Thursday, December 24, 2009

Down on the up side

Garshasp project, the current version, is close to an end, however, I feel very much like its just the beginning and I have a lot of excitement for a lot of basic issues in our work. It all seems to be the beginning one more time, I feel the symmetry in the air. Its our polish time and I read a very nice statement about polish today, "Polish is when you turn something functional into an Art form!".
Our biggest hurdle ahead is losing our super star and Ninja coder (Military Services) but just remembering how he worked for any of our team members in itself can be quite productive for each one of them. We hope the experience of some Military discipline can even further excel this Ninja.
Focus, like always, is the most important thing we need right now.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Magazine Cover

Garshasp was featured in BaziRayaneh this month. BaziRayaneh is the most significant magazine about computer games in Iran and it has been the first time that an Iranian game will be featured on the cover of this magazine which makes us feel quite proud.

The Garshasp dev team has worked superb recently and such recognitions are well deserved for each one of them. The magazine DVD includes interviews with the guys which are quite fun.

We just got back from Game Connection Lyon and the event was fantastic, we managed to meet many great people in the industry and there was many things for us to learn in the process.

Oh by the way the magazine contains the same illustration as its poster.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Typhoon Ends

Finally time has stopped a bit and there is a chance to write. The past few weeks have been really intense. Trying to finish the remaining tasks for Garshasp and prepare for the Game Connection event which is going to start tomorrow morning. After wild days and nights of non stop efforts, we are finally here in Lyon and ready to start off the first day of the three days for Game Connection tomorrow morning. We will start with a few meetings with some real big publishers and go all the way until 6pm with meetings every 30 minutes. It is a unique experience and something we are looking forward to very much.

The guys in the team have really done a great job one more time for Garshasp and our hope is to be able to demonstrate this good work to as many publishing companies as possible and find the path for this team to get stronger and do better everyday.

The compact days before our trip was followed by a long stay in the airport at Rome, 9 hours before our connection flight to Lyon and we did experience something quite new for a long time, just waiting and doing nothing.

Lyon is a nice city, 25 years has passed since the last time I was in France and I am seeing the Country from a different perspective this time, either me or the Country has changed a lot, or maybe both :).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I recently read "Outliers" which was a really interesting book. The author has a very nice point of view towards specific issues related to successful people and generally such out of the box thinking, although not necessarily always to the point, can be quite fun.

The book contains an issue regarding the over-rated respect for IQ numbrs in people and the lack of correlation between success and IQ. I had thought about this many times before and thinking about it too much makes you infer an inverse relationship between the two, anyway.

Another part I really liked was about how math requires intense focus and persistence and patience and there was a hypothesis about the relationships of rice paddies and workers and math, quite insightful.

The 10,000 hours rule is another nice part and it describes how 10,000 hours is needed in order for someone to master a skill and how successful people have all had a chance to pass this 10,000 hours.

I better check out the other books by this author, "Tipping point" is one which should be good to read.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Torch is Burning

Torchlight is a wonderful game. Very well polished and fun. Made by the guys who have their roots in the creation of the Diablo series. I really like such RPG styles and I remember the good times with Titan Quest and Dungeon Siege.

It is nice for us to know that Torchlight uses OGRE as its rendering engine.

The new Slayer album is out. It is great, not super great but just great as usual, I wished they had a bit more magical melodies in there. Rammstein, very strong, very nice and artistic ... the track "pussy" should be dedicated to all music video clip directors.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The invisible fire of projects

Interesting times. It is always nice to know when you can interact and cause certain things to happen, you feel alive and meaningful but only if you have a role in this action that you are going to take. Is it possible to take actions which you do not have a role? Certainly yes and what we are doing most of the time, just reflecting, doing x because of y. Doing x again if we were to take back time and sense y again and again. However, there are times which you have a choice and we talk about selection. The very essence of creativity comes from the deep power of choice. Running into the multiple paths of selection and following one is the core that builds our freedom and this is where we find our meaning, the rest of the times we are just sleep walking with the ghosts.

Such a stage has been reached at this time for Fanafzar Games. Garshasp is coming to an end and a new beginning is on the horizon. We need to select on the next project and plan ahead for our next commitment which will be at least for a 2 year period. Multiple paths lie ahead and I have a feeling that each will have big differences as far as their outcomes. Selecting the platform to develop for, whether sticking to PC or trying ways to enter the Console development is one, planning ahead for the technology and tools we have created so far is two, selecting the game genre and title is three, evaluating different middle-ware technology is four, doing research on some areas to include in the next version of the engine is five, redesigning the development process and methodology is six and finding new talent to work with is choice group number seven.

The above choice groups have options and combining them properly to lay down the path towards our goals is in itself an art form. The big puzzle which needs to be solved with many dead ends and a few paths to higher grounds.

The overall feeling is interesting and the challenge for each choice group is very exciting but there is one which is still quite a mystery for me and that is the last item. We have some ideas about the first six, at least we know ways to try out our ideas and assess and evaluate and decide but regarding the people working on the team or joining the team, there are quite a lot of mysteries. Interestingly enough the issue is not with the technical skills and abilities of these people, it is with their mindsets and attitude. The last thing on earth that anyone trying to assemble a team to work on high tech would ever think of, the last thing I ever thought of when I was trying to form a team to do something which none of them had done before in their areas of expertise and never done by our team or even any team close to us. Something with a lot of technical uncertainties and a process never experienced. People thought it was impossible because we couldn't find the specialists needed, we didn't have technology necessary, we couldn't secure the necessary budget, we lacked the experience and that their would be external pressures to prevent us from finishing a product. No one ever speculated that our biggest problem is going to be from within, inside the simplest behaviors of us human beings, being able to manage the self, being honest, having control, being there and believing. Such issues have been covered very well in books such as "Herding Cats" but in the case of our project, really the best thing that happened was the people and the worst thing that happened was the people again. When people showed to be people by following the internal wave of self management, honesty and believing, they tackled the technical issues and all mission impossibles and did miracles and whenever they lost control of the self and polluted their minds with simple nonesense, all their magic was taken to the point which they could not even deliver the simplest values to the project and became a big burden for the rest of the team to carry on their back with their bleeding bodies. This is the miracle of us human beings, something which has been talked about a little in some books, something never talked about in the Universities, something we had to experience the hard way in our project, something for us to think about every day during the next project and something which makes all the technical risks and unknowns suddenly seem really easy to tackle.

Risk analysis helps project management but the basic elements for risk analysis are the probabilistic variables which model the system and in the case of the above mentioned parameters, no proper mathematical variable or probabilistic distribution can define them and so what we need to rely on in this case is not risk analysis techniques but pure magic.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


We're back from the second Dubai World Game Expo. The exposition was not very crowded, the same as last year, however we managed to find a few new contacts which should be quite valuable.

The Fanafzar booth was right across from the Crytek booth and we got to know a few of their developers who were quite fun and nice guys.

We came up with a presentation to express the current state of game development in Iran with the help of Puya who is the leader of the Quest of Persia game series. Here is a link to the presentation:

The Rise of Game Development in Iran

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Post DMF

This year's DMF, Tehran went well. The fair is a real marathon, 10 days from 9am to 9pm but being able to have close contact with the potential players is always nice.

We have lots of feedback forms to study, and lots of application forms for jobs, hope to find a few gems among these.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Garshasp at DMF

Garshasp and the team will be present at the 3rd Digital Media Festival in Tehran this year.
The development team will present a few workshops during the festival, here is the schedule.

