Tag Archives: work

console2

For -years- I have hoped and searched and wished and moaned for lack of a halfway decent terminal emulator on Windows. Specifically, one that:

  1. Lets me use my standard unix toolset.
  2. Gives me a command line interface to the host machine WITHOUT requiring me to do something ridiculous like ssh’ing to localhost or firing up an x11 server…
  3. Realizes that sometimes the display is wider than 80 characters…
  4. Provides customizable color codes (#006 on black really stinks).
  5. Doesn’t set TERM=something-nobody-supports.

One wouldn’t think this was too much to ask. But none of the major open source projects of which I am aware provide this. I even tried my hand at writing one myself but got distracted before it was any good.

So, for years, I have used Cygwin xterms and rxvt as a mildly tolerable alternative to, well, nothing.

Today, a coworker and I discovered a 3-year-old blog post promoting Console, a GPL licensed CMD.exe replacement that matches all of my base criteria plus my big dream feature of tabs. TABS!

Console2, Where have you been all my life?!

The project is ancient – but I was using linux desktops for work back in its early days so that probably accounts for my missing it back then.

In the grand tradition of old Sourceforge projects, there is no installer. You just decompress it somewhere and run the exe directly.

When I launched it the first time, I was unsurprised by the 80×25 courier 10 cmd.exe shell it launched by default. I opened the settings menu and was very very pleased with what I found on the first screen. A few minutes later, I had it pointing at my cygwin install:

And a few minutes later:

Continue reading console2

metaplace response

Well, the response in the media is pretty much what I expected. Some people get it. Some don’t. In fact, lots of people don’t. The Slashdot peanut gallery have their standard issue complaints and fears and generalized whining comments proving that they need a long session with a cluebat. I’m almost kind of embarrassed to have reported the story to them. I figure I may as well answer a few of the more notable concerns people have raised.

It’s just VRML all over again!
No. It isn’t. VRML was a poorly supported web browser extension. It piggybacked on the hype surrounding “virtual reality” that was so popular in the early 90’s. Metaplace is a game platform. Yes, in theory, you could use it to build a 3d rotating model of a cow (or whatever it was that people tried to use VRML for – I think I only ever stumbled across two sites attempting to use the stuff, and one was the cow)… but you can also use it to build a 2d sidescrolling platformer or a puzzle game or an identical clone of roughly half of all virtual worlds currently on the market. It wouldn’t be unthinkably difficult to re-create Habbo Hotel or Club Penguin or even Puzzle Pirates on the Metaplace platform (and, just in case I’ve not been clear on this in the past, Puzzle Pirates really is awesome, btw…).
It’s just a Second Life clone!
No. It isn’t. Second Life is a walled garden. Second Life is a single virtual world that gives users an enormous amount of freedom to deface the experiences of others. It’s a proprietary system. It only works on certain hardware and offers the users no protection from flying 3d models of genitalia and v1agr ads…

Metaplace provides an experience more like the web – individual builders will have control over the content of their worlds. Anyone can create a web page today and control what is or is not allowed on there. Likewise, anyone will be able to create a metaplace virtual world and will have control over who is allowed to build there. If you don’t want random users to be allowed to past video of barfing dogs all over your chess tournament world, you don’t have to let them.

It’s just a Multiverse clone!
No. It isn’t. Multiverse is a Windows-only proprietary system for creating/playing 3d games. They license the technology out. It also has an utterly enormous learning curve to entry. The tutorial docs on the wiki are just insane – pages and pages of instructions on how to do things that can be done with two or three clicks in Metaplace. If you want to play in a Multiverse game, you have to register for an account, accept strange DirectX EULA’s, etc… If you want to play in a Metaplace game, you probably already have a suitable client installed, and you only have to register for an account if the game itself requires it (ie, for saving character data or something similar).

Metaplace is also not locked down to a single client. Currently, yes, we are writing a Flash 9 client, but that doesn’t mean that all worlds will be restricted to what can be done in Flash. Eventually, there will be DX10 and OGL and whatever else people write for clients. Some worlds will be able to run on cell phone clients while some might require a hardware accelerated 3d client. We’re opening up the network protocol so anyone who wants to can build their own client. I would love it if somebody wrote a cross-platform standalone hardware accelerated client during alpha 😉

It’s a conspiracy! They’re trying to get other people to do the work for them!
Huh? What part of user generated content don’t people get? 🙂 Yes, the alpha test application asks about your prior programming experience because we’re releasing a platform for developers. We’d love it if somebody wrote their own building tools for our platform during alpha… but we already have decent tools for that sort of thing, so we’re really interested in people who are going to build and play games with the technology.
Raph’s letting all of his fans down! He’s not writing a new game after all!
Actually he is designing a game. And it’s cool. We’re not just throwing an empty platform out there, devoid of content. We like fun. We’re all gamers and game developers here. We’re building a platform that we intend on using ourselves – to release games 😉 It just so happens that we also believe that the future is in letting people build their own content to be consumed wherever they feel like, so we’re giving the platform away in order to help make that happen.
Hah! Open! Lies!
We honestly are committed to open standards. We’re also committed to the notion of building a stable, quality product. To quote the announcement dev blog post:

… As part of that, we also committed to an open markup standard for our network protocol – anyone can write a client for any platform they want. We decided to use Web standards for everything we could, which is why you can have a game world that is also a website, or use Web data to populate your world. The scripting language (we call it MetaScript, of course) is based on Lua. You get the idea – no “not invented here,” no closed proprietary approaches.

