Krelin is currently certified at Journeyer level.

Name: Brian Crowder
Member since: 2000-03-22 05:34:04
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Some of us love it and are good at it (in spite of ourselves).
Some of us don't love it, but are good at it anyway.
Some of us love it, but can't code our way out of a paper bag.
The rest write Java.

-- Brian "Still Working out 'class PaperBag : public Bag { ... };'" Crowder


That's my poem for the day, don't know/care what it means.

My life is directed acyclic graphs lately. I wrote some neat code (imho) for representing sequence-pairs in a 2D bin-packing problem. I'm about 10-20 lines of code away from making it actually do something cooler than build a huge graph and traverse it from left->right and bottom->top. And then some dependency-tree fun at work.

Lots of visitors lately. Trying to get a guy hired (who shall remain nameless for now) to work with me.... wife and I had dinner with him on Friday at the Chart House in Cardiff. They munged my wife's fish (unevenly cooked), but my food was good as was (he reports) his.... the service was miserable. As usual, though, the view was worth it.

Then, the very next day, and old old old friend (whom I have known longer than nearly anyone else in my life -- we went to the same daycare when I was 3-years-old), and her brother joined my wife and I for dinner at The Fish Market (on Harbor Drive, south of the San Diego airport). The food there was excellent, and we laughed so outrageously as to bother the tables nearby.

Sunday, took The Dog to The Dog beach. Cooked a lovely pan-seared filet mignon with boiled/seasoned new potatos. Too much garlic on the new potatos? I can still smell it, in spite of much showering, tooth-brushing, flossing and hand-washing.

Today, we basked at work, in the glow of our recently completed prototype milestone. The game is shaping up nicely, and it is easier to become excited about this thing emerging from the nebula that was hundreds of thousands of lines of code that didn't seem to do much, but now seems to be pretty cool technology. I've been cranking code like a madman lately.

I just met Curt Schilling. At work. Got his autograph, too. Cool, eh?

8 Apr 2002 (updated 8 Apr 2002 at 16:17 UTC) »

Good weekend. The missing hour totally blows; I'm still jet lagged. Might be jet lagged because of the Harry Connick Jr. concert last night.

How come Advogato doesn't allow <dl> tags?

Went to go see Big Trouble on Friday. It wasn't really as bad as everyone seems to be saying. Some parts of it were pretty silly, but it was humorous... written by Dave Barry. I think the timing of the release (with respect to when it was originally meant to be releaed) will probably kill it off quickly, though.

Went to the Dog Beach on Saturday. It was the first time I have been there at low tide. It's remarkably different at low tide. (These pictures there are of high tide, from a previous visit) At low tide, these really unusual mossy-green rock formations are revealed, and the beach itself becomes enormous. It was pretty cool.

Then we took the dog to a "Do-It-Yourself" Dog Wash... that was an adventure. Then we went to go see Van Wilder. Must've been corny-movie week. It was pretty bad, but there were some funny parts.

Somewhere in there, on Saturday, we went to Best Buy and I bought myself a copy of "Dungeon Siege" and a copy of "Jedi Knight 2" (I forget JK2's subtitle)....

Dungeon Siege is a fun game, an RPG of the Diablo/Diablo 2 breed, but in my opinion better done in a number of ways. Their engine is an excellent one, truly 3D and looks gorgeous. The art itself isn't quite up to par (by which I mean to say that individual elements of terrain, fauna, flora, etc. aren't themselves that great) with what one might hope for in a genre where the bar has been set so high by Blizzard, but the engine compensates by displaying a very detailed and textured world, leaving the player with a very immersed feeling. The camera controls are a little goofy, and perhaps the game doesn't really do enough to automate the camera, so you find yourself spending a lot of your time just aiming the camera usefully. The camera might be slightly better if it worked a little harder to keep your party and immediate opponents in view; fortunately most of the time you'll be grouped closely enough not to care (except when your packmule runs off into the darkness of some dungeon while you're surrounded by angry giant-spiders.)

There's a LOT of hack'n'slash in this game; it might be moderated by slightly smaller "dungeon crawl" sessions in between plot/town visits, but the dungeons themselves are interesting, and the monsters are pretty cool.

The combat system is very cool; far less carpal-tunnel-inflaming than the systems found in games like Diablo (I was crippled for days after an evening or two of the original Diablo: *clickety clickety clickety*) or even Diablo 2. The combat system in "Dungeon Siege" allows you to select individual stances for each of your characters which describe fairly thoroughly all of the possible actions you might plan for them to take during your next fight. For example, you can configure your fighter/tank types to charge into the fray fearlessly, while your archers and mages lay back, staying just close enough to use their ranged attacks. Generally this works exactly the way you'd want it to unless you get surrounded. :)

The skills system is very limited (or is it elegant? I haven't decided for sure). You can improve your skill in melee combat, ranged combat (archery, basically), combat spells, or nature spells. That's it. You have three stats, Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence. Your stats will progress relatively slow, most of my characters, for example, cannot make use of a large portion of the loot I've run into, because the armor and weapons that depend on stats require stats higher than my characters have.

