Monday, October 30, 2006

My Rant About the Price of Incomplete Games

Now I will admit that I get excited occasionally when there's an incomplete (called a beta) version of a game I like available on the internet. I got excited when 3D Realms released "LameDuke" which was a beta version of Duke Nukem 3D years ago. I also got excited when I first played the early versions of DOOM.

As for Sonic games, we've been fortunate to have a couple. We have early versions of Sonic 2, Sonic CD, Knuckles' Chaotix, Sonic Spinball, and now recently Sonic 3D Blast. From what I was told, there's also talk about another Sonic 2 beta version on eBay.

I have a complaint, but it half-way contradicts itself so bare with me. My complaint is back in 1999, you could buy a beta version of Sonic 2 for $200. Now we're paying $700 to get another early game? I do not intend to offend anyone here, but lets be frank for a moment -- that's dumb! I see people get all excited over this, and those same people bid up the price because they're actually willing to spew money for something that isn't even finished. Forget about "doing it for the community" and finding all these secrets. People research these incomplete versions and find them so interesting as I do a couple of them, but what will it ever give a person out of life? Not a darn thing. Nobody in the real world cares if a person owns an incomplete game or not. You can't put that on a job resume or anything. People are paying $700 instead of $100 or $200 because they are easily sucked in over something that isn't that great to begin with.

Here's something else to think about -- why should you have to pay even one penny for something that isn't finished? Would you pay someone to take your car apart to fix something but not put it back together for you? If you pay for a job that isn't done, you're being ripped off. What's even funnier is people who are willing to spend money on incomplete games are not only being ripped off, but they're doing it to themselves! Are secrets in a video game that is 15 years old all that important? Sure it's fascinating at first, but a year later you will look back and say "oh that's old news". So you basically pay a big load of money to get psyched for a couple months out of your life. Unless you don't plan to live very long, I'd say that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard of.

If Sega really thought the beta versions of those games were all that great and were worth money, they would have put them in stores and sold them. Instead, these games are being illegally sold, and they're being sold at prices that are way above those of the complete versions. I will take a beta anyday if it's free, but I will never pay anyone even one cent to get my hands on one. 8 years ago I would have considered spending my money on a beta version, but I'm mature enough now to realize it's a total waste of time and money.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Timed Leave & the Reactions to It

Lately I've been leaving a couple forums. I can't say the mood has been sudden. I think it's that I'm finally starting to listen to what I have been thinking and feeling about them for a long while now.

First I left FUS. I was at FUS for probably 1½ years. Then when I saw someone (who I didn't really know by the way) being repeatedly bashed by some of the forum visitors, I felt disgusted with the place. There were other problems too -- didn't get along with the admins, and I didn't like the negativity around FUS. A lot of people were speaking out against the bashing that was going on, and I used that moment to leave. My leave was well understood by many... or at least that's the story going around.

Then just the other day I left SFGHQ. I had been going to these forums mainly to promote my ProSonic project. I had been posting less frequently the last few months I was there for two reasons -- ProSonic interest seemed to take a dive (I guess they wanted less talk and more visual), and I've noticed some members getting pushed around by rude comments. I too have been the subject of rude comments. I usually push them to the side or make a low-level defensive statement against them. However when I made a topic about my recent GAO encryption I've been discussing, few people seemed interested. That was fine, but then one comment finally fired me up -- "Am I the only one who thinks this statement comes off as incredibly pretentious?" (referring to my October 27 deadline). Some people don't see the big deal, but I do. I argued and he continued on to say that my encryption would fail and basically never become anything. Never would he discuss what I truly wanted to discuss. So I left, and people thought it was the dumbest reason to leave... or at least that's the story going around.

If you compare these two situations, they're the same, yet they're different. I had a feeling I wouldn't get the same type of feedback I got from FUS. It's all timing. If you leave when all the problems involved aren't right up front where people can see them, then they're only going to look at the icing instead of the entire cake. They're obviously going to think you're nuts. If you leave at the moment when bigger problems are apparent, people probably won't think you're so crazy. It's interesting how people react so differently when distress is in the air around you than when it's only in the shoes you walk in.

