October 29, 2008

More Small Victories (44 Days)

Sorry for the lag, I'm sure you are all waiting with bated breath for my next amazing post. The last couple days have been busy, but not overly so. I was working for a while on my Thesis data on Monday until about 12:00 and then I came home and fell immediately to sleep. Yesterday, Fallout 3 came out so outside of class I spent some time hooking my computer up to my fancy TV and then just played that until about 1:00, which I am going to count as a sort of small moral victory (to let myself off for a night)

Today was TGP day all day. We had a milestone presentation which went alright. The game crashed during the presentation which is of course unfortunate, but overall I'm really quite proud of what the team has managed to accomplish in the short time we've had available. None of us has a lot of time to devote to it considering everything else, but I think the team has really put a lot of thought, time, and effort into the game, and it's really starting to come together. No we need to see if it finally manages to gel together or just remain potential sadly unrealized. The fact that yet another illness is rapidly sweeping its way through C9 isn't helping anything, especially with the job fair next week.

That's right, next week the company's that have decided to come visit the GH will be interviewing potential candidates all Thursday and Friday. We haven't really heard anything on who, if anyone, wants to interview us, but I figure I really don't want to be sick for that, so I'm trying my best to take it easy over the next few days, for what it's worth. Hopefully a week will be enough time to get over this thing. Anyway, that's about it. Now, I think I'll enjoy a little more Fallout before bed. Then tomorrow, I should try to work and stuff...I guess.

October 26, 2008

Small Victories (47 Days)

Well, this weekend got sidetracked a lot by various things, not least of all Fable 2. I don't know why, but that game has this addictive quality for me as I am continually sort of pursuing my own goals rather than those of the game (I think I've finished like five story quests including the prologue). It's funny because that is totally not how I play games usually, but the environment of Fable 2 seems so explorer centric that I guess it just brings it out in me. Other than Fable 2, I've been doing more Thesis testing and job search stuff (I sent out five more apps yesterday and today), but still not as much as I wanted to get done. Both tasks ran longer than I wanted, which precluded me from doing any of the Thesis data entry that I really need to do before I can realistically analyze anything.

In truth, the objective data (i.e., the numbers) shouldn't take that long to capture, it's the qualitative data (i.e., the interviews) that will take much longer to document and analyze. I think I can potentially keep moving without completely capturing the interview data though. The interview responses don't really need to be "analyzed" so much as I just need to think through them and use them to support my conclusions on the objective data. The more I can get done on the front end the better, but I'm juggling a lot of tasks right now, so it's important to determine which are the most critical.

As for the small victories thing, I guess I have two. The one is just that I managed to send out about as my applications as I wanted to despite delays. I'm aiming to send out a few a week to stagger any potential design tests I receive, and also to avoid driving myself crazy trying to fill out 10 - 20 applications every week. I'm not sure what is necessarily the correct approach, I'm not sure there is one, but this is the tact that I have decided to take. Also, I've been having trouble with my DirectTV so I called them about it, and after a somewhat lengthy troubleshooting phone call they resolved they had to send someone out to look at it, meaning they were going to charge me for the privilege.

Since I wasn't too keen on that plan, I told them I'd think about it and just decided to fix the thing myself. I unplugged the box, moved some cables (which I may have admittedly put in the wrong places during the phone call), plugged it back in and it worked. I realize that I may have been at fault at some point during this process, but the fact that they wanted to send someone and charge me for a problem that could have easily been fixed over the phone, really irritates me. Anyway, it's fixed now so, woo! Small Victory! Now, I am going to try to get organized for this week (and the rest of term to some degree) and try to get a good night's sleep tonight so I can be ready for the days ahead. Night, all!

October 25, 2008

Something's Gotta Give (48 Days)

I worked a lot today, but didn't get as much done as I would have liked (it's amazing how that seems to coincide with days I work on the job search). As I examine, what I've managed to accomplish, what I still have left to do, and the time I have remaining, I am really starting to realize how hard it is going to be to get everything done. I keep plugging away at thesis, but even after I've tested everyone, I still need to get all the data captured electronically. Also, as I focus on that my DFS gets less and less attention, which it needs if I am going to have any chance of making our next milestone. Anyway, I don't think this is a terribly productive line of thought, so I think I will cut it off there.

On a side note, I am really enjoying Fable 2. The best thing I can say about it is I think they have really created an interesting world that I just like to hang around in. Most of the time I'm not doing quests, I'm just wandering around exploring or trying to make money in less conventional ways (like stealing, trading, or owning property) than standard employment. The world has a lot of interesting nooks and crannies to explore and it seems like there are tons of things to find if you really start to look. Very enjoyable and very soothing, which I need right now as the ongoing job hunt continues to stress me out. I know it's only been a couple weeks, but it just feels like everything is riding on this, even if it really isn't. With that I think I will go let Fable soothe me a little more before I head to bed. Later!

