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1/31/07 -Wednesday: AFTER THE DUST SETTLED...

So, after everything that happened yesterday, today was a pretty easy going day. Of course tasks will be re-organized, as well at their respective priorities. It seems that the business side is actually starting to realize that we cannot meet the dealines they set forth. Hell, when we had 2 more people in the team, I was constantly saying that we couldn't meet them! Oh well.

At lunch time, some of my co-workers and I met another ex co-worker for lunch, and he was gracious enough to give me some component cables (hell if I know anything about them) for my Gamecube, so that I can play Twilight Princess on my new new HD TV and actually have it look better.

Speaking of my TV, I have to say that I am in LOVE WITH IT. 32" Widescreen doesn't seem that big on paper, considering that my last TV was a 27"", but man, this thing just seems huge. Like, I feel that if I sit too close, it is hurting my eyes. Plus, the design of it looks really cool, and obviously, since it is an LDC, it is much lighter and take up less space than my old 27" CRT set.

Even though this set me back a little more than $800, I think my next purchase this week will be my new 22" widescreen computer monitor. Now, some people will tell me that I should just use my new TV, but... I don't know... It just doesn't seem the same. We'll see...

Finally, I really would like to finish up Twilight Princess this week. I know I am in the final dungeon, so it can't go on for that much longer. It's a shame that I have not had that much time to play it this past week or so, but it's different in that I have wanted to play it. Until I get a Wii, I think I will pick up Resident Evil 4, which came out in 2005, and was supposed to be like the best game of the year. Should look good on my new TV with my new component cables:)

Till tomorrow...



...Right... So, keeping in line with what happened yesterday, I was horrified to find out my boss was fired early this afternoon. I won't go into the details, but it is a big loss to the team. One minute, we are joking around in our room, the next, he is being escorted out of the building. I know it is policy, in case someone flips out and grabs a gun, but it is so demeaning to have some from HR follow you around while you say all of your goodbyes and whatnot.

Luckily, we were able to meet up with him for lunch an hour later, just to talk things out. I can honestly say I have never met a person like him, and I'm not sure I ever will again.

It all boils down to the fact that he is a worker's manager, not a manager's manager. He actually cares about his workers, and isn't willing to screw them over to climb the corporate ladder. In fact, he would back us up whenever we did anything. It's sad to see him leave, because I will miss him as a person, but also because now, we won't have that buffer between us and the other groups.

Meh, such is life. All I can do is tip my hat to him, raise a glass in his name, and try to keep in touch...

Till tomorrow...


1/29/07 -Monday: ANOTHER ONE?!

So, after a meeting at work today (which I was not in), my co-workers came in and let us know that our favorite person from the Product team is leaving:(

This month has kind of been like September 2005, when in 9 days, 9 people submitted their letters of resignation. Like, I am not even surprised anymore when some one is leaving... In fact, I plan to hook up with some old co-workers for drinks Friday after next. We all became close, because when we first joined the company, we all sat in the same room. At this point, I am the only one left from that initial group:) I guess I'm stubborn.

Till tomorrow...


1/28/07 -Sunday: MORE NWN2 TOOLSET...

So, I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, so I'll say it again... I am really, really beginning to like the new toolset. For me, the learning curve was not that bad, and all the features are great (minus NWN1 style cut-scenes).

There are still various issues, like some scripts that don't work and such, but nothing that will keep me away from it. My next purchase is going to be a 22" Widescreen Monitor, mainly so that I can have more windows open in the toolset at one time. I may get more memory for my machine, so it runs a bit faster, but for what it's worth, I am happy.

***Hopes Obsidian will fix SetCutsceneMode so that the entire GUI is actually hidden!***

Till tomorrow...


1/27/07 -Saturday: AT LONG LAST!!!

So, sticking to my word from earlier in the week, I went out and picked up a new TV today. I ended up getting a Toshiba 32" True HD Widescreen set. Shout out to my old co-worker (the one who left a week ago) who told me about this TV. It averages around $1000 or so, but I was able to get it as Sears on sale for a little more than $800 after taxes.

I gotta say, the set itself is very cool looking, and it seems bigger than it realy is. The best part is, we have a bunch of High Definition channels through our cable service, so as soon as I get a new HD cable box, I will be experiencing TV in all of its HD glory. Just in time for the Super Bowl!

Till tomorrow...

P.S. Twilight Princess looks GREAT on the new set!


1/26/07 -Friday: A NEW HIRE!!!

Well, it looks like we have a new hire on our hands. He hasn't joined yet, but I will be very happy when he does. We desperately need more help, and he seems to have skills needed in this field.

Of course, there will be the whole issue on when we will have time to train him... We are all stretched thin as it is, but since the learing curve is pretty high in my department, we will have to get him going as soon as possible. Maybe I can weasel out of some other projects, so I can just spend a month training him:)

Till tomorrow...


1/25/07 -Thursday: TIME FOR A NEW TV...

So, I have this little problem. I tend to wait till the last minute for everything. Whenever something broken, but still slightly works, I use it. Case in point is my beloved 27 inch Toshiba set, which my Father gave me in 1992.

Man oh man, do I have some fond memories of that TV. All video game related too! Before that point, if I wanted to play video games, I had to go into the kitchen, and hope that my mom wasn't using it. Very annoying. Now that I had my own TV in my own room, I was free to play as long as I wanted, whenever I wanted. Many a night, Street Fighter 2 would be played on this set. Ah, the good old days.

