Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Creating an Online Game

So when I was younger (read like: 13) it was my dream to program computer games, I could think of nothing cooler than that. I learned to program at a young age and started making simple games, in high school where I had one of the best computer science teachers in the country (no joke) Craig Yuranek. One project our class was supposed to make was a tic-tac-toe game using X and O and ASCII characters. I learned how to use the graphics abilities of qBasic (yes, qBasic) and wrote a 3D Tic-Tac-Toe game with a computer AI who had multiple difficulty settings.

I progressed on, learned Pascal, C, C++ and got more into programming. The only problem was that I got more into programming, I seemed to move away from my first love (game design) and started writing "useful" programs, or little applets that would do menial tasks for me or would do my math homework. This was all fine and dandy, but I started to lose my passion for programming.

I graduated from college with a computer science degree and got a job designing websites for Fields & Associates Consulting (which apparently is now renamed to Divix). After that I went to intel and finally ended up where I am today at the PUD.

Throughout this all I have moved further and further away from why I started in doing this whole computer thing in the first place. There is nothing I can complain about any of my jobs, they have always provided a good working environment, challenging problems, and I have been paid well at every stop. But lately I have sorta felt burned out with the whole "computer" thing.

Well I have been kicking an idea around in my head for a few months, and sometime last week I approached Brian Dickman about partnering up with me in designing and building an online game.

I am still working on game mechanics and design issues right now, but I believe I have a pretty solid "framework" of where I want to go. Brian has been working on the back end side working on getting a programming framework and server setup in place. I hope to corrupt .justin to be my graphics designer, I am going to offer him riches beyond his wildest dreams (or like the first $100 our game earns). I have also cultivated a number of people via online channels that serve as 1) current focus group that I run idea's through, get ideas from and in general keep me in check to make sure I am designing something that is "cool" to regular people and not just my little project and 2) a valuable pool of players who will serve as beta testers and potential moderators/administrators if this thing explodes like I hope it will.

Anyway, that is my side project for the next... who knows how long. I am sure it will take some time to get everything setup and ready, but in coming days I will try and post progress updates of what is going on. Today my goal is to perhaps get some rough "first draft" designs done for graphics for the site and purchase a domain name. As soon as that is done I will post the domain name here (don't want some bot scanning this and squating my domain before I nab it) and a rough outline of what the game will entail.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Still a work in progress but....

I have finally gotten Kyle's website "sorta" done. It still has a ways to go but at least I have SOMETHING done.

Check it out at www.riverinme.com.

The design is by .justin and I think it is a great mashup of class with "funky cheese" (thats my new name for psuedo cheesey things).

Anyway, still lots of work to do, but thought I would let people comment on how cool .justin's design was.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007

A movie to brighten up your Monday

Edit: Imagine an embedded video here of the sweet Pixar Video "Lifted" that has been removed from like, everywhere (Metacafe and Youtube) for copywrite violations. Blast.
If you saw Ratatouille, you've already enjoyed "Lifted," the brilliant Pixar short subject shown before the movie, but for the rest of you, take a look at this poor alien noob who's having a bit of gadget trouble.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Are you ready for something different?

Tonight, C3, 7:00pm

We gonna get together, we gonna eat some popcorn, we gonna watch Stranger Than Fiction

I hope you all come (if you know, your within reasonable distance to come since this is the internet and all).

Monday, July 09, 2007

What is church for?

So in talking with .justin lately I have been discussing our current sermon series at 1bc. The sermon series is titled "Counter Culture Christianity" and has been the source of some VERY excellent sermons. The highlight of the series so far for me has been this message "Facts about Biblical Femininity" preached by Pastor Gary. The sermon touched on a very culturally sensitive issue (women's roles in the world/church, especially poignent with respect to a potential future president?) [Now I personally don't support Hillary for president, but that has nothing to do with issue of sex, but instead with issues like her views on foreign policy, digital rights, and other aspects of her platform.]

Not only was the subject matter highly relevant and engaging for our current culture, but it utilized media including clips from Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty.

