Warp Drive

Showing posts with label Personal Projects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Personal Projects. Show all posts

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Computer Love

A short history of my former and current PC hardware. Most of the information below was retrieved from an entry I made on March 8th, 2009. I have revised its contents and attached a few photographs. Yes, the new title is a reference to a Kraftwerk song.

#1. IBM (486/66MHz)
August, 1994

My first PC was a beast. 66MHz of raw computing power, 8 megabytes of memory enhancing RAM, 16-bits of surreal audio processing (Sound Blaster 16) and 2 megabytes of mind blowing onboard video memory. It could run Doom II: Hell on Earth at maximum settings. This PC was originally packaged with MS-DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.1. Later, I upgraded to Windows 95. "Where do you want to go today?"


IBM in 1995

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Dot-com Babble

Due to financial realities, SpaceRuckus.com is no longer host to Space Ruckus: The Official Site and Forum. I, for one, am a proponent of preservation. Beginning a year ago this month, the robots.txt was disabled to allow Archive.org a full snapshot of the site contents. It can be found in the attachment below.

SpaceRuckus.com, itself, will redirect here (TheGrigPost.Blogspot.com) until further notice. If such a time comes as another project is in development, it may redirect elsewhere. Thank you to those who remained loyal over the years. It was a road filled with personal and professional turmoil. A less heart driven individual may have just scrapped everything a long time ago... in a galaxy far, far away. Live long and prosper, everyone!


Space Ruckus: The Official Site (Archive.org)


Space Ruckus on the World Wide Web:
Blogspot  •  Facebook  •  GoDaddy Photo Album  •  Internet Archive  •  YouTube

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Nintendo Rhapsody (World 4: Trial Separation)

Nintendo's undisputed reign over the Haley household was, for the time being, at an end. Just as Mario hung his hat for a well deserved rest, an edgy new platforming star was beginning his own adventure. Sonic, a mysterious blue hedgehog without a speed limit, was set to conquer far more than my television screen. In no time at all, I owned everything from Sonic the Hedgehog sleeping bags to plush toys to comic books. I would eagerly visit the nearby Ralphs supermarket each month to score a new issue. It was almost as exciting as the animated series. Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog aired Monday through Friday at seven in the morning. Once I began attending Hillview Middle School, I had no choice but to record them onto VHS tape and watch them after school. Hillview was a whole new experience. There were an unnerving number of fellow students. Having been enrolled in non-public schools for many years prior, I was not prepared for the often twenty something students per classroom - or the fact I now had six classes a day. It was quite a bit to process. In retrospect, I always found smaller classes more focused and therefore rewarding experiences. One of those classes was, thankfully, a more intimate environment and it was there in which I began to take computers seriously. Previously, I saw them as rather dull educational instruments. I was assigned a floppy diskette and a desk terminal. My assignment was simple: Build and maintain a town in Maxis' SimCity. A town which continued to function whether I was present or not. It was like Quintet's ActRaiser, but without the action platforming stages. Computers were rad and all, but I really just wanted to get home and play the Sega Genesis.

Pinball has always been a fascinating parlor game. The way in which the ball hit bumpers, bounced around the table and flew into and through ramps was pleasing to both the eyes and ears. If one video game captured the spirit of pinball in those early days, it was Sonic the Hedgehog. When the blue blur approached 360-degree loops and winding tunnels at high speed, he would morph into a ball and fly through with ease. It was more than pinball, it was a roller coaster. When Dad purchased our Sega Genesis, it included a mail-in rebate for a free game. I quickly sent away for Sonic the Hedgehog 2. It utilized a more powerful and chargeable spin dash. With a few other notable additions, each entry in the series was more exciting than the last. Sonic could now transform into Super Sonic and the villain, Dr. Robotnik, had even more dastardly plans. As if borrowing a cue from The Galactic Empire, he constructed a world decimating space station: The Death Egg. In its first appearance at the end of Sonic 2, there were no power-ups to be found. Just two nail biting boss battles. Used the Force, I did. Sonic 2 also introduced a second playable character, Tails, and up until the last set of single act zones, he could be played simultaneously via a second controller. I have no doubt my brother brought his usual A-game. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 would bring with it virtually seamless progression through acts and zones, the ability to save game progress and a new rival named Knuckles. It was initially on the short side, but with the release of Sonic & Knuckles just six months later, with its unique lock-on functionality, Sonic 3 became, in my mind, the greatest entry in the series. Although they may not have been as great as their predecessors, Sonic Spinball and Sonic 3D Blast were my Sonic the Hedgehog 4 and 5.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Nintendo Rhapsody (World 3: Genesis)

