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Fri, Nov 16 2001

Yesterday for quite a bit of the day I had two next-gen gaming consoles in my car :p I know I said yesterday that I didn't find the Xbox all that impressive but a friend from work came in and told me that he'd bought one early in the morning and then around lunch time he came back and told me that a Best Buy close to work still had some in stock. So I rushed over and bought one - they had one more left when I left :p Of course, the purchase was not for playing but as an investment since I immediately put the Xbox up on Ebay when I got back to work <vbg> Unfortunately, a lot of other people seem to have had the same idea because when I checked yesterday evening there were close to four thousand Xbox items on Ebay :-( Ah well, I can always return the Xbox to Best Buy if the auction doesn't go too well :p

The other console in my car was my PlayStation2. I returned it to Circuit City yesterday and got a model SCPH-3001R from the KMart close to my place on my way back from work. I set it up and checked out the DVD playing stuff with the Sony remote and it all seems to work great! So I am really happy about that :-) I did find something curious though - I have an "Evil Dead II" DVD that I had purchased second-hand just last week and when I put that in the PS2, I would get the opening title and then nothing - just a blank screen! I don't know if the DVD is damaged or if there are certain DVD's that the PS2 will not play ... and I don't believe that this is a different region DVD either. I guess I'll return the DVD to the shop this weekend but I'm curious as to whether it's a problem with the PS2 or with the DVD. Guess I'll do some digging today ...

As far as my game goes, I got the first incarnation working to my satisfaction day before yesterday (I forgot to mention that yesterday ...) and put it up on my sites. Now I need to start working on the next iteration where the alien ships will actually fire at the Earth. Just didn't have the time yesterday what with all the Xbox stuff and what not but maybe today or over the weekend ...
posted at 07:44:13 AM  link  comment

Thu, Nov 15 2001

Had to go over to KMart last night since I was supposed to meet the lady who hit my car a couple of weeks ago and her husband. We are having a bit of a problem with the whole insurance thing - they don't want to file a police report (and I didn't think of it at the time we had the accident ...) and my insurance doesn't want to absolve me of the blame unless I get a police report. So we've been going back and forth on this for a while and yesterday they wanted to meet me to inspect the damage on my vehicle. To be fair, they are being pretty reasonable - except for not wanting to get a police report <g> - and have offered to fix the damage themselves since the husband is supposed to do bodywork in his spare time. The upshot of it all was that they will try to speak to my insurance and see if they (the insurance company) will accept a letter from the lady saying that it was her fault. I'm keeping my fingers crossed but don't really think that the insurance company will give in since they are being pretty hard-assed about the whole thing. Ah well ...

I went into KMart after the meeting since I wanted to check out the XBoxes :p The hype is really getting thick everywhere and I was almost tempted to go in at midnight and see if they had any XBoxes for sale (hmm ... wonder whether there is any truth to the whole subliminal advertising deal? <vbg>) But I really don't find the XBox impressive yet - especially since there is no must-have-game for me on the console yet. I don't think they even have an RPG as a release title. I played the demo version of "Munche's Odyssey" that they had at the store but wasn't especially impressed by the speed of the console. The graphics were of course good but the game took forever to load from the start screen to the actual in game stuff. Maybe a reboot would have done the trick <g> but I wasn't about to hang around and try all that.

One good thing to come out of the visit to KMart though was the fact that I discovered that they had the PlayStation2 SCPH-3001R model which is supposed to work with the Sony DVD remote without needing the newer version of the DVD player software to be on a memory card - essentially meaning that you have to always have a memory card in your machine in order to play DVDs. So I called Circuit City and they told me that since it wasn't 30 days since I bought my PS2, that I could return it and get it exchanged or get a refund. So I packed up my PS2 and am going over to Circuit City today - if they have the newer model, I'll probably get it from them but if not, I'll just go over to KMart after getting a refund :-
posted at 08:36:49 AM  link  comment

Wed, Nov 14 2001

Do we as geeks/techies feel superior to the average human being? :p I was listening to the radio on the way to work today and they were talking about the Nintendo GameCube and the XBox and I was feeling amused at the mess they made trying to discuss the whole thing. One person started reading the specs and they were like "it has a 700 M-H-Z processor" (they spelt out the letters in MHz) and I was like "ah, why don't they get somebody who know's what the heck they're talking about?" :-) Anyway, I guess it's easy to feel superior to other people who might not know so much about tech stuff but then again, I wonder whether it is sensible to be ignorant of tech stuff in this day and age?

