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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Issue: Games: Lo Pan



A disturbingly long time ago I was a grommet in the City. One of my best buddies at the time was a Chinese grom that everybody called Lo Pan. The movie "Big Trouble in Little China" featured a crazy Chinese wizard ghost that had to marry a girl with green eyes to become corporeal. The crazy wizard ghost found two girls that fit the bill, and figured he may as well just wife up both.

Everybody called my buddy Lo Pan because like the wizard in the movie he pulled off double tricks like magic. He dialed salad to frontside flip outs at the pier 7 ledges when no one else thought it possible. And also he was crazy as fuck.

He was like a dervish, always, moving, talking, and laughing, especially at danger and misfortune. He was the type to skate 4 miles to the spot, throw down a 4 hour session, skate back home to Triple s (shit,shower,shave), head off to terrorize a show or rave all night, then wake up and do it all again.

His dad owned a restaurant up Cali st. over by Willie Woo Woo playground, and his family lived upstairs. I would ride over there to pick him up most mornings which was out of the way, but my reward was the best dim-sum I have ever had in my life. I skated with Lo a lot and was always broke, so the restaurant was like a second home for me.

His dad was just like him but different in that he was always moving and talking, but he only smiled or laughed when guests showed up, and never at us unless he actually meant it. Which only occurred on the few occasions we didn't let him down. he wanted Lo Pan to be interested in cooking, he wanted Lo to inherit the business because he was oldest, he wanted us both to work there, pleading that at the very least we would get spending cash for our puff puff (he would always pinch his fingers together to his lips when he said this), our jungle rap, or our street surfing.

He lectured us on responsibility, forever going on about how Chinese Americans had been marginalized in the City since the gold rush, and how Lo's generation was going to fuck it up for everybody because they think they are Gwai Lo now.

He would look at me and say, "And my brotha... what's goin on?" then he would shake his head dismissively while singing that old Marvin Gaye song. He truly believed he could sing, he said that he could have been a professional singer in China if he didn't have to leave, but the American ear wasn't refined enough to appreciate his tone and pitch. We were pretty sure all the heat from that kitchen had made him crazy.

The new Mayor of the city looks a lot like Lo's dad, not in a racist all "Asians look alike" way, more in the way he smiles.        

  

Friday, November 11, 2011

Issue: People: Think Lateral



A little while ago that computer company named after a fruit hired a guy to find vulnerabilities in their software, then fired the guy for demonstrating vulnerabilities in their software. 

Another time a guy that writes about software wrote about the fruit companies software and got all of his stuff taken by computer cops because he mentioned that someone might be able to make the fruit companies product do more than it was designed to do.

The guy that planted the fruit company is dead, and a lot of people have a lot of stuff to say about him even though he is too dead to hear it. They say he was a duechbag that made a gazillion dollars by ripping off everybody else ideas, repainting them, and selling them with a bow on top. 

They also say he was crazy, as in count the steps to the door crazy, send the fish back over and over until the waitress takes the right path around the other tables crazy, and "Don't say a word to me, answer me when I'm talking to you," crazy.

I never met the guy, but I use some of his products. And I don't really care if a dead guy was crazy or not crazy. I knew a lot of dead down to earth gentlemen of good nature that didn't leave a soundtrack to a long ass buss ride, small enough to not attract attention yet large enough to hold every song I ever liked.

But that paranoia didn't seem to die with him and that sucks. They say he was always accusing someone of ripping him off like they said he ripped everybody else off, and subscribed to the idea of getting at them before they got the chance to screw him over.

The say he hated flash, now flash is dead, they say he preemptive hated people talking about or messing with his designs, and those people are being followed or fired. Around the end they say he thought the playground he helped build was getting too dangerous for its own good, and now people are building fences. Sounds like he loved his fruit company so much he decided to hang around as a ghost.

I think he had his time and did well with it. But sometimes when you are chasing horizons you forget that each step is supposed to help the next guy get there, if only because you are probably never going to see that horizon up close, and what to do with that horizon is a problem for one of those poor souls behind you.

