Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Mid-2022 Catch-Up

Basically I am writing these entries for myself at this point (hey, if anyone else is still keeping tabs on me, more power to you - although I appreciate your tenacity at this point). I wonder if any of my exes are reading any of these things. I'll tell you, exes, I don't ready any of YOUR things. Well the previous one's, a bit, but that's all business stuff anyway, so doesn't really count (plus she is aware of that). But yeah - the ones I lived with before - also that one brief fling I had a bunch of years ago, who I was actually very infatuated with (probably because she treated me particularly terribly, we all know how that goes). Anyway I don't hold anything against any of those people - whatever happened was just so many years ago, and we are all different people in the time since. If any of you are out there, I hope you are happy and living a satisfying, successful, fulfilling life. I hope you at least remember one or two of my dumb jokes.. at LEAST..

Anyway, like it says on the tin, here's another half-way point of another year. Getting on 2AM and I am in that state where I am both tired and restless - Lisa is asleep in the other room (for a couple of hours now), I am sitting hunched over at my desk, tweaked some code in Unity, procrastinating collecting some hours to send off to (one of my) boss (es), before winding down to get a little shut-eye myself before a meeting in the AM. Not being too productive, just surfing a little aimlessly around on the usual social media sites. I am kind of tired of all of them at this point - I deleted insta off my phone maybe a couple of months ago, and just removed the FB app off of it today. Yeah I will still look at some of this stuff on my laptop, but I have been realizing that it's probably less unhealthy than forever having those things at literal arm's reach nearly every waking (and sleeping) second of every day. I'm hesitant to check the logs and see just how many hours I log into those things on my phone daily (well, I guess the FB one just got obliterated, so no choice there really).

Things are going ok, otherwise, I guess. I would say I am not terribly fantastically happy just these days, but life certainly isn't bad. I am feeling a fair amount directionless, aimless, uninspired. Not totally with any of that, I am fortunate to still have lots of things in the to-do list of my head and plenty of things to get lost in as far as "cool projects that I wanna work on." About a month or so ago I decided I was earnestly going to try to put together a legit proper VR Space Invaders project - I've seemed to get strangely hooked on OG Space Invaders pretty good in the past couple of years - and so I've put in some days' time concentrating on building a very faithful clone of the game as a base from which to expand from. I cannot lie, it has been a LOT of fun building just that - yes the game is bone-simple, and not really a complex project by any means, but definitely very enjoyable figuring out how to piece it together very efficiently and scale-ably. I feel like I should just employ the same treatment for a whole bunch of old, tried-and-true games just to keep getting my brain wrapped up in creativity for how to organize different logic and designs for all kinds of little projects. 

But I do really want to get some of these things actually done, as well. I know I have talked about it - for literally MANY YEARS now - but I did finally go in some months ago and start rebuilding my puzzle game 180 from scratch. Yes I know I have mentioned it, in this very blog, that I was dipping in and out of that very thing for a bunch of years now, but - well, what I had done (from what I understood at the time) was nice for prototyping, but again a lot of it was simply not scalable, and just VERY prototypey. The new re-do is a lot easier to just read and makes a bunch more logical sense, and is so much easier to pick up and tinker with. There are still some kinda complex problems I've not really tackled with it yet, but as it was starting to get a fair amount more complex than I was willing to hunker down and deal with, seemed like a good enough idea to let it sit back in the fridge for a bit - and I am fine with that. Trying to do one thing at a time over here (well - in addition with the things I am getting paid to).

Speaking of - I am shy of 6 months since my last gig wrapped up. Disappointing, I was enjoying it for the most part and always learning a lot - and I had put a ton of work into that project. Now with so many months since touching it last, and considering the size of the thing, it is upsetting to have that be out of my life for so long. At the same time - kinda was feeling like going in circles, and I don't miss it terribly (other than making it nice and efficient under the hood). It was getting frustrating to see the direction things were going. I am still tuned in with those guys, but it feels like that ship has kinda sailed. Sad, because we really did have some nice potential there for awhile. Ah, startup culture.