October 23, 2008

Some Fable Morality Math (50 Days)

These last few days of preparing and testing my thesis have been really grueling, so I took some time off (too much, in fact) to play Fable 2 (and I may do so again tonight, though at a much more responsible scale). I came across the following amusing bit of Fable morality and I just felt I had to share:

Stealing a Condom = 5 Evil points
Having protected premarital sex = 10 Good points

Stealing in order to have safe sex = 5 net Good points for society

Remember that kids...

Moving on, thesis testing has been going pretty well, but it's definitely been tiring me out. I've gotten 14 tests done so far, which I think is a little more than half of what I expect in total. Tomorrow, I've got to run about 6 more, and also send out a few more applications, at least three. Then, this weekend I need to start entering all the data into something I can analyze and I should probably do some work on my DFS in order to start making progress toward our next milestone. Anyway, for now I'm going to spend a little more time with Fable 2 before I turn in for the night. Later!

October 21, 2008

Thesis 'til you drop! (52 Days)

Well, my thesis is sort of semi-deferred right now. Basically, I am currently planning to finish on time as originally intended, but I have contingency plan in place in case I need a little time to get everything organized. I managed to recruit a bunch of testers today and I ran a few tests which I think went extremely well, so I am actually pretty happy with everything. I still need to do some organizational stuff before I can go to bed though, so I may not be the happiest person tomorrow morning. Maybe, I'll buy Fable 2 tomorrow to make myself feel better... ;)

October 20, 2008

Rough Start (53 Days)

I'm too sleepy to even think of anything really interesting to say right now. Suffice it to say the start of term didn't pull any punches, and now I am really looking forward to getting some rest. Night, all!

October 19, 2008

Back in the Saddle...Again (54 Days)

When you were a kid, did you ever make one of those chains out of construction paper where you pull one of the rings off each day until Christmas? Well, I've decided to do that electronically (and to perhaps make an actual chain) until my last day, December 12th, so you'll see that parenthetical day counter from now on...

Today was a good day overall. I've gotten some good work done on my Thesis, helped make arrangements for the Dissonance playtest tomorrow, ran some personal errands, and even had time to play through a chapter of Dead Space (which still continues to impress) and play some SOCOM with Rick. Now, I'm still working on cleaning up my Thesis/DFS level to run through it tomorrow morning with my advisor so I can finally move on to testing it. It's going to be a busy semester, but I think I'm up to the challenge. I've come to far to crap out now...

Alright, work time! Later!

October 18, 2008

The Beginning of the End

It's funny...for some reason, this break has consistently made me think of my first break at the Guildhall, the one between Terms 1 and 2. I can't figure out why. Maybe it's just because they both occurred at around the same time in the year or maybe it's because of big game releases in and around that week, maybe being at the end of something makes you think about the beginning, I'm not really sure. Anyway, I spent the day getting some personal stuff in order, arranging some materials for our Dissonance playtest on Monday, and finally taking advantage of the Toys R Us deal. I ended up picking up SOCOM: Confrontation, Saints Row 2, and Tales of Vesperia.

After a somewhat lengthy setup process (ok, maybe it actually was lengthy) and some technical hiccups I got to play a little SOCOM both on my own and with Rick. I've been enjoying it thus far for it's slower paced more team-oriented, tactical approach to combat. Unfortunately, I'm a total rookie and the result is that I spend a lot of time dead...A LOT. I've definitely improved since my first match, but I still have a strong tendency to "spray and pray" whenever I see an enemy. Also, the servers are still a bit...unreliable at this point, so getting into a game is sometimes difficult, but I'm hopeful they'll have that ironed out soon, probably before the next time I have time to play anyway. I've only played a little Saint's Row 2 and most of that was customizing my character, but so far I enjoy it's tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top approach to sandbox gangster gameplay. Now, I'm going to try out Tales of Vesperia before I finally call it quits on what is effectively the last day of my "break."

Tomorrow I really need to hunker down and finish up with the Dissonance testing materials, not to mention getting everything ready to start testing my Thesis next term. With Dissonance, my DFS, my Thesis, and the job search, my next term is sure to be a busy and stressful one, but I'm only eight weeks away from freedom (not counting any minor overtime my thesis may require I suppose) and that's I very reassuring thought. On that note, I'm going to go enjoy what's left of the night. Later!

October 16, 2008

I Have Fans? Who Knew?

I recognize that I haven't posted in a while (obviously) and the reasons are numerous and varied, though they can't be distilled down to some mixture of exhaustion and forgetfulness. Ths lapse however apparently did not go unnoticed, so I figure I should attempt to explain it at least somewhat. This last finals week may have been the most difficult yet and the fact that it let out into this psuedo-break hasn't been much help either. Admittedly, the day after our last final, I took the day completely off, I played videogames all Saturday and pretty much avoided anything even resembling productivity, and it was one of the best days ever. For the first time I can remember in the last few months (maybe longer), I was completely without stress. For that magical day, I was able to completely forget about my Thesis, and Dissonance, and my DFS, and my job search, for that one day I felt really "free."

