December 30, 2008

Gamer Be Not Proud

Not much to report on over the last few days really. I've been playing more games (surprise) and not doing a whole lot else :P. I am looking forward to the new job, but I am sort of lamenting the logistics of the move (and associated chores). Oh well, I guess you can't have everything. Today I played a bit of Endwar, some Prince of Persia, and some Gears of War 2 to finish off the day. Over the past couple days I've been struggling with Endwar as I tried to finish a campaign on the 'Hardcore' difficulty setting, but I have just been finding it beyond me. Just a hair beyond my skills and frustratingly so, add to that that I went 1-3 on my first foray online and that about 70 points worth of achievements depend on playing Hardcore and I was really reticent to move down to the 'Expert' difficulty level. Nevertheless I moved it down today and found the experience to be much more enjoyable and less stressful even if it is a bit on the easy side.

Over the past few months I have found myself favoring progression over challenge, which is a bit different from my original play habits. I still like to be reasonably challenged in order to feel that I have actually accomplished something, but I am finding that since I haven't had as much time to play games, or maybe simply because this year had such a fantastic crop of games to play, I prefer to make progress rather than be "really challenged." What's interesting about the whole things is that I have a general rule about my difficultly levels that I only violate in certain circumstances, most recently around achievements. Since most games tend to use a difficulty setting of either three or four levels, my rule has always been the second level if there are three, and the third level if there are four. Obviously it depends on the game, but this rule has served me well and generally finds me a satisfying difficulty level in most of the games I play.

Anyway, I violated it for the Achievements in Endwar, and I think it bit me in the butt for a while. Mostly because it was making the experience more stressful and frustrating then it needed to be, all for some random points on my gamerscore, which has no real value. I've fallen into this trap a few times before, and I realize it's a silly one, so I'll put it on my list of New Year's resolutions. I am sure most of the readers out there are perfectly capable of avoiding this trap, but to those few who do occasionally fall into the same camp as me, I say this: don't be so proud, remember that game's are about having fun, so play them in whatever is the best way for you to do that. Alright, there's my message for the day. Have a Happy New Year everyone!

December 27, 2008

Being Lazy (and Loving it)

Well, as expected my posting continues to be lackluster at best. Since my last post I've just been enjoying my time off by spending time with the family, playing plenty of games, and otherwise trying to avoid anything that can be considered an adult responsibility. Christmas was remarkably...lucrative. I probably get more presents than a 25 year-old with two master's degrees should get, but my parent's don't seem to have a problem with it, and I am certainly keen on getting free toys and games during holidays. Since then I've just been playing with my Christmas loot. I've played a little bit of Prince of Persia, Endwar, and Resistance 2 just to name a few. I also got a lot of paper games like Race for the Galaxy and Robo Rally, which I have been playing with Rick and Sharon. I am hopeful that I kind find a new group to play boardgames with in Burbank as I've certainly assembled a sizeable collection over the years.

Beyond that, I don't really have too much else to report on. I suppose vacation time isn't particularly interesting, but I'd rather have something here than not, so you can draw your own conclusions as to whether it is at all worthwhile. I've been in contact with a bunch of different people who are helping me relocate to Burbank, which is still very exciting. I know I have signed the offer at this point, but I still have trouble believing it. I just seems like a was in such a different place only a short while ago. It also seems like my life has completely changed in a relatively short span of time. Altogether it's pretty cool, though I still have trouble wrapping my head around it all. Anyway, I will leave my random introspective musings for another time, but suffice it say, I'm pretty happy with how everything is going at this moment. Now, I will get back to enjoying the rest of my time off before I have to return to the "real world." Later!

December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas (Eve)!

Hey all,

It's been a few days since my last post, though not a lot has happened over that time. I've spent the last few days hanging out with Rick and Sharon and trying to finish Valkyria Chronicles while Rick wasn't around so as to not spoil the story for him. I got to about the 17th chapter, but was unable to finish it before he started his holiday vacation. Oh well, I'll try to finish it in the next week or so during the few hours each night between when he falls asleep and when I do. We'll see how that works out, otherwise I'll take care of it some time early next year. Other than that I haven't done very much, just enjoying my first real vacation in a while. I figure I won't post anything tomorrow seeing as it is Christmas and all, but I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and otherwise Happy Holidays!

December 21, 2008

Oh, Irony!

Alright, so it's been a few days (again), which is likely to be the story of this vacation as I try to be as huge a bum as possible before I start my new job next year. With that, I know at least some of you are probably interested where I finally landed (and some of you are trying to guess). I have now concluded my job search and let all the affected companies know so I can happily announce that I am the newest developer (I think) at Insomniac Games in Burbank, California!

