Saturday, December 20, 2008

Let there be sound!

As a joint b-day present for ourselves we got a receiver and speakers. I spent a few hours hooking it all up so I'm posting a picture of my handy work. (FYI, it's a lot of work to split and strip wires with just a knife (and painful when you poke yourself))

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Mmmmm, cake

For those of you who were not there to share, this is the cake that I made for my birthday. It was delicious.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Career Crossroads

Hey everyone

I apoligize for the late update, its been pretty hectic but things should be dying down now. The game is progressing at a awesome rate so I'd like to share the current build.

We're currently in beta and this is what we presented last week to the class. Theres 2 installers a complete installer with all needed pre-reqs (DX9, XNA2.0, .NET2.0) and a light installer with just the game

Complete Installer

Light Installer

And the game website can be found here

We've added new weapons and another layer of polish, its just fun to play!

So on to the interesting stuff, well the job related stuff.

After the Amaze presentation we were giving design tests, it was like some 3D action beatem up game where we had to design a level and justify why we did what we did. It was interesting.

The Bungie programming tests consisted of 5 questions, none of which were too hard once you started working on them. I've simplified the questions but here they are in a general sense
1) Reverse a string
2) Create a copy of a linked list that also has random pointers in to the list
3) Given 2 points and 2 "links" of particular length find a solution that connects both points
4) Create a Boggle solver
5) Create a physics simulation for a 3D rocket game.

I was also contacted by BigHugeGames and asked to take their programmers test. We had 4 hours to complete it from the moment they mailed it out. They gave us a frame work for a 2D zombie eating brains game. Its really really simple / basic using AscII graphics (read text based). We had to add a "zombie killer" actor in to the game world that would seek out zombies and kill them. I managed to do well enough on this test to warrent a phone interview later.

I also had an interview with Aristen. They're a startup that is aiming to build tools / middleware for game companies. Its essentially 2 guys with years and years of experience (1 guy founded Monolith makers of F.E.A.R.) It was a neat 2 hour interview. Aristen would later on extend me a job offer. I'd decline this offer after my MS interview as detailed next

My MS interview (round 2) was with 2 different groups. Games Test Organization and Xbox Platform. It was like an 8 hour day but it seemed to move at a pretty good pace. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Strangely enough this was totally different then my last MS interview where I got drilled. This was more of a test of personality then pure problem solving (I did have to solve some problems). The "technical" questions I was asked are as follows
1) Find the number of "flipped" bits in a binary number
2) Find the angle between the Hour and Minute hands of a clock

I was also asked to test a mythical "VHS" Addon for the 360. The rest of the questions were personality related, like whats your strength and weakness, what would be your top 5 qualities for a candidate, have you had problems in teams and what you did about them blah blah.

So the Interview was on a Thursday and I was told I was wanted by both groups the next day and that I had to decide on which group I wanted on the following Tuesday and decide on the offer the Friday after >< I decided on the platform group. The job position sounded more interesting and less "Testing". They're working on the 360 Dashboard / OS / Live / Marketplace and features regarding that. Not game development, but important to the 360. Another interesting Tidbit, on the Monday before I had to decide which group I wanted to go with (I had already decide platform at this point) I get invited to lunch with a senior manager of the platform group. We have lunch and have a good discussion about games, the industry and the 360 and its future. After lunch I get invited backed up to his office where he gives a new 360, 3games, 120gig HDD. I kid you not, that was pretty crazy.

Now here's where things get tricky. After I got the offer from MS, I had an interview with ArenaNet. The ArenaNet interview was a 2 hour programming test followed by 2 hour normal interview discussion. After the interview I told them about the MS offer and I needed an answer the next day if they wanted to make an offer. Well a whole 30 minutes after I left I got a phone call of them telling me they wanted to make an offer and some brief details. So I tell MS and ask for a extension and they give me the weekend. My whole weekend is spent debating between the two jobs, asking for people's opinions and advice as well as getting more information from the two companies. It was a really tough situation to be in but at the same time a really really good situation to be in. This decision is likely to effect the rest of my life and career, pretty big decision to make eh? I really agonized over it all weekend, I don't think Nicole wanted to hear any more from me ><

In the end I decided on ArenaNet. Why you ask?
Well I originally came to DigiPen to learn how to make games and get in to the industry. ArenaNet is a well known game company with top industry members (Former Blizzard). While the MS position sounded really good they aren't working on games exactly. Both have equal growth opportunities (even though in different directions) and offer very different experiences (Mega corp vs ~150 people office). There wasn't a clear answer in this decision so I had to fall back on to my roots and look at the bigger picture of why I'm down here.

