Friday, April 28, 2006

or ... you know ... early morning

So, sometimes things get so late that they're early.

Again, take last night for instance.

Turns out the Big Emergency Thing was running behind. As such, the expected delivery time for stuff to us here in the Audio Department kept getting later, and later, and later. Finally, at 8 PM we were told to go home. They'd call us around 11 PM with an important decision: if there was no call, that meant stay home. If there was a call, that meant I had to head into the office around 5 AM to start the work of the Audio Cavalry.

Well, 11 PM came and no call. Midnight came and no call. I went to bed. The thing is, I kept getting freaked out during the night. I woke up at 2 to make sure no one had called my cell (no one had). I then woke up at 4 to check again (still no call).

But at 5:30 on the dot, my cell phone rang. So, the Big Emergency Thing is now done with a whopping 15 minutes to spare and I'm trying to unwind right now from the stress of the morning. I can feel myself coming down from the adrenaline rush of the past few hours. I need to go get some breakfast and ...

I just realized that I forgot to pack my lunch. That sucks. Amanda tried to remind me, too. Shit. Okay, it's off to the Dining Commons for Meal 1.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

late night

If there's a particularly ugly period of time each year that reoccurs across the Games industry, it's March through May. Mid-May is when the Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3 as it's commonly called) violently jumps up into the face of Retailers, Buyers, and Gaming Press alike with a vicious barrage of lights, sound, and scantily clad booth babes (something the folks who run E3 are trying to crack down on, and a move I support - but that's a whole different issue). Anyway, big new games make their big new debuts at E3 amidst all of the loud, flashing distractions and they tend to make their debuts as largely as possible.

So, each year, the time period leading up to E3 is a time of extreme spit and polish for companies working on anything slated to make its debut. With a good showing at E3 often meaning purchase orders, marketing deals, and uber shelf space in mega-retailers like Target, Best Buy, and the Marts (Wal- and K-, respectively) from deals frequently made a year or more out from the projected release date, making your game kick ass on the Show Floor is a top priority for most companies. If you're showing more than one game, that just means you have to spit shine that much more content to get it all rockin'.

So, we're spit shining stuff. I can't really mention any of what we're doing - not until it actually shows at E3. But, what I can say is that Audio frequently is the last department to the party because everything Audio needs to react to is still being developed until the 11th hour. We frequently get requests for demos, videos, online trailers, website sound effects and music edits - anything you can think of that would sell a game - tossed our way with a ridiculously short turn around time attached to it.

Take tonight for instance. There's something really important being done around here and it's due tomorrow at 9 AM. When did I find out about it? 11 AM today. When will I get to start working on it today? The current projected time is 8 PM. So, it's gonna' be a rough night.

Thankfully, E3 only happens once a year.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

i'm a stubborn jackass

Yep. It's true; I am. No, don't try to persuade me that I'm not. Just listen.

See, last year my brother - like everyone else - saw "March of The Penguins" and fell in love with it. He repeatedly urged me to go see it because it was "so good" and "..." .... well, he said other things, but I don't remember because it was a year ago. Point is, he said it was good.

Now, to me, a movie about penguins and would-be fishsticks sounded really dull. Not to mention, it sounded like it was some sort of late-to-the-party attempt to cash in on the success of "Winged Migration." Anyway, I wasn't into a feel good story about birds and brushed off his attempts to get me to go see it.

The problem is, his attempts never really stopped. The more I refused, the more he insisted that I didn't know what I was missing. So, in order to piss him off (and really for no other reason), I decided that I would tell him I'd rather see the worst thing out in the theater at that point than March of the Penguins.

At the time, that was "The Dukes of Hazzard."

So, I told him that I'd rather see The Dukes before I saw Penguins and he told me I was a retard. We went back and forth on this a few times and eventually it became "I swear to you, I will see The Dukes of Hazzard before I ever see March of the Penguins."

Well, fast forward a year. Amanda placed "March of the Penguins" on our Netflix list. Just to continue the stubborn stupidity I started, I went ahead and put The Dukes of Hazzard on the list, too.

And then made sure it was queued up first. So, anyway, that's why I say I'm a stubborn jackass.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006


That word's ugly, but that's how I feel. Frigging exhausted. Frigxhausted. Manda and I use that word all of the time, but I've never written it out before.

