Book Progress, Part Deux

I have now finished 110 of the 357 pages in my current book. That’s about thirty percent. I would very much like to get this book done by the end of next week…that will take a serious commitment from me. To the tune of about twenty-five pages a day.

I also have a little something else that I’ll talk about later, when it’s actually congealed.

David

You’ll have to forgive me. I am proving yet again that I’m just too boring a person to have a blog.

Actually, a lot happened to me in these last two weeks, it’s just that very little of it was related to game development. My son David started school last week.

I guess it’s time for me to come clean about my son. He has a mental problem of some sort; we’re not quite sure what it is. The best guess is mild autism. It took him a long time to learn to talk and it took us forever to get him potty trained.

Side story: My wife and I finally got fed up when he turned three and wasn’t potty trained yet. We decided one night to just sit him down on his training potty and not let him get up until he went in it. We both had to sit there and make sure he didn’t run away; it was frustrating for everyone involved though we tried our best to keep it positive. Eventually, David pointed at my wife and said, “YOU change the diaper!” which I think is the first complete sentence we ever heard him say. My wife and I were very surprised, but we recovered and told him, “No, David, you’re a big boy now, no more diapers.” While we didn’t get him to go that night, it was definitely the breakthrough experience for him because he started going in the potty regularly just a few days after that, to our great relief.

The interesting thing is that he learns new stuff every single day. He just turned five about a month ago and he just started kindergarten, but he knows all his shapes, all his colors, what colors combine to make other colors, his entire alphabet, all his numbers at least up to twenty, and even all his planets (I haven’t had the heart to tell him about Pluto). He also draws better than I’ve ever seen a five-year-old draw – when he draws eyes, he actually draws ovals and then puts pupils in them, and both eyes are always looking in the same direction. So it’s kind of frustrating that we can’t seem to get him to understand that he needs to put his pants back on when he’s done using the bathroom.

If he didn’t have the social problems he has, he would definitely be considered a bright child. But it’s impossible to have a conversation with him. If you ask him a question, the odds are good that he will simply repeat the question back to you instead of answering it. He uses words to make himself understood, but it’s usually just one word or a short phrase (“Drink!” “Hot dogs!” “Blue’s Clues!”). Despite our best efforts, we haven’t been able to get him to understand the concept of “not yours” or the concept of “dangerous”. He has actually gotten out of the house a couple of times by waking up before anyone else and figuring out how to unlock the front door – we finally had to put a double-deadbolt on the front door (so that you need a key to get in AND to get out) in order to put a stop to that, because no matter what kind of latch we put on the door he figured out a way to unlatch it, and no matter what we put in front of the door he figured out a way to move it. Needless to say, that was a very scary time for us.

Now he’s started kindergarten. We told his teacher before he started that he was going to be a handful. Fortunately, she realized right away that she was going to need some help with him. The special education teachers examined him and were very surprised at everything he knew (especially when he started drawing). They’re actually excited to work with him. It’s obvious that David learns very easily, it’s just a matter of teaching these concepts to him in ways that he can understand. They believe that there’s a good chance they can get him caught up socially this year, so that when he starts first grade next year he’ll be able to go to a normal class.

You have no idea how relieved I was to hear them say that.

And fortunately, our youngest doesn’t appear to be having the same problems David did.

Book Progress

I am currently on page 78 of Frank Luna’s book. There are 376 pages in it. I am averaging about ten pages a day, which means I’ll be done in about a month unless I really pick up the pace. Of course, I don’t want to rush too much or I might miss things, which would be counterproductive.

In other news, last night I dreamt that I’d already lost all my weight and everyone was commenting on how good I looked. Then I woke up. 🙁

Heavy-A

The camera made me mad.
I’m 6’4″. I weigh over 300 pounds. I am a big dude.

I’m not just big, I’m wide. Even if I weren’t overweight I’d still take up a whole doorframe because of the width of my shoulders.

I also like to keep my hair real short because of how grey it is. Seeing a head full of grey hair in the mirror makes me sad, so I just cut it all off.

Plus I can do the growly voice.

Because of all this, I am constantly asked if I play football. At more than one party I have been mistaken for a security guard. I have been told that I have an intimidating presence.

But I’m not intimidating. I don’t have a violent nature. I love rainbows, and, and kittens! And small children! And…and pretty stuff! Architecture! And flowers! Lots of flowers!

Sometimes I actually like to embrace my largish nature, as evidenced by the picture above (which will go on my Aspyr badge).

But I’m really just a big fuzzy-wuzzy cuddly bear, dammit!

Quick Planitia Update

In the wake of my article on getting started in game programming, I have been taking my own advice and doing some learning. In particular I am getting more familiar with Direct3D. While I’ve known the basics for a while, I want to become a more advanced 3D programmer and I also need to learn vertex and pixel shaders. So I’m working my way through Frank Luna’s Introduction to 3D Game Programming with DirectX 9.0. I mentioned this book earlier but I really can’t say enough about it. As far as I’m concerned this is the book to get if you want to learn Direct3D.

Plus, with sections on terrain rendering, particle systems and picking, this book could have been subtitled “How to Program Planitia”.

So, no work will be done on Planitia for a bit while I work my way through this book. I’m currently on page 60 of 376. I am hoping to get through the book by the end of this week, though that will take some serious work.

Time For Zombies!

Dead Rising is a proper application of next-generation technology. Observe the following hypothetical design discussion:

Capcom Designer 1: Okay, what can we do on the Xbox 360 that we couldn’t do before?

Capcom Designer 2: Make the exact same kind of games we’ve been making, only prettier?

Capcom Designer 1: Dude, we’re designers, not artists. What can we do from a design standpoint that we couldn’t do before?

Capcom Designer 2: I don’t know…um…instead of putting a small number of very highly detailed models on the screen, we could put a very large number of moderately-detailed models on the screen instead.

Capcom Designer 1: Okay, that’s a good start…what kind of game could we make with that technology?

Capcom Designer 3: How about a game where you can run around and kill hundreds of zombies using anything that comes to hand?

Designer 1 + Designer 2: JACKPOT!

In other ways, though, the game is quite conventional:

Capcom Modeller 1: I’m giving every woman in this game really big boobs.

Capcom Modeller 2: Why?

Capcom Modeller 1: Because I can.

Capcom Modeller 2: AWESOME!

But it’s not about the boobs. It’s about cutting zombie heads off with a scythe. And as a result, this is the first game to ever make me really want a 360. Maybe that’ll be my Christmas present to myself…

Congratulations to Brad and Debbie Wardell!

Brad Wardell is the founder of Stardock and the creator of the Galactic Civilizations series of games. He’s one of my favorite people, and just a few days ago he and his wife Debbie were blessed with their third child, a girl named Ashley. They already have two boys, so its good that their third was a girl…it guarantees that they will get the Full Parenting Experience 🙂

Congratulations, Brad and Debbie!

E3

Well, I guess I should just be happy that I managed to have a game shown there…but I would really have liked to have gone, at least once. I never thought that the day would come when there wasn’t an E3 to look forward to in May.

And how will the poor Gamespot editors assert their superiority over each other and us now?

And now Gabe and Tycho are making noises about how PAX could become the next E3. Something tells me that they simply have no idea how much trouble they are making for themselves by suggesting that.