Unfortunately, my freedom may have been a glimpse of what lies ahead, but I am not there yet. The following Sunday, I basically worked on my portfolio from about 2:00 P.M. until 5:00 A.M. Monday morning in order to get everything in order before they went out to potential employers Monday at 9:00 A.M. The "final" version of my portfolio (at least the one that has now been submitted) is now available, and you can get to it through the same link as before or the more easily remembered www.thomashoeg.com. Since then, I have been spending a lot of time relaxing and recovering from last term and trying to get caught up on my life, the stuff I let slide during the term until I have time during these breaks.

After recovering from the Portfolio crunch I slept in pretty late on Monday, went in to Gearbox to pick up a leftover paycheck, then played video games during the afternoon and hung out with friends that evening. Tuesday I played Starcraft: The Boardgame with friends (and I won) and then concluded the evening with more video games ( I am currently working my way through Neverwinter Nights 2). Yesterday, I ran a bunch of errands like renewing my automobile registration and picking up various necessities like soap and detergent, but I also took some time to shop for video games (unsuccessfully attempting to take advantage of Toys R Us' "Buy 2, Get 1 Free" offer on all videogames) and I ended up picking up Dead Space and playing it a fair bit in addition to cleaning up my email and watching the final presidential debate. Then today, I spent most of my day researching companies, writing cover letters, and submitting job applications (three in total thus far), with a little Company of Heroes thrown in for good measure (which took longer to get setup than it probably should have).

There's still a lot I know I want (or wanted) to do with this week, but time is quickly running out. I feel like I need another week just to get everything in order, but I guess everybody probably feels that way from time to time. With pretty much two projects to focus on next term (not counting Thesis stuff), I am hopeful that it will be a bit easier to manage things, but who knows what the whole job hunt is going to throw at me. Tests, interviews, applications...it's all very exciting, but a little bit scary at the same time. I mean, in the next two months I will basically find out if the last year and a half have really been worth it. Maybe I'm placing a bit too much emphasis on it, but that's definitely how it feels.

About the job hunt, I suppose I should state this now to avoid and questions or comments in the future. I have decided NOT to post any specifics about my job hunt (where I am applying, who has interviewed me, who has rejected me) to avoid any potential negative fallout should a potential employer stumble upon my humble blog. I'm not really sure if anyone would care if I got an offer from Company X or never heard back from Company Y, but I figure I'm better safe than sorry. If you want to hear how things are going, feel free to email me or leave me a comment and I'll let you know privately. I may decide to summarize how things went at the end, but only after I am certain about where I am going.

Finally, I will leave you with this: Dead Space is awesome, it's probably one of the most immersive games I have ever played, and the team should be commended for the HUD-less interface they've managed to put together. It's a genius setup that I hope more games move toward if they can. It's so good that I considered putting subtitles on (because of some heavily accented audio logs), but decided not to because it seemed like a slap-in-the-face to the rest of the interface. Add all that to the fact that it feels like a real, honest-to-goodness survival horror game (unlike what certain Capcom franchises have slowly become), and I think you've got something really special, which is saying a lot considering its leading off against some heavy hitters in the next few weeks. Alright, well hopefully this long, rambling post, will somewhat make up for the last week, but if not....well, you'll just have to live with it. Now, I'm off to shoot some space zombies...

October 9, 2008

Wednesday: When Does Tom Go To Sleep?

Sorry, missed this in the dash to finish things on time...7:45 A.M. this time...

October 8, 2008

Late Night #...eh, I don't even remember...

At school, busy working, will post my bedtime later. Woo!

October 7, 2008

Tuesday: When Does Tom Go to Sleep During Finals?

10:50 P.M. today, I'm completely beat...

Short Update

I think the LD milestone went well today, I think my little GoW level came out very nicely. There are a lot of things I could still do for my DFS, now it's just a question of what I can do with the time left and where I can get the most bang for the buck. For now, sleep deprivation has turned my brain to mush so I'm going to turn in early tonight in preparation for my long, sleepless night tomorrow....

New Game: When Does Tom Go to Sleep During Finals?

Today the answer is 5:24 A.M.

This will be an ongoing posting series this week...Now, sleep...

October 6, 2008

Last Minute

This post is entirely for my siblings (who may or may not even read this). I apologize in advance, but your birthdays have fallen on our finals week this term and I am up to my neck in projects that aren't done. So...




I promise I'll send you all presents and well wishes as soon as I get a chance. I hope you all are doing well and I look forward to seeing you all for the holidays. Alright, work time...

October 5, 2008

No rest for the weary...

End of term is coming on as hard as ever this week. There's still plenty of work I want/need to do on my Gears level and my DFS before they're due in addition to work on Dissonance and my portfolio. It's definitely going to be a rough week, but for now I better get back to work and see how much I can mitigate the damage.

October 4, 2008

Scripting = : - )

I know I'm saying this a lot, but I'm too busy for a real blog post today. I'm still catching up on my DFS for our final milestone this term, in addition to other schoolwork. The good news is I've finally gotten to the point where I can start really getting into the scripting, which is easily my favorite part of designing the level. Anyway, I guess I should get back to it. Maybe I'll have time to make some more substantial posts once I make it to this next break...

October 2, 2008


It's been a busy week, just got back from school so I'm going to wind down for the evening and try to get some rest before tomorrow's portfolio review. That's all for now...