Tuesday, May 29, 2007

more than I could have hoped for

The game audio poll that I posted last week got posted on Kotaku.com this morning. When I originally created the poll, I thought "It should be pretty easy to get about 1000 responses. That's all I really need."

Then I watched as it languished around 100 for about 4 days.

I was beginning to struggle and wonder if I needed to completely redefine my expectations. I was simultaneously wracking my brains trying to figure out every avenue I could to post this thing in order to get it some traffic.

- I tried submitting it to Craigslist. It got flagged as spam and deleted. Twice.
- I tried submitting it to Digg.com. Somehow I managed to undigg my own posting of it making its digg count go from 1 to 0. Needless to say, no one bothered to read the lame story with 0 diggs.
- I sent it out as a bulletin on MySpace and Facebook through at least 5 different people's accounts.
- I'd even toyed with posting it to TheForce.net's forums asking the Star Wars fans there to check it out. After talking about it with Amanda, we both decided that it'd get me more instances of "when r u giong to make teh new XWING gmae?" than anything else, so I scrapped that plan.

Amanda had been saying all along "Ask your editor at Game Developer for help." Needless to say, as soon as I listened to her advice I got a response from my editor saying "Kotaku will help you out." By Sunday night the poll had netted a grand total of 318 participants. Then it went up on Kotaku this morning. As of this evening, it's sitting at about 1600 responses.

Kotaku rocks. My editor rocks. Amanda rocks. Everyone who helped me by getting this thing out there or taking the poll rocks.

There's a lot of rockage in my world today.

Monday, May 28, 2007

finally! a house we can afford ...

If only it were for sale.

Its craigslist ad would probably read something like this:

CHARMING turret in desirable San Mateo hills! - $450,000

This adorable 1-bedroom turret in San Mateo is loaded with charm. Centrally located on a spacious lot, this one-of-a-kind find features:

- Old World charm
- Adjacent w/d hook-ups
- Close to shopping, freeways, transportation
- Plenty of available on-street parking
- Recently updated security lumber


Thursday, May 24, 2007


I hate that I'm too busy to keep up with this blog. Amanda and I are going to a funeral tomorrow for her grandmother. Then Monday is Memorial Day.

I plan to sleep in this weekend. I plan to do some cleaning this weekend. I plan to play some video games this weekend.

I need to figure out how to get my survey some more responses so that I can write my article next week.

This post seems like it's become more of a to-do list for me than anything else. I'm sure it's a fascinating read.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

for my next article

I'm conducting a brief poll. Anyone who plays or has played video games, please click the link below and help me out by answering a few questions.


Video Game Sound

Monday, May 21, 2007

just what the doctor would have ordered

if I'd actually spoken to one. This weekend was awesome. No work, tons of sleep, relaxation, lots of time with Amanda ... it was perfect.

Oddly the down point of the weekend was the Bjork concert we went to Saturday night. It was dull. "Bjoring" one could say, if one were so inclinded and ... so lame as to actually say something like "bjoring." Anyway, pretty boring show. She managed to not play any songs of hers that I like and did play my all-time least favorite Bjork song ever ("Pluto" off of Homogenic. I can't stand the screaming section).

The rest of the weekend rocked, though. Manda and I did some cleaning, we printed our wedding "thank you" cards finally, we played some video games together. I'm now all caught up on Survivor (thank you, TiVo).

I came into work today feeling rested, relaxed, rejuvenated, and probably a few other positive words that start with "r." So bring on the late nights, work. Bring on the working weekends again. I'm ready for you now ...

Friday, May 18, 2007

crunch time

Work in the game industry long enough and you'll come up against it. Hell, work in the game industry for 3 or 4 months and you'll probably come up against it. It's the term used to describe the soul-stealing period of time just before an important project milestone or the end of a project where lots of people are staying late, working 15 hour days, working on the weekends, etc.

It's tough. It's hard on people Hard on relationships. I haven't had more than 3 days off in the last month and I'm exhausted from it. I miss Amanda. I haven't really seen her much lately. These days I come home after she's asleep and sleep in while she's getting ready in the morning. We just sort of share a bed these days, not much else.

