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The Blur's blog

11:20 PM on 02.27.2011

TLDR: An introduction to a series of ramblings

I have honestly been putting this off for way too long. Initially I was going to do these as I thought them up, and then I was going to do a “12 days of Xmas” type thing, but eventually I put it off until now. I have a thing I like to call “binge productivity syndrome” where I’ll go about not doing things for a while, then sit down one day and get a lot done. This is one of those days.

Welcome to TLDR

You may/may not remember me from this very blog a little over a year ago, so I’ll start by re-introducing myself as “TheBlur”- a recent college graduate who lacks a title based on the fact that more than half a year after getting a degree, I’m still unemployed. I was never really active on this blog (at best I had a series based on my school funded [thanks for that] trip to “the motherland” of game development), but this is my attempt to rectify that problem and put some of my non-original opinions out there.
My plan (very specifically for this series at least) is to update at least once every 2 days with an opinion piece of my stance on things video game related (as much as I wish I could rant about everything, I’ll try to stay on topic and leave out hilarious pictures of Col Gaddafi) . Some of these might come off as “preachy” and others a tad “trolly” but most of them will probably be along the lines of “does this really matter?”

The answer is probably not, but this site has given me a soap box and for once in a very long time, I’m going to use it.
Some of the upcoming pieces (if you can call them that) include- Angry Birds, the Brawl Community, Why Business Majors suck, Game Theorists, Nestalgia (not the game, the feeling), and a few other hot issues and complaints about the game industry that I not only admire, but aspire to join.

So sit back, comment, troll, and enjoy the first of the set- Why GDC isn’t for You (as soon as I finish the shoops).   read

11:22 PM on 01.18.2010

An update nobody cares about- but I'll post it anyway

Hey guys, as usual I'll take some time to drop in (once every half year) with some things that probably won't interest you, but f-it it's a blog so I'll take advantage.

I'm finally a senior at DePaul, so that means I get to go into my Capstone project! It's a 20 week course where we get to start a game from scratch and try to finish it in 20 weeks. It's a pretty intense task, but with the team I've got I'm sure we'll come out of it alive. I won't ruin the premise of the game we're working on just yet, but enjoy this list of game ideas we rejected:

* Pogo Stick platformer
* Vertical inline skate platformer
* Sling puzzle physics game
* Space Kansas
* Light Platformer
* 3D Planet Defense
* Color the world
* Good adventure game (Isometric)
* Vehicle based Bombing run
* Weapon Customization- the 2D version
* Party Managment
* Diner Dash, except with Urinals
* Sign Fighter
* Character Creation Game
* Hit 'em with a Salmon
* Draw ships->place weapons
* Shattered Horizon, but 2-D
* Tricycle racer
* Every Car is f-d up racer
* Getaway Driver
* Co-op Puzzle Game game on 1 board
* Cortex Command done right
* Flight Sim?
* 2-player dog fighter
* Collection-the game
* Mr Rogers flips his S***
* Kirby's Dream Course
* Fake sport we make up
* Cheese-it (canabalt style auto-run)
* Doom (4) [flashlight or shoot]
* The Amazing Race (ist)
If you wanna know about any of these games leave a comment (I know you won't) and I'll try to explain it in 1/2 sentences.

After saving up some cash money, I've finally gotten my plane ticket to GDC this year. I'm going to be working at the booth so please feel free to stop by and have a chat. I should be wearing my Green DToid shirt one of the days so it'll (hopefully) be easy to recognize me.
I might do a daily blog from there (ala japan trip), but we'll see what happens when I get there.

-Metroid Prime Trilogy stopped being printed so if you haven't- GO OUT AND GET IT! It's a great set of Wii (gamecube) games that is well worth the $50

-Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story was my favorite game of 09. I liked Uncharted 2 a lot, and it was really impressive, but Mario RPG made me laugh and kept me wanting to come back for more. (and it's a relatively long game considering the platform)

-I got an XBLA card for x-mas. Got Castlevania:SotN. I'm loving it so far. My only major concern is that the game never even gives you a hint of where you're supposed to go or what to do. All I want is a light tap in the right direction! I still have 900 points left and don't know what to get: Any suggestions?

-I'm a bad Chicagoan. It took me until 09 to find the retro/used game store (People Play Games). Minish Cap, Pilotwings, and Mischeif Makers are all currently on my "to play" list.

Well, until next time...

(No seriously, that's what I got when I googled "Adios Amigo")   read

11:20 AM on 05.01.2009

Over a month later- or - My game is on Gamasutra

Hey Dtoid guys, its been a while.