Maybe the planter guy got so tripped up looking at his own feet he forgot he was in front. Either way I'm glad he tried, and left behind real life things that make everyone else's steps a bit more comfortable.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Issue: Games: Legends of the Fall



The leaves are changing and it's cooling off outside or so I hear (not that it matters with all the fall titles dropping soon).  But it always heats up around this time in the game industry as companies begin their crunchtime rush to get that Bratz title out the door. Which means the OT dinner bell is ringing, although the pickings are not as meaty as in old lang zine days. But hey you never know till ya iron that one wrinkled ass suit you own, and queue up in the cattle call.

Quality Assurance:
Gamasutra
Wired Talent
Nelson Staffing
Indeed


Other stuff:
THQ Carlsbad, California
Gameplay Programmer 
Animation Programmer 
Principal Technical Artist


Gearbox Software Plano, Texas
Senior Animator


Wizards of the Coast, LLC, Renton, Washington
Database Architect
Senior Business Manager


2K Marin, Novato, California
Storyboard Artist
Lead Character Modeler - 2K Marin
Level Builder


SuperBot Entertainment, Culver City, California
Senior UI Artist/Designer
Senior Combat Designer
Senior Visual Effects Artist



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Issue: People: Wavepools


A medium time ago I worked for the navy on an Aircraft Carrier. I was an aviation ordnance man, we dealt in bombs, guns, pyrotechnics, rockets, missiles, and torpedoes. But mostly we dealt in bombs.

WESTPAC is a portmanteau of "Western-Pacific." It's also a six month cruise around the world the Navy and Marines take. It was WESTPAC for us because our boats port of call was in San Diego, it was probably named something else for boats parked elsewhere.

Middle eastern terrorists blew up a couple buildings with airplanes prior to my first cruise. The Navy responded by launching every boat they owned, packed to the brim with every weapon they could find towards the middle east. Chief said our orders were to bomb the shit out of the middle east until somebody told us who did it.

We packed land based squadrons and their airplanes, helicopters, bombs, and guns on the boat anywhere they would fit, the process was a billion dollar game of Tetris. After everything was stowed the boat became a cave city. My first port call was in an Arab emirate city named Dubai.

Dubai had been selling us gas for a long time and knew how the Navy would respond to what happened, so they called immediately afterwards to say "It wasn't me," and to come hang out in Dubai when we got a break from bombing the middle east. The Navy took them for their word, we stopped in Dubai whenever we found ourselves in the area.

The day before port call Chief lectured us on what they referred to as "Amateur Night." They called it that because salty old crabs knew exactly what E-nothings would run toward the second our feet touched dirt, because they had ran toward the same thing thirty years ago.

I started playing Pokemon Silver during the cruise. My favorite part of silver was the new internal clock feature that kept track of the current time and day of the week. Besides port call it was the only way I stayed aware of time or day out to sea. I captured Raikou while chief was yelling something about discipline when representing country, service, and unit. I thought it was a big deal at the time because Raikou was legendary.

Shore leave rule required each sailor to have a buddy tag along with him just in case one of them went to jail, but everyone I knew already had a buddy or had to work the day I was off, so I just hung in the general area of other people that were leaving the boat until I was far enough from it to head out my own way.

I hopped into a cab and asked the driver to drop me off at a place where I could find booze or chicks or any other type of ill shit he could think of that locals don't get to see. He dropped me off at a waterpark, almost every single person in the waterpark was from my boat. I was pissed.

I mitigated the disappointment of seeing everyone I was trying to get away from on dry land by drinking anything alcoholic that wandered into my atmosphere as fast as I could. Turns out everybody else on the boat was executing the same plan.

Two hours later we all were totally sloshed. We were cannon balling on kids training with floaties in the big pool, threatening and harassing anyone with something to say about how we were living, and then with all other harassment targets exhausted we turned on each other, adult Navy and Marines personell in bathing suits fist fighting in waist high wading pools. We were party boy locusts.

