September 30, 2008

The LD Plague

Well, it's another busy day here today, and there just isn't enough time for everything. Looking at my schedule I'm pretty sure something's gotta drop here, but I'm not sure what. We found out this morning that one of the id developers had to cancel so they won't be playing our levels which is a good and bad thing. Good in that I don't need to worry about polishing up my levels just yet, but bad in that I really would have liked professional feedback on the level so I can make it really shine. Considering what still needs to be done in the next week, I guess I'll count it as a blessing.

I've been slowly succumbing to the disease making its way through the C9 level designers (I think its actually 100% at this point) and it's finally starting to slow me down. The timing is bad, but what are you going to do. I'm giving myself as much rest as I can, which isn't that much considering what's due next week. Check it out:
  1. Final Portfolio (for class) - Oct. 6
  2. Gears of War Level Beta - Oct. 7
  3. Dissonance Game Design Doc. - Oct. 8
  4. DFS Gameplay Milestone (Final) - Oct. 9
  5. Gears of War Level RTM (Final) - Oct. 9
  6. Dissonance Vertical Slice - Oct. 10
  7. Final Portfolio (for submission to employers) - Oct. 10
And that doesn't even include my Thesis which needs to be totally ready for testing as of the beginning of next term. It's gonna be a rough week...

Anyway, I'm not getting all down about it. I mean, if there's anything I can say for certain, I've been through worse. I'm going to do the best I can without actually killing myself. If any of you all are interested, here's the link for my GH portfolio. It's still kind of a work in progress, but I'd love to get any feedback...constructive feedback...on what you all think. Also, if you spot any typos, grammar errors, or otherwise broken stuff, let me know so I can fix it, thanks!

That's about it for now. I think I'm going to take it easy for the rest of the night and try to sleep off this illness before it gets too serious. Later!

September 29, 2008

Portfolio Crunch!

Too busy to really post right now...

Found out this morning that "finished" portfolios (i.e., school is sending out to potential employers) are due on Oct. 10th and designers from id are coming to review our stuff this Friday. Basically, that means I've got to put some time into cleaning up my portfolio pieces so I can post them and play through them with id. I also have to hope their feedback is relatively minor because it will be very difficult to make major changes before the 10th.

Also, I got my first rejection letter of the new season: Petroglyph Games. I followed up with them after AGDC, and apparently I'm not a good fit for their LD position. We're still a bit away from graduation and I think they require industry experience as well as experience in RTS editors, so I'm not surprised. I'll probably try to follow up with them as I get closer to graduation anyway, in case anything opens up that I might be a good fit for. Alright, now I must work. Later!

September 28, 2008

Catching Up

Hey all! Not much time for posting today as I'm kind of trying to get caught up from the last two days of slacking. I finished The Force Unleashed yesterday, and I have to say that overall I thought it was quite enjoyable. The game has some rough edges, but the plot is very Star Wars and very engaging, and I'm glad to have played it. I should say, however, that I rented it from GameFly, I didn't buy it, so you can take that for what it's worth.

Over the last couple days, I've also played a lot of the new King's Bounty remake, King's Bounty: The Legend, and I have to say it is very good. I managed to sink a lot of time into it and I've been enjoying it a great deal. It's pretty much an RPG/Strategy hybrid in the same vain as Heroes of Might and Magic (the original King's Bounty being the spiritual predecessor to that game) although with additional focus on the RPG elements like experience, levels, equipment, and quests. I don't have enough time to describe the game in detail, but I can say it's very addictive, very enjoyable, and if you have interest in either of the games I've mentioned you should definitely check it out.

Alright, now I've got to get back to work. Night, all!

September 27, 2008

Running on Empty

Looking at the blog, I guess it's been a while since my last post. I've been busy working or deliberately not working over the past few days. It was a stressful week this week and I needed a break so for the last couple days I've pretty much been taking one. The last few days I've been playing a lot of games and doing little to no work. I don't know if it's really a good thing or a bad thing, but it's what I've been doing. On the one hand, I've been seriously needing a break from everything, but on the other any time I take off right now has to be made up somewhere down the line.

