You know it’s a good weekend when you have to spend about an hour of your Saturday afternoon in the dentist’s chair. After bugging me for several months about some fillings they wanted done, I relented to my dentist’s office nagging. I had three fillings done at once which sounds pretty terrible except that two of them were quite minor. Only one required actual numbing and drilling. The other two were from grooves or a pit from tooth brushing. The dentist went in and just filled in the spots since there was no actual decay.

Still, no matter how minor a procedure, it’s never fun going to the dentist. Not only is it not fun, you also get to pay for the privilege of not having fun. The whole process cost just under $600 which luckily my dental coverage paid for about $500. Then once I got out of the chair, I had the pleasure of waiting for the local anesthesia to wear off. I hungry but I waited until most of the numbness went away because I didn’t want to chew my tongue off and not notice.

Well, let’s hope I don’t have to deal with that again for a while.


I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon that occurs when a video game studio shuts down or when a studio layoffs a whole bunch of people. Recruiters from recruiting companies swarm towards the employees that are effected. I suppose some of these people genuinely mean well and want to help. Let’s face it though, recruiters get paid when they place people. They don’t do it purely out of the goodness of their heart.

I find that some recruiters though use a shotgun approach without doing any research at all. Since UFG closed on Monday, I’ve received a large uptick of activity on LinkedIn, the social platform for business. I’ve received two messages and several invitations to connect. That may not seem like a lot but I go weeks without any activity normally. I’m guessing this is happening because I have United Front Games in my list of prior positions. The odd thing is, I also have my current position listed, which states I’m gainfully employed at EA. My time at UFG is listed clearly in the past too.

I can only theorize that some of these recruiters just send a ton of messages to anyone who have UFG listed in their profile, no matter when they worked for them. I’m increasingly dismayed at how impersonal external technical recruiters have become.


Yesterday I wrote a post about the closing down of United Front Games. I want to address something that I left out in that post. Over the years, I know that UFG received a lot of criticism for not making a sequel to their most successful and well-known game, Sleeping Dogs. People called for a sequel for years on end. The people at UFG were not idiots, they heard the fans loud and clear. UFG themselves would have loved to make a sequel.

To understand why that never happened, we need to go back and examine the sequence of events that went from Activision canceling True Crime: Hong Kong to Square Enix picking up the development costs to help finish what eventually became Sleeping Dogs. When Activision bailed on the game, it left UFG in a bad situation. There were mass layoffs and while Activision left UFG the rights to most of the code and the assets, they still had to find a publisher and someone who could fund the rest of the development. The game was shopped around to various publishers and eventually Square Enix stepped in and a deal was brokered. I’m obviously not privy to all the details but it’s clear to me that Square Enix got some very favourable terms as UFG was not in a great bargaining positions. One of the concessions they had to make was the Sleeping Dogs intellectual property would belong to Square Enix. In return, UFG received the money they needed to finish the game.

The important thing to note here is that UFG did not control the IP. They couldn’t make anything Sleeping Dogs related without the consent of Square Enix. As the publisher, Square Enix also controlled the money too. So UFG could have wanted to make a sequel more than anything in the world but if Square Enix decided they didn’t want to spend the money, then UFG was stuck with no where to go.

This is the reason the public got the ill-fated Triad Wars, the free-to-play game that was set in the Sleeping Dogs universe but wasn’t really the game that the gaming public even asked for. Square Enix was willing to give just a tiny bit of money to develop a free-to-play game instead of the full-fledged, open-world sequel that everyone wanted.

If the gaming public at large wants to rightfully blame someone for not letting them have Sleeping Dogs 2, they should blame Square Enix. They still hold the rights to that IP and I feel confident they will never ever make another game in universe again.


On Monday, United Front Games, a studio that I worked for on two different occasions shut their doors unexpectedly, putting many game developers out of work. It’s always sad when a video game studio goes out of business but UFG will always hold a special place in my heart.

In late 2010 my career was at a crossroads as EA had moved my beloved Black Box studio to Burnaby from our awesome downtown location. EA had also decided to not proceed with another skate game beyond the third, instead pushing me to a game team I had no interest in working on. I wanted to work back downtown and I knew that I had prepare to leave either voluntarily or not. My first choice, by a wide margin was to go to United Front Games. In less than three years they had developed a reputation that made me want to be a part of their crew. They had secured a prime location in the heart of Yaletown, atop of a brew pub and restaurant. Ironically, it was this location that EA wanted to move our skate team to before the recession scared them off. Instead UFG took it over and made into one of the best looking studio spaces in the city. They also had secured two publishing contracts, both with big names: Sony and Activision. For an independent studio to have two teams working simultaneously on high profile games was impressive, especially in the recessionary days of post-2008. More importantly, they had a studio culture that was unlike anything I had seen or heard about. They were cool without being “too cool for school”. They knew how to have fun and in a weird way they were kinda serious about having fun, if that makes any sense. The combination of the studio space, location, culture, and the games they were working on all made it my number one place to work at if I had to leave EA.