So there you have it.
Now that the job hunts over, perhaps I can catch up in the rest of my homework and projects :)
And I returned the Xbox and whatever to MS, I couldn't accept it after declining there offer.

- Mike Out
PS: Go Flames Go! Playoffs are around the corner!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Post GDC and CareerDay!

Sorry for the lack of Updates.
I've been super super busy every since GDC ended.

GDC was pretty good. Got really good reception at the Career Pavilion as I handed out Resumes and what not. The sessions and lectures at GDC were pretty okay, but I didn't have too much time to see them cause of the volunteering.

What was really cool thou was that one of the CA's (Conference Associate, AKA Volunteer) brought his Japanese Wii and Brawl. And so hosted a large tournament for all the CAs. I ended up Winning :D
Videos and stuff - I'm Lee
Finals Video

So after GDC I was busy with followups, school, game and most importantly, my Nephew! Jack, Elaine and Desmond came to visit again for a few days it was a bunch of fun. We also celebrated my Sister's 29th Birthday by going out to Crabpot. They literally dump the food on the table :)

So after they let I've spent the last week preparing for CareerDay at Digipen. CareerDay is when companies are invited to come to Digipen to see student displays and setups. We had to setup a Trifold and put on information about us and our game. So we had some Screenshots, our BIOs and stuff like that. We also had resumes and business cards on hand. The Trifold was a bit of a pain. We got a $50 budget from the school for printing. So we printed nice colored screen shots and logos etc... But Kinkos was being a pain, well rather hte people their werent that nice. I had to make several trips to get proofs, redo some pictures etc... Biggest annoyance is that they only want PDF files, else they charge $2.50 per file to convert... blah

Anyway CareerDay was nuts. Started at 11am and ended at 6pm. It was non-stop talking with people. Got more business cards and people took in our resumes. I had a short 20 minute 1v1 (well 2v1) interview with ArenaNet. Also my team is scheduled to present to Amaze Entertainment on Tuesday at their offices.

Last Thursday I also received another notification about interviewing with MS again and on Friday I received a programmers test from Bungie. So much stuff happening!

Oh and Smash Bros Brawl was officially released and I wish I had time to play it ><

- Mike Out
PS: Sooo Busy (and Stressed)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Off to GDC - Try my Game!

Just a quick post before GDC

We have a running version of our game found on my team mates website.
Links to videos on the game

Actual Playable version

The game REQUIRES the following external programs to be installed before running
XNA2.0 redist
Directx 9.0c
.NET redist

We got artists so its awesome.
Any and all feedback is appreciated on the game!
We're currently at Alpha so theres much more to be done, this is just a taste of things to come :)


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Digipen Week 5 and 6

Busy times to be had
GDC is next week so we've been gearing up for that. I should have a alpha version of my game to share with everyone next week so stay tuned! Its changed quite a bit especially with all the new art we got in (our artists are so awesome)

As sorta mentioned last post, I didn't get a job offer from MS. All the same since I totally blew it, I wouldn't have hired me.

Nicole's been working, I've been busy with school and GDC prep stuff. GOt new business cards made, checked out what companies will be there and making code samples and resumes etc..

Haven't been playing too many games. The odd WoW raid and Rockband here and there. Mostly I'm just waiting for Brawl. Well theres more to add about in regards to RockBand. Greg actually gave me $20 to buy some new songs off Xbox live. He figures since he plays it so much at Parties (and I usually just leave RockBand at there place since they're still partying and I'm too tired). Like at the last party he said he didn't sleep till about 6:30am o_o. I left around 1ish...

Anyway, GDC GDC GDC GDC GDC ahoy!
- Mike out

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Weeks 3, 4 and More!

Sorry for the lack of update, been a bit busy.

Run down... School's picking up we got artists lots of work to do on game. Last week I had an interview with MS. It was crazy. So lets break things down a little bit.

Nicole (finally) started work after all the Visa, background checks and weather issues. Oh weather issues! It snowed last Monday, city stopped and that was that. Nicole was suppose to start that day but her manager (like alot of people) were working from home that day. Maybe Nicole can post more details about her job, but for the most part I think its underneath her.

As per school, its been busy. The artists are awesome and they've drafted up some really cool concept art. We've nailed down an art style for the game and I hope we can really get there art in to our game easily. Right now we don't have a completed infrastructure but we have some stuff. My other classes are going fairly well. I have my first assignment in RayTracing due and it seems to be a killer. RayTracing in itself is a pretty simple concept, but some of the crazy math you can do to improve it is nuts and thats what we gotta learn.

