Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Under One Roof - Prologue: Meet the Household

AJ was Chris' neighbor when they were still in junior high. That was when they met. After furthering his studies at Sunset Valley University, he then met fellow band mates, Nick and Biew. At Nick's suggestion, they took up the name "Voltron Force" for their band. He's the band's drummer and occasional vocalist. He was in another band with Nick called "The Cockroaches" prior to the forming of V-Force. Lives with the rest of his friends at 15, Summer Hill Court, Sunset Valley. Currently working at the Landgraab Industries Science Facility.

Nick once studied abroad with Joyce prior to coming to Sunset Valley. He then met AJ and Biew while furthering his studies at Sunset Valley University. His decision to call the band "Voltron Force" came somewhat suddenly. Nevertheless, they stuck with that name ever since. He's the band's lead guitarist and occasionally plays bass. Prior to the forming of V-Force, he was in a band called "The Cockroaches" together with AJ. Nick once dated Nicky's friend Eileen, although they broke up due to unknown circumstances. Lives with the rest of his friends at 15, Summer Hill Court, Sunset Valley. Currently working at the Wilsonoff Community Theatre.

Biew hails from the East Coast. According to him, he hasn't been out much since the time he spent back at his home. Coming to Sunset Valley was an opportunity for him to see the world; a small part of it anyway. He met AJ and Nick while studying in Sunset Valley University. He was the one that was really excited on the band being named "Voltron Force" much to the surprise of his other band mates. He's the band's bassist and occasionally plays rhythm guitar. Lives with the rest of his friends at 15, Summer Hill Court, Sunset Valley. Currently working at the Wilsonoff Community Theatre.

Chris is a long time friend of AJ. They met while still in junior high. Rumors have it that Chris somehow "idol-worships" AJ from time to time which would explain how he ended up with AJ even after a decade. He loves to put up the "lone wolf" attitude from time to time. This has led to others calling him a loner and some calling him absent-minded. It's been ten years and he hasn't changed one bit. He holds a secret crush on Nicky ever since they met in university. Although he tried numerous times to tell her, she simply brushed off his gesture with a stern look. Lives with the rest of his friends at 15, Summer Hill Court, Sunset Valley. Currently working at the Doo Peas Corporate Tower. Ironically, the same workplace as Nicky.

Nicky and Eileen hails from the same hometown and consider each other long time friends. Biew had once called her an over-achiever and a perfectionist. She was the one who introduced Eileen to Nick who eventually started dating... for awhile. Their breakup isn't known to her yet however. She used to have a hard time keeping Chris off her back during her university days. She eventually learnt to "live with it" as time went by. She usually falls head over heels on any guy she admires. Lives with the rest of her friends at 15, Summer Hill Court, Sunset Valley. Currently working at the Doo Peas Corporate Tower.

Nicky's long time friend and Nick's ex-girlfriend. How or why they broke up remains a mystery but they've decided to "talk things out" when the time is right. She had a bad encounter with Biew just days after moving in with the rest of the household. They've been at each other's throats ever since. She also had arguements with AJ prior to the incident with Biew. However, that was settled and soon enough they were both best of friends. As with Biew, she hasn't talked to him since. Lives with the rest of her friends at 15, Summer Hill Court, Sunset Valley. Currently working at the Sunset Valley Police Department.

Joyce is Nick's long time friend. He used to bail her out of trouble when they were still in high school. She's tried to repay the favor more times than she can remember. Although her intentions are good, her actions usually make the situation a lot worse much to the horror of those around her. Despite the mishaps, she still maintains a pretty good friendship with Nick and she intends to keep it that way. Lives with the rest of her friends at 15, Summer Hill Court, Sunset Valley. Currently working at the Sacred Spleen Memorial Hospital. Ironic, isn't it?

A bookworm and so called "#1 V-Force Fan" in the whole of Sunset Valley. Neo and Biew were classmates during their early years in university. There was always this recurring joke when there were any favors or chores to be done, the task would be always pushed to Neo as he was "The One" for the job. Thanks to Biew, the rest of the household has adopted to "The One" joke; much to Neo's annoyance. Although it has died down a bit, it would be brought up from time to time when it was time to do the dishes. That's when Neo would grab a book, retreat to his room and disappear until the next morning. Lives with the rest of his friends at 15, Summer Hill Court, Sunset Valley. Currently working at the Doo Peas Corporate Tower.

Friday, May 15, 2009

And after the Ensemble, there were four...

