Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Surprise Winnipeg Visit

I’ve been telling my Winnipeg friends I’d try to visit sometime before I went back to work at BioWare in May.  I told them it was a big IF depending on finances, and that it was likely be mid to late April.  So on Sunday I jumped in my car and headed to Winnipeg without telling any of my friends I was on the way.


The trip takes the average person up to 18 hours, I made it in 13.  I was driving 130 the whole way, and only stopped for gas and bathroom breaks.  Whenever I would stop I’d log on to MSN on my phone to trick my friends into thinking I was still in Edmonton.  It was my first major road-trip in the Sunfire, and she held up well.  I do miss cruise control though, by the time I got to Winnipeg at 4:00 AM my leg was sore.  As soon as I got in I went right to sleep.

The next morning I chatted with my brother about videogames for a while after my shower, then decided to surprise my friends.  Chad was at work so I decided to surprise Kristina.  I was on MSN on my phone and we were chatting.  Randomly she said “Aw I really wish you were here!” so I told her to give me 10 minutes because I was going to find a file to send her.  In reality I was jumping in my car and driving to her place.  When I got to her place I got back on MSN.  “You ready for the file to be sent?” I asked, “Ya send away!”.  “Ok!  Here it is…  Come outside.”  She was surprised.  I spent the afternoon hanging out with her.  We headed to St. Vital Centre and got a Booster Juice.  It was so fun to be driving around Winnipeg with the windows open while it was +18.  Good to be back.


We were going to try to surprise Chad at work but he had gone home.  My family was BBQing steak that night so I headed home.  It was great to spend time with my family.  Afterwards I decided to surprise Chad, so I drove to his place.  I called him and told him to look out his window.  He didn’t believe me.  I finally convinced him to look out and because it was dark out he couldn’t see me, and still thought I was lying.  Finally he saw me and couldn’t believe it.  We ended up going to Sal’s that night for our traditional Cheese Plus Plate.  It was great to be hanging out with him.  The nice thing about this trip is that it’s unexpected and not in Christmas.  It’s not crazy busy, it’s nice out, the days are long, etc.

At one point Ashley texted me saying “I missssssss youuu!” and I replied “I’m heeeere!” and I caught her off guard as well.  Got quite a few good surprises in this trip.  She’s treating me to Mongo’s tomorrow.  This is going to be a good trip!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dante’s Inferno Review


I just beat Dante’s Inferno, and figured I was getting a bit behind on my game reviews.  It’s looking like I’ll be back at BioWare in about a month, so it’s no time to start letting my QA mind get rusty.

Upon starting Dante’s Inferno I was immediately drawn in.  The idea of getting to explore the Christian hell through a game based on 19th century poetry was pretty intriguing.  I may be atheist, but the concepts have always been there, and I’ve always found religion interesting.  So to spend 10 or so hours exploring the depths of hell first hand was quite interesting.  I’m sure the actual experience would be less enjoyable.


It’s no secret Dante’s Inferno is a God Of War clone, of which there are so many.  But it’s one of the best ones yet.  Sadly, it still doesn’t reach the level of awesome that is God Of War.  It copies it too closely, without topping it in almost any way.  There are a few exceptions though, things Dante’s Inferno did better than God Of War, or most other games in general.

I already mentioned my interest in the subject matter, which for the most part is explored quite well.  I really enjoyed the level aesthetics.  It has the 9 rings of hell, so how the designers decided to convey, for example, wrath differently from lust, was quite creative.

The musical score to this game also definitely deserves mention.  I don’t think a score could have more accurately captured the utter hopelessness and awe that is hell.

The game was far from perfect though.  The fact that it is a God Of War ripoff without adding much new is a bad place to start.  It is significantly less gory than God Of War, which is one of the franchise’s best traits.  It can get quite repetitive, and more than once I found myself quite frustrated…

I actually enjoyed the game a fair amount, but when a game is so clearly a ripoff of another franchise, it’s hard not to compare it.  While on its own Dante’s Inferno is a solid game, definitely worth playing, you won’t be able to avoid comparing it to God Of War, which will leave you disappointed more often than not.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Cleaning

It’s +15 out, all the windows are open, some Jamie T playing on the stereo, and I spent the day cleaning as the kittens kept me company.  My room is clean and vacuumed, my laundry is done, etc.  I went out in my T-shirt and cleaned out my car.  All this on top of a great work-out this morning is making for a very productive day!

BioWare Vacation Half Done!