It's just been hard to stay motivated lately. At least motivated to work with the same fervor that the Guildhall seems to require. I don't know exactly why, but I think it's just fatigue, both short term and long term. I've been physically under the weather lately as well, so that isn't helping matters. Anyway, I don't want to dwell on it, what's done is done, and I'm just going to keep moving forward. Sometimes this place just makes it hard to keep everything in perspective. Expectations are so high, both from the faculty and from ourselves, and the price for failure at least seems to be incredibly costly. It's a constant stress level that really weighs on you, and the longer you carry it, the harder it gets. Alright, I guess I'll leave it there before this goes to a particularly negative place. Suffice it to say, it's been a rough couple weeks, and break can't come quickly enough.

September 23, 2008


Busy day today...

Dissonance core hours in the morning went well, but there are still some things to do before tomorrow's presentation, and even more to do before Vertical Slice (a little over two weeks from now). Got some stuff done on my Gears of War level during LD class this afternoon. I found out that the little robot, Jack, in Gears of War isn't really an entity at all, he's just a model with some effects, so I had to create a matinee (read: scripted sequence in Unreal) of him slicing open the door for me. I got it in without too much trouble, which is good. After that, I had a meeting with the Dissonance art leads and one of the art professors to discuss some potential issues with our game, particularly our camera system. After some discussion, we reached a conclusion that I think everyone was happy with and I think ultimately generated some more interest in the project from the professor, so I don't imagine that could have gone much better. Finally, I spent the last couple hours trying to tie up some loose ends for Dissonance, before our milestone tomorrow. I've just got to create a few more sound effects, but I couldn't find anything good for them in the sound library, so I'm going to try to take a couple people into the editing booth tomorrow morning to record some stuff. Now I'm going to try to work a bit on my DFS before I finally succumb to exhaustion and pass out for the night.

Like I said, busy day...

September 22, 2008


Peace can be a hard thing to find. It's all well and good to say your just going to be more positive about everything, but it's another thing to do it despite everything else. A bunch of Dissonance crap hit the fan today or at least I became more aware that it had hit the fan. Anyway, I'm not going to lament it, I'm just going to do the best I can with the time allotted for that project, and try not to worry about it otherwise. Harder said than done, but I'll see what I can do. Anyway, I better get back to it if I want to finish my Thesis even close to on time. Night!

September 21, 2008

More Professional Development

Not much to talk about today. I followed up with AGDC contacts early this afternoon and then I worked on screenshots for my portfolio. Our professional development assignment called for shots from five projects which wouldn't be a problem except that my current DFS, LD, and TGP projects aren't exactly picture worthy at this point. As a result I had to dig into my UT2K4 materials. It's not to say that my UT2K4 stuff is bad, I actually think the levels came out pretty well, but it's from almost a year ago, and I've grown a lot as a designer since then. As such, I think their weaker than my other pieces, but I need them to complete the assignment so they will have to do. Once I have usable shots from any of my current projects I will put them up and probably remove the UT2K4 stuff. Alright, well I've got more work to do, later all!

September 20, 2008

Don't Worry, Be Happy

It's funny, when I first started to write this post, I was going to lament my current state, how nothing seems to be going the way I want or as fast as I want, and it made me think. I think I've written something to that effect too many times to count and I don't think it's really changed anything. It's probably made me feel better to know that other people (sort of) understand what I'm going through, but ultimately I think that this sort of brooding and moping just breeds more of the same. The funny thing actually is, the times I usually feel best about everything is when I'm talking to someone else about it.

I don't mean the semi-regular LD bitch session (which I think has actually declined lately). I mean when someone has been complaining about something or worried about something and my natural response was to just be as positive as possible. One of the most negative people here actually said one of the more profoundly positive things I could think of. After one of his rants, I asked him why he was here despite all those things, and he said because he'd rather be here than anywhere else. Even though all the crap got to him, he knew what he was working for, what he wanted and that made it all ok.

