Thursday, August 31, 2006

It has begun...

Bob: essay due tomorrow
me: 15-min presentation due wednesday
english poem to read out loud (AHHHH) due thursday
4 tests within a week

Today I had Biology AP, English Honors, and P.E.

Bio wasn't too bad. Mrs. L seems like a good teacher (and she's Mr. K's sister, which I take to be a good sign), and although it is a difficult class, it's not nearly as bad as Euro. Although Mrs. L claims that her brother is a "teddy bear", the rest of us are hardly inclined to think so. One really good thing about this class is that everyone I know is in it, and I mean everyone, which will make for a pretty fun period.

English seems OK as well. Mrs. W is a good teacher as well, but I've never been very good at writing essays, which it seems we will be doing a lot of. We started the semester by listening to a Paul Simon song, after which Mrs. W announced that next week we will be writing poems based on it, and presenting to the class. AHHHH!!

And P.E. was, well, P.E. ;)

Bottom line: For perhaps the first time in recent memory, all of my teachers are intelligent and, to some degree, nice, but of course this won't help much due to the huge amount of homework, tests, project, et cetera that I'll have to do this year.

Looks like school has begun.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

First Day of School

First day of school today.

My first class was Statistics AP with Mr. M. This looks like it's going to be a fun class, and Mr. M seems like a very good teacher. Today we had to introduce ourselves and our interests, with Mr. M making fun of everything from The Beatles to summer jobs to martial arts. Also, Mr. M proctored the AMC/AIME last year, so he naturally told the class about my "accomplishments" (the only accomplishment I remember was scoring a miserable 5 out of 15 on the AIME) and the whole class clapped for me. I think I'll enjoy this class.

Second class was European History AP with Mr. K. Although Mr. K is an excellent teacher, and the material is very interesting, I don't think Euro is going to be my favorite class this year. Somehow two hours of work a day, seven days a week, doesn't appeal to me. And that's not even counting the multitude of projects, and the notoriously difficult quizzes held every period. On the plus side, Mr. K did such a good job of scaring us last year that our class only has 14 kids, all of whom i know. Euro will be ... interesting ...

Last class was Spanish II with Mr. V. I don't think this is a very fun or interesting class, but Mr. V is definitely a much better teacher than Mrs. B, whom I had last year for Spanish I (We spend more time playing elementary school-style games than learning.) That's about all I can say about this class for now.

Tomorrow: Biology AP, English 10 Honors, and PE. Sounds fun ;)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

School Tomorrow!

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting in this blog for around a week. The reason for this is that I've simply been overloaded with work. Essays are harder than they look...

So, what's on my mind?

First off, I have school tomorrow. This is bad. Of course. This has been the longest summer yet (which is what everyone says for every summer of course, but this year especially.) It also means that I spent just about the whole day today doing Euro work, and just getting ready for school in general.

I have learned how easy it is to make a fortune off selling on! (Actually part truth here) My friends and I are contemplating starting a reselling business... ;) Hopefully I'll get enough money to get a guitar. ^_^

And check this out: ASCII World Cup! WHAAAT???

Saturday, August 19, 2006

How the Game Industry Treats Freeware Programmers

A long long time ago, two years to be exact, I discovered a cool little program called MtG Editor, a free program that lets you create your own Magic the Gathering (a popular trading card game) cards. I played around with it for a while and promptly forgot about it. Now, two years later, Magic is inexplicably becoming popular again in my school (well, it's the summer actually - let me rephrase that: "Magic inexplicably became popular again in my school last year"), and some of my friends remembered about MtG Editor and asked me if I could find it again. Well, I did a Google search and went to the MtG Editor website. Once there, I saw a huge box containing an email from Wizards of the Coast (publisher of Magic) and explaining that MtG Editor has been taken off, for copyright reasons.

Several thoughts come to mind. First off, a developer comes along and makes a program that lets you create your own custom cards, in effect contributing to Magic's popularity, by making something that Wizards should have made in the first place. What happens? It gets labelled "illegal" by the very people who should be grateful! Funny thing now, The Wizards of the Coast forums actually have a "Create Your Own Card" section, which remains one of their most popular forums. Question - how are the good folks on the forums supposed to "create their own cards"? Answer - they can't! Wizards has removed a portion of their own community.

