Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Machinima Tips

To save valuable animator time, we'll have the mission designers script cut scenes using the paltry in-game tools and script language. I did some of this over the vacation, using this advice from James Zachary, our lead animator:
- when two characters are conversing, the camera shouldn't cross the line between them
- it's better to not have the character smack in the center of the screen, but off to one side
- a little motion on the camera is good
And this advice from Cathy Pascual, my wife, an amateur photographer:
- use the 'rule of thirds' to make a pleasing composition. Cut your image in three, and have your subject be on one of the lines, or filling one of the thirds.
- Closer is better. You don't need to have the entire subject in frame: you can achieve good results by focusing on a specific feature of your subject.
- Varying your shots can be dramatic: if your first shot is from below, try having the next shot be from above.
I've learned that our algorithmic tools for placing the camera didn't get decent results: the computer is good at putting your subject in the center and not much else. To make sure I was getting dramatic close ups from interesting angles I had to manually place the camera in the scene myself. Maybe with days of work I could program a camera to fill the frame with its subject and to obey the rule of thirds, but it took me less than a day to manually place the camera where I needed it for my purposes.
Something to remember if you ever find yourself doing some quick-and-dirty machinima.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

More on Dvorak

While in Australia, I was drilling for one to three hours a day with Typing of the Dead using Dvorak. I'm getting to the point where I'm not horrible, but I'm nowhere near my old blazingly fast QWERTY speed. What slows me down is mistakes, of which I make two kinds:
- My fingers reach for the old, familiar QWERTY position of the given letter.
And, far more commonly,
- My fingers reach for a key that seems almost random. Sometimes, when reaching for a semi-rare key, such as 'k' or 'f', my fingers will instead go for a different semi-rare key. ('j' or 'y'.) It's as if at some level my nervous system is saying "I don't remember where that particular rare key is, but this is a rare key, so maybe this is it." Other times, it will be the right finger, wrong position.
- My fingers skip a letter. This is weird...I'll be looking at the letter I'm supposed to type, and my fingers jump the gun and hit the next letter in the word.
I've also learned that learning to type is not a fun game. Each day I get marginally better, but it is such a narrow margin that if Dvorak Typing Of The Dead was a game I was playing just for fun, I would have shelved it already.

Monday, January 05, 2004

It's that time of year again

Whoops. Temporarily posted a rough list of my picks for game of the year, 2K3. Fact is, I don't have enough data to do it yet. Still need to play Deus Ex, and Rise of Nations, and Beyond Good and Evil. Then I'll be informed. Unfortunately, the crunching continues at work, and likely will continue all the way until we ship, so I may not get to play these games until May or something. So my top 5 list is going to be very late.

Sunday, January 04, 2004


Two meaty Managers in A Strange Land went up while I was gone. Here and here.

Thoughts on Australia:

The Sydney Centrepoint Tower is way more impressive than the Seattle space needle. I haven't been there since 1990, so I had forgotten this.

It is illegal for the unlicensed public to hold a koala, but we did find an opportunity for my wife to pet one.

Some toilets in Australia have two buttons: one for a half-flush, and one for a whole flush, so you can tailor your flushing to your excretory needs. Ever since I lived there at the tender age of five I've been impressed that Australians don't use the word bathroom or restroom for public toilets but rather the euphemism-free "toilet." When I returned to the States at the age of six I continued to call them toilets until the age of seven when I finally succumbed to peer pressure and reverted to "bathroom." My friend Andy Lloyd shared my disdain for the American euphemism and would often ironically ask a host, "Can you direct me to your facilities? I need to go 'rest.'"