Actually, a little over half.  I’m re-hirable on April 29th.  After selling the Honda today Nathan and I went for lunch and then visited BioWare.  His 3 months off started before mine, so he was re-hirable already and just did get re-hired.  So we went by so he could sign his new contract, and we both visited everyone.  While I was there 3 separate leads expressed interest in having me on their team.  So, one way or another I think it’s safe to say I’ll be back at BioWare in a little over a month!  Can’t wait to get back to work!

Requiem For A Honda

I sold the Honda today.  Spent the morning cleaning it out and then Nathan came by and I followed him to the auto-wrecker and we dropped it off.  Got 90$ for it :P. 


Was kind of sad to see it go; the Honda was my first car, and it’s taken me a long way.  I waited way too long to get my license, so around the time I was starting to get my act together I decided I needed to get my license and a car to be independent.  My Mom and Uncle promised to buy me a car if I ever got my license, I think in part out of disbelief.  But I did get my license, and bless them they did get me a car!  At first I only had my learners and Tim and Brett would come along for the drive to work every afternoon and pick me up from work afterwards so I could get some practice. 

Once I had my official license I’d go for long drives every night listening to music.  I’d drive past all the different houses I’d grown up in, the places my friends lived when I was a kid, etc.  Just driving down memory lane.  It wasn’t even a year before I decided to go on a road-trip.  The Honda took me to Minneapolis, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and North of the Great Lakes through Ontario.  It’s no exaggeration to say that road-trip changed my life.


And once I got back it wasn’t another year before I decided to move to Edmonton.  And I had one of the most emotional moments of my life as I said goodbye to all my friends and got into the Honda and drove away, leaving a life behind for a chance to follow a dream.  I remember barely being able to hold it together as I watched them waving in my rear view mirror, fading away.

A few months later I drove back to Winnipeg in the Honda to visit home for the holidays.  And on the drive back Brett came out with me to work on the rigs for a while in Alberta.

When my Manitoba insurance ran out I remember how devastated I was when the Honda didn’t pass out-of-province inspection.  No more car.  Well, that should have been it.  I proceeded to drive uninsured for 4 more months…  But the Honda was reliable and kept me out of trouble.

And now it meets its end.  Sold for parts for 90$.  Sorry Honda.  You deserved better.


Friday, March 26, 2010

One For The Road

I know it hasn’t been long since my last playlist, but I came across a ton of new music, and am thinking I’ll probably drive out to Winnipeg for a visit sometime soon so I made a playlist to listen to on the drive.  This may be my favorite playlist ever!

  1. Macha – Believe
  2. Freelance Whales – Generator ^ First Floor
  3. Bluejuice – Head Of The Hawk
  4. Yeasayer – ONE
  5. Jamie T – The Man’s Machine
  6. Dan Black – Symphonies
  7. The Da Vincis – Paper Planes
  8. Emily Wells – Symphony 6: Fair Thee Well & The Requiem Mix
  9. The Black Ghosts – Some Way Through This
  10. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – 40 Day Dream
  11. Hot Chip & Peter Gabriel - Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
  12. Owen Pallett – The Great Elsewhere
  13. Dark Mean – Lullaby
  14. The Thermals – Now We Can See
  15. Red Light Company – Mecanno
  16. Eulogies – Bad Connection
  17. The Wombats – Moving To New York (Kyte Remix)
  18. Chris Garneau – Hands On The Radio
  19. Two Hours Traffic – Arms Akimbo
  20. Ramona Falls – Russia
  21. Tiga – Far From Home
  22. Royksopp – Vision One
  23. Yeasayer – I Remember
  24. Port O’Brien – I Woke Up Today
  25. Steven Wilson – Thank U
  26. Elbow – On A Day Like This
  27. Freelance Whales – Generator ^ Second Floor
  28. Dan Deacon – Snookered

As always, this playlist can be listened to by clicking play on the playlist widget to the right ---->
OR by going to it directly on Grooveshark!

And I’ll end it with a video for one of the songs, one of the weirder videos I’ve ever seen, but kinda cool too!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I have iGoogle as my homepage, and I have the wallpaper set to a videogame theme which changes the wallpaper to a different game every day.  Look at what today’s game was!

3-25-2010 3-00-07 PM

Dragon Age!



I worked out for a bit before my trip to Winnipeg this past X-mas and I was starting to see the results.  Then while I was in Winnipeg I completely dropped it, and never really got back in the groove of things.  Well for the past 3 weeks I’ve completely changed my lifestyle.  Working at a desk, eating out all the time, and just getting older and having my metabolism slow down was leading to a hefty gut…  So for the past 3 weeks I’ve started working out 4-5 times a week using free weights, my cousin’s Bowflex, and doing things like pushups, crunches, jogging, etc.  I’ve also started changing my diet.  I drink ice-water pretty much exclusively, which was a lot easier than I anticipated; always a glass first thing in the morning before working out to kick-start the metabolism, and another after working out.  Just cutting coke out of my diet alone has cut over 600 calories a day.  I’ve started eating healthier and on a better schedule.  And I’m definitely starting to see the results.  My face is losing its chub, and I’m even starting to lose the gut.  It’s definitely still there, mind you, but the results are beginning, which is always motivating!