Many of us knew about the closure of Ensemble Studios by Microsoft after they released Halo Wars. Well, in February 2009 former Ensemble Studios head Tony Goodman started a new independent studio, Robot Entertainment, and a number of the existing employees have been offered a position in this company. Following the announcement of Robot Entertainment, former Ensemble Studios producer David Rippy started a new independent studio, Bonfire Studios, comprised entirely of former Ensemble staff members. In March 2009, a third studio,Windstorm Studios was announced, founded by ex-staffer Dusty Monk. In May 2009, a fourth studio called Newtoy was created by several developers from Ensemble. Newtoy is already working on its first game for the iPhone.

Robot Entertainment is currently responsible for maintaining and updating the Halo Wars and Age of Empires Franchise. While there have been no official announcements, there have been hints that Bonfire has begun work on its first project. Little information is known about the project except that Bonfire mentioned it would be fast, fun and addictive.

Also, there's news about a new fan-made expansion for Age of Mythology, titled: Age of Mythology: The Roman Legion. Game development will be handled by Purple Design Studios. With renowned standards of quality, Purple Design Studios has begun the development of the most complete civilization modification ever created for Age of Mythology. Everything from the building set to the user interface has been revolutionized for the Romans. The expansion pack is focused on the Roman Legion revolving around the Punic Wars. The Roman Legion was chosen for the expansion's theme due to the fact that the Roman mythology and military allowed for an expansive dip into historically accurate, yet fun, gameplay.

The demo version will be available summer 2009, it will include a playable campaign scenario, units and 42 buildings for use in the editor, and one upgrade stage. The redesigned main menu GUI will also be featured. The game requires Age of Mythology and/or the Titans expansion to be installed. Check it out here at Mod DB.

Another fan-made mod that caught my eye is an Age of Empires III mod titled: Age of Empires III: The Napoleonic Era. I hate to go into details at the moment. But know that the beta is currently available free of charge. Check it out here!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bonk'rolled, dumbass!

I was playing in one of The Agentcy's TF2 servers. And it started. It got annoying. It continued for the umpteenth time and it's friggin' stuck in my head now. Bonk'rolled, dumbass!

For all you mic-spammers, here's the damn link: Spam at own risk!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

CyberFusion 2009: New Guinness World Record!

I would've posted this sooner but heck, I've just recovered. 40 hours of non-stop gaming can really kill someone. The event started on Friday, 10th of April at the MMU (Multimedia University) Grandhall in Cyberjaya. From what I heard, people started flocking the area as early as noon. Registrations only started at 3 but heck, those bastards were early. And I do mean early.

The record attempt kickoff was at midnight. The previous record attempt was 203 people playing over LAN for 36 hours non-stop. Our target that night was to be playing for 38 hours. However at the last minute, everyone decided to push the limit and go for the 40 hour mark. Heck, we've been able to survive for 38 hours already, so what's another 2 hours?

The first 12 hours after the event started was easy. By noon, Saturday, I was like half-dead. Lunch was enough to get me going again. I was wide awake and I continued "working" on my PC. Simultaneously, tournaments were going on in the tournament area. DotA, Call of Duty 4, Sudden Attack, you name it. The matches can be viewed at and the best part was that the replay file can be downloaded to your PC to be watched at your own leisure. I don't think the commentation's available if you download the replay file, although there is a seperate audio commentation file to e downloaded as well.

There were several mini-events that were held for the record breakers as well. One of them was a 3 hour level time-limit for CABAL Online. Highest level within that time wins. I knda forgot what the prize was and yes, a fresh level 1 character. Same goes for World of Warcraft. The criteria was the first to get an Alliance Gnome to Level 20 on Blackwater Raiders (US-RP). Yup, a US server. Don't ask me why... My ping there was around 400 odd. Not too bad though. Although my mage kinda stopped at level 9. The grinding was getting to me. The guys beside me took approx. 18 hours++ just to get to level 20. No breaks included. Non-stop, hardcore leveling for 18 hours. Of course they won a Limited Edition Wrath of the Lich King boxset.

Like I said, I stopped at level 9 and I headed on to playing on LYN's TF2 LAN Server. And believe me, everyone was stoned. If I'm not mistaken we've already reached the halfway mark. It was Saturday night. By the time the event was over and the official statement was given about the record attempt, I think it was almost 6pm on Sunday. My journey back home was a blur... I knocked-out the moment I stepped foot into my friend's car. But heck, I had fun. That's all that matters.

Final result? 274 people playing over LAN for 40 hours. A new Guinness World Record!

This is CF0191 signing off from LP108. Hope to take part again next year if there's ever a CyberFusion 2010.

By the way, BERNAMA covered the record breaking attempt:

CyberFusion 2009 Breaks World Record

KUALA LUMPUR, April 13 (Bernama) -- CyberFusion 2009 has cracked the world record for the longest local area network party over the weekend.

