Developer Blog non-sequitur

I should write something, goddammit

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Busy busy busy. Important game things that are going on:

Things that are going on that are getting in the fucking way of finishing CTDV:

I'll make up for all my silence once I'm given a chance to, you know... take a deep breath. Until then, I recommend following my Twitter feed, since 140 characters is something I can type reliably.

Just Because

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Happy Leftovers Day, everyone! For your amusement, I give you this video of my brother's pet bunny dancing on a foam mat:

And just a friendly reminder: your are legally forbidden from playing Christmas music until December 1, goddammit.

CTDV Facebook Fan Page

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Hey, it seems like someone (other than me) went and made a Facebook Fan page for Cute Things Dying Violently. Since this Facebook thing seems to be catching on and will no doubt be considered a major fad one of these days... perhaps with it's own movie, or whatever... I recommend you go and Like it right now! My self esteem depends on such things.

Cute Things Dying Violently 1.1 Patch Change Log

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Here are the list of changes that users can expect in CTDV version 1.1:

  • Increased wampas by 75%
  • Martyrdom perk now drops 10 grenades simultaneously and is mandatory on all Critters
  • Lowered the rate of fire on the MP5K submachine gun
  • Added more pink
  • Added capability for playing with a 3rd and 4th player in local multiplayer
  • Removed capability for playing with a 3rd and 4th player in local multiplayer, because of spite.
  • Increased Critter volume by 1000% and speaking rate by 500%
  • Increased Critter voice pitch by 200%
  • Added new quests to Westfall
  • Fixed bug where Xbox DVD tray would eject disks directly into your scrotum at high velocity
  • Fixed the "Jesus infinite respawn" glitch
  • Fixed all misspellings of the word "vagina"
  • Fixed bug wherein software would become self-aware and try to join Skynet
  • Added approximately 2.3% more fun

Coming soon.

Beautiful Lies

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I'm playing Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood again, and liking it much more than I did the first time around. To celebrate stabbing the living shit out of every human that gets in my way - and some of the peskier horses - here's an awesome Altair/Ezio mashup machinima.

You're welcome, America.

Development Interlude, Typhoid Mary Edition

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I've barely posted in the past few weeks because I've been consistently sick. I cast about for the correct adverb, but yes, "consistently" is the one that makes the most sense. Two weeks (three weekends ago), I started getting a fever and lightheadedness in the evenings. That persisted well into the following week. And just when I called the doctor's office to make an appointment, the fever subsided. Ha, wasn't that funny?

And then I notice that my throat hurt. Like, abruptly. So I stood in front of a mirror with a flashlight, said "Ah!", and noticed that one of my tonsils was swollen and disgusting-looking. Oh, hey, tonsillitis. Just what I wanted. I went to the doctor's office and they gave me some antibiotics. The next couple of days sucked while my sore throat got worse, but in the end the drugs seemed to kick in and my tonsillitis seemed to go away.

And that brings us to last night, when my face and chest abruptly broke out in an angry red rash. I went to the doctor's again today, and it turns out I had a bad reaction to the drugs they put me on for the tonsillitis. So they gave me new drugs, which may or may not work. And I'm pissed like you wouldn't believe, because I just bought an expensive new suit and I'm supposed to go up on a podium in two days and receive an award from the Secretary of Labor!

Clearly, God is testing me. And he is a douchebag.

Since we're going the TMI route, let's get out a bit more information that isn't of the personal variety.


Project Squish is slowly but surely nearing the "last 10%" phase of development, the part where there's a myriad of minor tasks to do and they seem as endless as they are small. I'll officially be onto that section once I'm done with the local Multiplayer component, which has surprised me by coming along quite nicely. The Multiplayer lobby is done, as is the actual in-game play, which now includes various power ups that can be acquired and used against your opponent. A few more customized menus and some player-friendly features, and that will be done!

After that, I have to do the Options and Credits Menus. Once those are complete, Project Squish will be feature-locked, and the rest of the development time will be spent on finishing existing features, tidying up loose ends, and general polish. I can't tell you how excited I am to reach that phase, as Project Squish is now in its 10th month of development.

However, there's one more very important thing to do: finalize the art. I (correctly) put off doing that until I was further along in development, but that time is fast approaching. It'll mean days of just sitting there and dropping new art assets into the project file, which will amount to little more than boredom and tedium. But hey, it has to be done, or else the game won't look sexy.