There's a shorthand that couples develop, a secret language all their own of mangled movie quotes and retahded noises that only hold meaning to each other. Someone at work was talking about this recently with me. It goes beyond pet names for each other. It's one thing to just substitute nicknames for each other's names all of the time.

Instead, I'm talking about the fact that I can say to Amanda "yowm sproing cling!" and we'll both know exactly what the hell I'm saying - and that it oddly is endearing to each other.

I speak these weird words with Amanda so frequently that sometimes they slip out in my regular speech at work. I forget that not everyone knows that the word "zonk" means "zero," "none," or "nothing." I forget that "yawn" is not common conversational shorthand for "Whatever, dude." or "Knock it off."

And that's when I get looked at like the giant dork that I am. And I guess that's fair enough. If you were talking to someone and their only response to you was "Yawn." you'd probably feel like they weren't really worth continuing the conversation with, too.

Monday, April 24, 2006

can banner ads jump the shark as an advertising medium?

'Cause if they can, man, they just did.

Before I get to the actual shark jumping in question, I have to explain just how big of a sucker I am for pretty much any kind of video game.

It doesn't matter what stupid product I'm being promised. It doesn't matter how many obnoxious pop-ups I'm going to be subjected to by actually winning. I cannot turn my back on the new trend of flash animated games where you're asked to participate in order to win a Playstation 9/RAZR docking station/iPod cerebral jack accessory. And they're stupid games, too. I'm talking about the things where you're told "Kill 10 spiders to win everything I own!" or "Race against Paris Hilton and win a toy chihuahua!" I will play every single one of those damn little things until I beat them. It's a sickness really.

The ones that I find weirdest are the politically themed games. There's one where you play as Bush and have to out weight lift Governor Arnold. There's one where you have to box Osama Bin Laden. Etc, etc. They're mind-numbingly pointless, all of them.

Anyway, the one I just saw and the one that - to me - means that these things have jumped the shark:


I don't know what I find more ridiculous about this thing: the giant red "KNIT" button or the fact that it's Bush verses a political enemy that's already been neutralized. Why are they knitting? Why are they wearing grandmotherly hats? Why did someone pay for this ad?

Seriously, why the fuck would Saddam and Bush be knitting together? Why?!

Lots of whys. Not many answers. Still, I played the damn thing until I beat it, so I guess they got what they wanted out of me.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I keep slacking on posting stuff here because of how busy I am in the studio right now. Again, I'm juggling so many things right now ... and just barely managing to keep everything aloft.

What's nuts is just how freakin' busy we are right now in our department in general. We're almost at the point of bickering over studio time. It's crazy. It went from busyLevel=0 to busyLevel=1 in no time flat.

Is that some kind of lame, faux-game scripting joke I just made?

I need to go home...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

behind the curtain

There's a new article on the New York Times' website all about LucasArts and our company President, Jim Ward. It's a good look behind the scenes of what we've been going through and dealing with here over the last couple of years. Worth a read if anyone's interested in some of the things I haven't been able to talk about.

You can check it out here.

Monday, April 17, 2006

globalization: 1, me: 0

I'm pissed, but I desperately need a new pair of sneakers and I don't think I'm going to be able to stick to my guns and not buy Chinese-made sweatshop crap.

Union-made shoe shops seem to be limited to a very small group of factories. Many of those don't make sneakers. Many of the ones that do seem to be online "vegan" shoe companies that make Hemp shoes with granola-based adhesives or somesuchshit.

The problem is, my shoes are literally starting to fall off of my feet. The other problem, frankly, is that a lot of the "vegan" sneakers are just plain ugly. So, I find myself wrestling with a question of vanity over a question of conscience.

And yet ... There are so many other things that I'm quickly losing the Globalization battle on. Computer hardware? I don't have a choice. I have to buy stuff from China. Car parts? I have to get the ones that fit my car, so again I don't have a choice.

Are shoes just another one of those things that I give up the fight on? Or do I cling to the notion that I actually do have other options, albeit extremely inconvenient and ugly options.

Shoes are with you every day and I really just want something comfortable. That's my other problem with online shoes. Who the hell knows if they'll even fit? And if they fit, do they even feel comfortable to wear?

This sucks. I feel like I'm trying to justify to myself and the world throwing in the towel and buying a pair of Vans. Especially when I see that Vans are offering a custom shoe offer and I start wondering if I should get my own custom-made Vans.