I just hit 30,000 gamerscore.  Not sure if I should be proud or ashamed…


Cat & Mouse

Isabella came to visit me while I was doing my Unreal training.  She sat on my desk and kept swatting at the mouse pointer on my screen.  Cute.


Doesn’t she look cheerful?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Look how cool I was…  =P



Started work on Particle Effects in Unreal today.  They’re made in Cascade, a pretty powerful tool within Unreal Ed.  About half way through my videos it was explaining how to make the particles, in my case sparks, bounce when they hit a surface.  I followed the video to a tee but it wasn’t working.  So I got my hands dirty and figured it out on my own.  Problem solving for the win.

3-24-2010 5-53-38 PM

3-24-2010 5-52-17 PM

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My First Cinematic Sequence

Today I finally finished the Matinee section of my Unreal training.  Which means I finally used it for what I originally thought was its only purpose: cinematic sequences.  So here’s my first basic sequence.  Once you flick a switch it’s activated, but doesn’t play until you walk through the door.  It’s 2 cameras with movement, fade-ins and outs, and some zoom.  While the sequence is in effect you lost control of your character and the HUD vanishes.  Once the sequence is over, you regain control of the character, the HUD reappears and you continue on.  After that the sequence is over and cannot be re-triggered, even using the switch (by design).  Check it out!  The pic is how it looks in Kismet/Matinee, and the video is how it plays out in-game.

3-23-2010 4-33-04 PM

Monday, March 22, 2010


I love my current wallpaper :P

3-22-2010 1-18-18 PM

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I love Spring.  It’s probably my favorite season.  Ya, I know it’s mucky out, it’s not as warm as Summer and my allergies often go beserk, but I love that feeling of rebirth.  After a long season of cold and darkness, everyone is able to go outside and enjoy the sunlight again.  I love it.  Went for Pho with Nathan and Dann today and afterwards just hung out outside and chatted for a good hour.  Nathan recently got a new car, 2003 Tiberon.  So jealous.

Afterwards we went to Best Buy to look around.  Found Dragon Age Awakening on the shelf.  As I was talking about it, this middle aged woman looks at me and goes “Oh, that’s a great game!” and I replied “I made it!”, lol.  She thought it was the main game, and when I explained it was an expansion pack she ended up buying it.  Second time I’ve sold a Dragon Age product in that Best Buy, lol.  I should get commission!

Was a good day!

Awakening On Xbox Live!





Thursday, March 18, 2010

Latest Level

After learning to use matinee to make elevators, doors, switches and other cool things, I decided to make another test level around these functions, just for fun and to be creative.



But to really see the mechanics in action, check out this video!  It demonstrates the use of the elevator, a door, which also has a light that turns from red to green when it opens, some light switches, and other cool things!

Photos On The Wall

Ok, this is just cool.  I have a flickr account where I upload all my pix, and for the most part it’s public.  Tonight I was doing a bit of online self-stalking and found this.  An art exhibit in Sweden (I think) of a wall of photos OF walls of photos, collected from public pictures on Flickr.  My room from 5 years ago when I lived at home is in there!  I had a wall with some of my photography on it around a mirror.  Here’s a few pictures of the exhibit:



Now if you look at exhibit 18, the top left by the wall-lamp, that’s my old room!  Here’s the original pic the artist used:


Crazy, the stuff you can find on the internet!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Glasses

I ordered some new glasses because my current ones get somewhat uncomfortable sometimes.



In the end I decided to return them.  Not quite my style.

More Kismet/Matinee

My latest sequence, this is 2 switches at different parts of the level that both toggle-dim the same set of lights back and forth.

3-17-2010 4-46-03 PM

Build All

Any time any major change is made I have to hit the build-all button, which rebuilds all lighting and geometry.  Once the level starts to get a bit more complicated, it can take a while…  Yawn…

3-17-2010 3-40-03 PM

Dragon Age Awakening Launch Trailer

Those Left Behind

So over the past year and a half as I made playlists for the blog, some songs I never got around to putting in.  I decided to make a playlist of all the older songs that never got a playlist of their own.  There’s some great stuff in here, and listening to it now I can’t understand why I didn’t use them at the time!  Lots of songs too!