So that's where I stand. Here's hoping future news will bring more tales of success with Project Squish, and hopefully a story about how my horrible, face-besmirching rash cleared up in time for me to not have wasted a shitload of money on a new suit/look like a weirdo in front of the Secretary of Labor during a fucking photo op.

God dammit, God.

Man Made

Posted by Alex Jordan on

This is so goddamn great:

Now all we need is a Portal 2 cooperative mod where you play as Don Draper and Pete Campbell, and then we're set.

Indie Game Designer Stereotypes!

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I got these from Mommy's Best Games, who got them from the Dramatic Life Tumblr, who got them from TIGSource. At some point, I suspect their lineage goes back to Jesus Christ himself riding an Allosaurus. But hey, here's some of them, because they're painfully fucking true:

You can check out the rest here.

Random Musings. Very Random.

Posted by Alex Jordan on

We got thunder snow on Wednesday night. Thunder. Snow. A rare-ish meteorological occurrence that spells the unholy combination of airborne fire and airborne ice. And what do we get for all that? Three bloody inches of snow, and I guess an early dismissal from work. I was kind of hoping "fire + ice" in natural phenomena would be like "crossing the streams" or something, but apparently not. I just want a snow day, ok?!

In other news, a lady was basically humping my leg on the Metro today. I managed to snag an aisle seat, pretty much the last available seat on the train. But since everyone up to and including me had found a seat, that meant the aisles were clear for people to stand near the very convenient holding bars. Y'know, the ones not near the seats.

So imagine my surprise when a woman chooses my seat to not only stand next to, but to dangle her purse and pelvis over. One hand gripping the seat in front of me, one hand gripping the back of my seat, standing perpendicular to me as if my thigh were a surfboard to ride. It turned into one of those awkward things where I am so completely determined to just play my Goddamn Angry Birds that I will not show this crazy leg-humping/surfing lady that she is freaking me out, although she is RIGHT GODDAMN THERE, HOVERING OVER ME LIKE SOME KIND OF ALIEN PROBE and WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SMELL? IS THAT PICKLES? AT 9AM?


On a different note, if you tell me in all seriousness that you're not going to get a flu vaccine because of nebulous, unfounded concerns over the "stuff" that's in a vaccine, because God will protect you from the flu, and then you get the flu anyways and become viciously ill... does that mean that (a) God doesn't exist, (b) God's trying to teach you a lesson, or, my personal favorite, (c) God doesn't care what you think?

Please understand how I get confused when people who live in a world governed by God's laws and rules start arbitrarily drawing the line when scientists come up with ways to use those rules so that I don't have to listen to you barf into a wastebasket.

Finally, I think a certain class of people - particularly the lazy and the obese - are excellent mathematicians. It's true! I've decided this is true because of how expert they are at moving sharply towards their destination at an incredibly slow pace, nevermind the fact that they're either holding up people behind them or obstructing the paths of people in front of them. There is a mathematically perfect route to their destination that requires the smallest amount of speed and effort, and they don't care who they have to annoy to follow it.

Sure, it's not like sidewalks and Metro platforms have lanes with painted lines, but human traffic generally follows the same rules as American traffic: you're on the right, oncoming traffic is on the left. Pass slow people in your own lane on their left, then re-merge with traffic. Got it? Good. However, the fat, lazy mathematical geniuses don't follow these rules! They are adhering to algorithms and elliptical orbits that make mere human decency pale in comparison! Not following me? Their formula goes like this: a young, skinny, healthy train leaves from Alexandria at 9AM, walking briskly at 10mph, heading for Washington DC. A corpulent, glacial-paced train leaves from Arlington at 9:15AM, waddling at all of 2mph, also headed for Washington DC. The skinny train follows human traffic and is courteous to people, whereas the jowly train will run you right the fuck over if need be.

Q: How long will it take the slower, more obnoxious train to reach DC, presuming that they ignore typical pedestrian walking patterns and run over everyone in their path to get to their destination?

Q: How long will it take the faster, much handsomer train to catch up to the one that's pissing me off, and then have to go around them at a brisk pace at the one junction where the pain-in-the-ass train has stopped annoying oncoming traffic and has started annoying me?

Q: How likely is it that the faster train will fume about this without saying anything, because of politeness and because of society, and will instead write a passive-aggressive blog post about it later?

Aurora Borealis

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Despite the fact that I've been busy as hell, I've been making great strides with Project Squish. However, those great strides have not equated to increased blogging. And that doesn't look like it's gonna change at the moment.