Saturday (11 Mehr, 16:00) - Garshasp Development Process, the development team
Sunday (12 Mehr, 10:00) - Debugging Techniques for Games, Faham Negini
Sunday (12 Mehr, 11:00) - Post Processing on the GPU and Real-time GPU programs, Yaser Zhian
Sunday (12 Mehr, 15:00) - The new features of C++0x, Yaser Zhian
Sunday (12 Mehr, 16:00) - AI using HFSM, Amir H. Fassihi
Sunday (12 Mehr, 17:00) - The process of making a game level, Syros Pourlatifi, Hossein Hosseinian, Faham Negini
Sunday (12 Mehr, 19:00) - The process of creating a Game Characters, Syros Pourlatifi, Mohammad Modaress
Sunday (12 Mehr, 20:00) - Game Character Texturing Techniques, Syros Pourlatifi
Monday (13 Mehr, 10:00) - Serialization in C++ with Boost, Yaser Zhian
Monday (13 Mehr, 11:00) - Physics Engines and Nvidia PhysX, Amir H. Fassihi
Tuesday (14 Mehr, 10:00) - Life as a Technical Artist, Aidin Zolghadr
Tuesday (14 Mehr, 11:00) - Techniques for variety in Game Play Design, Hossein Hosseinian, Hadi Eskandari
Tuesday (14 Mehr, 15:00) - ZBrush Workshop
Tuesday (14 Mehr, 16:00) - The Design of a Board Game Workshop

An initial registration (free) for the workshops can be done here: http:://

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A world of Magnets and Miracles

Now that is the anniversary, all that can be said is:

"The grass was greener
The light was brighter

With friends surrounded

The night of wonder

The taste was sweeter

The nights of wonder"

Alas we did reach the " ..dizzy heights of that dreamed of world" and are "Dragged by the force of some inner tide".

But I shall keep my "High Hopes", my weary eyes still stray to the horizon .. Forever and Ever ...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The good bad thing ...

A strange thing happened this week, something good and bad. With bad which can be good and bad again. Garshasp's work in progress video trailer was placed up on GameTrailers website. Well this is really good because the website is a really important place in world gaming and it has been where we always got our information regarding the new games and just seeing the name of our game in the list over there brings us some joy.

It was bad because the trailer which has been placed on the website is not what we wished to have there. It is very raw and un-professional, a work in progress video which we were able to put together the night we flew to GamesCom in order to have something up on the LCD's at the exhibition.

Game trailers which are going to be showcased as debut trailers usually need a lot more polish.

Now why did this happen? We don't know exactly either since the last thing we asked the guys from GT when we saw them was about the things we needed to do in order to have a trailer over there and they had told us to email it to them. None of our emails regarding the details for the video were replied until we saw that somehow they have downloaded that work in progress trailer and uploaded it over there.

We are still following the issue and trying to replace the video.

On the other side, there has been a lot of exposure for the videos, along with a lot of negative comments from the users. The good thing is that we agree with most of the negative comments and they are things that we have already fixed or have in our minds to polish. Its also very interesting to get some feedback regarding our work from the highest level, the level of comparison with the AAA titles out there, comparison with titles that spend at least 10 million dollars for their development. This experience is valuable for us since the people around us do not ever judge us on that basis and its always a bottom up approach. We clearly did not expect any comparison at this point in time but it just came to us.

The bad thing about this event is that the raw video from Garshasp is probably bad for the Game reputation in the long run, which we should try really hard to make better with the next trailers we make and the polishing we have planned.

A hard slap in the face is good if you can live more "alive", we have to learn from this opportunity to be evaluated directly with the big guys in the ring. Focus and patience can redirect all the negative comments towards our favor. Lets do it team ... we've got lots to do and need to come back better ...

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Fragile Art of Existence

The title was a project Chuck Schuldiner once worked on, but also a description for the current state of what we do. It really depends how fragile is defined but in our case, not being able to reach a few of the not very far goals we have can be considered as the result of shattering and hence fragility to be described around that idea.
We are almost at the end of the Garshasp project and there are quite a few options ahead of us as a team and quite a few options ahead for each and everyone on the team. There is only a very little combination of the above options that can lead us to the good goals we are seeking and this is the reason the situation is so fragile.
We have to decide about the level of quality we want to put in the first title, finding the tradeoff point betweeen quality, time and efforts. We have to think about international releases, in which if we are serious, we would neeed to increase the efforts still more.
We have to find new talent, technical or art related. We would need to test and train these new talents.Finding new talent with good experience is quite hard and so the training part is really serious, which again has got its own risks.
We have to think about the next project or next projects, we have to find a way to secure funding for the next project. The genre and type for the next project is very critical, since we need to be able to focus on a specific genre and our team needs to really become experts in a specific type of games and so the next project commitment we enter is really important.
Our team members need to find the path to enhance their skills, they have to find the balance between time for their personal improvements and time for the project.
We need to redesign our technical engine and enhance it and there are areas which we really need to inject into our code base, such as a threading kernel, advanced animation blending and improved shaders. Knowing how to approach the above and how to balance the time is another major decision.
We have to decide about some partnership offers we've had which again can affect our future a lot.
Up to now, our progress was rather linear and we weren't faced with that many decision points, however, we are in a position right now that we need to select an action almost daily for the next couple of months which only a few can take us where we want to go, the situation is fragile. It is fun to exist in a fragile state, maybe because we feel the existence even more...

Monday, August 31, 2009


The Garshasp team puts up good efforts, however there is one big enemy the team can have, a huge monster crawling all over us and haunting the team, waiting for moments to attack, the only enemy that can bring us down and shut down our progress, this enemy is "Ourselves", we can be the monster ...

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Garshasp was displayed at GamesCom 2009. The exhibition was highly valuable for our project.
Work in progress trailer:

The new website is online:

Big thanks goes to all of our team members who tried restlessly days and nights to prepare everything for the fair.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


There is only one thing on my mind now...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

GamesCom 2009

Ok so I found a chance to write a few words, the past few weeks has been quite strange... the whole Garshasp development team did all they could to prepare something for the GamesCom conference in Cologne, Germany which is where I am currently. All the guys on the team showed one more time that they have the magive in their sleeves, the power in their determination and the skills to make it happen.

Every second was dedicated to the project, we were able to accomplish a lot just before getting on the plane to Germany, we did miss a lot too, but thats what usually happens.

We just went through the fist day of GamesCom, wasn't bad, our booth shows the brutal attitude of this mythological super hero of ours, Garshasp. It has been successful in turning some heads in the business hall.

The last two days were dedicated to the sessions of GDC europe which was quite interesting also. I had the chance to check out the Morpheme Connect tool from Natural Motion in a presentation by their CTO which was quite interesting.

Our goal in the coming days is to evaluate what we have done so far in an international level and learn about the next steps that we need to take. The exhibition will run till the 23rd.

Ok, gotta go now.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Frozen state of life in Fire

Most of my activities are frozen these days, activities such as reading books, articles, watching movies , etc. Somehow any little time that can be allocated to an activity tends to be dedicated to the Garshasp project.

The project is gong forward well, although lots and lots to do but the team is being exceptional. Each and every one of the guys rolling the Garshasp project forward have proven to be real heroes, working days and nights. The heat of this fire is significant. This is all that is important at this stage, for the team to perform well, get stronger, experience more, become stronger individually and as a team, this is whats valuable for us if we want to do good in the future, much much more important than the result of this project itself is the great guys forming a great team.

