Three years later and one year in Japan.

So, the last update I made…was over 3 years ago when I got my first internship in the game industry. Fast forward to now and way too much has happened. I could probably write a few pages even trying to sum it up. This is going to be incredibly brief, but why not. During the first two years I ended up working on a few games (Tinkerbox, Fieldrunners, Fieldrunners 2) and also graduating college. Since then, to sum it up very very briefly, at last years GDC a Western game developer said something really rude to a Japanese game developer in front of a room full of people and caused a bunch of drama on the internet. To completely gloss over all the details, because of that I got a job working on Unity mobile games in Japan (if you’ve ever met me, you probably know the story). However, that’s not really what this post is about. I’ve been living and working in Japan for one whole year now and thought it’d be amusing to take note of all the highlights I’ve experienced over the past year. Enjoy.

Notable highlights of my first year in Japan, in no particular order:
- Got my first smartphone (yes really).
- Moved twice in 1 year.
- Lived in two different prefectures in Japan (Kanagawa and Tokyo).
- Got my own apartment for the first time.
- Learned about Japans up and coming sharehouse culture… (thanks Geekhouse people)
- Lived in a sharehouse for the first time.
- Lived alone for the first time.
- Lived away from my hometown for the first time.
- Went back to Boston as a “vaction-er” for the first time.
- Learned how to communicate in a Japanese company/work with Japanese coworkers.
- Received company business cards for the first time. They’re pretty nice and I’ve already run out of them.
- Went on a date in another language for the first time. That was interesting.
- Learned a ton about game development in Unity.
- Learned to both love and hate Unity at the same time.
- Used Unity for the first time in a big team and “professional” environment.
- Got the hang of using Lambda functions in C#.
- Went to Unity Unite event for the first time.
- Went to Tokyo Game Show for the first time.
- “Participated” in my first Tokyo Game Show.
- Met a ton of awesome Japanese devs who worked on a games I’m a huge fan of.
- Met a ton of awesome Japanese indie developers.
- Met a ton of awesome Canadian indie developers.
- Met Keiji Inafune (Megaman) and Koji Igarashi (Symphony of the Night), that was pretty cool.
- Entered IGF for the first time.
- Made the dumbest game I’ve ever made.
- Did a presentation for the first time since I was in college, in half Japanese and half English. It went okay.
- Had 8 people from the US visit me. 5 of which had never been to Japan before.
- Climbed Mt. Takao.
- Met a ton of awesome people, both local and foreigner. Thanks guys.
- Worked on Christmas eve/day for the first time in my life.
- Experienced Japanese Christmas for the first time in my life. It was…different.
- Grew out my facial hair the longest it’s ever been in my life. It wasn’t a good look for me.
- Bought a new folding bike.
- Got my bike towed by the police for the first time.
- Programmed, a lot.
- Found and went to more than a few super-sentos.
- Experienced the biggest earthquake I’ve ever felt in December (won’t be the last).
- Drank all night, on more than one occasion.
- Ate a lot of awesome ramen.
- Learned a lot of Japanese. For example: 社畜, the difference between 運動 and うんこ, and ヤバい.
- Learned what ガチャ (Gacha) games are. It made me a little sad inside.
- Learned how powerful Puzzle and Dragons is right now. Also made me a little sad inside.
- Went to a club in Japan for the first time. I didn’t like them in the US and Japan is no exception.
- Blacked out during the day for the first time in my life. …Yoyogi man…
- Bought a Japanese 3DS.
- Experienced the launch of a new Pokemon and Monster Hunter game. That was pretty cool.
- Experienced the launch of a new Kamen Rider. I love oranges.
- Got really really out of shape.
- Went to some really cool chiptunes shows.
- Went to a live show where the lead guitarist thought he was Bruce Lee.
- Played Werewolf in Japanese. That was really hard.
- Built a mini 4WD and went to a mini 4WD event.
- …learned what the heck mini 4WD was.
- Went to a Cat Cafe.
- Started using twitter a lot more seriously.
- Rode in a non US car for the first time. Weird.
- Went to the beach for the first time in many many years. …it rained.
- Experienced the death of not one, but two Peter Parkers. That’s some bullshit really.
- Experienced a Japanese summer for the first time. Not as bad as I expected actually.
- Experienced a Japanese winter for the first time. Mild.
- Experienced the advantages and disadvantages of being an Asian foreigner in Japan.
- Did a complete lap on the Yamanote line in one sitting. I was playing a 3ds game and wasn’t in a rush I think.
- Went to both Summer and Winter Comiket. I don’t think I wanna go again…
- Visited the Cup Noodle museum. Surprisingly one of the best museums I’ve ever been to.
- Went to a Bon Odori for the first time.
- Saw Japanese fireworks for the first time. Two at once actually…
- Went to my first Hanami party.
- Went to a snack bar with my coworkers. That was…interesting.
- Found American style pizza in Tokyo (Rocco’s in Oji).
- Taught a Japanese person never to use the word YOLO.