Anyway, I always took care of that TV, even when I moved 4 times in 7 years. It wasn't until about mid 2006 when I started having issues with it. Every once in a while, the picture on the set would get messed up and whatnot. I knew the TV was old, so I just dealt with it. Hell, it didn't happen ALL the time:) Anyway, as time passed, it got worse. In fact, it got to the point where if I wanted to watch, say, 24 at 9:00 pm, I would have to turn the TV on at 7:00 pm, to warm up it, so to speak:) And once the TV was working, there was no way in HELL I was going to turn it off:)

Well, last week, it finally just gave out, and stopped working. Now, I should point out that I was still able to use the Video settings on it to play games and watch DVD's, which was probably why I wasn't so quick to do anything about the issue. I do have a little funny story about the whole situation though:

One time, my girlfriend and I were watching 24. Right at one of the most tense spots in the episode, the TV started having issues. My girlfriend and I immediately jumped up and ran out to the kitchen so we wouldn't miss anything. Then, we would periodically check my room to see if it was working or not, and when it was, we would run back into my room. Then, every once in a while, the TV would go again, I would jump up to run out to the kitchen, and then as soon as I was on my feet, the TV would be fine. Yeah, I know, I'm quite ridiculous.

All of that said, I am in the market to get a new TV, and I will probably pick it up this weekend.

Till tomorrow...


1/24/07 -Wednesday: SO MUCH TO DO, SO LITTLE TIME...

Ever since one of my co-workers left last week, things have been pretty hectic at the office. I feel bad, but I have to keep denying people when they come over and ask for help, or ask me to do something. I'm not a robot!

Seriously though, it just comes with the territory, I guess. At some point however, the powers at be will realize that they can't just keep giving us all of this work. Hopefully...

Till tomorrow...


1/23/07 -Tuesday: BACK IN THE GROOVE...

... With Zelda, that is:) I haven't really spoken on it, but in the past few days, I have not been able to put in the amount of hours that I would have liked to. Tonight was a rare night, in that I didn't have anything else to do.

So, I was able to put in 2-3 hours of time into the game, bringing me to about 49 hours overall. Unfortunately, I had to cheat and read Gamespot's walkthough of the particular dungeon I was stuck in, in order to get past a certain puzzle. I can certainly feel that I am close to the end of the game, and at the same time, I don't want it to end! Perhaps not playing it that much over the past few days was a good thing. Then again, when I get a Wii, I will hopefully play through it again.

Besides playing Zelda, I also put the finishing touches (more or less) on my latest interview. It is with an Italian Neverwinter Nights site. I was supposed to have it for them by Monday, but I was just too busy. Sorry guys! If I have time at work tomorrow, I will post my answers to their questions on my lunch break. If not, then I'll just do it as soon as I get home. After that, I will post the transcript here, with the other interviews I have done.

Till tomorrow...


1/22/07 -Monday: CUT-SCENES IN NWN2...

As I mentioned yesterday, there is one thing holding me back from truly embracing NWN2... That is the cut-scene system... Now, I will be the first to tell you that my idea of a cut-scene, and the ideas of Obsidian, and many people in the community are extremely different.

They have been hyping up how NWN2 offers a more cinematic experience, and easier. Well, that may be true, if you only want to have cut-scenes in CONVERSATIONS! Yes, you heard right... Right now, the only way to get the screen to go into cut-scene mode (don't show the interface) is through a damn conversation.

Now, to be fair, if you are having a conversation bewteen 2 people, the amount of options you have, in terms of camera angles and such is crazy. But, for people like me, who like to have cut-scenes, such as landscape shots (think opening cut-scene in Aribine in Rose of Eternity - Chapter 1 - The Coming), right now, it seems not possible.

For one, while in "cut-scene" mode, you cannot rotate the camera. I also haven't found out how to zoom in or out, change the pitch, or change the elevation. You can have preset angles like this, but you can't change them dynamically, like one would using Gestalt's system. The most you can do is tracking shots on an invisible speaker in the conversation, to simulate the camera moving from one point to another.

Even worse, if you try to use the old way of creating cut-scenes (SetCutsceneMode), the player interface doesn't even go away:) Granted, you can't move your character, but if you try to select something from say, your quickslot bar, it will work! Right in the middle of a cut-scene!

What does all of this mean? Currently, cut-scenes, like the opening cut-scenes of both of my games are impossible. Now, things could change. Apparantly, there was no cut-scene system in NWN1 when it was first released. I mean, I guess I can't really be mad ant anyone. They didn't make this engine for me:) They had to do what they had to do to get the game out, and within the confines of their own vision. Obviously, their vision conflicts with mine. It happens... Nevertheless, I am going to keep plugging away. I already have a short cut-scene that I have created, so I will continue to add to it, and learn the ins and outs of the current system, hoping they get back to the old way at some point...

Till tomorrow...

P.S. And for all of you naysayers out there, I am well aware of the workarounds of the new cut-scene system, which is what I am currently doing to make a somewhat presentable cut-scene. I just don't like it:)


1/21/07 -Sunday: MORE WITH THE NWN2 TOOLSET...

So, I continue to dabble with the toolset. A while back, I said I was going to be checking this thing out, just to see if Rose of Eternity can be ported or not, and right now, things aren't looking so good... But, let's back up a bit...

One annoying thing is that sometimes when you try to run/test the module you are working on, you get some error, specifying that the game CD couldn't be found, or authenticated. After a few days of this BS, I think I came up with a workaround. First, it only seems to happen when I try to run the module, while an area is open, and selected in my tab view. If I select another tab, such as a script, or conversation, it seems to work. So, for anyone who has run into this issue, give that a try. Tomorrow, I will talk about the issue I see holding me back from my true potential.

Till tomorrow...


1/20/07 -Saturday: DAMN YOU ZELDA!!!

Remember that dungeon I mentioned a few days back? Well, I'm still in it! That sucker is long and hard as hell.

I do admit spending a few hours just trying to find every secret treasure chest, but even after that, I am still in it. At this point, I know I am at the end, but I just can't figure out how to get past this one point.

When this happened, I decided to leave, and go do some mini-quests, just for the hell of it. I ended up finishing this one quest, which opened up the possibility of me getting some new armor, which would be pretty sweet.

But, even after that, I still have to go back to this dungeon. I really, really don't want to look in a strategy guide, so I am just going to have to explore every inch of this dungeon. If I can't get it after a few more days, strategy guide, here I come!

Till tomorrow...


1/19/07 -Friday: LONG, LONG, LONG NIGHT...

