The Challenges of Passion and Lifetime Aspirations

About a month ago, I was talking to my mom about joining the global game jam. After expressing my hope that somehow I could win the said contest, she responded with the question: “What else do you have to prove?”. I was caught off-guard that I just said, “I think you don’t understand” and she really admitted that I was right. She’s enigmatic with why I’m doing such things. She asks similar questions whenever I follow something that I want to do or when I want to learn a new skill. Don’t get me wrong. In the end, my parents usually support me on my final decision, though there are a lot of times, I’m being questioned about my priorities. So why did I made such decisions in my career path? Why do I continue to study a new skill? Why can’t I just focus on getting a high-paying job and buy all the stuff that I want? To be honest, I know getting rich will make me happy, but definitely not as happy as achieving my lifetime aspirations and doing what I love to do. I only have one life, and I want to make the most out of it rather than just having an abundant lifestyle…

A Dream Job

It has been my dream since high school to create a video game of my own. Back then, I had no idea how hard it is to make one. Right after I graduated from college, I applied for a game programmer job, but little did I know that they were requiring a game portfolio, something that I don’t have. That moment slapped me to reality, and I considered forgetting that dream and pursue a different track. The first company that I worked for has been good to me and I had a lot of fun working with the people there. They taught me a lot of things about software engineering and project management that are deemed useful, even in my current job. They even gave me the opportunity to work in Japan for three months (something I really dreamed of since I became a fan of Japanese media). I did well with the first path I chose, but then I reached the point where I ask myself the “what if’s”. What if I tried harder and  became a game developer? What if I made my own portfolio and showed it to other companies?

That’s when I resigned from my previous job to give my dream a second chance. It was a hard decision, but I’ll stay restless if I don’t make my paradigm shift. And so, I tried to apply for game development companies once again but this time, I passed all of the applications including a whole-day technical exam. That’s when I started living my dream job. Even though, I had a lot of development experience from my previous company, I still have a lot to learn when it comes to game dev. I’m enjoying the learning process nonetheless. I can’t say that everything went smoothly, but it’s part of every software engineering job. It didn’t take long to have my affirmation that I really love making games, and I want to stay in this industry. By the way, we recently released a game last November. You might want to check it out V(^_^).

I still have a lot of goals that I want reach in this field. More than being a game programmer, I want to give life to my game ideas and make a name in this industry. Sounds ambitious? Well sometimes, it’s part of following your passion. You don’t settle with mediocrity.

Beyond The Educated Skill

Working with a team is really good when it comes to game development, but sometimes, my renaissance soul keeps kicking me out of the box and urging me to learn new things and combining it with what I already know. I remembered one time when I was in the training for department leads, we were asked about our dreams. What I said was, “I want to be a one-man game development team”. And I’m really serious about it. I want to learn more about art, music, game design, and other aspects of game development. Back when I applied for my current company, I made a demo game on my own, from design to programming. The sound effects were not that special and the 3D models were not optimized at all, but for me, it pushed me a step closer to what I wanted to achieve. It’s not easy studying several fields, especially if it’s not part of your natural skill set or educational background. I’m not recommending you to do the same, but if you’re really itching to learn something new, then by all means, go forth and level up!

A Demo Game I Made on My Own: Word Panic Type K!

Does that mean that I want to go solo all the way when time permits? No, not at all. I still know my limitations, and some of my ideas are just too enormous to be done alone, in which case, I will find other talented people that are willing to collaborate. Besides, I want to learn more stuff from other game developers. I also want to help other designers to develop their game when I have some spare time. Just like in game jam, the output game is a valuable prize for itself.

Balancing Passion and Knowledge Aspiration with Sustenance and Financial Responsibilities

It’s a lot of fun doing what you really love to do, but that doesn’t mean that you will ignore your finances in turn. Remember that without proper sustenance, passion alone won’t survive, and you may end up broke and unable to continue your works. It will be a lot better if you plan how to convert your passion and interests into something that will improve your entire lifestyle. Moreover, if you have financial responsibilities, learn to compromise as necessary. If you’re one of the breadwinners in the family (like me), find a way that you’ll be able to earn enough out of your interests and passion. Learn to save money by treating it as a bill, making sure that you won’t run out of resources at any given time (just like in RTS games). Worst case, you have to postpone your goals until you have a steady cash flow. Just make sure you keep track of time while waiting for that moment, we’re not forever young, and it’s hard (though not impossible) to pursue your passion at an older age.