The thing is, it's not the whole company that's going through this right now. It's not even any particular team that's enduring it. The Audio Department, though, because we service almost every project that comes through the building, is slammed with what people keep referring to as a "perfect storm" of crunch times. We're fighting for time in the recording studio in order to record voice, music, and SFX. We're struggling to keep pace with the audio needs of 13 different projects, all of which are at different stages. However, milestones seem to be lining up into these ugly staggered messes that keep us going from crunch to crunch.

On top of that, I'm having band practices again. The LucasArts Band (as we're being called now) is being asked to play at our up-coming All Lucas Company meeting. So, this week it's been recording sessions, production work, and music supervision all day followed by band practice at night. My eyes are so bleary that I can't really read what I'm typing right now. It's all too blurry.

Anyway, I guess the point I'm making is that this is the hard part of the industry. You make a lot of sacrifices during crunch time. Personal life, sleep, health, hygiene - and in return you're supposed to take comfort in the successes of your work. It's probably just that I've been at this for a month, but that's seeming like a pretty lopsided rate of returns for me right now.

Luckily it looks like I don't have to work this weekend. I can't wait. I want to relax and spend time with Amanda. Not to mention, we have tickets to go see Bjork in concert Saturday night. Crunches make you treasure your weekends. I plan on treasuring every second of this one.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

the falwell fallout

It's interesting to read about the death of Jerry Falwell and see just how much hatred the man has fostered over his lifetime. I expected to be reading exuberant praise about his death on sites like Digg, Fark, and DailyKos, just like I expected to find sympathy and condolences on conservatives blogs like RedState. What I didn't expect was to see such negative talk on sites like CNN and the BBC.

I also learned today that Falwell and I shared a birthday.

For their part, CNN's site had this to say:
"One week before his death, Falwell told CNN's Christiane Amanpour he needed at least 20 more years to accomplish his vision for Liberty University.

Falwell told the story of Hezekiah, who in the Bible asked to live for 15 more years.

'I'm praying the same prayer with an option to renew,' Falwell said."

I believe the correct anime smiley for that is:


Guess it didn't really work out for him.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Things are busy. Hecka busy. I counted last night. In my role as Music Supervisor (did I ever mention my title change? I'm now Composer/Music Supervisor officially), I'm working in one capacity or another right now on 13 different projects.


That's nuts. I've been spending a lot of time in the recording studio lately. I've been writing gobs of emails. I've been deluged by phone calls. We're still short staffed at in the Audio Department, though we are slowly staffing up. We've got a new sound designer on board right now who's great, a guy named Brian Tibbits. He's been a huge help towards alleviating some of our massive staffing headaches, but we still need to do more.

I have milestones popping up every other week or so due to overlapping projects, so I'm working all weekend and there's no let up in sight for the next little while.

Anyone want a job?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

um ... anything else?

By now, everyone has heard about the news stories regarding contaminated wheat gluten from China that found its way into the US pet food supply (did you know that as of this morning US officials are aware that it's made its way into the human food supply?).

Now, I listen to news radio for about 3 hours every day (an hour when I wake up, an hour while I drive into work, and an hour when I drive home). I read CNN.com regularly. I read Digg.com throughout the day. I read dailyKos and a handful of other political blogs regularly. I read at least the front page of the newspaper at least once a week. I'd consider myself fairly well-versed in current events, US politics, and the like.

So, all of that said, how the hell did I miss the story that Chinese cough syrup contaminated with antifreeze has killed 100 kids in Panama? I love my cat and all, but doesn't human death from contamination trump pet death from contamination every time? Why isn't this a bigger story over here? Is it just because it didn't happen here?

They killed kids. Kids. Why isn't the US media reporting this? On CNN.com right now there are links to stories reading "NYC cabbies not sold on touch-screens" and "Mom incites fistfight on school bus, cops say."

