Sunday, November 30, 2008

Current State of Affairs

Interviewing new talent to add to the Soshiant team, the challenge to select the best, lots of negotiations with possible investors or sponsors internally and checking out the international opportunities, meetings with the media and preparing content, planning and re-planning for an intense production period, handling the team and specially the Artists (Herding cats needs a follow up edition for the non-techy's), preparing hardware, prioritizing the technical tasks left, forming the story, evaluating great pieces of code such as the FEAR SDK, GAMEAI SDK and the new exciting intel threaded framework, preparing for a new research and a new time plan for life is part of what is going on right now. Lots of opportunities, very tough, very fun, meaningful, complex and inspiring. Beautiful times.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Back to Fundamentals

I recently read Joel Spolsky's book "Smart and Gets Things Done", which is a fun and interesting read. The book is built around the reality that very good developers are 10 times more efficient than average developers and the whole focus and goal of the book is to help you find these very good developers. A smart person who actually can get the work done as opposed to smart people who never deliver finished work is another main point in the book.

One part which I really liked in the book was an advice to stick with basic algorithmic questions during interviews and the importance of "c pointers" related questions, although a coder might be required to code using Ruby which isn't concerned with pointers at all. I feel that this is very much necessary since it is the fundamentals which are highly important and these fundamental concepts form the requirements for finding solutions to problems on higher levels. I'm sure that someone understanding how to reverse a linked list will be able to construct high quality code in Ruby since all software systems design seems like fractal extensions from simple fundamental concepts of computing such as the double indirection idea in pointers. Some experts even take this idea to the extremes and believe that bit manipulation techniques are even more important.

Strong fundamentals are crucial in almost any competence, sports, music, acting or even cooking. Phil Jackson had mentioned its importance once during their practices.Practices of team which had the world's best players and finished up with an unbelievable record of 72-10. The focus for THAT team was Fundamentals!

The secret of the masters is to practice the "Basics" continually.

Lets finish by a quote with Phil the Zen Master:

"Like life, basketball is messy and unpredictable. It has its way
with you, no matter how hard you try to control it. The trick is to
experience each moment with a clear mind and open heart. When you do
that, the game--and life--will take care of itself."

Collisions Everywhere

Collision detection between objects in games are vital and almost any game, whether pong or Doom is based on lots of collision detection calculations. The book , "Real-time Collision Detection", covers everything and anything related to collision in great details from the basics to the advanced topics with lots of useful C++ code. After covering all algorithms related to collision detection between almost any type of 3D object you can imagine, the books goes over some numerical and geometrical robustness methods and finishes with great ideas regarding optimization.

A wonderful book on the subject.

A great book from a great author, who is the man behind the God of War engine.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Becoming rather than Being

Insomniac is one of the successful game development studios which is in business for around 14 years now. They have a special plan known as the Nocturnal Initiative, where they share part of their tools and source code. I've come to think about this attitude many times and wondered about their real intentions behind such plans since their business model is closed source in general and we don't see such movement much from other studios. There has been a recent interview in Gamasutra with their CEO and Creative Designer Ted Price which reveals a lot from what they believe in.

They have been very open at their community event about their internals and when asked about why they are this way, Ted says: "In this industry, things move so quickly that there really aren't that many trade secrets necessarily. It's more about your production process, it's more about being efficient and continuing to push your design".

Beautifully said. All three parts are related to becoming rather than being,continuous change, the importance of process over entities. How can you not get better everyday when this is what you believe in.

Just great.

Education is Dead!

The organized education system as we know today is dead. It just doesn't work. The new age has brought lots of complexities (not a bad thing) with it and the education system has not been able to keep up with these changes and we are following the methods that were designed more than a hundred years ago. A revolution is necessary.

Don't show me the successful individuals as the byproducts of the existing education system since those are just 1 step from the 100 hundred possible useful steps that an education system can take in order to facilitate the journey of an individual in the city of knowledge. The current system is losing the other 99 steps.

The class room and class text books which used to be the ultimate sources of information one day have turned into the least important information input sources, thanks to pervasive global information around us, floating in networks and revealing itself to us in the form of TV images, movies, websites, music ....The frequency of information input from the classroom is not comparable to the data input frequency out there.

