Saturday, March 11, 2006

Out with the old even if I'm not done with it yet

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a walkman-sized cassette player now days? It might be different back in the States, but here in Australia I’ve tried everything from high end electronic stores to Kmart and can’t find one. I have found a few boom box CD players that are also cassette players but cost just under $100.

The reason that I am looking for one is because even though I sold off / gave away most of my unabridged audio books when I left the States, I still have a good number of my favorite ones including the entire unabridged Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy & Dirk Gently books read by their author the late Douglas Adams. I don’t think you can even get those on CD. The cassettes are over 10 years old now and starting to show wear. I want to preserve them by turning them into MP3 files. A got some software from our sound guy at work and he even gave me his old duel cassette dubbing machine but it isn’t in great shape and I'm not happy with the output quality.

I have been listening to Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson while working this weekend. I don’t think I’ve listened to it since I bought it way back when. If you are familiar with his later works such as the Baroque Cycle you know he is a very very very intelligent guy. And knowing that I am amazed at the number of things he got wrong imagining a cyber-space type meta-verse. I’ll note that he does mention / apologize for some of these things in an appendix that might be at the end of the audio version or may be in the book itself, I can’t remember. I did actually read the book before it came out on audio.

For example he mentions that people wouldn’t like / accept avatars just appearing in the virtual world. That it would break the illusion and ruin the experience. You can’t just teleport from place to place for the same reason. If you play in any online games you know that people pop in and out all the time any nobody seems to notice or care. There are bunch of other examples like how things would be rendered and how the places in his meta-verse take up geographical space, like I said he talks about some of them in the appendix.

I have his next book, Diamond Age unabridged on cassette as well. His third book, The Cryptonomicon came out on cassette in an “unabridged excerpts” version from a different publisher than the first two. Unabridged excerpts… umm wouldn’t that make it Abridged? Sorry guys, I don’t buy abridged audio books. I thought about writing Mr. Stephenson a letter about it. I did write a letter to Douglas Adams once complaining about the first Dirk Gently book not being out in unabridged format and his personal assistant wrote me back and told me that it would be as soon as the rights from the previous publisher of the abridged version expired.

I’m rambling. I’ve creatively exhausted from doing all these damn icons all day and I’ll have to go in again tomorrow and finish them up. I think I’m going to take a day off next week to make up for having to work 12 hours days over the weekend. It’s not that object to having to work long hours to do the important stuff. I’m familiar with crunching to get the product out, but this isn’t something that should have been dumped in my lap a week before it had to be done for GDC. It is way too demanding on the creative process to try to come up with all these icons in this short amount of time. There was no time to even organize all the abilities to try to define all the themes. For example define what a stun effect looks like as part of the icon. I’m having to try my best to do that on the fly. I just have to remember that I already did an “area-effect knock back field effect” for one school so I can try to make the area-effect knock back effect for this other school look similar. The desired result being that the player will be familiar with the theme of the icon art so he will have some idea what the ability does without having to look it up. “Oh that swirl symbol means a sleep or stun effect” or “the red-cross symbol means it’s a heal or health related effect.”

Speaking of the red-cross symbol being used for healing / health in video games the Candian Red Cross has called the video game industry’s use of the red colored plus symbol in games as an “unauthorized and indeed illegal use of the Red Cross emblem.”

Anyway, I'm going to bed.

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