In the beginning, there was the Magnavox Odyssey. Utilizing an array of on-screen lights and television overlays, it marked the start of a worldwide phenomenon. One of many smiles, tears and jeers. Twenty years later, the video game industry was a bustling business. With the increasing popularity of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis, a whole new phenomenon was just beginning. As for the rambunctious Haley bunch, we arrived home from Toys "R" Us with the SNES in tow. It was quickly decided the system would reside in my brother's room. I cannot say for certain if this was punishment for my wrongdoings at Murphy Ranch Elementary, but whatever the event, it was rather effective. I would next attend Barbara Dawson Educational Center, where I would finally learn to read and write. I have Diane to thank for her encouragement, persistence and unique approach to instruction. I recall one book reading session in-particular for its use of non-linear progression. A "choose your own adventure" story in a world filled with stories fixed in stone. My mind was suddenly set ablaze. It would be quite a number of years still before I could write well, but she laid the foundation. I gradually became more proficient with practice of my own. I missed out on so many funny mistranslated NES games, but I had a plethora of dialogue heavy games to look forward to on the SNES. Of course, the first game to grace my brother's television screen was none other than Super Mario World - and it was good.

The Master, in his infinite wisdom, brought forth unto the land a set of sacred rules. Of them, he decreed murder to be the most wicked. The Master encouraged his children to share the land, but henceforth forbade the act of stealing. As the digital age neared, he sent a cherub to open a chain of Blockbuster Video stores. The Master was pleased with that which he saw in the growing video game industry and wished for everyone to reap from its harvest. His divine opposition to stealing remained unchanged. He merely bestowed the gift of renting. However, late fees would be the very undoing of one's soul. I cometh to a very peculiar game by Quintet. ActRaiser combined action platforming with urban planning simulation stages. I found the latter mode of play quite fascinating. It would be some time still before I discovered Maxis' SimCity, and thus, the concept of managing a town was that much fresher in my mind. ActRaiser cast players in the role of The Master, who went by another name in the original Japanese version, on his quest to rid the land of Tanzra: The Evil One. During the simulation stages, a cherub's arrows were used to fight evil monsters until which time as their lairs could be sealed by the townspeople. I rented the game from Blockbuster Video and, of course, returned it promptly on time. The grapes have ripened. The Master will live forever.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Nintendo Rhapsody (World 2: Back in the Cradle)

With the experience of The Diagnostic School behind me, I moved onward to Murphy Ranch Elementary. My home life would gradually return to normal. I was in that awkward phase between Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The Nintendo Entertainment System's reign, however, would continue for another year to come. Our home library was a bit limited, but thanks in large part to Blockbuster Video, we could play a different game each week. I also owe a debt of gratitude to my brother-in-law, David, for allowing me to borrow his gold plated copy of The Legend of Zelda. Of course, as would any true fan of Nintendo, I owned permanent copies of the Super Mario Bros. games - and Duck Hunt. Decades before the Nintendo Wii, I was firing at things on-screen with a pointer device. The NES Zapper was quite a marvel for its time. It was super exciting, but at the end of the day, all I really wanted to do was shoot the laughing dog.

