Nortaak Plains view from finished Promontory Tunnel

Work on Nortaak continues in my free time. Here is a view from inside the promontory tunnel. At this point, the tunnel has broken out of the side of the mountain it winds up inside of - the sky shows through holes in the ceiling and an abrupt cliff edge is a snare for the unwary driver.

Notice anything? My updates are slowing. Between a new job that has me working full time at a facility an hour from home and playing bassoon with the Duke University Wind Symphony, I have little time these days to devote to personal pursuits. Some day I will find the time to convert this website over to something more easy to update. Until then, I'll continue to use this as my portfolio portal.

The pictures above are a brief look at what work I've been able to squeeze in lately - some UT2004 work, some 3DS Max modeling - it's all good... and fun. To the left are images of a eroded ditch I created and, to the right, a sloping spiraling tunnel I am in the middle of designing. The outer edge of the tunnel will be open to a cliff edge all along its length (about 80% of it will be open). As soon as it is finished, I will post images of it here.

Terragen is a cool program. I began learning it last night and was able to produce the following pic in under an hour:

This was touched up a bit with Photoshop. Click here to see it compared with the original render.

Snow came early this morning while most people still slept. It is the first snow we've had here in Raleigh, NC in two years. Although just a light layer fell and will be gone by tomorrow or even midday today, it was a welcome sight. I went out for an early walk and took a panoramic shot of a small lake out behind our house.

Updates continue! But they don't come easily. Doing layout in HTML using CSS can be really challenging, especially when taking into consideration that each browser (IE or Firefox) parses certain aspects of HTML code differently. So what looks good in Firefox will often either be completely messed up or slightly off-kilter in Internet Explorer. Anyways, to see the latest in Nortaak Plains and my new layout, please visit the level design page.

image of a website navigation interface image of a website navigation interface

Here are a couple images of a website navigation interface I am working on. It is in the early stages of development, with just the background having been modeled so far. I've found actually modeling objects in 3D to be far easier than attempting to use photoshop bevels and gradient ramps to achieve similar effects.

James Kim, senior editor at CNET News

It was heartbreaking, today, hearing about the death of James Kim, senior editor at CNET. For those of you who haven't heard, he and his family became stranded after traveling down the one-lane Bear Creek logging road in Merlin, Oregon, on their way back to California from a Thanksgiving trip to visit family in Washington. When they missed their desired exit off of I-5 South, they decided to attempt the unknown road rather than doubling back to their exit. Despite signs posted on the road warning of its impassibility due to winter snow, the Kims continued on and soon were stranded. For 9 days they waited for help to arrive, and when it didn't James set out on foot. Unprepared and with no food, he was severely malnourished, yet managed to travel some 5 miles over the course of a few days. But by the time rescuers finally found him, he had succumed to the elements at a distance of only 1 mile from his family - at the bottom of a cliff, half a mile from the Rogue River. Yet all was not in vain: searchers in a helicopter followed his footprints in the snow to his family and rescued them.

James and I are about the same age, born in the same year, so perhaps it struck me a bit harder than such stories usually do. But his story underscores the strength of the human will to overcome unimaginable odds. I respect his achievements and his passing, and only hope I would be able to do as well if in the same circumstances.

For more information, please turn to CNET and KATA, Portland, OR.

A new interactive creation can be found on a secret webpage linked only through this post (at the moment). It is the result of 4 days of work and you can find it here at this page.

Have been busy working on a redesign of the IGDA website for the Triangle, NC chapter, which went live this evening at 6:15pm. Stop by and take a gander at it.

Whew! What started out as a quick post to this page (see the next post) turned into a 4-hour editing session. I cleaned up code on just about every html page in this site, and did other kinds of web design housekeeping tasks that would be super boring to talk about here. Updates were made to the textures page and the modeling page (finally!).

And this is surprising: As of today, this website is comprised of approximately 11,800 words and 2,086 lines of code. I typed all that by hand! Yikes.

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The shiny new holiday issue of PC Gamer Magazine came in the mail yesterday, and in their cover story on Windows Vista and the impact it is going to have on PC Gaming (I'd provide an online link but they don't have it up on their website yet) they covered Microsoft's gaming platform, dubbed XNA. Why I mention this on the front page of my website is a quote in the article from Chris Satchell, general manager of Microsoft's Game Developer Group:

My paranoia is that by the time somebody's jumped every hurdle it takes to get into the [computer game development] industry, by the time they've shipped several games and gotten to the point where they can finally influence game development, well, by then we've knocked every creative idea they ever had out of them.
-PC Gamer Magazine, Holidays 2006, vol 11, no 13, page 31.

The game development industry works - from my perspective - behind a concrete and 5-foot-thick steel, depleted-uranium-reinforced gate. Their candidate-sifting-mechanism is so fine that only the barest, smallest percentage of candidates ever make it in. What might end up changing this? Game developers and publishers need to open their doors to their communities, as Ritual Entertainment, Gearbox Software and id Software have done with The Guildhall. Take on interns and, if they have proven themselves, hire them when their internship is over. Microsoft is trying to address this issue with XNA and you can find more info about it at XNA Development.