  1. The Arcade Fire – Wake Up
  2. Vampire Weekend – One (Blake’s Got A New Face)
  3. Death Cab For Cutie – No Sunlight
  4. Beirut – Nantes
  5. Jape – Floating
  6. Alaska In Winter – The Homeless And The Hummingbirds
  7. Stars – Your Ex-Lover Is Dead (Final Fantasy Remix)
  8. Yeasayer – 2080
  9. The Dodos – Jodi
  10. Vampire Weekend – The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance
  11. Final Fantasy – Better Than Worse
  12. Muse – Ruled By Secrecy
  13. Radiohead – Down Is The New Up
  14. Filter – Soldiers Of Misfortune
  15. Oasis – I’m Outta Time
  16. Albert Hammond Jr. – Scared
  17. City And Colour – The Death Of Me
  18. Never Ending White Lights – The World Is Darker
  19. Nine Inch Nails – Head Down
  20. Rise Against – Savior
  21. Bullet For My Valentine – Hearts Burst Into Fire
  22. Oasis – Soldier On
  23. Stars – Barricade
  24. Stars – Life 2: The Unhappy Ending
  25. City And Colour – The Girl
  26. The Streets – Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way
  27. The Streets – Dry Your Eyes
  28. Everlast – Everyone
  29. Everlast – Dirty
  30. Fort Minor – Slip Out The Back
  31. Stars – Personal
  32. Bon Iver – Skinny Love
  33. Sufjan Stevens – John Wayne Gacy Jr.
  34. The Lightning Bug Situation – Iraqi Man And Baby Daughter, 2007
  35. The Cinematic Orchestra – To Build A Home

Click play on the right!   -->

OR head over to grooveshark!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dragon Age Awakening OUT!

The Expansion pack I worked so hard on is out today!  I had a lot of creative input on this project, and it’s kind of my baby.  GO BUY IT!  You can get it on Xbox Live Arcade or buy a retail disc of it.  GO GO GO!'


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Car Wash

Finally got a much needed car-wash and the Pontiac looks as good as new!


Also, check out the cool Mass Effect 2 decal I got from work!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Dragon Age Awakening Penny Arcade Comic Pages 3, 4, 5




Door/ Elevator

More work on Matinee today.  Got a working door and elevator.  Both have sound too.  It’s actually pretty easy, and I see the potential for much creativity.  Anything can be animated in any way.  Now I just need to figure out dynamic lighting.

3-12-2010 4-23-36 PM

Meet The Architect

One of the new characters in Dragon Age Awakening.  I always thought he had a really cool character model.  His character in the game is quite cool too.  It’s out soooooon!  4 days!  Digital download or retail disc.  BUY IT!


Early Spring

Loving it!

Mobile Photo Mar 12, 2010 2 51 24 PM

Achievement Unlocked

Now that’s an achievement!

Mobile Photo Mar 12, 2010 2 51 43 PM

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Key-Frame Animations

Today I delved further into Matinee, learning key-animations and the curve editor.  At first Matinee was the most intimidating aspect of my Unreal training so far, but I think I’m beginning to wrap my head around it.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sexist, But Also True

Boy’s Internet: Porn, videogames, gadgets, movie trailers, science/politics articles…  More porn.


Girl’s internet: Home decoration, fashion, pictures with sappy quotes about love and happiness, pictures of themselves.


Life In Quarantine

“Christian Van Vuuren was diagnosed with TB and has spent the last 55 days quarantined to a single hospital room. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he made this amazing rap video.”


Dragon Age Development Stats

THIS is a really short but sweet read about some of the stats about the development process of Dragon Age.  I knew most of this already, and know the people mentioned directly, but it’s awesome to see the stats all in one place.  Check it out!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Material Module: Complete!

Finished the material module in my Unreal training today.  Finished making my own custom material.  It is a gray stone with nice specular lighting, and a nice dark orange lava glow underneath.  The further away from you look, the darker orange the glow is.  The lava beneath the stone also has a flow and pulsating glow to it.  In the end it was a pretty complicated sequence:


I’m really enjoying learning Unreal.  The videos are currently teaching me one concept at a time.  I can’t wait to finish all the conceptual parts and make a fully functioning level through the videos.  That will be a rewarding experience.  For now I’ll have to enjoy the small victories, like the way my custom texture looks in-game (in a quickly thrown together test map):


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Custom Materials

On to the next module in my Unreal Ed video training.  Now I’m learning how to make custom materials.  So far I’ve only been using in-game assets, but it’s impressive how customizable it is just using the variables included in the in-game assets.  The workflow is still visual scripting, very similar to Kismet.  Finding it cool so far.  Here’s my first material: an in-game texture with a normal map and an up close detailed normal map, some custom colouring, etc.

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