My dad worked for Rockwell International, now The Boeing Company, where he most endearingly crafted parts for the NASA space shuttle program. His official title was that of Power Brake Operator. Dad was exceptional at what he did, but given how demanding his job was, he would often come home tired. On rare occasions, however, he would accept an offer to play Nintendo. Before my younger brother and I became NES wizards, he would actually look forward to a round every once in a while. Excitebike may not have featured a true two player mode, but it too was ahead of its time in that I could design my own courses before testing them out on unsuspecting family members. Square's Rad Racer was another singular experience made more entertaining when passing around the controller. We were astonished by its early use of pseudo three dimensional graphics. I tried to memorize the ever more complicated road maps using a pencil and paper. We found Rad Racer in a second hand shop, but I loved the game in such a way that, in my obsessive compulsive mind, I can still hear the sound the game made when time was running out. That said, some of the most engaging multiplayer came in Konami's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II and III. Unlike the Super Mario Bros. series, they featured simultaneous two player cooperative play. There was just something satisfying about knocking foot soldiers senseless; especially with a little help from my friends. In this very precious case, with help from Dad. To the contrary, he would later recall times playing Super Mario Bros. 1-3 with the most fondness. Because, I presume, they were somewhat less competitive in their turn-based approach to multiplayer.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Nintendo Rhapsody (World 1: Far From Home)

When I was eight years of age, I lived away from home for a few months in East Los Angeles at a facility known simply as The Diagnostic School. It was a wretched experience. I slept in a dormitory-style bedroom with other children like myself. All the while being monitored from just outside by a member of their staff. My medication was also closely monitored. Various drugs and dosages therein were administered. At one point, a patch was applied to my back. If a child was especially naughty, they would lock them in a padded room devoid of light, until they were willing to cooperate. Needless to say, I was quite the school trouble maker to have found myself in a place like that. By day, I attended classes per usual and ate what everyone else ate from the cafeteria. I grew to loathe cafeteria food.

It was a wretched experience. All but for two defining memories. One was the day in which my dad, on leave from a jury summons, walked into the facility by surprise and took me out to lunch. It was one of those rare whisked away on a magic carpet ride moments. One which I will never forget. The other defining memory could be found in the lounge of The Diagnostic School. A little grey box that sat underneath a television. I knew what it was called, though I could not spell it at the time. It was the Nintendo Entertainment System. Yes, it was the NES that helped me through that whole experience. Within the confines of that room, I could be anything I wanted to be. A war hero on a mission to rescue P.O.W.'s from enemy encampments, an Elvish child with a desire to wear green tunics and raid large temples, or even a lovable but often misled plumber. With the right mindset, magic awaited within every NES game cartridge. Enough so, that even now, I almost forget that which I was initially writing about. Thus began a lifelong romance with Nintendo.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Game Over Day at Gridline Games

In all my years of writing, no story has been more difficult to explain than the A Day at Gridline Games stories. In essence, they are satirical takes on office life, often based on real life experiences encountered during Space Ruckus: The Great Invasion's development. A game project of mine that was perhaps troubled from the very start, with too much ambition and not enough resources to actually make it happen. Working with and keeping together the team necessary to produce Space Ruckus was often a nightmare scenario. In one notorious case, a musician left the project in a fit of rage simply because I had recruited another composer to help with the soundtrack. In hindsight, I may have tampered with the sacred musician's code! In another particularly troubling case, a modeler began posting his Space Ruckus models on a public forum for all to see. This may not have been quite so bad had he let us know in advance, but he was soliciting feedback on a very important asset from a group entirely unrelated to the project. Ay, there were times when I just wanted to say, "SPACE RUCKUS IS CANCELLED!" Then, drop everything and dash off to Disneyland. Or any old place, really.


Highway to...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays from Space Ruckus and The Grig Post! May your holidays be bright and merry, and may all your heart's desires be met.

