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Endings and Beginnings

Recap of the last week of previous classes, and a quick hint of things to come this month.

Hello again to all the readers out there!  The three of you are why I keep this thing going.

Alright, enough with the bad intros.  Break is over, and I’m back in school once more. This one is probably going to be a long one, so for the faint of heart, you’ve been warned.

If you recall, the last thing I mentioned was writing out an 11-page level design document.  But surely that’s not how it ended.  Surely, there’s more to it!  You would be right, astute reader.  After the level design documents were handed in, we were given the task of combining all of our group’s previous written works into one giant book for our pseudo-game we designed.  When all was said and done, ours came out to75 pages.  If anyone in the industry is actually reading this, I am fully aware that you guys deal with numbers that dwarf mine, and I have tremendous amounts of respect for that.  The final work night of class was spent on campus combining everyone’s documents, making sure format worked together, making sure we were all consistant in naming titles and conventions, and just basically making sure everything flowed together.  I can safely say I spent at least 12 hours working on just that alone that day. When all was said and done, holding the final copy of it in my hands was probably the greatest feeling in the world. I imagine it’s what a father feels when he holds his newborn child.  …maybe not. 

Aside from the above consuming most of my last week, there was also a design analysis paper we had due.  The premise is pretty simple; take two small elements of a game, analyze why they were made that way, and write it down in three to four pages.  Basically you just want to take an element of a game and ask yourself, “Why?”  I chose to write my paper on ghost behavior and design in Pacman.  Originally starting with all of them, I quickly realized I could actually right waaaay waymore than just four pages on that.  So I knocked it down to two: Blinky and Pinky. There’s a lot of things that you never really noticed.  Anyone that’s spent just a little time playing Pacman has probably gotten nailed with the Blinky and Pinky Sandwich, as I like to call it.  As I was writing and pointing out that the logic governing their behavior is designed to make them work together, I noticed that their colors were very similar.  Reading this, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Really?  You just noticed that one is red and the other is a lighter shade of red?”  But think about it, how often do we pass over something as subtle as that?  I would love to know why Shigeru Miyamoto chose the colors red and green for Mario and Luigi.  But overall the paper was very enjoyable.  I’m not the greatest Pacman player out there, but I love the game, and I know a lot about it.  This paper, however, made me look at it in a new light, and it was very cool.

The last day of class we had a mock game pitch.  We set up a PowerPoint presentation, and had to pitch our amazing pseudo-game tothe teachers, who would be the developers that would chose one and only one game to go in to development.  I’m sad to say that our game lost out to the survival horror game, but it was still a lot of fun.  There were seven different teams all with very different ideas of gameplay and story and all that.  My personal favorite, aside from our own game of course, was an action-RPG about a man that was shrunken down in his house and had to fight filth and grime in order to take out the trash.  Yes, that was a horrible 80’s action movie one-liner.  In addition to the teachers grading our presentation, we also had to grade the other groups.  Presentation, speaking ability, content, time, all sorts of things.  I’ve personally never had any trouble speaking in front of groups.  In fact, I’d almost say I find it easier to go in front of a large group I don’t know than sit down with a stranger.  With my speaking confidence, I tried to offer pointers to others in my group that weren’t so comfortable with all eyes on them.  I remember during practice feeling a bit worried, and I have to say these guys really surprised me and came through.  If they’re reading this, they know who they are, and my hats off to them.

Class finally being done, and break coming on, the five of us in my group all went over to Chili’s for a bit of a celebratory lunch. Our group, Temporal Bob Inc. as we called ourselves, was just a great experience to work with.   The five of us meshed incredibly well, and we all had a great time working on the pseudo-game.  I’m thankful I get to continue working with these guys for the remainder of my Full Sail program.

Break was fantastic, and I did a lot of nothing. Which isn’t a bad thing, in my eyes. My last two weeks of class were spent with no gaming, and I caught up on what I had been missing.  I’m a nerd, what can I say.  But sadly, all good things must come to an end, and that brings us back to school and up to the present.

This month I have pretty generic classes, programming and calculus/trig.  I’m not sure what I can write on those subjects to keep things interesting, but I’ll give it my best.  Might have to deviate a bit, we’ll see.  I’ve only been in class a day as of writing this, and after having not had a math for six years, calculus and trig was a heck of a punch in the face.  Homework was about 80 math problems on what we had learned for the day.  Class got out at 5:00, and I believe I finished the homework about 1:00 AM.  I won’t say there weren’t any distractions, but I probably spent a good three to four hours on the homework.  From myunderstanding, this is going to be a pretty good representation of how class is going to go.  I welcome the challenge.

Alright, for those that made it through this one, sorry again for the length.  Like I mentioned, I’m not entirely sure what I can write about a math and programming class, but we’ll see what I can pulloff.  I hope everyone’s new year brings with it everything they wish.  Take it easy all, I’ll see you down the road.

-TJ

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