Blog

25th June
2014
written by admin

My company Zymo Entertainment has just launched a new website!  You can check it out here.  www.zymoent.com

We are extremely happy to start uploading more content to it.

5th March
2013
written by admin

Everybody that knows me would tell you how excited I am about the change that Sony announced at the reveal of the PS4.  I want to go over some of the main points that I think are actually really huge for developers and the consumer.  This is going to be much more focused on the hardware with some touches on features they announced that I feel will be important in the future.

x86 CPU

When I first started working on the PS3 I was blown away with how complicated it was to use the CELL processor.  Now I love challenges, I did do some pretty cool thing on the SPU’s but the time and effort was much higher than I felt like it should of been.  I think the choice to go to a common architecture with 8 hardware cores, is a “HUGE” move forward for Sony.  This is going to make it so indie developers can actually build games for the PlayStation 4.  On the PS3 there was so much effort put into platform specific code that indie developers couldn’t afford to truly optimize for the hardware.  I would be willing to bet that a lot of the smaller PSN titles didn’t use the SPU’s at all, and even some of the larger games didn’t fully start utilizing them until later in the platform cycle.  Even though I’m going to miss not “discovering” some new hardware, I think this is going to help Sony more than we realize at this point.  Also because of this choice Sony is giving up the ability to support PS3 titles.  I feel like this isn’t a deal breaker though, and I believe a few months after the console has been released people won’t even mention that its missing.  Just hang on to your PS3 so you can boot up your old copies of Uncharted when you get the urge to play them again.

GPU

Not much was actually revealed about the GPU, but we know that it will be on the same die as the CPU, and will be connected to unified memory which I will cover after this.  The GPU was rumored to support DirectX 11, but I’m pretty certain Sony would not fully support a Microsoft technology, although I do believe they will have some of the features that DirectX 11 supports.  We’ll see though when more details come forward.

8GB GDDR5 Unified Memory

Take a minute to let that sink in, that is 16x the amount of memory in the PS3.  The amount of memory isn’t the only big announcement, the fact that it will be using 8GB of GDDR5 memory is completely unexpected.  GDDR5 memory is “fast” and also very expensive, but this is going to allow for so much more of everything.  I am a bit concerned that the price of games is going to increase a lot more, but lets hope this architecture makes development easier and faster than previous generations so it balances out.  The real increase in content will come in art creation though, and that will take more effort to create content that fills the memory provided.

Live Streaming to UStream

I didn’t see any mention of Twitch, but I hope that’s supported as well.  I think this is a huge step forward in connecting gamers with their audience.  I watch a lot of streams, and I know I’m excited for this feature, but I will be interested to see how many people are like me.

The Controller

The controller looks good, but I really hope they tightened up the joysticks, and fixed the triggers.  I use to love the PS2 controller, but as times have changed so has my demands for a good controller.  Going back to the Dreamcast and N64 which had horrible controllers, all the way to today where the Xbox 360 controller is amazing, the PS4 controller has to make some changes, and I for one can’t wait to see if they’ve done it.

 

A lot of the other features seemed more like a dream or something that isn’t in development yet such as streaming games remotely to your PS4, or having it so a friend can jump in and help you through a particular area that your stuck.  This all seems cool, but I want to see how much of this actually comes through.  With whats announced right now, I can’t wait for E3 where we are sure to find out more.

Also is Microsoft going to actually release this year?

1st February
2013
written by admin

I actually sat down tonight and wrote down the list of games I want to play that are already out, games I would like to play through again, and games that i’m most excited for in 2013.  The list ended up much longer than I expected primarily because of the steam sales over Christmas that filled my queue of games for the year.

Games I need to play ( kinda in order of how badly I want to play them )

  1. Ni No Kuni
  2. Mass Effect 3
  3. Darksiders 2 ( Almost at the end: Finish )
  4. Witcher 2
  5. Legend of Grimrock
  6. Borderlands 2 ( Currently Level 18: Finish )
  7. Max Payne 3
  8. Alan Wake
  9. Civilization V
  10. Sleeping Dogs
  11. Fire Emblem: The Awakening
  12. The Walking Dead
  13. Saints Row: The Third
  14. Tropico 4
  15. Space Marine
  16. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
  17. Batman Arkham City
  18. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition
  19. Dota 2
  20. Company of Heroes Tales of Valor campaign