So to tide you over, here's a neat time lapse of the Aurora Borealis in Tromso, Norway that I stumbled across:

Aurora Borealis timelapse HD - Tromsø 2010 from Tor Even Mathisen on Vimeo.


My Christmas List

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Right where everyone can see how much of a nerd I am!


Video Games:


I'll add more if I think of anything, but by virtue of being a white male in America, I don't need much.

Gorgeous Biking Video

Posted by Alex Jordan on

This is just beautiful:

It's pretty much everything I love: great tricks, great music, amazing scenery, and slick production with an artistic vibe. Watch it! Watch it again!

Another comic edit

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For some reason, this one screamed "Beastie Boys":

This type of Photoshopping doesn't help me hone my art skills for Project Squish, but hey. Humor uber alles.

Writing crutches

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I'd really love to work on a game with an honest-to-God plot in the near future, perhaps when I finish up Project Squish. I love writing, and being both the writer and lead designer of a story-driven game sounds like a match made in heaven for me, so long as I don't bite off more than I can chew.

I have a very low opinion of most games' writing, which, of course, gets compared to my very high and very biased opinion of my own writing. As such, I'd relish the opportunity to make a well-plotted, tightly-written game and knock it out of the park. But, let's be frank: I've only written one thing at length, which was my college thesis, albeit one in the form of a fictional techno-thriller. And I don't ever, ever want to publish that thing. I'm embarrassed enough that it's archived somewhere at American University, and someone could actually read it one day. The funny thing is that I considered myself a good writer when I set out and actually wrote the Goddamn thing, and that I made a list of writing crutches beforehand that I specifically wanted to avoid. Rereading my thesis, I accidentally used almost all of those crutches that I criticize other authors for.

In the interest of keeping me honest, here's a partial list of modern fiction writing crutches that I really want to avoid when I start writing for a game:

On the subject of physical appearances, I almost added a bullet to encompass turning pale or white. However, everyone else that knows me seems perfectly capable of telling when someone looks pale or not, even though I can't. Maybe I'm just the least observant person ever. Am I also missing vaunted eye twinkles? I need to know!

Pause for Photoshopping

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I felt like screwing around and Photoshopped a Penny Arcade/Hark A Vagrant mashup:

Original comics here and here.

A Storm of the Brain

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Guys! I have an idea for an RPG!

It's set in a fantasy world of my own design that's completely different from all other fantasy worlds. You're a dangerous man with a troubled path and a mysterious prophecy hanging over your future. You fight orcs and goblins and trolls and dragons and other mythical beasts.

You can play as a warrior or a thief or a mage, and although those have already been done to death, it's okay! Because I have thought of novel ways of making learning and playing those classes really interesting and intuitive!

The environment is large and sandbox-style, with towns and cities and mountains and dungeons all over the place! There's obviously some sort of volcanic/fire land, and definitely a cold land. Maybe a desert land too. Lots of enchanted forests. And a terrible nameless evil is off in the distance! Maybe to the "north"! Or to the "south"! Or one of the two other cardinal directions that can be referred to when describing ambiguous evil.

There will be a crafting system and an alchemy system and you can own property and farm your own land and whatnot.

It'll be a very mature game, too, wherein "mature" means "tits and drunkenness."

... Yes, the idea behind this is "exorcise all ambitious notions born more from reading Tolkein/playing Zelda in middle school than breaking new ground or exploring new concepts." The sad thing is that there's some non-jokes hidden amongst the jokes. The sadder thing is that while I disabuse myself of this dream, everyone else is busy nurturing it.

Ken Follett

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Old books are like old friends... you have to visit them from time to time. So, this weekend I tore through Ken Follett's Hornet Flight for the third or fourth time. I love the book and never grow tired of it, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, it makes Denmark sound amazing, like an entire country that feels like Cape Cod and southern New England. For another, it takes the World War II spy genre - run into the ground time and again by various writers, Mr. Follett among them - and revitalizes it by moving the action to the oft-ignored issue of Denmark's occupation.

I also love the characters in the novel, especially the villain, Peter Flemming, a cop that is incapable of distinguishing between merely doing his duty - enforcing the law, obeying the Germans - and when that sense of duty bleeds into his more petty and vicious urges. I also greatly admire the main character, Harald, whose fits of youthful rebellion against Flemming, his father, the Germans, and other various obstacles reminds me that I'm starting to get old(er). Harald's angry flailing against his persecutors makes me kind of miss the teenage tendency to freak the hell out and conjure all sorts of misguided rage and revenge against slights both real and imagined. It's kind of sad, really... I can't remember the last time I felt passionately about something small and stupid that really pissed me off and made me swear vengeance. I'm turning dangerously milquetoast in my mid-20's... does anyone want to start a blood feud with me? Please?