So far they've shown the magic and all the vocabulary we need in the coming days is:
try .. focus ... try ... believe ... rebound from failure... learn ... try ... focus ... learn ... help ... believe ... focus ... have fun...

Death of Software Engineering!?

Ever wondered why so many software development projects fail? Ever wondered why there is so much ambiguity in the field, Tom Demarco who is a major veteran in the field and has authored great books such as Peopleware has some new insights regarding the field of Software Engineering:

Maybe it has died after all, maybe it never was alive...

Third lesson

What I learn from my 13 months old son.

"The real values are hidden behind the superficial layers we have created on top of objects and the importance of new experiences".

To him, the wrinkled packaging and plastic covers of a toy is as amusing as the toy itself, he finds ultimate joy in watching objects we usually don't care about, such as the cable of an electric device. He shows great effort to seek that which looks new, wasn't there before and is rather unknown. Why don't I pay attention to the aesthetic features of a plastic bag? Because the society has put me in this beautiful mold of definitions and value hierarchies which are not necessarily in line with the human nature.

Change is valuable, its what we feel, its how we perceive being alive. Seeking new experiences is how we are hard wired to take actions. Being able to be new makes us feel the freedom, feel the difference which makes us significant. Stability will be ignored by us really quick, we will not see it, we will not feel it, no change is death even if in Heaven.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


5 minutes of love does to our project what months of dull systematic work can never do....

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Revive the Blade

Quest of Persia, Nader's Blade has been released by Puya Arts and it has done very well in the first week of sales. This is the third game released from the reputable game company and is a big leap for Iranian Gaming. Congrats to the guys over at Puya Arts for the consistency and improvements they make in the industry.

Part of Nader's history has been recreated in this exciting 3rd person action adventure game.

You can purchase it from:

Monday, July 27, 2009


My good pal Ghaj sent me a quote from Anatole France today which is quite what we've been struggling with in the past three years:

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act but also dream, not only plan but also believe..."

Sacrifice is Pleasure

When time is fixed, quality can't be lost and resources can not be added to a project because they either do not exist, or there is not enough time for them to get to speed with the project pace, the only valid option in order to meet the deadline would be to sacrifice features.

This is what is happening currently for us in this month, the holy month of SACRIFICE. Killing things can help maintain the quality of the rest of the survivors, the last option in our final crunch.

It is hard, it is really hard, but its got to be done if anything is to be created.

Our only hope is for the Mythic Gods to accept our little gifts.

Sacrifice is Pleasure.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sporadic Traps

A new kind of leech for creativity and the generation of value in our society has manifested itself in the form of browser based games.

I am in the business of making games and definitely believe that computer games and any game in general is essential for the balance of the human mind but the new wave of web browser based, sporadic games, are something which is not quite right.

These games, being played by many people on the web using HTML processing browsers have a nature where you would need to take an action, wait, then take another action, maybe wait more and then so on, unlike other game forms where you get engaged in the game, play, focus and after a while stop playing the game, in the browser based games, you would usually want to do something else while playing the game since it would be highly boring to just stare at the monitor while you are waiting for other players around the world to do something while they are doing something else. The nature of the game needs you to take some action during the 24 hours since no presence of you, sporadic presence, might end up costly for you in game. So constant presence is needed but in fact a disconnected presence and this means you would need to have an eye over the screen while you are watching a movie, talking on the phone, working out or most importantly while you are working.

Although our brains are highly parallel machines, on a semantic psychological level, we aren't as parallel as we think and making an action on the screen, getting back to the movie, conversation or what you do at work will for sure have negative effects on the second activity you are following other than the game.

Games should be played in order to take the person's mind somewhere else, provide exciting challenges for individuals in a whole different setting and world and let the person get back to the normal life fully. A great slogan once said: "Work hard, play even harder" but in the case of modern sporadic nonsense, it would be "Work and play at the same time, kill both of them".

Focus is among the most valuable traits of the human race and it is the glue that can bind together intelligence, creativity, determination and passion together and make the magic happen, having any of the other useful characteristics without focus is almost totally useless. Now what has happened in the recent years, specially the current decade is for all the modern technology to creep into new forms that work against the human focus, starting from the busy nature of the city infrastructures to the little devices such as mobile phones, pagers and email alerts, text messages, people popping up on gazillion different messenger services and the general availability and overload of information around us. We just don't need new rookies in this arena.

oh ... you play because your job is boring? ... "spending that time finding a better job would be much more beneficial for you"
... you play because you don't have a job? ... "this is better since its only self destructive ..."
... you play because you can handle it and the job perfect at the same time? ... "I do not buy this at all"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

All on board

Ship is all set once again, crew on board, ready to sail the storm. We've got one month of pure effort ahead of us for realizing the mythological world of Garshasp and his epic journey to redeem his ancestor's critical weapon and avenge Oroxia's death.

These days are packed with events, interactions with team members, production efforts, hope, wishes, determination and love. A few members have been added to help out in the finishing tasks. The crew which are actually all real Ninjas are showing tremendous efforts and focus on the tasks, we are all aiming for the same goal and know about the tough journey ahead in the coming month.

sde is taken back to the mythic world and is visualizing all he sees over there, he occasionally returns back and to our world and interacts with us... spl is re-creating the magical land with his hands, forming space, reversing time ... pms exhales the divine breath and brings the creatures to life ... fhm sacrifices his blood to enable the creation of the world ... yzt is working for the goddess of light to help bring out the magical miracles the light can display to the eyes ... mmd is shaping the symbols of power and grace for the rulers of the kingdom ... hhh is re-living the experiences of the mythic heroes ... hes is fighting the eternal combat with the evil forces ... idn is mesmerized with the soul taking phenomena in the world ... trz is providing the pieces to remake the empire ... fnk is breeding the monsters ... ark hears what they say ... mva is feeling the emotions ...

The experience has been real fun so far, we've learnt a lot, probably the toughest times for all of us, what we need is the highest focus from everyone in the next 30 days. The rise of our hero will only happen upon the rise of the hero inside each and everyone of these guys.

Dark wild storm ... here we come ... the sun shall rise.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


The divinity of immortality is whats going to be around in the coming days, that is the time we have to finish up our "Garshasp" tasks. Huge effort is necessary by the team and all the activities and energy so far needs to be integrated and polished in this month.

A month we need to live and breathe again, be conscious on the fractions of seconds passing, show synergy in the rhythm of days.

Only the super heroic efforts of our dev guys can make our super hero become immortal in Amertat.

Monday, July 06, 2009

We had fun for some time ....

I had always been a Japanese Anime and Manga fan but the recent days life style of mine has diminished the opportunities to catch up with the whole atmosphere. Very recently, a food friend at work brought me the DVDs containing a Japanese Anime series called: "Death Note". I thought that the DVD will be queued like the many movies I've stored, in the hopes of viewing one day, one day which is totally not any of these days. Realizing that these series contained 37 episodes made me sure they'll gather lots of dust before being watched.

Anyway, quite unexpectedly, I decided to watch a portion of the first episode in order to evaluate its art style and see how the Anime scene has progressed, that was it .... I froze like water in absolute zero degree in fron to of the TV ... watched every second ... and by that I literally mean every second... listened to every word spoken on the series... thought about every action ... and whole heartedly enjoyed the whole 37 episodes in quite a few days. Absolute euphoric experience that I had probably never enjoyed before from any entertainment of this form.

