SupremeAC Blog

I'm back and here to stay

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Well, it's been quite some time. 

Haven't been actively around here for years, ever since the majority of the Virtual Underground, my online peers, jumped board when Gerstman got fired.  Can't say I cared much for all of that back then though, I hardly read or followed anything on Gamespot that didn't happen in the forums.  But hey, when all your friends were mods and ex-mods, who knew a lot of the Gamespot team on a more personal basis, that doesn't matter.  You just follow with the tide. 

In the beginning it didn't matter much.  Most of us migrated to www.thevirtualunderground.net.  But over time, people left, branched off towards little start-up sites of their own, or even died.  Without the steady influx of quality posters that the GGD used to provide us with, our community was dwindling.  Now, it's just the same old debates with the same old people and the same old arguments.  Having searched the web, meeting up with some old friends in different places, I can't say I think we did ourselves a favour by leaving GS.

Over the years, I checked back here a couple of times.  The GGD was plagued with new members, posting the same pointless, thoughtless questions over and over again.  It seemed as if what was left wasn't worth returning too.  But lately I'm feeling this urge again.  This urge to fulminate about all things videogame related.  Time to let go of the past.  It seems that the PGD board has got itself together again, as I've been enjoying the topics at hand over the last couple of days.  All the old folk are scattered over the web, discussing thing in their own little communities.  The Wii hype has died and taken along with it all my 'real life' friends who I could talk about videogames with over the last couple of years.  This time, I'm back to stay..

On a sidenote, I'd also want to mention me stumbling upon Oilers99's farewell post.  We may never have met.  We may never have spoken to eachother for over 5 years.  But when somebody like Oilers99 mentions you twice in his lengthy farewell, that stands testimony to the strength of the internet and the conversations it enables.  I was moved and honnoured.  There are dozens of people who used to frequent this place I'll never forget.  They might still be gaming, they might have kids by now, living a calm and happy life somewhere out there in the world.  But to me, they are beyond my reach and will only ever occupy a warm place in my memory.  Here's hoping that as I spend more time on here again, that selection of fine forumites will be joined by new faces, who I'll happily disagree with over the course of the coming months and years.

To the forums!

Mario Galaxy and how it raises the bar

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I've decided against posting in the massive Mario Galaxy threads that litter the boards as I've only just finnished the terrace galaxy and don't want to have anything spoiled for me (so be carefull with your replies please).

Now I could go on about how sweet it is to fall down a hole and out of another on the other side of the plannet, or how the orchestrated music really adds another level of oomph to the overall experience, but what strikes me most is how masterfully the development team has implemented the Wii's unique controls. And with that I'm referring to the starbits/pointer mechanics. Not only does it masterfully fuse 3D and 2D into one natural whole, but it also brings a new level of meaning to the word "multi-player", in which you as a "player" are "multi"-tasking all the time.
Many people blame the FLUDD as the reason for why SMS wasn't received so well. It wasn't "pure" mario platforming action. So what does Galaxy do so different? It gives you a new level of interaction, just like SMS, but it isn't physically there like the fludd was, it is active on a whole different plain. Why physically try to reach that far away platform to collect the star bits when you can just point at them? Why risk physically attacking that goomba when you can just shoot a starbit at him? The Wii pointer opens up an additional level of gameplay as well as level design. Options. Freedom of choice. Just as the sky is no longer the limit, you as a gamer are no longer limited to Mario, but instead become your own sidekick, some etheric higher being that will aid you in your own quest.

And that is what elevates Galaxy above all other platformers. That is what Galaxy brings to games development. No longer shall we be tied to our avatar. I hope that developers all over are taking note, because this has as much potential to change gaming as we know it as Z-targeting had. Nintendo was right to hand over the development of their new Mario game to the team behind DK Junble Beat, for they have taken the Wii to a new level, beyond silly arm waggling and superficial tacked-on motion control.

Watch BenX today!

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Well, you should, if the film was subtitled in english. Most people would probably tell you that BenX is a Flemmish production about an autistic kid, but it touches on so many more contemporary topics like bullying, online love, lonelinessand MMORPG's.

