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Tag Archives: video games

New Housemate

My Weighted Companion Cube moved in last week. After showing it around town we took some photos together. Here, it’s debating whether or not to go sledding in the last snowfall of the year (fingers crossed!).

Weighted Companion Cube playing in the snow.

Sadly, in the end, it chickened out. We went to my office for a bit, and it decided to read while I was getting my work done. It seems to have a huge interest in momentum, heat, and mass transfer. For some reason, it keeps asking me about conservation of momentum.

Weighted Companion Cube, reading Welty, Wicks, and Wilson.

I tried to explain the Cauchy momentum equation, but it’s been sooo long since I thought about that stuff. We did have a productive convo about the most efficient way to cool high-powered Disk Operating Systems running Genetic algorithms.

Later, I caught Weighted Companion Cube playing Portal.

My Weighted Companion Cube, euthanizing itself.

I think it’s about to euthanize itself. This is so meta.

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Posted by on April 1, 2008 in Entertainment, Photos

 

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The Bungie Experience

I just got out of a job talk by Bungie; I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is no, I did not win a free copy of Halo 3.

Generally, I’m looking for a new job starting sometime anywhere from 18-20 months from now. Tentatively, I’m going to go into academia in applied math or something along those lines. Realistically, I’m not a prime candidate for a position in a software or gaming company, because my training and experience are in a field that’s only tangentially related (it wouldn’t be impossible, but I assume it’s unusual). I just went to the talk for fun and to think outside of the standard job box a little.

The talk was fun. More technical than I expected. I never thought I’d hear the term “spherical harmonics” come up in a context where I was actually interested. Bungie sounds like a fun and creative place. When I asked if one of the three projects they’re working on now was called “Marathon”, they all looked at the floor. It’s not a “no”, and I’d like to interpret it as a “yes”, but in truth it’s probably just their default response when someone asks a question they aren’t allowed to answer. In all I learned a bit about what goes into making a game like Halo 3 look the way it does, and how some bits and pieces of the things I’ve learned at school are relevant outside of the bubble in which I apply them.

I was struck, however, when they showed a “life at Bungie” video, and only one female employee was shown in the whole company. The flick showed maybe 50 employees in their element (out of more than 200), and they were all guys. I’m sure Bungie is an equal opportunity employer, so I don’t fault them for this. It was just surprising from the perspective of someone in an engineering program with a high proportion of women (50/50 in the undergraduate part of my department). Looking around the job talk it seemed like 20-30% of the attendees were women, and I’m curious why the numbers I see here haven’t trickled down into a prominent company like Bungie. Perhaps after the Jade Raymond controversy, this shouldn’t be a surprise. After getting some press during promotion for Assassins Creed, Raymond was subjected to a myriad of disgusting attacks, and some of the coverage was just outright creepy. That story revealed a lot of prejudice in the gaming community, and perhaps yields a better perspective on the low gender ratio I noticed in the Bungie video than my sheltered University lifestyle.

I don’t really know anything about industry wide stats on this issue, so I’d welcome more information if anyone has it.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2008 in Entertainment

 

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Now You’re Thinking with Portals

The Cake Is a LieWhen I first heard of Portal, it was through a single line reference to the game in an email someone sent to a group list, a sort of inside joke that instantly piqued my interest – “The cake is a lie.” I spent some time trying to figure out what this meant, and soon found the ending video for the game. 

After that I became a bit obsessed with the game.  I downloaded Portal wallpapers, I played through the entire platform-style flash game, I watched video walk throughs of every level of the actual game (with many encore performances of the final level), and I listened to the ending theme song “Still Alive” about forty-thousand times.  It got to the point where I’d walk around town and think about how much faster I could get around with portals, and what the most efficient routes would be.

Some have asked me why I don’t just buy The Orange Box and experience all that is Portal first hand.  The simple answer is that a multi-dimensional, fast-paced, FPS would probably not sit well with my vertigo.  I guess I’ve also sort of technically spoiled it by watching everything online.  In any case, it’s one of the most interesting games I’ve seen (though not played) in a while, and it’s nice to know that other reputable sources agree.

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2007 in Entertainment

 

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