But, then I realize that I'd be ordering shoes off of the internet and that I should just buy socially-responsible shoes if I'm going to do that.

Am I over-thinking this whole thing?

Friday, April 14, 2006

studio work continues

Still spending time in the studio. It's all going super well and meeting with stunning reviews from those who've heard it so far. I can't wait until next month when I can talk about it.

In fact, I can't wait until next month period. I've recently become the keeper of other peoples' secrets. Everything I'm working on at work? Secret. Personal stuff from one person I know? Secret. Personal stuff from a second person I know? Secret. It's nuts. I don't know what it is about me that seems to say "I'm totally trust-worthy. Please dump the weight of your unmentionables on me."

Actually, that sounds like people are dumping underwear on me.

They're not.

I guess in light of that just having to keep some secrets to myself isn't so bad.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

uno, deux, three

Three random things today:

1.) I'm now convinced that our cat is a master of transcendental meditation. Frequently, either Manda or I will walk towards the cat, slowly reach a hand out towards her face while she stares unblinkingly at us, and then try to pet her. 9 out of 10 times, she jumps like she's startled as soon as we actually have physical contact with her. Her being in a meditative trance is the only way I can explain this.

2.) Food labels like this are dumb.


Either that or people are getting way too stupid. If you buy beef stew, you should assume it has chunks of beef.

3.) The older I get, the weirder my typos are getting. I've noticed over the last year that I'm beginning to typo words phonetically. As an example, while writing this post I typoed "physically" as "fisically" and "stew" as "stu." I do this frequently. If I didn't have a spell check, my posts would look something like this:

Tuday I went tu tha mall. It rokd. I rok. Lif is gud. Gud roks.

Or, you know, something like that. The only thing I can say about it is that Ry, you'd better prepare for the onset of this stupid thing. With the fact that you seem to have also developed my late-blooming inability to tell Right from Left, you might want to get used to spellchecking everything. (I just wrote "chek" and "rote.")

I rul.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

it happened again

I got pulled over by the fuzz again last night on my way home. Here's the way the conversation went:

Officer: You have a headlight out.
Me: I know. (reaches into back seat) Here's the replacement bulb. I just bought it yesterday. Here's the receipt if you want to see that I really did get it yesterday.
Officer: Oh, no problem. Do you have your license?
Me: Sure. (hands over license. Officer then stares at it for a bit.)
Officer: This is you?
Me: Yep. It's an old picture and I shaved my head.
Officer: Hm ....... yeah, okay. I see it. Alright, well you have registration and insurance, right?
Me: Yeah. Here's my registration. I don't have my new insurance card in my wallet yet, though.
Officer: That's okay. When you were getting out your license, I saw your insurance card in your wallet. Let me just go take a look at your registration to make sure you're not an axe murderer.
Me: Okay! (nervous laughter) (Officer goes to his car and comes back a moment later)
Officer: Okay, boss. You're all set. Get that light fixed.
Me: Will do! (I drive off.)

So, to recap: I got pulled over for having a headlight out and didn't have proof of current insurance. Additionally, I'm completely unshaven, wearing a skull and crossbones t-shirt, 40 lbs heavier and 6 years older making me apparently unrecognizable from my license photo, and the back seat of my run down Camero is so messy that I look like an axe murderer/hermit. Still, my freakin' luck with the Police is such that I drive off without so much as a fix it ticket.

I am very worried that my luck is going to run out soon in a big way. Sooner or later I'm going to lose my wallet and drive without insurance or registration into the middle of a Police funeral and it'll be all over for me.

And when that happens, I don't think any of my friends will feel bad for me. They'll simply feel that I finally got what I deserved.

Monday, April 10, 2006


I spent the whole day in the recording studio today. I'm beat. And of course, it doesn't help that Amanda and I were exhausted with boredom yesterday trying to start up Kingdom Hearts II. Shoot over to her blog. She explains it all perfectly.

I was going to write about the story of the Self-Firing Death Star Annoyance that's hanging out in my office; but I'm too tired to talk about it. I'll have to write about it tomorrow when I'm less wasted.

Friday, April 07, 2006

day 2: still doing well

This new studio rocks. We're able to do such cool stuff here. We got a bit of an added outsider perspective when we showed what we were doing to a new colleague of ours today and her reaction was:

"Holy shit, guys ... this is amazing. No other game company has this. This is incredible."

