7/10/2006

My Room Is Shrinking: A Pack Rat's Curse

There comes a time when one realizes that one's room is getting smaller because of the continual accumulation of stuff.

My room is approximately 10 feet by 12 feet and it's starting to shrink as more stuff is piled up. Along the north and west wall is my desk which fits nicely into the corner of the room. For those of you who've never step foot into my room, my desk has a triangular section that fits flush with the corner and two table sections are along the north and west wall, respectively. A hutch sits on the west table and I always have textbooks, magazines, journals, and miscellaneous stuff piled there. On the north table is a laser print that takes up half the table space and I've done my best to keep the rest of it clean so I have some workspace.

Moving clockwise, beside my desk is my bureau. It's not the prettiest looking thing but it does a good job holding my clothes. Unfortunately, I haven't been keeping up with the "out with the old and in with the new" routine and the new keeps moving in and the old hasn't moved out.

Sitting snuggly between my north table and bureau is my aluminium tool briefcase. During my time at Ryerson, I've slowly accumulated more and more electronic components. Initially I started out with a small, tan-colored tackle box that I borrowed from my dad. Then I upgraded to a larger, dark blue, plastic, MasterCraft tool chest and I moved everything from the tan tackle box into it. But soon after that I "out grew" that tool chest and I recently upgraded to the aluminium tool briefcase. It's a heavy sucker since I have a lot of stuff in it but it's more convenient to carry and it looks professional!

Continuing to the east side of my room is my closet. And there are no skeletons in it, both figuratively and literally. From floor to ceiling, my closet is jammed with cardboard boxes of stuff, clothing that I should sort out and donate to Good Will and I should figure out what else I can offload. And my bed. Not much to say about it, other than I sleep in it and whenever I buy a new book, I turn on the small fluorescent lamp mounted just above my head and sometimes read into the early hours of the morning.

Beside my bed, on the south wall is a large, blue plastic bin full of clothes, which again I have to sort through and determine what I can donate. Sitting on the bin is my alarm clock which is conveniently beside my head.

Moving back to the west wall, I have a small Ikea bookshelf. Unfortunately, I have too many textbooks that I'm unwilling to part from, thus I need a bookshelf that's big enough to accomodate all of my present reading material and have enough free space for the future. As soon as my dad is free from other stuff around the house, I'll ask him to make me a new shelf.

As you can see, I have too much old clothing in my room that needs to be donated and I'm afraid that it'll take me a while to properly sort through my stuff and get rid of whatever I don't need. One possibility is converting the attic into storage space, which the entrance is conveniently in my room. But I don't think that's the best idea since I'm not sure how structurally sound is the attic.

7/05/2006

AGS (Adventure Game Studio)

Before WoW, EQ, UO and other fantasy/sci-fi game worlds that supports millions of players, there were humble adventure games like Day of the Tentacle, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Sam and Max, Beneath a Steel Sky, Monkey Island and other "classic" games.

Around the mid-90s or so, adventure games began to disappear and commercially released adventure games are pretty much extinct now. What happened? Were people lured away by hi-res graphics, billion polygons per model, lots of explosions and fast paced shooters? Did game companies lose interest in making adventure games? Personally, I don't know all the variables that contributed to the disappearance of commercially released adventure games and I don't really intend to change people's gaming preferences.

So what about the community that still plays "classic" adventure games? Do we stop and force ourselves to move on? Sure. But a better idea is to make our own games, especially for those who don't mind getting some grease on their hands.

Enter the Adventure Game Studio (AGS), made as freeware by Chris Jones. I don't know who Chris Jones is but here's what I think about AGS.

My Review

First off, AGS was designed to help people make 2D adventure games like the ones published by LucasArts and Sierra. So that means the artwork quality in the numerous indie games are measured by the artist's skill; awesome artwork if you can draw, if you can't draw you can still have awesome 2D artwork if you follow some of the community-created tutorials. This goes for sound too. If you have a good ear and a decent sound editing tool, you can have full voice and a musical score.

As a developement tool, AGS is very easy to use and anybody can crank out a very simple game in a day. This is possible because there are community members dedicated to creating art packages of characters, objects and background art. The complexity of the games are limited to the skill of the programmer; if you can't program for beans, you can hop onto the forum ask for help.

At the moment I haven't delved into AGS much but I'm sure I can whip up something simple and build for it.

Potential Stories

The worst thing that can happen to a writer is writer's block. Something worse than writer's block is when the writer loses his/her muse and is having trouble finding anything to write about. As a cry for help, anybody have suggestions for an adventure game?

The Tools Don't Make the Man (or "Woman"), the Man (or "Woman") Makes the Tools

Ah tools. Tools are the wonderful things that help you get stuff done. Like a hammer or a socket wrench. In my case, my two most important tools is an oscilloscope and a waveform generator.

Yesterday I went ahead and finally purchased an oscilloscope and waveform generator from Syscomp Design. (I have a link to the site over to the right if anybody cares) So, an oscilloscope is an instrument that I can use to measure waveforms and a waveform generator is an instrument that can make the waveforms.

The good thing about the Syscomp instruments is the idea of open source software so I'm free to modify and add my own features for signal processing, especially with the oscilloscope. One draw back with Syscomp's open source software is that it uses something called Tcl, which is a markup language. This means, at least to me, that a markup language used for signal processing and number crunching would be very sluggish, which is not good since seeing information in "real time" is way better. But that is the nature of digital instruments; there will always be some form of preprocessing before we see the results.

So, hopefully in a few days I'll get my instruments delivered and I can play around with them and get started on the RC car hacking project!