Lost in Oblivion

This game is just incredible. I can barely believe something can be both so broad and so deep at same time. Oblivion is by far the best RPG ever made. I am actually shocked at how much I am enjoying playing it on the XBox 360, when I am traditionally a mouse n’ keyboard kinda RPG guy. It’s very nice to lay back on the couch with a blanket and the wireless controller and jam it loud on the stereo. It kind of annoys my family, but not my virtual family in Oblivion.

A Dark Elf Harpist joining the Dark Brotherhood

Maybe I have been playing too much Oblivion, but that is all I can think of when I look back at this picture I took from GDC last week.

Harp Secrets

Cheating in Korean MMPs

Cheating in online games is a fairly significant problem, and there is a new way to do it in Korea. I found this very interesting.

People can buy (or build) “dongles” that attach to their mouse port that contain important macro behaviors to kill monsters automatically, retreat, heal, loot, etc. There are people that just plug this dongle into their computer everyday before they go to work. It’s very hard for the MMP operator to detect because the USB dongle appears to act rather similar to a mouse because the software actually analyzes the video signal and makes “fuzzy” choices.

Maty Weirdness Postmortem

We are still having a bit of trouble explaining “death” to Ethan, who just turned five years old so he is not highly trained in death and taxes. He is obviously sad, and he goes down the hill to the old tree to visit Maty’s grave every day. But we are still not sure he “gets” it.

Here is an example of why we are confused. I am not sure if this is an indication of my son being very creative or very weird, but it certainly is a nice display of orthogonal thinking, which I always like to see. Conversation as follows:

Me (Dad): “Yes Maty is in heaven now.” [pause]

Ethan: [confused, staring out the window]

Dad: “So she can now always watch you.” [pause]

Ethan: [still staring out the window, working things out]

Dad: “And now while she is watching you on your adventures she can protect you.”

Ethan: [creases his eyebrows] “So, you mean if I am walking down the street, and I see a bad guy, then Maty will appear and she won’t have any eyeballs or bones and the bad guy will think she is some kinda alien and then he will run away scared?”

Dad: [confused, staring out the window]

Trey, Ethan, and Maty at Thanksgiving

At GDC

Here are a few pictures from GDC. Most of the things I did there were fairly boring and not picture-worthy, unless you consider talking to industry magnates in the Fairmont hotel bathroom to be exciting.

Below is a picture of a windswept Will, who is generally more hairy than me in almost every conceivable manner. The second picture is from inside the Fairmont as we are waiting for some sort of meeting that seemed rather important at the time, but I can’t remember what the heck it could have been about now. The third picture is my dad and Will trying out some of the force-feedback steering wheels. In that outfit my dad looks like George Steinbrenner.
Trey & Will at GDC

Fairmont Coffee

Racing

San Jose for GDC

We had a pretty good time hanging out at GDC in San Jose. Last year it was in San Francisco, and I like it a bit better there for some reason. Here are a few pictures from the Hayes Mansion, where we stayed. It was built back in 1904 and its unique construction enabled it to be one of the only surviving buildings since the big quake.

Below that are pictures from around downtown San Jose, including a very expensive tax-supported statue that looks like a pile of dog poop.

Hayes Mansion

Ugly Car

Dog Poop Statue

Downtown San Jose

R.I.P. Maty

So it’s been very sad around here lately because my dog, Maty, passed away last night.

Maty

She was a very sweet dog and has been with us for about 12 years. Over the past few years, she has had severe heart disease and yesterday the doctors discovered what they think was a tear in the heart wall that made her heart swell up with extra fluid until it almost entirely filled her rib cage.

I have known that she was slowly dying over the past few weeks, so I did have a chance to take her on some extra walks and give her some big extra baths with brushing. She’s always had sensitive skin so that was always one of her favorite things. I think she knew she was dying too and she took whatever energy she could to make sure she came over to us to lay on the couch or on our feet.

This morning was clear and crisp outside, so I went out into the backyard and dug a grave by an old tree. As we buried her, Ethan ran back into the house and found her favorite ball and put it inside with her. We all said a few words, and then Ethan grabbed another shovel and helped me fill the grave with dirt. We also planted a little flower on top and marked it with a big rock. I know we will always remember her around here, and that she died of a heart that was too big for her little body.

Try – The Ultimate Product

Here is another commercial, featuring the ubiquitous Hyori again. This one is very typical of Korean commercials – they are very emotional and feature severe-looking men that are suffering from extreme angst.

In San Jose for GDC

We arrived in San Jose for the Game Developer’s Conference that is going on this week. There are interesting things that happen there, and I always get to meet some cool people with fresh perspectives. I tend to really like and appreciate the creative types, but I have little tolerance for the “tragic artist with false sense of entitlement” attitude that is fairly pervasive. The thing I hate most about the conference is all the incredibly bitter game developers that moan and groan about how horrible the industry is, yet they a) choose to stay in it b) continue to feed the system they hate. I don’t get it…

Will booked us at a place called the Dolce Hayes Mansion – here is a picture below. If you look close, you can see Will scaling a palm tree to get a coconut for our breakfast.

Dolce Hayes Mansion

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