Throughout my life, whenever I was depressed, my mother would always say that if you wanted to be happy, you just had to be happy. At the time (while I was depressed), that was an infuriating opinion. Like, I'm sad now, how am I supposed to be happy, but I think I'm beginning to understand as I reflect on it. I've always been searching for something to make me happy, another person, another job, another hobby, and while all those things are important, they all pale in comparison to the effect that you yourself can have. If you want to make yourself miserable, you can do that, really it's not that hard, and if you want to be happy, you can do that to, it's harder, but you can do it.

I think that's really been my problem this whole's easier to wallow than it is to try and rise above everything and just be content. I mean, if I didn't want to be here, I don't have to be, right? I chose this path because of the light at the end of the tunnel, a light that now I can actually see. I figure I can spend the next few months complaning and lamenting my current position. Or I can just do the best that I can do, and try to find happiness in knowing I did that. I know it's going to be hard, but I am going to try my best to do just that, starting here.

I'm not going to write about how things suck or how hard they push us. I'm going to focus on the positives, the things I love about this work, the things I love about my life, and I am hopeful that writing about it that way will make me think about it that way (that makes some sort of psuedo-psychological sense, right?). I apologize for the after school special nature of this post, but I was sort of writing it as I thought it and I guess I'm kind of corny at heart. Well, anyway, I'm off to enjoy the few remaining hours of my Saturday. Night!

September 18, 2008


I'm not sure if it was burnout, or illness, or just latent exhaustion from traveling and networking, but I just completely crashed today. I didn't sleep well and I woke up with a headache which is never a good sign. TGP this morning was fine, but I ended up spending most of my time doing management and design stuff and had almost no time to move forward on any of the actual asset generation I had intended to do. The design tasks were important, but they were unplanned for during a milestone that really doesn't have a lot of wiggle room. Next Wednesday is our last milestone before Vertical Slice and there's a lot that needs to fall in to place very quickly if we are going to hit it.

All throughout the morning I was feeling a little rundown, so I headed home for lunch and had a bowl of Chicken soup before I headed back to school only to find that our afternoon class had been cancelled (coincidentally on account of the professor not feeling well). I still wasn't feeling so great so I finished up some TGP stuff and headed home to rest, which is pretty much what I've been doing ever since. I took some medicine, put some Angel on the TV and kept falling in and out of sleep. I'm feeling better at this point, though not 100%. I'm trying not to feel guilty about taking the afternoon "off" especially since I clearly need it, but with my work piling up it's hard not to worry about it at least a little.

On a side note, I did have the occassion to try out the Bioware sample mod that's been sitting on my desktop for quite some time. Basically, one of the application requirements for Bioware is a short, one level module in Neverwinter Nights (I'm sure I've talked about this a few times before now), and they have a sample mod up that you can run through to see what they are expecting. The mod definitely did some cool stuff with the scripting and seemed well setup over all, but it definitely felt well within my capabilities which was very reassuring. I don't really know what I expected, but I guess I was worried, which is probably why it took me so long to even try it. I'm sure that if I set aside some time and put my mind to it I can make something really impressive, and that's a very encouraging thought.

As for right now, I'm going to try to do a little work, but mostly I'm going to focus on trying to get a good night's sleep so I can hit the ground running tomorrow. I'm keeping up with all my classes, but my Thesis schedule is slowly falling behind as it's one of the few things I can afford to let drop with out serious (i.e., failing) repercussions. Worst case scenario, I have to stick around a little longer to finish up my Master's, not really the worst thing in the world. Alright, well I'm going to see what I can do before I turn in for the night. Later!

September 17, 2008

Wait and See...