Well, I hope you readers are following your own passion and succeed in your respective fields. There’s nothing wrong if you’re really aiming for a better income, it’s practical and beneficial, but if there’s a way to get it while fueling your passion, won’t you grab the opportunity to do so?  Remember, you only live once, and you have one shot to reach your aspirations and live the life the way you want it to. (~^_^)~

Next Post: I need a breather from long posts so I’ll post my first entry for random quotes series V(-_-)V

An Art Exhibit in the Eyes of a Non-artist

The second week of February marks the start of  UP (University of the Philippines) Fair, but I learned that the UP Diliman College of Fine Arts are having a fair of its own showcasing the talents of the students as a celebration for Fine Arts week. I was able to visit the exhibit last Wednesday and even though I have no solid background in the field of art, I don’t think it’s necessary to recognize the beauty of such artworks. An artist told me about art appreciation, being able to look at an artwork and forming an opinion out of it. It is subjective and there is no wrong or right way of interpretation. With this, let me give you some of my thoughts while viewing these works.

Fear of Abstract

Before attending the exhibit, I was worried that most of the paintings that I’ll see there will be abstract art. I fear that I won’t comprehend the message that the artwork is trying to convey. My other option is to check the technique and materials used, but one artist told me that the common misconception about abstract art is that it’s so simple to do. To execute it properly, one must have a keen eye for composition, color balancing, and other stuff (sorry, the other stuff registered to me as jargons XD) such that each part fits desirably with each other. Well , I don’t have such eyes, so I settled with having my own perspective on what I think are abstract artworks. Actually, some of them have descriptions, so I wasn’t entirely clueless with what the painting is trying to tell me.

What I see in this painting is a zoomed-in view of a man’s beard after licking an ice cream.

Artist: Nathan Santos

Title: Oops I licked it
Artist: Nathan Santos

I had fun with this artwork after identifying an image of a face with his or her tongue shown to catch the falling grapes. Can you see it too? 🙂

Artist: Ian Quimbo

Title: Food of the Dogs
Artist: Ian Quimbo

Since this is entitled In Birth, I suppose this is an image of a fetus.  The part that I find interesting in this artwork is the use of lottery tickets and receipts for his materials.

Artist: Anthony Sierra

Title: In Birth Artist:
Anthony Sierra

Precision in Free Form

I’m impressed with some of the artworks that were precisely drawn without using any measurement tools. This is the first thing I observed probably because as a programmer, I implement and check the position of each component present in a software or a game.  I can only imagine doing such things in Photoshop or other graphics software, but these artists were able to do it with only their eyes as the ruler.

I imagine doing this in Photoshop and duplicating a layer to place it in different positions. However, this artist is on an entirely different league. It’s as if each image of the shoe were measured before it was drawn. This is just amazing.

Artist: Amboochi

Title: Hype
Artist: Amboochi

The first time I saw this two-sided painting, I would like to spin it and see what happens, but of course, I can’t do that, so I took the liberty to animate it in Photoshop. Notice that the two images are nearly (if not exactly) the same in position. I think this is not easy for something that is completely hand drawn. Impressive.

Artist: Anna Leah Aldaba

Title: Stand Still
Artist: Anna Leah Aldaba

Coin

Animated using Adobe Photoshop CS5. Click to load animation.
Size: 6.39 MB

This, in my opinion, is one of the artworks that has the most difficult execution. I can’t imagine how the heck did the artist visualized the intersecting lines in order to form an image.  I can only see this possible by using a 3D graphics software (using wireframes).
This artwork is magnificent, hands down m(_ _)m.

Artist: Genavee Lazaro

Title: Nails and Threads
Artist: Genavee Lazaro

There’s Pop!

I was surprised that some of the artworks were referenced from popular media like novels, movies, and cartoons. I find this as the most relaxing part of my viewing since I don’t have to think of anything, I just need to relate the artwork from its inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, I really love the other artworks, but these parts gave me the breather that I need to digest more of the non-pop ones.

Look! It’s Jack Frost!

Artist: Daniella Dy-Liacco

Title: Jack Frost
Artist: Daniella Dy-Liacco

What time is it? Alphabet Time!

Artist: Jobi Gutierez

Title: Alphabet Time
Artist: Jobi Gutierez

I really had fun with this one. From my favorite love story – Densha Otoko

Artist: Minty Contreras

Title: Chance Densha Otoko
Artist: Minty Contreras

In the end, it was a fun-filled learning experience. I encourage you to try it yourself. Maybe you’ll find something more than I did or maybe something different. It may even unlock an artist within you. Just remember when you visit an art exhibit, relax and see what you see. Again, it’s art appreciation. You form your own vision about the artwork, so might as well have fun doing it (~^_^)~. More pictures that I’ve taken from the exhibit can be found here.