There’s probably a ton more, but this is all that comes to mind at the moment.

Goals for this year, in no particular order:
- Actually have fun and relax more.
- Learn more Japanese.
- Ship that damn game.
- Play more videogames.
- Exercise and eat better. It’s gotten pretty bad…

Hopefully the next update I make won’t be…3 years later. I’d also really like to do an overhaul of this entire thing at some point. It certainly looks over 5 years old. Here’s to another year in Japan.

LOOKS LIKE WE MADEEEE ITTTT!!!

So, it’s really been a long while since I’ve posted here (what’s new, har har). So, I’ve made it finally. I got an internship at Subatomic Studios over here in Cambridge as a Software Engineering Intern. Their flagship game is Fieldrunners, one of the most successful iPhone games out there. The work is tough but it’s really challenging. I feel like 80% – 90% of what I’ve learned in college thus far is pretty much useless here. So I’ve officially achieved my childhood dream at age 21. And it’s been….hmmm about a year more or less since I started seriously using this blog. I think that’s pretty damn cool. Right now I’m also working at Draper Labs as a Database Application Programmer. Let’s hope I don’t die.

So I’ve learned a lot along the way here in this last year, but I feel like my actual game dev journeys only just started. So, LET’S DO THIS.

OH YEAH! Meanwhile, a week ago I participated in Immigration Jam at the GAMBIT Lab. Basically, make a game about immigration, in even LESS time then we had for Global. It was alot of fun, and the other programmer I worked with (Alec Thomson) was awesome as hell to work with. Besides the RIDICULOUS ton of music assets we had to deal with, it went pretty well.

You can play our game, Super Mega Immigration Office 2000 here:
http://web.mit.edu/alect/www/portfolio/immigration.htm

So, working 12hrs a week, I haven’t had much time to do anything lately so, if it’s another while till I’m back again, well maybe that’s not THAT unusual…

Work work work dabu.

So life’s been pretty busy lately. In the span of a month I’ve had a phone interview with a game development company, been hired and unhired by another company, and assigned 8 labs and a research paper for a single class. Not to mention the need to find a new co-op.

A few weeks ago I had a phone interview with a local game development company (won’t mention who). It’s definitely the farthest I’ve ever gotten trying to get into the game development industry. It was pretty cool, difficult, and very enlightening. I submitted sample code from Block Legend and some school projects. Basically got drilled to hell and back on them too. In the end I was rejected though due to not having enough professional C++ experience. Well, I suppose it was granted, as I messed up a few questions as well. I’d also rather not be seen as a liability when taken onto a team either. The interviewer wasn’t even some super old guy either, but a younger-ish guy and someone I feel who had been in my shoes at one point as well. I felt pretty bad at first but he offered me a lot of sage advice that I’ll definitely take to heart in the future. Basically:

- Keep making demos
- Practice practice practice
- Keeping on going to local Game Dev events
- Cleaner coding style
And there’s a lot more, but I don’t feel like writing too much more on it right now.

With that I feel my chances of finding anymore opportunities in game dev around the area pretty slim. But as luck would have it, I was contacted on LinkedIn by a Business Process Management firm about a possible opportunity. Went in for an interview and did pretty well.

Interviewer: So, what do you know about Actionscript?
Me: Oh man, don’t even get me STARTED.