So, today was the last day of one of my co-workers. In typical Zingy style, we took him out to eat, played foosball for hours on end (hey, it was going to be the last time I could beat him!), and later, went out for drinks at a not so trendy bar in Manhattan. We got to the bar at 5:30 pm...

At the bar was me, the co-worker leaving, 2 other guys, and the Director of our gaming department. For reference, he used to work at EA Tiburon (Madden Franchise) and Acclaim (Turok Franchise). When we got there, he immediately told the waitress to start a tab on his credit, leading me to think it was going to be a LONG, LONG, LONG NIGHT...

Let me tell you, he really knows how to show people a good time. For the next 6 hours, before I could even finish the drink I was on, he was already telling the waitress to bring me another one! It was crazy... It was also cool to spend a lot of time with him, picking his brain about what's going on in the video game industry, how he got started, etc. This led to a very funny, albeit embarrasing moment.

So, at one point, we were talking about the current state of the Madden franchise. For those that don't know, EA has the exclusive rights to the NFL license, so you will only see true NFL games from them until the license runs out its course. Anyway, we were talking about different things they tried to implement in the series, as they always try to add some new feature to the game each year. Well, he was going on and on about the newest stupid features, and I say, "Yeah, just like that stupid passing cone feature they used a few years back!". He then proceeded to let me know that he was the designer of that feature! After an awkward moment, he began to laugh, telling me that the concept was better than the actual implementation:) Whew...

So, as I mentioned before, this went on for 6 hours or so. Never thought I would meet someone who was just as obsessed about console games as I was. I also never thought I would become such great friends with someone who has already been doing what I want to do, for the past 10 years. Life is funny, huh?

Till tomorrow...


1/18/07 -Thursday: MORE ZELDA...

So, I'm in the 7th dungeon at this point. The design of the dungeon is very innovative, and at one point, I was pretty sure what item I was going to get. All you Zelda fans know the dungeon paradigm. You come across doors/items/areas/etc. that you cannot get to, and you know that you will get an item that will allow you to come back and finally get it. That's the first lesson in Zelda Dungeon Design - 101:)

Well, when I ended up getting the item, I was mentally scratching my head for a few seconds, as I was totally not expecting it. Turns out, this new item was actually another item that I thought it would be cool to have, just in another place in the world. Heh, now I know where I will be going after this dungeon:)

Till tomorrow...


1/17/07 -Wednesday: INTO THE NWN2 TOOLSET I GO!

Okay... It's been like 3 months... It's time for me to checkout this monster they call the Electron engine. I had previously messed around with it, but that was more out of curiosity than anything else.

With version 1.3, the damn thing doesn't crash anymore (for me at least), so I can leave it open, and go do something else for 20 minutes, and don't have to worry about losing my work.

It's a little slow to startup, but that makes sense, as it is obviously more powerful than the Aurora engine. I may end up upgrading to 2GB of Ram at some point, just to speed things up a bit.

Till tomorrow...


1/16/07 -Tuesday: MORE BRAINSTORMING...

So, over the weekend, I did a bit of brainstorming for more of the story in the world of the Rose of Eternity. This particular section encompasses the story for what I have deemed, Chapter 4.

Before I go on, it's important that I reiterate something very important... From the beginning of development back when I was right out of high school, we always had the general template of the main story. We always knew that the game would be split up into 3 main chapters, the first one dealing with the story of Aramus, the second 2, taking place 20 years later. This is nothing new...

Now, creating this game with the Aurora Toolset posed a bunch of problems, but the main one was that I had to split up the first main Chapter into sub-chapters (i.e. Chapter 1 - The Coming, Chapter 2 - Cry The Beloved). Oh well, you gotta do what you gotta do.

That said, because of some of the things that changed in the story while developing my first 2 games, the beginning of the story of Chapter 4 (or the real Chapter 2, however you want to look at it) has changed a bit. In fact, the last month of development for Cry The Beloved, I was listening to some new music that I knew I would want to use in Chapter 4. That was when the real change began to take place.

So now, two of the new characters are really fleshed out. In fact, one of said characters is totally new, as they were the bi-product of another character I came up with towards the middle of development of Cry The Beloved. Furthermore, I have finally come up with a beginning sequence that I really like. You know, something that will really set the tone for the rest of the game. In fact, the entire theme of the beginning of this chapter is alluded to in Cry The Beloved, for those that want more information:) So, if you couldn't tell, I am really, really excited about this part of the story... However...

... I am still in love with what I want to do with Chapter 3... What has me excited about this is the fact that I can continue the direct storylines of all the established characters you all met in the first 2 chapters. I'm sure everyone wants to know what happened to Challseus, as well as Auden & Raina. I know people want to see more of Kira Allendry, as well as see the famed city, Stramadon. And hell, I am excited to implement it!

Now, I'm not going to go into the whole debate over what chapter I will do, and what platform I will do it for (that's another debate for another time). I'm much too tired from that. But, what I will do is continue to flesh out these stories (especially Chapter 4, since it isn't as developed at Chapter 3), just to cover all the bases...

Till tomorrow...



... I'm loving every minute of it! This is very monumental for me. Let's take a look at the last games I have played in the 21 century:

  • Final Fantasy XII (2006)
  • Dragon Quest VIII (2005)
  • World of Warcraft (2005)
  • Final Fantasy XI (2004)
  • Warcraft III (2002-2003)
  • Dark Age of Camelot (2001)
  • Everquest (2001)
  • Final Fantasy IX (2001)
  • Majora's Mask (2001)
  • Skies of Arcadia (2001)
  • Grandia 2 (2001)
  • Chrono Cross (2000)

Before I go on, I have to comment on something I just thought of as I was writing that list... I apparantly have an obsession with RPG's:) Okay, moving on... So, the games on that list are games that have been for the most part, well received throughout the world. However, none of these games really had the magic Twilight Princess has had, not even Majora's Mask. Hell, I only actually beat 3 out of 11 of those games. No, granted, the MMORPG's on there cannot be beaten, per se, but I sure as hell didn't get into the higher levels in them. Even the latest game, Final Fantasy XII, started to lose steam towards the end. And that was after I hyped it up like crazy 2 months ago! And for the record, it took me 2 and a half months to get to 30 hours into Final Fantasy XII, and I did that in one week with Twilight Princess. Doesn't that tell you something?