Special thanks to all the artists and art enthusiasts who shared their knowledge on this topic. Your help is much appreciated.

Next Post: Do people understand the things that you do to follow your dream or passion?

My Tech Leap Part 2: From N70 to Play

I’m not fancy about mobile phones. If it can send a text message and make a phone call, then that would be enough for me. However, if entertaining mobile games and useful applications enter the picture, then it’s a different story. The features that mobile phones offer nowadays are too spectacular to ignore. With that, I have two options. An iOS or an Android phone. Looking at the price difference made it easier for me to decide which one to choose. Anyway, I’m not here to compare the two mobile operating systems. Like what I did with my previous post, I’ll just show you how much has my mobile device leveled up (or is it?). Before proceeding,  let me give a short back story.

Meant to Play

This article could have been entitled My Tech Leap Part 2: From N70 to Galaxy Ace if the said phone was not stolen in the MRT. The worst part is… it was only a month old. I learned how to be more careful with my valuables the hard way. I waited for six months just to have a separate budget for a new phone. I saw one of my officemates playing with  his Xperia play and I was instantly hooked with the PlayStation control interface. I just saw my target phone. The funny thing here is that like my laptop, I bought my Xperia Play cheaper than my previous phone (Xperia Play – 13,500 pesos and N70  – 14,000 pesos). Actually, the original price of Play was around 20,000 pesos, but since it phased out quite quickly, the store where I bought it sold it to a much cheaper price. It was the last stock that they have, so I didn’t have any second thoughts and quickly purchased the phone.

Storage Capacity

N70: 22 MB (internal) , 1 GB (external)
Play:  400 MB (internal), 32 GB (external)

Having 32 times the storage of my previous phone, what can go wrong?  Well, here’s the problem.  A lot of Android applications use the internal memory without the option to transfer it to your external card. Imagine how frustrating it is that you have this large external storage and yet you are forced to settle with less than a gigabyte of memory. I mean… c’mon!
With this, I decided to execute a hack that will link the applications to a partition of the phone’s external memory. This involves rooting the android phone. The process may be inconvenient, but if it lets me play more games and utilize my phone’s capabilities with more tools and applications, why not? Besides, I’m fond of tinkering stuff specially gadgets and software.

Speed and Memory

N70: 220 MHz
Play: 1 GHz  and 522 MB RAM

To be honest, both phones bog down when their storage space are getting used up.  I find it more noticeable in Play though. Probably, because android applications are more resource-intensive compared to symbian apps. Yet again, it’s a gaming phone, so I’m expecting more XD. The hiccups will be more noticeable if a lot of processes are running at the same time. I advise you to check your running processes in your settings if you experience some slowdown. You possibly need to free up some memory to run your apps at normal speeds.

Games and Applications

N70: Java – Normal Keypad
Play: Android and PS1 Port – PlayStation Controller Interface, Touch Screen, Gyroscope, GPS

Ah the real reason I bought an Xperia Play. All the amazing android games that can compete with the iOS counterparts can be played for a cheaper price. Not only that. Some of the games released are optimized specifically for this phone to take advantage of the PS1 controls built-in with this device. If you’re still not convinced, how about playing PS1 games on your phone? You can now play Crash Bandic0ot, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Battle Arena Toshinden among other classics in the convenience of a handheld device.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of symbian java games that are considerably fun like Zuma, Age of Japan, and Sim Babe. However, compared to the likes of Temple Run, Ingress, Anomaly Korea, and Logo Quiz, the java games didn’t stand a chance.
The Android Market now called Google Play also hosts a lot of useful applications like Evernote, Expense Manager, and Wisepilot which transform an Android phone into an ultimate resource and productivity tool.

Battery

This is where N70 clearly beats the Xperia Play or any Android device for that matter. Android is known for its high battery consumption, which sometimes makes it inconvenient for using it outdoors. The N70 can last around 42 hours while the Xperia Play can survive for barely 24 hours provided you only use it for text messages. Try to use it for wi-fi, GPS, and android apps for several hours, and you’re lucky enough if it can last for 16 hours. N70 can be fully charged for just 45 minutes while Xperia will take around an hour and a half to reach 100%.

As a miscellaneous comparison, let’s compare the camera of both phones.