In October 2010, EA made my choice for me as they laid me off. Two months later, in December, I had accepted a six-month contract to work at UFG to help them complete True Crime: Hong Kong. I remember I started work at UFG on the day the game was supposed to go alpha, which is to say it was hectic day in a game’s milestone timeline. My desk was right next to a guy named Nigel, who I had worked with years ago and who I got along really well. We eventually wound up having a shot of alcohol in the park next to the studio every single day as our “coffee break” but that’s not the focus of this post.

A lot of times when you finally start to work at a job and a company, you discover your expectations don’t exactly meet up with reality. That can lead to disappointment but I can say that there were no disappointments when I started at UFG. The studio space was as great as I thought it would be. The people were as warm and friendly as I expected them to be. The game I was working on was at cool as I thought it should be. Unfortunately for UFG, the game was cancelled by Activision less than three months into my contract. Through no fault of the studio, lots of people lost their jobs because of that decision. My contract was cut short but I didn’t have any bad feelings. I got my wish to work at UFG, even if it was too short of a time.

UFG did finally get a chance to finish the game, this time in the form of Sleeping Dogs. I’m very proud to have worked on that game. Even better, UFG was nice enough to include me in the credits even though I wasn’t able to return to the company to finish the game.

My second and much longer stint at UFG began in March of 2014. I was in a desperate situation to leave a terrible job. I was asking around to see if there were any openings anywhere. A friend told me that UFG was looking for a contract role to be filled. The project turned out to be Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Fortunately for me, I was working just down the street from UFG at the time so I told everyone I was taking a slightly longer lunch and walked the five minutes to UFG to have my interview. It was great seeing everyone again and they were nice enough to offer me the contract.

I worked on Halo from March to October of 2014 which meant I got to work in Yaletown for the summer which was just awesome. The sunny lunches on the various patios with the views of the water or pretty ladies was hard to beat. The eight month contract allowed me to get to know a lot more people than before. Though it certainly was a trying project to work on, that was filled with adversity, I did enjoy being an employee of United Front Games. It was the experience I was looking for way back in 2010 when I was looking for a change.

Not everyone who worked for UFG will share my sentiments but many will say good things about their time there. It was a special place and I’m sad that it’s now gone. I am grateful however that I got two chances to work there. I won’t forget that.


Normally I’m not in the habit of showing my readers bank commercials but I’ll make an exception this one time. On the surface, this might seem like a boring commercial featuring a Mom opening a bank account while talking to her son but there’s more to it than that. The son is played by Gaten Matarazzo, now best known for his role as Dustin on the Netflix series Stranger Things. I’m guessing he probably booked this commercial just after he finished filming the series as there’s no way he’d probably do a small-scale ad like this anymore. BMO probably got him while he was cheap and I bet he can command much higher fees now that he’s famous.

A little bit of trivia, the Mom is played by Katie Griffin, who is recognized in the anime world for her voice over work as Sailor Mars.


Almost two years ago I somewhat painfully removed myself from getting Internet access from one of two big players here in this province. In British Columbia, most people are either with Telus or Shaw. Both companies charge exorbitant prices for access compare to other Western nations. I moved to an independent ISP, thereby cutting my monthly costs by more than half. Beyond the initial installation problems I’ve been quite happy with my service.

About a year ago though, the municipality that I live in announced they were building out their own fibre optic network to connect businesses and homes. The city would own the network but lease portions of the network to ISPs to provide access to the Internet. In other cities, the fibre network is built by the ISPs but only the big ones have the capital and resources to do that. It’s also the big ISPs that then charge you big bucks for access. In my city, because the city owns the network, independent ISPs have the ability to move in and offer their services.

In about two months, four different ISPs will be offering Internet access to residents and businesses through this new fibre network. For my apartment building, residents will have two different ISPs to choose from. The first company, Novus, has already released their pricing: 25 Mbps Internet for $30 per month, HDTV and Internet for $45 per month, and HDTV, Internet, and home phone for $55 per month. I currently pay about $30 a month as well but for only 6 Mbps speeds. I would more than quadruple my speed at the same cost. As you might imagine this is extremely attractive to me as an option. The one wrinkle is that Novus has indicated that 15% of the building needs to at least show interest in signing up, as I guess anything less doesn’t make financial sense to them.

The other ISP hasn’t made their pricing plans available yet. I’m not sure if they’ll be able to do better. I feel bad for my current ISP. They’ve been great and really support their independent business. It would be difficult not to switch though. Who wouldn’t want a 4x increase in speed at the same price? Also, access would now be on a brand new fibre optic network. No more modems for anyone in this building anymore.

Novus is holding info sessions at the end of this month in the lobby. I’ll know more then.