This thing is just great, period. Wonderful story with lots of mind twists, good philosophical foundations, excellent directing, art, voice over (had lots of japanese nostalgia run to me by the way) and awesome music, specially the dead metal theme intro from episode 20 on.

The pace started strong and never cooled down afterwards, something usually not experienced in other movies and series.

I gotta find the other story worked on by the author now.

The last statement of the series : " ... we had fun for some time".

Thursday, June 25, 2009

the Project

My soul has been possessed by the Garshasp development process these days. The project is converging and there are millions of little bits and pieces that need to be fit together. Good final assembly is essential for quality.

Guys on the team are doing a good job rolling the specific areas of their responsibilities, although when you live and breathe a project and a few processes in your mind are always occupied by the events surrounding it, you'll always see the inefficiencies with one eye, but this is something we are trying to learn from everyday and are hoping to let it leverage our team abilities for future projects. Seeing every individual effort is my ecstasy and the opposite takes me down.

Life is the toughest and most fun these days. The mind experiences the extremes of new frontiers. The biggest task as usual is being able to find the balance point between the "good enough" for release and the passion for good quality.

There's been needs for expanding the team and making sure we add crew who can maintain the spirit is another big challenge.

One more push of courage, commitment, passion, determination and love from the development team and we should be doing fine.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Couldn't get any lower

The lowest act of the human race which stems from a frightened, loser, brain twisted, weak state of mind is to shoot at another human being with a gun knowing the other side has no guns and is no threat to your life. Couldn't get any lower. The fact that such brain dead losers are formed in the society is quite thought provoking on its own.

The mysterious human being wannabes, your whole body cells will wish you never pulled the trigger quite soon.

May the soul of the innocent victims of the recent clashes rest in peace.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Shader Sundays

Efficient use of the GPU is getting more important everyday. The domain of applicability is increasing. We've setup new sessions at Fanafzar,Shader Sundays,  where yzt talks about the concepts of GPU programming and the CG coding language. We are looking forward to utilize as much of these processor's potential powers as possible.

Your are welcome to join these sessions.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Finding everything in nothing

No more voices around .... no more lights.... sounds of nothing .... music is move alive than ever ... you become to know the unknown ... you get a chance to live the unlived .... see things from a different angle ... feel the moment ... freedom approaching ... like a new found smooth sense of sobriety ... giving life a chance of what it needs .... far from the ever reflective reactions ....

.... part of what happens between 2 and 4 am.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Professional

This post is not about the movie with that title, it’s about a rare breed of human beings. The word is often used for people who do some work, know how to do something well or often times do something for a living. The word is quite often used as a synonym for “Specialist”. The specialist is a person who masters a technique or craft. A specialist selects a domain, like any domain of knowledge, engineering, arts etc. and excels in it.

A specialist is good at something; can’t we just recall this person as a professional in that domain? This is the point and what a significant point this is, the answer is “No”. For someone to be a professional, the person has to be involved with other human beings. Professionals usually work on their domain as it relates to others, and this is exactly the key point here, relating to others. A professional artist as an example works on art which will eventually be used by others for a reason. A specialist in art, an artist, works on art without considering how it can be beneficial to others. A scientist who is only a specialist works any scientific matter as it pleases him without caring about how it can be used by others and whether it ever will.

The professional specialist would be a much more complex human being. The professional, needing to interact with others, not just the self, would require follow the guidelines of ethics. Ethics being the rules for human to human interactions in this case. In order for the system that the professional works in to succeed, the professional would need to play by the rules of the game. Systems, aka Companies, require a few basic rules for the games they run. These rules include truthfulness, commitment, collaboration and respecting promises/contracts. The professional knows these by heart.
Some people are neither specialists nor professional, well fine, they can just enjoy their time and hopefully try not to get engaged in serious interactions with others.

Some are not specialist but professionals, this is quite ok since the system they work in can very well find out what they are suited for, if they are suited for anything and much time will not be wasted.

Some are specialists but not professionals, now this is where the danger is. People tend to bind professionalism to a specialist by default which is really risky. The specialist can show some sparks, gain attention, make the system rely on her/him and then let the system down just when it is time to deliver something because of lack of professionalism and the absence of the basic traits I named above, the simple rules of the game. These people do excellent things but you see that only as long is every process for creating it is bounded to the individual alone without considering time, as soon as the creation process expands to more than the single self or you try to measure the time, problems start to arise.

The book “Smart and gets things done” by Joel Spolsky is another view for the same issue, it’s one thing to be smart and another to actually do useful things. An interesting negative loop can be observed here and that is a lot of times the more specialist an individual is, the more they feel they do not need to follow the simple rules and act like a professional, a false feeling of feeling special which has a tendency to contaminate their talent and reduce the opportunities that ironically would help them excel in the domain of their specialty.

Some are specialists and professionals, no need to mention that magic occurs around these people, leading to the success of themselves and those around them.

I wish there was at least ways for us to get educated and trained in professionalism, it is even more important than the knowledge and skills in the specific domain of specialty. on Specialist:

"One who is devoted to a particular occupation or branch of study or research"
on Professional:

"One who earns a living in a given or implied occupation"

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Our first Haskell programming session was held this week along with three Fanafzar Ninjas, yzt, fhm and barj. Our goal is to get to know the language and see the world from a different angle. We might not use it eventually for the daily coding tasks but thinking from a Functional Programming aspect should be valuable and help the thinking process in general.

Real World Haskell
is a free online book which we follow. Quite a good book.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Go foward in Reverse

Freedom, oh the sole sensible target for our soul.

This most complicated parameter in human lives. Love, the reality we are hardwired to sense. New experiences, the revolving platform we desire to roll on to feel alive, the gain freedom, to find love. Finding the love that we run away from once found in search of the freedom out there we seek with excitement to experience the rush of love again somewhere in between the lines of becoming and blurred by the reality of being. The everlasting effort to find happiness, guiding us to blame on the dynamics around us, mainly the society, leading us into solitude, only to make us believe that “Happiness is only real when shared!”, shared with others, which will lead to a society again.

Spiral out, keep going, Spiral out. Is there a sign of evil here or is this all that is real? Our quest for beauty, the beauty which is all here, a beauty which was always here. Searching reality, reality which we try our best to hide every second. Entrapped by time, enslaved by the repetitions of actions, actions which follow the pathway of betrayal towards our subconscious, leaving our conscious, moment feeling, life feeling, love sensing, free mind in solitude. Is there an escape strategy from this loop or should we enjoy the moments of this merry-go-round?

"And in my darkest moment, fetal and weeping.

The moon tells me a secret. My confidant.
As full and bright as I am, this light is not my own
A million light reflections pass over me
It's source is bright and endless.
She resuscitates the hopeless
Without her we are lifeless satellites dreaming dreams.
And as I pull my head out I am without one doubt
Don't want to be down here feeding my narcissism
I must crucify the ego before it's far too late
I pray the light lifts me out before I pine away.
before I pine away.
before I pine away.
before I pine away."

Thank you Sean Penn, thanks for making such great movies. “Into the Wild”. Wonderful movie based on a true story, great accompanying sound track by Eddie Vedder. And special thanks to Ash for pointing us to the movie.