Another thought springs to mind - about Wizards' own inefficiency. It took them three years to discover a program that was used and advertised on their own forums! If it takes them this long to find something right under their noses, I dread to think about their future, and of the future of Hasbro (the company that bought Wizards).

Oh, and one more thing: check this out! It's a program called CCG Maker, which does exactly the same thing that MtG Editor does, the only exception being that it's not free - the full version costs $10. Now, CCG Maker has been curiously exempt from the copyright laws that govern MtG Editor. Some asking around reveals that this is either 1) CCG Maker, although using Wizards' layout, uses it's own symbols, rather than copying Magic's, as MtG Editor does, or 2) Wizards simply hasn't discovered CCG Maker yet. Given Wizards' track record, I'd go with the second. But as for the first ... what's worse, copying five little symbols , or copying the entire card layout? Wizards seems to think the first is.

Is anyone else outraged by this??? If so, voice your complaints directly to the people responsible - email Wizards of the Coast! Perhaps if they recieve enough emails ... Also, please comment here if you agree with me!

Quote of the Week

Sorry for missing last week! It won't happen again! (at least for the next ... week ^_^)

The quote of the week is:

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity. But not in that order."
- Brian Pickrell

Summer's Almost Over =(

School starts on the 30th, the Wednesday after next. Only ten days of summer left! And I still have two chapters in Bio and five Euro essays...

I spent a good portion of today filling out thirteen different forms (!!!) for school registration. Afterwards my family went to a library sale. I bought a bunch of fantasy novels (you know those books that no one reads? Well, I read them... ^_^) and a program called "Music Studio 2000". I had no idea what it was, but for $1 I felt that I should check it out. Turned out that it was a supposedly unlicensed collection of ten-year old programs, none of which work on Windows XP. The company "WinGear" doesn't exist any more, and a Google search for wingear "music studio 2000" yields 7 results. Furthermore, it turned out that the CD had a virus, which was luckily detected and stopped by my antivirus software. The box itself looks exactly like one for Microsoft software, with the same layout and font, clearly a copyright infringement. All in all, it's amazing that something like that could even be published...

In other news, I'm getting a guitar! A shiny Godin Exit22. As to the when, I'm not so sure...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Summer Work Update

Biology "Bio" AP - Ch.1, Ch.5, Ch.19, Ch.20, Ch.21, Ch.22, Ch.23, Ch.24, Ch.25
European History "Euro" AP - Ch.2, Ch.3, Ch.4, Ch.5, Ch.6, Ch.7, Ch.8, Ch.9, Ch.10, Ch.11, Ch.12, Essay 1, Essay 2, Essay 3, Essay 4, Essay 5
English "Englo?" H
- The Bible, Mythology, Cat's Cradle

[Doing] [Haven't even touched] [Did by accident, even though I wasn't supposed to >.<]

Amazingly, I'm not very far behind. Only 4 Bio chapters and 5 Euro essays left!

Click Click! - version 0.2

My focus for this version was smoother movement, which I achieved using a bit of math, as shown in the diagram below:

I also decided to play around with it, and made a few cheats (Ctrl, Shift, Z, Num Pad + and -). ^_^

Next on my agenda: a title screen!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Oh no! Not another hobby!

I've rediscovered Macromedia Flash, and decided to try game design. But unlike most of my hobbies, I actually have a rationale for this one. See, if I have a resume consisting of a lot of games, be they freeware or commercial, I will have a good chance of being hired by a video game company. And looking at my list of dream jobs:

Guitar hero
Game designer
Web entrepreneur

As you can see, game designer is above web entrepreneur, though still below guitar hero.

Anyways, 30 minutes of playing around with flash give me the start of my second flash game (the first, an ambitious fighting game, was sadly never completed), which I aptly named "Click Click!". The object of the game is to make the ball pass to green line at the top, but not the red line at the bottom. You can move the ball up by clicking near the bottom of the ball, move it down by clicking near the top, left by clicking near the right, and right by clicking near the left (at the moment you only have to go up, but suppose I add more levels...)