Last time I posted was about an UT3 mod that I was about to begin working on for a class. Well that class is now long over (ended in late march), but something funny happened.

Earlier this morning, Gamasutra posted the postmortem written by our team lead, my friend, japan trip buddy, and Wideload Games employee Daniel Loane. Its very exciting to get to see your own work show up online.


So since its already out there, I might as well finish what I started and tell you guys what happened to the game.

Originally the idea was to have A splitscreen game where players could never directly interact. That was really short lived (about 3 days after I wrote the post about it we scrapped the idea). We decided to make the game a straight up race platformer, something that we hadn't seen done.
Thanks to our wonderful level designer (former Midway Intern) Tony Perkins, we managed to get a absolutely massive world done in 10 weeks. It takes me (the producer and main playtester) just under 4 minutes to speed run through. When we did playtests, people would ballpark around 8/10.

One thing that we were all pretty stoked about was art. Our 2 artists Andrew Sallwasser and Kevin Zuhn did a great job not only creating all our custum assets, but also in skinning those "dirty" unreal textures and sprucing them up to fit the cell shaded cartoon wonderfulness.
One of the lesser appreciated aspects of the game is the programming. Dan and our friend Erik Spitzer basically locked themselves in until they figure out how to get checkpoints, cameras, sounds, and weapons to work in our games. If you don't think hard coding checkpoints in unreal is hard- I dare you to try it.

The project went well. It was only 10 weeks and we did what we could. There are still plans to keep working on it over the summer (we don't get out of school until June), so there might be some more info down the pipe.

For more screenshots- see Tony's website   read

12:34 PM on 01.13.2009

A whole new project

It felt weird being on the top 1000

I took a break for a while to settle down from the madness that was my trip, but now I'm back to use this Blog as a platform for my next endeavor- A UT3 mod. I hope just as many people that were interested seeing pictures from a land far away are interested in reading about a group of 7 guys making a UT3 mod for class in 10 weeks.

To boot, the idea for this game comes from my friend Dan, who recently thought it would be fun to take a game like Cookie and Cream which is very much a puzzle game, and make it into a destructive 2-D foot-racing shooter.

It's a 1 on 1 duel, where players race to the end of a long winding, trap filled track to the flag, only to have to bring it back up the same trap infested road. The gimmick is that at several points on the map, players will have a choice- A. Make a mad dash for the flag, or B. Use one of the many conveniently placed interactive environmental pieces to blast my opponent to bits.

My friend Theplanman told me that the end of Braid had a similar mechanic, so I'll have to look into that.

More info as we make it up.   read

11:56 AM on 12.23.2008

STtJ- The afterthought

Extra late edition

*Warning*- There will probably be a large amount of text with no pictures. Don't say I didn't warn you.

So I know I said "within the week" but that quickly turned into "about a week and a half later", oh well.

And here I am, the day-before-the-day-before another bogus holiday trying to think about what to write to you guys about my travels abroad. Its hard to sit down and analyze a trip while your on it, and at the same time hard to think about it once the jet lag has already disappeared. So instead of trying to get all philosophical on what I saw, experienced, and learned- I'm just gonna go ahead and be generic and do a little thing I'm going to call

Tips from a guy with Orange hair of things that may or may not help you if you ever go to Japan!

- Be Polite dammit! As you've probably heard, the Japanese are very kind and polite people (for the most part, you know there always has to be an exception to the rule). I mean seriously, they have an entire intricate system set up for how you properly bow to great someone. Every time I purchased something I did a small bow and spoke one of the two phrases I learned for the trip "arigato gozaimasu" - which I was told was a more extreme form of "Thank you". When I did, clerks cracked a smile (some waitresses let out a small giggle) and I got the feeling that they appreciated the effort.
A side note- as you walk around you might notice that some people are wearing face masks, I was told that you're supposed to wear one when you're sick so that you lessen the chances of getting others sick. So when I had a slight cough one day I actually went out and got a mask. It may be a little hot in those things, but I guess if they're willing to try to keep their sick germs off of you, you might want to consider keeping yours off of them.