A couple of other opportunities popped up in the meantime, I had to crunch pretty hard for some highbrow tests to see how far I could get with those. That stuff - well it wasn't the most pleasant experience, but I am glad I did what I did. It's been sobering though. Getting older and looking for work in this industry can be exasperating at times. Fortunately I do have a lot under my belt that keeps me competitive, but with all that's been going on (and considering what I have worked on in the past) I guess I am a bit spoiled, I would love to just get access to some more of the manner of dream projects which I KNOW I can ace.  I guess that will be more accessible when the time is right, if things line up as they could. Anyway, got my hands plenty full with all that is keeping me occupied in the meantime, and I am excited with the possibilities (some really cool stuff) that they are directly affording me, so - steady as she goes-

Still haven't got COVID, neither Lisa nor her immediate family, nor mine - a bunch of friends have had it by now, nothing approaching any kind of horror stories. Still don't want that, but at this rate it does seem sort of inevitable. Honestly I am just really tired of the background noise of it. Not going all Bubble Boy over here, or anything, but for the most part my general lifestyle feels pretty safe as far as that is concerned. Will be interesting to see what I've got to say on the matter whenever I've got another entry or two in the future, in here..

Whoa! Long little entry here, eh? I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of things I'd like to get off of my chest, actually - it is cathartic, kind of miss this I guess. To be honest, I just don't really communicate any of what's bouncing around in my head much at all, for awhile now. I don't really have anywhere to go with it. I used to fill journals like this, ALL THE TIME - for years. Then it kinda fell off a cliff, and maybe that isn't such a bad thing. But I do feel like I have to do something to get it out, maybe just getting lost in my work is something. I have definitely had my usual demons otherwise, nothing hugely life-ruining but certainly.. well, they are DEMONS, not just irritants. As you get older, that stuff really does as well. So who knows - just gotta use the energy from that stuff to try to drive you, and when you slip up, well, try to keep it from being too messy. Nobody is perfect, we all make misteaks.

Yeah, guess I will sign off at this point. Hopefully when I write in here next, I will have some steadier things going on in my life, a more even-keeled outlook, writing in a more "hey let's proclaim victory!" fashion than "ahh I am bumming about XYZ" that I am dwelling on at the moment. Better times to come.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Is this thing on?

Such a cheesy title for a blog, but I guess it is appropriate, yah? Man - cobwebs in here. Does anyone even use blogger in 2021? Or even since like.. 2011? I have no idea. I sure don't. Obviously. Anyway I am obviously procrastinating doing something else that likely contains some semblance of importance, but for whatever reason (boredom) google my old iPhone game and the thread led me back to this old blog. Oh, I haven't forgotten about it - just haven't thought of it in some time. Apparently I haven't thought of it enough in the past 3 years to do so much as enter an entry. Maybe I will run outta gas before finishing this one, as well. We will see.

It seems like it was not really THAT long ago that I was pretty steady with putting these things out. Hell a decade (and change?) ago I was doing it daily, for my retrogaming blog at least. But yes I was pretty good at keeping an active blog about my life and thoughts on the game industry, indie gaming, development, Hollywood living.. all that stuff seems pretty far away now. Even with how upside down the world has (further) gotten, it still feels like it has been kind of a long time for real since it's felt important for me to have much of a voice on.. ANY of these topics. Or at least in so blowhardy a fashion. I guess I still do get active a bunch about it, be it on reddit, on a Facebook retrogaming group, and of course on twitter (THAT thing I have managed to keep pretty active, all of these years!) But otherwise I've not really felt too interested in recording my thoughts in any more concrete, long-form fashion. I might be a little sad about that, but maybe I don't care too much either. I think I just kinda get a kick out of digging up these posts myself, years down the road, and trying to gather some insight into how far I've come/where things were at in my life when I left these little milestones.