The other inconvenience in the game was the unfortunately small shortcut bars provided for players. Only 4 "weapon" choices, one of which is melee, and one of which is ranged, leaves your casters with only 2 free slots for spells! Switching between spells is a real pain, so having an attack spell, and a heal spell in those slots leaves you having to change spells after combat if you need to transmute items or do some other post-combat spell-casting.

Overall it's a pretty decent game; good graphics, decent art, and very good gameplay. It may be slightly lacking in breadth, and very slightly hampered by overly ambitious level-design (it seems like it's been ages since my party has returned to a town, mostly because it would take me a half-hour to walk all the way back to town... I've been hoping instead to get to the _next_ town -- which means I've been transmuting a lot of my loot instead of loading up the packmule and heading back to town); but otherwise it's quite good, with some very unique and well-designed combat mechanics.

Haven't played Jedi Knight 2 very much yet. The single player game seems remarkably hard and I don't much like the "twitchy-ness" of the Quake3-based engine. There is a lot of combat. You can't sneak through levels as you might have in early volumes in this series. I like sneaking. Having a blaster shoot-out with stormtroopers is only really cool the first couple of times, and then it's just frustrating watching the 'troopers dodge back and forth (becoming almost impossible to hit without wasting huge amounts of ammo). Luckily, they still have artificially horrible aim. :)

Went to see Harry Connick Jr. in concert last night. That was an excellent concert! I'm not even a Harry Connick Jr. fan; the wife dragged me to it. But it was really quite good. A good deal of the concert was spent high-lighting the really talented trumpet/trombone/sax/guitar players in the big band by giving them a lot of free reign to improv. Overall, great fun! So much fun, I was torn between enjoying the concert and regretting that when it ended I would have no way of ever seeing it or listening to it again. :)

I'm still the first "Krelin" in Google. :)

Man, that there was a long diary entry.

I'm the first "Krelin" result returned by google.

I've changed my mind about some of the projects I mentioned in my first diary entry. Guile is no longer cool. It's not threadsafe, its GC is difficult to programmatically control, and FP languages are too bass-ackwards for monkeys (ie. most game designers lacking formal CS education) to pick up and use easily. Oh yeah, and its license is poorly worded and difficult (and not even consistently applied across the source). Finally, the Guile community does not seem cohesive and well-directed. That's only my impression, though.

SpiderMonkey, however, is cool.

Evolution: Still cool, but I'm using mozmail lately, mostly because it seems easier to setup multiple accounts/POP/SMTP servers and combine them in perverse and intriguing ways. Their exchange connector doo-hickey might turn me to the dark side again, though.

Crystal Space is a monster that's too damned hard to build and use. Someone should create a lovely, fast, compact C- or C++-based client-engine (library) for 1st-person games (with a strong eye towards scalability for MMP), in addition to a clean tool chain for extending it (level editors, and such).

SDL still rules.

Mozilla rules more than ever. Especially with TrueType fonts. Gotta love them nightlies, too. :)

Finished Hawking's "Universe in a Nutshell." Not as good as "Brief History of Time" (nor as humorously titled). Some of the math and verbiage is difficult to follow, even with full color graphical accompaniment, and the overall work seems less significant. Nice coffee table book, though, perhaps.

Reading fluff until I can either get my hands on "Carnage and Culture" or make myself focus on "John Adams."

Wife and I are riding the train to work nearly every day, pretty cool.

Someone flipped a tank (yes, a tank. A big giant tank, with a turret and everything) over on an highway off-ramp here in north-county San Diego today.

Why do people on train platforms feel the need to lean out over the tracks and peer anxiously into the distance trying to spot the train? Do they fear that a thousands-of-tons hunk of metal, fuel, and passengers will somehow come to a grinding, screaming halt in front of them, disembark, and then hurtle away into the distance without them, if they aren't alert? Moral: People, relax. The train isn't going to sneak past you.


Getting Involved

Well. I recently tried to "get involved," by sending both of my California Senators a polite non-form-letter e-mail regarding the SSSCA. So far, I have recieved only the following form e-mail (and this, as far as I can tell, was not even sent automagically, as I received it several days after my original e-mail):

Dear Mr. Crowder:

Thank you for contacting my office to express your views.

I believe that all citizens should become involved in our legislative process by letting their voices be heard. I appreciate the time and effort that you took to share your thoughts. One of the most important aspects of my job is keeping informed about the views of my constituents, and I welcome your comments so that I may continue to represent California to the best of my ability.

Again, thank you for your correspondence.

Not signed. That was from Senator Boxer's office. It turns out both of California's Senators have previously voted in support of the DMCA, so I doubt they'll be even slightly less predictable with regard to the SSSCA (which has serious implications -- both ways -- for California's economy, no matter how you look at it).

Recently finished reading The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, and Theodore Rex. Can't wait for Edmund Morris to finish the third volume in this trilogy. TR is truly one of the most dynamic and amazing presidents in our history.

Picked up Stephen Hawking's The Universe in a Nutshell. Want to read Victor Davis Hanson's Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power next.

Very busy at work lately, team is finding a very solid direction and moving forward at what seems to be a brisk, useful pace we did not have before, largely thanks to new leadership on multiple levels. I expect to learn a lot about RTS game AI over the next few months.

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