Why doesn't it read "BREAKING: China kills kids, pets. 'Santa Claus and the American Dream next,' experts say"?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

the theory

SPOILER ALERT: This entire post is about ABC's "Lost." If you aren't up to date on it, you probably don't want to read this. Actually, if you don't watch the show you probably don't care anyway.

A quick bit of background before I get into the meat of things here. I didn't watch Lost until this season. After hearing the general public and many, many friends rave about it, Amanda and I were invited to a friend's "Lost: Season 3 premier party" with one stipulation: we had to get caught up before we were allowed to join them. So, for two weekends in a row, Manda and I sat down and obsessively watched all of Lost. We loved it.

Now, when I told people that I had started to watch the show, the first question from them invariably was always "So? What's your theory?" As in "what's your theory on where they are/who they are/what the island is/etc.?" Theories abound on the web about the characters all being dead, the characters all being linked to the events of the show "Heroes," etc. There were a bunch of dumb theories that people told me about when I first got into these conversations, all of which I've since forgotten because of a better theory - our own.

I have to admit: I don't think I would have gone into the show thinking "What's the big secret theory behind all of this?" if people hadn't prompted that from me in the first place. Even now, a big part of me feels like maybe the viewing public should just take the storyline at its face value. Maybe there isn't a big metaphor. Maybe it's just a piece of fiction about a group of people who survive a plane crash and land on a creepy island full of science experiments. It's entirely possible that we want there to be more mystery than there actually is.

Anyway, that said, Manda and I do have a theory. When we told people about our theory, they repeatedly kept telling us to "write it up. You guys might be right. That's a great theory." So, with my first point in mind, while I'm not going to lay out our theory for what I think all of the characters/locations/events actually are and actually represent, we think it's entirely possible that we might know the basis for most of the characters, a way to explain some of their activities, some of their past, and predict some of their futures.

In a nutshell, it all comes down to Greek Mythology. A vast number of the characters, events, and locations all have direct and very accurate mirrors in Greek (and Roman) mythology. Let's look at a couple of the main characters first:

1. Jack - Jack is the Greek god Apollo. Jack is the neurosurgeon who graciously accepted the mantle of leadership on the island and spearheaded an initiative to find sustainable food, water, and shelter. Apollo is the Greek god of medicine, colonization, and the "carer of herds and flocks" (to quote Pantheon.org).

2. Kate - Kate is the Greek god Artemis. Kate is the fugitive with exceptional wilderness hunting and tracking skills and a loner with an almost skittish sense of individualism. Artemis is the goddess of the hunt and of the wilderness, frequently pursued by men but never caught. Artemis is also the sister of Apollo (perhaps why a romance never evolved between Kate and Jack).

3. Sawyer - Sawyer is the Greek god Ares. Sawyer is the scrupulous criminal without respect for anyone, anything, or any rules. He is violent, he's a killer, and his only weakness seems to be Kate. Ares is the Greek god of war. Pantheon.org describes him as "the instigator of violence ... [who] could be bloody, merciless, fearful and cowardly and possessed no moral attributes." Ares only weakness was the beauty of the goddess Aphrodite.

So, that's just a quick look at three of the characters. But it goes on much further from there:

- Sayid is Hephaestus, the inventor for the gods.
- Hurley is Dionysus, the god of feasts and excess.
- Shannon is Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and the wife of Hephaestus (before she died, Shannon was romantically involved with Sayid).
- Rousseau is Demeter, the mother who went insane after her daughter was kidnapped by Hades.
- Alex is Persephone, the kidnapped daughter who must spend her days at the side of Hades.
- Ben is Hades, lord of the Underworld and the kidnapper of Persephone.
- Juliette is Cerberus, the three-faced guardian of Hades. (Juliette has three "faces": her role among The Others, her two-faced role with Jack and the survivors, and her naive, third self that she displays in flash backs to her time before the island.)
- Roy is Charon, the ferryman of Hades.
- Desmond is Hermes, the fleet-footed messenger of the gods who is always running.