The story revolves around Ben, an autistic boy in highschool who's being bulliedbecause he's different. Online however, in the world of Archlord ( a fictional MMORPG developped for this movie by Codemasters), he's a lvl80 character known as BenX, who has travelled the world with his companion and healer Scarlet.
For me personally it doesn't matter that Ben is autistic, because to me, the grand theme is about trying to cope with modern day life while MMORPG's depict a much more enticing, rewardingand easier life. Ben could just as well have been a younger kid who spent his whole youth playing Wow, leaving him socially underdeveloped and unable and unwilling to tackle modern day life. On a more personal note, if I had been a PC gamer and MMORPG's would have been around when I was about the age of 5, this could have been the story of my life. It's sad to think that for other people this might actually be true.
I'm all for censorship free games, but a movie like this makes one ponder whether MMO games should be kept off-limits for children.

Anyone interested in the movie might find it noteworthy that BenX is Belgium's entree for Best Foreign Film at the next Oscars. I find it to be deserving of an Oscar, but that might just be because I connect so well with Ben. Can't say I've ever been moved so much by any otherfilm.

I found myself a job today. And a last minute holiday.

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Today rocks!

I found a job as an architect about 20 minutes away from where I live. Not as close to my inner city residence as I would have liked, but the advantages rather outweigh the disadvantages. For one the office actually uses the same CAD program as I do, which is close to a miracle, as it's quite obscure. Secondly, I am very well payed (for my branch) for someone who just completed college. And the biggest advantage of themall: I won't be working freelance for them. I'll be a fullfledged member of the office, which means near to no administrational worries and saves me a couple thousand euro a year.

The holiday is grand as well. After having roamed all travelagents in Antwerp yesterday, yielding no vacancies at all, I manage to hop by this one place near to where my parents live and bam! A 7 night, all-in, holiday at some fancy beach resort in Egypt for half the usual price.

Today's been so great, I barely want to go to sleep. Who knows what else might happen if I stay awake?

Zertz, taking board games to a whole new level

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I recently purchased Zertz, a game I'm sure none of you have ever heard of, and I must say, it rocks.


It's an abstract game which borrows from checkers and includes cool stuff like terraforming. Also, all pieces can be used by both players. The goal is to gather a said number of marbles from the three colours available, or 3 of each. The catch: it takes a very different approach to win as every marble you place on the board can be used against you. In the end it's a game of endless possibilities and strategies, and limiting those possibilities untill only those to your advantage remain by carefully placing marbles and removing parts of the board is the path to victory.

As with great videogames the concept and basic ruleset is very limited, but the amount of depth created by them is staggering. Thus I won't tire myself any more trying to tell you all about it, but I'll just post a link to the Zertz official website (which is pretty crud, I must admit) and some place where you can play,and view others play, the game online. The game has won numerous prizes, including one handed out by mensa, the high IQ society.

After all is said and done, I happened across this pic, which explains the basic rules perfectly:

Step one in becoming an architect: Being an egocentric narcist

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Or in other words: creating a portfolio with a selection of your better designs.

I'm no fan of portfolio's really. There aren't any rules set in stone about what should be in them or what they should look like, but having graduated in a profession with rather artistic tendencies, people expect stuff. Naturally, graphical design is my middle name. Did you see the sarcasm dripping off there? I don't like lay-outing, and lay-outing doesn't like me. I create buildings for gods sake, not brochures. Still, expectancies have to be met, so here's a link to my on-line portfolio. As you can see, I'm no webwizard, but I make do with the limited skills I posess.

Anyhow, step 2 would be to contact a bunch of architects you'd like to work for, and once again, that's not my cup of tea. Not because I don't talk the talk, but because I'm quite insecure about my own qualities. Which is a great set of mind for someone who's supposed to pull a design out of his arse that'll most likely be too expensive for the client, perhaps not even an answer to all of his needs, but that I'll still try to sell to him because I'm an artist. So I sent out some mails a week ago, and responses have been trickling in. None of the places I really would like to work at replied at first, plummiting my self-esteem to new depths, but today 2 (2!) offices I'd really like to work at showed interest. if you could see me now I'd probably be light blooming more then fable on crack. :D All that's left for me to do now is create a more in-depth portfolio to print out and take with me when I go apply. Of course I've been procrastinating the whole thing for over a week now, leaving me with 2 short days to get the job done. Somethings just never chance.

On the gaming front things have been quiet for a long time, but I'm getting back into the groove with purchases of Paper Mario (VC), Pokémon Pearl and bargain bin treasures Pacpix and Advance Wars DS.

Life seems so rosey all of a sudden. Lets hope I manage to get the job I want... *crosses fingers*

It's mister architect to you!