With Hornet Flight down, I have a strong urge to read through Follett's older works. I greatly enjoyed Jackdaws, Whiteout, and World Without End, but I've got The Key to Rebecca sitting here. I dropped it the last time I tried reading it, but my renewed urge to read Follett's stuff should be motivation enough to pick it back up.

Holy Crap

Posted by Alex Jordan on

World Cup is coming, so everyone should take a gander at this:

In other news, Around The World is in Peer Review right now. Once it's been determined to not set fire to your Xbox 360, it'll be up for sale on the Xbox Live Marketplace, and I will be exultant.


Posted by Alex Jordan on

Futurama's returning, on Comedy Central! Here's a teaser:

Good news, everyone!

New Iron Man 2 Trailer

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Digital Backlots

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This is pretty amazing:

And here I was thinking that budgets for on-location filming were going up. After all, my boss and I went to watch Kiefer Sutherland when he was filming Season 7 of 24, across the street from us and right in front of the Capitol Building. I thought technology of this caliber was still a few years off, as I remember some pretty bad compositing effects of this nature from Season 2 of Heroes (when Noah Bennett and The Haitian go to Odessa, Ukraine). I guess I was wrong.

The watermelon had it coming

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Happy Sunday, everyone! I've got the Olympics on in the background and Around The World's Visual C# Solution open in front of me. I'll post the latest (and somewhat overdue) Development Diary in a little bit, but first, here's my girlfriend's roommate annihilating a poor, defenseless watermelon:

That didn't occur in DC, obviously. He'd be sent to Guantanamo if he tried that crap inside the Beltway.

Continued blizzard updates, aka Snow Some Mercy

Posted by Alex Jordan on

3:12pm, February 8

Happy Day Off, federal employees! This is the second work cancellation ever for the Obama Administration, and the first I've experienced, as I fled DC before the December 19 storm.

Word of the cancellation reached us yesterday afternoon, but seeing as how the roads and everything else were still a mess on Super Bowl Sunday, none of us thought the government would open on Monday. That allowed us to have a leisurely day of shoveling sidewalks, cooking, and playing Settlers of Catan. And the watch the Super Bowl, too. I guess. (Was it just me, or were a lot of the commercials really misogynistic?)

My girlfriend and I headed out today to re-up on groceries and took stock of the situation. The main roads, like Logan Circle, 13th Street, and 14th Street, have been mostly cleared of everything but snowy lane centers and lots of slush. The smaller streets like P and Q have been left to fend for themselves, and usually consist of 2 to 4 inches of ice, packed snow, and slush. Those who bothered to clear their sidewalks get to appreciate clear brick and pavement today, while those who didn't bother (the bastards) still have lots of packed snow to hike over.

Apparently, there's another storm that will show up tomorrow afternoon and start dropping snow. Preliminary estimates are in the 5 to 10 inches range, with snow falling from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon. This makes me really wonder if the federal government will reopen tomorrow. Right now, I'd say there's a 50/50 chance of work... the major DC roads are in decent shape and people seem to be moving around decently. The Obama Administration has been pretty single-minded in keeping the government open during dicey weather, and if they're looking for an excuse to reopen Uncle Sam Co., the main roads out there should provide one. However, the side roads still suck. Sidewalks are still messy. Above-ground Metro service has yet to resume, leaving me looking like a greasy, unshaven hobo. And God knows how the suburbs are faring, seeing as how Maryland got hit even worse than DC.

Combine that with an infrastructure that's already severely taxed by the 20 to 30 inches we just got, which I'm not sure will be up to the challenge of clearing an additional 5 to 10 inches in a quick and orderly fashion. The result is that I foresee work being cancelled on Wednesday, and if the snow starts Tuesday afternoon... is it wise to have everyone struggle in to work tomorrow, only to send them home early again? I'm not sure. But, again, the Obama Administration really doesn't like to cancel work.

We'll see.


No work tomorrow! Woooooooooo! Happy Hour was at The Commissary in Logan Circle and became way, WAY happier.

4:29pm, February 9

It's started snowing here again. 6 to 16 inches is on the way. The novelty is wearing off.

12:15pm, February 10

Complete white-out conditions outside. Our nice shoveled paths have been reburied. Yes, the novelty has worn off.