Games that I would love to play through again

  1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ( I love this game )
  2. Skyrim ( I want to roll a new character maybe try some DLC )
  3. Company of Heroes ( Lets prepare for COH2 )

Short list of games i’m super excited for this year

  1. Heart of the Swarm
  2. Company of Heroes 2 ( Please still come out )
  3. Dead Space 3
  4. Bioshock Infinite

I’ve already got Heart of the Swarm preordered, I am itching to play that one.  I really hope COH2 comes out this year after the sad news with THQ.  I’m sure I missed some of the games that are due out this year, but honestly it seems like a slow year in releases, but I think the reason is primarily because the new consoles are right around the corner 🙂

Let me know what games are on your list for this year.

24th January
2013
written by admin

Gatecrash has been fully spoiled, and the release is quickly approaching.  I am a huge fan of Magic the Gathering along with many other card games.  I’m going to start by going over the cards i’m the most excited about.  These don’t include rare or mythic rare cards, but instead commons and uncommons that I believe will have an impact in limited, and potentially standard as well.

White

[mtg_card]Syndic of Tithes[/mtg_card]

I feel in this set grisly bears are going to be very mediocre, but in an aggressive deck like the ones I like to play in draft, I think this card is really going to shine.  I imagine getting in a single attack with this guy and then just pinging my opponent non stop throughout the rest of the game.  I feel extort in draft is going to be extremely strong if played correctly.  I’m excited to try out my theory on this card, as I really don’t see many other strong white cards in this set at common or uncommon, I believe this one will picked a bit higher just because of the limited options white has.

 

Blue

[mtg_card]Cloudfin Raptor[/mtg_card]

To be honest this card could be a complete bust, but the idea of a 0/1 flyer on turn 1 consistently growing to be a 5/6 dragon really excites me.  The real issue I see is drawing this card with an empty hand, honestly this card needs to be played in a certain type of deck, and actually works better if there was some sort of looting ability to pitch it later on.  I actually could see Evolve being a complete bust in draft, or being a total knockout depending depending on how the draft meta game ends up.

Black

[mtg_card]Killing Glare[/mtg_card]

Honestly this is a really easy pick for limited, its removal that scales, it won’t always be cheap, but this card will be picked extremely high in draft where removal matters.  In standard this card will have no effect at all, in fact removal has gotten increasingly worse lately, but there are still better options than this at the moment.

Red

[mtg_card]Skinbrand Goblin[/mtg_card]

Red is very aggressive in this set, and I believe bloodrush is going to have a huge impact not only in limited but also in standard.  This guy is an efficient beater early game that doubles as a combat trick later on.  Playing around bloodrush is going to become exceedingly difficult.

Green

[mtg_card]Experiment One[/mtg_card]

Again Evolve may end up being a complete bust, but this card has some real potential, The regenerate ability alone is the reason this card is my pick for green.  Once this guy becomes big enough to start trading, you’ll then be able to keep him alive only to grow again and cause some more havok.

 

Multicolor cards are the next ones i’ll go over, stay tuned, and let me know what you think about my picks.

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4th January
2013
written by admin

Over the last month I have been working on learning the basics of CUDA, and I have come to realize the methodology in using CUDA is most likely the future of how development will be done.  As processors scale not by speed but by number of cores, it is only going to make sense to use the same ideas when working on the CPU.  Granted CUDA only works on NVIDIA Cuda enabled devices but the work that has been done to support very simple parallel processing across the GPU is phenomenal.  I have attempted to utilize CUDA to solve some of the http://projecteuler.net/ problems, but I still find the biggest bottleneck is in the size of values that are supported in 32 and 64 bit float and integers.  I have a custom integer class that supports infinitely large values, but I don’t have anything for floats yet.  Truly when working on those problems its best to stick with the algorithm design and use a language that supports infinitely large numbers such as python.

A few things that I am really thinking about is how to design and architect a cpu api or engine that supports what CUDA does on the GPU but rather on the CPU.  There are already some paradigm’s that work in tasks, where every action is a task, and some tasks have dependencies which force the order of tasks, but truly I believe there is more room to improve.  I think we need to step back and rethink how programming is done.  We have been so ingrained in to object oriented programming that the thought of doing something different seems illogical.  I believe we need to start thinking about the data first which I have been hearing talks about over the last few years.  Think about it this way, the code we develop is just a small fraction of the memory in a large scale application, while a huge percentage is the data we are processing ( textures, audio, meshes, etc).  When we work in objects we aren’t truly utilizing the cache or optimizations that the CPU can make for us.