I've been very busy with everything, as usual. ALWAYS busy, that seems to be something that anyone could count on. Definitely depressed (work from home is great, but it also means that I am just home.. all.. the... time). In fact a recent trip to NYC showed me the feasibility of working mobile (I have a laptop now, yay!) and hopefully will be leaning on that notion a bit more going forward to break up the monotony. But I guess it is just too EASY to keep working in my actual home at this point, my home office is set up super-nice and cozy, got myself a standing desk, this place is very quiet and peaceful, "everything is convenient and provided for.." My job (another startup) is interesting, the people I work with are all super nice, the project is challenging and engaging. I think I am just stuck in a bit of a loop, but it's hard to feel special in that since so many other people are also suffering a similar sort of fatigue I am sure - if they are lucky, actually! Anyway, the end of the year honestly compounds everything, and I am sure that once the next phase begins I will be feeling a little refreshed.

So many things to write in here. We bought a house 2 years ago, I have given up my Hollywood life and lifestyle (largely!) for the much quieter, laid-back suburban life, yet again (it has been many years in between!) I miss city life considerably, but with the fact that downtown LA is basically a 15min drive away I feel like it is a huge saving grace. Even if it's not something I am taking advantage of all the time, it is nice to realize that it is not so far away and out of reach. Hollywood is a bit more of a haul, with the pandemic I'd spent a good long period being completely absent from that scene but likewise it isn't super-too-far away for a visit either. But it is a melancholy thing to be back there for many reasons, so it doesn't happen too much. I just don't think it meshes too well with where I am at in my life anymore; I love it, and it has been a part of me for so much of my adult life, but it feels like it was starting to get more destructive than constructive after a point.

My career has been going through some interesting changes, as noted in this blog (I guess) in the past couple of years. Specifically with my job, I'm just spending the bulk of my time doing programming, which I definitely enjoy, though I do feel my other chops are deteriorating as a result. I miss the freedom and feeling of being energized/enlightened that design work brings me, but I feel I can pour myself into that in my spare time (when I have spare time, or spare time and energy more appropriately). The thing about design is that there are endless holes to fill with it, no problem is ever perfectly solved, and it suits my personality to think in such terms. But yeah being kind of burned out prevents me from visiting those parts of my brain too much. I will say I have built up some little things here and there in the meantime, when it just HAD to get out of me, but there's a ways to go with it all before I will feel like it is not just super-frozen. I can't even say "oh I will likely release a little indie game next year" because I just KNOW that cannot be the case. It just doesn't feel like a priority, and it truly saddens me to say that. But it is hard to feel genuinely sad about it as it is a conscious decision I have made.

I have lots more I'd love to say and I really hate leaving this entry on such a dour note - things really are not bad at all in my life, in fact I have perspective on a lot of it and I feel very fortunate with how things in my life are going. I think I just need a little break and something to kick into gear. Anyway I may be sidelined a bit, but there are more good things coming! I am sure I've said these exact words in this same journal in the past, but hopefully I'll put another entry in here sooner rather than later! 3 years is too long, almost like "what is the point" long..

Friday, July 13, 2018

A year since!

I haven't been keeping track - clearly - but it appears to have been nearly a year since I last updated this journal. That is quite a stretch, even for me. I suppose that many folks just let it completely wither and die, on average (or so).  I am disheartened to realize this case for me, for many reasons - not least of which is that I used to put something in here DAILY (although to be fair back in those days, it was not exactly a daily development journal). Anyway even though this has fallen off the wagon, I have been quite busy in the meantime. I have meant to contribute in here, although that doesn't really offer much in the way of actual content I suppose. Whatever the case, here's a very quick recap of what has been going on..

