Ares, for assistance. Ares offers Kratos a gift, the Chains of Olympus. However, the gift is a cursed gift. These chains are permanently affixed to Kratos and Kratos is set off to do Ares' bidding. Kratos, and his army, ravages village after village in the name of Ares. One day, they come to one building and Kratos is given a warning not to slay the people inside. In his fury, he does slay the people, only to realize it was his wife and daughter. At this point, all Kratos wishes to do is seek revenge against the God of War for tricking him into this debauchery. The game, God of War, follows Kratos on his journey to seek his revenge against Ares.
   Most of the game play in God of War can be described as jumping and slashing. You guide Kratos through Hades, trying to find a way back to the surface. This involves running through different underworld environments, solving puzzles to get past certain areas, and defeating epic monsters. The fighting is solid. The Chains of Olympus, and later, the Blade of Artemis, have to be the most awesome weapons I have ever used in a video game.
   God of War really was a showcase game for showing the PlayStation 2's power. Even though I played it on the PlayStation 3, the sound and graphics showed the true power of a system that developers had already had their hands on for many years. I do not believe there is a PlayStation 2 game that looks better than God of War. While there was only a handful of monster types, the bosses were all uniquely amazing. Every bit of playing God of War makes you feel as if you are living the stories in The Odyssey.
   Without a doubt, God of War is one of the best franchises out there if you like action games. If you are truly a Sony PlayStation fan, you have no reason to not have played this fantastic game already. If you are not yet a PlayStation believer, this could be the game that makes it all worth your while. Get your copy and play today!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wednesday's Wallpaper

   For everybody's computer decorating pleasure, my weekly wallpaper is stolen directly from the website I stole the segment from. Dark, video game related, neat. My type of wallpaper. Enjoy, I know I do.
(found at LifeHacker.com

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Family Happenings

   My blog is mostly meant to discuss things such as programming and video gaming; however, there is much more going on in my life other than just being wired into machinery all day long. In order to appease some people that are so incredibly interested in what I am doing in life, I am going to write about some of the things I have going on this week that do not fall in the realm of video gaming and computing.
   First, this may come as a surprise to many of you, but I am moving very soon. Ten days and counting. Due to a pre-inspection of my apartment on Thursday, I am trying to get the apartment as presentable as possible by then. That way, I am able to have these people tell us what really needs to be done in order to get back as much of our deposit as possible.
   I am also working slowly on packing. Really, my wife and I have got a very good start on this. Half of our dining room is filled with packed boxes. As far as loose things in the apartment go, we probably only have less than five boxes left to pack. However, I will be dismantling some of the furniture this week. I will also be putting away many of our electronics. After this weekend, I will be so anxious to get this over with, I probably will not be sleeping hardly at all.
   One thing I am trying to make an effort to do with the kids is make it to the park at least once a week. I used to take them to the park all the time before I was in school. After everything picked up in school, the park was a rare occurrence. Now, school is done, but I am super-busy, but I know that I cannot let my self-imposed business get in the way of spending some time with the kids. The park is a great chance for everybody to get out and have fun together while stretching and getting some sun.
   Another thing I am working on is trying to be a little more passive in my parenting. You should not let everything bother you. Especially if you have a child that likes to create problems. They will find what bothers you and keep doing it until they numb you to it. Of course, you cannot let your kids do this to you, but I am working on adjusting the way I handle these situations.
   That is about it really. Still, most of my days are consumed by working in one manner or another; however, when I do manage to break away from the computer, this is what I will be doing. I love you Jen, Madison, and James.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekly Plan: 2/7/2011 - 2/13/2011


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* Objective *
****************
* SMS Font *
* SMS Code *
* SMS Graphics *
****************

   My weekly plans for this week will really be light on the side-project. I have a huge work project to take care of, am in the middle of moving (less than 2 weeks left before my triumphant return to Sacramento), and need to be spending time with the family as well. Therefore, I have a little bit of finishing up to do in terms of the Swap Meet Server code before moving on to adding the audio system. My focus this week will be on finishing up the font, cleaning up some code, and redrawing/drawing some sprites.
   In terms of the font, I just need to finish up my method that takes a word and breaks it into the individual letters for drawing. This is very close to done, I just need to work with setting offsets after certain letters. For instance, you need much more space between "ww" than "ll". This stuff is handled on a case by case basis, so this should just take a couple of hours to work it all out manually. Once it is in though, I can use it for drawing any word or sentence using my font object.
   I am also working to abstract the vast majority of the code out of the main controller class. I have so far removed the menu module which leaves the gameplay module to remove. This requires some recoding, as I need to do something to make sure variables get reset when exiting the gameplay mode.
   The final thing I need to work on is redrawing the main character sprite and add some sprites to represent the customers. I make a terrible artist, so I believe this will take me some time. However, all of the code for displaying the graphics is in, so I just need to take my time and make sure I am happy with my drawings before incorporating them into Swap Meet Server.
   That is all for this week. I believe that I should be able to get this all done. I am still excited about finishing Swap Meet Server and feel confident that it will be done within the next three to four weeks.
   What are your goals for the week?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Free / Indie Game Review: Hobo 3: Wanted - A Step in the Wrong Direction


Title: Hobo 3: Wanted
Platform: Flash - Plays in browser
Sponsor: Armor Games
Site: http://www.flonga.com/play/hobo-3-wanted.htm
My Rating: 6. More Guns = Less Fun