At the moment, the game is rather simple - some 40 lines of code. However, there are numerous improvements I can make:

I. Making it more professional
- Game start screen, and similar stuff
- Levels
- More features (obstacles, mazes, bumpers, and gravity shifters, oh my!)
II. Changing the core (a.k.a. Physics)
- More advanced movement (right now the player can only move the ball in 4 directions, he/she should be able to move it in any direction)
- Better collision detection (at the moment it's adequate, but if I want to add bumpers and stuff, I'll have to make it frame-independent)
- Adding Forces (again, at the moment I only have two forces - gravity and the player's motion, so it's adequate, but to support extra features I should change this)
III. Prettying it up
- Better graphics
- Backgrounds
- Sounds and music

Why do I keep starting new projects? WHY????

New Laptop

My family just got a new laptop, a shiny new (well, refurbished actually) Dell 6400. A dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, and a wide-screen display, for only $520. The Dell Outlet is full of great deals!

This is a huge improvement over our old laptop, which I estimate to have around 2KB RAM. However, this is more than enough for my four-year-old sister - we gave the old laptop to her. Now she's becoming addicted to it - soon she'll be like me... >.<

Friday, August 11, 2006

Vacation to Pismo

The reason I haven't posted in three or four days is that this past week I went on vacation, to Pismo Beach, CA. =)

The Who, The What, and The Why

Who: Two families, my own and our neighbors
Where: Pismo Beach
When: Monday thru Friday
What: What?
Why: Dunno
How: Uhh by car

The Hotel

Don't remember the name, but something to do with lighthouses. Not a big fan of lighthouses myself. Had some nice features, like a waffle machine (mmmm waffles...), Nintendo (overpriced >.<), minigolf (which I sux at), and giant chess (like regular chess but giant?). The hotel itself is built like a lighthouse, which I, as I mentioned before, find rather ridiculous. Who in their right mind would want to live in a lighthouse??!?

And now ... a day-by-day account!

Monday: Got to the hotel and ate dinner. Nothing of note.

Tuesday: Ate breakfast. Played some minigolf. Ate lunch. Attended my online math class, which meant no trips to anywhere interesting today. Went to the pool. Ate dinner.

Wednesday: Ate breakfast. Played some minigolf and some giant chess. Went to the beach, where I got bitten by a sand crab (it was a baby crab, but it still hurt :P). I ate a small lunch, and did not eat dinner till nine, at an Italian restaurant, which meant I was practically starving. However, I did not manage to eat much. Here's some advice people: when a menu item is labeled as "demonic", it will probably be rather spicy...

To pass the time at the restaurant, while we were all waiting for the food, my brother and I played 21, by writing down random groups of four numbers, and trying to get them to evaluate to 21, using basic arithmetic functions (+-*/). Out of 8 groups of 4 random one-digit numbers writted by myself, and 8 groups written by my brother, both my brother and I had two identical groups (meaning the numbers were the same, but the order was different). Now, what are the odds of that? Less than 1/1,000,000 I imagine, though Bob will probably correct me on this.

Thursday: Went ATV riding. Soooooo much fun. I had never driven an ATV before, so naturally they gave me a 250cc Honda, with 5 gears and various other features... The stick shift took a while to get used to, but all in all the vehicle was great. I was in 2nd gear most of the time, and I imagine my average speed to have been between 10 and 15 mph.

There was a great sand dune area a half-mile from the dealership, but getting there proved a challenge. Our ATVs (party of 4: two 250ccs, a 125cc, and an 80cc) broke down at various points on the road, and our journey to the sand dunes can well be described as 'The Longest Half-Mile'. Once we got there, however, it was great. I want an ATV. ^_^

When we got back from the ATV dealership (six of us - two were just watching) to our neighbors' cabin (we were eating dinner at our neighbors'), we found, to our dismay, that we didn't have the keys, and the cabin was empty (the rest of our party was out shopping). Fortunately, there were some garden tools lying near the front window, and one of us was age seven. We managed to pry the window loose, 'Shorty' sneaked in and unlocked the front door. Never thought I'd have to break into my own house... (actually, that's not quite accurate - Never thought I'd have to help my neighbors break into their own house ... :P)

Friday: Ate breakfast and drove home.

Monday, August 07, 2006

You know what the gaming world really needs?