I gotta see this again.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Real Ones

A real coder once said:

"Of course, none of this would have mattered unless the code could be compiled very quickly, so full-blown traditional compilers were out of the question. Instead, we wrote a streamlined compiler custom designed for the task, which we call the "welder.""

fact this is how it can be, if the environment isn't what you really need, just BUILD the environment for yourself.

This code was Michael Abrash, talking about the software renderer they made called Pixomatic which performs DX7 level hardware functionality on software.

In fact it's been the work of people like him and Carmack who have worked on Quake that shaped the 3D games world for ever. Magic happens when real people join forces.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Swine Dance

This time it is called the "Swine Flu". The whole pattern seems to repeat itself, an outbreak, seemingly of a newly heard disease, everyone talks about it, the news show governments and meetings and plans and quarantines, people are afraid, for a few weeks your favorite news channel resembles a lot of Hollywood movies about outbreaks and after a while, everything is under control and you will never hear about it anymore, hmm... was it Mad Cow Disease? Sars Disease? Enter Swine Flu.

The whole thing seems a bit strange. I feel that there are a lot of things unsaid about these stories and the level of reality behind these shows remains a mystery. Whatever is behind all this, I assume that there exists high incentives for many controlling entities.

I wonder how the whole thing might be related to "Economy of Fear", one great article about this subject is here, a little paragraph from it:

"By keeping the population in a state of artificially heightened apprehension, the government-cum-media prepares the ground for planting specific measures of taxation, regulation, surveillance, reporting, and other invasions of the people's wealth, privacy, and freedoms. Left alone for a while, relieved of this ceaseless bombardment of warnings, people would soon come to understand that hardly any of the announced threats has any substance and that they can manage their own affairs quite well without the security-related regimentation and tax-extortion the government seeks to justify."

Or this article, with this excerpt:

The economy of fear was always used to keep people down, to remind us that there are forces out there bigger than us. But, it seems, the doomsayers try to be bigger than us, try to tell us to change our way of living, our thinking, our whole existence."

In any case, take out the mask, you won't ever get that flu!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I watched this video on TED from John Wooden, the famous basketball coach, today, highly inspirational. The talk is just great. The main topic revolves around the definitions of success and he describes how he believes in success being defined inside every individuals scope and related to how hard someone tries compared to their potential and the difference between winning and success. He describes how the journeys are more important than the destinations.

John Wooden is currently 98 years old, wow.

Fantasy to Come

Fantasy Football is a new project which we've started. It will be a Fantasy Football game for the Iranian Football League. Design has just started and the expected due date is in 3 months before the new season starts.

Get ready if you're a Football fan since loads of fun is about to come.

Main development is being carried out by our highly skilled technical guru, Babak Arj. Code base using .net 3.5, DB is SQL Server 2008 and LINQ for DB interactions.

Seminar Done

The Business Intelligence Seminar went well. Our good friend, Iman Eftekhari opened up the seminar with an introduction to BI, Dr.Abdollah Zadeh from Amir Kabir University expanded the definitions for BI and the program was followed by other professionals talking about problems that can arise in BI implementation projects and an introduction to MS Sharepoint as a front end portal for managing BI Solutions. Iman finished with some demos on Microsoft products for Business Intelligence.

There were a few things we wished could have been handled better but considering the fact that this was our first Seminar experience, it was ok.

We are looking forward to expand the consulting and implementation fields here at Fanafzar to include BI in the near future.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dev blog

We've setup a dev blog for Garshasp. Its development can be followed here:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Future

We went over an interesting presentation from GDC09 regarding parallel coding strategies for game AI which covered a few basic strategies for making the main component interactions parallel to embrace the multi core and many core architectures. These include double buffering, messaging, asynchronous requests and Job scheduling. This is one major area which we'll need to focus on for the very near future of our development. The Zorvan engine is not threaded properly right now(except for resource loading and the potential to run in a different thread for the physics simulation loop) but one of the most important design goals for MAGE is a mutli threaded kernel.

An interesting software engineering concept which I came across to during the presentation that has good use for multi threaded Job scheduling systems is "Futures" and "Promises". These definitions have been thought about for a while now but they are finding practical uses these days with the heightened significance for parallel code. Languages which have supported this feature include Joule and E.

yzt pointed me out to the Boost implementation for the idea.

As always, the engineers rolling the boost library (probably aliens from outer space), are providing c++ implementations for any statement in the form of:" .... but c++ does not support this feature ! ", with Boost it can!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Frame Runners

I've had a chance to interview a couple guys recently for the open position we have for a 3D Animator. We've been looking for someone to help us mainly in the cut-scene animations. During all the interview sessions, I was shocked with the same question from the animators, they asked me:"What level of quality are you looking for in the animations?" ... hmm... good question... what level am I looking for?? Well... lets put it this way ... I WANT your whole SOUL and BODY transformed into moving characters ... I WANT to see your BLOOD drained totally to create ANIMATIONS that BLOW any living thing into outer SPACE... I WANT YOU to do something so high in quality you will never ever be able to re-create in your whole LIFE... I want all the MAGIC and META Physics in the world to help you CREATE un-believably COOL animations ... I want those DAMN animations to LIVE eternally after you fade ... that's how I want them to be, yes that's the kind of quality we are looking for my dear.

Of course I didn't quite answer them this way, there aren't much talented skills around unfortunately so the words have to be chosen rather carefully, but thinking about the questions, I have come up with some guesses. The animation business around is quite ill unfortunately and the basic mechanism works this way, National TV needs some programs, the Government Agencies in charge with lots of money define projects for smaller companies, since good quality is usually the last focus in these layers and there has to be a measure for project pricing and contracts, the deals are made based on the minutes of produced animations so the smaller studios sign contracts to make x minutes of animations for the price of y per minute. Then its production time, as fast as possible, animators are hired and are paid based on the minutes, or frames, they can produce. The race begins, managers walk all day with their sticks and measure the frames animated at the end of the day by each animator and the grin on their face is proportionate to the size of the output files. The above question completely makes sense in this scenario and the usual answer is probably something to keep the prestige a little but deep down the money chasing manager knows he wants the highest production speed with the lowest quality which will be acceptable by the usually mis-positioned major clients which again will accept the final product based on what they see on their stop watches. Everybody seems to be happy, junk in, junk out, no value generated, ill formed industry, just watch TV to find out.

Now this is not the concept here at Fanafzar dear Frame Runners, we've been on a journey for more than two years now on a boat carried on the waves of love and dedication of every one of the guys, it will remain this way or we'll just let it sink ourselves so please save your questions for the time wasting, useless, cheating jobs with the Frame Runner Seeking managers.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Bungie Studio has a nice presentation about production for Halo 3 names, "Building Your Airplane While Flying: production and Bungie".

The title very much suits our current situation in the development process for Garshasp also. We are working on features daily which are necessary for the production phase which we are at right away. Of course this is not an ideal situation for a smooth production stage but hey, I guess when there is loads of uncertainty, building the plane while on the air would be the best you can do, if you want to fly anyway.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Business Intelligence

BISolutions which is a Fanafzar partner is holding a Seminar on Business Intelligence. More information can be found here:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Rolling on

These are exciting days for our Garshasp project. On one end after more than two years, we feel a bit more comfortable with the whole development process and the work pipelines which should exist between different members of the disciplines such as art, design and coding. On the other end the level of art assets developed have risen and on the technical end, interesting features are being added to the game engine, Zorvan and the level editor, Iranvij.