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I've been working all day long on the website - literally. I finished a 5-hour session at 3am this morning (I was on a roll and didn't want to stop) and went to bed. Then after breakfast I began again. It is now 8pm and I am getting ready to upload all of the stuff I've done today. I hope I manage to get all of the various images, movies, and html files uploaded. Some of them I've shuffled around the file folders so we'll see how this goes.

Changes made today include new movies on the level design page, new images on the textures page, and a redesign of the game development and textures pages. There's probably a few other things I did that I'm forgetting to mention (and I'll forget to upload as well). Just root around the site - there is a lot of content here, but if you're patient you'll be able to see it all. It's kind of like a good museum - spend some time today and when you get tired go away and come back again some other day. You'll eventually get to see it all!go back to top

This site continues to be refined bit by bit! The "choose your video download" interface has been integrated into the level design page, which was a big exercise in the use of the div CSS tag. An interesting exercise, that. You may look at it and go "Pshaw! That's no big deal," but it took me HOURS to put together, along with a final reformatting of the page. I am happy with its current form and don't expect to make any more changes to it.

You may notice a few other changes if you've been here before and have the eyes of a hawk. They were purely cosmetic (e.g., font color), but I think they brought some nice changes to the site. File sizes should be smaller as well, due to some new tricks I learned in authoring Quicktime movies...go back to top

If a picture supposedly says a thousand words, then what does a video say? Today I finished work on a 3-day video editing session that resulted in a movie containing a bit over 5000 images (often referred to as frames, but technically they are individual pictures) and a whole bunch of sounds and music - now that says a mouthful! You can access it on the level design page

I don't think much of the video quality I got at YouTube, but their service is doing for videos what image hosting sites have been doing for digital images for the last couple years. The videos on this site are a bit large... I read up on the DivX codec and learned a few new tricks to making videos smaller while still retaining image quality. However, for Quicktime, I have some learnin to do before I can achieve the same image quality/size. I hope to discover some more tricks, though, so hopefully I can bring to you smaller file sizes and streaming capability.

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You might be thinking I've been resting on my laurels, but I have in fact been quite busy. The next post below was written on the date it states, but I was not able to upload it due to the content it references not being ready. I will not upload content until it is in a presentable state, so it has remained on my hard drive until today.

Many hours of tutorials and note-taking and practicing the techniques in CSS and XHTML have finally paid off. There is new content on the level design page that was done a couple weeks ago but is now finally formatted correctly. Firefox and IE love to handle CSS differently, which gives most web designers fits, and I'm no different. Code that looked perfect in Firefox was completely broken in IE and required a couple more hours to track down and fix. The good news is the level design page is now working correctly and looks the same in both browsers! There is only one video at the moment, but I am working on others and will upload them as soon as they are done.

If you see anything amiss, don't hesitate to contact me at dale-@-dwbgallery-.-com.

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After non-stop compiling for 8 days, my Half Life level finally gave up the ghost - the compile process crashed. Discouraged but not defeated, I began the rather long process of converting the map to the Source Engine. Two days later, I had successfully compiled the level to spectacular effect. On the level design page, you can find media from this new level, along with some new movies I have put together for your viewing pleasure :).go back to top

The website has been taking a back seat lately due to my ongoing search for work. Some possibilities have come my way in the last couple weeks, so I have been rather preocupied with them. I have tinkered around with a new navigation system for this website, but haven't devoted enough time to see it though yet. Meanwhile I've been doing level design for UT2004 and, believe it or not, Half Life. You thought I left that old engine behind long ago - and so did I. But in shooting movies for my demo reel, I've come across some past work that needed touching up; so I've cranked the old HL engine up again and my main Athlon X2 3800+ computer is dutifully compiling away as I type.

Lastly, I got something really special in the mail today - my Bachelor's degree! In what can only be described as a last-effort sprint to the finish line, I rallied and managed to get straight A's in school in my 4 classes this past summer. My goal: a 3.5 final GPA. I got the GPA and another added bonus I wasn't expecting: the distinction of Magna Cum Laude on my degree. Needless to say, I am incredibly jazzed by this.go back to top

Still looking for work. I attended a job fair today in Raleigh that was interesting. Packed into a small conference room in a Hotel were about 12 company representatives and around 200 job seekers. It just goes to show the need there is for employment still, despite the 5 percent unemployment rate referred to by the media.

On a brighter note, I've added some pdf documents to the site in the form of an online version of my portfolio, on the resume page, and an article I wrote in 2004 entitled "Telling A Better Story", which talks about how interactive entertainment gives authors the best medium in history (so far) to tell new stories. It's not as good as Star Trek's holodek, but it's the best we have right now!