A complete RTS / FPS crossover game. Like, one of those games, where it starts out as a regular RTS, but at any time you can choose to play as any of your units, at which point the game becomes an FPS.

Let's take a look at existing games that call themselves "RTS / FPS hybrids". These fall into two categories, the first being normal FPSes with some RTS attributes. Examples are the Half-Life mod Natural Selection and the free standalone game Tremolous (shown at right).

No, that's not what we want at all! It's about 90% FPS, 10% RTS - a very bad mix. But what else do we have that's even remotely similar to what we want? Ah, we have squad-based RTS / FPS shooters, such as Urban Assault and Field Ops (shown at left). Better, but as roemin points out, the emphasis is still on the FPS.

The best way to make an RTS / FPS hybrid would be to make it about 20% FPS and 80% RTS. That is, the RTS mode is the most important, but certain aspects of the game require FPS mode. Just one example: money (and perhaps items and weapons) must be stored in a bank. You can destroy an enemy bank, which would make your opponent lose all the money and items
in it, but you still won't get any of those items/cash. If you want to get it, you must first get one of your units to sneak inside of the bank (possibly through a diversion or some other RTS tactic, or by using a special item, such as a camo suit), and then get into te vault and out, without running into the security system - stealing items from a bank would require both RTS and FPS gameplay.

This is the kind of game that I would want to see. Of course, it would take up a ton of space and require a fast proccessor - everything in the 2.5D RTS view must also have an analogue in the 3D FPS view, and vice versa. This type of game has been impossible ... until now.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Where Have I Been?

Two words: computer virus. The second one in a month, actually. Gawd, I hate viruses.

In other news, I finally saw Pirates of the Caribbean II. It wasn't as good as the people who love it say, and it wasn't as bad as the people who hate it say.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Unveiling ... the 8^8 ELO Calculator!

>>> 8^8 ELO Calculator <<<

This is the first result of a collaboration between Mgccl and myself, to make an LF2 ladder system. What is it? It is an extension of the ELO ranking system (used primarily in chess) to allow for up to eight teams, of up to eight players each. Simply type in each player's ranking, and the team's result (see Scoring, below), and click SUBMIT. Each player's new ELO will be revealed.


  • Fill in team 1 before team 2, etc. If team 1 is blank, team 2 is assumed to be blank as well, and so on.
  • Fill in player 1 before player 2, etc. If player 1 is blank, player 2 is assumed to be blank as well, and so on.
  • For players, 0 and blank are different. 0 means a 0 ELO player, blank means no player.
  • Negative players will cause errors.
  • Players should be between 0 and 10,000. Otherwise, errors may occur.


Win: 1
Tie: 1/n (with n teams)
Loss: 0

So for a match with 4 teams, if a team scores one win, 3 ties, and 2 losses, its score is 1.75 .

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Yes, the Guys at MEEBO have outdone themselves.... yet again!

Everyone knows about meebo, right? meebo is an excellent online client that lets you chat with your AIM, MSNM, YIM, ICQ, Jabber, and GTalk friends all at once, and I strongly urge everyone to try it.

But wait, there's more! meebo has recently (just today) started a new service, called meebome. You can see the result on my blog sidebar (scroll down a bit). With a meebo account, you can put these little chat boxes on any of your pages, and visitors can chat with you - no IM software needed! Truly amazing.

Try it! In the "Chat With Me" box, you can chat with me, change your display name, and turn sound off and on. More features coming soon... =)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Still a Long Way to Go in Summer Work

How much AP/Honors summer-work have I done?

Biology "Bio" AP - Ch.1, Ch.5, Ch.19, Ch.20, Ch.21, Ch.22, Ch.23, Ch.24, Ch.25
European History "Euro" AP - Ch.2, Ch.3, Ch.4, Ch.5, Ch.6, Ch.7, Ch.8, Ch.9, Ch.10, Ch.11, Ch.12, Essay 1, Essay 2, Essay 3, Essay 4, Essay 5
English "Englo?" H
- The Bible, Mythology, Cat's Cradle

[Doing] [Haven't even touched]

Yes, I'm behind. And yet I waste my time on useless things, like this blog. Go figure... ^_^