The event saw 274 players playing non-stop for 40 hours consecutively, said the organiser, Cyberview Sdn Bhd, in a statement.

CyberFusion had rewritten the previous record created in August last year at NVision '08 in California where 203 players played non-stop for 36 hours.

"We have designed CyberFusion 2009 to benefit students and the industry and to fit into Cyberjaya's community pillars of work, play and study.

"What we want to achieve in the long run is to create opportunities that can be further explored and help the growth of Malaysia's creative multimedia and digital content industry," said Cyberview managing director Datuk Redza Rafiq.

The Guinness World of Records' adjudicator, Talal Omar, was present at the event to monitor the record-breaking feat.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

FairyTales Development: Preliminary Design

First off, the overall concept setting has gone into a complete overhaul. Same characters, same game, new story, new environment, darker twist. Our first prototype will be released sometime next week and balancing issues and gameplay mechanics will be going through a stress test whole month long.

Although there's nothing much to share in this post,what I can promise is that the full story will be completed by this week. Plus, more concept art in the coming week. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Game Development: FairyTales

One of my final projects for this term will be to create a game using Microsoft's XNA development tools. My team (Idle Hands) decided to work on a 2D side-scroller hack & slash game. Borrowing gameplay features like combo systems, button sequences and such.

Progress started with the idea of using a theme surrounding fairytales. After deciding on the theme, we moved on to establishing a core plot: that came to be as the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Of course, we tried to push things furthur, by giving the story a twist of our own. The project started on the working title Once Upon A Time... and finally moved on to FairyTales after the entire team (art, design and tech) made a final decision.

Title logo design by me.

Concepts were started immediately for the title logo, main heroine and of course the villian. Several key characters that we tried to incorporate into the main plot were taken from various other fairytales. Although we're not sure if any of those will make it into the final game, we're having high hopes.

Not much can be say about the overall plot yet as the script has yet to be finalized. Being the scriptwriter/scenario writer, for the past three years has helped me to plan ahead. Below is a concept for Red Riding Hood, done by one of my team's artist: Bengt.

Red Riding Hood character design by Bengt.

Stay tuned for future updates. FairyTales will be released for the PC and will support the 360 controller. If all goes well, we'd like to release it for the 360 as well.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

10 Reasons Vista Haters Will Love Windows 7

Taken from Tech Republic: By Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP

Many of my friends and readers adamantly refused to make the switch to Windows Vista when it came out. Some who bought new machines with Vista installed immediately “downgraded” the OS. A few proclaimed that they would give up XP only when you pried it from their cold, dead hands. But even in the last category, many of them are impressed with what they’ve seen in the Windows 7 beta.

While some tech pundits are saying 7 isn’t really all that different from Vista -- and indeed, one of the attractions for Vista users is that 7 can generally use the same drivers and run the same apps as Vista -- the consensus among anti-Vista folks I know who’ve tried the 7 beta seems to be that the new operating system is “Vista done right.”
Here’s why I think you’ll see many of the XP diehards happily embracing Windows 7 when it’s released.

1: UAC has mellowed out

User Account Control in Vista is like living with an overprotective mother -- when you’re 30. It's constantly popping up to warn you of impending danger, even when you're just trying to take a look at Device Manager or perform some other innocent task. It hovers over you and nags you constantly: “Are you sure you want to do that?” Like Mom, UAC has our best interests in mind, but it can drive you nuts in the name of “security” -- especially when you consider that it doesn’t really define a security boundary. (For more on that, see Mark Russinovich’s TechNet Magazine article "Inside Windows Vista User Account Control."

Windows 7 doesn’t do away with UAC, but it does give users options regarding its behavior. By reducing the number of unnecessary and redundant UAC dialogs, making the prompts more informative, and providing users with more control over UAC, Windows 7 maintains many of the benefits of the feature without intruding on users’ computing lives so much that they turn the whole thing off in frustration.

2: Explorer is no longer a pane in the behind

In a misguided attempt to alleviate the need for horizontal scrolling, Vista made the left navigation pane in Windows Explorer a constantly moving target. As you move your mouse, it will automatically scroll back and forth. My husband calls this auto-scrolling feature the “whack a mole” phenomenon because of the way the contents of the pane seem to dodge back and forth.

You can avoid the auto-scrolling by dragging the pane to make it wide enough to accommodate the entire tree, but that isn’t a good option on a small screen, such as the one on my compact VAIO notebook.

In Windows 7, the navigation pane stays still, so you no longer risk getting seasick from all the swaying back and forth.