- Don't go for one thing. When talking to my friends, I tend to hear a lot of "I want to go to japan for this specific thing", and what that translates into is "I want to cut myself short". Don't just plan to go to a bunch of concerts, or only go visit conventions, or only go to arcades or electronic stores. Point is- there is a lot to do, from enjoying the beautiful gardens to using that 20 bucks you set aside to try your hand at pachinko. Don't sell yourself short and plan on only doing one kind of thing, which more or less leads into the next point

-Plan Ahead! One of the things I'm grateful for is that the professor that took us had a game plan. Anytime she saw that we had a morning before, or an afternoon after a company visit- she had picked a place on the way for us to go visit. We went to Nakano Broadway after a visit to Toei, had Taiko drum lessons after Telecom, had karaoke reserved after our visit to Namco-Bandai, took a trip to the Ghibli Museum before heading to Xbox Japan, and on all but one of the free days had plans to go to the touristy spots like some of the famous shrines and temples (whose name I unfortunately never learned) and Tokyo Tower. If we didn't have any of that planned, then I would have spent like 4 days just going to the same 3 busy areas of Shinjuku, and I would have gotten bored. It makes sense- if you plan something to do then you know you're going to do something.

-Go with others One thing I learned in my solo trip to NY last year is that when you travel to someplace that is new to you, you should probably be with at least one other person. There's a certain satisfaction that comes out of saying "did you see that?!?" to a friend. You will be seeing things for the first time, and you're going to want to share the experience with someone, and your going to want to talk. When we were on the train, we were always talking about something we saw, the ads on the train, the food we had had, the stuff we had purchased, anything. It was a wonderful experience to have a bunch of friends around to talk to while there.

-It may or may not be cool to take pictures. Most places will have signs telling you you can't take pictures, but some might not. I learned the hard way that not all stores allow you to take pictures of them. At first you'll notice I took pictures inside of everywhere, but after I realized that it probably wasn't a good idea I stopped. If you really must snap a photo- I suggest you ask a clerk or attendant if its alright. They're usually nice about it (at least they were at the Pokemon center). As far as non-stores, try not to take a picture inside a temple- its pretty prohibited to photograph the giant golden Buddha.

-Take Cash. Yes the exchange rate is kinda messed up now with the weak dollar, and you will probably end up doing your monetary conversions at 100 yen = 1 dollar, and that will in the end slightly affect your wallet, but believe me- its MUCH better than having the bank charge you 3% of every purchase because they feel like it. Sure some places take credit/debit, but its always best for you to carry cash. A lot of places actually don't care about your card. I was surprised when one of the McDonalds I visited didn't accept my card, but I had the cash to pay for my meal anyway. Exchange your money at your bank or Currency Exchange before you go, then pretend that little box in your suitcase is a bank and make daily withdrawals. This also leads to the sub point Save money to Eat! You don't want to starve because you blew all your dough in Akihabara. Which leads to sub point Don't spend all your dough in one place! You will see new things everywhere you go, so you might want to plan to only spend so much at one place so that if you find something awesome in another you have no problem making the purchase.

-Keep your luggage game on lock Shipping is expensive, and one of the best ways to not pay for shipping is taking full advantage of your 2 checked bag + 1 carry on + 1 laptop bag policy that most airlines have. What I did was put a smaller luggage case inside a bigger one, and I probably should have also packed a duffel bag inside of that. Use the biggest bag for the boxed statues/toys/action figures/big games, the smaller one for Manga, properly folded clothes, and books, the duffel for dirty clothes, and the laptop bag for anything you want to make sure won't break.

-Don't assume One mistake that one kid made was that he assumed that all Japanese people loved Americans. Not true, I'm actually inclined to believe that most people around the world hate us. One guy I met certainly did not like us as he tried to add extra 0's to prices and talked under his breath. Unfortunately the kid didn't learn from his mistake and probably still thinks that the kindness he experienced was because they love us, when in reality the people were just generally kind and he was being both embarrassing and kind of a jerk.

-Girls have feelings. I know a lot of people love going to foreign countries with nothing other than the intent of getting laid. The problem with that is that people (especially women) actually have feelings, and simply using them for a good lay makes you an asshole. Don't think that women are just going to fawn over your americanness (unless of course you're a blonde dude with dashing looks in which case they will). Besides, if you go there and just hit on women all day you're probably giving the impression that that's all Americans care about is getting down and dirty, and that's not true.

-Have fun That's self explanatory.

-Don't write a blog every night about what you did You'll end up like me, blabbing on not exactly able to make sense of what just happened. Then you'll post a lot of text that few people will actually read as everyone else just jumps straight to the link of the-

Huge Pics!

If you want any of the pictures in even higher def (they're literally 3648 x 2736) just shoot me a message here with your e-mail and I'll send em to ya.   read

6:50 AM on 12.10.2008

STtJ- Last Day

All good things come to an end.

Last day...and I don't want to leave. Also- I lied to you guys again- not too many pics today AND I didn't go to Den-Den town. Also, I eventually realized that they really don't like when you take pictures inside of their stores, so don't expect to see much.