Well, here I am having just returned from the Austin Game Developers Conference, with some useful job information I didn't have before, a few of my resumes/portfolios in the some choice hands, but otherwise not a lot of stories to tell. The conference didn't go poorly, in fact, I'd have to say it went better than expected and I'm glad I went as I think I made some progress I otherwise couldn't have. I think that when we (or at least I) go to these things, somewhere at the back of my head there's this fantasy rolling around that someone is going to instantly hire me and I'll have the option to just take off from here. I'm not even sure if it is an option I would exercise, but it's an option I dream about having nonetheless.

Sadly (though not unexpectedly), the conference was more like a lot of brief introductory conversations and a chance for me to hand off my resume and plan to talk more with that company later. Some companies just wanted us to upload our information to their website so they would have an easier time filtering it to their different departments, others wanted to talk to us a bit closer to graduation, while others were waiting to talk to us until they came on site to the Guildhall to have "company days" or do interviews during our job fair. Actually a number of companies told me about plans to visit the GH in the next few months, so I suppose I should take that as a positive sign for the school and our training if they are actually setting aside time to come and see us.

I guess the truth is we are still a ways away from graduation, so the companies want to take that time to see what position they are in two months from now before they start planning interviews, which I can understand. I think my networking at the conference did put me in a much better position with a couple of my dream companies, which in of itself makes the trip worthwhile. All this talk of jobs and the opportunity to actually talk to people working for the companies I want to work for has put me in an interesting mood however. I think it's just made me think about the things I want to be working on when I am done, the things I am working on now, and the things I should be working now (or soon) to get where I want to be.

It's an interesting sort of gamble deciding how we should spend our time for the next few months. I spent some time recently reviewing all the companies I could think of and creating a list of the top 25 companies I would want to work for given the choice. Looking at the list, I can see that there are probably a number of companies each looking for something different from me and my work and so now is when I need to decide what I really want. You don't really want to put all your eggs into one basket, but you also have only so many eggs to go around...three, four at the most. At least one egg has to go to the Guildhall in order to keep up with work and graduate on time, so that leaves three eggs for my 25 companies, each of which wanting a slightly different egg.

Okay, maybe I took the egg metaphor too far...the point is, I can think of a handful of non-Guildhall pieces I want or have to make in order to have a chance with some of the companies I am interested in, and now is the time I need to start deciding what I am going to work on and how I am going to fit it in with school and sleep. It's a hard decision to make as it really is a gamble however you play it. The other sad thing about these "personal" pieces is they make it harder to work on GH stuff for two reasons. One, because they are closer to what I actually want to be doing, so they naturally are more exciting (GH is almost 100% FPS because they are the most stable and widely available editors) and two, because they are the standout pieces that are really going to land me the job I want.

Anyway, I think I've pretty much made my choice so I don't know what I'm going over all this for. I guess, I wasn't really sure before, but as I typed this it made me realize what I wanted to do, what I was really excited about doing. I am going to make a Neverwinter Nights level and use everything I have to try to land a job a Bioware. Out of all the "standout" pieces I think I could make, that's the one I am most excited about. I am also interested to see how much I've grown as a designer since the NW Toolset was the first editor I ever worked with. I'm not saying it's Bioware or bust, there are still a lot of great companies that I am very excited to talked to and would be incredibly happy to work for, but Bioware is getting the spare egg I have lying around, at least when I have it (needed one more egg reference, right?) Well, this post has been plenty long and I need to get ready for the rest of the week. Night, all!

September 14, 2008


Aside from playing Spore a bit longer than I should have this morning, I've spent most of the day preparing for AGDC. I got my portfolio in order and updated/cleaned up a few things. I also finished the alpha of my Gears of War level and submitted it on Blackboard. I've spent the last hour or so working on some DFS/MIT stuff, and now I think I'm gonna wind down for a bit before I head to bed. Tomorrow morning I've got to make any last minute adjustments to my printed materials and then print out a whole bunch of copies before a group of us heads down to Austin. I am looking forward to the conference, and I am hoping I can put work out of my mind for long enough to focus on the task at hand. This will probably by my last post until I return so wish me luck!

