2013/09/11

Another sabbatical is in the can

Six months since I last "punched in" to my day job.  And tomorrow, I'll punch in again.  I thought I should write down my thoughts on what I did with my skin during that time.  Mostly for my own reference, but do read away if you're curious, and comment, if you want.

PAX East

First stop was PAX East as an honorary member of the Space Team along with Henry, Sara and Philippe.  It was my first consumer-centric games con (been to GDC a few times).  Boy is the crowd dense.  Already making plans to attend PAX East next year.  I'll be there as long as I can get tickets, which unfortunately usually sell out within 12 hours.

North-East Asia

Next up was all about planning my first-ever big trip.  First time out of the continent, first time out of my home for more than 2 weeks.  Being a complete noob when it comes to trip planning, I made a number of mistakes in the planning and execution of that trip, here are a few takeaways.

- The Government of Canada's website for Canadians travelling or living abroad contains a wealth of useful information.  The page for each country has many tabs, make sure you consult them all.  Especially the Entry/Exit requirements.  Ahem.

- If you're going to do a multiple-stop trip, try not to return anywhere you've already been.  For example, I went Montreal>Vancouver>Beijing>Tokyo>Kyoto>Tokyo>Montreal.  The second stop in Tokyo was just a day, plus a day of travel, so sort of a waste.  If I had to do it again, I would probably do Montreal>Vancouver>Beijing>Shanghai>Kyoto>Tokyo.

- This one's for me: Don't make a travelling vlog.  It's too much investment :)  Had fun doing it for a while.  But it's too much work.

Aside from a few minor hiccups, the trip went exceptionally well.  I enjoyed it very much.  The Great Wall was probably the most breathtaking sight.  Japan was awesome and I really want to go back.  I would live there, if I didn't have to work there.


Gettysburg

After my lonely trip to Asia, it was time to go on a bromantic getaway with Francis and Jean-Luc.  And nothing spells bromance like a trip around old battlefields to see where men killed other men in huge numbers!

Manassas/Bull Run, Sharpsburg/Antietam and Gettysburg.  With a day in Washington to start off.  The battlefields are well maintained and very interesting to visit.  The tour guide, 'specially the artillery expert at Antietam, were entertaining and resourceful.  Gettysburg has the most to offer, but also is the biggest tourist-trap of the three.  Complete with Ghost Walks and other nonsense.


Back to Zulula

Those trips (PAX excluded) were meant to disconnect me from my omnipresent thoughts on game development.  And they did.  When I came back I had to decide whether or not I would make one last push to bring Heroes of Zulula to Unity and therefore iOS, or if I was just calling it a day and moving on.  Either to another game or away from indie dev permanently.

I chose to give the Heroes a final push and a proper send off.  They will land on iOS and Android (in their new form) in late October/early November.  Look forward to it!  Dammit.

Ingram

So in Japan I bought this Ingram model kit.  For those who don't know what an Ingram is.  Shame.  Anyways, assembling it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be.  Did I discover some sort of future hobby of mine?  Time will tell!

Ottawa road trip!

Fascinating one-day stop at Ottawa for the Diefenbunker and Mosaika with Jean-Fran├žois and Shelley.  The Diefenbuker is a great cold-war-era underground bunker.  Felt like I was in the Canuck version of Fallout.  Mosaika was great!  Only 30 minutes but worth it!  I noticed Ottawa has ghost walks as well.  What the eff?

Weight and health

I gained about 5 pounds during the that whole period.  Not a lot considering the 15 or so I had gained the last time I did such a thing.  Since that time I had lost 35 or so, so it's not like these 5 make me any closer to being back to where I was (close to 300 pounds, ugh!).

I did notice I gained the bulk of that weight while doing work on Heroes.  During the last sabbatical I worked on a game 100% of the time, and I gained weight 100% of the time.  As I get older I am establishing a correlation between working on indie games and doing everything wrong when it comes to my health.  I don't know how that observation will inform what I will do after Heroes ship, but it's there.

It's a wrap

I'm quite happy with this sabbatical.  Didn't spend it all in front of a computer, but instead with good friends travelling to cool places!  So, it's a win!  Back to work tomorrow.  Looking forward to seeing the whole gang.  Having lunch with the G-Man, going up the stairs with Robert, telling Vincent why he's wrong, again.  Arguing, being right, being wrong, making hard and easy recommendations, living with the consequences.  Hopefully making things better.  Time to saddle up.