Woke up little late today, and got together with 5 other kids on the trip and hopped on a train to Osaka.

Luckily we took the right train and we got there at a decent time. First move was straight towards the Giant Yodobashi Camera with Shoen jump/burger joint on top.

After that we took a few block walk to the Pokemon Center where I spent a little too much money.

We were gonna go to Den-Den town, but we were all so broke we decided it was best to save what little money we had and return back to the hotel to pack.

(view from near the top of the Kyoto Stop)

(Sooo many stairs)

So here it is, 10 PM local on my last night. By no means is this my last post- I'm gonna do a "WTF DID I JUST DO?" post sometime within the week, and from there on just use this as a place to talk about what you guys all talk about- games. But for now I leave to bed, plane, and severe jet lag due to time travel. Thanks for reading- epic round up update comming soon.


7:59 AM on 12.09.2008

STtJ- Day 10

What pictures?

So one of the reasons why so many pictures have been blurry is because I'm not using flash. the reason for this is that its easier to just keep a no flash setting on, so that I don't make the people in the companies I was visiting feel weird having flashes constantly going off around them. that and in the trains, or whilst looking at art flash is definitely considered rude. As a result, I have no realistic way of telling how long my battery will last. Long story short, I took way too few pictures and my battery died. Bad news for you guys it that the text will be longer today.
(to make up for it, enjoy the link to the epic 200-something picture album from yesterday)


So today began out as a relax day...which means I slept til like 10 AM. After shooting the breeze online for a while me and my roommate headed out to the local electronic store to pick up DSi's. Then came the massive headcrab Calzonne breakfast followed by a bus ride to some little place where we did our Kimono dancing.

(They told me it was a manly fan because it has Ogres on it)

Then we went to a group shabu shabu dinner. It was basically a pot of boiling water that you throw whatever tofu/vegetables you want into it. Then you pick up these thin slices of meet and slosh it around inside until they're at your preferred cooking limit.

Well that was the uneventful day. Tomorrow is my last FULL day in Japan before I hop on a plane and time travel back to Chicago. To make up for the lack of events today- tommorow is going to be absolutely silly. I decided to organize a minitrip for the free day and head with a few of us to Osaka. We're gonna get up early and catch the express train out of the Kyoto station (3 min walk away) and head to the Pokemon Center, Jump Shop, then make our way to the epic-ness that is Den-Den town (or so I've heard). Expect to see all that is nerdy tommorow.   read

6:38 AM on 12.08.2008

STtJ- Day 9

Not Godzilla attack

So I lied to you guys- No kimono's or Japanese Dance, but I did go to the golden palace and a bunch of other really ancient cool places

Yeah, today we took off slightly early to go tour 3 places. First up was this really cool (yet oddly touristy) temple (yes I'm fully aware that I sound like an ignorant foreigner, but we're flying around places and don't have too much time to appreciate the history). There was a group of lame British School kids with blue ponchos that I avoided like the plague.

Then we went to this place with hundreds of statue buddahs. they didn't let us take pics of the statues but the outside was fair game. It was magnificent.

Next up was the epic golden palace.

Last up was the This place where they film old samurai flicks.

And as a goodbye, I present you the MEGA MAC!!!


8:04 AM on 12.07.2008

STtJ-Day 8


Today was a long day simply because of the extra early wake up and the large amounts of walking/train riding.

So we ended up almost being late because two of the kids on the trip didn't wake up until we were all downstairs waiting for them. The bullet train was REALLY cool- it was about an hour and 45 the entire ride from Tokyo to Kyoto.

Once we got here we took a few trains to...honestly I don't know where. All I know is that we ended up in some elementary school watching kids do Taiko drums. Then they let us have a go and we tried to play the things- it was pretty cool.

Afterward it was just discovering the hotel and eating.

(Moe Jong....sooooo bad)

(Kyto Tower, not to be confused with Tokyo tower)

For some reason I got a hardcore craving for some Burger King. Tommorow's plan is to go sightseeing, have a kimono wearing party where we learn Japanese dance, and hopefully burger king finding. Arigato Gozaimasu   read

7:15 AM on 12.06.2008

STtJ- Day 7

I can has hairdo.

Today I woke up and took a visit to one of the 2 Tokyo Jump Shops (Weekly Shonen Jump official shop). Got a few pics of interesting shops in that subway mall.

Afterward I went to Harijuku to get a haircut (spend lots of money in one place as opposed to several). I think it came out pretty cool.

