Angry German Kid, I feel you bro

I feel the exact same way the angry German kid feels. I bought the Orange Box about 3 weeks ago (and today TF2 goes free to play) mostly because I wanted to play TF2.Everytime I launch the game, it takes around 30 mins to download a ton of updates. So the boot up time is essentially 30 mins for TF2. Why? Updates. These are the updates that I don’t know about because I don’t see them. Besides, why so many updates? New flashy hat? Hey great! It looks awesome, but I don’t care. Worse yet, why such big ones? Oh don’t even get me started on how bad the connections get. I get at most 300KB/s, but mostly 100KB/s  when I can easily see 500KB/s.

I really love Valve and consider it to be one of the great temples of game development. You just shouldn’t make an enemy out of me because you are quite excited about making me feel more good. That’s like drowning me in a sea because you know water is good for health and we need lots of water. Don’t hug me so close, Valve, that I die of asphyxiation. For your reference, dearest, Valve, this is who I sympathise with at the moment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11ucbrzxkls&feature=related

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Rise of the narcissistic smugs

Dr House and Patrick Jane (The Mentalist) are two of the best examples I can give for the new trend of having geniuses who are smugs. The character has a typical trait – a genius sociopath who has great insights into the human psyche and they use it to make everyone around them miserable. Sort of a hedgehog, the closer people get to the critter the more it becomes prickly. And what is it with broken relationships being glorified? House never seems to get along with his “Boss” neither does Jane get along with his “Boss”. Is this how people percieve Sherlock Holmes? Since when did being miserable become “kewl”?

On a different hand it is refreshing to see some really good and intelligent comedy – not the push a button to force people to laugh series. Friends, comes to my mind. Never really understood how that was supposed to be a comedy. Anyone who wants to feel good comedy – go take a look @ Black Adder or Red Dwarf or Jeeves and Wooster or Fry and Laurie. Even Mr Bean is better than the best of Friends. One welcome change is 30 Rock. Tina Fey – great job. Californication (albeit only the 1st season) was a series that caught my attention mostly because the series was not afraid of doing something edgy.

Why the Wii U doesn’t give me a hardon

Nintendo released a new console @ E3 named the Wii U. I looked @ the online video which was more about people acting up in a white room than games that looked fun. Iwata apparently said that they should have done a better job at presenting the console than they did. I think that they should have come up with a better idea. Here are my issues with the new console.

It definitely is backwards compatible with the Wii. Nintendo took a beating with the N64 (PS) and the Gamecube (PS2) because they were only evolving and not revolutionising gaming. Wii, NDS and the GBA changed the way things actually worked in video games. The Wii U is again an iteration. I never felt bad about low powered hardware on the Wii because the beauty of the console is the controller and WHAT we can DO with it. Sure it had quirks but who gives a damn? Wii U games will definitely have great sales but it doesn’t leave a mark on gaming yet because it is just an iteration.

Compare that to the Kinect. It just took all the controls from the Wii and said – hey no controls anymore. Well that’s a revolution. Computer Vision has been a subject for academics for a very long time but shoving it into a console changed the face of the 360. I was expecting something bigger than Nintendo and no I do not have any ideas when it comes to this subject. If I had, I’ll not write about it on my blog. I’ll build a company around it.

Spiced up hardware will not get Nintendo anywhere. Who gives a damn about more white boxes in the living room? It is important to note that the difference will be what is it that you can do with this device that you could not do earlier? Wii controller just gave positional feedback. You could not get that from traditional controllers. Kinect gives a full skeleton recognition that no one could do earlier. While a good idea is important, getting good results, consistently is even more important for any hardware.

Musings of a 30 yr old – what if I did it differently

I turned 30 yrs a few weeks. I thought that it was time to write about all the things I’ve done and all I’ve not. For obvious reasons the only ones I mention here are the ones I would like to share.

Switched the school:

When I was in the 6th grade I had a terrible time with health. I used to have acute asthma and it flared up when we moved to our newly built house “Alwal” in Secunderabad area. My school was about 20 Kms from where we stayed. I barely attended 10 or so classes at St. Paul’s High School in the 6th grade. Given the fact that travel does not make things better for someone like me my father, against all protests from my mother, decided to move me to a school nearer to our place – Valerian Grammar High School. I have to say that it changed the way I saw the world. For while I was @ St. Paul’s I only thought about studies and all of my “friends” were competitors. I wanted to be 1st in the class but never achieved it. Most of the kids came from a middle class bg and hence they all studied hard. VGHS by contrast was full of the working class. Thus most of the kids came from poor educational bg. I came 2nd easily – inspite of having trouble with my health.