September 13, 2008

Fast and Furious

Wow, this term just seems like it has been non-stop. I don't think that it's been as intense as some other terms, and yet it still feels like I am always running at full steam toward the weekend, and then I basically crash, which ends up putting me behind for the next week. Anyway, I spent most of the day working on my Gears level which has received little to no attention thanks to AGDC, DFS, my Thesis, and Dissonance. I probably spent a bit longer than I needed to on it, and certainly longer than I expected, but I forgot how much longer things take when you need to learn the editor (like how to create a working door or some such).

Level design almost always has you doing things that weren't necessarily intended, so your always learning or solving some kind of problem, but with Gears I'm still working on understanding all the basic functionality. Oddly enough, Gears is different enough from the editor I was using at Gearbox that there's a whole bunch of stuff I have to learn that is pretty much Gears of War specific. That and the fact that the package system is still awful can make work slow going at points. Still, I got it pretty much done, with maybe about an hour of work to do tomorrow to finish and cook it (i.e., put it in a state that is usable in the actual game).

That's pretty much it as far as work goes. As for games I've been playing a ridiculous amount of Spore with what free time I can manage to scrape together. That game is unfortunately dangerously addictive, so I've learned I have to be very careful about when and how I play it lest I get sucked in and face an unnecessary, sleep-deprivation induced headache. It's definitely very cool to watch as you little creature evolves into a space faring superpower and it is almost equally as fun to see the creations of friends and relatives running around and ultimately subjugate or surpass them. Obviously the creative aspect of the game is a big hook for many people (myself included), but I think they've also manged to hit the sort of mini-achievements that make the best addictive games.

In Spore, you are almost constantly working toward some 10 or 20 minute goal and when you hit that, you find a new goal and it just snowballs. I think this is most evident in the space stage of the game. Similar to the best "one more turn" games like Civilization, Spore constantly has you working toward something, not to mention the built in exploratory aspect. You never know what will lie over the next hill or on the next planet. I think the close camera perspective and high level of detail makes this the most exciting in the creature stage, but it's present throughout the game. Ultimately, the best thing I can say about the game is I really enjoy it. I find myself drawn to playing and often unable to stop. I've already created two creatures at the civilization and space stages and I am eagerly planning out a handful more.

I think the game has overall been rather underratted, because some of the stages themselves are a bit uninteresting (I'm looking at you tribal stage), but as a whole package I think the game is pretty much one of a kind. Well, I think I will leave me thoughts there and go play a few games (probably one of which will be Spore) while I whittle away the few remaining hours of the day. Later!

September 9, 2008


Too tired....Still behind on some things....Also, trying to get prepared for AGDC...


September 7, 2008

My Wasted Day

So, I had intended to play Spore for about an hour after picking it up this morning and then get back to work. I instead ended up playing it until about an hour ago and I have accomplished absolutely nothing on my level today. I really needed a day off and it was nice to have one (sort of), but I think it's going to make the rest of this week very stressful. I have milestones in DFS and TGP this week, plus several mock interviews and other preparations for Austin GDC next week. Anyway, there's not much more to say, and anything else would probably just be me whining about not having a real weekend, so I guess I'll just cut this off here. Night, all!

September 6, 2008

Professional Development

Too busy to write anything really substantial right now, so I'm going to fall back on the tried and true: a bullet point list.
  • Professional development (resume, cover letter, etc.) and Dissonance are taking up all my time right now and I need to work on my DFS/MIT level :(
  • Mercenaries 2 is still awesome. If you like blowing stuff up, just go get it.
  • Looking forward to Spore, hope I'll have a little time to play tomorrow.
  • Just finished doing research on Insomniac Games (for an assignment) now I really, really want to work there. It sounds like the perfect environment for me, and I love their games.
That's all I've got for now. Now I need to get back to more professional development stuff before I can go to sleep.

