Thursday, June 13, 2013

E3 Drivel, Sony, Racing Games

Guys, I have a confession to make.  I haven't been keeping up on E3.  I do not care about 99.9999% of the games they talk about.  I know about how everyone is taking a dump on Microsoft whom is trying to spin-doctor their way out of the fact their console sucks. Microsoft blows now, Sony all the way, even though I have little incentive to buy any next-gen consoles.  But I will tell you what I know.

This is the best thing that Sony has done since Kevin Butler.

Yeehaw, watch this burn on nine different screens for nine times the sizzle.
Also the PS4 is region-free, Xbox One isn't, oh happy days are here again.

See you in Hell, Microsoft.  Where you'll be forced to play sub-par Kinect games for eternity, the same exact games you forced your pitiful developers to make.  Really, they have a patent on viewing/counting the number of people the Kinect picks up on, NO SERIOUSLY, READ THIS.  Didn't get this from from /r/gaming either.  See you in hell too with your little 2-second satisfaction posts for LE SWEET, SWEET KARMA.

As for Pokemon, you now have Fairy type Pokemon.  Boy I'd never see the day, rofl!!  As for Smash Bros, you have Mega Man and Wii Fit Trainer.  Hooray Nintendo.  Let's hope that Sonic makes a return especially to return the favor that Sonic games are going Nintendo-exclusive.  Speaking of Sonic and Sega, well, there's really nothing I give a crap about.  There's new Sonic games, including another Sonic & Mario Olympics game (WHO KEEPS BUYING THESE????), Bayonetta 2, and some Mickey Mouse game I don't care about (I'm trying to get the fuck out of Orlando, remember?) but that's it.  Hey Sumo, where is that elusive DLC character for Sega All-Stars Racing: Transformed?  Where's Ryo Hazuki?  Where's Segata Sanshiro?  Where's Yu Suzuki with the Shenmue 3 announcement?  And that's how the world turns for a Sega fan--get your hopes up, wait, wait, wait, wait, get old, wait, wait, wait, wait, muse about how good you thought Sega was, wait, wait, wait, wait, then get a life or die of heartache.

Now about racing games.  Nope, nothing I care about.  Forza and Driveclub are bleh--too much realism, not enough emphasis on having fun.  Well, how about Need for Speed: Rivals?  Surely this game would induce vomiting but hold up a sec--just watch the gameplay footage.  It's a bit weird cause there's multiple screens going on.  Basically, it's simultaneous gameplay from the points of view from the evader and the cop.


Now this game isn't made by Black Box, responsible for the atrocity that is NFS: The Runs, or Criterion with their overrated crash-gasm games.  This is from Ghost Games, a new EA studio out of Gothemburg, Sweden.  And overall, looking at this game, it doesn't look TOO bad.  Basically, it feels kinda like the old NFS games--you drive around, cops are behind you with the radio chatter, you weave around ever-changing landscapes, and there's no stupid bonuses for doing stunts, shunting and using EMPs to make your rivals crash and die.  Here's footage from NFS 4: High Stakes on the PS1.

Looks familiar, don't it?  Plus Rivals has Ferraris in it.  Hey, if Ferrari endorses something (*coughoutrun2cough*), you know it's gotta be good stuff.  But I'm not getting my hopes up cause this is still a NFS game that has EA's greasy fingerprints all over it so I'm still a no-buy for me.  But it's worth giving props where it's due.

Other racing games...well, there's also Mario Kart 8.  Their new feature this time around is driving up on the ceiling and walls, kinda like in Super Mario Galaxy, to create more dynamic looking tracks.  They also seems to have tightened up the handling a bit cause I bet you they saw Sega All-Stars Racing: Transformed and thought "oh shit we're gonna get our asses kicked here" even though they have yet to introduce boats or planes into their game--rather they stuck with hang-gliders and driving on the bottom of the lakes.  Sumo, you got Nintendo where you want 'em.

One more thing.  Dead Rising 3 sucks ass.  What made the first two cool were the colorful mall/casino backdrops.  Here's it's a crappy-ass town loaded with gritty shaders.  Oh, and I don't give a damn about The Last of Us either.  I know that's not E3-related but I'm tired of hearing about that damn game.  Again, where's Shenmue 3.  Later guys.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Nightmarish Week Of Losing My Car And Job

GUYS I'M DOING ALRIGHT NOW.  Sorry about the radio silence.  This has been a really shitty week--let me just describe it as best as I know how.

Things are going swimmingly.  The project we're working on received a six-month extension and the company is upsizing!  Everyone is let off work a few hours early but I stay to add an alternate control scheme for the vehicles as presented by another one of the programmers (accel, brake, and steer are mapped to the left joystick).  Got that in, impressed the "boss," and got a three-day weekend (Monday was Memorial Day).