Space Ruckus' developers have moved on to other things over the years, but I am almost certain that they are together in spirit for the holidays. Be on the lookout for Micheal Cross' A Night at Camp Ravenwood in 2014: http://www.ravenwood-game.co.uk. Everyone else at camp will definitely be on the lookout! Micheal was and is the greatest concept artist in which Space Ruckus ever had, and his new game is sure to be a hit. If you happen to be in the mood for some awesome game and film music, also be certain to check out Aubrey Young's music site: http://aubreygyoungmusic.com. Aubrey once composed a few tracks for Space Ruckus, and they are still the very best in the project's collection. And for those that missed it, the Space Ruckus site received a face lift this year, but it had less to do with Space Ruckus itself and more to do with building a slightly better template for use in other places: http://www.spaceruckus.com. All things considered, it is still a prettier vault for all that old content!

As for Space Ruckus' very own Bill Grig, he looks on from Ralin V with a smile on his face. Peace has come to his and the Velorian people. All that war effort was really just a drain on both economies. Working together has accomplished so much more for both races. They have nearly wiped out all diseases! It would seem that the Velorians still do not care much for the Ralin V fleet's silly helmet design, though. You cannot win them all!

Peace to everyone this holiday season, and a very happy new year!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Space Ruckus? What?

Much time has passed since last we saw an update to the design of Space Ruckus: The Official Site. Earth presidents have been elected and re-elected, entire planets have come and gone, and Hostess stopped making Twinkies. In actuality, it was last revised on February 22nd, 2009 with some very minor changes to the design originally developed in July of 2008. I still think that the CSS, HTML and PHP code are robust enough for another go, so things have only slightly been reworked under the hood. The most obvious changes come in the form of a revised logo, background art by Micheal Cross (previously used with permission for The Grig Post), and an additional bar that includes Google Search as well as a number of links to social media networks in which the Space Ruckus project has touched base with. This update also makes a few corrections to the various media pages. Nothing spectacular. Just a few dead link fixes and updated embed code for YouTube videos. As you may have noticed, the forum is still in need of a face lift. That update will come at a later time.


Space Ruckus: The Official Site v2.5

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Nintendo with the Haleys U

With Wii U's release immanent  I thought that I would re-share my tribute to Nintendo, Nintendo with the Haleys. In the near future, I plan to write a proper retrospective blog about Nintendo, and what their games meant to me. I am also kicking around an idea for another video, Nintendoland with the Haleys, with the intention of focusing on my family's Mii characters and Wii gaming memories, and just as much as Nintendo with the Haleys was a look back at the early 8-bit era, Nintendoland with the Haleys would also be a look at the present era (and future). It is something that I am thinking about, anyway. In any case, I want to preserve as much of my dad as possible, and while the Mii/Wii memories are less interesting than other things, it is something that I would still like to do. With that said, onto the original post.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Space Ruckus: The Great Unfinished Game

First, a little background: Space Ruckus: The Great Invasion began as a fledgling 3D GameStudio project. Very little design work was accomplished, and so, we made the decision to migrate everything to a new engine. That engine was Torque. It was our hope that it would be an overall more flexible engine to work with. In hindsight, more design work was actually done with 3D GameStudio. It soon became evident that our small team was in over their heads. This is an age old tale. Boy plays video game, boy seeks to design video game, boy realizes that it is harder than it looks.

We may not have built a working game, but we did accumulate a great deal of production material in the process. After consulting with many of the other team members, I have decided to release that material. At spaceruckus.com, you will find Concept Art (some more horrendous than others) from the heyday of the project, Music Compositions that were recorded by two budding guitarists, 3D Models that were designed by an up-and-coming 3D artist, and some now ancient (3D GameStudio & Torque) Programming Assets. While there, be sure to check out the new Media Center, where you can sample a wide range of material from Space Ruckus: The Great Invasion.

It is a shame that we could not finish the game, but hopefully, we have all learned something from this experience, and will be a little wiser in the future.