3: Graphics cards coexist peacefully once more

In XP, we could use pretty much whatever graphics cards we wanted for multiple monitors. I had a machine with three cards installed: an NVidia, an ATI, and a Matrox. XP would stretch my desktop across all three monitors attached to those cards. When I upgraded that machine to Vista, I found that I no longer had multiple monitors. Some research revealed that to use multiple graphics cards, they would have to all use the same driver. That meant I couldn’t use cards from different vendors together. I had to shell out a few bucks to get more ATI cards before I could use all my monitors again.

According to reports, Windows 7 has added support for multiple heterogeneous graphics cards from different vendors. Now this probably doesn’t mean you can combine ATI and NVIDIA cards in an SLI-configuration, but it sounds as if we can have our multi-vendor multi-monitor setups back.

4: Clutter and bloat is reduced

Vista was perhaps the culmination of Microsoft’s efforts to be all things to all users. Along with the built-in applications we got with XP, Vista added a contacts program, a calendaring program, a photo editing program, and so forth. While some users appreciate all these free applications, many others have been annoyed by the “extras” they don't need or use. If you're planning to install Office with Outlook, there's no need for Contacts and Calendar. And if you have your own favorite and more powerful graphics applications, such as PhotoShop, there's no need for Photo Gallery. The extras just clutter up your Programs menu and take up space on the hard disk.

With Windows 7, Microsoft has removed a number of the extra programs and now offers them as free downloads from the Windows Live Web site. This way, those who want them can have them, and those who don’t won’t have to deal with removing them.

5: Boot performance is better

Another common complaint about Vista has been the inordinate amount of time it can take to boot up. This might not be an issue for those who leave their systems on all the time, but if you turn off your computer every night, waiting around forever for it to get started in the morning can turn into a major annoyance.

A Microsoft spokesperson indicated that the company’s goal for Windows 7 is a 15-second boot time, whereas three quarters of Vista users report boot times of more than 30 seconds. Although the beta of Win7 may not have achieved that 15-second mark yet for most users, the majority of beta testers I’m hearing from say it’s substantially quicker than Vista on the same hardware. That’s been my personal experience, as well. Since it is still a beta, it’s not unrealistic to hope that continued tweaking will get that time down further before the final release.

6: Notifications can be fine-tuned

In XP and Vista, you can disable the balloon notifications in the system tray, but what if you’d like to continue to get notifications from some applications but not from others? Windows 7 allows you to customize the behavior by simply clicking the little arrow next to the tray and selecting Customize. In the dialog box, choose which icons you want to appear in the tray. For each application, you can select whether you want to display notifications or hide them, as shown to the right.

7: Security messages are consolidated

In Vista, you have several security-related icons in the system tray, and you might have notifications popping up from each one. To make changes to security settings, you may have to open several applications. In Windows 7, all the security messages have been consolidated into one icon. When you click it, you’ll see all messages related to firewall, Windows Defender, Windows Update settings, and so forth, as shown to the left.

By clicking the Open Action Center link in the message box, you can make the changes that are recommended or (for example, in the case where you have an antivirus program installed but Windows doesn’t recognize it), you can select the option to turn off messages regarding that application, as shown below.

8: Side-by-side windows auto-size

Most of the monitors sold today come in a wide aspect ratio that’s better for watching movies, which is also handy for displaying two documents side by side on the screen. With Vista, though, you have to manually size those docs. Windows 7 has a cool new feature by which you can drag windows to each side of the screen and they will automatically size themselves to each take up half the screen when you let go of the cursor.

Even better, if you drag the window back away from the edge, it goes back to the size it was before. How cool is that?

9: Home networking gets simple

For home users without a lot technical know-how, networking has been made simpler in Windows 7. A new feature called HomeGroup allows all Windows 7 computers on a network to share files, printers, and other resources more easily. Thanks to Libraries (collections of certain types of files, such as music, photos, or documents), you can access files anywhere on the HomeGroup network as if they were stored locally, and you can search across the whole HomeGroup.

Windows Media Player in Windows 7 can stream the music and videos on one PC in the network to another, and even play back songs from iTunes libraries on other computers.

Connecting to a wireless network is also easier; now you can click the wi-fi icon in the system tray and select a network from the list, instead of opening up a separate dialog box to make the connection.

10: Taskbar preview really works

In Vista, you can hover over a taskbar button -- for Internet Explorer, for example -- and see that three instances of IE are open. You see the open pages stacked, but they’re so small that it’s difficult to really tell which page is which.

In Windows 7, the preview feature has been enhanced so that it becomes an extremely useful function. Now when you hover over a taskbar icon, you get actual previews that are placed side by side and are large enough for you to identify (view above).

And that’s not all. If you’re playing a video in one of the windows, that video plays in the preview window, too. And if you right-click the IE icon in the taskbar, you get a list of your IE history files, as shown below. You can just click any of those and go immediately to that page.

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