PA on MMOs

Tycho from Penny Arcade had an interesting tidbit today on MMOs (specifically, EVE Online and World of Warcraft):

"EVE Online just released another update, and the trailer is pure sex as usual, but I've figured out what I really want from them: a single player experience. The request is bizarre on the face of it, but I've entered into one of those pendulum phases where I don't value the styles of play that persistent games allow. With the assets and technology they've got on hand, they could dish up space opera in a way that reinforces their existing universe and hauls in genre apostates like myself. World of Warcraft gives me the same feeling at the moment. Both games have incredible art, are vast beyond reckoning, and present thoroughly elaborate contexts for adventure and commerce. Last time I was in Lakeshire, I thought... Man. Somebody should make a game out of all this."

It is pretty much exactly the same thing that I feel about MMOs, of course, more eloquently put than anything that comes out of my mouth.  I like the idea of playing games with my friends and other real people, but there just doesn't seem to be much gameplay there aside from what you create yourself (grind, baby, grind!).


I haven't had a whole lot of time for non-work self-improvement lately, since work, and recovering from it, has taken up most of my time.  We are in the midst of transitioning to Agile Development, and while I think it's a (very) good idea, we are hitting a lot of bumps in the road and it's taking a while to get started.

I spent 9 hours yesterday, and 2 hours this morning, in the first kickoff meeting for one of the teams/pods/cells I'm on.  This was by far the worst of the meetings (and I'm one of the team leaders for that team, so I had to be there for the whole thing), but I am in a few more teams as a non-leader as well.  At least no one expects much work to be done during this planning period.  Any small tasks I can knock off in between meetings are just gravy.

Once we get started, things should move a lot more quickly - the only question that remains to be answered is whether everyone will happily adapt to the new process.  My perception is that the engineers will take to it easily, since we were pretty much working in this way already, but some of the more schedule-oriented disciplines (art) may have some more adjusting to do.  I think the biggest benefit will be working on small chunks of the game at a time, in unison, to make sure that every feature that gets implemented is actually completed to a shippable state.  While we may not end up with all of the features we'd like for launch (who ever does?), what is there will be Good.

Outside of work, I haven't had much time for crafting lately.  I'm still halfway through my next set of coasters.  My current knitting project, a sweater for myself, is done almost entirely in circular stockinette stitch from here on out, and becoming incredibly boring - not to mention that it may very well turn out way too big, if I don't run out of yarn, and have to be frogged and started over.  Now that the weather has turned, I just want to spend my weekends outside - last Saturday I ran at the Sawyer Camp Trail, and Sunday I took a walk around San Francisco to see the Haight Street Fair.  This weekend brings the North Beach Fair, WWKIP Day, and Fathers' Day.  Holidays, festivals, barbecues - rinse, wash, repeat, for the rest of the summer.  We'll see how much downtime comes along :-)
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FutureSarah Update

An update on my other blog:

I spent several hours this weekend migrating FutureSarah to be hosted by  I decided it was time, so I could really customize the site the way I wanted - including adding widgets (BlogRush) to drive traffic to the site, promoting my Etsy shop more heavily, and eventually adding direct PayPal functionality to sell patterns (that have yet to be made).

Style-wise, I am still using a stock template.  A friend is working on a new site design for me, but he has another job that is much more important than my little blog right now.  I'm not sure when it will be done.

Store-wise, I finally got my Etsy shop up and running, with one sparkling item for sale!  There are more to come; I just have to get some more tags made and take the time to list them.

The Wrong Words

So I'm driving to work this morning, listening to The Woody Show on Live 105 like always, and the regular weekly movie segment with Jan Wahl comes on.  Now, let me make this perfectly clear before rumors spread and feelings get hurt (as if anyone of import actually reads this blog) - I like Jan Wahl just fine.  She and I don't always agree on what movies we like, but she gives true and thoughtful reviews, and sometimes lets me know about a smaller movie that I might not have heard of otherwise.

But seriously - I don't get how she fits on this particular radio show.  This is Jan Wahl, "The Hat Lady."  She rates movies by giving them a number of hats.

The Woody Show is the morning program on Live 105, an alternative rock radio station.  It doesn't fit.  She even acknowledges during this segment that they don't like a lot of the movies she likes - the romances, the artsy-fartsy indie films.  Woody and crew are not blind blockbuster movie-goers either - they have intelligent opinions too, they just skew younger.

This morning in particular, they were taking calls from listeners about what everyone's favorite on-screen duos were.  One guy calls in...

Guy:  Hey, yo, what it do.
Woody:  What it do, dude.
Jan Wahl:  What it do!