If I had continued studying @ St Paul’s I am sure I would have gone on to join Ramiah and eventually IITs – mostly because of the influence of the people around me and the studies oriented environment. VGHS, by contrast, made me question EVERYTHING. It included why the hell should I study. Coming 1st requires a lot of effort. 2nd by contrast was not bad – but I got time to do other things I loved. A 1st would mean sacrificing what I like for a badge. So essentially I would have turned into a competitive man – successful by all accounts and a different set of friends.

IIIT:

I got into the IIIT, Hyd on the first try. I don’t think it meant anything to me because I didn’t know what computers mean and what difference they make to mankind. Had I given another shot @ IIT, I am sure I would have hit   <500 rank and > 400 rank (hence no Computer Sciences). I am pretty sure that if I had gone down that path I would have gone West after applying for an MS/PhD and become one more NRI.

So essentially, I would have become an NRI, not living in India. My parents would have awesome photographs of me, my wife and maybe kid(s).

Picking Game Development as a career option:

As a Game Developer, I have a great time @ work. Never am I in a single location. I always get to think and work with the next best thing. However gamedev does not pay high flying salaries like MS/Google/Amazon do. I would have, in all probability, gone on to work for a large company in either telecommuncations software or banking software. However I would have definitely still continued to play video games. Working in a creative field definitely has an impact on me. I am ever restless and I feel quite irritated because there are so many things I can do but I cannot decide which ones to work on.

So essentially, I would have become a well paid Programme/Product Manager at a high flying company, I would own a Santro/Alto/City <or one of the expensive by typical alternatives>, would be very well versed with the organisational processes and would wear nothing other than formals 5 days a week.

Returning from South Korea:

GOD I love South Korea. I love Softmax. I would not have met the likes of Jack, Kwang Sub, Jackie, Xeeny, SRabbit, Zeppelin, Byung Jun, Il kun, Euray, Ryouma … and the list goes on. This doesn’t even include the many friends I made outside of work, especially the ones from Animal Rescue Korea. Had I not returned from Korea, I am not sure if I would be married to my lovely wife, sort of obviously. On the other hand I probably would have pretty much dropped anchor in Korea. It is a wonderful place where I would have been making more games in all probability online games. It also means that I would not be working for Sierra Atlantic (now a subsidiary of Hitachi Consulting btw) with the likes of Gopal. Working at SA taught me some valuable lessons – most of them non technical. I am responsible for the gaming vertical and that would NOT have been the case if I had continued to stay in Korea. Besides I realised that I am better at mobilising people, motivating then and ensuring that my team stays happy with what they are doing at work. I would have continued to think of myself as a one man army.

So essentially, I would have been a solo programmer, hacking away at code, probably fairer, would be visiting India on “vacations”, still going to XO bar and having fruit salad (mostly complimentary aka “service”) with Xeeny and Byung Jun, still training dogs and working with ARK, atleast 10 Kgs less than what I am right now.

Getting married to Kanchana:

I know for sure that there will be no one else who understands me better than my wife. I am pretty sure that I would have been forced to move and stay away from my parents. I don’t think I would have converted my pseudo wife into talking the way I do. In all probability she would be shorter than my wife who is quite tall for Indian standards. Would be spending loads of money on stupid shopping and cosmetics. Probably miserable is the word I am looking for.

Conclusion:

*phew* None of the above actually make me feel sad – just nostalgic and amused. I feel good about the decisions I took. Given a repeat performance I am sure I would take the same decisions all over again. Now for the main part – this article is just a musing. Do not try to tell me that I am wrong – it is just a musing. It is a castle in the air, salt in the water…

GTalk woes on Windows 7

GTalk seems to hang on my Win7 system everytime I receive a message/email notifiction. Had a hard time with this because it used to happen often and at times lasted for more than 3 mins. Did some digging around and most of them said Win 7 support “still not there”. Anyway, so I figured that if I disable notifications, it should fix my problem. Hunches work – and I struck gold. No more issues now. Settings->Notifications-> Disable all notifications should be checked (true). Should fix the problem if anyone else is/was facing the problems.