asciInvaders I recently “finished” my first flash game as part of Kongregate.com’s new developer contest.  They provided a tutorial and source code to make a simple side-scrolling shooter, and tasked interested parties in taking those guides, and using them to learn how to make a game.  Since I’ve been wanting to learn flash for some time now, I jumped at the opportunity, and crafted a Space Invaders style game.  There are a few features, as of this post, that I have not yet had time to incorporate, but hopefully I will be able to implement them before the deadline of the contest.  As with most online contests of this natrue, it’s a popularity contest.  The winners will be selected based on the highest user rating.  So, if you play the game, and have a Kongregate account, feel free to rate my game, along with the other entrants.  I hope you enjoy it, and let me know of any comments you have (or bugs you encounter).  Hopefully, I will be able to create more games after this (though Flash is an expensive program) and be able to couple it eventually with my novel.

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Market Share

[I had planned to post this on Tuesday, but I have been distracted during my lunches this week watching various videos of people playing songs from the upcoming Guitar Hero 2. Oh, how I long to play this game! The fervor of anticipation gnaws on me. There will be absolutely no productivity in my household during the month of November. (My only negative comment thus far, is that, unfortunately, the Alice in Chains song doesn’t appear to be covered very well. I guess only Layne Staley can do Layne Staley. Stupid druggy…)]

Late Monday morning, Penny Arcade’s Gabe posted his thoughts on the new Splinter Cell Double Agent demo. His post is significant for two reasons. First, Gabe’s posts, infrequent to begin with, usually favor brevity, and content is often in the guise of purdy pictures. Gabe’s post, however, rivals Tycho’s post in verbosity, nearly equaling the word count of his more linguistically favored compatriot. The second reason is that I had just finished a conversation with a coworker on the very issue that sits, like a writhing tangle of heartworms, at the core of his post.

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The Truth About Violence in Video Games

[The information that inspired this post came to me second-hand without sources. I trust the research of my source, so I’m sharing my thoughts on the matter without spending too much time backing up the facts. What I have found, however, seems to indicate that the military statistics that follow come from a book published by Back Bay Books (November 1, 1996), written by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, titled On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society.]

The past week has been inundated with tragedy. Three separate shootings in schools have claimed the lives of innocent children, and the death toll is still climbing. My prayers go out to the families of the bereaved, that God may grant them comfort and solace in such a horrible time.

As the media swirls the details and speculation of the horrific events in front of us for the next several days, I guarantee that we will hear the name Columbine. And with that, will be some modicum of societal self-examination, and possibly a cursory mention of video games and other violent media. What do those entertainment media say about us, our culture, and the way we live our lives?

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Silent Hill: The Movie (dvd)

Did you see the Silent Hill movie in the theater? If you did, did you feel like you got your money’s worth? For those who missed it the first time, it’s out on dvd now. If you have played the games (1 or 2, but especially 2) and enjoyed them, you really should check out the movie. And if you like a good, creepy horror flick… well, you can just stop watching when they get to the church and skip to the final confrontation.

It pains me to have to say that the Silent Hill movie probably isn’t worth adding to your collection. It pains me because they did a really good job recreating the look, sound, and mood of the game. I really want to support that type of effort in adapting video game licenses to the big screen. However, I don’t want to support mediocre acting and poor writing/storytelling. I don’t want them to think they can make another movie with the same mistakes.

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I’ve got your lightsaber, right here!

(Okay, actually they’re epees.) The club with which I fence believes in having fun. Skilled and competitive, but fun. Oh, and a wee bit insane.

This Friday, our club is sponsoring an outdoor tournament that will be fenced, at least in part, in the dark. To facilitate that, one of our key members figured out a way to illuminate our weapons. Adds quite a twist, fencing in the dark with a lighted epee. Look for the annual Stab In the Dark tournament late in the summer. Enjoy! [I’m in the video for three touches (2 against, sadly) starting a
t about 24s, on the left.]

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More of what I do

Before I moved to New York, I lived and worked in St. Louis. I spent three of my four years there working on a new Performing Arts Center for the University of Missouri, St. Louis. The UMSL-PAC was dubbed The Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center upon its completion, and now serves the greater St. Louis area with its two stages. It is worth noting that the PAC lies directly in the flight path of Lambert International Airport, which is only a few miles away. Yet the acoustical design of the auditoriums assures that all you hear when seated in the theatre is the performance. This was a once-in-a-lifetime type of project, rich with a multitude of design challenges. I did most all of the final structural design. Following are recent pictures of the facility. [click on the thumbnail to view full picture]


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Game of the Year 2007?