Huh?  Something about those words coming out of her mouth sounded so out of place.  Later on in the conversation, they were talking about how Tom Cruise, for all his craziness, can be a very good actor.  She says "... he can bring it."  WTF?  I can't handle this kind of street talk coming from anyone over the age of 40.  It just. doesn't. fit.  I am very sorry, Jan Wahl, if I hurt your feelings.  I actually like hearing your reviews on the radio every week; it mixes it up a bit.  Just stick to what you do best, and please consider dropping the slang.


What do we want?  Peace and quiet!!!
When do we want it?  NOW!!!

I woke up at 6am to the calm, soothing sounds of chanting picketers outside my bedroom window.  It was awesome.  Oh, wait - I mean, it totally sucked.

We live across the street from a convalescent home, and got a message in the mail earlier in the week that the employees of the home would be holding a one-day strike on Friday (today).  The letter made me very sympathetic to their cause, explaining in detail exactly why they felt they needed to go on strike (the home had been sold to a new company, who cut their pay and benefits and refused to acknowledge union contracts).  It did not, however, say that they would be shouting through megaphones at 6am.

If I hadn't been late to bed from GDC festivities, I might have found the situation funnier.  They had a union rep there whose entire purpose was to teach the striking people how to chant properly.  They were marching in circles, holding signs, and saying the most ridiculous things (many stolen from the military, kids' camp songs, and cheerleaders).  I'm not sure who they were trying to piss off - but it worked for me!

What do we want?  Contracts!!
When do we want it?  Now!!

Everywhere we go
People want to know
Who we are
So we tell them
We are the union!
The mighty mighty union!  (wtf?)
The (murmur) union
The (murmur) union

What's it about?  Patient care!

I don't know, but I've been told
ANC has a pot of gold!

Si, se puede!  (wtf?)

I had a pillow over my head for three hours, then finally got up and went to work.  Way to start a Friday!!
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    annoyed annoyed

FutureSarah is LIVE!

I started a new blog in the last week or so - the first step towards building a secondary career as an independent crafter.  There is no design to speak of for the site yet, but I plan to start building content and logging my journey toward becoming a bona fide Craft Goddess there.  Check it out, if you are so inclined:
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Press at the GDC

Is it just me, or do other people feel like the Game Developers' Conference has little to no room for journalists?  I get that they want to know about games that are coming out, but that is really what conferences like E3 (min-E3, E for All) and CES are for.  GDC is supposed to be a place where developers go to learn about what we are all up to, not to tell the world about it.  I want a place to learn that isn't overrun with fanboys disguised as members of the press trying to figure out what games are going to be awesome this year.  Besides the keynotes, and maybe even then, this really seems like it's not the place for them.  There are game developers here, but we are not here to hype.  We are here to make better games.  I hope they don't turn this into the next E3.

This all came to a head for me when I was listening to Live 105 on my commute to work this morning, and their weekly game segment with Steve Masters (gottgame-with-two-t's-dot-com!!!) brought up the fact that San Francisco was host to the GDC this year, which was next week, and everyone should be excited about it!!!!!  Maybe I'm just jaded, but I want a little peace in my developent community gatherings.  The GDC expo floor is (or used to be) mostly about tools and middleware, rather than promotion of upcoming games.  That should be a big clue to journalists that this event is not for them.

Anyway - I will not be attending GDC proper this year.  We had one classic pass to share among 5 client engineers, and since I've been to the conference a handful of times before (and experienced the diminishing returns year after year), I decided to let the other engineers who haven't been before have a little more time.  I do have plans to be downtown Tuesday through the weekend, though, to meet with game dev friends who are in town for the conference and network/recruit for my company.  One cannot deny that there is plenty of fun to be had, outside the conference doors.
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    irritated irritated

In which Sarah gets political.

I watched the Democratic debate tonight after I got home from work/gym, and while I'm still supporting Obama, I feel much better about the possibility of Clinton getting the nomination.  I had pretty much been ignoring all the previous debates and commercials and other propaganda, reading only what came up on my CNN news feed.  I had no sense of what Hillary was like as a public speaker.  Overall, I was impressed with her performance.

I started wondering, during the course of the debate, whether I had chosen the right candidate.  I really tried to focus on the differences in their policies, and not on who looked and acted more "presidential."

Do you remember when Clinton wrote her book, It Takes a Village?  Yeah, I didn't read it, either.  Last night, though, I think I started to understand her philosophy on the purpose of government.  All through the different topics - the current mortgage crisis, health care, entertainment content for children - her policy centered around taking care of America.  It seems she and I agree on what the current problems are, but I don't really agree with the ways she wants to solve them.