Deluxe/Method, Justice League VR - this was my job from April - Dec 2017. I was a Unity developer/designer for a couple of the minigames in this project. I learned a huge amount about development, surrounded by many of my former crew from the previous job (Daqri). After this gig wrapped up, I had a breather, and then onto the next thing -

Technicolor/MPC, Immersive Group - this is where I am at now, we do AR and VR content. The likes of which is rather hush-hush, although it's been talked about online a bit, and the AR project I am involved with is pretty decent-profile stuff. I'll make mention of it here when the curtain has been pulled back - anyway I have been here less than 6mo, but it has been a good gig and it's kept me quite busy. Anyway enough with all of that, let's discuss what is up with my indie projects. WHAT - THEY ARE STILL GOING ON???

StarCrab - yes it's true, when I have been in-between jobs, I've picked up and spent a LOT of time on this project. As it's the first legit game of any real size I've endeavored 100% on my own, I've already run the gamut of building it from very roughshod proof-of-concept prototype up to legitimately-system-designed full project (such as I am capable of, anyway). It's true, I got a very early prototype moving quickly but it was really not any kind of scalable, in consideration of how so many of it's systems and managers (if they can really be called as such, in the shape it was) were handled. Yes to the end user you could control a character, and interact with environment and enemies, but it was very much strung together and not in a way which was terribly friendly to a programmer or designer - me in this case - to pick up and make heads-or-tails of say 3 or 6 months later, never minding much further out than that. The way enemies were controlled, a basic game manager, health systems, the background tiling controller - all of that really had to go and be rebuilt from scratch pretty much, piece by piece. And for me, these projects are really designed for me to get a stronger handle on my own tech development and process understanding, so I have been heavily leaning on developing all of this framework (within Unity) by myself, and NOT relying on external "readymade" tools and scripts etc from the Asset Store. As such, it's been a Herculean effort in many regards to get as far as I have with things, and that is somewhat frustrating as it doesn't look too different than it has for awhile - but the structure is quite sound, I have built things in a very sensible and manageable way, and it's made everything easier to build off of (or go back, and tidy up) as a result. In all of that, I am very proud. I am very dead-set to get a releasable candidate of this project out the door at some reasonable point, still probably some months out but I'd like to say the end of the year AT LATEST. I am and have been basically putting all of my other personal projects on hold, while I dedicate time to this one.

Beyonder - cousin to StarCrab, this is one of the many ignored projects, although as it shares a huge amount of tech from that other project, I have recently cracked it open again and updated a bunch of it's elements. I need to do this again soon, just trying to keep things clean and sensible. This project is next in line, and I'd like to have it at least more playable sometime this year. The clock is ticking.

That's really all there is to say for now! So many specifics to get into, but I'd like to cool off for the night. Thanks for reading. Hopefully it will not be a whole other year before you hear from me again..

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Introspective evening - on the pursuit of expression through art, design and production

I've been sitting on my couch the last couple of hours, fooling around with my phone (mostly looking at NeoGAF and Instagram). I foolishly decided to let the auto-updates run on my PC, didn't realize that it would take so long! Anyway, it gave me a few minutes to contemplate things (yes - it happens) rather than just plunge into some more work straight-away.

After so many years of doing this, in various capacities - and very fortunately, I believe, for a living for the majority of my adult life - at times I will of course take a step back and try to consider why I do what it is that I do. Why it is important to me. Of course there are many reasons, and my understanding of them will be important in different ways depending on when you ask/what is going on in my life at the time. At my base, I just really enjoy making things. Learning, developing, executing, inventing. I feel like I have been through so much (artist, designer, programmer) in my journey, and its taught me much about the world, about myself, and how we two relate. And for the longest time I would say I simply enjoyed being in the process: that the fact that I make things which other people enjoy, or whose utility serves them, it was always a nice side-effect. And I of course take immense pride in what I do, but the end product was never really the goal.

