Sunday January 27, 2013
The Metservice says that we're supposed to have a sunny spell for a whopping ten days in a row. Not sure if this is unprecedented for Wellington, but it certainly seems like something novel since I've been here. Plenty of things have been happening to take advantage of the summer weather!
After badminton yesterday, I celebrated Australia Day with a few of my workmates with a low-key barbeque. There was plenty of fine meats to be had, and lots of good old fashioned Australian racism too (JOKE). I was sad I couldn't stay for longer as I had to rush to the Sprig and Fern for Matt and Claire's engagement party. Good to catch up with people and form some sort of plan for the trip down south in April. Looking forward to it!
Last weekend was Wellington anniversary, and I went to the Game Master exhibition at Te Papa with Jordan and Loic. Highly recommend it and had heaps of fun there - there's an impressive collection of video games there dating back to the old arcade-style games to the newest consoles - Wii, PS3 and Xbox360 - and with the advent of mobile gaming in the past few years, some iOS and Android games as well. I was blown away by how well some of the arcade games had aged; while some were very difficult to play, they're still incredibly fun and it was interesting to play them with their original control schemes - joysticks and track balls galore.
The exhibition really brought back the nostalgia, with Sonic 1, Sonic 2 and Super Mario Brothers showcasing the pinnacle of platformers in the 1990s, and in comparison how these IPs have evolved and branched out to Sonic Generations in 3D on the Playstation 3 (though I was having a bad time with this) and New Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo DS. Moving on from the Sega and the Nintendo sections, there was Blizzard (Starcraft 2 and Warcraft III), Will Wright (Sim City... and then his later games like Spore and The Sims which I didn't care about), Tim Schafer (Day of the Tentacle and Monkey Island), a large open area for Dance Central, Singstar and Rockband, then a section for Indie games and mobile games, including Castle Crashers, Braid, Flower, Flow, Journey, Minecraft, Fruit Ninja Kinect, Jetpack Joyride, Chopper 2 and of course, Sidhe's own brick-breaking phenomenon, Shatter!
There was some kid playing Shatter when I arrived and he was playing it wrong. I suggested he hit the Right Ctrl button to unleash Shard Storm against the first boss, but he ignored me and continued being wrong. Jerk.
I have been playing Sonic 4 for a while, which I bought on Steam over Christmas, and like Sonic Generations at Game Masters, I was having a bad time with it. The physics are all wrong and there's no sense of momentum in the game. The trajectory of Sonic as he runs and jumps feels difficult and nothing like what his good old 16-bit days felt like. Though the game is pretty, it simply doesn't compare to Sonic 2 or Sonic 3 on the Genesis, and it's a pity that the series has devolved to this state. Frustrated from this experience, I turned to Lego Lord of the Rings. The game has some great humour and lots of content, but is quite easy and the first few stories can feel tedious and grindy. I've progressed to the point where I have lots of abilities, so it's much more interesting and fun now.
Works has been going well. Before I left for the US, I was supposed to be on a particular "barfing rainbows" project; I was reassigned onto Rise of the Guardians on my return and since its completion in November, I have been maintaining the company's core code base - as well as the fantastic Game Jam week we had to finish the year. Though the barfing rainbows project was also supposed to finish in November, it's been extended until March and I'm fortunate enough to be put back on that project. Most of the game is there and functioning, but it's a very valuable IP so we want to make sure that the metagame and the UI system are high quality and well polished. Looking forward to seeing this out on the App Store!
Monday January 7, 2013
First post of the new year. Not quite back at work yet - my past self was wise enough to apply for these first three days off as time in lieu. My sleep schedule is all wrong and I'm still quite tired.
New Year's Eve was really nice. I had some friends over for a potluck dinner which turned out to be a feast of meats and deliciousness. There was ample food to go around and plenty of leftovers for the next day. We played a few games of Spaceteam and Taboo before heading out to the peninsula to watch the Sky Tower's annual "worst New Years fireworks I've ever seen". We ended the night in style with a glass of strawberries in Lindauer.
It was such a fine day the next day that we met at Wing Wah for an impromptu yum cha, then went to Cornwall Park to spend the afternoon. We talked a lot about goals and resolutions for 2013 and decided that to start off the new year, it would be a great idea for Alice to go pet a sheep in the paddock. Sadly this mission failed. Nevertheless, after giving up, Alice randomly blurted out that she wanted Steamboat, and so plans were set in motion for Steamboat at mine. Awesome!
Equally as random was our decision to head out to the Pinnacles in Coromandel for a day trip trek. Planning for this took approximately 20 minutes. We met at mine at 7am and began the two hour drive to Thames, via Greenlane Countdown for some supplies and McDonalds for some breakfast. After some dusty gravel roading, we reached the base of the track around 10am. It was another brilliant day, with ample sunshine and a light breeze to keep the temperatures down. The trail led us through some classic New Zealand bush, full of beautiful greenery. We reached the Pinnacles Hut around 1pm for lunch, and then the glorious peak around 2pm for some fantastic 360 degree views of the Coromandel Peninsula. And of course the first thing people do is check their phones for 3G reception and post to Facebook. We returned to the carpark in just under 3.5 hours to start the drive home at 6pm. Despite some traffic woes along State Highway 2, we were back at mine at 9pm. Day was seized!
I spent Thursday cleaning the house in anticipation of my parents' return from Malaysia, but enjoyed yet another round of Peking Duck from Sun World with some ex-colleagues and current colleagues. Mitchell and David were feeling a bit adventurous, so we made our way into town and got some milk tea from Hulucat. Asian things that you can't get easily in Wellington :( Their taro milk tea with mango pudding is still as good as I remember.
On Friday, I was at Charlotte's house for hers and Jono's engagement party. Though it was a bit windy, the barbeque was stacked full and grilling a multitude of steaks and sausages. We did run out of gas though, so we resumed cooking on the frying pan. There was plenty of food to be had and it was great to meet the rest of the bridal party, with plans in motion for the stag do as well! Exciting times... Jono and Charlotte's wedding will be only one of three weddings I'm going to this year!
I had dinner with my parents and grandmother at Star Cafe on Manukau Road on Saturday, then went to Ben's for some games afterwards. I got to play Mafia as a real player for the first time in forever, and dominated as a civilian (bahahah). Some interesting rules in this game, I didn't quite like the voting and trial system, but thought that it was interesting that the sniper dies from guilt if he doesn't shoot a Mafia. Might just steal this for my own games ^_^
Sunday was church in the morning, Mexicali Fresh in Newmarket for lunch, DotA in the afternoon (it was grim...), a quick catch up to see my nephew before leaving, then a BBQ with the CSC at Sarah's. Good to see them, even if it only happens once, at approximately the same time each year. I felt a bit bad for turning up (almost uninvited too, trololol), eating, then rushing off to catch my flight.
And so today is Monday and even today is drawing to a close quickly (I've had two naps today). I've had a great Christmas and New Years but it's time to head back to work... soon.