The ideal education system should inform us about science, ethics and art. In other words introduce us with the natural world we live in, the society we interact with and the meanings we can find individually in things such as paintings or music. This doesn't seem to be happening the way it can these days. If the education system can help a lot regarding these matters and help the majority, then it is worth spending so much of our lives following the rigid structures, otherwise, let humans flourish on their own and spend their whole time over great things they desire.

Now there are many different aspect that can be discussed regarding the current problems and there can be many solutions proposed as has been so far and I won't be able to get into such topics in this post but all I feel right now is that something big needs to be done since it is NOT working!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Use that pen

We are in the process of adding new artists to the team. A few have been interviewed already. Great passion to work on this project is the first thing we look for, the next step is to be able to design 3D environments or be a good Animator. The number one problem we have witnessed in the applicants so far has been that the ones who claim can model in 3D, do not have the texture painting techniques which a game artist usually needs. This has been a surprise for us. Its the fusion of the love of 2D traditional art and new 3D technology which breeds the new type of art creature in these days. The exact same is true for animation. All the feelings and life which is needed in 3D animation has roots in traditional 2D works. We are hunting now!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Movie time

I recently some time to catch up a bit with movies and watched "Wanted" and enjoyed it very much. Its a mix between reality and comic book fantasy and some Chinese Kung Fu movies where the student is trained hard to gain valuable skills. Visually appealing movie of course. I really liked the character of Angelina Jolie which showed so much confidence, power and calmness wrapped around secrets. Her body pose reminded me of the works of Joe Madureira. The idea of curving bullets although far from reality but quite fun :).

I also watched the movie "Body of lies" and really hated it. Another cliche movie trying to make a monster out of Islam. Shame on "Golshifteh", she was the queen of Cinema and now will be yet another Hollywood junkie. 

Van Helsing
is just great! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Battle

We are in a very important stage now... a stage which we know, or at least I know, that we can finish up the Soshiant project really strong and believe in the great things that can happen after that. I see years of opportunities and excitement, not without lots of challenge, ahead. It was quite interesting for me to find out that this is not necessarily the view of some of the team members, it was quite strange for me to find out about this in fact since everything is so crystal clear for me. Anyway, nothing can prove anything exept time and I am looking forward to Zorvan and his strong horsemen to help out here. We will run, slash, push, crawl, bleed all the way alongside Zorvan and the courage believers and patient non-believers will celebrate this victory. I will not stop till that day comes.


Lessons I learn from my 4 months old baby:

  • How to not pretend and be what you really are.
  • How to see the little beautiful details in everything around.
  • How to enjoy music.
  • How to stare at someone you like for hours. ;)
Back to class...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A new beginning

I feel like a just passed an important milestone and there is a new beginning ahead. The number one priority in this next phase is to complete Soshiant Game with the level of quality which we have been after. There are going to be some business meetings regarding finding possible funding for this project but either way, the project will go on full force, we just have to see who will ride this wave with us.

There have been a few requests to our team for creating small to medium size games but we will not follow those paths since the number one priority is to finish up our own product. Those projects will derail us and make us lose the focus and a project based work on game development is not part of our main strategy anyway. That is the easy path, we are selecting the hard path. No slavery.

Everyone who feels they can be categorized as technical advises us to buy a 3rd party game engine and explain to us how we can never finish up this project with the path we have taken, using OGRE3D and our own code, well this is our little message to all these technical friends: "spend your time minding your own business!".

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Just another brick in the wall....

Ok .. everybody is excited .. Obama is the president ... happiness everywhere, unless the sun has irritated the back of the neck a bit ... another puppet is up ... another show is on ... the show must go on ....  change is really hard when there is only one controlling parameter in the hearts of the people and social systems, Money .... any system with any name can't behave different when all your system is trying to do is to increase the amount of money the stakeholders have ... unless the system designers are not good in math or specifically in game theory .... change needs to come from inside .... no puppet can bring the change people are waiting for .... there are no saviors ... When big people such as Thomas Jefferson planned the ideal country, they never considered money as the only value in people's lives ... there used to be real humans ...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Dubai Game Expo

Soshiant at the Dubai Game Expo.