Truth is I was planning to leave SFGHQ for months, but I never did because I thought maybe things would get better. It's not a horrible place, but I just don't like some of the attitudes of people -- "elitists" I call some of them. Elitism is thinking you're above others... but I look at it with a stereo-type that so far hasn't failed me. The stereo-type of an elitist is someone who thinks he/she can say whatever they want with complete disregard to anyone's feelings. If you have a problem with what they say, tough -- "that's life" they always say. But I say its people like them who make life that way. Outside the internet, it's like I live in a very different world. It's still life, yet I am surrounded by people I actually like! Perhaps that's because there's less of that elitism that I talk about.

The moral of all of this -- if they think you're wrong, you might be, or it could be that they're blind to see anything your way because they're used to their own environment. Just do what you believe and stick it to anyone who wants to laugh at you because of it. In most cases, you know if your actions have been warranted or not.

Friday, October 20, 2006

GAO Encryption

I had some spare time yesterday. So I decided to develop a file compression format of my own called "GAO". Turns out it doesn't compare to other compression formats such as ZIP, RAR, and 7z. However I am curious how well it works as far as encryption goes. So to test it, I have uploaded two files. I have done a single layer of encryption on a file, and I want to see if anyone is capable of cracking it. If you are, post a comment and let me know what you found. I'll give you this much -- the header is 8 bytes long.

If you have a hex editor and want to give it a try, go ahead and download the original and the encrypted files. I don't know how effective my encryption format is, but hopefully I'll stump people. The first one to figure it out fully and post a comment explaining the format by October 27 will get a chance to try the ProSonic engine.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

ProSonic Questions

I am willing to take up questions on ProSonic. I have been seeing some interesting discussions going on at different places and figure perhaps there's some things people have on their minds about ProSonic. Certainly the outline has answered a lot of questions, but I also understand that new questions are likely to come along as development continues. I will make an entire blog post dedicated to answering as many as I can. If you want to ask if a certain feature exists, questions about my recent commercial marketing plan or anything else related to ProSonic, ask it and I will try to answer it. I love seeing questions, but I don't like seeing people confused and making assumptions that simply aren't true (I have been seeing a good bit of that lately). Don't be afraid to ask questions!

I will say that claims that ProSonic won't support network play is flat wrong. I have mentioned dozens of times before that ProSonic will be multiplayer and will be able to run over a network. I plan to support up to 8 players (I might even double that already insane figure).

I also insist that $200 is a fair deal for the commercial license. I am actually considering raising it to $300. There is absolutely a 2D gaming market out there. It's not as big as the 3D gaming market, but it's still there and still has some energy in it. I don't expect many Sonic fans to pay $200 or $300 though. What I am hoping for is to attract companies to use my engine. Of course they can't make Sonic games and sell them -- that would be illegal! They could use my engine to make non-Sonic games though, and I believe my engine is flexible enough to support any type of game. The fee would be a per/title basis, so each game that is created to be sold would require a license. I would be willing to make a deal for companies who want to use it for several titles. Keep in mind however that this commercial license won't be available for a while now because ProSonic is still being developed!

On another topic, I visited my grandmother in the rehab center, and she's actually getting better I think. There's some color in her face, and she can talk slightly better now. She can more her right arm a little bit. She is looking better each day. I just hope she returns to normal, or at least 90%. The biggest thing above all is being able to walk again. Having her not able to walk ever again would be terrible.

Monday, October 09, 2006

ProSonic Objects & Licencing

Part of the idea behind ProSonic is for me to have something I could possibly use to make profit from if I decide to. It will be available for free to anyone wanting to make a Sonic game with, but I'd like to market it too for other purposes. That's why I will not supply anything that has copyrights attached. That's why it won't support MP3 files and why it uses the Allegro library. This shouldn't be a game engine that is limited to just creating Sonic games. The architecture it is being built on is very dynamic and allows for many different possibilities, so it could very easily be used to create non-Sonic games.

