My Friends Continue…

…To be more interesting than I. My old friend Eric Peterson, who ran Warthog/Fever Pitch back when I worked there on Hit & Myth, is now in the process of bringing the original Descent back from the dead. I think it looks damn spiffing.

Descent Underground is now playable on Steam Early Access, and while I know there are some quality issues with Early Access, I promise you will get more from DU than you did from Godus.

Um, Hi.

Hey.

Um.

Sorry about not updating for a while. Things have been slightly crazy.

Crazy AWESOME!

In our last episode, I mentioned that I had finally found a way home for myself and my family. ‘Twas a terrible thing to leave you guys hanging without the rest of the story, and I’m sorry. So here it is!

First, I was just amazed at how well the move worked out financially. Aspyr was willing to front us our move allowance, and a recent payment for my work on Fargoal 2 (still in development!) helped a lot too. (Thanks, Jeff!)

The move itself was straining, though. I’ve now moved cross-country three times and it’s been a harrowing experience each time. But there were no accidents or thefts or anything else untoward. Did get pulled over once but the cop let me off with a warning. (Thanks, cop!)

I’d been back to Austin twice, both times for job interviews. I could see that the city had changed a bit in the five years we’d been gone. Einstein’s Arcade on the Drag is gone for good. The Broken Spoke, a famous honky-tonk, is now sandwiched between two apartment buildings. Indeed, there’s been a lot of housing construction, most of it in the big-city “trendy apartments with storefronts on the bottom floor” type. Dunno how much I like that, but even before I left the city planners had announced that they wanted to turn Austin into a “24-hour city” so it’s not that surprising.

But I was still worried. Was it just a nostalgia filter? Or would living in Austin really be better than Florida?

Oh, yes.

triforcecar

In case you can’t make that out (because I Are Not A Photographer), it’s a car with a window decal of the Hyrule Royal Crest on it.

I saw this within the first two weeks back. I didn’t really want to get back to Austin because it’s a beautiful city (even though it is) or because it’s got wonderfully quirky shops (even though it does) or because it’s got excellent food (even though it does does does does).

It’s because I wanted to be back among like-minded people.

And now I am.

And it’s made me happy.

(does)

Inaria in the Bundle-In-A-Box!

Got a LOT to talk about today, so let’s get it started!

First…I’m in my first bundle! I was contacted by the administrators of the the Bundle-In-A-Box, and they asked to include Inaria in their new RPG bundle. I said yes, and now you know why I needed beta testers for the new version of Inaria. I’m so excited!

This bundle features a whole bunch of RPGs, including the one from my good friend Jay Barnson, Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon!

So I can check that off the list now.

Now Arriving At Your Destination

So, last Friday around 5 PM we pulled into The Lakes at Deerfield Beach, an apartment complex here in Florida. Weary, exhausted, we went inside and signed some papers and handed over a huge wad of cash…and became the proud renters of a beautiful new apartment.

Then we just had to get all the stuff inside. We had called ahead and hired some movers but we’d told them that we would be there at 1 PM and we were really, really late.

But they were still there and they moved us in. I tipped them big; it was a lifesaver.

Then it was a matter of juggling finances (and ending up having to borrow some money) so we made our March rent on time. Then it was just time to wait until I started working.

And yesterday I went to my new job for the first time. Everyone there seems very nice, the corporate culture seems laid back (and I need that after General Motors, honestly). The work looks like something I can do.

Here’s a thing though…I hadn’t slept much the night before (I do have an anxiety disorder, after all). So by lunch I was dragging.

So I had a Coke.

(gasps from the audience)

Yes, I deliberately drank caffeine for the first time in over four years. Other than the small amounts of caffeine in chocolate, I had not consumed any since my heart problems started in October of 2008.

Now, I had already asked my doctor years ago, and he had said that a caffeinated soda a day wouldn’t hurt me. In fact, a doctor once put me on modafinil, a much strong stimulant than caffeine! (I didn’t realize what it was at the time.) But I was afraid to do it until today. Today, I felt like it was necessary for me to be at my best.

And the worst part was, it worked. I felt great! I got lots of stuff done. I felt like things might be okay now.

I was kind of half-hoping that it wouldn’t work, so I could tell myself, hey, I tried it, it doesn’t work, no need to be tempted any more. But it did.

I guess programmers really are machines that turn caffeine into code. So I guess I’ll be having a (single) soda each day to fuel that.

I just have to be careful. Now, there is still no clinical research showing that stimulants cause heart attacks, but when you tell the paramedics that you drink a lot of caffeine and are taking pseudophedrine and they look at each other knowingly, that’s evidence enough for me.