And this is HUGE news: I finally figured out what the favicon.ico is that is listed as a missing file in my server logs and have uploaded it to this site. Web surfers rejoice - your browser will now receive this long-coveted 3KB file every single time you come to my site! Oh yes, you want to know what this all-important file is. It is none other than the tiny picture you see when you bookmark my website. But whether you bookmark it or not, your browser still asks for the icon file.

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Major website update today. I have been working hard to fix some issues regarding compatibility with Internet Explorer. Thanks to Dreamweaver, they have all been fixed as far as I can tell - what a relief!!

Just about every page has seen some updates - many of them you may not notice, as they were primarily structural (behind the scenes). I did however add my printed portfolio in pdf form to the resume page. YAY!

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Aug 9, 2006

HA! The day has finally come... and gone. My last exam was today - I think I got an A on it. Funny that my last hours in school would be spent in an economics classroom - I certainly would never have guessed. It feels strange to not have some project due in the near future, hanging over my head. "So Dale," I hear you ask, "what are you going to do, now that the most challenging undertaking so far in your life has been completed?" Glad you asked. Well, today I came home, read a book, had dinner, watched an episode of Star Trek Voyager with my brother, and worked on my website. I also installed Glyphx Game's Advent Rising - for my 4th play through - awesome awesome game. If you loved Halo, you'll love this one much more.

Not one to rest on my laurels, it's back to business as usual - job hunting - tomorrow. It's wierd because I guess I kind of expected - well, fanfare or something. I should go out to my car with shaving cream and write on my rear window "JUST GRADUATED" - except I don't use shaving cream. [sigh]. Well, another spawn from the local university has broken free - look out world, here I come!go back to top

Aug 4, 2006

Things are just cookin around here. School is gasping its last few breaths, with my impending graduation looming just 5 days away. Come August 9 there will be a party going on - of course I would be partying harder if I only had a job!! This website continues to grow, with some sly subtle Flash content quietly integrated into the game development web page - and right under your nose at that! This web page really needed this, so I pushed it along in front of the level design overhaul mentioned below in the Aug 1st post. Plus it was a relatively simple Flash solution and I needed something simple to get back my Flash fingers (it's been over a year since I last used it). And I say "relatively" because it looks like hell while you are actually designing it.go back to top

Aug 1, 2006

The preliminary design for the level design section has been finished. This was conceptualized using Adobe Photoshop. The Flash incarnation of it will take a good degree longer. Click on the image to see the full-size concept.

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July 26, 2006

Today I set up a new domain with DreamHost, a web hosting company located in my home town of Brea, California. The website will be moved over there soon. I also finally finished production on the Graphic Communications section, which was put on hold shortly after my July 7 post (below) while I developed a print portfolio for a job opportunity.

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July 7, 2006

Currently in development is a flash-based navigation system for the Game Development and Graphic Communications sections. When a lot of information needs to be communicated - especially visual information, as in my case - Flash is one of the best ways to display it intelligently and in a way that is intuitive and easy to navigate through. It will take a bit of time, but I'll have it up ASAP.

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June 23, 2006

I went to Epic Game's big shindig last night. Absolutely stunning! What most impressed me was the one thing I couldn't take pictures of - their Unreal Tournament 2007 E3 demo. I was totally floored by the newly-designed Leviathan, which has 4 (5?) independently controlled turrets, each of which has user-controlled shields and what appeared to be guided rockets. They each can be destroyed independent of the vehicle (or so I've heard - the demo was played in god mode). I wish I could show you pictures, but I don't have any. IGN, however does.go back to top

I went in thinking "another unreal tournament game" and came out thinking "wow, this is brand new, fresh, original content!" From seeing the demo and talking with Jeff Morris, it was revealed that the game was influenced by a couple blockbuster movies of the past 4 years - "The Matrix: Revolutions" and "War of the Worlds." Inspiration is a good thing though - no one works in a vacuum, as the words of John Donne render so well:

No man is an island, entire of itself.
Every man is a piece of the continent,

a part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,

as well as if a promontory were,

as well as if a manor of thy friends

or of thine own were

Any man's death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind

And therefore never send to know
for whom the bell tolls

It tolls for thee.

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June 21, 2006

Between yesterday and today I have tackled some serious issues regarding the formatting of this website. The first was compatibility with Internet Explorer. The insertion of the DOCTYPE line at the top of the html file was the solution to this problem. I want to thank Matthew Levine for his help in solving this, as well as his article at "A List Apart" describing the foundation code that drives this website - 3 columns in CSS.

Additionally, the custom colors I had defined for all of my links and text were broken by the insertion of the DOCTYPE into all of my html files. This problem was tracked down to a couple missing "#" signs in my css file. WHEW!

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June 18, 2006

This is the rebirth of my portfolio website, which will serve as both gallery and file distribution of my work. Content will be added to the website as soon as possible, so expect to see some activity around here. Thanks for visiting - I hope you find your time spent here stimulating.go back to top