Okay now for the MS interview stuff. My interview was last Thursday and it was nuts. I arrived at MS Building 19 at 8am (urgh not a morning person). After being briefed by the recruiter I got shuttled away to Microsoft Game Studios office located near Redmond Town Center. By being shuttled, I mean I was personally driven to the building, not the least bit intimidating or nerve wrecking...

So I meet the first interview, hes a Lead Developer in the publishing department at MGS. Tells me about what they do and how they work with developers and improve their code to work well with the xbox360. First question he gives me is code "isPowerOfTwo". Pretty simple, just use bit manipulation check for a single "1" bit in the input. Next question completely baffles me and I feel like I'm failing ><. Basically the question is to read a file once, and output any random paragraph. The catch is that ALL paragraphs must have an equal chance of being selected, you can only store 2 paragraphs at any time and you have no idea how long the file is. Sounds confusing eh? Trust me it was.

Immediately after that I go to the next person, turns out hes from Vancouver and his first question was "Whats your favorite Hockey player?" After some chit chat he asks me to code word reversal from a sentence. Its a simple problem, I do that okay, but I really do it too slow in my opinion urgh.

Next guy, totally drills me on my Physics and Game architecture code that I've written. I think I said 10 times that our architecture wasn't that good and tried to explain why we did it the way we did, but if I were to do it again I'd change certain things etc... Next he asks me solve a problem in which there are 1000 objects. In an optimum solution, find a way to return the largest 64 objects. I totally got blind sided by the question in regards to the previous in which we were talking about my physics engines and spatial partitioning. So I was doing stuff to reduce the size of the list but that totally steered me in the wrong direction. Eventually I run out of time and I'm not really in the right direction.

Last guy asks me to solve a simple collision problem (since I got physics all over my resume) and he drills me about what I'm doing 0_o. I mean what I'm doing is right, its just not optimum and he goes thru all that. Then he gives me another problem. 2 Spheres exist in space with a position, radius and velocity. Find out if they collide and if they do, find there interval of collision (like if they were ghosts and passed thru each other, when are they touching). So I start off Okay but sorta get stuck. I feel really pressured and my brain just craps out. I start heading down the right path but I run out of time.

Next is lunch, which was alot better. I got to talk casually to the last guy and its all good. My brain is fairly dead at this point and I can't think of any good conversation topics beyond a few things. The day pretty much ended after lunch, I was told that my interview "schedule" was complete and that was it. Sorta BS, I failed enough that they didn't want me to see anyone else (from what I've heard this is usually the case, no point wasting people's time when I've already "failed out")

So recap:
Interviewed with 4 people
lasted about 6 hours
solving problems on a white board
my nerves FAIL me hard
My right arm got sore from all the white board coding ><

Anyway, I'm trying to put the interview behind me. It was good practice and I learned alot which is more then I can ask for. Oh, Nicole and I also got a free dinner out of the interview thing. Since normally I would've been flown in if I didn't live in Redmond I get an expense account. On Friday Nicole and I went to dinner at Jeem (Chinese Restaurant) I get 40 dollars for dinner from MS, so we ordered a bunch of food and took left overs :)
The cook there was overly nice, like a super friendly Chinese Uncle (place wasn't busy, we were having an earlyish 5:30 dinner right after school / work). He got soup on the house for us (not like it mattered) and kept on making conversation with us. It was pretty funny. Our meal came out to like $32 so I tipped the remaining $8.

And thats all for now
- Mike out

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Restaurant Review: Inchin's Bamboo Garden

One line summary: OMG, my mouth is burning!

So yesterday we went out to Inchin's Bamboo Garden because one of Mike's classmates got a job and will be moving away from Seattle shortly. Looking at the menu it seems to be sort of Chinese cuisine maybe szechuan or hunan style given how most items were described with containing chili peppers or being spicy.

So their menu has spicy ratings. Dishes with one pepper were spicy, dishes labeled with two were supposed to be very spicy. "Ok" I thought to myself, "I better stick to something that doesn't have any peppers beside it." I ordered the vegetable lettuce wraps. The description read "Chopped vegetables in a black bean sauce with ice cold lettuce."

Oh boy was it ever a good thing I didn't try to be daring with a spicy item. I took a couple bites of this, and then my mouth was burning! My nose was running, my eyes were tearing. It hurt! There must've been chili peppers in that lettuce wrap stuffing (ok, I guess chili peppers are a vegetable too). This wasn't a short spike of heat like wasabi, it was a long lingering pain. Took me like 15 minutes to recover.