I had somehow stumbled near the Wavepool and instantly convinced myself that it would be child's play for me considering my skateboarding background. I figured boogie boarding was basically surfing which was basically skateboarding. I would hop in there, do a couple fraggleflips or hang ten, or whatever they call their tricks that I was going pull off eazy because I was drunk. And when it comes to action sports the secret is never take time to think about what you are doing, because thinking will make you kick out.

I was gonna put on brief a quick swagger seminar to get juices loose in the nether regions of every chick in sight, then take my harem to a secure area for a bit of guts spelunking. After about an hour of waiting in line I hopped in the curl and immediately lost the board, then my bathing shorts. As I spun uncontrollably in the pipe I caught brief glances of them floating in the air.

A fleeting thought mentioned I was buck naked and spinning around the wave in a country with incredibly severe indecency laws, but other than that I didn't think much for the rest of the day. A lifeguard had to guide me out of the wave with a hook, and when I stood to flat ground I bowed toward my silently shocked audience. Although the performance wasn't all it could have been as it was hella cold in the water and a breeze had set in before I got out. Not an excuse, a fact.

Park security tackled me and held me in detainment until the military police came to get me. I spent the rest of that port call on restriction. But didn't mind so much as the boat was finally quiet, and I had all the time in the world to level my Raikou. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Issue: Games: Modifications


A mod (modification) is a term used in personal computer gaming. A mod creates new content for a previously released title through items, weapons, characters, enemies, models, levels, music, story line, and game mode. Mods can currently be made by the public or a developer, but require the user to have the original release in order to run, as mods are not standalone software.

PC modding has been around since the mid 80's through Boulder Dash and Bards Tale Construction kits, and PC games are now designed with thought given to future modifications as seen in the Elder Scrolls Construction Set which shipped through Morrowind.

I've been playing Morrowind since July of 2003 and haven't beaten it yet, because people have been adding to the story the whole damn time. Another guy that ran into the same problem decided to collect them all in one place to make it easier for everybody to keep up.

A lot of bugs can slip through the cracks when everybody is able to toss their two cents in, so another poor soul still kicking around Morrowind decided to go ahead and fix all of the issues people had been tripping over through a patch.

A patch is computer code that tells it's targets code to get it together and function properly, or to make a left turn this time instead of right. And it turned out pretty good, it fixed a couple hundred bugs that players had been looking to see gone before the developer had managed to, one less thing I guess.

The company that made Morrowind has a new game on the bubble, and seeing it everywhere had me looking all rose tinted toward its elder, even though when I pop in games from that area the triangle polys and half born plots start a timer for me the second I launch.

But a little while previous I had added graphics, texture, creature, and story mods to Morrowind , and launched to a game I was only vaguely familiar with. I was riding baby raptors and Slit Striders, waging wars over castles an ocean away from the blight storm, and getting ripped off by creatures I had never seen before while tooling around a merchant bazaar, shit was crazy. I spent the day walking around an entirely new game, or better yet the continuation of a great story.

Only problem is you never know what the new code is really about till it's delivered. They description may say "Mortorcycle ninja assassin turkey bacon pillowfight," but the target code is ordered to go 730 the second winzip drops it off. Or worse yet it may dl and integrate regular, but point toward somewhere it doesn't really need to be going, or the source code is locked for changes, which is a big roll of the dice.

Games are so big now I don't think most companies really want us to finish them. Which has it's ups and downs. I like stories that end, but I never like to see characters or worlds go away. Nowadays most games involve living breathing worlds full of all types of plants and this and that avvy. There is a 30-60 hour grand quest where you guide the lives of a vast and diverse group toward some gratifying end then credits and a new game+.

Wander off in a random direction you hit an invisible wall, return to a village around hour 6 they talkin' bout the same ish. But I love that mods lift all that post adventure malaise, as if the main quest really was only a particularly schetchy time in the worlds overall existence, yet the world is something worth hanging around well past the first visit. 

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