All that would be necessary for this team right now is to be able to continue this progress for a few more months. This progress which includes learning new stuff daily for everyone and whole hearted dedication to hard work and focus with the aim of reaching high quality standards which exist on the triple peaks of passion, talent and professional attitude.

On fire for fire

Firing a football team coach has only one good use, "food for the media", that's it. Its really strange, or maybe not strange at all, that it happens so often lately. A coach for the national team, having so little time to prepare the team, not having most of the players who play abroad most of the time which mostly happen to be ignorant regarding coaches decisions whenever they are present anyway, can't do any magic and changing these coaches with high frequency won't fix anything, well again, except for satisfying the tiny little systems known as the sports media.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Critical Path

Plans have been laid out for the rest of the task for developing Garshasp. There are a few departments which need linear time for their tasks and it would be hard to cut down the time, animation being one. The animation tasks seem to have become the critical path for our project currently and cutting down the ambitious animations we have dreamed for Garshasp or his enemies would be harder than getting bit by a Cobra for us, we can only hope for the arrival of a talented passionate animator showing up at office one day on a beautiful Spring morning, or a recently found clone of our existing animator would be good too.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The teacher again

Lessons I learn from my 9 months old kid.

  1. How to put up 100 percent effort.
  2. How to focus.
  3. How Happiness is always "Right Here", "Right Now".


My motto for starting out 1388, "Back to Basics". In work in life and in what I know.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The "Show" Factor

I've been thinking about the word "Show" for a while now. The reason being I feel shows are being run a lot these days. In classical dictionaries, the word is usually used as the verb for demonstrating something or as a program such as a TV show. In reality there seems to be new usages for this word, for example when we say:" .. that guys is running a show" or "its just a show, it is not real". Although both statements are based on the same semantic foundations, lets start from the second one. It is "not real" it is a "show". So is a show something which is not real? What is really real? By "not real" it seems that we really mean something which is planned before and is supposed to happen the way it does, something which does not have elements of uncertainty and is absolutely certain. If at least two parties interact, there are three possibilities regarding being pre-planned or pre-scripted. Sometimes both parties have a plan, they both do based on a script, they both run a show, like a movie where the director and the actor are running the show. In some cases one side has a plan the other side doesn't and can be caught be elements of surprise. An example for this could be a game show where the host is acting based on a script and the contestants are experiencing randomness. One side runs the show, the other side is played by the show. In the third case, both sides act without a pre arranged plan when we can say that no one is running a show, like a sports game for example.
So one parameter here which can define whether something is a show is determinism. The more something is a show, the more deterministic it is going to be.
We do watch shows which are of the first kind, like movies, although we know that everybody there in the movie is running a show, we still like to watch it (most of the times), the reason here could be because we feel connected with the chain of events there, we find similar patterns and hence our pattern matching pleasures get satisfied or we admire the aesthetical features of the shots we see on the screen or we just like to watch a specific actress or actor and other reasons... however not all TV programs can be like that and there are the ones which one side or both sides are not running a show, such as game shows, talk shows, reality shows or sports events. In the case of reality shows and talk shows, we usually see normal people, nothing really exciting about that, but we watch them get engaged in stuff we usually do not see in our daily lives and their reactions, being real, becomes very interesting for us and bolts us down to the sofa in front of the TV. The reality factor has a very special excitement in it. So us as the watchers want the program event (contest, talk, competition ...) to be as real as possible in order for us to watch. What about the producers of the program? Assuming we believe it is real, would they rather have determinism in it or randomness? I bet they do not welcome any risks in their program and they would love to be able to control every part of it and make it the way they want, the way they feel the audience want, and this would mean if they can somehow make it into a full show where the other side runs based on a script, then determinism kicks in and they can be sure their investments can pay off big time. So the tendency of such programs is to go towards the full show attractor. And this is what we see. I have yet been able to find one TV reality show which in fact has something real in it. But the magic is to fool the audience and hide this fact that both sides are running a deterministc script, otherwise nobody would want to watch losers act on these programs. Scary part can be when some events which both sides shouldn't run a show, such as sports games lean towards this show factor and fall in its trap. Boxing matches!? Football games? One genre has been rather accepted to fall into this category, Pro Wrestling. Who would want to wait and see what randomness brings us when you can go ahead and make what people want happen? Lets show them what they want, the reality might not really be that interesing. Lets amuse them the way we know. Real life is not amusing 24x7. Lets run the show.
Now this shouldn't happen only on TV. Governments can run a show for their poeple, they can run shows for other Governments which they too take part in the show, parents can run a show for their children, friends can run a show for other friends, its just everywhere, its there to kill the randomness, to force us into the box, we're so afraid of uncertainty and can't stand it even a bit. The society runs a show and we know we are part of it, the rules define this show, all should go according to plans, where is the freedom in a show? Whats the use of freedom when you need to control? The show must go on!

Monday, March 16, 2009


Our game has a new name "Garshasp". The good news for us is that we now officially have an investor deal for the project. Our release date has to be this Summer which makes us feel and live every second in the new year till mid Summer.

Our plans for the new year (Persian) will be to finish up the remaining art and technical requirements, tweak, polish and optimize the Garshasp game and plan on enhancements for its game engine (Zorvan).

The development team has been fabulous so far, hang on tight guys, we've got to finish this up.

Some information about Garshasp here.
The image above is another wonderful illustration of Garshasp by our art director/concept designer Soheil.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Honor Machine

This is the first post from a new machine which is going to help me a bit from now on, Wakizashi (脇差). Part of the FW290 family from VAIO. The extra wide screen seems good for handling text and other toolbars on the side of applications, although the full HD resolution which to my surprise can only be reduced one level to 1024 seemed a bit strange, but increasing the OS size will provide smooth curves everywhere which kind of feels nice. The Vista and specially the 64 bit OS is a new experience for me, not that bad so far. Overall I expected a bit more performance from the T9400 CPU and the ATI 3650 graphics card but anyway it is going to save me some valuable minutes or maybe hours everyday. Anyway this little shiny thing at these critical times will either help me find some glory through success or some honor through failure. Refer to the original Wakizashi usage for more information.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Not this time

Today was the due date for our delivery milestone of the game we are working on and we failed, we failed really huge. We had a lot of plans and at the end could not even deliver ten percent of what we had hoped for. Although a lot of work was done by the whole team, specially the day and night efforts during the last few days, but we just could not put everything together the way they were supposed to be. Another big lesson to learn about our shortcomings for the development process. Although we traversed new paths for this milestone and tried to experience a few things we hadn't before. We'll have to focus more and more. My only plan now is to dissect the experience and find out the avoidable problems. I already feel more strength.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Kobe is really close to perfection in Basketball. His every move has a lot of "The Master MJ" resemblances in it. It's amusing to watch him on court during the full active 48 minutes, with or without the ball.

Guys like Lebron are really strong and skillful but it seems like its only Kobe who's going the full path towards the perfection peaks, somewhere that MJ is very close to.

It's all about the mindset once the physical attributes are there and the neuro-muscular responses are doing the right job. His love for the game compares with the master now, love for the game, which is quite different from love for personal abilities or trophies.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Patient

A groan of tedium escapes me,
Startling the fearful.
Is this a test? It has to be,
Otherwise I can't go on.
Draining patience, drain vitality.
This paranoid, paralyzed vampire act's a little old.

But I'm still right here
Giving blood, keeping faith
And I'm still right here.

Wait it out,
Gonna wait it out,
Be patient (wait it out).