Thank you Global Game Jam, so so much. Also was able to answer some Algorithms questions that I couldn’t answer during my previous interview with the game dev company. What a difference a week or two makes in a curriculum. So I was offered the job! And I gladly took it. All was good in the hood (haha why am I using this expression) until a few days later the recruiter contacted me that they couldn’t take me anymore as it would eliminate their ability to hire a full time employee as well. So, that was out. And here I am as the job hunt continues.

Sadly, I haven’t been able to do much game dev work on personal projects due to working on school assignments and searching for a fall co-op.

- 10 Labs
- A project on networking a multithreaded ray tracing algorithmin Java
- A 8-10 page paper on said research project
- A presentation on said project and paper
- A presentation and poster board on A* Algorithm
- 2 Tests
- 2 Finals

All in the span of 3 weeks, WOO. Ended up missing my first Post Mortem in almost a year due to working on some of this stuff, feels bad man.

Anyway, bah, what is this Livejournal? This is about devving and programming and junk, so no whining.  I’ve decided to stop working on Block Legend and create a new project. I wanna make something Student IGF worthy for November. Sadly I feel like I’ve run out of ideas pretty much, not to mention not sure what engine/platform I’d like to use.

Reasons I’ve Decided Not to Work on Block Legend Anymore:
- Importing to Visual Studio 2008 to 2010 to 2008 again screwed it up pretty bad and it only compiles half the time now
- Still a bunch of memory leaks EVERYWHERE and dangling pointers all over the place
- Utilizes no garbage collection, hence the many many memory leaks
- This project was more of a learning experience and indeed I learned alot. I hadn’t touched C++ that seriously since Freshman year which was about more than 2 years ago and used a lot of things I hadn’t learned in those classes and just learned myself.
- I used roguelikelib, which I feel was kinda cheating, but it did help a lot and I learned the ins and outs of procedural map generation and pathfinding, and tile based movement, and so on and so forth (or so I thought, as stuff still ended up spawning inside of walls and what not despite all the checks I made upon optimizing the map generator)\
- The code, it’s a MESS! I honestly haven’t worked on it in about a month and I’ve gone back and well, I can hardly make sense of it anymore! I remember I tried really hard to get it working for the PAX East Made in MA Party and did a few things here and there to make it at least look good, and well, haha that was a bad idea (I got textures randomly instantiated within functions that are called over and over in order, that was retarded)
- In principle, it’s not a very practical game, you may as well be playing tetris really. There’s just way too much going on, people forget you’re fighting stuff and you have skills with mana and what not. It’s just, not very smooth. The reason why Puzzle Quest works is that it’s turn based and people have time to evaluate their skills and current status while contemplating over their next move. The only reason I could play it so fast was because I’ve played the hell out of it for 100+ hours and know the ins and outs of it.

In the end, I came really far with it and I’m pretty happy with what I learned. It was also cool that I came that far working only by myself on it. A lot of the ideas I’ve had are pretty derivative and/or combinations of current games so, yeah, time to do that Indie thing and try and make something original for a change. But what?!

Rough Schedule? If I’d realistically want to enter this thing
So it’s July 18th now, I’ll give myself maybe another week of brainstorming for a concept..
July 18th to 24th: Concept brainstorming
July 25th to 31st: Design brainstorming
August 1st to 15th: Technical brainstorming, planning, design tweaking
August 16th to October 31st: After after 5:00pm code like hell?
November 1st: Student IGF Deadline

Or maybe try and get a team together as well? If only most people I know weren’t so unmotivated and lazy…But who can blame em? Summer, schoolwork, life. Who wouldn’t wanna just go to the local bar and throw back a few beers right now, I sure wouldn’t mind.

This game, Continuity by Chalmers University of Technology won last years Student IGF. It’s a FLASH GAME and implementation doesn’t look terribly hard to do, but the design is cool and interesting. There were other games such as Devils Turning Fork which had big teams from actual game dev schools and look like they took a lot of work to do (pseudo visual sound waves? I think yes). So, maybe I got a shot?

Unity Day!

So I went to the Boston Unity Groups first meeting yesterday, which was Unity Day. They had a speaker come in from Unity and talked about the new features of 3.0. Gave a few tutorials, had some food. Good times were had by all.