All in all an A (possibly even an A+) sermon... except on my sermon report card I had to give it an F. It was definitely an F+, maybe even an F++ but it still failed. The reason for this, the message forgot Christ! We read from the scriptures, we talked about what God and Christ (via Paul) have to say on the subject of femininity, but we neglected to inform the audience of who Christ is and what Christ's gift to them is. This is like going for your drivers test and using your blinkers, checking your blind spots, obeying the speed limit, performing perfectly in the parallel parking and then running the stop sign at the end of the test. You had a perfect score right up until that point you failed the test...

I know it seems like a minor point and a lot of people feel a 1-3 minute "If you don't know Christ here is how" is tacky and turns church into a Paid Programming advertisement for Christ. To myself, this 1-3 minutes is at the very heart of not only what Church is, but what being a Christian is. Our entire lives should center around Christ and we should use every opportunity to spread the gospel to as many people as possible.

I theorize that this entire issue comes down to a simple question, of which is what most of you thought was a very poor title to a blog post whose subject seemingly had nothing to do with it's title "What is church for?"

My point being, many people view "Church" as a time for fellow believers to get together and fellowship with one another while being trained in the scriptures through the sermon. This church model was based around a time where the average church attendence was much smaller, communities were smaller, and any time anyone new showed up the entire church knew it because the whole seating plan was thrown out of whack cause they sat in someone elses "reserved" seat. Because of my lack of formal religious training I don't know all the fancy church model names, so we will label this as the "Boring And Dead" Church model because there is little "newness" being brought into the church from the outside and chances are everyone is now 80 years old since the only church growth was from babies who have now all grown up and moved away. "Boring And Dead" is too long to type so we will just go with BAD Church for short. The BAD Church views church time as a time for fellow believers to get together, pat each other on the back, and revel in their own tiny kingdom set apart from the rest of the world.

I view church much differently. I view church as an opportunity to reach out to non-christians and introduce them to the gospel of Christ in a healthy and relevant manner. If in our church service we neglect to share the message of Christ we are creating a missed opportunity for an unbeliever to come to know Christ. I view fellowship time and growth in the scriptures as VITALY important, but I believe that both fellowship and growth can be fostered more effectively and in a healthier manner in a small group setting than a "big church" setting. I would call this church model the God Oriented Outreach Driven Model. Or the GOOD Church model for short. The GOOD church realizes the importance of fellowship and teaching but moves it into a smaller enviornment (small groups) where fellowship and teaching can be more effective and on a more personal level. It then uses the larger more corporal setting of the "big church" to reach out to the unbelievers through a contemporary message that speaks to both believers and unbelievers, and shares the love of Christ with everyone who enters the doors on a weekly basis.

I am working up the nerve to talk to both Glen and Gary about my concerns over this whole subject so I would like to ask for prayer from all of my readers (all 2 of you). I want to emphasize the point that I think the recent sermons have been EXCELLENT and some of the best sermons I have heard at the church since I joined. I want them to understand how much I appreciate culturally relevant messages that incorporate different styles of media adapting "non-Christian" messages and highlighting the Christian values in them. I just want to also point out that EVERYTHING we do in Church, most especially the sermon, should be about Christ. So when we neglect to have the message of Christ's salvation preached from the pulpit, we are neglecting our core values.

I ask for your prayer in that I can be respectfull and that I convey the message in love.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Re-enactment:

Also, those are some decent photochop skillz if I do say so my self (for spending like... 10 seconds on it) here is the orignal:

Movie Review: Transformers

This will be short, mainly cause typing with one hand sucks (post to follow on why I have 1 hand) but quite simply: one of the best movies I have seen in a long long long while.

It was perfect in it's simplicity (if you can call a $150 million special effect extravaganza "simple"). You don't need to be a fan of Transformers to watch the movie (they do a good job of explaining their world and history, even if it is a bit deviant from original Transformers lore, although in all honest I kinda liked the "new" history better). The plot is fairly simple, the Autobots and Decepticon's both have come to earth to find the allspark, which the boys grandfather (a famours explorer) found. The boy has some of his grandfathers "trinkets" which contain the key to the location of the allspark and so both sides want the boy. Much mayhem, fighting and explosions ensue.

Optimus Prime utters some of his most famous lines (I won't spoil which ones, but if you are a fan of the old cartoons one line will get you and make you crack a huge grin when you hear it).