2013/08/09

Fantasia 2013 Recap

(Missing from this picture: Lesson of the Evil, The Grand Heist)

Another awesome lineup this year, and I think I've only seen the best!  Here they are, more-or-less in order of preference.

Let's start with the bottom movies.  Still very good, but in that company, some have to find themselves on the bottom.  I would have to place Black Out and Secretly Greatly at the bottom.  The former was a confusing crime/amnesia thriller that was good but didn't leave me much of a lasting impression.  Secretly Greatly was a bit too long for its own good.  Again, these movies only pale because of the company they're keeping on this list.

After School Midnighters was a weird kids' movie.  Completely crazy and nonsensical.  But with musical numbers.  So it balanced itself out, I guess?

Commando was great, but it was no Singham.  Lack of moustache, belt whipping and face-palming attack didn't stop the main character from being one of those ultimate badass, though.

I'll give it my all...tomorrow was an excellent albeit the most depressing movie I've seen this year.  As someone who sees his own midlife crisis coming (unless I'm already deep in it) I can see this movie as a warning, an example not to follow.  Sweet and brutal, with a sort of anti-lesson endgame that left me a bit bitter about the protagonist.

Big Ass Spider! was certainly one of the better low-budget monster movies I've seen.  No doubt due to the chemistry between the hero and his security guard sidekick.

Just remembered I skipped over Gatchaman.  Gatchaman was good because it reminded me of watching the cartoon version of it (Battle of the Planets/La Force G) when I was young.  It was spectacular in SFX but had a few annoying continuity error.

I was expecting a lot less from Bounty Killer, but you can definitely feel the passion covering up the low budget in this.  Stylized, anti-corporation, violent, and overall awesome.

Saving General Yang was a great Chinese epic with a cool twist.

The Grand Heist was hilarious, well-made comedy about ice thieves.  An "Ocean's 11" taking place in 18th century Korea.  Loved it.

Takashi Miike is turning into an industry of his own, putting his name behind 2 movies this year.  Both Lesson of the Evil and Shield of Straw were pretty solid, and certainly find themselves in my top 5 of the year, but they don't compete for the top spot, in my mind (the best Miike, or the best of Fantasia 2013).  

Library Wars was very good, and gave me my fix of Chiaki Kuriyama.

Best of show has to go to Hentai Kamen: The Forbidden Superhero.  Although I seriously hesitated between this and the overall sweeter, better acted and more professional-looking Machi Action, the raw energy of HK and the powerful resonance it created with the audience created an experience unlike any I've ever lived, even at Fantasia.  So HK wins.

** EDIT: I added Gatchaman, which I had forgotten

2013/04/10

EA is the worst company in America, and the waitress putting 2 sugars in my coffee instead of 1 is the worst thing that ever happened to any human being, ever.

The first time I felt deeply, truly ashamed of being a gamer is when I witnessed the Mass Effect 3 ending backlash.  Having just finished it and believing the ending was "not the greatest thing but ok anyway", I thought the level of backlash was just unbelievable.

There is something that's becoming the norm, and I find quite upsetting: flash mob mentality.  An issue doesn't exist, then it's the most important issue in the history of mankind and the person the mob points to as evil must be destroyed, then the issue disappears almost completely.  Usually we're talking 2 weeks for the whole process.

So the Ocean Marketting guy was a fucking dick, the Pycon gal was a stupid cunt.  EA is a bad company (they even named one of their battlefield game after that fact *badum tish*).  Is the backlash received warranted?  Nope.

Guys and gals receive death threats, threats of violence, phone calls in the middle of the night (Ocean Marketting guy's private home address and phone was divulged to the mob, for fuck's sake).  Now EA is voted worst company in America by consumerist users.

Banking and telecommunications oligopolies, have no fear.  The mobs of the internet will save you from being exposed, by pointing fingers to faulty and annoying DRM schemes.  I'm sure a lot of jokes are being told in a lot of corridors of a lot of actually bad companies about them being "not so bad".

I leave you with this fake response from EA, which as far as I'm concerned could be a real one, and I would admire their balls (although it would be corporate suicide): http://www.dorkly.com/article/51363/eas-reponse-to-being-named-the-worst-company-in-america