If you live in the greater Vancouver area you might have noticed a series of storm and wind warnings that began popping up at the beginning of the week. It warned residents of the area that starting Wednesday, we would be deluged by torrential rains and possibly strong winds. All of this being caused by a series of three storms, the last of which would hit by Saturday.

On Wednesday I was prepared for the worst. I woke up that morning and looked outside. The ground was wet for sure but I wasn’t even sure if it was raining. Nevertheless I brought my umbrella with me on my commute. On the short walk from the bus stop to the studio I didn’t even need my umbrella. It wasn’t even raining. That whole day had a few showers but it was far from the strong storms we were warned about. On my way home the skies were actually clear.

It was the same thing today. I didn’t need my umbrella at all. It was even nice enough outside that I was able to go on a short walk around the studio with a coffee in hand. The weather warnings are still in effect for tomorrow and probably into Saturday but I feel the intensity of the “storm” has not matched what was in the warnings.

Perhaps tomorrow it will rain enough that I will need to open my umbrella for the first time this week.


I made mention of it briefly in this post but the cafeteria at work shut down in May of this year for a complete renovation. I hadn’t even returned to work at that time but when I returned in June, the cafeteria was closed off and work had “begun”.

Our facilities people outlined that the work would take about four months to complete and that the new cafeteria would open at the end of the summer. Food services became limited. What amounted to a small area that was originally like a coffee shop became the temporary cafeteria. Menu items became limited and virtually every item that was previously prepared fresh was either unavailable or became prepackaged.

During the summer, a friend and I would walk past the shut down cafeteria from the outside. We’d look through the massive windows to see how work was proceeding. At first, things seem to be going at a normal pace. Stuff was being torn out and drywall was removed. Things got interesting when the cafeteria got to be just an empty shell. All the seating had been removed, equipment taken out, carpets ripped out, and so forth. At this point, progress, at least visually, appeared to have just stopped. My memory is a bit hazy but it seemed like it was about late June or early July in the timeline. My friend and I also noticed on our daily walk that none of the construction workers were there after 2pm. The work site was quiet and we couldn’t see anyone doing any construction work.

This continued for weeks and weeks on end. We’d walk by and see no noticeable difference in the renovation. It just sat there as an empty shell. Weeks became months. We began to wonder what exactly was being done every day and what the company was paying for. About two weeks ago, the internal company blog finally got updated with some cafeteria renovation news. They admitted the construction was behind schedule due to “curveballs” that got thrown in the way. What these were was not elaborated on. I wonder what these “curveballs” were. The building itself is sixteen years old, not ancient by any means. The plans for the original cafeteria most likely still exist. It’s not like they tore down a wall and then discovered a natural gas deposit. What could have been so surprising?

The update did try to spin some good news. Apparently October would be a big month, with each week of the month having a major installation of either equipment or fixtures. Unfortunately, I just walked past the work site today and I didn’t see any evidence of major progress at all.

The latest update targeted the new cafeteria opening in late October or early November. I think that’s a completely unrealistic goal. Based on what I saw today and from not knowing any of the construction details, I would guess everything won’t be ready until January of 2017 at the earliest. I pulled that date straight outta my ass but I feel pretty confident about it.

To put into context how long this “four month” renovation has now taken, consider the following. There have been co-op students who started their work term in May and left at the end of August without having a proper meal in a real cafeteria. There are regular full-time employees who started in May or later and have never seen a regular lunch service with all the menu offerings.

Obviously I’m not paying for these renovations but just on principle, I hope the company hasn’t blown the budget on this. I also worry about the people who are overseeing this multi-million dollar project. Corporate HQ in California approved the money for this but you have to wonder if they’ve inquired as to why it’s taking so long for this to get done at one of their flagship studios.


In mid-August I wrote a post about wagering an online bet that Donald Trump would win the US presidential election. It was a hedge against one of the worst possible outcomes for humanity.

Two months have passed since that post. Bodog’s odds for the presidential race have virtually been unchanged since then. Nate Silver’s forecast actually had Clinton up four additional points back then compared to now (even despite this weekend’s gong show).

Despite of all this, I’m now having a hard time convincing myself that this bet would have any chance of winning. Yes, I understand that Nate Silver is literally saying I have about a 17% chance of winning it. On the other hand, the Trump campaign seems in terrible shape right now. Romney was doing much better at this time back in 2012 and he still got his ass kicked. How could Trump do any better than that?

At the same time though, there is a tiny voice in my head that reminds me not to underestimate the collective stupidity of American voters. These are the same people who installed George W. Bush in the White House for eight horrendous years. So despite all the polling and all the doom and gloom analysis from all the political pundits, I feel the American people can never be ruled out. It’s so possible for them to snatch disaster from the jaws of sensibility. Let us not dismiss the voting power of the racist, the bigoted, the uneducated, and the uninformed. They could change the history of human civilization.

The question of where on the betting slip that $100 should go still goes unanswered.

I was told the name of the movie would not appear on the hotel bill