You gasp as you start awake. Your eyes snap open wide as salt water fills your lungs. Instinctively, you cough, but as the shimmering bubbles float up in front of your face, you feel that you only succeeded in clearing precious air from your lungs. Panicked, you struggle against the watery tendrils clinging to your clothing, threatening to pull you down with the wreckage that surrounds you. Frantic, you claw your way to the surface.

Coughing and gasping for breath, you take in your surroundings. The shattered fuselage of an aircraft leans eerily above the water, the tail section slowly rising into the air as the vessel sinks into the darkness below. You cry for help. For hope that there is someone else. The creaking of the broken airframe and lapping of water in your ears are the only answers. You know without understanding that you must get away from the sinking craft, lest you become ensnared by the undertow when it finally goes under. Scanning the horizon you see a lighthouse silhouetted in the morning sun. With no other options, you swim towards it.

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DQ8 Item Trivia – From the Omniscient Quartermaster

15 Fun Facts: (In celebration of the Ides of March)

1) There are over 300 unique items in the game – counting weapons, armour, equipment, and items, but neglecting story items. (Weapons=100; Armour/Helms/Shields=119; Accessories/Items=96) +/-

2) Of that, 203 of the items can be used as ingredients in alchemy recipes.

3) Of that, 117 of the ingredients are only used in one recipe.

4) There are 184 recipes that can be made using alchemy.

5) Of that, there are 11 items that can be made two different ways.

6) 119 of the recipes use two ingredients. Only 65 recipes require three.

7) There are 54 items that can only be acquired through alchemy. Of those, 23 are ingredients for other recipes.

8) The most common ingredient is a Devil’s Tail. Thirteen are required for as many recipes. Twelve urns of Saint’s Ashes are required for ten recipes.

9) Orichalcum is required for seven recipes.

10) Nook Grass is only required for two. (Is Nook Grass legal in Animal Crossing?)

11) The cost of ingredients to make Scholar’s Specs is 5.74 times what it costs to buy the Specs outright. If you make some of your own ingredients you can whittle the ratio down to 4.38. In that case, Chain Mail becomes the worst deal, costing 4.54 times more to make than to buy.

12) The Leather Whip, Jessica’s starting weapon, cannot be purchased in shops. It can be found in one other location, dropped by two monsters, or made with alchemy using ingredients costing 12200 gold.

13) There are only two Icicle Dirks in the game. They are used in two recipes for items that can be purchased in stores.

14) The King’s Axe can be purchased for 17000 gold. Or, if you don’t mind using a rare item, can be made using alchemy at a cost of only 2600 gold for the remaining ingredients.

15) There are two recipes for making a Leather Kilt, requiring a total of four ingredients. Three of the ingredients can be made from other recipes. The cost of the ingredients for one of the recipes to make the 220 gold Leather Kilt is 80 gold. The cost of ingredients for the other recipe could set you back as much as 12245 gold.

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Dragon Quest VIII: The Soul Stealer

That’s what they should have called it. Sure, there’s a cursed king who journeys the world, so it makes sense that it should be called Journey of the Cursed King, but does that make it right? I don’t want to give anything away about the story, but The Soul Stealer applies well enough to the game events. I think anyone who has played it would agree. But most importantly, and I’m positive people who have played the game will back me on this assertion, if you play the game, the game will steal your soul. Though when I put it that way, it suddenly sounds like the contrived plot of a crappy horror movie…

Since my birthday, on the 18th of January, I’ve been playing DQ8, with a few rounds of Guitar Hero thrown in for good measure. I finally beat DQ8 last night, around midnight. (Barely, I should add. Somehow I managed to let all of my party members die except for the Hero during the last fight. Let me just say I am very thankful for my monster teams.) I have well over 100 hours logged to my save, but many of those hours were just from the game being left on unattended, but still, it has kept me gleefully occupied for a long time. Or perhaps I should say that for a long time it has kept my soul fiendishly imprisoned.

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Indigo Prophecy – Final Thoughts

1up has a diary feature written by Director David Cage. It’s long, detailed, and worthwhile to read, if you haven’t done so already. My favorite quote from it:

Storytelling in videogames is usually very simple. We use stories in basically the same way as porn movies: a bit of story to set up the context and introduce the characters, then the big action scene. Another bit of story to set up the context for the next scene, then another big action scene. No one cares for the quality of the story, because no one is really there for that. The story is just a minor device wrapping action scenes.

I took, what my wife has graciously described as a well-deserved break this weekend and spent some quality time with Indigo Prophecy. Basically, I played the crap out of it Saturday. I played through as close to opposite of the way I played through the first time, figured out how to get all three of the endings, and fiddled around with variants on a few choice chapters. Here’s what I found out:

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