After an average Tuesday workday, I drive in to work on a damp Wednesday morning.  As I enter the parking lot in my blue 2-door bullet-shaped sedan, I traverse some slippery black pavement with one more left-hand turn to go before I reach my parking space.  Hit the brakes but OOPS, the car won't slow down or turn as I careen into a fenced region with a dumpster inside at about 20 mph.  Airbags go off, windshield cracks, and an undetermined amount of damage is concurred to the front right of the vehicle as two of my coworkers run over to aid me...and end up slipping on the black pavement as well.  Shows you how ridiculously bad this pavement is in the rain...a sign or a speed bump would've helped you sons of bitches.  It was the most BS way to crash, really.

I am not physically hurt but have to hold back man-tears because of fear my vehicular companion of 7 years may have taken its last ride.  After making a round of calls to the cops, insurance, rental car, AAA guys, one placed to my family, my dad's response was basically "HOLD ON SON JUST LEAVE THE CAR THERE!!" as he hopped in my mom's black 4-door Mercedes and drove 9 hours from Louisiana (my original home) to Florida (my workplace) just to help fix the car.  I called off the tow truck and the rental car as he showed up after work to bang the car together a bit.  Turns out all the damage was cosmetic and all it needed was a new windshield, airbags, and front right light and bumper/panels.  My dad was able to drive it back to the garage to get the windshield replaced which was a miracle in and of itself.

That combined with the ticket would probably set me back at least a week's salary which isn't TOO bad and is certainly a relief because I thought I would be reamed with much more than that.  I didn't think things could get much worse than this but guess what--it did! :D

FRIDAY 5/31:
So anyway, after spending some impromptu quality time with my dad on Thursday, he jets back to Louisiana Friday morning in my blue car for repairs while I drive the Benz to work for the second day in a row.  All is good as me and everyone else appear to be loafing around the office before the weekend arrives.

At 6 pm, one of the HR ladies comes to my office saying she needs to speak with me.  I say okay, and we make this rather awkward walk down the hall to the conference room.  I've seen that expression on her face before, the one that's like "you're fucked so I won't say anything to you" as I'm forced to sit in the room alone for a few minutes waiting for people to show up for the eventual sacrificial lamb ceremony.  Two more HR people arrive and, to summarize, say "We're letting you go at the end of your probation period because the engineers say you have had performance issues, goodbye."  (FYI, engineer = programmer)

At this point, I turn pale as my worst nightmare turns true--I had failed to hold down my second job for ridiculous reasons and all I could think of was the metaphorical vacuum cleaner that had sucked me right out of the womb and tossed me into the dumpster--the very one I had run into two days ago.  I beg them to tell me what I had done wrong or how I could have improved but they basically deflected it, saying that they're not engineers so they have no idea.  Hey, this is wonderful.  I'm being let go from my job without a single clue on how to improve myself going into my next job.  It's as if the cowardly engineers who called for my abortion decided not to stare me in the face one last time and try to help me out as a human being in need of improvement just so that they could bolt home from work and get the weekend started a few minutes later.  You've gotta be kidding me.

After getting shit-canned for the second time for no good reason, watching both my car and my job get destroyed in seconds, I panic and start calling friends and family, including my parents, to tell them about how molested I had just felt.  What happens next? Dad calls and says "HOLD ON SON I'LL BE THERE TO BRING YOU HOME!!"  That's right, my dad who had just arrived back in Louisiana after driving 18 hours in the last two days insisted on driving straight back to Florida AGAIN (in a different car besides the blue bullet) with my brother and his GF in tow just to help me pack up my stuff and return home with my family.  Apparently I couldn't have made the 9-hour drive alone by myself (I was too emotionally wrecked) and my mom wanted me home for her birthday (June 2nd, 2 days from now) so yep, there goes my dad again.

At this point in time, all I could think about is why exactly was I fired and how utterly distraught I was.  Was it because I was a terrible employee?  Was it because I wasn't smart or good enough at this job career?  Or was it because I rubbed my boss the wrong way?  These are thing that had me in a cold sweat as my dad showed up at 5 am to pick me up and drive me home that day, making him drive a grand total of 36 hours in the last three days.  Thanks game studio for sucking ass and not firing me on a Thursday.  Would've saved us a lot of stress and gas money.

I get home and spend time with my family at last.  Too bad as soon as I get home, the house basically collapses in on itself as I have to contend with other issues--Brother #1's girlfriend who is always getting in fights and stirring up trouble, Brother #2's loudmouth friends and irrational obsession with whoever uses his toothbrush, Brother #3 and his friend always playing video games and bothering me at every waking moment.  It's like not only did getting fired fuck up my life, it also fucked up my family's cause now I'm another obstacle that's trying to inhibit progress or some bullshit like that.

After a weekend's worth of radio silence, I finally get in touch with one of my friends at the company.  He says that I was the only one fired and that there were meetings going on discussing why exactly I was fired.  In other words, every single person, including the engineers who called for my head, was discussing my termination with everyone else EXCEPT FOR THE PERSON WHO ACTUALLY GOT FIRED which is me.  There was nothing I could do but picture my sacrificial lamb corpse being flogged and molested some more as every single lie about me propagated through that building and all my credibility was shot to hell.