I want to make a new prediction that in 10 years game development as we know it will be completely different.  Data Oriented programming is the future, and Object Oriented will start to teeter out.

23rd February
2012
written by admin

Since landing my new job I have been introduced to the world of web development, and one of the things I have started to play around with is ActionScript and flash.  Here is a very quick hour or so project I put together to test the power of Flash Builder and Starling. This is really simple and only scratches the surface of what I want to learn, but it seems incredibly easy and powerful to use. Also ActionScript is so similar to JavaScript its really easy to pick up.

Also I’d really like to make a tutorial on getting started with Flash since the hardest thing really is figuring out how all the tools work together to become productive.

16th October
2010
written by admin

The Death of the 50MB game

When I first heard about Xbox Live Arcade I became really excited.  The idea of quick to download 50MB or less games made me think small developers and casual gamers were in for a happy union.  Games would be priced $5 to $10 and be small enough so the developers could focus on making a fun experience without competing with the content a huge studio can deliver.   This takes away the million dollar budgets and makes it so developers can make a fun $5 to $10 game for half a million instead.  This went well for a while, until the size limit was increased to 150MB and to what it is now an insane 2GB.  Now most small developers can’t compete on this platform.  Large studios can make a full retail size game filled with content while small studios struggle to keep up.  The answer isn’t more Microsft, the answer is quality and fun.  Maybe 150MB is better, but theres no way I see justifying an almost unlimited XBLA game size now.

I feel like the size increase was an utter mistake.  I believe what should of happened is a new channel should of been created for games over 50MB.  Arcade games should be quick pick up and play with gameplay focus first, where as a game like Shadow Complex that took 18 months and a decent team size should be in a different category from Geometry Wars.  Now the days of $5 games are long gone on the Xbox 360, even the days of $10 games are gone, now we expect every title to be $15 to $20.  I use to buy almost every Arcade title that came out, now I download the demo and think about the price tag before buying.  In my opinion Xbox Live Arcade is no longer what it was started to be, instead its become clogged with massive titles with huge budgets that no longer have that arcade feeling.

I just want to take a minute to remember what XBLA use to be and whats its become today.  I will forever miss the reasonably priced pick up and play service I depended on before.  Microsoft your a great company, but this is one thing that I feel is a huge mistake for the casual market.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to post your own opinions!

16th May
2010
written by admin

Rise of the Eldrazi is the newest set in the trading card game Magic the Gathering.  I made it to the pre-release at midnight to find about 80 other people there.  After playing until 4:00 AM I ended up dropping with a record of 2-1.  I hadn’t lost a match all night until round 3, where I played someone that had an amazing deck.  I still feel I could of made top 8 that night, but seeing as it was already eating into my weekend I had to call it a night.

I am very competitive at every game I play, but lately I’ve found EDH to be a nice break.  It gives me a chance to play crazy cards that I would never be able to play in Standard.  I have been playing a slightly modified version of EDH at lunch at work for the last year.  The modifications we made were basically so we could finish a game in our lunch break.  We all start with 20 life, with no general damage rules.  After the pre-release I had to update my mono-red EDH deck to now a Red/Green Rosheen the meander deck.  I put in a copy of all the big Eldrazi’s including Emrakul himself.  I’ve been able to hard cast him in 3 different games, and I still lost one of those by getting overrun by tokens.  Sometimes I feel like the games go until someone casts Emrakul, as we all run a copy now, but I don’t think it ruins the game in anyway as some people predicted.  So far my favorite card for EDH from the ROE set has been Momentous Fall, which is a card that makes you sacrifice a creature, and you draw cards equal to its power, and gain life equal to its toughness.  That card has saved my life so many times!  In my last game I had 6 mana and Rosheen on the table.  I was being attacked by an opponent for 50 damage or something insane.  He was at one life and I had no burn spells in my hand.  I paid 4 to sacrifice my 16/16 dragon that was equipped to a Sigil of Distinction.  I was lucky enough to draw into a comet storm and was able to tap Rosheen for 4 and my remaining two red lands to kill my opponent and win the game the following turn.

I can’t wait to see what the next set has in store.

15th May
2010
written by admin

I’m starting a new section on my website for personal posts.  Be on the look out for everything from crazy rants to video game reviews.

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