Some of the smaller storylines of the show follow specific Greek myths. Most notably, the story of Michael and Walt almost perfectly mirrors the story of Daedalus and Icarus, the father and son who were imprisoned, built their own means of escape, and on the maiden voyage the son was lost. John Locke's obsession with the hatch is a clear reference to the myth of Pandora's Box.

With so many characters lining up so incredibly closely to the old myths, it's hard for Amanda and I to think that we're too far off here. That said, there are some big holes in our theory. There are some major characters that we aren't positive about who they might be such as Boone (who might be Adonis), Charlie (who might be Orpheus), and Claire (who might subsequently be Eurydice). There are, unfortunately, also a number of characters that we just have no idea about such as Jin, Sun, Ana-Lucia Cortez, and Mr. Echo.

A recent new edition to the theory is the potential that John Locke actually represents Homer's character of Odysseus. I'm convinced that if you look at the story of Lost, John Locke is the main character. He has been specifically involved in every single major event that has taken place on the island. If it's an event that changed the course of the island's events, John Locke was involved.

So, anyway, that's the theory as it stands right now. I know this is insanely long, but I wanted to finally get it all down. Feel free to pick it apart, contribute, tell me I'm full of shit, pat us on the back, etc.

adios, homeownership

In a whirlwind weekend of meetings, viewings, meetings, and viewings, Amanda and I put our first ever offer on a house.

It's this great little place in San Mateo with tons of charm, close to a park, close to a Safeway, and close to both freeway and railway access. Downsides to the house include termites, an asbestos ventilation system, and windows that are all painted shut with lead paint. So, it's a fixer-upper.

The asking price was at the edge of what we were comfortable with paying, but it's so damn cute of a house that we decided to just go for it. So, Friday night, after 3 hours of reading and signing paperwork, we walked out of the real estate office feeling really excited and nervous. Cue: sleepless night 1.

All the next day we waited and waited, desperate to hear back from the agency about whether or not our offer had been accepted. Finally, late afternoon, we got a call saying "Hey. The owner rejected your offer. He's decided that he wants to sell the house for $50k more than he originally listed it at."

Now, first of all, while there's nothing that stops him from being able to do that, it's just lame. If you want to sell it for a certain price, shouldn't you just list it at that price? Usually you list something for higher than you want, get offered less than you want, and haggle for some kind of middle ground. Here we had a situation were we offered more than was listed, and then were rejected by being told we hadn't gone even ultra-more over the list price. Again, later that evening we went in, signed a counter offer, and headed home. Cue: sleepless night 2.

The next day, we waited all day long - busily trying to distract ourselves as best as possible so that we wouldn't think about the house. Again, we got a call and - again - there was a counter-counter-counter offer. His new offer amounted to essentially "No, god damn it! Pay me more! MORE!!"

Cue: sleepless night 3.

By this point, we're both just completely nuts with anxiety, stress, and fatigue from not being able to sleep. Throughout Monday, we had to make a decision. Do we go higher? Do we pay a stubborn jerk more money than his house is worth just because he didn't list it high enough initially? The house is cute, yes. But it also has about 4 different ways that it can kill you right now, all of which need money sunken into them before the house is habitable.

So, we decided to call the mortgage broker. Bad move. The mortgage broker recommended to us turned out to be a flaky nutball. After acting grumpy and miserable for a while, he told Amanda that he'd run some numbers and then call her back.

Unfortunately, to him "I'll call you back" apparently means "I'll call your real estate agent and tell them that you decided you're not interested in the house anymore." So, two hours after Amanda was expecting a call back from Mortgage-Man, she actually gets a call from our realtor asking if what the mortgage guy said was true.

For us, this was the last straw in a situation that had been bad all around. We still love the house. We still think we could fix it up and live there very happily for years to come. Unfortunately for us, the whole host of characters involved in its purchase turned out to more of a comedy of errors than a Remax commercial and in the end we're still renters.

It was a good way to get our feet wet in the whole process, but I just wish it'd all gone smoothly. It really was a great little house. Better luck next time, I suppose.