We hope to release as much of our code to the public as is feasible, as soon as it’s actually ready for release. Creative Commons licensing is a possibility.

It’s all for 13-year-old girls!?!11one!!
The screenshots released and the worlds demoed so far are unfortunately all mellow, pastel, and/or Seussian. And, I will admit that Cuppy built something involving ponies… But there is (and will continue to be) much more content than that. Internally, our more popular games on the platform involve shooting things (and each other) with plasma canons and shotguns. We plan on releasing a bucketload of content for the platform, across multiple genres.

Personally, I am so writing a chess tournament system when I get the chance – and that’ll be code that I release for people to use to build on for their own games (the chess board and the tournament ladder system as separate components), etc… I also want to write a tower defense game… and a farming sim… and a multi-player Zelda style action rpg… and a turn-based tactical strategy game… and… well, yeah. I’ll probably see if I can’t write a Jabber chat proxy too, while I’m at it 😉 Oh, and some SIMud/Walraven type content too…

Of course, lots of people out there really do get it. My favorite article so far has been the one on GigaOM.

Oh, and the BBC posted a short (2 minute) video of Raph demoing some aspects of the platform. Not everyone’s computers can play WMV, however, so I posted it to YouTube in stead.

moving on

Well, most people who will care already know this, but today was officially my last day working for Terralever. They’re a great company full of wonderful people. I learned a lot while here and worked on a lot of interesting projects. They’re actually hiring ActionScript developers (real programmers to do real programming, that is), and I’d recommend the job wholeheartedly.

I wasn’t actually looking for a new job. I’ve got a 3-month-old daughter and a mortgage only slightly older than that 😛 But, I also stumbled across an opportunity that was entirely too good to ignore.

Areae Logo

No, I can’t pronounce it either. Nobody can.

See… I’ve always wanted to work in the video game industry (some times more than others), and I’ve been a big fan of Raph Koster‘s work for a while now. I’ve read his book and agree with most of the things he says in it.

I’d actually read the news on the day Raph and John announced the company and was intrigued. I looked at their job postings and didn’t see anything that fit me very well, so I passed it up.

Then, a little while ago, a new list of job postings went out and I actually matched two of the positions… after a bit of bullying from friends, and a lot of agonizing over the potential heartache, I figured I may as well apply for both of them. I interviewed with the team shortly thereafter, got along great with people, liked the environment, and am absolutely in love with the project. It’s gonna be awesome.

I’m not doing this for any sort of perceived financial gain that might come from it. I have no illusions that I’m getting any measurable pay raise out of this. I’m doing it because it’s about as close as I can realistically get to my dream job. I’m doing it because I believe in the project’s goals. I’m doing it because I’m a great big dork who’s never really taken a chance like this before. I’m doing it because I don’t think I could ever forgive myself for not doing it.

Our house is 90% packed. We’ve done some minor repairs and painting in order to make the place more attractive to renters. We have a short lease on a medium-sized apartment in Escondido. If the place works out, great. If not, we’re not tied down to it.

We pick up the U-haul next Tuesday morning. If all goes well, we arrive in California early the following day.

I start work on the 30th. 🙂

enemy hideout

Well, it’s more than a little bit official by now so I figure I should mention it here and get around to updating my resume. I’m employed as a full-time software developer type person at Enemy Hideout, LLC. We do programatic Flash development for projects that require more brainpower than the average design monkey can handle – ie object oriented programming and other stuff that requires more than 2 or 3 lines of code at a time 🙂

Currently, we’re still stuck in the realm of web pages and customer service type applications but are hoping that the recent release of Flash 9 (and more importantly ActionScript 3) will put us in a position to work on much more serious products (like networked games).

The office is decorated primarily in comic books. We’ve had really bad luck with photos so far. I therefore link to the best one anyone’s managed to produce yet – and am going to try again next week to see if I can’t finally take a good shot.

update: No, I never did take a good shot. Feh.

google revisited

The big news today is of course that I hit 60 in WoW. The big big news is that Google called me back again. Apparently I am back in the contention, possibly for a position in the new Phoenix office – but I am still hoping to be able to land at the Googleplex.

Yesterday or the day before, I had sent in an application for a general linux sysadminly job to Mythic Entertainment (of DAoC fame). So between those two and my remaining application on campus and the possibility of working part time for an independent web developer here in town… I should hopefully be seeing employment come back my way rather soon… hopefully…