Because of this, I would like to spend most of my time programming the engine rather than the objects. The objects (which include players) give it a very Sonic feel. I want less of a headache, so I'm going to be releasing some documentation sometime on how to script objects. Anyone who wants to port objects from the original Sonic games over to ProSonic can do just that. I already have rings perfected, but anything else would be great. I may even give up my role in writing player code.

Anyone who wants to sell games they create with ProSonic will have to acquire a license from me. I am not sure of fees yet, but I was thinking $200. This would be part of the deal if game designers want to use my engine to make money from. I have never once attempting to make money off of any past projects of mine, but this one I feel has a potential that the others never could have had. Heck, I might even try to see if Sega would want to licence it (I doubt it, but I'd try anyway just to say I did).

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I'm Happier Today

My grandmother actually moved her right hand and foot today. That's an improvement since before she couldn't move anything on her right side. I'm so happy to have heard about that, and I hope the progress continues. My grandmother says she's determined to get better and isn't going to be like our neighbor who didn't even try to get better when she had a stroke.

Also, my brother stopped by today. He was telling me some jokes and I recorded one that I absolutely love. The interrupting cow joke is hilarious I think, and he tells it so well! Give it a listen. It's in WMA format, so you'll need Windows Media Player or something else that will play WMA files.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Things Got Worse

Well, we thought my grandmother was going to be doing just fine. The doctor said that she only had a slim 15% chance of having complications.

She can't move one whole side of her body. Her words are very slurred, and she looks very helpless. I tried all day long not to cry. I don't like to cry and always try to hold it in. I am usually successful, but I nearly lost it when I hugged her and said goodbye. It's so sad to see her like that. All my life my grandmother has been strong and kept on going. But I guess when a person hits their early 80s, these things start to happen. It's still very new for me. I was perfectly fine about all of this, but once I saw her today I was forever scarred.

I'm not saying my grandmother will pass away tomorrow. She's still got energy in her, but this is a new phase and I am fully aware that the grandmother I had a few short days ago may never again quite be the one I will have from here on. It's still her, but it's as if I'm looking at her in another world.

The one thing I can say that is positive for certain is that she doesn't look all that depressed. I'm sure she doesn't like being at the hospital, but she still smiles and laughs and all that stuff the same as she did before. The personality is the one thing that hasn't changed, and I feel so blessed for that. I just hope she gets to be a little more independent like she was just a few days ago instead of lying in bed like a vegetable.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

My Grandma Dodged a Bullet

Yesterday my grandmother was talking on the phone and suddenly had trouble speaking. I talked to her for a little bit and when she told me she couldn't hardly talk, I noticed the muscles around her mouth weren't moving. I told her that I knew exactly what was wrong with her -- she wasn't getting enough blood flow in her brain. So I twice asked if she wanted me to call someone (I had 911 in mind) and she told me no because her sister was on her way. They tell you to call 911 in these situations and not to wait around, but I guess it's hard for me to take charge around my grandmother. Her speech returned to normal, but I waited for my aunt to show up. Once my aunt got there, we called 911. I told them I thought it was a stroke. They came and got my grandmother.

The interesting part of all of this is the role I played. I was the one who was completely calm the entire time. My grandmother was freaked out, but was a little concerned about what was going on. My aunt was scared to death and out of breath (not good since she has breathing troubles). I smiled and talked gracefully to them and said I felt my grandmother would be just fine and that it was just a very mild problem. My grandmother didn't look as concerned anymore, and my aunt calmed down. So I was kind of the one controlling the emotions.

We got to the hospital, and eventually they told us they suspected a mini-stroke. They said since her speech came back quickly after losing it, the pipes were probably thinned and slowed blood flow down temporarily. Thank goodness it was only 5 minutes though, because my understanding has always been that brain damage begins to happen around 15 minutes.

My grandmother is still there. They said they'd keep her for 48 hours. I hope they solve the problem so that this is less likely to happen again. But it's also her responsibility I think to begin eating more healthy.