For those that aren't "in the know" they are the makers of Ratchet and Clank, Spyro the Dragon, and Resistance: Fall of Man. They are a great company, rated one of the top small / medium companies to work for (not restricted to game companies) for the last three years running. The offer was also fantastic, actually the best one I received which made my decision very easy. In addition, about two hours after I accepted the offer, while I was out with Rick and Sharon celebrating the job, I received the following fortune in my fortune cookie:

Pretty crazy, probably the most apropos fortune I have yet received. Anyway, I was amused, and it was a humorous end cap to the celebration. I am trying to start on January 13th, though given I don't even get back to Texas until January 4th it may be difficult, but the HR director was completely understanding about the whole thing, so if it has to slide, it has to slide. Other than that, I have just been relaxing and celebrating my good fortune for the holiday season. This was the job I was aiming for when I started my job search, and I managed to get it, which is pretty amazing. Alright, now I am going to go back to me lazy reveling. Later!

December 17, 2008

Career Decisions

Well, not too much going on here today. I am working through the last few steps in my job process, and once that's done I will finally announce it here and I can actually talk through at least some of the specifics of my job hunt (finally). I imagine I should be able to talk about it some time tomorrow, Friday at the latest. Everything is pretty much settled at this point, I just need to let all the companies know what I have decided before I share it here. I imagine my humble little blog doesn't draw too much attention, but it still feels like the respectful thing to do.

That being said, I am very excited about how everything has gone, I don't really think things could have realistically gone much better. I think I am actually pretty good at what I do, but I also had that necessary piece of good luck, or at least good timing that it takes to be successful. Outside of handling job stuff, I basically hung around Rick's house doing very little. I played some games, installed Fallout 3 on Rick's computer and then attached his computer to his TV so I could play it there. I'm still playing a lot of Valkyria Chronicles which is pretty awesome, but I have to schedule my play sessions around the time that Rick is home from work to avoid any spoilers. We went out to dinner tonight to China Cafe (probably the best Chinese restaurant I know of) to celebrate my offer, and then came home to sleep off the massive amount of food we ate. It's been a good day. With my job search starting to wind down I feel like I can finally relax for a little while...and that's a really good feeling.

December 16, 2008

Whirlwind (-6 Days)

Well, the day tracker seems a bit moot at this point, but I figured I should at least do one more before taking it off...

Sorry for the dearth of posts over the last week, so much has happened so quickly over that I'm just trying to keep up. Let's see, the last thing I did was defend my thesis...After that, I spent a reasonable amount of time fixing a few things in my DFS before I presented it on Tuesday. The presentation went well and I did well on the project so I was perfectly happy with that. From there, I stayed up late on Tuesday working with my team to prepare for our final Dissonance milestone which was last Wednesday afternoon. By the end of that night there was still a few more things we wanted to fix before final submission, so we also worked through Wednesday morning (and actually straight into our presentation) nailing the last few things down. The presentation went great, and overall I was very happy with how Dissonance turned out so I'd say the project was a huge success.

Wednesday evening after our presentation as I was sitting around our pit burning Dissonance DVDs, I got a call requesting an on-site interview on Friday. The company was very interested in getting me in before I flew back to Michigan for break, and I was equally excited to meet with them, so we set things up although it meant I had to miss our final exhibition. I had been a little under the weather the entire week so I decided to head home, rest, and relax for the remainder of the evening. Thursday, I spent the morning making the necessary edits to my thesis and submitted the hard copy with all my materials for final sign-off by my advisor and the rest of my defense committee. Then, still not feeling great I spent the rest of the day drinking lots water and juice in order to get better for my interview on Friday.

Friday morning I flew out to the company and had a host of different meetings with the some members of the team, including a brief discussion/test of my technical abilities and a review of the map I had submitted for my design test. After that, I got back on a plane and flew back to Texas to meet up with my brother and father who had flown out for my graduation the next day. We went out to dinner and I told them what I could about my experiences during the interview, and afterwards I pretty much went home to bed. Saturday was my graduation. I spent the morning just hanging out with Rick talking about games, and where I wanted to end up after graduation and all that. The graduation ceremony was fun and a very memorable hallmark on the end of my Guildhall career. I got to hear a lot of nice things about Dissonance and the exhibition, and I even got the chance to talk briefly with Ken Levine about my favorite boardgames, which was pretty cool.

Sunday, my family flew back to Michigan and I spent most of the day packing or just relaxing, still not quite realizing that the Guildhall was finally done. I distinctly recall sitting on my couch, feeling like there was something I should be doing or planning for, but nothing sprang to mind. That night I went out to Benihana with a few of my closest friends, which was a lot of fun, and one of my friend's parents actually picked up the check, which made things even better. Then, Monday morning I got one of the offers I had been waiting on (my first official offer) which was pretty exciting. I finished up my packing and flew back to Michigan for the beginning of my Winter break, and arrived at around 11:00 P.M. at my brother's house, where I will be living for the next few weeks.

