Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Two earthquake swarms active near my city

Still alive! Had to leave my office yesterday very early, just to catch another earthquake at home. According to the experts, the term is earthquake swarm. the problem is that not one, but two swarms are currently active in the sea, in front of the city.

The records indicate a pattern of one catastrophic event every 80-100 years, last one was in 1932, so, the next 7-8 degrees earthquake could be close. For developed countries, 7 is barely a noticeable event, but for a city with lots of homes in poor conditions, and even new houses built without meeting any safety standars, the risk of devastation is hughe.

So far I have escaped with a few cracks in the wall and a new leak. But dont know what tomorrow will bring.

Monday, January 25, 2016

My dreamed rig

I have a little sorrow in my life: never have been able to build a PC to my entire satisfaction. Lack of budget, of course.

If I were to build my dreamed rig, how it would be? Well, probably I would choose some i5, maybe 4th or 5th generation, something with 4 cores. Nowadays 8Gb seems to be enough RAM to play any game and develop, so I would stick to that. My PSU of choice is a 620 watt Antec, or similar, had one of those that worked flawlessly. I tend to favor Asus motherboards, so, surely that would be my choice.

Not sure if I would have an SSD, but the main storage would be some 2 Tb traditional hard drive, plus some external drive. Even when I consider that optical disks are becoming irrelevant, I would include a BluRay drive, and a card reader.

Although I have been an ATI/AMD user for years, it is mostly because budget reasons. I have good experiences with Nvidia cards, so I dont discard that my  video card could be a 970. Otherwise, Fury Nano looks good. For sure, it would be a high end card, paired with a 27 inch display, perhaps 4K, maybe 2K if I feel modest.

For peripherals, a mechanical keyboard and some gaming mouse for basic input. Wired, not wireless. Of course, I need some HOTAS and pedals, there are many choices that I usually try to not to look at, to avoid torturing myself. If I have to mention brands, Saitek or Thrustmaster.

And last, but not least, an Oculus Rift! But of course, this is just a dream.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Days of fear

After two nights of almost no sleep, things seems to be going back to normal. The city, or the whole region, actually, experienced a weird increase of seismic activity, which started last sunday at 1:27 AM. We had in a few hours a dozen of perceptible shakes, including one of 5 and 3 above 4 degrees in Richter scale. Most of the citizens had to move to parks and open areas and sleep there.

Monday wasnt different, we were awaken at 1:30 again by a shake, me and my girlfriend remained in the coach for a couple of hours, until we finally went to bed again. According to the news, more than 400 earth movements happened during sunday-monday, and the are still happening while Im writing this, but only a few are perceptible.

Definitely, I need to become rich as soon as possible, to move to Havana. No earthquakes there, and surely wont miss any more invitations to gamejams and book fairs!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Working, working...

It is surprising, but Im working a lot lately. Maybe I work much better (or faster) when Im under pressure, and have had a lot of it. I dont consider myself the target of all the problems in the universe, but the truth is that Im getting more than my fair share of needs: need shoes, need new phone, need to repair the house...

The Android game Im developing is going well, only delayed by the artist. In the last 4-5 days I have implemented most of the basic features, now I just have to work on the enemy AI, fill the questions database and design 30 different mazes, with progressive difficulty levels. We are not using procedural mazes because the idea is that you can match your skills with other players, and having each one play random mazes is not the right way to do it.

Probably, the most complex issue Im facing now is how to keep the questions the most neutral or generic possible. Does a north american knows who is Lionel Messi? Is Francis Ford Coppola a name too exotic for the average casual gamer? Anyway, I dont want to make it sound snob, but seems that the game will be for smart people. Expect screenshots soon.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Parental duties

Last saturday I took my daughter to the amusement park. Or what is left of it. Never worked 100%, not even opening day, back in the ages when I was a boy myself. But back to the topic, I had a long overdue task of taking my baby for a walk, something I avoid because the sun hurts me and the public transport is a problem in this city.

But eventually I had to.  Spending a couple of hours every saturday with her is not enough, so, to the park we went. Almost 4 hours that she split between riding the amusements without fear, or my shoulders (she doesnt walk). Very strong and independent, she wants to be left alone: "let me loose dad, Im not going to fall, Im holding here". She is too young to underestand that being a parent is mostly about fearing, and probably will only underestand when she has to care about their own children. And I cant avoid feeling scared and proud at same time.

It is something I no longer try to explain to non parents. The automatic love that starts at the very moment you know you are going to be father, that compensates things like not having shoes because a big chunk of salary goes to the baby, or getting home late and tired, as if you were in an special forces training instead of an amusement park. You cant underestand that, unless you are a parent yourself.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Seems Im not going to have an Oculus

The Oculus price is far beyond expected, because they decided to optimize over cost. Even the previous price of $350 was a bit out of my reach, but now it is completely impossible. First, let me explain that I dont buy my PC parts with my symbolic salary: about $40 USD. I usually do something. Some extra job, some help from a friend, etc. This means that Im behind technology all the time, my CPU is a generation (or two, or three) old, my display is 4-5 inches less than the average, storage is always insufficient and the RAM is the barely needed.

So, my PC is far from the minimum requirements to provide a decent VR experience. And, unless some miracle happens, I wont be spending any more money to improve it this year, besides the PSU and RAM Im buying next month.

Anyway, this is not that bad. I dont like to be an early adopter, and in this specific case it is good to step aside and see what happens during this year. We have Oculus, but also HTC Vive, which means it is going to be an interesting year for the virtual reality. In the mean time, the traditional games still have a lot to offer, Im eager to see Tides of Numenera, Cyberpunk 2077, Mass Effect: Andromeda and any other surprise. After that... well, after that we can start dreaming with games for VR.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Fallout 4 is probably the worst plot ever written by Bethesda

Ok, I have been playing Fallout 4 every day for more than a week now, until I got underrail and left it abandoned. So, I guess I have enough evidence to say that this is the worst story created by Bethesda. Fallout 3 was simple and stupid, but man...

Lets start with Minutemen. Almost in the beginning of the game, you find this people with this great idea of helping the Commonwealth. An hour later, you find out that the quests are a sort of procedurally generated, which is not bad per se. What is bad, is that the universe of possible quests is very small. So, very soon you end up saving the same settlement two of three times, from the same threats, until you decide to forget about Minutemen quests.

But hey, there is this Brotherhood guy that appears right when you are getting bored of saving villagers. I have played with the Brotherhood in every Fallout game, so I expected this time not to be different. Guess what: it was different. From the first words of Danse, I thought that this Brotherhood perhaps wasnt a good choice. They were a bunch of bigots, so I decided to delay joining them for a while.  In the end, joining them wasnt a rewarding experience, except for the armor I got from them. In FO4, BOS is no longer a group devoted to preserve knowledge, but a horde of canned intolerants devoted to erradicate synths and everything slightly apart from human.

So, after all this disappointing encounters, the only natural choice seems to be The Railroad. The Institute comes too late, with a weird and diffuse agenda and a selective blindness for the free will of their creations. And then, the only way the writers find to make the plot interesting, is to put you, the player, against your own son. Or you can also align with the Institute, whatever its plans are.

Together with a diluted RPG system, Fallout 4 has achieved to bore me a couple of times, but has also taught me a few lessons as game designer. Lessons I hope I can assimilate to avoid making the same mistakes in my upcoming project.

Well, now we have to wait until Deus Ex: Mankind divided and Cyberpunk 2077 (does somebody knows something about it?) to play a decent RPG.