Here's another thing that is interesting. I haven't been interested in side quests and mini games within games since oddly enough, The Legend of Zelda - A Link To The Past (SNES). Heh, those were the days. It was back in 1991, and I was 11 years old. I used to search the lands of Hyrule up and down, looking for every secret. Especially the heart container pieces. I actually had a map of the overworld, which was pretty big. Everytime I found a secret, I would take a piece of loose lead notebook paper, write down some little note, and then use some scotch tape to tape it to the map. That way, the next time I played, I could remember where the secret was. Even after beating the game, I played for months and months afterwards, trying to find all the secrets, all the heart container pieces, all the bottles, etc. Great times.

What did I do today in Twilight Princess, you ask? Well, the same thing I was doing back in 1991. I was riding my hourse all over Hyrule Fields, looking for secrets:) And I found a ton too! I also spent about 3 hours playing this new mini-game. You see, I am in this new dungeon, and I am stuck, and instead of bashing my head against the wall, I decided to make it a side quest day. Man, the amount of secrets they have crammed into this game is crazy. There is a reason why the game took 4 years to make.

So, long story short, after 43 some odd hours of playtime, things are still fresh, and I am not bored at all... In fact, I would rather stay home from work tomorrow, and play all day:)

Till tomorrow...


1/14/07 -Sunday: SEASON PREMIERE OF 24!!!

Well, it's been a long time coming, but the newest season of 24 finally started. I became a die-hard fan about 2 years ago, and haven't looked back. Currently, the only season I haven't seen is Season 3. I'm sure I will be able to get it from somebody...

It's like an event at my house, so dinner has to be ready exactly by 7:45, giving us enough time to fill our plates and get in front of the TV.

It's just too bad it only comes on once a week:(

Till tomorrow...


1/13/07 -Saturday: EDDIE MURPHY IS BACK!!!

So, I finally went to see Dreamgirls today, and for the most part, it was good. Eddie Murphy however, stole the movie, in my opinion.

I'm a real big fan of the early Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop series, 48 hours, Another 48 hours, Trading Places, Harlem Nights, Coming to America, Boomerand, etc.), so it was great to see him back in the limelight, doing his thing. Plus, he is up for a Golden Globe award for best supporting character, so here's hoping:)

Till tomorrow...



My sleep patterns are so ridiculous... During the week, I get like 5 hours of sleep a night. During the weekend (or days where I don't have to go to work), I get like 10-12. Heh, I guess everything adds up at the end of the week, some way or another.

In terms of what I did today, there was nothing spectacular. Just the normal work thing, from home, that is.

I had wanted to go to the movies tonight, but things didn't work out. One way or another, I will see Dreamgirls...

Till tomorrow...


1/11/07 -Thursday: ANOTHER FALLEN SOLDIER...

Heh, what a surprise... Someone else is leaving the company:) The longer I am in this industry, the more I simply get used to it. Remember, this is technically my first job in the software industry, and in those 2 years, I have seen too many leave.

It's funny, but one of my co-workers used to tell me all the time that the only way to get a good raise in this industry is to switch jobs every 2 years. You can only expect a 4-8% raise every year, whereas if you go to a new company, you can get more than 20%. And, for the most part, it's true. That is the reason why he is making 6 figures already!

For the record, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I have a different agenda than most of my co-workers. They look at programming as their life... They look at it like it is what they will do for the rest of their lives. I look at it like a stepping stone to bigger and better things. So, everything people tell me doesn't always apply to me. So yeah, I could leave jobs and get something that pays higher, but hell, it isn't always about the money. Plus, the benefits I get at my current job are too good to throw away, considering what I do on the side. In short, I'm not going anywhere at the moment... Do I have some plans up my sleeve? Of course! I'm just not ready to show my cards yet...

Till tomorrow...



...Unfortunately, I have to go into work tomorrow. Usually, I work from home on Thursdays, but some of my co-workers and I are going to have lunch with an old co-worker, who left the company last summer.

It actually works in favor of me, because now I will work from home on Friday, essentially giving me 4 days in a row where I can get good sleep, since we have off on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. day.

I just have to get through one more day... But, only getting on average, 5 hours of sleep a night, it's going to be tough. Yeah, I'm still on the god-forsaken sleep routine I was on while developing my games. I stay up way too late, because I am just not tired. It's like my body expects to be doing some programming that late at night:) Oh well, it'll pass...



So, I'm 25 hours into the game (damn real job is cutting into my play time this week!), and still loving every second of it.


So, I finally was able to figure out this puzzle in order to receive the famed, Master Sword. Man, talk about accomplishments! I really felt like after everything I had been through in the previous made me really deserve it. The feeling was simply superb. Plus, with the dramatic cut-scene and music that was playing, it felt that much more epic.

Soon after I received the sword, I received an item that would let me transform from/to a wolf whenever I wanted to. Previously, I could only do it when I entered a Twilight area. This obviously opened up a lot of possibilities, as there were many areas when I was running around as a human where I would find areas I knew I could only get to if I was a wolf. So, I spent a few hours going back to said areas.

Eventually, I found myself in the 4th dungeon of the game. It started off quite easy, but I eventually got stuck for about an hour. The crazy thing about this game is the feeling you get when you figure out that something that was holding you back was in fact really easy, as the answer was in right in front of your face. This exact scenario happened today, but nonetheless, I was glad to have gotten through it. Then, the fun and innovative and "Holy Shit!" sequence came.

So, all dungeons always have some secret item that you find which will help you finish the 2nd half of the dungeon. It's simply the Zelda paradigm. Well, to be honest, in the first 3 dungeons, I had a good idea of what those items were going to be. In this one, however, I literally had no idea, until I finally received it, that is:) So, I'm not really too good at explaining things, so please bear with me...