Finally, today I slept in til about 11 AM then went out with Sharon (my sister in-law, not sure if I have referred to her by name here yet...) to pick up essentials and do my Christmas shopping. After that, I wrapped a few presents, then vegged out playing some Valkyria Chronicles on my brother's gigantic TV. When my brother got home from work we ordered a pizza and watched the most recent Chuck from yesterday and the rest of the movie Wanted (which we had briefly started the night before). I was expecting an offer today, but around 7:25 P.M. it seemed like it was unlikely to happen so I settled in for the movie. A few minutes later, my phone started ringing, and I got the other offer I had been waiting on. This offer was basically my dream job, the job I was pretty much aiming for from the start of my Guildhall career, so needless to say, I was incredibly excited, as were Rick and Sharon. The weather and time precluded us from going out tonight, but we are going out tomorrow to celebrate.

So there's basically everything you missed unless you are part of my immediate family. It's been a crazy week, and a lot has happened, but it's been amazing. I know I've said it before, but it's really remarkable how quickly things can change. I mean, 18 months ago, I had no chance at a job and really no idea of what I wanted, and now here I am. I know I've invested a lot of money and a lot of time in this so it didn't come without hardship, but I also feel as though my path has been blessed. The opportunities I've had, and how I've been able to take advantage of them, I feel, has been nothing short of miraculous. I don't want to pontificate on this point too much, as I am sure that there will be plenty of time for that, but I'm just...elated. I feel like for the first time in a long time, I can finally breathe, like I've finally found my direction. It's an amazing feeling, and I will certainly have more to say about it in the days to come (when I can actually reveal more specifically what the hell I am talking about). For now, let's just say...I couldn't be happier.

December 8, 2008

Thesis Accomplished (2 Days)

Successfully defended my thesis this morning...YAY! (One hurdle down, two to go)

I need to make some minor changes to the document before final submission (no one has actually ever passed w/o changes), but most of them are pretty simple and some are already done, I just need to cite them in the doc. I am going to try to finish them before I head home, hopefully before my family arrives for graduation on Friday. Now, I need to complete my DFS for presentation tomorrow, then try to pull together our team project for presentation on Wednesday.

I'm almost there...


December 7, 2008

Running on Empty (3 Days)

I decided to update my day counter to more correctly reflect when I am "done" and make myself feel a bit better about everything. I have spent most of the day preparing my Thesis defense and now I need to rehearse it before the presentation tomorrow morning. I'm feeling a little better today though that may be due to the strong medication I went out and bought so I could keep working. These next few days are going to be fierce, I just hope I can keep going long enough to get it all done. Alright, time to practice for tomorrow. Later!

December 6, 2008

I think my day counter is wrong... (6 Days) would appear that I am actually "done" on Wednesday (minus exhibition and the actual graduation, but I don't think those should be hard).

As I said in my last post, it's been a busy week, I finished a design test, went out on an interview, and continued my work on Dissonance and my DFS (though the latter has been pretty minimal lately). I'm not sure if it's the ups and downs in the weather or just a weakened immune system from sleep deprivation, but I've found myself on the wrong side of another illness. It's a little one (or so it would seem) but it's been keeping me kind of run-down today.

I tried to write the presentation for my thesis defense on Monday, but my mind was just not working well enough for that so I wrote my post mortem on Dissonance instead (though I did at least outline my defense presentation). Overall, I'd say the project went really well, especially considering its scope and timeline. We certainly made some mistakes, but I suppose that's the point of the post mortem - to recognize and learn from them. Anyway, I'm still feeling pretty exhausted, so I think I'm going to cut it off here....

These next few days are going to be pretty tense followed by the sweet release of freedom (for real this time!) on Wednesday after our last presentation, so I may not do much in the way of posting over the next few days, but we'll see how everything goes. Alright, now I'm going to actually go this time...Later!

December 2, 2008

No Time (10 Days)

Lots of stuff happening right now. I'll try to post something more substantial when I have more time. Whether that is before graduation remains to be seen...

December 1, 2008

Friendly Skies (11 Days)

Sorry for the delay on the post here, my layover in Cincinnati (or was it Kentucky?) was unfortunately extended so I spent the night trying to get what little sleep I could before I had to be back at the airport at about 6:00 A.M. the next morning. Anyway, aside from that minor detour, things have been pretty good today. Core hours for Dissonance were productive and my job search efforts for the day were well-received which is pretty awesome. Now, I've still got a few things I want to do tonight and some sleep to catch up on from the whole holiday travel nonsense. It's still going to be a long couple weeks, but it's all going to be worth it...I can tell....