Techno-waffle

I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say today, so I figure what the hell, let’s follow traditional blog form and comment on the day’s news 😀I have a build running in the background, and I’m up to date on the forum (shock!) so I have a little time to kill. There’s been a small glut of comment-worthy news today anyway, so what the hell. Google Maps new Street View feature is really quite cool.

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The Long Tail

Raph Koster posted today about the ‘long tail’ phenomenon as it relates to MMOs, obviously one of his areas of speciality. This is an idea which has been bouncing around for a while, and was coined by Chris Anderson who has a book out about it, but for anyone looking for a quick recap, the idea of the ‘long tail’ relates to plotting a graph of demand / sales / users / pretty much anything when the barrier to entry is low, and observing that as well as the inevitable top 10-20% of products that are wildly successful, there are a huge number of other products that can have measurable success, likely good enough to be completely viable.

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As I’ve mentioned on this blog, I’m loving Guitar Hero 2 - it’s easily my most-played game at the moment, almost to the exclusion of all others (barring the occasional bout of Puzzle Quest and Trackmania). My favourite track at the moment is Monkey Wrench by the Foo Fighters - a great song anyway but really fun to play. I’ve been trying to get five gold stars (no mistakes) on it in Medium but haven’t quite managed it yet, I always seem to screw up one note or other.

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Relatively soon I’m going to have to do some hardware & software upgrades to my equipment here - the initial driving factor being that in order to realistically work on a DirectX10 rendersystem I’m going to have to upgrade my main machine to Vista and buy a 8800 (my main machine is, and probably always will be nVidia based). Yes, I know I can do it using the reference driver, but really, that just sucks and I’d rather be sticking a fork in my leg.

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Now I remember…

Some of you might already know that I started Ogre originally primarily because I wanted to shield my sensitive eyes from the absolute horror that is native D3D code. Obviously it wasn’t long before it was hiding GL too but that remains the original reason I started it - to plaster over wrinkles deeper than Mother Theresas. Anyone who’s had to write a significant amount of D3D code knows what I’m talking about - horrible all-caps structures, unbridled use of Hungarian notation, incredibly sensitive order-dependent windowing hooks, device loss & restoration nightmares, the list goes on.

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I got some very interesting news in my inbox this morning; Linden Lab, makers of Second Life, have aquired Windward Mark Interactive’s WindLight and Nimble technologies, both of which I worked on under contract for WMI on and off over the last few years. For those who missed the original post, here’s what I’m talking about: This is Nimble (volumetric cloud rendering) from last year when I first created the prototype, which uses Ogre obviously, and it incorporates WindLight (which is doing the lighting), which was originally written in 2004.

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I’ve been wondering about the ultimate future of consoles lately, following my conclusion that I don’t have a good reason to join the next-gen yet. Yes, consoles are still the pinnacle of mass-market consumer games but in this latest generation, some serious cracks have started to appear in the business model, in my view. It’s all to do with the costs and the direction in which the technology of the ‘living room device’  is going.

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Adventures in PS2land

So, I’ve been a PS2 owner for all of ten days or so, and what have I learned so far. Well, firstly it doesn’t look anywhere near as hideous on my widescreen TV as I expected. Even with no progressive scan it’s actually quite tolerable and I can’t say I’ve noticed particularly that I’m playing almost seven year old tech. That’s a good start; I expected to be wincing for at least a little while before the pattern recognition kicked in.

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As you may have detected, I’ve been oddly quiet for the last few days, mercifully saving the blogosphere the trouble of carrying my enthusiastically spouted verbiage. The reason is that it’s been a rather busy week, with 2 contracts on the go at once and rather less slack time than I had hoped (no editor work this week), so the forums have been skimmed rather more hurriedly than usual. One of these contracts involves work on OGRE itself, so I can talk freely about it now you can see the results of it in CVS - some enhancements to light scissoring and clipping.

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6 months already??

Yep, I’ve been full-time self-employed for 6 whole months already. Where on earth did that go? 😕 I was getting frustrated at the weekend, partly because of that milestone - feeling like I had nothing but an ever-expanding TODO list in that time. I’m generally always dissatisfied with my productivity - it drives Marie crazy, but it’s a trait that I can’t seem to shake off. Occasionally I’ll be contented (typically for a couple of days after the end of a project), but pretty soon that ‘I wanted to get more done today’ feeling will start creeping back in, the knocking-off time in the evening will start stretching out again, and the weekend working will sneak back, despite my best intentions.

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