...This new item is essentially a hover pad. When you jump on it, you will be elevated ever so slightly, allowing you to hover over water and sand pits and whatnot. If you jump while using it, you will hope a foot or so, and spikes will come out of the sides of it, damaging any nearby enemies. Now, for the real cool part... So, the hover pad's shape is that of a gear. If you happen to use it near these "rail" type threads in walls, you can connect to them, and follow the "rail", while spinning around. So, let's say that there are 2 platforms, separated by a long pit, which you can't jump across. Now, let's say that there is a rail track on the wall that goes across the pit. Simply use this new item, and you will be able to cross over easily. But, that's not all!

While on these rail tracks, you can jump left and right. So, if you are following a rail track on a left wall, and it is about to end, but you see a new set of rail tracks on a wall to the right of you, you can jump off the one track to the next track, and keep going. Now, you can obviously imagine how they use this in cool ways. For instance, sometimes while you are on a rail track, there may be an enemy on the track as well, that you cannot kill, forcing you to jump to a new track. Also, the tracks don't just stay one elevation. Much like the threads of a screw, they raise ever so slightly in elevation, allowing you to reach places 4 stories high.

Now, imagine huge ass rooms with multiple rail tracks everywhere, with lots of bottomless pits, enemies on said tracks, and all of this spanning multiple stories. *Drools* Yep, another "This is the best game I have ever played!" moment. The variety of gameplay is absurd...

Oh, and as a minor note, I got a new fighting skill as well. I can now attack enemies with my shield, which will leave them stunned for a few seconds, allowing me to get a strike in with my sword. This is useful against enemies that have their own shields, which block every sword swing I make. I truly hope the sword fighting sequences get even more elaborate as the game continues.


Till tomorrow...


1/9/07 -Tuesday: MY NEW PROJECT AT WORK...

Well, it looks like I won't be able to weasel my way out of this new project at work, unfortunately... I guess I'll just have to man up and just get it over with.

For the record, I have stated many times to people that their expectations on when it will be delivered are grossely inaccurate, but as always, the business side thinks they can determine how long a programming project will take. They'll find out, sooner or later:)

Till tomorrow...



Man, going to work was really difficult. The entire time, I just sit there and think about getting home to play Zelda. Another sure sign of a classic game (in my opinion).

In fact, when I got up, I laid in bed for about 10 minutes, trying to come up with little excuses for how I shouldn't go to work:) In the end, I did the responsible thing, and went into work. I do seem to be flying through the game, so I should try to space things out just a little bit... Perhaps I will be able to pick up a Wii by the time I am done, so I can go through it again with the new controls.

Till tomorrow...



So, I don't even know where to start, so I will just state the obvious. The Legend of Zelda - Twilight Princess is without a shred of doubt the BEST video game I have ever played... There, I said it, and dammit, I mean it!

Before I even get into what makes this game great, perhaps I should talk about the main thing that tells me this game is so great... I am already 18 hours into! For reference, Final Fantasy XII, which is also a great game took me weeks to get that far. With this game, nothing else matters, not even food... The last time I spent this much time playing game for consectutive hours was with a little game called, The Legend of Zelda - The Ocarina of Time. Yeah, seems Nintendo & Shigeru Miyamoto know what they are doing.


Simply put, this is how you make a game. You know, tons of reviewers kept talking about how long the game was, and how you always felt like you were doing something new, and dammit, they are right. So, I am already 18 hours into the game, and I am only on the 3RD DUNGEON! This is very significant for 2 reasons. One, it shows how much time they put into the story of the game that takes place between the dungeons, and two, that this game is HELLA long (I know that there are supposed to be 9 full dungeons).

But getting back to this concept of constanly giving you new things to do, most people would think that at 18 hours, there would have been a lot of repetitve content. Come on now, we all know how people extend the length of games by adding in filler and whatnot. Well, I haven't experienced this yet. Hell, there isn't even that much backtracking, thanks to a nifty warping system. And when you can't warp, you can always hop on your trusty steed (more on that later!).

One of the things some people say about the game is that the graphics are a bit dated. This is very true, especially when it comes to the way they render textures of walls, ceilings, and floors. But, the artistic style of the graphics more than makes up for this. There are so many times where I just stop and rotate the camera around, just to look at my surroundings, and how cool they look. Especially the outdoor areas, such as Hyrule Field and Lake Hylia. Speaking of which...

...Running around in Hyrule Field is just as cool as it was in The Legend of Zelda - The Ocarina of Time. The difference here is that the music is better, the graphics better, and the overall size of it is about 5-6 times as big. Which brings me to my next point. The scope of this game is simple ridiculous... Perhaps I have been playing NWN for too damn long, but being able to run around in huge fully realized areas, with minor transitions is just wonderful. And true to their good game design, getting around all of these huge areas in a cinch, since you start out with your horse early on in the game. Plus, there are so many different secrets hidden around these huge areas, that you just want to explore every nook and cranny, and that is significant for me, because that is not usually my play style. Well, it hasn't been my style since I was a young kid, but honestly, I feel like a kid again when I play this game. I feel like every half and hour or so, I am mentally saying, "Holy shit! That is so freaking cool." Heh, I know I have been pissing off my girlfriend, because whenever she is at the house and I am playing, I am constantly interupting whatever she is doing so that I can show her something in the game.

Another thing I have to comment on is the music and SFX. The music in Zelda games has always been good, but not Final Fantasy great. It's still not there, but I have to admit, when certain pieces come on, I sit and listen to them for 5 minutes or so. Now, the sound effects are really, really great. From all the sound Link makes, whether he is slashing enemies, falling off a cliff, or opening up a door, it's just very cool and realistic. Especially when he is turn into a wolf...

...Oh, did I fail to mention that? :) Yeah, the main plot device in the game is that under certain circumstances, Link turns into a wolf. When this happens, it's like a whole new game. He can obviously run fast, use his claws and teeth as weapons, and can even hone his senses to pick up scents and track down certain people. It's not just some thing they slopped together. They definitely thought out everything. And of course, controlling Link as a wolf is as intuitive as all the other controls in the game...