It turns out pretty much every dish there was full of chili peppers and red pepper flakes. So if you're like me and don't have a tolerance for hot foods, this restaurant is NOT the place for you. (Some other people in our party like the food and the heat, but it left me in tears)

I guess the only other thing of note is that you can only split the bill 5-ways, so if you have a large party like we did payment because somewhat of a complicated operation.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Spring 2008: Week 1 and 2

A bit late on the week2 update!

Week1 was uneventful, week 2 was awesome.

Got my xbox360, and lots and lots of RockBand! Had to mods the drums (Foam over the drum heads) so they don't make as much noise. Don't want to upset the neighbors (and my ear drums). Rock Band parties last a bit far too long and I suck at singing.

School wise something cool happened. We actually got 4 Artists to work on our game. FOUR, considering its only four programmers. Suresh started panicking a bit since we now need to build tools or have some sort of system for them to get there art in. Hopefully we'll be able to get all there assets in to show off our game.

In workish related news, Nicole has now managed to get a Job at MS (Thru volt) She officially starts on Monday.
As for me, I got contacted by MS (again) and I have in-person interviews coming up. The positioning a Software Developer Engineer (SDE) in games. More news on this as it develops.

Thats all for now.

- Mike

Thursday, January 10, 2008

And We're Back!

Home again to MS Land

Nicole and I returned to Redmond after a three week holiday in Calgary. I think I gained about 4-5lbs from the trip with all the food and yummy stuff. Lots of stuff happening, constantly busy. So to summarize my trip I shall do it in an awards type thing

Most Missed
Desmond, that pudgie booger. I hope he starts moving soon, he could use the work out! Runner up is not having to do school work... but technically I was suppose to do some school work but never did

Most Not Missed
Living with my parents and not having a car or usable phone. Its a PITA but what else are you gonna do when visiting?

Most Bizarre
Ordering Internet for my parents for 1 month. Shaw was also doing a Holiday Promo, Free Modem and Free first month. Ahahaha, but yeah I need my internet ><. Runner up is after emptying a Large Suitcase for gifts and items for other people (Extra GH3 Ebayed) that we returned with full suit cases still. Most of it was Christmas Chocolate

Most Game Played
I honestly though I'd get some more time to finish up Mario Galaxy. However that is not that case, I spent nearly ALL my gaming time playing Guitar Hero 3. Thanks for lending me the extra Guitar Jack! All parties were GH, GH and more GH even though I had 4 Wii remotes for other Wii goodness

Best Non Video Game Game
Played a few rounds of poker with the Uncles on Christmas and New Years Eve. Won 2 games, made some coin. Good times. Playing my uncles is a bit tedious but winning is still sweet.

Best Cute
This Award goes to Desmond for his Cuteness. I mean just look at him! (BTW, Jack upload more pictures kk thx) Elaine and Jack gave out a Christmas Card with a picture of Desmond in the front in his Santa Suit all smiling in front of a Christmas Tree. Unfortunately I don't have a digital version to share with you all

Most Unexpected
Going to 2 Flames games (Thanks Uncle Fred!) and watching the Flames win. A close game against Anaheim and NY Rangers. Nicole's first Hockey game too. Flames games are just awesome to watch live.

Best Food Experience
Has to be Christmas Day Dinner x2 with dessert x2. Dinner number one at Nicole's Grandparents (with more GH played) finished with a Cinnamon roll made by Nicole. Followed by Prime Rib at Uncle Freds with Mango desserts (Cake and Pudding!) This is like a Christmas Tradition and nothing beats it out.

Favorite Movie
Sweeney Todd was the best movie I saw over the break, Johnney Depp, Lots of Blood, and a Musical. By Tim Burtons and highly entertaining. I also saw Juno (very Enjoyable), Enchanted (More Enjoyable then I expected) and I am Legend (Started off Good then went meh).

Best Tangible Christmas Present
GPS from Elaine, Jack and Desmond. Now I hopefully won't get lost as much in Seattle >.> Runner up is this nice Shirt from Elaine (Banana Republic of course) I'm a designer snob thanks to her. Just gotta have nicer clothes now

Best Non-Tangible Christmas Present
Winner is an Xbox360 from Nicole, which I havent gotten yet >< Looking for an 360 elite but they are sold out everywhere... Runner up has to 2 Movie Gift certs from relatives (They don't work in the USA, had to use them quick!)

Best Use of Christmas Money
ROCK BAND! I bought RockBand for the 360 earlier in the week (Yes I don't own a system yet). So until that system comes in I've been playing it at a friends. It's so awesome.. I want my Xbox now >< For those that are not familiar, its made by the team that made Guitar Hero 1 and 2 (3 is a different company) and has Drums, Singing, Guitar and Bass instruments.