If there were no reward to (reap / heal),
(No / A) loving embrace to see me through
This tedious path I've chosen here,
I certainly would've walked away by now.
Gonna wait it out.

If there were no desire to heal
A damaged and broken man along
This tedious path I've chosen here
I certainly would've walked away by now.

And I still may ... [sigh] ... I still may.

Be patient.
I must keep reminding myself of this.

And if there were no rewards to (reap / heal),
(No / A) loving embrace to see me through
This tedious path I've chosen here,
I certainly would've walked away by now.
And I still may.

Gonna wait it out.

Normalized Life

If we take out the repeating moments of our lives out, then how much life will really remain? Whatever that number is, I guess that should really count as the lifetime of an individual. Although this has to be looked at from a global view and sometimes there are some repeating activities necessary in order to take us to new states in the long run. It seems that for some reason we are willing to find new experiences and flee from rigidity. Repetition in any amusing task will soon make it less amusing. Do we feel the changes only? Does everything have a tendency to get boring when it becomes persistent? Are all people chasing what they do not possess? Will we work on the same solved cross words puzzle twice? Are we hardwired to sense the difference? At least our physiological elements can be proved to react less to repeated stimuli. We want to be able to do something that we can imagine and this is related to our will towards freedom and our tendencies towards power. Power in this sense will be defined as the number of the things we can do divided by the number of things we would like to do. So we understand something, then we want to experience it, we might not be able to right away, then we try, we will be able to do it, hence we have the power which leads us to feel more free and freedom somehow is related to our happiness, or at least part of our happiness. So if we think that we are doing something which we like, and brings us happiness, but that activity is really sending us towards a peak of a local maximum for freedom, then over a longer period, we will feel less free and sad. An example would be anyone baring a hard situation in the hopes of a better situation, also known as "Discipline". To let us past a few local maximum hills and towards higher grounds. Parasites will make us follow the short term path, towards more freedom and good feelings, which will soon prove to have led us to a wrong position which makes it much harder for us to continue to the higher peaks of freedom. These parasites have always been known to biologists on the biological level, there are lots of them in our minds on the psychological level but they also exist on the social level which make societies think they are progressing towards more power and freedom, but leaving them in a hole once a specific amount of time passes by. Cultural parasites work on new meanings, promising more understanding but again proving wrong in the long run. Examples for these four levels of parasites are left as an exercise :), but our will towards change seems to be the root and time seems to be the evil in the whole scope. Time which we try to conquer all our lives but in reality find ourselves enslaved by it.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Compile Time

If only my compile times were less... a main wish of mine!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

It will return

Bad software design is like a Boomerang. It will get back at you and hit you in the head. It will hit you, unless you throw it and run away and never come back. In case of a major code base which has development that spans in time, better watch for the bad design decisions and short term hacks.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Vitruvian Game Design

Vitruvius, thinking about building Architecture, came up with his popular triangle. These are 'Firmitas, Utilitas and Venustas' (Marcus Vitruvius Pollio 'The Ten Books of Architecture' 1st C AD).
Which means: Form, Function and Fabric. Applied to all aspects of architecture and design.

Game design is no exception.

Form in game design would be related to the visual representation of the game world and characters. The game graphics in other words. What we see in a screen shot. Audio can be added to this category also since that is about the audio forms.

Function would be related to the actual game play. The game mechanics that make the game play.

Fabric is the quality of building the form and function, in other words the code which is the foundation for the rest and the quality of this code base.

So every game design can be viewed from these three very important aspects and a good design should have high quality in the three words starting with the letter 'F', the Vitruvian Triad.

One interesting reality which we've found out is the challenge to come up with a design that provides high quality for these three aspects since there isn't a linear sequential relationship between these three and they are all inter-connected. Sometimes increasing the quality of the Form will decrease the Function quality or a specific Function might not have the required quality for its Fabric and so on. It is a tough job deciding where to start from. Design can start from any three, and balancing the quality of the three, in the absence of any existing scientific solutions, is where the whole design process leans more towards being an Art form.

Set Sails

The team is moving forward towards another major milestone. Finishing up level 1 and getting ready for the first official review and showcase.
Lots to do as usual. Less than 4 weeks time remains.

Monday, February 02, 2009

State of Mind

Trying to guide a game development team which is having the first game development experience, wants to make a high quality action adventure game, compares every feature to be developed with the top selling games in the industry, is under staffed, has a very short time and on top of these, doesn't have funding or publisher deals is a little complex.What helps a lot in this situation is the art and attitude of the great masters from the ancient east.

Fudōshin (不動心): The immovable mind. Necessary to remain in focus among all the problems rising and all the hidden risks jumping out. Whether technical, process or human related. Needed to maintain goals and dreams. Required to keep moving and resist getting shattered in the chaotic winds of obstacles.

Zanshin (残心): The state of awareness. The mind ready for anything. Any new technical strange bug, any hardware crash, any member of the team leaving, any project crusher from the uncertainty ocean surfacing.

Mushin (無心): A mind not fixed or occupied by thougth or emotion. An occupied mind by emotion would break up a lot things in this journey and rational thought would stop this path a million times. No anger, no fear, no ego, just pure intuition.

Shoshin (初心): This one necessary to overcome the technical obstacles. A beginner's mind. Always ready to learn the infinite amount of knowledge needed to be known. Never rely on any achieved stages since a lot needs to be done.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Synaptic Magic

There are question flying around in life for me, a lot of them are formed into hierarchies, making them related. An answer to one on top of the hierarchy will solve the ones down below. Among the questions at the very top of one of the hierarchies is the main question related to free will. Is everything in this world following a deterministic plan or is there the notion of real randomness existent? Is the brain functioning by pure physical cause and effect relationships or does something special happen in it when we desire. Is there free will or do we just flow in a deterministic ocean? If the neurons in the brain fire upon receiving electric signals and work as physical machines, then every action or thought caused by the communications in our nervous system and brain has a reason which can be traced back in time. If this is not the case, then inside every neuron, in fact inside every synapse, magic should occur, something should happen which has no scientific justification and no science can ever find out about it. Otherwise it will become predictable and there is a reason for it which makes it deterministic and the idea that we can make a choice on our own becomes meaningless since there is this endless chain of reasons trailing back. Whats really going on inside? Randomness, are you real? Is there a first cause?

The way I think and see life, I believe in big magic going on in there.

Second Chance?

The Samurai never used shields. No shield means no chance for errors. Zero tolerance. Even if they don't make mistakes on the battle grounds by getting killed, on the emergence of other mistakes to lose honor, they do seppuku. Talking about the spirit in modern days, even the Yakuza cut their fingers upon making mistakes. The mass belief is that this reduces security and makes life vulnerable. Is this really so? How about thinking about all the enhanced consciousness and feeling of the "living moments" these beliefs bring with them? Or even the laziness and weak attitudes that knowing you have shields and second chances bring. I've seen a correlation between the amount of time people use the word "sorry" and their weaknesses. The strong do not use this word much, is that because they don't make mistakes for being strong or did they get strong because they hated the word "sorry"?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Life Goals in Ashmooghville

Digging my aged laptop, I found the following research report which was an attempt to use evolutionary computation to model certain aspects of life and try to solve an optimization problem for life which maximizes happiness.
Of course there are lots of simplifications and assumptions in the study but it can act as a very simple root for further more complex studies.