...Yeah, it shouldn't be surprising anymore about how well the controls feel. But damn, it is just SO DAMN FUN to control Link in the game. Especially in combat, with all of the various items you get in the game. Any veteran of the game will instantly be at home. I particular like when I am participating in horse combat and get knocked off of my horse. If I run to it from behind, and press the button to get on, I can immediately jump on it from behind, racing off at the same time. Man, sometimes, it's just the little things.

I guess the main thing that keeps this game entertaining is the variety of things that happen throughout your quest. As I said before, you never really feel as if you are doing the same mundane tasks over and over again. Every experience (again, I am only 18 hours into the game) seems very unique and special. I personally tried to use this game design philosophy with Cry The Beloved, though I am not sure how well it came out. But, I tried to have all experiences in the game different from the rest, so you would go from being in Dematol trying to get out, to the Dungeon of Summons solving various puzzles, to East Shinkara Forest trying to fight enemies admist the Boundary that slowly depletes your life, to storming Fort Brigance, to feeling the Danue Mountains before they exploded. Well, I tried at the very least:)

As an idea, here is a recap (of what I can remember) of the unique things I did in Twilight Princess:

  • Use blades a grass to create a makeshift horn, which I used to call down a hawk. Once I had this hawk, I could send it in any direction I wanted, so that it could pick up items I could not reach.
  • Use my horse to herd sheep into a barn.
  • Do a bit of light fishing.
  • Use a lamp to light my way in areas where I actually needed it to survive.
  • Get turned into a wolf, and have to learn a whole new set of skills, such as dashing, leap slashing, digging, picking up the trails of people, and talking to other animals.
  • Go through Forest Dungeon, and receive Gale Boomerang, which can be used to generate wind, useful for changing the directions of platforms.
  • Do some sumo wrestling!
  • Get some cool metal boots that allow me to walk on magnetic walls and ceilings, as well as be carried around upside down by swinging magentic platforms. I CANNOT stress how cool that was.
  • Get a new sword skill that allows me to use a leaping stab skill to finish off wounded enemies.
  • Be able to combine bombs and arrows to make explosive arrows. What?! Who the hell came up with that! So freaking cool!
  • Took part in boss fight that occurred in Hyrule Field, where I got to really dabble in combat while on my horse. One of the most exhilarating things I have ever done in a game... Period...
  • Taking control of those Lord of the Ring like flying creatures, allowing me to fly upstream around Lake Hylia. Not some cut-scene where I am flown automatically, mind you. I was actually able to control it!
  • Protecting a wagon traveling across Hyrule Field to Kakariko Village. More comabt on my horse, but even better than before! It was very cool to use my spinning slash to attack the attacks of the wagon, knocking them off their horse, only to get off of my own horse, to finish them off. Then, running to my horse from behind, jumping on, and speeding off to catch up with the wagon, to fend off more attacks. It was at this point that I thought about not going to work the next day:) And hey, remember the Galde Boomerang I mentioned before? Heh, I could use it to put out the fires on the wagon (oh yeah, the attackers were using flame arrows to take down the wagon). Man, Nintendo thought of everything!
  • Fully realized jousting. When I say fully realized, I mean you get to actually control every aspect of it, down to knowing when to move out of the way, as well as slash.
  • Getting a new suit, that allows me to swim underwater. Now, all of those areas around Lake Hylia were open to me to explore. Did that for 1 hour alone:) Even cooler, I found some new types of bombs, that could be used underwater.
  • Explored the latest incarnation of the famed Water Temple from The Ocarina of Time.
  • Experience a very emotional scene where the sky is dark and full of rain, while trying to sneak into Hyrule Castle. Oh yeah, I was a wolf at this point:)
  • Trying to solve a very interesting puzzle in order to get the famed Master Sword. At the time I wrote this, I have yet to solve this puzzle:)

So yeah, I don't know what else to say. This is all in the first 18 hours of the game, and I am leaving out a bunch of stuff, like the complexity of the dungeons I have explored. For any Zelda fan out there, this is the definitive Zelda adventure. For those who never played any Zelda, I am sure I cannot change your minds, but know that The Legend of Zelda - The Ocarina of Time (1998) is widely known around the world to be the best game ever created. Not just the best Nintendo game, or adventure game, but best game of all time... Period... I was one of those that held this same thought, and at this point, I think The Legend of Zelda - Twilight Princess is even better. I haven't felt like this is such a long time... *Wipes tear from eye* Thank you for making my life that much better, Shigeru Miyamoto...

Till tomorrow...



So, I couldn't wait anymore... I just couldn't wait to beat Final Fantasy XII before picking up The Legend of Zelda - Twilight Princess. Hell, I didn't even wait to get a Wii to play it, as they released it for the Gamecube as well (it was originally for said system).

I have actually been debating this for some time now, but last night, I said "screw it". I knew that this could be one of the best gaming experiences of my life, and I only have so much will power when it comes to games like this, as I don't play that many games these days.

Has it lived up to the hype? Find out tomorrow:)

Till tomorrow...



So, as I mentioned many times before, I just finished major development of an enhancement to our Mapquest Mobile app at work. The actual work itself wasn't that bad, but the people managing things just stressed the hell out of me.

Anyway, there is a new project coming up, that these same people think I will be working on. I am making it point to make sure I don't work on it, if not for anything else, because I don't feel like working on any high priority tasks at the moment.

Well, let's just say the particular person who is managing the project has different ideas for what I will doing, although she hasn't actually come out and say it yet. Ah, the politics of work. It's worse than high school...

Till tomorrow...


1/4/07 -Thursday:  THE YEAR IN REVIEW (PART 4)...

The Release... (October)

Man oh man, what a month... As I feverishly worked on the game in hopes of getting it out before NWN, I could breathe a slight sigh of relief when I found out that NWN2 had been pushed back to the end of the month.