But now as I consider things, I have to alter my stance. The end product is very important. Of course I've always felt this way, I've said as much even if I didn't mean it in a conventional way. But sometimes I think of the way the world is, there are so many people out there and they have so much time and energy. And a lot of them are just lonely, sad, disconnected, hurt. And to think that I could spend my time and effort doing something, the process of which brings me much joy, that it can reach some of those people - I have to admit that that is important. Again I've certainly said as much in the past, but perhaps I don't really linger on it very much. I remember being a sad, lonely kid as well (who wasn't, at times?) I'd feel such a strong connection to comics, to video games, anything that was represented in the abstract and allowed you to experience the world through a modified set of rules, a set which although at times rudimentary were still able yield a certain amount of control. It started very simply, push buttons and see some things move on a screen. As the years passed it was more about discovering and honing techniques and skill, it wasn't long before this merged with art and eventually I found the thing within me that was hungry and eager, a thing I could nurture and understand.

I work in an industry and am fortunate enough to be surrounded by many who share this feeling. And I am also living in a world where people everywhere have a strong appreciation for those of us who pursue the fields of art and expression. Like I was as a kid, people are still hungry and compelled. It makes me feel like the world is still a good place if we can continue to share and cultivate this relationship. I'm very proud, and very excited.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Progress Log - Beyonder

A very productive weekend! I got a lot more time to put into the project than I've had recently, good long blocks on Saturday and Sunday. Knocked out some pretty hefty things that I'd been wanting to for kind of awhile, and while there is still much to do, I'm very proud of all the progress the game has seen in the past 2 weeks alone.

Beyonder VR -

- stand-in weapon icons

- nicely-flushed out weapon inventory and selection system, all hooked-up and easy to debug

- placeholders for all playerWeapons, and basic functional prototypes for Normal, Swirl, Side and Vertical shots.

- started making damage/spark setup for bullet ricochets


- figure out collision issues w Ricochet. It seems fine if both bullet/target are rigidbodies but I don't want to do that. Maybe if the Target is no longer standing still, but has anim data on it as well (which it would) then I can get a better result. It still presents an issue in case I do want to have stationary targets, however.

- put ricochets/spawned death explosions into pools

- look into current pooling issues (can't get enough shots off?) Maybe need to make separate pools instead of a single one?

- is it cool to have my singleton be referenced very often, should I break up the data being stored in it? (all these lists and such)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Progress log - Beyonder

Beyonder VR -

 - found this to figure out how to map Vive touchpad presses, hooked it up to booleans "bottomRightPressed, released" etc

- converted Steam_VRTracked Controller's index uint like so in order to make sure my haptic feedback was working consistently from active controller.

- create and hook up different weapons, with floating UI near Shield Indicator


 - Got Tron: Legacy Bluray in 3D. Looks Excellent viewing thru the PSVR, I rewatched it completely while wearing that thing. I think I enjoyed it more than seeing it years ago!

- Watched 2 episodes of the Castlevania Netflix. I will probably watch at least one more episode, not my usual cup of tea but it is intriguing and I like the short commitment.

- Figured out how to get Landscape orientation working on Mame-X for GCW Zero handheld. (switch to software rendering). Looks crappy but it works so I am very pleased :) I have lots of Mame games running on it now, which is why I bought the thing in the first place. Zaxxon, Galaga, Ms Pacman..

- Bought Windlands for Vive, $20. Haven't loaded it up yet (I got a bit of backlog)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Progress log - Beyonder

Going to start keeping progress logs in here once again. Mostly for my own edification..

Beyonder VR -
- fixed reorienting world issue (some particles were spawning with wrong directions, inconsistently)
- built "ship exploding" mesh anim effect and hooked it up on playerDeath
- "restart page" hooked up on playerDeath (fade to black, and back)
- troubleshooting haptic feedback issues. Retrieved earlier haptic code to repair it
- only ships are rigidBodies now (as opposed to projectiles)
- enemy ship can kill player

- checkpoint system
- messaging between lives
- simple shell
- simple debugs (level select etc)
- figure out how to speed up level tiles better