Saturday, March 20, 2010

Space Ruckus: The Great Unfinished Teaser

In 2008, I had an idea for a short (but sweet) teaser trailer for the Space Ruckus project. My intention was to show that the project was still alive, but not waste too many resources in doing so. I began by writing a scene by scene description of the events that would unfold in the teaser trailer, and then put together a quick (and dirty) video mock-up with those descriptions timed to some (crappy) music from the project. In doing so, I managed to get a few of the other team members to drop whatever they were doing before, and help out with this little side project. First, Trevor Howard composed a much more fitting music track, and then Micheal Cross converted my scene by scene descriptions into a living, breathing storyboard.

Around the same time that this was going on, we were in the process of bringing a new 3D artist up to speed on the project. His first assignment would be animating this new teaser trailer. Sadly, as seems to be the case with this project, things did not work out. The 3D artist in question later left the project, but not before submitting at least a few renderings. Those renderings are not present in this video because, quite frankly, they were in an unfinished state. What is present here is Trevor Howard's music track, accompanied by Micheal Cross' storyboards.

This is finally being made public because I feel that it is a shame that this material was simply allowed to collect dust in a private folder. If anyone likes this, I may release more material at a later time.

The video can be found on YouTube, and the individual assets can be found on the media page.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

From the Graveyard: From the Graveyard

Did I just blow your mind? It is a blog about a blog.

Last month, I once again attended Comic-Con, and following that, wrote a blog about my adventures in San Diego for the second year in a row. It was called Tales of Comic-Con. A short time later, I started thinking about E For All Expo 2007, and the fact that I had never written a proper blog about it. Call me obsessive compulsive, but I wanted to have a blog about every convention that I had previously attended. If I posted a blog about E For All Expo 2007 without explanation, I knew that someone would inevitably say, "It is about damn time that you wrote about this." So, I came up with a harebrained idea. A blog about the dead.


From the Graveyard - A blog about the dead.

In the process, I became a bit sidetracked, and instead of writing about E For All Expo 2007, wrote a quaint little piece called The Adventures of Kat McClone. It was about a computer game that I never finished, and for good reason. However, I wanted to do something with the material, but was not about to release the game in its entirety. You see, my cat played the part of Kat McClone, and he passed away a few months ago. So, I was feeling sentimental about everything that I could find baring his likeness. Writing about Kat McClone's adventures did have one upside, though. Micheal Cross liked the idea enough to begin his own project, but I cannot say very much about that right now.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

From the Graveyard: The E! False Hollywood Story - Part 2

I bet you thought that I was going to hold this one back until next weekend.

Night of the Dead Living

A local celebrity made headlines today when he rose from the dead. The coroner had this to say, "I have never witnessed anything like this before, and I have been in this line of work for thirty years. When the body first arrived, I did not know what to make of it. It almost appeared as though there were two men stuffed inside a suit. When the body of the man stood up, and simply walked out of the examining room, I was flabbergasted."


News Now, because News Later is not really news at all.

Now, we have that man with us. He calls himself Conrad Sheldon, and he has quite a story to tell us all. Ahem, it all began on March 23rd, 2003... (two hours later)... and that is how I discovered the lost city of Atlantis, and thwarted the Nazi regime. Back to you, Ken. Up next, we dig deep into the scandal surrounding Mayor Goldman. CUT!

So, that is how The Big Con would have begun. Before that was even on the drawing board, though, meelWORM and I were trying to get Conrad Sheldon into Good Old Adventures (Martin Kool's fancy little online world). I drew the AGI cells, which would later be used in a variety of other programs. Soon enough, Conrad Sheldon popped up in Good Old Adventures as a playable character, and the world was never the same again.

From the Graveyard: The E! False Hollywood Story - Part 1

Just who is Conrad Sheldon? Tonight, we investigate the man, the myth, and the mispellings misspellings.

Mr. Cromer's Wonder Emporium

Hey guys! In order to make any sense out of the Conrad Sheldon story, we must journey back to the night of March 23rd, 2003. The night was hot, wait no, the night, the night was humid. As usual, meelWORM and I were chatting online about a wide range of topics. At some point, we discussed Chris Cromer's AGI Web Site, and the fact that it had been rather absent of activity as of late.