And yet, the stress and pressure remained:( I have to imagine I was pretty hard to work with at this point. There were bug threads from months ago that I hadn't even fixed yet, there was still edits I needed to get in (Jason had already done the hard work of making the edits). I was still trying to optimize the game for people will slower machines as well, which in retrospect, was the reason for the majority of my stress. I have learned a very, very good lesson when it comes to trying to support various machine configurations: Make games for consoles! :)

But seriously, it really was a strain. I have lost count on the amount of times I played through the game myself, just to make sure everything was perfect. And, this is a pretty long game, so you can imagine how it felt to be going through the Dungeon of Summons for the 6th time in 2 days:)

In the last days, things just came together, however. Everyone on the team was clicking, and doing a ton of stuff that to this day I am still amazed by. In fact, they are one of things that allowed me to keep my sanity... They really came through in the clutch with their support, and this was seen the day the game went gold. I will never forget that night/morning...

On 10/11/06, I had just finished my latest playthrough session, as did Jason. The only difference was, he found a plot breaking bug that I did not. Luckily, I knew the fix, as it was a bi-product of a bug I had fixed earlier that morning. So, I made the fix, and then knew I was going to be going through the game again. There was no way around it. You just don't fix a major bug, and then assume the game will work. So, at around 12:00 am or so, I sat down, to start my little run through again.

When I finished my run at 5:00 am (turns out, I didn't actually have to go through the entire game), I was amazed to see new posts at the forums (or maybe it was my email) where Jason and Alistair were confirming that they finished their latest playthrough, and that the game was finally bug free (well, as bug free as we were going to get it). Alistair is 12 hours ahead of me, so being 5:00 pm, that was understandable, but Jason is in my time zone, so props to him for being up that late. Hell, even Oli was up, scolding me to make sure to take a long vacation after the release (I would obviously take her up on her advice!). I don't, it's weird, but having all of those things happen at the same, when it came time to actually submit the game, a sense a peace came over me. The nervousness subsided. After hitting that final upload button at NWVault, I had the best sleep I had had in the past 30 months...


1/3/07 -Wednesday:  THE YEAR IN REVIEW (PART 3)...


So, the month started off in a way that gave me a little kick in the butt to try to wrap the game up. My friends, Alex aka Hugie, and Luke aka Alazander released their latest games, Art of Death & AL3 - Tyrants of the Moonsea. At this point, I told myself that it was my turn. Man, if I only knew...

Some highlights of the month included winning the NWVault 2005 Module of the Year Silver Award for The Coming, as well as putting the finishing touches on the opening intro cut-scene (a mainstay in the series now).

The rest of the month was basically a month of polish...


This month started off like the last ones did, as I thought this would be the last month of development, yadda, yadda, yadda... Again, just tons of polish to an already pretty solid game.

I was doing other work that unfortunately, I was not able to disclose to anyone, including the development team (sorry guys!). I had been in Alan Miranda (CEO of Ossian Studios) and was able to help them beta their cancelled premium module, Darkness over Daggerford.

I did not tell anyone at the time, but I put an incredible amount of time into that work, and it pushed back the release of Cry The Beloved by at least a week or so. In the end though, I am glad I was able to help them out, being the fine folks that they are:)



This month started out very weird. Remember all of those epilogue cut-scenes at the end of the game? Well, I actually was able to do them all while on vacation, while developing on my old desktop (hard drive had crashed in laptop. It was without a doubt the quickest I ever knocked out high quality cut-scenes, on a slow machine at that!

The theme of the month, which would carry over to the last day of development was that of stress... There is no other way I can put it. I hated doing what I was doing, I felt like I was going to have a stroke at least 8 times a day, and I couldn't wait for it to end.

I mean, for 29 months up until this point, my entire life was dedicated to Rose of Eternity. I was now really starting to miss the better things in life.

The icing on the cake happened at the end of the month. Some of the team, like Gravelooter & Jason started giving me reports of cut-scenes not firing, lag in certain areas, etc. In general, performance issues. I knew I was about to release the game, and now this!

I never told anyone this at the time, but for 2 days, I contemplated scrapping everything... Of course, everyone on the team must know my personality by now, and after making a hastily written thread in the forums asking for help on some benchmarking tests, I am sure they all knew I was on the verge of cracking as well...


1/2/07 -Tuesday:  THE YEAR IN REVIEW (PART 2)...


This month started out pretty good, as I was interviewed by the local newspaper, the Poughkeepsie Journal. It was great to sit down and talk to someone face to face, not just answer some pre-written questionaire. A very cool experience indeed.

So, this was also another month where I thought I was near the end of development (this happened too many time to count). This was also the month where I talked about how I wanted to do a different style of RPG, where there would be parts of the game where characters sing, Disney style. Not the silly ones, but the serious ones. I still think about this idea everyday, but this is definitely something I could only do if I had my own studio and tons of money!

This was also the first time (of many) where I had issues with my laptop. I believe I lost 5 days of dev time because of it. I also knew at this point that NWN2 was supposed to come out in September, so I felt like I had a little breathing room.

In terms of development, I had started and finished work on the entire Stramadon sequence. This wasn't actually planned at the beginning, but it just snuck in there:) I was also receiving a large amount of artwork from Oli and Jonathan.

Oh, and my confidence was still pretty high. I wasn't having any of those "I just want this shit to end!" moments yet...


So, the month started out with me talking about something I wouldn't stop talking about until after I released Cry The Beloved: How much lower the rating was going to be, compared to The Coming. I obviously know better now, but I am a very pessimistic person. Also, I was beginning to think that these very daily updates were going to hype the game to the point where it would never live up to people's expectations.