Sights, Sounds, and Snow

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Here's two videos I shot during the storm. The first is me following two of my friends on a somewhat lonely cavalry charge through Logan Circle on the night of:

And this one is from the several-thousand person Battle of Dupont Circle on Saturday:

Live Blogging the Blizzard-Like Conditions

Posted by Alex Jordan on

UPDATE:Running Picasa web album of all the snow in Logan Circle

5:00pm, February 5

Returned from Whole Foods with lots of supplies. Okay, well, not lots of supplies. Mostly beer and chips. I think some chicken and pasta sauce made it into my bag too. I'm not sure, things were rather hectic. Fortunately, the beer and chips are accounted for.

Hunkered down in Fortress Logan Circle with my laptop, camera, and a copy of Inglourious Basterds. I anticipate fun blizzard-like conditions. (Why don't they ever come out and call it an actual blizzard?)


Inglourious Basterds is pretty awesome. The beer helps make it even better. In other news, current beer supply running low. May have to switch from Dogfish Head Raison D'etre to Hoegaarden. There are difficult times. The snow continues to fall.


Inglorious Basterds is over. God, what a weird movie. Need more beer.


Heard rumors of a snowball fight in Logan Circle at 9pm. Heading out into the tundra to investigate. Found additional Raison D'etre in the fridge, have received a new raison d'etre. The snow continues to fall.


There was a grand snowball fight in Logan Circle! About 200 people stopped by, many of them en route to the Black Cat, to participate in the mayhem. Highlights include gaining and losing ground at the center of the circle, our Snowtomic Bomb, our Snow Redoubt, and many screaming charges to and fro. Eventually the snow got so compact from everyone walking on it that getting hit by a snowball felt like taking a brick upside the head.

Back at the house, pizza-making has commenced, and beer-consuming has recommenced.

12:48am, February 6

Just got done eating pizza, drinking beer, and watching Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Good movie, but weird. Also, special effects circa 3D Studio Max 2.5/1998. The snow continues to fall, and jeez, there is a lot of it!


Started uploading pictures. View them here (link also now at the top of the page).


Just got back from the great snowball fight of Dupont Circle. A couple thousand people were there, hurling chunks of snow that were the consistency of concrete. I charged the center of the circle several times, to prove my bravery! After getting hit in the head several times by what I suspected was snow-covered lead, we opted to retire back to the house.


The... the snow stopped. What the hell? I was expecting at least another 5 hours of snow. I wonder what the final tally is. I'm guessing somewhere around 20 to 24 inches.


Still hunkered down in Logan Circle. The snow's been over for several hours, but it's left its mark: at least 20 inches on the ground, with drifts ranging from 24 to 30 inches in places. The snowball-tastic wet snow from last night wound up being covered by much lighter, fluffier snow overnight, so it'll drift whenever the wind picks up. At the bottom of the pile, though, there's a rock-hard layer of packed wet snow and ice. Cars were making progress on some of the roads, but only because the tire tread areas consisted of this solidified crap. Plows have been almost non-existent, but I've seen them leave their marks. The problem is, the hard layer of snow and ice is so stubborn that the plows can't straight down to street level... they can only scrape away at the top levels.

Will all this in mind, Mayor Fenty hopes to have the city open by rush hour on Monday. Personally, I think he has no chance of pulling that off. I'm expecting to get Monday off from work, with a possible return on Tuesday. The Federal Government will only reopen once all the suburban roads have been cleared in addition to the highways (so the bureaucrats can leave their homes), but here's the kicker: more snow is possible on Tuesday night. If the suburban roads and subdivisions aren't clear by Tuesday, the plows committed to clearing them will have to be reassigned to clearing the highways of fresh snow. I'm hoping there's a chain reaction that will keep me out of work for the better part of the week. We'll see!

12:00pm, February 7

Well, DC Metro will not have above-ground Metro service today, so I'll still be out in Logan Circle. Beer supply going strong (although the Raison D'etre did not last the night), aided by a last-minute addition of bourbon. Food supply adequate. Clothing supply limited, smells suspiciously of rock salt and B.O.

I'll probably be trudging through the snow for several blocks to get to the underground Metro service and ride out to Rosslyn for my friend's Super Bowl party. Not super duper thrilled about that exodus, not to mention the eventual un-exodus. I doubt many other people are, either... I'll eat my hat if we have work tomorrow.

Snow No Mercy!