Yeah that's it...I'm tired and need sleep for the early bullet train to Kyoto tommorow. Thanks for reading.   read

9:51 AM on 12.05.2008

STtJ- Day 6

When it rains it pours

So today was interesting. My picture taking has taken a huge hit. One reason is because I'm not allowed to take pictures inside of awesome studios, but another is because we're walking everywhere and so far walking and taking pictures has resulted in lots of shaky cam. That and its kind of bogus to stop in the middle of a crowded subway or street to take a picture of something they see everyday.

Like I said yesterday- today was really all about Namco- Bandai. It was really cool to turn a corner and see a huge building with the logo on it. Walking inside was particularly gnarly because of the awesome waterfall/rock structure. They did a great job of displaying their games (Submariner, Ridge Racer 2, Pacman, etc.) and had a really nice looking lobby.

(A TV crew showed up and filmed this like 5 year old kid completely own at the giant drum game)

We were lead into a room and watched trailers for all sorts of games (both out and in production). They showed Soul Caliubur 4, Tekken 6, Tales of Vesperia, Idolmaster (lol), Innocent Aces, and some other JRPG that looked REALLY good but I can't remember. Then we took a tour of the really cool Sound studio, and took some company cars out to their Mocap studio like 5 min away. When we got into the mocap studio(no pics allowed of each), it began to pour outside and you could just hear it through the cieling. We sat there asking questions to our tour guides and watching pro actors motion capture a scene for a good while- it was really fun.

Afterward we went back to the "fun room" (I forgot to take a pic of the sign, I'll try to jack my friends and post it) and had a QA with one of the heads of the production team and the producer of Ace Combat (4-6 if I recall). They were really cool guys.

That's about it for today. Tomorrow I'm gonna visit the Shonen Jump Store, Harijuku (and finally get the Japanese haircut I've been trying to schedule in all trip), Shibuya, and hopefully the Pokemon Center.

I leave to Kyoto Sun morn, so expect to be seeing pictures of tea ceremonies, gardens, and castles in the future. G'day, thanks for reading.

E- Day 6 not 7, also- As prommised Cortana Shirt.


9:35 AM on 12.04.2008

STtJ- Day 5

I'm starting to loose it.

Seriously, I'm a lazy kid, I usually sleep between 11PM and 3 AM and wake up between 10AM and 1 PM. Here on this trip, I'm sleeping at like 11-2 and waking up between 8 and 9. At first I was fine, but its starting to catch up and i'm getting exhausted. So if you come to Japan- while it is important to have plans and things to do- DON'T FORGET TO SLEEP!

So today the plan was to make 2 stops- The Miyazaki Museum and Xbox Japan.

I'm going to go ahead and admit that I do appreciate the work of Miyazaki, but I've never sat through more than 10 min of any one of his animations. I respect the work, it just can't hook me. We weren't allowed to take any pictures inside, but they had a mini Lourve (aka fancy french museum) and a giant Cat Bus for kids to climb around in- it was pretty cool.

(you can't really tell, but that lady is pushing around a bunch of kids like in a giant cage-ish thing)

Next we took a visit to Xbox Japan. They had a really cool place and set up a few powerpoints. We got the see the last E3 presentation for Lost Oddesy presented by the director, only instead of it being formal we were free to ask him about anything. Turns out he was very discontent with UT3, and his team requested to make their own engine which they finished and currently work in.

(apparently Resident Evil is called BioHazard in Japan)

We also had a presentation from a girl in PR and she had us do an exercise to create a marketing strategy for Halo Wars, both domestically in japan and worldwide. Due to the popularity of the Tommy Lee Jones Boss Cofee commercials, my group decided to make a series of cartoons and merch regarding TLJ and Master Chief. The lady voted ours as the best and we got a swanky Japanese Halo 3 shit (I'll put up a pic tommorow)

The rest of the day was pretty lazy. About the only highlight was eating really good mexican food (being a mexican born american, its important for me to judge how every country I visit handles the food).

(A for spelling it right)

(Translation- What is Mexico?)

(Enchilada, Taco, and giant Tostada. Conclusion- it was fairly well done, I'm impressed)

(prof Josh Jones trying to have his Margarita with Chopstick straws)

Yeah, I'm burnt out....Japan is exciting but the lack of sleep is catching up. Good news for you guys is that tomorrow is my last official company visit (Namco Baindai), so I'm probably going to be posting more about culture and interesting things. See ya tomorrow- Thanks for reading, I appreciate actually having a reader base (even if it is only like 9 people).   read

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