   Hobo 3: Wanted is the third game in a series of Flash games I have taken an interest in. The Hobo series is a series of quick brawlers that will take most gamers straight back to childhood memories of Double Dragon and Battletoads. My interest came in to see if the developer would do anything to build on the genre or just put out a series of games with mediocre play on a well-worn and already hung out to dry genre.
   I will not go into detail describing the story, control, audio, or graphics in Hobo 3: Wanted, as it is all the same as the past two games. The story only progresses the plot to right where Hobo Prison Brawl leaves off, Hobo on the run after his prison break.
   The big addition to this entry was more guns. Now, in addition to a pistol, enemies can drop combat shotguns and SMGs. Both only serve to make the action much easier the Hobo Prison Brawl. For me, this took some of the fun out of the game. I like brawlers to be brutal. Hobo 3: Wanted is more like the teddy bear of brawlers. It is cute and fluffy, but just as soft on the inside. The developer could have added something to make the gameplay more fun; instead, they chose to add more of what worked in the second game. This led to a horribly unbalanced experience in the thought that all you needed to do to get to the end was run after the guns.
   I really hope the fourth and last game (so far) in the series goes out on a limb and tries something new. I keep playing because the presentation is very funny; however, as a game lover, I really want something more. Head on over to Flonga and give it a try. When you are done, let me know what you think.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Free / Indie Game Review: Hobo Prison Brawl - More Fun than the First


Title: Hobo Prison Brawl
Platform: Flash - Plays in browser
Sponsor: Armor Games
Site: http://www.flonga.com/play/hobo-prison-brawl.htm
My Rating: 7. I definitely see some improvement,
but I want more!


   Hobo Prison Brawl is the sequel to Hobo, a throwback type brawler that I reviewed a week or two ago. I had some complaints about Hobo, namely the fact that it was just an uninspired brawler that did not add anything new as well as the fact that it was very easy to beat. Hobo Prison Brawl raises the bar just a little, mainly by being much more amusing and a tad-bit more difficult.
   Hobo Prison Brawl picks up right where Hobo leaves off. The Hobo is in jail, seemingly enjoying his stay. However, other inmates cannot stand his lack of personal hygiene. One day, one inmate pushes Hobo too far, and a new rampage begins. You play the Hobo, once again punching, kicking, and dispensing body fluids, but this time on other inmates and cops.
   The controls are very simple in Hobo Prison Brawl. I tend to think they are actually very well implemented. You can do the combos with intent, which is the way every game should be. While I can admit that button mashing works just as well in this game, it still feels good to be able to bust off the combos at will. The only newly added addition to this game was guns. While being faced against somebody with a gun without having a gun yourself is frustratingly difficult, the game gets a little fun for a minute while you have a gun yourself.
   The animations and sounds in Hobo Prison Brawl go together incredibly well to have you just cracking up laughing. The mix is funny enough to keep you playing. The Hobo is constantly throwing up or worse on people. The new combos spray feces and snot all over the screen. Watching the enemies get the stuff on them is amusing to watch. It is too bad that the gameplay is rather uninteresting, because the graphics and sound effects are great.
   After playing Hobo, the only reason I decided to continue with the series was to see if maybe it did get better. While Hobo Prison Brawl does not make leaps and bounds in progress, it is fun enough to have me curious for the third entry in the series. Keep reading to see if the Hobo series continues to make progress or falls back to the mediocre ways of the original game. In the meantime, head over to Flonga and give it a try.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday's Wallpaper

   I have decided to completely rip-off an idea I found elsewhere on the interest, which was probably ripped-off from somewhere else. The idea came from "Wallpaper Wednesday" over at LifeHacker.
   See, I realized that I like to change my wallpaper on my desktop and cell phone quite often. I used to actively hunt down wallpapers on the internet; however, this business can be dangerous. I usually go after anime chics or video game wallpapers. Generally, the selections really are not that great. I do not like blaring colors in the morning, so anything too bright is off the books immediately. A while back I decided I would start making my own wallpapers. I have a little bit of image editing skills from my work in video games and can (and do) easily make video game wallpapers.
   I do not ever really share my wallpapers with people. However, today I was thinking, "Brian, it is such a sad, cold, gray world that you should offer these people a little glimpse of the happy warmth of sunshine. Really, you should save them if you can." Well, I cannot save you people, but I have your sunshine right here. I will now be offering on my blog a little ray of sunshine each and every Wednesday. Well, I might not do it every Wednesday, but definitely whenever I feel like it.
   Without further ado, a little offering to help you be a little more like me. This Wednesday's Wallpaper is dedicated to Megaman X. That is correct, Megaman X was awesome. Now, you have a Megaman X wallpaper made exclusively for you, by me. Right-click, set as desktop background, and live in joy until next Wednesday!
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Root Canals

   Root canals are like individually packaged buckets of joy. Not really, but if you are like me, the need for a root canal is synonymous with a long overdue visit to the dentist. If you are even more like me, you have been living with tooth pain for years. Therefore, no matter how long you sit at the dentist, how much it costs, or how much drilling they do, you do feel at least a little relieved after the visit.
   So, much of my day wasted away and many hundreds of dollars more poor, I simply do not feel like writing a video game blog today and shall not. Thanks for reading. Click to follow in the sidebar. For those that are counting, two and a half weeks until moving.