The game is now actually working online! I still can't get it to work from Tripod (the browser crashes after displaying the loading message for a bit ...) but it seems to work fine from Nortiq and RazorSys. I still haven't figured out the math for making the ships move correctly but somebody online gave me some pointers which I intend to try out today and maybe it will work better. I've been getting a lot of feedback from jugg as usual and I've also been thinking of making the game harder and more complicated. So if I get the ships to target the Earth correctly, then I intend to try adding another twist by making the ships shoot at the Earth as well ... All in all, I'm having a lot of fun coding the game and it just got better yesterday because I found out that I can use Delphi to code for the WildTangent engine as well :-) So, if I get tired of Java coding and making the game online, I can always take it offline and make it a stand-alone executable ...
posted at 08:45:10 AM  link  comment

Tue, Nov 13 2001

Had another night full of dreams - dreamt of people I hadn't seen in many, many years, people who used to be friends, people whom I considered important at one point in my life ... It was (as is usual for my dreams) a very long dream - almost a movie :p I woke up with two feelings uppermost in my mind - one was a sense of loss, of loneliness and the other was a feeling of joy due to the very positive interactions in my dreams. Thinking back on it though, the feeling of loss and loneliness prevails since I guess currently I basically find myself alone, in a country where I seem to have nothing much in common with the average person, far away from the people I grew up with and called my friends. But why delve into maudlin sentimentality? :p And no, I'm not depressed <vbg> It's just this problem I have of getting too serious about my dreams ... Or maybe it was just a continuation of last night's "Becker" (which I actually found to be pretty hilarious but when applied to me personally, it seems not so funny - isn't that always the case? <g>)

In "Becker", Jake (who is blind) gets lost (somewhere in New York?) and runs into a guy named Owen who is about to kill himself. Jake gets Owen to take him back to Reggie's diner where he usually hangs out and has a newspaper stand. There Jake, Reggie and Bob (who is another regular of the diner) try to convince Owen that he should not kill himself. The episode ended with Owen deciding not to kill himself because he finds that his life is much better than that of Jake, Reggie and Bob ... I tell you it was much funnier watching it than me telling it here <vbg>

Enough of that! I did work some more on the game last evening and figured out how to get the ships to move correctly in 3D space. All I had to do was normalize the vector of each ship and get the proportionate distance for the x, y and z coordinates based on the distance the ship needed to travel - if that didn't make any sense to you, don't worry ... it didn't make much sense to me till I figured it out either :p Of course, I did find that this still didn't solve my problems because I wanted to make each of the ships spin while approaching the Earth but I discovered that spinning the ships throws off the calculations and that the ships went off course :p I then realized that I might have better luck with creating a separate class to represent each ship and then creating an array of ships so that I could keep track of individual ship information and handle their positioning much more cleanly ... so that's what I'm working on now ...

I guess everybody must be having problems with their browser crashing when trying to run the games off the web because jugg tried several times yesterday and had the same results as me. Of course he went a step beyond and downloaded each of the individual components and ran it from his local drive :-) He tells me that it runs fine then (as it does on my machine too ...) and pointed out a few problems with how the game was implemented - such as the fact that bullets kept on going even after hitting a ship :p So I've fixed that kind of stuff and I even fixed the Earth spinning on its side <vbg> Now if I can get the ships to move towards the Earth correctly so that they actually hit the Earth instead of going off into the deeps of space, never to be seen again, I'll be done with the first incarnation of the game :-)
posted at 07:47:46 AM  link  comment

Mon, Nov 12 2001

I've always liked Billy Joel's music ever since I heard Uptown Girl sometime way back in 1986 or so ... Darn! That seems so long ago - I can't believe that time has passed by so quickly ... Anyway, I was watching Billy Joel's "In His Own Words" yesterday and I realized why I liked his music so much - well, not exactly "realized" since I'm not sure that I can still put into words but it basically comes down to the fact that he was writing about life as he saw it and experienced it and I could relate to everything he sang about. It was a kind of nostalgic, wonderful, magical moment (or string of moments since the show lasted for two hours) and now I have this urge to listen to Billy Joel :p

In other news, I got a lot done on the game (which I'm calling "Peace Mission" at the moment even though the current incarnation is nothing like the actual game I have in mind for which the title is appropriate whereas the title is kinda unsuitable for the current implementation ...) on Friday since suddenly I figured out how to solve a couple of problems which had been bugging me. Now the camera movement via mouse works fine (but keyboard movement is screwed up), I have the basic model animation working, background music and sound effects work and explosions work ... So I decided to put the current implementation on the web to see if it would work. At first, I ran into problems but was able to sort them out and once everything was at least loading, I discovered that the game would crash out soon after it displayed the loading screen and I'm still not sure what the heck's happening ... If anybody wants to give it a shot, you should be able to find it here or here. I am not certain that the Nortiq link is totally updated and so the Tripod one might be your best bet ... Let me know if it works for you, since it doesn't work for me :p

I did run into one final problem - figuring out how to move an object in 3D space towards a second object. I can do the movement fine in 2D space but I guess I've forgotten too much about 3D geometry to do the calculations in 3D space :p I never thought I would need all the math I learnt in school but boy I sure do need it now ... I did some web searching yesterday for appropriate material and found a couple of references but got busy with other stuff. I'll eventually get the calculations straight and then the prototype should be ready to see if it actually works ... Of course, then I'll have to figure out what's wrong with the web deployment of the game <g> If I get past both those steps, I guess I can get started on the actual game I originally envisioned ...
posted at 08:07:07 AM  link  comment

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