Saturday, July 24, 2010

Out and About

I feel like my life as of late has been rich and full, like a giant chocolate cake. The days and nights outside of work have been filling up with new experiences and adventures and time spent with various friends in varied circles.

Today, Josh, Nick, Nathan, Ben and I set out to the Renegade Craft Fair, which was fantastic. There was a huge variety of local and touring craftsfolk selling their wares.

One interesting thing about it was that every booth was incredibly unique in its ware, be it the style or the craft itself or some clever idea or twist. However, when you have a huge collection of things and every one is unique, it creates a weird, noisy effect that's hard to digest. You can't really easy group or categorize things, and my overall impression of the festival was "loud," but not in terms of audio.

There was great stuff, though! I helped myself to a crafted pocketwatch, a wallet made from photography, and a few homemade scented candles.

Pho was had for lunch and we set out for home and a brief nap. Afterwards, Rob, Carlos, and Carren came over to my place for a last minute pool party, grillin, and games. It's crazy that Carlos has been here for as long as he has and I've only gotten together with him but one other time!

We played The Great Dalmuti, Monty Python Fluxx*, and Give Me the Brain, and generally caught up and played about. When everyone departed, Nick and I closed off the evening by taking Mr. Davis on a late-night walk.

For the moment I'm content to chillax here and blog on the couch with a Nick at my feet and a DJ Hero-ing Nathan at my side. Socializing and adventures are all fun and healthy, but I feel like tomorrow is going to be the laziest of days.

*Note, the Monty Python theming still didn't help Fluxx win my heart. It's just that the game has no pacing whatsoever by its very nature. I know some people love it, but I don't think I ever will.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Zucchini Chips

Nick vetoed zucchini from the stew we made last night, so I improvised this recipe. Fortunately, Nathan likes zucchini, so they got eaten up.

- 1 egg
- olive oil
- pepper
- coriander
- ground ginger
- thyme
- sliced zucchini
- sea salt

Combine egg, oil, and spices/herbs in a bowl. Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet (if you have previously browned beef in said skillet so there's leftover beef goo, all the better). Dredge the zucchini slices through the egg mixture and cook them a few minutes each side on the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and let cool. Nom.

Today's CSA delivery included plums and nectarines, which I will use for a pie. It also included radishes. What am I going to make with radishes?? (Other veggies included: white corn, carrots, tomatoes, more zucchini, and lettuce. Suggestions welcome)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New laptop in my future

I'm contemplating a new laptop. My little Fujitsu tablet gets the job done, but with Starcraft II and WoW Cataclysm on the horizon, and my grumpiness at not being able to use UDK, it may be time to move on.

I got my tablet for grad school, and used it and its tablet feature to death all throughout. I do draw with it occasionally now and again, but I don't think I'm in the market for a tablet PC in the future.

Nor do I want a desktop. Getting rid of my desktop towards the end of grad school was incredibly liberating, and the thought of getting another one and all the baggage it brings along is exhausting (baggage being monitors, speakers, a desk, a chair, etc...)

I am looking for a laptop:
- with a dedicated video card
- on which I'm able to enjoy the highest graphics settings in WoW and still get a good framerate
- used primarily for gaming and development, but not an actual gaming rig
- reasonably affordable

I do not want a mac (sorry, Eric)

Shopping around Newegg, something like this seems up my alley, though I've never heard of ZT before. The reviews seem good, all the same, and with having to buy Windows 7 on top of it, it would put me in the $1000 range.

Honestly, though, by the time I save up the money, there will probably be something else better on the market for about the same price.

Input desired. Thoughts? Suggestions?

Monday, July 12, 2010

The games I'd make

My team just finished hitting an intense deadline at the end of June, and I'm finally winding back down to a normal pace. As such, I've been thinking a lot about games and that question that every game designer gets asked...

"If you could make any game you wanted, what would it be?"

I've been asked that a fair amount recently, and I've always responded with "I have to think about it," not as a dodge but just because I really did have to think about it. I spent the better part of 2 months pondering the matter, and have finally come up with my response.

If I could make any game I wanted, I would make another platformer that used the gamecube kongas as a controller.

Wait wait, before you say I'm crazy, let me explain a couple of things. First is my unusual relationship with Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat, from whence this inspiration is derived. When that game came out, it was during a period of my life where I was in a lot of pain and no one knew what the hell was wrong with me. It had come to the point where I could not manipulate a video game controller for very long because it was too painful.

Thoughts of carpal tunnel syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis had been spinning around in my brain*, and I'd thought that there might come a time when I couldn't play video games at all. It was incredibly depressing.

When DK:JB came out and I played it at a friend's, amidst much laughter and hilarity, I found that using the kongas, as bizarre and silly at may have been, did not trigger pain like a normal controller, I imagine since there wasn't as much fine motor manipulation involved. Needless to say, I got the game for myself and played the CRAP out of it. Over and over, collecting more and more bananas, getting more and more skilled at racking up combos and surprising myself to learn that you could get platinum medals on the levels.

That game has such a special place in my heart, purely from the fact that I could play it at the time.

The second factor is that I've figured out what stirs my passion the most about games, and it is unusual interfaces. Whenever I snoop around the indie game picks of the week, I'm always most drawn to the games with the weirdest, cleverest, or most experimental means of controlling the game.

This delight may tie as far back as high school, when a group of friends and I managed a 5-player-at-once game of Spyro the Dragon using a DDR pad.

So yeah, it may not have to be the kongas specifically, but maybe a platform adventure for, say, the Rock Band drums, or some other bizarre input device that was never intended for the type of game I intend to make. This is what I want to make!

"But Lisa, no one would play those games."

Yeah, so? What of it? I'd play 'em, and I know like 3 people who would also play them. I can make a game for a 3 person audience if I want. So there.

*Eventually, after way too much money spent on medical testing, it was determined to be fibromyalgia, which is not progressive, and now I take pain-thwarting meds such that I can play games all day and all night once more.