Anyway if you ever wondered what the Ashmooghs (mythological creatures) did eventually to feel happy in Ashmooghville, you can read this report. (Farsi Text)


The idea here is that we assume these creatures have goals in 4 different layers which can be measured by a single attribute.
In the biological layer, they try to maximize their lifetime.
In the psychological layer, which acts as the software for the biological layer, they try to maximize their pleasure.
In the social layer, they try to maximize their power.
In the cultural layer (software for the social layer), their goal is to maximize the amount of meaning in their life.

Assuming they have limited tasks which can be selected in their life span, the question then would be to know what to do in life in order to maximize happiness based on the above 4 parameters.

An evolutionary program has been developed to do a bit of an analysis on the situation.

If youre interested in playing with the code and tweaking the attributes, download the code here:

Ashmooghville Java Source Code

Closing the Loop

The game development process includes many stages from different disciplines ranging from pure technical tasks to pure artistic tasks. Every stage needs a to be deep in order for every aspect of the game to be acceptable, however one really important necessity in the whole process is the links between these stages which can be as important as the individual areas of expertise. These communications, for example exporting a 3D model from a 3D authoring tool into the game engine, would require special tools. Any problems in such tools will cause negative effects on the efficiency of the whole development pipeline.

Major game engines such as Unreal 3 are very well known to have such integrated tools that can stitch together the different stages. Some dev houses implement their own specific tools.

Up to now we have had a few tools to let us connect our development stages together in the form of a one way pipeline. The main features have been, Concepts to 3D Max for modeling, 3D Models to Char Studio for animations, Char Studio and Max to our in house level editor for laying out the scene, level editor to our in house game engine to build the actual game. This pipeline was all we needed for building a demo level but since our focus is more on making the actual final game levels, we need to pay attention to the fun factor regarding game design issues a lot more now. Level building and tweaking is done in our editor but the final scene finish up is done in 3D Max since we do use a few features that are handled by Max very well and it will not be feasible in our current time frame to re-implement those features in the editor. This would require a ping pong between Max and the editor since we would need to come up with an overall spatial model of the environment built in Max, load it into the editor, arrange the game play related elements in it, play test, tweak, and then resend these basic level element positions to Max to finish up the aesthetics related features, maybe return to the editor, tweak and then back to max again. For this we obviously needed a loop back in our one way pipeline which we created very recently thanks to a few Python scripts and Max Script. This reverse direction in the pipeline will help us a lot. A few more communication channels would probably be needed in our quest towards achieving a rather lean process.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Curse of the Mass

Observing the TV shows about Football gives me a bad feeling. The reason being that these shows have converged towards gossip and off the field issues a lot more than technical in field matters. Which coach cursed who, what strange things happened between General Managers and players, player off field embarrassments and so on. You seldom see proper analysis of the team tactics or player techniques. This is just Football, almost any popular show, magazine or newspaper about a certain topic which has audience such as sports, movies, etc. behaves the same after a while. What is the problem? Is there a problem? Well, no doubt these programs have huge audiences. That is exactly the problem. Humans seek patterns, finding these patterns provides satisfaction. Watching such programs reflect the human being relationships such as fights, breakups, love, hatred can be felt by almost anybody and brings joy to these people, but talking all tactics and techniques will be understood by only a few, maybe 20% of football fans really understand team tactics, so by having a very technical TV program, you'll end up boring 80% of the audience and making the switch the channel. And the goals of these program being only to have "MORE" viewers, their evolution has no choice but to be how they are currently.

This is the curse of the mass on noble products and processes.

In other dimensions, consider the company Microsoft. Ever wonder why their products are not comparable to the top products in the field? Has to do with the goal for the products, not to be the best, but to have the most users. Half of the problems in the software world initiated from the day they decided to provide programming for everyone, hence VB was born. Ironically having the most users can not converge to the best product either, just like how the best music will not have the most audience, the best movie will not be a block buster and the best football show will not have so many viewers. "Best" here is formed on top of the quality attributes inside the domain (sports, movies,..) and not based on audience and sales.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Run for it ... run

In the recent years, I see an increase in the number of Nazri Food seeking people on the Ashoora day. People running all over the streets trying to find a source of free food distribution. Well, looking deep into these people, they can be categorized into three groups, or a combination of each:

1 - The ones who are really poor and any opportunity for free food can be life saving.
2 - Those who are not poor and in many cases very wealthy but feel that anything free should be hunted, not excluding free food. For this group, it seems that increased love in money has caused this appetite. When you love money, you hate to spend it, you will not let go of any opportunity where you can gain something without spending money, such behavior can be observed very much in capitalistic countries specially the US.
3 - Those who feel that these Nazris are somehow holy and eating them will somehow magically increase their religious ranks, it is interesting that the more sinful a person is, the more they believe this way.

Either way, the way I see it, all of the above have a direct correlation with the word "Human Weakness" and it seems like the value of this attribute is increasing among the community. Not a good sign.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


I had a chance to try out Dragon Quest 8 and it was just pure amusement. All the main feelings of the original series have been maintained with a new 3D look with great non photo-realistic rendering. I was able to see all the things I imagined when I was 10 years old playing the first Dragon Quest with fixed 2D graphics. It resurfaced a lot of never again felt moments from the past. All of Toriyama's concepts could only be imagined back then but you can visually see all of them in game in this one. Nice.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Debug Clusters

There are lots of issues to bear in mind as design goals in software development. The x-ability issues among the most popular. Many such goals being even contradicting. However, designing and implementing code which has no functional value and is used only for debug purposes can become important in most complex projects. This can be considered as as subset of the maintainability goals but such code can be significant in developing the proper code in the first place. Added to the designers main decision making factors are then the amount of such debug clusters necessary around the functional code, engaged in the optimization activity which tries to minimize development time by selecting the amount of debug code, "the more" easing functional development and requiring non functional code development time, "the less" making development harder by increasing functional code development time.

Wille zur Macht

I had a chance to read a Nietzsche quotes book recently and felt that the least I can do is to re-write these selected few here:

One should always yearn to experience major difficulties from the bottom of his heart.

One could do anything he has to, and when someone says "I couldn't", it means that he doesn't want to use his will power.

Mastership is obtained when one doesn't hesitate or blunder in time of taking action.

Continual tranquility is wearisome, sometimes storms are needed.

The honourable and reverent men's mistakes are respected, because of their usefulness. But the accomplishments of the ordinary men are not even comparable to their mistakes.

If a man dwells among the noble human beings, he will forget the pride. It is loneliness that foments the pride.

The one who has discovered the reason for being alive, will bear the different stages of life.

We should never give a room to envy, but we should say: with the first foolishness, the second will follow.

The weak always crawl into the powerful men's hearts in hidden fashion and stealthily provide power for themselves.

Anything such as trials and tribulations that defeat me or ruin me will make me stronger at last.

Everytime we find our identity, we discover that occasionally we may lose it and then we will eventually find ourselves again, cobsidering if we have thoughts and awareness.

The increase of wisdom can be measured by decreasing of wrath.

Will power is the motivation for freedom. For, to desire is to create. This is my instruction and your only job is learning how to create.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Horizon

When the enemies have outnumbered and no victory is visible in the horizon ... people surrender ... people wait ... people doubt the situation .... but the Samurai fight ... they will fight hard and live the life ... for they have been born to fight ... they find the ultimate meanings in the instances while engaged in the battle grounds and not surrendering ... this is their way which seems insanity by the skeptical.