Wednesday, June 24, 2009

If I Had a Danger Sense, I Wouldn't Fight Crime; I'd Be a Bodyguard

- "All Your Game Development Needs" -

Today's Web site is a fount of knowledge for anyone out there who's aspiring to be a video game developer some day, and it's also got a lot of good information for people who are already in the industry. features industry-related articles, gaming news, a biweekly email newsletter, a "game dictionary" for those who want to brush up on their gaming industry jargon (I found out what a "ren'ai" is!), product reviews (hardware, software, books, and other stuff), forums (of course), tools for finding other people in or interested in the gaming industry in your area, and a wiki that has more information in it than I can tell you.

This is one of those sites where I could easily ramble on all the cool freatures for a few more paragraphs to get a "normal" post length, but if this is something you're interested in, you've probably already opened in a new tab/window and have stopped reading this post anyway. If not, well hurry up and do it!

Friday is a great Web site for finding browser games.

-- Pawn --

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Why the Crap Have I Been Uploading Images as JPG's? PNG's Are So Much Better!

- Best. Magazine. Ever. -

So, remember in last Friday's post how I said I used to have a browser-based game called Elinon? Well, apparently that qualified me as a member of the gaming industry and also somehow scored me a free subscription to Game Developer magazine. Awesome? You bet it's awesome.

Know what else is awesome? This magazine. (It would be more awesome if I were being paid for this endorsement, but I doubt that's gonna happen ever. I guess I'll live with the free subscription.)

Did you know that programmers in the video game industry who have some college credit but have no degree make more money (on average) than those with a doctoral degree? I didn't either, but then I read the April 2009 edition of Game Developer! (Let this be a lesson to all of you: drop out of school now. [Not really. Just don't spend so long getting degrees that you forget to actually start a career.])

In addition to cool stuff like a yearly salary survey, they also have articles on stuff like new software suites, coding tips and tricks learned by the professionals on such-and-such high budget blockbuster game, sound design, art design, level design.... well, you get the picture. Basically, anything that at all involves the gaming industry (including news like changes in laws) is fair game for this magazine. Lately, there have been a lot of articles about mobile gaming (you know, like on phones and stuff, not on a Gameboy), which is an area of the gaming industry that's still in the early if-you-get-in-now-you-can-be-rich-in-ten-years phase.

My favorite part of each issue is the postmortem, though. Looking at the April 2009 edition, there are six full pages of stuff straight from the people who were responsible for making THQ and Volition's Saint's Row 2. What went right, what went wrong, what they learned, what they'd do different, what they'll do again... I think I'm gonna read this article again as soon as I finish this post, actually.

The Web site also offers source code from past editions of the magazine, as well as research information (both of which are free).

So, what about cost? Well, like I said, mine's free. (God loves me.) Unless you get a random offer out of nowhere like I did, though, you're going to have to pay.

If you want a year's subscription (well, 11 issues) of printed magazines mailed to you, it's $49.95. I really wouldn't suggest this (even though I get the printed ones). If you go with a digital subscription, it's $29.95 for a year (do the math), and you also get a digital copy of their Game Career Guide and access to their online library of back issues. You can click here for subscription information.

If this post seemed like one big advertisement... I wish. Anyway, this is a great magazine, and I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in the game development industry.

Wednesday is another game development-related Web site.

-- Pawn --

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

This One is My Windows Login Image

- ZOMG a Puppy! -

Tomorrow is my favorite magazine. Well, its Web site.

-- Pawn --

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Friday, June 19, 2009

If I Were Invulnerable, I Wouldn't Fight Crime: I'd Be a Firefighter

- One of My Favorite Blogs -

So, Wednesday I said that today's post would be about one of my favorite blogs. Of course, at the time I didn't really know which blog I would be writing about, but I figured I'd just go through my recent RSS stuff in Opera (which I actually use exclusively as an RSS client) and find a good one.

At 2:30 AM I realized that I had a blank post scheduled to pop up at 6 AM. Oh, guess I'd better write something!

I used to have a browser-based game. It was called Elinon. It was fairly cool. It got fairly popular at one point exclusively through word-of-mouth (which I thought was neat). Then, I got bored with it. I got sick of it. I delegated my responsibilities to other admins and vanished into the night. Years later, when it was virtually dead anyway, I closed it down (mostly because it was a senseless money drain, and I didn't have the income).

However, I want to make another game.

Building Browsergames is an awesome site for anyone who's working on, thinking about working on, wants to work on, or even already has a popular browser-based game or gaming site. It's worth the visit for the blog alone, but it also offers tutorials, code snippits, links to other useful sites, and an awesome forum community.