And she's right. What other game company has 1.) a state of the art recording studio built into their facilities, 2.) professional session musicians on-staff who also compose and sound design games, and 3.) in-house engineers that are the caliber of Skywalker Sound?

It's pretty cool and a really great environment to be working in. Tomorrow is day three and we'll be done with half of our work by the end of the session. The rest we tackle next week. Can't wait.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

test run 1 complete

We just put our new recording studio here at The Presidio through its paces for the first time and all I can say is ": )".

Obviously, I can't really talk about what we were recording, but suffice it to say that we found out:

- The studio is wonderfully sound-proof. No one was disturbed during regular business hours by our noise.
- The room sounds great. Sound treated as it is, it still sounds really nice through just a pair of overheads.
- People like to hang out in recording studios instead of doing whatever they're supposed to be doing. It was like a slack magnet.

And again, I still found myself prone to the Jesse Harlin Kryptonite that is working in the studio. At one point, I started to fall asleep again. I don't know what it is about recording studios that makes me so freakin' drowsy. It sucks.

At least we weren't setting up to record drums. Waiting to have the right tone .... that's the worst for me.

*boom* ... *boom* ... *boom* ...

"How's that?" "Just a few more, then we'll move on to the kick."

*boom* ... *boom* ... *boom* ... *boom* ...


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

it's that time of year again ...

That's right. Time for everyone's favorite corporate holiday: Performance Reviews. My department manager is actually really good about them. They're low-stress, informal discussions about the past year, the up-coming year, and anything else on our minds. Couple of nice things happened this review period:

1. My department manager and I are totally on the same page with what to do with me over the next year. He actually suggested to me a number of big suggestions I was going to bring up later in our meeting. So, good news there.

B. I got a raise. Yay me. : )

Third. I got a bonus, too. Double yay me. So, now I have money for when Amanda and I go on our First Annual Hawaiian Getaway Adventure Vacation Extravaganzafest '06.

So, all good stuff. That and I got a free cookie at work today. By the by: strangely one of the occupational hazards of working with Star Wars all the time is that you forget that "cookie" isn't spelled like "Wookiee."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

we're the wildest couple this side of Utah

Last night, Amanda and I got considerably less sleep than we usually do. Why? Because we're wild and crazy, baby!! That's right, Manda and I stayed up until 2 AM ... reading books.

w00t!! we R teh roXorz!!!!1!!1one!!1

Yes, Amanda and I have been reading much more these days and last night we both found ourselves nearing the end of our books. As is usually the case with a book, once you're near the end everything just keeps pushing you forward. It was finally 2 AM before we finished them both.

So, what were we reading that was so compelling? I was reading Crossing The Line by Karen Traviss. It's the sequel to a book of hers I just recently finished called City of Pearl and is a great sci-fi book. I'm really enjoying this rich alternate future she's created. She's quickly becoming my new favorite author.

Amanda was deep into Good In Bed by the unforunately-named Jennifer Weiner (Sorry if you read my blog, Jennifer; but it's true. Your last name is "weiner.").

Anyway, being as wild and crazy as we are, I'm beat. So what's on tonight's agenda? Well, after some base-jumping and bear-baiting, we're gonna' go to the grocery story (w00t encore!) and then start some new books, I'm guessing. Moral of the story is: stay out of our way, bitches. We're setting the world on fire.

Monday, April 03, 2006

v for very freakin awesome

Amanda and I had a good weekend. We spent Saturday helping her brothers move into a new apartment. Some moving related math:

two separate aparments worth of stuff + moving them into 1 third-floor apartment with no elevator = stiff and sore Sunday

But Sunday was nice (despite the rain). I got my next article for Game Developer done and out of the way. Turned out well, I'm happy. And later in the day we went to see "V for Vendetta" for free. For a limited time, buying frozen items at Safeway seems to result in free movie tickets. It's all a ploy to get people to see "Ice Age 2" but that movie looks like a turd, so we saw "V" instead.

And man oh man was it good. I loved it. Highly recommend it to any and all interested in a good action/alternative-future flick that'll get your policital blood pumping. I know this will resonate with everyone except for Ry, but it has a very "1984" vibe to it which I really dug. Good, good stuff.

Anyway, it was a good weekend and it now looks like it's going to be a busy week. I have music to implement, cutscenes to score, emails to mail, archives to coordinate, meetings to decline, etc. They sure are keeping me busy these days.

In conclusion, go see "V for Vendetta."