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Well, as good as anyway. Still have 2 years of severely underpayed working to do before I have the right to call myself an architect (so, order, if you're reading this, my use of the term in relation to my person was merely as to create a stronger blog title. please don't expell me!).

Anyway, I don't have much time to spend online, so I'll just say that I passed. No great grades to set me apart from the masses, but after all the trouble I've had with my design I'm happy to just have made it. The ball's still out on whether I'll try my hand at a master after master course or whether I'll just say goodbye to student life and hit the carreer market, but at least now I'm free to make up my mind without having to worry about all the but's and if's.

On a more gaming related note, I recently acquired Kirby's Air Ride and Zelda: Four Swords, both for GC, and Kirby's adventure on VC. Haven't spent much time with them yet... KAR seems to be quite an unique racer as I'm very skilled at arcade racers in general, but I keep lagging behind in this one. Should be fun. Z:FS I just bought because it was cheap, and I'm enjoyine Kirby's adventure so far, even if it is a tad easy. I've never played an actual Kirby platformer before...

Anyhow, let the well-deserved, and potentially last, summer holiday commence!

Veni, vidi, finit

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I'd put in vinci, but I haven't received any grades yet. And yes, I'm well aware that the last part is French :P As sandlot pointed out, it's been 3 days since the presentation and I haven't resurfaced yet. Frankly, that's due to me sleeping most of the time. 2 hours during a 72 hour period just isn't enough.

So yeah, there I was, the wall behind me clad with A0 prints of my design lacking any form of layout or visual flair, the bench in front of me occupied by about 6 architects all eying the wall behind me, eager to tear my baby to shreds. Me, sweaty, exhausted, dressed in my finest gear, trying to look as self assure and architect-like as I could manage to.
The games begin... I set apart the larger picture, dodge a few questions, parry a remark. On to the actual project. I'm terribly aware of my own sweaty appearance. They remain uncomfortingly polite and gentle. Are they toying with me? I try to gauge their thoughts. I know my design is lacking... They ask some more questions. I answer them. They don't seem to understand. What material is it? Why did you place it in the landscape like that? Doesn't that create obscure area's? Do we really need that size of a building when the one we have offers nearly as much floorspace? One of my teachers steps in to clarify a few things...

And then it's over. I thank them for their time. I gaze past them to Eva, to see her reaction. Did I do ok? The bubble pops, the tension drops... 3 weeks of 20 hour days catch up with me.

I still don't know if I did ok. I won't know so till Friday. If I happen to have flunked there's always a new chance come Septembre. For now, I don't care. This might be my only trouble-free week of the whole summer and they won't be able to take that away from me.

Need... More... Caffeine

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designing skills... waning. Attention span... Ooh a mosquito! I wish we had gotten Mr.Mosquito too, looked like such a quirky game. *blinks* *Has a sip of cola, throws the empty bottle into the corner where it joins its predecessors* Man, I better be graduating. I don't think I could go through this a second time. I've been sleeping about 3 hours a night, none at all some... If only I was certain my design was any good at least I would know it wasn't going to be for nought. As it stands they might as well tear my design to shreds 46 hours from now. 46 hours... The end is near, here's hoping I'llmanage to present it well despite my lack of sleep.

And now, back to the design... *heads off*

10 more days and I'll be an architect.

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... Or not. 

All that's standing inbetween me and my masters in architecture is rounding up my final design: an expo/conference building.  That and an extremely sloppily done scription.  :(  Some of you might have noticed me being online at times I usually would be, and should be asleep.  Well, that's because I've been working my ass off for this every night and every day.  And the problems just keep arising, the work just keeps coming.

People here who have studied something creative-like with the pressure of harsh deadlines know what it's like: it's never good enough, you have to keep changing it till the very last second.  And during that last second you'll then gather all your remaining strength to create your model, photoshop your renders, finalize your plans...  The presentation comes and goes in a haze as you realize you haven't slept properly for the last 3 weeks, or at all for over 48 hours.  The only evidence that it ever happened is a little piece of paper stuck to the door with a piece of cheap tape.  Please don't be an F, please don't be an F ...

So yeah, this is just me venting.  I'd call this a break.  5 minutes in which I allow my thoughts to wander from my project, not even making the effort to move my ass and leave the desk.

10 more days, such a crapload of work to do still.  Job, you better damn well be worth it!