XperiaPlay

Using N70 Camera

N70

Using Xperia Play Camera

Oh, did I mention that Xperia Play’s camera doesn’t have a zoom functionality? The camera for this device doesn’t use a lens that is capable of zooming. This is really a problem when taking pictures in events such as conventions, concerts, seminars, etc.

Xperia Play is a phone that can stamp you as a certified gamer, but if you’re looking for a phone with more power and storage space, then I suggest you consider the more recent models of Xperia instead. If you still insist to buy one, I wish you luck to find a stock, and hopefully you enjoy and utilize the phone’s features as much as I do (~-_-)~. Well then, time to resume my Crash Bandicoot gaming session!

Next post: I’ll take a break from tech talk and tell you about my experience on attending an art exhibit. ‘Til next time!

My Tech Leap Part 1: From Vostro 1500 to CX61

So I bought a new laptop about a couple of weeks ago and so far I’m more than satisfied with its performance. Just when I thought that my old laptop was powerful enough to cater my needs for 10 years, I felt the urge of getting a better rig. I was motivated to buy a new one since one of my goals this year is to execute my personal projects (mostly video games and other types of visual media). Comparing my Dell Vostro 1500 with my new MSI CX61 reminded me on how fast the computing technology have progressed for the past five years. Though I must admit that both of my laptops were not top of the line during the time I bought them, a closer look at their specifications will be more than enough to tell a story.

Vostro_vs_CX

MSI CX61 (top) and Dell Vostro 1500

Processor

Vostro 1500: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz
CX61: Intel Core i7 2.4 GHz

One of the advatanges of waiting for years before buying a new laptop is that you can really tell the difference in processing power. With my Cx61, I’ve installed Visual Studio 2010, Unity 3D ver 4.0, and Adobe CS5 with half the time as my previous laptop. I have to say though, Vostro’s processor is not something to underestimate. I was able to use this laptop in the recently concluded Global Game Jam to create a full 3D game under 48 hours. Considering that the game project can be built in Unity under 10 minutes, I can say that it has exceeded my expectations given that it has been used for five years.

RAM

Vostro 1500: 2 GB DDR2
CX61: 16 GB DDR3

This is one of the specifications that makes the CX61 a good buy. Sixteen gigabytes of RAM. Seriously? Other brands that offer such amount of memory are way more pricey than this machine. With this, I’ve upgraded my OS to 64-bit since the 32-bit can only utilize up to 4 GB of RAM. With regards to Vostro, I’ve used it for fairly memory-intensive tasks like 3D Modeling and video editing. It can survive, though I’ve experienced some noticeable hiccups like when I use DAZ 3D.

Video

Vostro 1500: NVidia GeForce 8600M GT (256 MB)
CX61:  NVidia GeForce GT 645M (2 GB)

VGA cards evolved so fast for the last five years, I was not informed that NVidia now uses the Optimus technology. To keep it simple, it enables a notebook computer to switch between two video adapters either for maximum quality or minimum power consumption. This will utilize the machine’s battery life. Now my only nitpick is that the resolution of CX61 is 1366 x 768 with a display size of 15.3 inches. The height is a little off for me considering that my Vostro has a maximum resolution of 1280 x 800 with a display size of 15.4 inches.

Hard Disk

Vostro 1500: 120 GB
Cx61: 750 GB

Five years ago, I thought 120 GB was more than enough to store every application that I need. After two months, I realized that it was not the case thanks to Wi-fi and Japan’s fast internet connection (Yes I bought my Vostro when I was in Japan).  I decided to give a threshold to my file storage such that I’ll back up some of my files when I reach a certain number of gigabytes left for my hard disk. This resulted to over 70 backup DVD’s some of which are dual-layered and my disc binder is about to get full. With the CX61, I don’t think I’ll worry about that for a while… I hope. The funny thing is that with over six times the capacity of my previous laptop, I’m still itching to create some backup discs right now. Ah the force of habit XD.

It’s a good thing I found a budget laptop that still packs a punch when it comes to performance. I hope it’s the same for the durability department. My Vostro costs around 116,000 Yen (about 58,000 pesos) but given that it served me well for five years, I can say that I already got my money’s worth. My Cx61 only costs 37,500 pesos which is pretty low considering the specifications I mentioned above. Well I’ll try to create and play some games to do some benchmarking but that’s for another post V(^_^). If you have any questions regarding these two machines then feel free to post a comment below. (~-_-)~

For my next post, I’ll compare my almost six year-old phone Nokia N70 with my less than a year old phone Xperia Play.