The birthplace of Conrad Sheldon.

In typical mind melding fashion, meelWORM and I concocted a brilliant scheme. It was really quite simple in nature. A new member would register at Chris Cromer's AGI Web Site, and bring out the best (and worst) in the existing members, but we were not content with simply developing an average personality. We had to make things more interesting than that. After all, nobody wants to see an average circus freak.

This new personality was going to be an illiterate buffoon, with a 3rd grade education, and absolutely no previous Internet experience. Truly, a sight to behold. Moments before the first post, meelWORM coined the name, Conrad Sheldon. He said that he made it up off the top of his head.

As time went by, Conrad Sheldon evolved into a Sierra Online nutcase, and even opened his own Sierra Web Site, which remains online to this day. If the music does not leave you in stitches, nothing will. With the launch of said web site, news of Conrad Sheldon spread quickly, and topics began to appear on other community forums, such as The Subspace Channel, Tierra Entertainment (now known as AGD Interactive), and many others.

Friday, August 7, 2009

From the Graveyard: The Adventures of Kat McClone

Warning: This story contains a few raunchy bits here and there. Read on at your own offensive risk.

I was planning to begin the From the Graveyard series with my untold E For All Expo 2007 adventure, but in the process, became a bit sidetracked. As some of you may know, my cat Sonic passed away a few months ago. What most of you may not know is that I was once working on a homebrew adventure game starring Sonic as Kat McClone. I have been reluctant to discuss said game because, quite frankly, it was downright awful. However, I am feeling a bit nostalgic now, so bear with me for a moment.


Space Ruckus VI is just around the corner, I swear.

Anyone that visited the Goalsoft website in 2000 may have seen Kat McClone on the logo, and thought to themselves, "What the fuck is this?" Actually, they may have thought that about the website as a whole. Was anyone else still using frames in 2000? Anyway, I am here to clear up at least part of the mystery. I will leave the untold (and uncensored) history of Goalsoft for another time.

In 1998, I became greatly interested in game design, and quickly sunk my teeth into a piece of software known as Klik & Play. It was published by a United Kingdom-based company known as Europress. I kicked around a few game ideas, but only one of them ever saw the light of day. It was a little known game entitled Space Ruckus. Somehow, that sounds so very familiar to me... Where was I? Oh, right...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Space Ruckus 2.0 is Live!

As I said a week ago, I have been working on a new web design for the Space Ruckus site. Well, that new site has finally launched...

"The design features a new logo by Jovani Torrentez, several pieces of previously unreleased artwork by Allen Barrett on the new media page, and a special series page, which chronicles the history of Space Ruckus."

There were inevitably a few things that I wanted to finish by today, but did not have time for. The top script (which features special occasion logos) is forthcoming. Also, it is worth noting that the old Space Ruckus web site can still be found at http://site1.spaceruckus.com. However, it will no longer be maintained.

As usual, Space Ruckus could always use more help. Please refer to the new team page to find a list of openings (keep in mind that this is still a volunteer project).

Monday, July 7, 2008

Space Ruckus 2.0: T-Minus Seven Days

There is no doubt that the paint is rusty on the old web site. It has been online for about 4.5 years now. The code has become unmanageable. So, the entire web site is being redesigned. This time, it will be nearly fully driven by CSS. To make life a little easier, certain sections of the code will even be broken up into virtual SHT files; team.html, for example, will look something like this:

< !--#include virtual="header.sht"-- >
< !--#include virtual="table1.sht"-- >
< !--#include virtual="team.sht"-- >
< !--#include virtual="table3.sht"-- >
< !--#include virtual="footer.sht"-- >

The end user will not see this, of course. They will simply see the contents of the SHT files combined into a fully operational web site. This, alongside the CSS mentioned above will indeed make the new web site more manageable.

The new web site will be launching on Monday, July 14th, and will feature more frequent updates than the old one. The game, Space Ruckus: The Great Invasion, is still in development, and will be released when the team feels that it is ready.