September 4, 2008


I am completely exhausted. I don't know if it's the added stress of all the job search stuff that has begun piling up or just the fact that work has kept me from getting a full night's sleep for far too long this term. It seems like everytime I tell myself I am going to bed at a certain time I end up staying up working and extra couple hours and feeling like crap the next day. I really need to break the cycle, but things just keep piling up and there doesn't seem to be enough time to do it all. Anyway, I've got to prepare some things for tomorrow before I can finally go to bed. Night!

September 3, 2008

Bad Day

You ever have one of those days? I know that's a silly question because we all have, and we all will again. I don't know why, I just felt like I kept getting hit with stuff today and I never got a chance to regain my balance. You know those inflatable clowns with the weights in the bottom? Something like that. Over the weekend I felt like I had a pretty good handle on everything, but now despite working pretty much all the time I feel like everything is starting to slip away, like there's just too much going on. I know they kind of warned us about this in the previous terms but with normal classwork, DFS, MIT, and TGP (whoa, acronym alert...) and now all the career stuff jammed on top of it, it's starting to feel a bit overwhelming.

When I got home today I felt like I was just going to pass out as soon as I sat down. I did in fact for about 30 min., then I basically had to get up and get right to work. Well, I did take about 30 min. to play a little Mercenaries 2. I find the wanton destruction in that game therapeutic after days like this. Anyway, I just feel exhausted, but I need to keep working in order to stay afloat. Oddly enough I think we have less class time scheduled this term than any other and yet I am spending most of my time at the school involved in one thing or another. Alright, well there's a lot I want to get done tonight, and I also need a good night's sleep so I better get cracking...

September 2, 2008

The Hunt

Today's post is going to be a bit short, but I don't really feel too bad about it since yesterday's went on forever. Anyway, it seems like everyone's gotten a little introspective lately with the end of our time here fast approaching and the onset of all the career stuff that's been hitting us fast and furious these first couple weeks. I guess being forced to think about yourself in pretty much every dimension possible really makes you evaluate yourself. What are you good at? What do you suck at (and how can you spin it)? What is it you really want to do? What are you doing to get there?

I think it's made everyone a little anxious, especially with Austin GDC only a couple weeks off and most of us still pretty far from having our portfolios organized and actually worthy of being shown to potential employers. I think we're all starting to figure out what is we want: what positions, what companies, what locations, the whole thing, but we're also starting to evaluate the chances of getting exactly what we want, and the odds of every other possible outcome. Or maybe that's just me... Anyway, it's gotten me thinking about all these things and scheduling mock interviews and other networking preparation all over the place.

I'm definitely in a much better, much more confident position than I was a year and a half ago for my first GDC, but there's still a lot of stuff rolling through my mind, like what I want to work on, where, and what it's going to take to get the job I really want. Well, I've got things that need working on, so now's not the time to really go into all that, but I'm sure I'll cover it sometime soon. Alright, gotta go, night!

September 1, 2008

I see a glorious future...

I've been thinking a lot about my life lately, about what the Guildhall has given me and what its taken, about where I am going and where I am, about my path through life. I think at the end of the day there are things that I am unhappy about right now, probably most notably my lamentable social situation, but I think I am on the right track. I mean, all the stuff that bothers me about my current life is stuff that will go away as soon as I get out of this place, and as far as jobs go I don't think I could imagine enjoying anything as much as I enjoy this.

The hardest thing about the Guildhall really is the whole work-life balance thing. In what I will call the "real world," you have your job, and when you are at work you are committed to the job, focused on the task at hand, and when you are at home you are "off the clock" so to speak. You may have some long nights, and even have to work the occasional weekend, but generally, you are able to keep your work from invading your personal life. The problem with the Guildhall is you never really come off the clock. Everything you work on can always be improved, and you never know which piece is going to land you that dream job you've always wanted, so there's a lot of pressure to keep working, so when you actually do decide to take some time off, the things you should be doing are always on your mind.