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Alright, well, it's started snowing here in DC. Forecasts are calling for about 36 hours of snowfall, with accumulation of 18 to 24 inches. For lots of the country, that's a dusting. In my native Rhode Island, it's a big deal. Here in DC? It's the end of all things.

I'm repatriating into DC for the weekend and staying at my girlfriend's place. She's got a big house with lots of cool people that's right off of Logan Circle, so I'll be very comfortable there. This is, ahem, in comparison to my tiny studio apartment. Also, the logistics are better: DC Metro will cut service on all outdoor tracks, which is the only way to cross the Potomac from Virginia and get out of my neighborhood. The Metro is all underground in the city, so the interior will have full service. I also don't have a shovel to dig out my car, but that probably won't matter: the roads will be impassible through Saturday, and even afterward, they'll probably be too hellish to contemplate navigating with 15 inch tires.

I'd like to live-something the blizzard, but how? Liveblog? Livetweet? Liveupdate my Picasa? All of the above? It's tempting, but then again, how many different ways do I have to say, "Yeah, it's still snowing"? Expect a few tweets/blog posts and many pictures on my Picasa channel that I'll duly link to.

Also: Dupont Circle Official Snowball Fight tomorrow!

On Multitasking

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Over the past few days, I've determined that, yes, despite the degree to which I screwed with the original Equirectangular Projection map to get it to fit onto a texture and 3D model, it is still possible to map latitudes and longitudes directly to an accurate X and Y screen position for my game. Hooray! I have to build the adjustments directly into the code that interprets the latitude and longitude, but it works.

That means that I don't have to manually enter in all the positioning data in-game. What I do have to manually enter in is latitudes and longitudes into my XML database. Fortunately, I have a standardized source for that: Wikipedia. My teacher parents, the living embodiment of "citation needed!", would freak out, but the data is all in one place and the tests I've done thus far are accurate. As a result, all of last night's work was spent (a) taking the latitudes and longitudes in the format of 41°49'25"N 71°25'20"W (Providence, RI) and converting them into a string-friendly format, like "41d49m25sN71d25m20sW", (b) loading that string into my XML database, and (c) coming up with code to parse that string correctly into X and Y coordinates in the game itself. Which I did. And it is awesome. Details and probably a new movie soon.

Oh, and I made the ocean background less horrendous. Again.

And you know what? I did all this while watching Dante's Peak!

Read More

Here in Washington, Volume 3

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All these years I've been in DC, and I hadn't been to Teddy Roosevelt Island until yesterday. It was quite nice, and I can't wait to go back in the summer.


Click for Picasa Web Album

Denizens of the Metro

Posted by Alex Jordan on

A quick rundown of the behavior on the DC Metro that drives me out of my Goddamn mind.

I love the Metro.

Merry Christmas!

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Merry Christmas! In celebration, here's something irrelevant to Christmas: parkour!

Really good parkour, too.

Pirate Latitudes Review

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Michael Crichton was an author of unparalleled stature that I continue to miss. I started reading his books at a very young age, having picked up Jurassic Park when I was only seven or eight. I proceeded to plow through his works over the next two decades, loving the mix of science, technology, and high adventure. I even loved State Of Fear, which, despite its ridiculous anti-climate change ideology and irrational hatred of Martin Sheen, was a pretty compelling techno-spy thriller.

So, basically, I adore Crichton's work. And imagine my surprise when I learned that, after his death, editors found a completed manuscript on Crichton's home computer: Pirate Latitudes!A historical thriller in the vein of Timeline and The Great Train Robbery, and one on 17th century Caribbean piracy to boot! One year after that announcement, I finally got my hands on the book, and tore into it.

Pirate Latitudes, however, proves to be decent but also something of a disappointment. The book was clearly in need of more editing and more effort from Crichton. Unfortunately, fate (and cancer) precluded both. What's there is often entertaining, but the whole ensemble often seems like a framework rather than a good story.

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Most Influential Person of the Decade

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Washington Post has some weird bracketed competition for Most Influential Person of the Decade.

It's, um, well... special.


Also, Paris Hilton? I mean, Paris Hilton? By which I mean, Paris Hilton?

Fog Bank

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I looked out my window recently to see downtown DC lost in a fog bank.

Check out my Picasa Web Album here.

Dinosaur Comics

Posted by Alex Jordan on

T-Rex makes me laugh.

Also, got XNA 3.1 working thanks to a diligent Microsoft employee who was working on the weekend. Thanks, Microsoft guy!