Monday, May 07, 2007

i don't know what i'm talking about

Today on NPR, the topic of eugenics covered the first hour of Forum. The guest was talking about designer babies and where the line is between ethically limiting things like birth defects or Downs Syndrome versus making smarter, faster, stronger, prettier babies.

So, it had me thinking ... here's where I think the future will go.

The costs associated with designer babies will drop as technology improves and eventually even local clinics will be able to provide genetic profiling and gene selection. As such, genetic diseases will first be eliminated, then "undesirable" traits such as blindness, deafness, and dwarfism. When those are all gone, parents will want their kids to all be super strong, super intelligent, and ultra attractive. Unfortunately for the poorest of the have-nots, they'll still have babies the old fashioned way - devoid of all genetic screening. As such, since everyone will be super strong, super attractive geniuses, celebrities and sports stars will fall out of fashion as the dominant form of entertainment in the country. Instead, the unscreened will see themselves starring in a nation-wide resurgence of carnival freak shows where these Uber-Beings will go to see "The Sightless Boy" or "The Overweight Man."

Since everyone will be so smart, Ivy League schools will expand into franchises across the country while junior and community colleges go out of business. Everyone will graduate with an eye towards white collar work while smarter and smarter scientists will fully automate the manufacturing and service sectors of our economy leaving the poor genetically unscreened people to travel to other countries for work.

Eventually the genetically superior will be outsourced to other countries as a nation of managers while the poor leave the country for menial jobs. All that will be left are the droves of travelling carnivals roaming the vast empty wastelands of the mid-west and performing for each other between violent freak show raids where one carnival attempts to steal performers from another in nightly ambushes.

It's going to be a glorious future.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I found it!

When I worked at THQ five years ago, we used to watch the web's first set of viral videos back before YouTube put them all at your fingertips. There was one in particular that we used to watch all of the time.

It's a video of some of the greatest karaoke I've ever seen. I don't understand a word of it (well, okay ... maybe one word, actually) but the performance by this girl is phenomenal. I've been looking for it since YouTube came around and I hadn't been able to find it until this morning.

Without further ado:

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

struggling with adulthood

I've got two things going on these days that are really stressing me out, both of which are endemic solely to adulthood.

The first is that Amanda and I have started to look for a house. I know it comes as no surprise to anyone that houses in the Bay Area are insanely expensive. Just for the sake of comparison:

Here's a $775,000 house in San Bruno, CA:

Here's a $760,000 house in Philadelphia, PA:

Why not compare two $775,000 houses? I couldn't find one listed for that much on Craigslist in Philly. $760k was the most I could find for a 4 bedroom, 6 bathroom mansion.

So this is what we're dealing with. Last night we drove around in San Bruno trying to find affordable places. And just so you know, San Bruno is the shittier, dirtier, more affordable cousin of San Mateo. But even here, the $600k-$700k houses were in the middle of industrial shitholes - streets littered with old Buicks, old tow trucks, and abandoned auto part warehouses that literally sat underneath the 380 freeway. I'm not going to spend $600k to live in that neighborhood when $600k in the rest of the country gets you acreage.

The second thing I'm trying to deal with right now is figuring out my 401k. I've been at LucasArts for over four years and never enrolled in my 401k. Stupid, I know. But it's something I'm remedying right now.

Unfortunately, when I start to look into the Mutual Funds that are offered to me through the company, I find that I don't actually want to invest in any of them. I feel like a complete hypocrite. Here I am struggling to buy American, donating to Barack Obama's campaign, and being the good lil' politically minded San Franciscan that I am ... and yet the Mutual Funds I have to choose from would have me investing in companies that I have serious moral objections to like News Corp (the parent company of Fox News) and Wal-Mart, who yesterday was named a major worldwide Human Rights violator.

Yes, I need to start making investments so that I can have retirement money in my old age. But I don't want to just turn a blind eye to what I'm investing in, bitch about companies that I feel are hurting the world, and then hypocritically make money off of them anyway.

I don't know what to do - about either issue, really. Housing or investing. I feel like I have shitty choices no matter what I decide.