In contrast to her ideas, Obama wants to empower Americans to take care of themselves.  While Clinton wants to give us food, Obama wants to teach us to fish.  I am half bleeding-heart liberal, half libertarian.  I see that the government has been making things unnecessarily easy for the wealthy and leaving others behind, but I don't think the rest of the country's citizens need to lift everyone up, mandating what is "good" for everyone.  I think we should enable people to make their own choices and stand up for themselves.  Clinton makes healthcare mandatory for everyone; Obama just wants to make sure it's affordable so anyone who wants coverage can get it.  Clinton wants to freeze ARM rates for existing mortgages to help people who were dumb enough to take those loans; Obama sees that this will make it harder for future homebuyers and cost reasonable citizens money.

Anyway, there is my slightly rambling opinion on the two remaining Democratic candidates.  I like that both of them are advocating great changes from the current administration, and I like that whichever candidate gets nominated, we will be making history.  The greatest feeling I have, though, is that in contrast to the 2004 election, this year I was excited by all of the (Democratic) candidates.  Four years ago, the overriding theme seemed to be to pick the most electable candidate to go up against Bush; it didn't matter which because anything was better than what we had.  We ended up with a nominee that we didn't really care about.  This year, these people are trying to make the change I want to see in the world.  I can't wait to see what happens come November :-)
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    optimistic optimistic


Yesterday was supposed to be a Good Day.  It started out well - running with momentum from the weekend and Monday, I woke up in the morning and went immediately downstairs to make pizza dough with my spankin' new Kitchenaid stand mixer.  It went fantastically, and was in the fridge before I went to work, to be ready to bake at dinnertime.

A few minutes after I arrived at work, loud things started happening around me.  This is normal - I sit with design, art, and marketing, in addition to being about 10 feet from the kitchen and bathrooms.  Today, however, people were running through the area, in addition to the regular chatter.  The water valve on the urinal in the men's bathroom was broken, and wouldn't stop running.  The men's bathroom has no drain.  The water was leaking out to the carpeted hallway. was gonna be one of those days.

Someone grabbed a screwdriver and shut off the water to the broken valve.  I'm not sure whether or not it got fixed; I was trying to ignore all the noise and get my work done.  The rest of the afternoon was pretty uneventful until I heard about this:

Northbound 101 closed at Redwood City

I decided to take 880 North to the San Mateo Bridge to get home instead of my usual route, knowing in advance that all possible detours would be overrun with commuters trying to do exactly the same thing.  It ended up taking me almost an hour just to get *to* the peninsula, and when I got there, I realized that they had closed Southbound 101 as well.  No gym for me.  I went home to get a jump on delicious homemade pizza dinner.

I threw some herbs and tomato sauce together to simmer on the stove while I prepared the crust.  It wasn't quite round, but it was mine.  I dusted my NEW pizza spade peel (whatever it's called, the wooden thing that you use to get pizza into the oven) with cornmeal, just as directed, and put the dough on top.  I topped it with the sauce, cheese, and even some thin-sliced tomatoes and chopped basil.  Beautiful!  The oven finished preheating, and I slipped the pie into the oven.

At least, I tried to.

The pizza was too heavy, or something, to slide off of the wood.  I tried shaking the spade peel, like they do at CPK - all that achieved was getting the tomatoes and cheese to start sliding off.  I grabbed a wide spatula to help slide the pizza.  The dough actually started to wrap itself around the spatula.  I went to dislodge that, and tomatoes and cheese started falling off - onto the stone, onto the floor of the oven, everywhere.  DAMMIT.  I wrestled to get it out of the oven, and yelled to Jon, "I broke the pizza."  He came into the kitchen to look; I think he was holding back chuckles.  I was almost in tears.  I haven't actually ruined dinner (to the point where you can't finish) in a very long time.

I felt silly being so upset over this.  I think it was so hard for me because these were all my new toys - the mixer, the spade peel, the stone - and I was really excited to play with them.  We munched on raw pizza for a few minutes (not too much; I don't know what uncooked dough does in your body), then Jon made some hot dogs for himself.  I was too worn out from the day to eat, though I eventually had a bowl of Cheerios.

I worked on my quilt a little and watched American Gladiators, then played some Boom Boom Rocket (new song pack, yay!) before going to bed.  These things cheered me up , thank god :-)

p.s.  No, I didn't take any pictures of the broken pizza.  It was too sad.
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    crushed crushed