I feel like I'm a fairly intelligent person, but the blog amazes me time and time again with stuff that I just never really thought about. If you're not really interested in browser-based game development, just forget I ever posted this (or take the opportunity to check out their affiliates and find some good online games). However, If you're one of those people out there who loves video games, and you're thinking about trying to make your own some day (or are already in the process), check out this site.

No, really.

Stop reading this and go to

Sunday is puppy day!

-- Pawn --

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

If I Had Super Strength, I Wouldn't Fight Crime: I'd Build Stuff

- Two Awesome Webcomics -

I've never really enjoyed pen-and-paper games. This includes both the "typical" pen-and-paper RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, but it also includes other board games and tabletop games that require you to write things, like Clue. (Crossword puzzles and word searches are different, although I don't really like the latter that much.)

I said all of that as intro for a couple of the most awesome webcomics I've ever had the privilege to read.

Giant In the Playground is host to Order of the Stick and Erfworld. The first is written and illustrated by the owner of, and the latter is created by a couple of equally talented individuals.

Order of the Stick is about a party of heroes in a Dungeons and Dragons-based world. That's the basic premise in a nutshell. However the author, Rich Burlew (who goes by the moniker "Giant in the Playground") has given all of the major characters extremely intricate backstories and personalities. They interact with each other more realistically than do characters in most other D&D-based comics I've seen, and the overarching plotline is nothing short of epic. All of this is acted out by, hilariously enough, stick figures. Still, the wounds displayed on the characters after tense battles seem real enough, and it definitely doesn't keep the main villain, Xykon, from seeming intimidating and downright evil at times. If you never read another webcomic in your life, make sure you at least give Order of the Stick a try. It's seriously awesome.

However, equally awesome (and better-drawn, if that matters to you), is's other webcomic. Developed by a couple of guys named Rob and Jamie, Erfworld explores what would happen if a tabletop game enthusiast's dearest dream became reality. Parson Gotti is transported into a world that's both strange and familiar ("strangely familiar" would actually be a good way of describing it). Turns out he's been magically summoned into a world much like the tabletop games he's been designing, and he's the new warlord of a faction that's pretty close being eliminated from the face of the planet (or whatever Erfworld is).

Honestly, it seemed pretty silly to me when I first started reading it, and it started out slow (which the authors admit), but it gets so, so much better around halfway through the first book (and it's not exactly boring before then, either). You can tell that the authors really put a lot of work into designing the game-world and its rules, and I seriously want to see an Erfworld video game. The world itself isn't the only well-designed aspect of this webcomic, either: the story itself is solidly sewn together, compelling, and (probably most importantly) entertaining.

With the conclusion of book one, Erfworld has been moved to its own domain. Frankly, I'm excited for what's to come, and I definitely suggest this webcomic as well.

Friday is one of my personal favorite blogs.

-- Pawn --

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Bugs Are God's Gift to Birds

- This is Weird and Also Awesome -

Urine-powered flashlight. Yup. NoPoPo Urine Powered Mini Lantern. There's really nothing else to be said.

Wednesday is a couple of my favorite Web comics.

-- Pawn --

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Swords Are Cooler Than Lasers

- Puppies! -


Tomorrow is... so weird, you wouldn't believe me if I told you.

-- Pawn --

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Friday, June 12, 2009

You May Think I'm Crazy, But I Know I Am

- Safari vs Opera vs Internet Explorer -

Welcome to part two of me critiqueing various Web browsers.

First of all, I need to correct a few things from yesterday's post.

Google Chrome does in fact have addons and themes. However, they are not supported by Google and are also not easy to install.

Today I went into the About Google Chrome thing in the menu and found out that there was an update available. This whole time, I had been expecting Chrome to find out when it had been updated and tell me about it. I mean, software that doesn't use Internet connectivity at all can do it, so surely a Web browser from a Web-based company can, right? I guess not. Anyway, the newest version of Chrome does, in fact, have the option to remove sites from the Most Visited list. You still can't add or make any sites permanent, but this is a definite improvement.

Anyway, other browsers. The new Safari is great. The Most Visited issues present in Chrome don't exist here, since you can mark sites as permanently on the list, or block them from the list. You can also have up to 24 sites on the list, rather than the nine that Chrome limits you to. It starts out with a list of commonly visited sites, so there's a good chance that some of your favorite sites will already be on the page at installation. Bookmarking in Safari is also just as easy as it is in Chrome.

Additionally, you can drag tabs into new windows and from one window to another, but I couldn't find a way to drag a window with only one tab into a second window. Annoying, but not too much of a problem. It also contains full page zooming, rather than the text zooming that most browsers have. It lacks some of the cooler features of Chrome, and if there are themes and addons available, I wasn't able to find them. Also, I couldn't figure out how to add Wowhead as a search engine. (Or add any search engines, for that matter.)