This was also the month that Rose of Eternity was featured in PC Gamer as one of 6 "must play NWN modules". Others on the list were Black Thorn (El Dano), HeX coda (Stefan Gagne), Shadowlords/Dreamcatcher/Demon Series (Adam Miller), Tales Of Arterra Series (Kevin Chan), and Twilight / Midnight (Rick Buron). Pretty good company, if I say so myself:)

I continued to have laptop issues, and was forced was to do a lot of development on my old gaming rig from 2001. I was knee deep in the development of the 3rd and 4th floors of the Dungeon of Summons, which explains why the performance in there is pretty decent, considering I had to calibrate it on such an old machine. So, sort of a gift and curse situation... In fact, the main theme of this month was work on the dungeon. The puzzle system in particular was a bug chunk of the work, as was the final battle on the 4th floor, including the cut-scenes and everything.

Finally, Oli sent me a finished version of the Keeper Of The Rose, which was the icing on the cake. All in all, despite a few heacaches, it was a good month...



So, this month started out like others, where I would proclaim that I was "almost there", and that I just needed to really focus to finish everything. Interestingly though, I never ever gave any release dates. Well, sort of. I did have this part on the download page where it would say something like "Coming Winter 2006", or something like that. As development kept getting push back, I would keep changing the season of the release, hoping no one would notice:) No one said anything, so who knows...

I also released ALPHA V0.60 this month, which was pretty significant, because there would only be one more release of an alpha. Now, one thing that would happen throughout development is that when I released alpha's, there would be a lot of activity on the dev forums, and when there was no alpha, things would be quiet. Well, as expected, things picked up again, and it would actually stay consistent until the release of the game.

Everyone pithced in, whether it be writing dialogue, editing dialogue, or just looking for bugs. I have said it time and time again, but without the help of everyone, I might have gone mad:)

And yet, thoughout everything that was going on, secretly I was still very stressed... Would I be able to get this game out before Neverwinter Nights 2?


1/1/07 -Monday:  THE YEAR IN REVIEW (PART 1)...

Well, another year has gone by, and in that year, I accomplished a great many things that I had only dreamed about. As expected, a lot of good things happened in the year, along with a lot of bad. Luckily, I can learn from the bad, and improve upon it this year. Now, I am not the type to dwell on the past and have any regrets. I'm not sure when this state of mind came about really, but it is what I have been feeling nonetheless. I mean, I will look to the past to fondly remember things (who doesn't!) and whatnot, but I will never say, "Damn, I wish I didn't do this!". At the end of the day, I am still alive, and have a great life, and that is all that matters. So, for now, no regrets in life for me:)

That said, let's take a look together, and remember this past year, month by month:


Ah, the start of 2006. At this point, development on Cry The Beloved had been going on for roughly 5 1/2 months. I had also just gotten over what would be the first of several stress related issues. In fact, early in the month, I came up with a plan to better streamline the development process, and also keep my sanity (though I didn't explicitly mention the latter). The bulleted list included things like getting to sleep earlier, leaving work on time, only doing trivial tasks on the train, developing more on train and less at home, and knowing when to quit. Though I would slip here and there, I more or less stayed within the constraints of this new guideline.

In terms of where I was development wise, I was working on the following areas: Aribine (revisited), East Shinkara Forest, and Khal Rock. I also was able to get cut-scene skipping functionality working, which before that time, had been the bane of my existance, as it seemed every person who played The Coming wanted to be able to skip the cut-scenes. I also released a couple versions of the ALPHA to the team, though I seem to remember I missed the deadline a few times:(

I guess the biggest thing that happened though was when I found out that I was a finalist in the 2006 IGF Modding Competition. I don't think I really told many people that I submitted The Coming, but I was very, very pleased to hear I was a finalist. Little did people know at the time, I was scared to DEATH about the entire experience. I did NOT want to fly out to San Jose, as I was scared of flying, and I was also scared at the possibility of having to give a speech in front of a bunch of people if I won. Yeah, I know, I'm just a big baby:)


So, things start positively this month. As always, I had the idea of getting Cry The Beloved out before NWN2. I believe that at this time, all we knew about the release date was the summer of 2006 (ha!). I even thought I could get the game out by May 2006 (double ha!).

In terms of development, I did work on Bannerman Path, Bannerman Hill, the barracks on Bannerman Hill, Lord Montolio's secret chamber, and the Sanctuary. Yeah, I was busy:) I mean, this included doing a ton of cut-scenes, as well as a ton of boss fights, including Kuren, Aloia, and the part where the enemies keep coming into the barracks. I can't rememeber, but I am sure that I added a lot of new abilities as well...


Man, this was one hell of a month, let me tell you. This was the month that I would go to San Jose for the Game Developer's Conference. As you all know, I was up for an award of the Developer's Choice Awards. Now, to reiterate, I was scared to death of flying, and the possibilty of having to get up in front of a bunch of people and talk.

Well, the first part (the flying) worked out pretty good. We flew Jet Blue, and I was so facisnated by the fact that each seat had a TV, that I sort of forgot about plummeting to a fiery death. Well, it wasn't that simple. On the way there, there was mild turbulance, which obviously freaked me out a lot. But, after a few of those small bottles of wine, I was more relaxed, and hell, I even passed out for a bit while I tried to do some game development. Heh, just like on the train:)

So, once we arrived, I had one more fear that I might of had to conquer, and we all know what that was. In fact, I couldn't even ejoy the first day I was there at all. It was horrible:( Well, the day of the awards, I was showing off my game and whatnot, met MadWombat of Runes of Blood fame (he was nominated as well), and sort of made it through the day. When I went over to the place where the awards were going to be held, I actually contemplated turning around. Here I was thinking it would be juist a few hundred people, not a few THOUSAND! Luckily, the first set of awards they handed out were for mods, and the Neverwinter Nights category came up second. When they called my name and I walked up the podium, I just froze when I stared out at the thousands of people and cameras flashing in my eyes and whatnot. I then mumbled something, and walked off stage. So, I didn't really conquer the fear, but I did what I had to:)

Now, I have known this for some time, but the actual video of the show is floating around on the internet. I tried to not say anything, but Todd's detective skills were better than I expected, so the cat is out of the bag, so to speak. I won't say where you can get it, but if you are persistant...

Till tomorrow...


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