Take this weekend for example, I got a reasonable amount accomplished both in school and my personal life, but it wasn't nearly the amount I had planned for. Every now and then as I was just playing games or watching TV to relax, my schoolwork was always floating around the back of my brain keeping me from truly enjoying my time off. Now, the way to fix that would usually be to finish the work so you don't have to think about it, but as I stated previously, there really is no way to "finish" this work. Not that that kept me from taking some time off and enjoying it, just something to consider. Also, I'm not trying to overstate things, just voice opinions and realizations I've only recently uncovered.

The truth is the Guildhall really doesn't let you have a life, and that's something that we all just accept, and I guess I'm getting a little tired of it. I am ready to get out of here and get back to my real life, which I think will be much improved with this new career choice. I am ready to get back to having nights and weekends to do with as I please, to go out with friends, participate in hobbies and activities, meet people, maybe even have a date now and then. As I said at the beginning of this post, I recognize what the Guildhall has given me, and I am grateful for the training I've received and the people that have made it possible, but I am ready to move on.

Anyway, I guess that will end my rant for the day. The last few days I have done little to no school work and I've played a lot of games. I finished Too Human and R&CF: Quest for Booty. Too Human is fun but ultimately I think the plot takes a backseat in the game which is sad for a story-centric studio like Silicon Knights. From the original Legacy of Kain to Eternal Darkness I have always loved their stories and the way they tied the player into the plot. Too Human felt more like a bunch of important (though oddly disconnected) things were happening and the player just happened to be around to see it. Still I've enjoyed my time with it and co-op is a hoot, so I'll probably keep playing it when I need to blow of some steam, at least until I max out my character.

Quest for Booty was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I think well worth the money I paid for it. I'm not sure how long it was, but I think it felt about right for $15, maybe a little on the short side... They did some cool new things with the wrench, though I would have liked to see a couple new weapons for the new adventure, or at least the option to somehow acquire my old ones from the original R&CF: Tools of Destruction. I can understand the balancing nightmare of letting me bring in my other weapons, but it still would have been a nice extra. I do, however, appreciate the addition of the hard difficulty setting, which definitely challenged me in a number of places. I definitely died on the last boss at least a half dozen times. Good stuff...

In addition to finishing those games, I picked up Mercenaries 2 for the 360 yesterday and I've been playing the crap out of it ever since. I loved the original Mercenaries and as far as I can tell they've basically improved the game in every way possible. The missions generally seem far more involved and interesting, each of the factions has their own stores and items so you really need to work to keep them all happy with you, and the new stockpile system really makes you think about what you want/need before you go out tearing up the countryside. All the great stuff from the original Mercenaries is still there as well in some form or another. The ability to call in devastating ordinance from artillery shells to a nuclear bunker buster (haven't gotten this yet, but I've seen it in previews), the opportunity to approach missions from a number of different directions depending on player skill and style, and just a fun, large, open world environment with LOTS of stuff to destroy. Maybe I'm just a sucker for big, fancy explosions (which is probably true to a certain extent), but I am loving it so far, my only concern is my quickly rising completion meter seems to indicate the adventure will end sooner than I would like (though the lack of any in-game timer makes it difficult to tell how long I've already been playing).

With all this gaming I haven't really gotten nearly as much work done this weekend as I would have liked. I managed to revise my thesis proposal for final review and do a little more work on my DFS/thesis whitebox, but not nearly as much as I had intended. I don't think this should put me too far off the pace for any deadlines, but it may require a few long night to recover. Anyway, I'm not going to sweat it right now, there are a lot of hours in the day and I don't think I'm that far from accomplishing any particular goal I have. As for right now, I need to decide if I want to try to cram a little work now at the end of my day or write the day off as a loss (at least for schoolwork) and play a game for a little bit before getting to bed. Oh decisions, decisions...