You can get third-party addons and skins, but Apple warns against it.

All-in-all, it's a good browser, but I'd stick with either Chrome or Firefox.

Opera! Not a very popular browser, but it has some cool features. Their version of Most Visited is called Speed Dial, and you manually add in the sites you want. The automation of Chrome and Safari is nice, but Opera's fully customizable system is great, too. You can drag tabs between windows, but if you drag the last tab out of a window, you end up with a blank window that should have just closed itself.

Skins are easily available from Tools -> Appearance, and addons are available from Widgets -> Add Widgets on the menu bar. (Opera users will notice that I'm not using the default skin in the screenshot.)

A major issue I had with Opera was adding search engines to the search bar. I tried adding Wowhead, but despite my technical prowess, I was unable to get it to work. When I typed anything in and hit Enter, nothing happened. At all. There's probably some way to get it to work, but it should be far simpler than it is.

One awesome feature that Opera has that I wish other browsers would mimic is that when you mouseover a tab, instead of simply displaying the full title, it shows a thumbnail image of the current content of the tab. There are probably addons in Firefox that do this, but I would really like for this to be standard.

Ah, Internet Explorer. For too long, you were the most common Web browser. Your lack of security measures and non-conformity to Web standards caused many a headache for professionals and casual computer users alike. Little has changed. Yeah, it's definitely better, but it's still probably the most insecure browser there is, simply because it's the most targeted by those evil spyware people. Microsoft hasn't even attempted to keep their browser up-to-date feature-wise, which really isn't that surprising considering that it's free, and they don't spend many resources on venues that don't pay out. That's good business, but still...


Sunday is puppy day.

-- Pawn --

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Sunrise Makes Me Sleepy

- Firefox vs Chrome -

So, Apple released version 4 of their Safari browser Monday. My latest Windows update also included Internet Explorer 8. This seems like a great time to compare Web browsers!

According to W3, the five most popular browsers are, in order: Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera. I'll handle my two favorite today, and do the other three Friday.

Firefox, my love! How I hath missed thee! Actually, I've stopped using Firefox recently, although I'm not sure whether it's a permanent break-up, or just a little bit of solitude so I can more fully appreciate this wonderful browser when I return to it. More on that later.

Firefox has add-ons galore. It has so many themes available that it's almost impossible for there to not be a dozen that you like. The biggest, greatest thing about Firefox is how customizable it is. You can get an add-on for anything from email notifiers to... well, KidZui. If you love customizability, Firefox is most likely the browser for you. It's also probably the safest browser, especially if you utilize some of the Internet security addons.

I also have some issues with Firefox...

First of all, it takes forever to start up, but I can blame that on the ridiculous number of addons I have installed.

Less excusable is the annoying interface issues with trying to move bookmarks around without using the bookmark manager. It could just be me, and I know there are addons that assist with bookmarking that I don't use, but I just have a lot of trouble moving bookmarks around that I don't have in other browsers. A lot of it could be partially due to me having bookmark folders within bookmark folders within bookmark folders, though.

Another thing Firefox is lacking is the "Most Visited" page that Chrome, Safari, and Opera have. It's a bit disappointing to still just be seeing a blank page when I open a new tab.

Moving on, Google Chrome is very new but also very good in many ways (and less good in others). My biggest issue with Google Chrome has been as follows: When I start up my PC, I have a LOT of stuff load in the background. This means that it takes anything I want to open a very long time to actually do so. I'm fine with this. The problem with Google Chrome is that it goes ahead and displays itself even before it's fully loaded. Because of this, opening Chrome within the first few minutes of starting up my PC results in nothing but a blank page. If the "restore the pages that were last open" option is selected, it means I have a bunch of blank tabs, making the option completely useless. I usually just put my computer to sleep anyway, but this is still an issue. It's very annoying to have to periodically open a new tab to see if it'll actually work, until it finally does. It should just do what a normal application does and not open until it's ready.

Other issues with Chrome. No themes or addons whatsoever. I find it hilarious that Firefox allows me to have pop-up notifications of new Gmail (which even show up when I'm playing a fullscreen game), but Google's own browser doesn't. This also leads to me being annoyed at a number of functionality issues that aren't standard in Firefox either, but which can be obtained through addons. The one that continuously bothers me is switching tabs. In both Firefox and Chrome, Ctrl+Tab switches to another tab. In both browsers, the default is that it switches to whichever tab is directly to the right of the current one. I hate this. In Firefox, I have an addon that changes it to cycle through my tabs in the order in which I've last used them. This means that if I have five tabs open, but I'm only really working with two at the moment, I can simply Ctrl+Tab once to switch back and forth between them. In Chrome, I'd have to hit Ctrl+Tab up to four times every time I wanted to switch tabs. And don't tell me to use the mouse. The mouse is slow and inaccurate.

