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.
Old books are like old friends... you have to visit them from time to time. So, this weekend I tore through Ken Follett'sHornet 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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.