I’ve been exhausted after this weekend of DIY (because I’m such a pampered desk-jockey most of the time), so when I haven’t been fixing the odd bug in Ogre, I’ve been unwinding with Psychonauts. I’ve cleared a couple more ‘minds’, and although they all have their own unique style, the Milkman Conspiracy is definitely one of the more memorable. I won’t give anything significant away, but you enter the mind of ‘Boyd’, avid conspiracy theorist, oftentimes guard, and general fruit cake.

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Manual labour

This weekend we started renovating our lounge and dining room, which has proved to be rather messy (not surprisingly). I hate DIY and decorating personally, I’ve never quite understood the facination of changing the colour of walls / floors / ceilings, but it’s true that this did need doing, and my wife is keen to get it done - and given the amount of leeway she’s given me over all the time I spend on OGRE I figure I probably owe her (at least) one.

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Well, it’s been something of a week - a short one at work, since Monday was a bank holiday, but an extremely busy one nonetheless. I was pretty bummed out early-to-mid-week, in part due to the departure of nfz, and in part because work just seemed to be mounting up (at work and for OGRE). There were a couple of serious bug reports with RC2 (Code::Blocks + STLport has problems, combining skeletal animation and pose animation was blowing up), and I now really have to take on the official tech review of xavier’s book that nfz was doing (I was doing it informally) which means stricter review deadlines to adhere to.

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Bad news

I was very sad to hear today that Jeff (nfz) has decided to stand down from the OGRE team for personal reasons; whilst it’s completely understandable, it’s a real blow since I’d really gotten used to having him around, he’s a reliable chap. At the moment that leaves only myself and Genva as truly active members of the OGRE team, the other team members are mostly dormant now. We’ll have to review the situation once 1.

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As the US woke up this morning, the OGRE site was brought to its knees as a great horde descended on it, waving their pointy links menacingly. The dedicated server that runs the OGRE site from an environmentally controlled room in Dallas, TX wimpered and quite understandably, hid under the covers. It took some coaxing to get it to come out again. I had to do a quick on the fly reconfiguration of the web server to get it to scale a little better within its limits (mostly memory) and all should be well now - it’s still pretty heavily taxed, but burning a little cooler now.

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I’d literally just finished doing all the legwork required to get RC2 out the door, and I decided to take a quick peek over a GameDev.net before getting a bite to eat - and incredibly the news was already posted there. I haven’t been doing any official publicity for 1.2.0 (beyond posting on our own site) yet since I thought it best to iron out all the RC wrinkles first, but word of mouth doesn’t take long on the Internet.

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As one of the many paying customers who gets constantly irritated by DRM software, I was glad to hear the news that the infamous copy protection software ‘Starforce’ has been abandoned by Ubisoft, one of their biggest customers. Starforce is particularly vilified because, like the Sony BMG ‘rootkit’, it installs software on your machine which remains even after you uninstall the games it protects, and which introduces horrendous security vulnerabilities while it’s at it (basically it gives any software running on your machine full privileges, opening the door wide open for torjans and other nastiness).

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I’ve updated the skeletal animation sample to include a more interesting example from the Softimage|XSI samples. This model uses 2 bone weights per vertex rather than the single one on the robot which graced the demo before, and is much higher poly, plus the animations are motion captured (I think) so look rather swish. My only problem was making the animation loop, since it includes a translation element. I’ve pretty much got it, there’s a slight hiccup still but it’s probably as good as I’m going to get it right now.

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I tell you, a game hasn’t made me laugh this hard for longer than I can remember - Psychonauts is simply pure genius. I’m not going to get too specific in case you play it yourself (and by God, you should), because some of the comedy impact is in the surprise factor, but it’s just so laugh-out-loud funny. It pains me that so few people seem to have bought it in the US, so all I can say is that if you appreciate great writing, superb imagination and being confronted by something so utterly bonkers that it makes you chuckle for several days afterward just thinking about it, you must buy this game now.

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Psycho-nuts

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary, and on the whole it was a very nice day. We both had the day off, chilled quite a bit in the morning, and went out for lunch to a place on one of the many quays / piers in St Peter Port (my home town) called SaltWater - it’s a little pricey but the food is always very good and it has a nice atmos, and hey, an anniversary is as good a reason as any to treat ourselves.

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