Random Thoughts

Posted by Alex Jordan on

For some reason, I was elated to sit in dense traffic last night for 30 minutes just to get to my polling station and vote for a candidate that I knew was going to get absolutely, positively crushed. But that's just me.

I accidentally put my boxers on backwards the other day. Despite the fact that I revolutionized pooping, the move posed a severe setback for urination rights.

And finally, this song popped up on Pandora, which is awesome (both Pandora and the song):

New Digs

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Because I can't leave well enough alone, here are some pics of the view from my new apartment. I promise I'll get back to game design shortly.

Click each thumbnail for the larger image.

For the uninitiated (or for those who don't feel like playing Where's Waldo), in the panorama you can see, from left to right: the Lincoln Memorial, the Pentagon (the huge beige building front-and-center), the Washington Monument (duh), the Ben Franklin Clock Tower at the Post Office Pavilion, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Capitol Dome.

I also learned that the human brain is highly efficient and, after repeat viewings, will log this view as "standard information" in my mind, after which it will process the image quickly without emitting the dopamine or seratonin that comes from excitement or enjoyment.

Science sucks.

The Lost Symbol Review

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Stuck in the purgatory that is a full-time job and a half-functional new apartment, free time is hard to come by. Right now, I can reconfigure the free time that is available to me right this second into a mini-review. I'd rather reconfigure it into time spent designing my game, but, hey, my laptop is way over on the other side of the Potomac right now.

With that in mind, here's a mini-review for Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, which I had time to tackle while I was in Rhode Island last week:

It is both a good and not-so-good book.

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I'm back

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I took the Blue Pill: Verizon FiOS is all hooked up. They were late, it took two and a half hours, and I think they built a fucking DeLorean in my closet, but now I can browse the Internet at lightning speeds and get Facebook on my TV, so... awesome?

Still getting things sorted in my apartment. Not a whole heck of a lot of uncovered surfaces in the place at the moment, and the defining feature seems to be scattered cardboard boxes, so, needless to say, I have some work to do. I hope to get back to programming in the near future though.

Making the Move

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I'm part way through my move from Alexandria to Arlington and still have two days left to go on being off the grid. Cable and internet don't get installed at my new place until Wednesday morning, so my only access to the digital world can occur at work. Yay.

My new place is awesome, and I'll give a quick rundown once the Verizon guy installs me FiOS. But in the meantime, here's a recap of things that have gone horribly, horribly wrong during the move over the past two days.

Here, in short, is my original plan:

Pretty much none of that happened.

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Evil Vampire Laptop

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I bought my laptop in June, but have only recently noticed something very disturbing about it: it wakes up at 3am on the dot and starts making noises.

How did I miss that?

Some very sleepy and very infuriated investigation in the dead of night determined that Windows Auto-Update was scheduled by the Control Panel for daily updates at 3am. That's fine, I guess, my laptop is usually in Sleep mode at 3am. Well, I'm not sure what changed in the past few days, but now my laptop will actually wake itself up from Sleep mode at 3 in the fucking morning, give that annoyingly-saccharine "Welcome!" chime, and promptly busy itself with updating.

Who at Microsoft thought this was a good idea?!

My Auto-Update is now rescheduled for 12pm, while I'm at work, until I can figure out why my Vampire laptop rises from its slumber to drink my blood and update my apps.

The Venture Bros.

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I'm back! The lack of updates were due to quite a lot going on in the past few days, little of it enviable.

You know what else is back? The Venture Bros.

Never heard of it? It's one of the smartest and funniest shows on TV. And, yes, it's a cartoon on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. It's a satire of the old Johnny Quest cartoons, only with most of the Johnny Quest characters' stereotypes turned on their heads for great effect.

Season 4 just started, and I'd recommend that any new viewer should just jump in, but it's not that easy. The show has a fetish for continuity that goes all the way back to one-off jokes and characters from Season 1. I heartily recommend the DVDs, but a good deal of the episodes from Seasons 1 through 3 are already online.

But, seriously, what's the deal with Cartoon Network moving the air time back a half hour with each season? I'm a young professional, dammit, I need to sleep! Moving the show to 11:30 on Sunday nights for Season 3 was bad, but... now it's at midnight? That's torture.

Two of my favorite clips after the jump.

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Here in Washington, Volume 2

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Happy Cristoforo Colombo Day, everyone! I don't have to work today, so let's talk about a favorite vacation activity: adding calories!

Last night, some friends and I hit up Ray's Hell Burger, a burger joint in Arlington that was opened by a local gourmand whose other restaurants offer deluxe steaks. So what does a gourmand do when he gets his hands on a burger?