My only knocks on the movie were: Megatron's transformed status was a bit... confusing. I understood why he wasn't a gun like he was original, but he seemed to transform into some quasi-fighterjet type thing and I was never sure what it was. When (not if) they do a sequel, if Megatron is brought back as Galvatron I hope they make him into a cannon or something like he was... cause the futuristic fighter jet thing wasn't working for me. Also, Starscream had a nice and high pitched voice, but he wasn't NEARLY whiny enough. Starscream needs to be super whiny, and constantly complaining about how he should be in command. I felt the entire development of the Decepticon characters (heck, even the Autobots outside of Prime and Bumblebee) coulda had a bit more character development. When one of the autobots died, while sad, I didn't really "care" because the movie had not spent enough time to make me care about him... so his death seemed sorta pointless.

But all minor points in what was easily my favorite movie of 2007 so far.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Book Review: Confessions of a Reformission Rev

So I just finished reading Confessions of a Reformission Rev by Mark Driscoll.

The book is just a retelling of Driscoll's struggle and journey to grow Mars Hill from a 30 member church meeting in a church youth room on Sunday nights to the mega-church it is today.

The book is brutally honest by Mark in both critiquing himself and those around him and I think does a fair job of portraying his vision and goal for both Mars Hill and the salvation of Seattle.

The book is written for pastors (of which I am of course not) but I would still highly recommend it for anyone in church leadership, or any Christian period. Driscoll hammers home the point repeatedly that ultimately everything in Christianity centers around Christ, and anything takes away or does not point focus towards Christ needs to be re-evaluted and turned back towards Christ.

One of the points that struck a cord with me is when Driscoll brings up his disdain for "lukewarm" Christians and how you either need to be on board with where he is headed, his mission or stop wasting your time in his church. He makes it very clear to anyone involved with his church that if you are there just to "consume" Christianity without giving anything back, he doesn't want you. I actually believe this is a very biblical approach with respect to "lukewarm" Christians that Christ speaks about in Revelation. Driscoll also hammers home the need for manly men in Christian leadership who have the ability to communicate a "tough" message like that to the body of Christ (something I think that is sorely lacking in Christianity right now, we see so many hippified pansy flower children in Church leadership who don't want to hurt "feelings" while ignoring or sidestepping the truth that Christ speaks into our lives).

Ultimately the book is very raw, upfront, and challenging and one that I absolute LOVED reading. It is filled with tons of Driscoll's humour and is a quick read (took me about 2 hours to read the whole thing). The copy I have right now is actually my brothers that he lent to my parents who lent to me, but if anyone wants to borrow it to read I would be more than happy to let you borrow it.

Now excuse me while I go out and eat some meat, blow some stuff up, and prepare for a future in church leadership.

Acting like a kid

So this week I am fully embracing my inner child. First of all to recap my previous posts my childhood passion, the Portland Trailblazers selected Greg Oden and you can watch him being introduced to Portland here (it was raining, hehe):

On Wednesday I plan on going out and blowing stuff up with fireworks and in general just acting like a kid and enjoying the celebration of our independence day.

And the most culminating "childhood" experience of the week will be tomorrow at 1:10 where I as a 29 year old adult male will be heading to the movies to act like a 9 year old boy:

Now some people aren't thrilled with Michael Bay (think "The Rock", "Armagedon", and "Bad Boys") being the director of Transformers, feeling he is just going to turn it into an car chase explosion fest... and to those people I say, HECK YES HE IS! Seriously, it's Transformers! I don't want convaluted story lines or some heavy plot (don't you people remember these cartoons, they were a 30 minute advert for toys for goodness sake, even produced by Hasbro the company that made the toys!) I want to see cars turn into robots, I want to see explosions, I want to hear Optimus Prime utter the line: "Autobots, roll out" and "Autobots, transform"... other than that my expectations for dialog are pretty low.

I think people who want some deep and meaningful storyline in a movie like Transformers are the ones who are failing to really enjoy/remember their childhood. What made childhood so great was the simplicity and naivety we all had. So to those going to Transformers, don't go expecting some deep and thoughtful movie, that wasn't what the cartoon was about, instead go expecting to see cars transform into robots, and then proceed to shoot everything and blow stuff up. If that is the extent of your expectation for Transformers I can't see any possible way in which Michael Bay will let you down.