With that, I really wanted to make something in it so heres my halfway crappy attempt at a GeometryWars/Zelda/3Ddotgameheroes mashup that I did in half a day. The models actually took up most of my time…

You can play this game HERE! On this site! Yay exporting to web player. It’s a bit hard, collisions are kinda terrible, camera needs work and sword controls don’t swing very well. But hey, half a day while still mucking around with it? Not bad.

Back, again.

So it’s been awhile, again. This seems to be some kind of trend. Anyway, after moving into a new apartment and dealing with all this other stuff I’ve finally gotten settled back. Crazy what can happen over just one semester. I’ll be updating again and working on stuff much more now that I’m done with work (last Friday was my last official full day). Fall I also do another Co-op. Let’s see where I can go with getting an actual internship at a game development company this time.
Still working on Block Legend. I finally have a real artist now, so let’s do this!

Also working on another project in Unity. Seem’s like a good engine to go more into considering it can now export to every system and platform.

Brief I know, but I’m writing this in the school library. Much to come. Very much more to come.

PAX Made in MA Party

Woooooah. Got a table for the PAX East Made in MA Party tonight at the Microsoft Building. I, John Larkin, and Andrew Derosier will be there with demos (and this cool poster I made). I’ll be showing off a really rough prototype of Block Legend for the first time to people other than myself. Time to gauge the project so far….

Boy I hope I take home that blue ribbon at the high school science fair tonight! Haven’t made a three sided poster board in so long….

GDC 2010: A Postmortem

So I guess I’ll link to the last few days so people can refer to them:

Day -1 My Birthday
Day 0 Pre GDC
Day 1 GDC, THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
Day 2 GDC, HOLY CRAP MY FEET HATE ME
Day 3 GDC, Revenge of the Game Devs

But I’ll guess I’ll say my thoughts on the whole thing I guess. GDC probably has to be one of the most, if not most influential moments of my life (besides my first videogame). Just put a lot of things in perspective for me. I met a lot of people but I feel I definitely could have done a lot better. Felt like it put my skill level in perspective as well.  I haven’t made too many games, but at least I can program, which a lot of game designer kids would kill for the ability for. Meeting the masters out there also really hit me with how much more I’ll always have to learn. People who know me probably know I say this a lot but, I’m glad I went into this field. Even if I can’t make it into the industry and have to work at a financial firm with a shirt and tie doing financial databases or stock software, I think I could still be happy with being able to make games at all in some form or another on the side just by myself. Even if it’s small right now, glad to be a part of this crazy community.


Long posts, for all you who read the entire thing, thanks for reading I suppose, probably back to being more technical though I suppose. I wrote this in a word document and it came out to be 7 pages, single spaced. I sort of miss writing essays…only sort of.

GDC 3: Revenge of the Game Devs.


Went to a programming roundtable based on Issues Making Technical Tools. The talk really interesting. Wish I had gone to more roundtables honestly. A lot on good interfacing and datamining for usability.


Went to a career fair panel called A Contrarian on Getting into the Game Industry. This was the guy who balanced Street Fighter 2 HD Remix. Man, I’m terrible with names. I loved his style though. Basically a no bullshit kind of talk that a lot of people who want to get into the game industry need. Boiled down to three points: Go to Things, Do Stuff, Get Better. There’s an article called Unskilled and Unaware that he brought to our attention.


Next panel I went to was Publishing as a Student by the Portal Girl, the PB Winterbottom guys, and thatgamecompany. It really motivated me hearing this talk though. It all seems so feasible with digital distribution and what not. Doing what they did is all just a matter of working hard, and how much you want it. Goes back to the last panel, Go to Things, Do Stuff, Get Better. I have a year and a half left, let’s see what I can do.


Went to a roundtable on Why C++ is a Bad Language for Game Development. People were heated up. Most of the people there were there to defend C++ actually. There really is no perfect language, nor will there ever be, in a few peoples opinions. Who knows.


And that was the last panel I went to, thanks GDC. It cost me an arm and a leg to come out here, time off work, and a ton of exhaustion, but it was worth it. So worth it.