I immediately fell sick once again as my mother decided to take actions into her own hands and send a "to whom it may concern" email to the company in a last-ditch attempt to find out what was being said about me.  Was this a good idea?  I DON'T KNOW, I'm in panic mode as it is so it's not like things could get that much worse.  Who replied?  The head of the company, not one of the engineers, who rather than try to find out some legitimate information replied with a jerk-ass email about how he's sorry and how it's a big company and you suck so STFU and never bother us again.  My mother was aghast and so was I.

Another miserable day and, after rocking the boat for so long, I finally get some sort of e-mail response from an anonymous engineer (though I can tell who it is) with a list of wrongdoings and things I could do to improve myself.  The list was mostly bullshit--basically a couple of one-time errors that I had made in the last two weeks that I had since then apologized and corrected.  What's one for instance?  "Including vestigal code that could possibly break the game's logic or the build in the future."  It was one instance of me setting a UDK actor as the parent of another actor and that was over a month ago.  Boss man asked me what I had meant by that code and I walked in, succinctly explained what it had meant by these few lines of code from a long time ago, and they were removed and no harm was done.  But somehow, because of this one incident, I was essentially leaving landmines throughout the entire database.  Okay.

Another thing--"Doesn't know how to follow design documents or take instruction."  This one I love so much.  Basically, the last thing I was working on with the game was UDK vehicles--a tank and two 4-wheel-vehicles to be specific.  And after receiving a bunch of good feedback on how the vehicles have handled, I received an outdated design document for the vehicle as well as feedback from various designers, some of whom spent time in countless meanings or weren't at work at all.  So I was sorta left with a bunch of incomplete, conflicting design ideas for the vehicles, some of which I had to bang together and hand off to whomever was reviewing them at the moment.  I always carried and pen & paper with me to write down any suggested changes which I implemented one-by-one.  Yet somehow, it's all my fault for being a lousy employee.

Yet another thing--"Don't submit huge chunks of code at once and review over it 100 times."  Basically, just be all tippy-toed when editing code which IMO sorta conflicts with my programming methodology.  I just took very small steps trying to edit large systems of the game and whenever I'd try to hurry things up, I'd get a stern lecture.  It was really nonsensical and is another thing that just clashed with my boss.

And lastly, the most fun of all--"Repeatedly late" and "Always playing games in his spare time."  The time frame to arrive in the morning is from 8 to 10 am.  You must stay for 9 hours each day.  Me, I opted to arrive at 10 am and leave at 7.  It was a good deal and my bosses rarely spoke up against it.  But somehow, in that last week, wrecking my car and limping to work late didn't help my cause any.  It's like the flair from Office Space--you want me to show up at 9 am?  Then make it a rule to show up at 9 AM!!!  As for the games--we always have a one-hour lunch break to hang out and play games if we like.  I was playing games during that time but because of how low-pressure the time was that last week of employment, I would occasionally open up my iPhone to click on my Tiny Tower buildings.  Not like I replaced work with games...I just started running out of work that last week because everyone was either in a meeting or simply loafed around as well.

In short, my worst nightmares had come true--my boss only took the worst aspects of my tenure (from his point of view), blew them up really large, and used them to incriminate me as a terrible employee.  To make it worse, my boss had opted not to be transparent with my wrongdoing this whole entire time, essentially feigning friendship with me until the last moment when I was taken out via a firing squad he wasn't even present in.  I still have yet to reply to that e-mail.  Technically, they have my balls in a vice so I can't reply even with the slightest disagreement since they'll think I've learned nothing and won't give me a positive reference in my future employment.  Just the quality of everything has went to shit since I got fired.  Did I learn something from all this?  Sure!  Be more transparent with your boss.  Be more conscientious with your image.  Also try showing up to work a little earlier and put down the iPhone.  But there are ALWAYS things you can do better to improve your image so that's beside the point.

TLDR: The whole thing boils down to this--I had a picky boss whom had duped me into thinking I was doing a good job up until the very last moment when I was fired and accused of being a terrible employee.  He had taken forever to get back to me with a crummy email listing a bunch of wrongdoings I don't necessary agree with.  I am currently unemployed and living with my parents but I'll find another game programming job somewhere (I SURE HOPE SO) and hopefully rebound from this mess.  Thanks for reading.  I want to get back on-topic with some Sega stuff, some Indy 500 or NASCAR talk, it's just that I feel like I've been dunked repeated in a tub of dog piss over the last couple of days so it's gonna take some serious time to recover.  Thanks for your understanding.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Was Having A "Good" Day

Let the Burnout/Split-Second spooge-fest begin!  I love how we can't even play the "less realistic racing games plz" card anymore cause it descends to this:

"Hey Eric, like the new Forza/Drive Club?"
"No, I'm tired of realistic games, they should be more focused on gameplay and being fun."
"Oh so it's like Burnout, that's awesome!"
"No...something a little more colorful and lighthearted and...not bro-tastic."
"How about Mario Kart!"
"No, I mean something more arcade-like, fast-paced, and skill based!"
"...Need for Speed?"

I think I've had the above conversation like twenty times in my life already.  Bah, Sega can't win.