Great things about Chrome. Its new tab page (the screenshot) is awesome. It has your Most Visited sites, recent bookmarks, recently closed tabs (allowing you to restore them, a feature that requires an addon in Firefox), and a link to a very easily readable display of your browser history. It also has a search bar for your history. This is Google we're talking about, after all.

One issue with the Most Visited sites is that it saves them based on page, not based on the whole site. Since you also can't manually edit them, this can cause some problems. For an example, look at the screenshot above. You'll notice that Bloodforged's Web site is listed twice. This is apparently because the root URL ( automatically redirects to the News page ( Thus, every time I go to, it logs both pages, which ends up making them both active enough to be in the Most Visited category.

Bookmarking is really easy. Just try it and see. Also, it's amazingly easy to pull tabs down into new windows, drag tabs between windows, and combine windows by dragging all of the tabs into another window. This is a feature that's majorly lacking in Firefox. There might be an addon for it, but I haven't found it.

Back on the negative side, the lack of a separate search bar apart from the address bar is very annoying. Really, it's one of my biggest problems with Chrome (that and the tabbing thing). I very frequently want to search Wowhead, not Google, but Chrome just doesn't understand that. There also doesn't seem to be a simple way to quickly switch which search engine the address bar uses. You have to go into menus and stuff.

I love both of these browsers, and they're the two I'd most likely recommend to anyone. I'm still not sure myself which one I want to use, but if Chrome fixed a few of its issues and offered themes and addons, I'd definitely go with that one. Of course, if Firefox fixed its issues, I'd use it. Anyway, if you like to customize your applications out the wazoo, I'd suggest Firefox. Otherwise, I'd suggest Chrome, as it offers more pre-addon functionality than Firefox does. DO NOT USE INTERNET EXPLORER!

Friday, I'll talk about Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer.

-- Pawn --

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Kitties Are Great, Too

- Warcraft III -

I picked up the Warcraft Battle Chest (which now contains WC3 and the expansion) a few days ago. After a few minutes of confusion due to the original game and the expansion being completely separate (I was really expecting it to be an expansion of the first game, rather than a completely separate game made with the same engine), I started playing it.

First of all, I was disappointed that the Battle Chest no longer contains WC2 (as it did the last time I remember seeing it). I was really looking forward to going way back into Warcraft history and actually seeing stuff happen instead of just reading about it. (I'd really like to play the original Warcraft, too, but I'm too lazy to find a place to order it.)

I also feel like I would be enjoying the story a lot more if I'd played it seven years ago. Since I already knew exactly what was going to happen, it didn't surprise or disappoint me at all when Arthas went evil. (I have to stare at his death knighty face almost every time I log into WoW.)

Anyway, I'm a few missions into the Undead campaign by now. I've also done a few of the Maiev missions in the expansion, and I'm working on the little Rexxar campaign thingy as well. It's really a lot more fun than the main game. I can see why people were so excited about WoW after playing it.

As for the game itself, it's pretty great. Every faction is completely different at their core, which I love. At the moment, humans are my favorite, simply because the paladin and mountain king heroes are so ridiculously powerful. Paladins are my favorite hero unit so far, although that's simply because their armor aura is awesome, and they can heal very frequently. Oddly enough, I have yet to use Divine Shield, and I've only used Mass Resurrection once (and only one unit was dead). Those are the two spells that I've heard/read people complaining about being so overpowered, but I haven't seemed to have a use for them. If I ever start doing multiplayer, I'm sure that'll change, though.

The biggest thing I don't like about the game is that it's difficult to use units' special abilities. Especially annoying is the hotkeys they chose for the abilities. Holy Light is T. Healing Wave is E. It seems like it would have been a lot easier to just make all units use the QWER keys for their abilities, and then you just hit the key based on the position of ability in their little grid thingy. The manual said you can redefine hotkeys (although you apparently have to go in and manually edit a file?), but I doubt that extends to units' abilities. Maybe I'll check later.

All-in-all, it's a great game. I'm really looking forward to getting beyond the stage where I suck so I can go and play a few games on (and get owned... at first). I can definitely see similarities between WC3 and the early patches of WoW. There are still similarities, of course, but I can now see why some of the silly stuff in early WoW was the way it was.

Wednesday, I talk about Web browsers!

-- Pawn --

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