Archive for August, 2009

Date: August 25th, 2009
Cate: Regular
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Lake Compounce

We mentioned to Sharena about 5 years ago that maybe we’d bring her to an amusement park in the summer, but we never did and forgot all about it. She didn’t! So we finally went this year with her and a bunch of other people from Jenny’s family. We learned:

  1. Jenny still can’t go on rides – she didn’t somehow “get better”. Our third ride was the pirate ship, and that did her in for the rest of the day. She was even sitting in the middle!
  2. I still can – according to the kids this means I am not old yet. I liked “THUNDER AND LIGHTNING” and “BOULDER DASH” best.
  3. Somehow the person who was the most game for the scary rides was Alexis, even though she’s only 8! She would go on anything, and even sit right in the front car.
Date: August 20th, 2009
Cate: Geekism
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Last minute hacks

Here are a bunch of stories of really great last minute hacks that were needed to get a game out the door. I have perpetrated my share of these as well. On one project I worked on, we had an upcoming very high profile marketing launch. (how high profile? we rented this room at Lincoln Center – the same one used as the meeting room in the recently canceled bad show Kings) Anyway, just before that launch, we realized that due to some very low level bugs in our messaging infrastructure, some small percentage of messages were being lost. The cause was unknown, and the “real” fix would have taken more time than we had. So instead, I put in a small change. Send every message… no, not twice, that wouldn’t be quite awesome enough… no, I sent every message in TRIPLICATE! Worked like a charm.

Date: August 15th, 2009
Cate: Video Games
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Scariest Game Music

Prompted by this entry at Crummy about video game music medleys, I went and listened to some old game music and realized that some of the songs that have stuck in my head throughout the years were accompanied by some of the scariest moments. Here are some that play in my head AT LEAST once per day, in trendy “TOP $N” format:

#3 Scariest Moment: Dracula

Castlevania was the first game I ever played where, when you finally manage to kill the final end guy, after weeks of playing to reach him… HE COMES BACK TO LIFE IN AN INCREDIBLY MORE SCARY FORM and immediately jumps on you with huge sharp claws and you die. This is the music that plays as that happens. It took many more weeks to figure out how to kill the alternate form of Dracula. The secret, which is to use the Holy Water, came to me in a dream. For reals.

#2 Scariest Moment: About that cake…

In Portal, throughout the whole game you have been promised, and I quote, “delicious cake”. When you finally finish the last set of obstacles and your Aperture Science Unstationary Platform rounds a corner, instead of cake you find… the oven.

And the #1 Scariest Moment is: MOTHERBRAIN

Anybody who has played Super Metroid remembers this moment with perfect clarity. You have descended to Tourian, in the depths of planet Zebes, and found Mother Brain, in exactly the same setting as the original Metroid. The same way to destroy it works too: missiles through the glass. It doesn’t even take that many before Mother Brain explodes, and you get ready to celebrate. But then, after an eerie pause, this music begins to play and Mother Brain comes back to life in a screen-filling, and seemingly invincible form. None of your weapons work, and Mother Brain keeps shooting you with an energy draining beam that pins you to the back wall and leaves you immobilized. No matter how many E-Tanks you have, all you can do is sit there and watch them all be drained away. To raise the drama even further, Mother Brain shuts off the beam when you have like 10 energy points left, giving you a few moments to helplessly pound on the buttons, or scream and swing the controller around over your head, depending on your panic level. Lots of games do the “that was only a hologram… now my TRUE FORM” thing with the final end guy, Castlevania was maybe the first, but I say Super Metroid did it the best.