A Hell Burger, from Ray's

Photo shamelessly stolen from local DC food blog The Arugula Files.

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Anticipating the move

Posted by Alex Jordan on

A new Development Diary will come as soon as I find the time to actually do some honest-to-God programming.

I currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of Old Town. It's beautiful down here, and fairly quiet, but good lord is it far away from the city. In exactly two weeks I move to Pentagon City, a section of Arlington that's just across the river from DC. It's a nice neighborhood, a bit more is happening, and it'll shorten my commute wonderfully. Actually, wanna see my building? Here it is! Bottom rightmost building, down the road. Thanks, Wikipedia!

It also means I get an excuse to buy things! My gaming and development gear right now consists of an aging desktop computer, a new laptop, my Xbox 360, and plasma TV. So there's a couple of things I'm considering, so long as I don't complete lose my gourd and spend more money than I deserve to:

I guess this turned out to be a good exercise for me. Jesus Christ, the GeForce's price even increased since I last looked. C'mon!

Dungeons & Dragons Nerdology

Posted by Alex Jordan on

The last time I had anything to do with Dungeons & Dragons whatsoever was when I played Neverwinter Nights several years back. Aside from that, my fascination with D&D was only relegated to a few pen-and-paper forays back when I was still in middle school.

That said, I find it pretty cool and very impressive that Gabe from Penny Arcade managed to pull off the use-mirrors-to-redirect-light puzzle mechanic that so many games use. (Scroll down to the bottom.) It's really neat.


Here in Washington, Vol. 1

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Back in mid-January, I wandered through the U.S. Department of Labor's Frances Perkins Building taking before-and-after photos. I wanted to show how things would change from the Bush to the Obama administration.

Actually, I only wanted two photos. The first was of the Bush-era "FOX News Kiosk" that was downstairs in the lobby. Well, I was too late on that one. The damn thing was taken down even before the inauguration, before I had thought to snap a photo. It's since been replaced by the Obama-era "CNN News Kiosk."

The other photo I wanted was of the mandatory portraits of our glorious leaders in the lobby. I took a picture of the triumverate of Bush, Cheney, and former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and uploaded them onto Facebook. (Photo after the jump.)

I came back on Tuesday after the Obama inauguration, aaaaaaaand... no portraits. Hmm, okay. These things take time. 'Course, it wasn't until March that a portrait of Obama was put up next to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. By then I'd long since stopped carrying my camera to work. But, HEY! Where's my picture of Joe Biden?!

Turns out that Biden was on the Hill earlier this week to finally get his photo taken. And, wham! Just like that, the Obama triumverate now graces my building. I'll have to bring my camera in on Monday and finally finish the "before and after" series.

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Um, hey

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Whoo, I'm back from here. And here. After some good fun was had here and here. And a wedding here. I got just a brief taste of the O.C. before I had to return to Washington, but I can't wait to go back.

That said, I've now run out of excuses for not posting. So, back to the posts! Dammit.

DC By Night

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Last Saturday, my friends and I celebrated the end of summer (or eulogized it, I guess) by patronizing the Great Waves at Cameron Run, a tiny water park that nonetheless sported some decent slides, mini golf, and a wave pool. There's not much there but it's still good fun.

We stayed late and then drove back into the city for the evening. On our way up the George Washington Parkway, we got a fairly good view of the autumnal Harvest Moon hovering over the Potomac. It looked even more spectacular once we were on the Mall, as the moon was rising above the Capitol Building.

The shots I snapped on my cell phone camera didn't do the event justice, but fortunately, DCist and some talented photographers were on hand to capture the event.

Awesome, huh?

Check it out.

(The image above was stolen from Life Through A Lens since DCist is being fussy about image linking.)

Metro Adventures

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Fun times on the Metro this morning. I think my train driver was stoned or hungover or something. The train randomly moving in fits and starts was bad enough. But I really felt uneasy when his announcements started becoming divorced from reality.

He kept forgetting where our train's destination was. He announced Crystal City as Pentagon City. He thought Pentagon City was the Pentagon. And when we reached the Pentagon, my Yellow Line train to Mt. Vernon Square suddenly became a Green Line train heading to Branch Ave, the exact opposite direction.

Fortunately, despite the fact that our train was apparently driven by Verbal Kint, we arrived at Navy Memorial okay, at which point we fled screaming from the train and walked the rest of the way to work.