Haha yes, I am quite aware this is a small post, but much work to do right now. Not to mention, PAX is pretty soon….ah jeez.

GDC, HOLY CRAP MY FEET HATE ME.

Late nights, early mornings. That’s GDC for ya. Had Jack in the Box for the first time the night before too, interesting stuff. Don’t have em in Boston.


Started off my day by checking out the panel on Real Time Cutscenes in Final Fantasy 13. This team is so talented. Everyone’s been talking crap about FF13, but they put a lot of care and detail into the game, gotta give em credit for that, I sure will. The speaker talked about these 3 teams.


Basically, anywhere where you can’t move freely, is a cutscene, that was acted out by someone. All of them.


The cutscene is then crappy rendered on screen using the motion captures from the actors.


Some props they used.


Some resource documents used for MoCAP prep. Scripts, and etc.

Afterwards they overlay the real models, textures, and use a Phoneme Analyzer to sync up the lips to the voices. It was pretty impressive. I had just played through an hour of Final Fantasy 13 before I left to go to GDC. Seeing how they made that exact scene from ground up made my day.


Went to the keynote talk given by Sid Meier on the Psychology of Game Design. A lot of things on balancing and bitchy playtesters. That was pretty funny.


And apparently, now I know everything. Thank you Sid Meier.


Went to the IGDA general meeting. We’ve come a long way. Congrats to Darius on getting on the board. You’ve done a lot for n00bs like me really.


And then, I went to the Final Fantasy 13 Panel, oh jeez…where do I begin. So the director comes out, and says, HEY, BUY FINAL FANTASY 13. I’m like, haha, ah that’s funny. HEY, YOU GUYS ON LAPTOPS, BUY FINAL FANTASY 13 ON AMAZON RIGHT NOW. Oh, haha, ohhhh kay, that’s enough. I’M GONNA SHOW YOU A COMMERCIAL NOW. Huh…? OH THERES AMERICANS IN THE AUDIENCE, I’LL SHOW THE AMERICAN ONE TOO! Hey, what about, the game? Wait, huh? Were game devs here, we were interested enough to come to your panel, course were gonna buy the game, thanks…I guess?


And then he starts, he goes over some of the history of final fantasy and his own history. And then he went on to Final Fantasy 13. The whole thing was more of a Post Mortem on Final Fantasy 13 than an explanation of the Crystal Mythos and how it relates to all the games, is what I had expected.


The whole reduced emphasis on towns.


And this slide, it hurt me pretty bad to see this. Me and the people sitting around me, just kinda, looked at each other in disbelief. Was he making a joke? Huh? Then again, they own Eidos now and such, maybe those are the only “western” games they seem to know about now. My heart sank.

Anyway, then he played that Leona Lewis song and closed up for questions. The first guy, this crazy nerdy asian guy (no, I’m not talking about me), RAN up to the mic saying, “I spent  120$ US on the Japanese version because I hate the voices and that stupid Leona Lewis Song. Why did you make the game so linear, blah blah”, and so on and so forth. Forgot what the response was, but it wasn’t a really cohesive answer. Add that to the crappy translation, and well, I walked out because I couldn’t watch anymore.

My friend Rich said I should have asked “Hey, I’ve been making comparisons as well with JRPGs like say, Street Fighter 4 to WRPGs like Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age”. Maybe that would have tipped him off. Honestly, probably stupid but I really wanted to work for Square Enix someday, but not like this. They have such an amazing development team too, it’s a bit of a shame. Bitter but, these are all just my opinions. From my point of view, he kind of went against everything Sid Meier said in his talk about Game Design.



I went to the Game Design Challenge 2010. The theme this year? A game involving Real World Perma Death. I was wondering if one of them was going to kill someone. I probably wasn’t alone. Among the challengers were Jenova Chen of Flower and Kim Swift of Portal. Jenova Chen won with his game Heaven(Death)ville. A stock market facebook game based on buying your dead friends. Hilarity ensued.


Went to the GANG (Game Audio Network Guild) awards afterwards. The Audio community is so tight with each other, nice guys they are. Again, Uncharted 2 kicked some more ass.


Then I saw Palm Trees for what might have been the first time in my life.