Wow, this got off course. The upshot is, we’re here and it looks like we’re staying. My first-day jitters are over and it looks like, for a while at least, I’m going to be working for a living and we’ll be getting back to what normal people consider normal.

Thank you to all my friends and family who helped us. It really does feel like waking from a nightmare.

Evocation

I love music. I don’t think I’m unique in this regard. But I will seize upon a song and listen to it over and over, memorizing the lyrics and singing it myself. As a result, certain songs remind me strongly of what I was going through in my life when I was listening to them.

Listening to “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel evokes sitting in high school, wishing desperately that I could kick the habit and shed my skin.

Listening to “The Boys of Summer” and other songs from Building the Perfect Beast evokes driving to and attending Macon Community College.

Listening to “Beyond the Silver Rainbow” by Genesis evokes walking the streets of Austin, looking for a job.

Listening to “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota” by Weird Al Yankovic evokes working at Origin, testing the PlayStation and Saturn versions of Crusader: No Remorse.

Listening to Body Count evokes that time I lived in a crack house. (I don’t willingly listen to Body Count any more.)

Yesterday, while I was shopping, “The Game of Love” by Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders came on the overhead speakers and I was instantly transported.

Back when I was in high school, I didn’t have a computer. This was like not having oxygen. I played and programmed the computers at school and we had a family computer (a Tandy 1000, actually a pretty good machine), but I had no machine of my own and my time on the Tandy was always extremely limited.

But I had (and still have) a friend named Dennis Borders. He was one of a clique of young men at our high school that all had Commodore 64s. They would get together to play and trade games (ie, pirate them). They were constantly bringing game materials to school, which I would devour ravenously. I read the manual for Ultima III months before I actually got to play the game; the world the manual described enraptured me and it pained me that I couldn’t visit it right away.

And every once in a while, every 4-5 months or so, after months of me pleading and begging, my mother would let me stay overnight at Dennis’ house.

Forty-eight hours of pure, unadulterated computer gaming. It was heaven. I refused to sleep. We played Ultima III, Ultima IV, Ghostbusters, Gauntlet, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Hardball, Impossible Mission, Moebius, Winter Games, Summer Games, Questron, Questron II, Legacy of the Ancients, Uridium. We would also play some paper-and-pencil Dungeons & Dragons, which was wonderfully illicit, because my mother hates role-playing games; she thinks they are Satanic.

(Yes, that’s right, the two things I loved most in high school – RPGs and computers – my mother despised. We didn’t get along very well.)

In the late 80’s, a movie called Good Morning Vietnam came out. It was a good movie, but the real star was the soundtrack. Dennis made a mix tape for my sister (who he was sweet on at the time) that had “Game of Love” on it, and we listened to it like crazy.

So for a moment, I was transported back to Dennis’ house. For a moment, I was at his house, joystick in hand, staring at his TV, finally, finally happy.

It was pretty awesome.

The Move is Done

Okay, we’re in Detroit, and although the move was not without incident, I don’t feel like dwelling on that. We’re all together and we’re all relatively safe.

I’m splitting my time between working on my games and going through a book called Cracking the Coding Interview. If either one of these things pans out then we should be able to move out of here soon.

And to everyone who donated and everyone who encouraged me…to everyone who cared…thank you. One of the reasons I wanted to get back to Austin was because I felt that my family and friends were there. Here in Michigan I felt disconnected – cut off from the people who cared about me. You guys proved that I’m not. That, for some reason, there are people who care about me and my family all over the world, and you made it possible for us to end up here instead of on the street.

Thank you all.

I’m not doing anything cool, but my friends are.

First, the incomparable Jari Komppa has an article in the April 2010 issue of Game Developer Magazine detailing how he went about porting a DOS game – Remedy’s classic Death Rally – to Windows. No DOSBox, a straight code port. Very interesting to see how things have changed and how some things worked his way and some didn’t.

Oh, and if you’re just interested in a free game, you can download the new Death Rally for free at Remedy’s website.

Meanwhile, back at The Ranch, the even more incomparable Fat Man is gearing up to start offering classes in music composition for games at all levels of expertise. If you’ve got ANY interest in composing music for games (or for composing music at all) then even one session with him could be an incredible boost to your career.

As for me…still making Elemental, which is cool, but I can’t talk about it. Which is poopy. And Elemental is taking up so much of my time that I just don’t feel like coding anything else when I get home. I’m sure this will change though.