There is currently a growing crisis in Africa and once again it involves food. There is a drought in the Sahel region of north Africa. This region of the continent consists of a huge swath of land extending from the Atlantic ocean to the west to the Red Sea in the east. The lack of rain in the area has led to an increasing shortage of crops and thus food. You can read more about the crisis here but as in many such cases, children are the most vulnerable and most affected.
I am ashamed to admit that I’ve become almost numb to the flow of bad news coming from Africa. Between the famine, civil unrest, or military coups, I’ve just been accustomed to the less than pleasant news coming from that continent. As some of you know though, I started to sponsor a little girl from Africa about a year ago. She is about four years old. Unfortunately, she lives in Niger and her hometown is within the affected region. My last update about her was from December of 2011. At the time, there was no mention of any hardships. I’m not sure what her status is right now. I hope she is ok and is receiving enough food every day.
There is apparently a $200M shortfall in aid money, which would assist the people who are affected. There hasn’t been a lot of high level news coverage on this crisis and I can sort of understand why. It seems like there’s always a crisis going in Africa. People get what’s called “donor fatigue”, having to always donate money so often for what appears to be the same problem over and over again. Starving children don’t make for very sexy news stories.
I know this sounds really cliched but consider donating some money to assist in this crisis. It’s tax deductible and you can donate whatever amount you wish. Visit this link to get you started. I know your money needs to go to a million other different things including other charities, your mortgage, and your kids, so I won’t make a big deal out of it. I donated a small amount myself and I’m just hoping it makes a difference.
Random people find my blog all the time. From above, you can see how one particular visitor used Google to find this special place. First, it’s awesome that someone was that interested in determining the temperature on that part of a donkey. Second, it’s more awesome that Google put my blog so high up in the search results! Another feather in my cap for this classy organization. One final thing to note, whoever this person was, they were using a computer in a school which is part of the United States Department of Defense Dependents Schools system. These are schools for the dependents of US military personnel who are serving overseas.
I don’t remember the last time I went to a wrap party that had cake but the Prototype 2 party had one. What a cake indeed! The lovely creation you see above was baked and sculpted by Love Your Cake. You can actually see and read about the cake’s creation here. They have some great photos there and you can really see they captured the spirit of the game. The hero of the game is at the top of the cake while the villain is on a lower layer, clawing his way up to meet him.
Not only was the cake awesome to look at, it was also delicious! Some people kept yelling at me that it was red velvet! Red velvet! I didn’t really know what that meant. I think it means tasty. I was really pleased to get a slice of cake before leaving.
No time for anything substantial tonight as I have just returned from the Prototype 2 wrap party. It was awesome seeing everyone again. I’m also glad I didn’t come home stinking drunk. Props to Radical for sending everyone home in a taxi!
Today is the day Prototype 2 for Xbox 360 and PS3 hits store shelves for most of the world. I am so proud and honoured to have worked on this game for Radical Entertainment. After a few disappointing jobs on games where I wasn’t really excited about my role on the team, Radical bestowed me the satisfaction of working on important game play features on Prototype 2. Work became fun and relevant for me again.
I helped the mission designers make their missions more fun, challenging, and entertaining. Sometime it meant writing new features or fixing existing features that were broken along the way (like the cages of locked up citizens that wouldn’t show up). In the game, the main character, Heller, answers the phone throughout the storyline. Though that seems like a simple feat, it required quite a bit of effort. I helped get the animations into the game (which came from the talented animators). Initially this caused us to run out of memory on PS3 which caused me some alarm. Once I scraped together enough free memory on the PS3, we figured out Heller couldn’t just answer a call anywhere in the game. It would look stupid if he was fighting some dudes and then stopped all of a sudden to take a call. So we had to write some fairly complicated logic to determine when a video game character could safely answer a phone call given all the outrageous things that could happen to Heller. I also helped implement the various weapon racks in the game. So, if you’re playing Prototype 2 and you happen to grab a gun or a rocket launcher from a rack, think of me. I also wrote most of the achievement/trophy system for the game. When you get a trophy or achievement, you’re running a bit of code I wrote. I was fortunate enough to work on a number of other different things on the game but I won’t go into more detail.
I’ve written this before but I’ll write it again, I thank Radical Entertainment and everyone there for letting me work on Prototype 2. The people I worked with on that team were some of the most talented and awesome individuals I have ever met. I feel extremely fortunate to have spent most of 2011 with them. I am going to the wrap party tonight and I hope to see many of my former colleagues there.
A pizza place opened up downstairs and today was its second day of business. I’d been keeping an eye on this place for a while. At first I thought it was going to be a generic pizza place but then the sign went up and I realized it might be a bit different. The sign for Pizza Garden stated it was going to offer Neapolitan style pizzas. I learned that meant a thin crust pizza that had specific requirements for the dough, thinness, and cooking procedures. I remember one day they were moving the pizza oven into the store. The oven was so big it wouldn’t fit through the door so they had to remove the door and several of glass panels in the storefront to get it inside.
They have a special on right now and it only cost me $6.99 for a medium pizza with one topping. I chose to get Italian sausage. While I was inside, I noticed how large the pizza oven really was and it had this huge flames in the back. I’m guessing it’s a real wood burning oven. I got my pizza upstairs and was quite eager to try it. It turned out to be really good. The crust was probably the best part. Apparently they use a very specific flour in the dough so I believe that might have something to do with it. The crust is crispy and light. It’s got a real unique taste to it. I didn’t feel like the crust was too doughy or heavy, which probably explains why I ate almost the entire pizza in one sitting. It wasn’t oily or greasy either which I appreciated. The one topping wasn’t enough though. I imagine with some veggies on it, the whole thing would have been a kick-ass pizza.
During the day, I was almost certain two events were going to transpire tonight: I was going to win $350 and Cory Schneider was going to play his last game in a Vancouver Canucks jersey. None of those things came to pass tonight. I didn’t win my $350, though I’ll have as many as three more attempts to get me that cash. Cory Schneider also played an outstanding game tonight, ensuring he’ll get at least one more game as a Vancouver Canuck.
In a perfect world, I’ll never win that bet and Mr. Schneider gets fifteen more wins in a Canuck jersey before he gets traded in the summer.
This evening I went out to dinner with a few people. One of them was a woman whom I had attended high school with. Let’s call her LaQuisha. She had married someone who got into the games industry and her husband was at dinner as well. By virtue of marrying into the industry, it meant I saw LaQuisha and her husband a lot more often than most people I had gone to high school with. Anyways, it had been a few months since I’d saw them.
LaQuisha told me that there was another high school reunion planned for this October. She wanted to know if I had replied to the invitation yet. This was the first I had heard of this. LaQuisha insisted that I had already been invited via Facebook but I knew this to be not true at all. I knew nothing of the details so she filled me in on what she knew. It appears this reunion will be a lot fancier than the last one, which was held in a small and old church hall. We’re scheduled to meet at a suburban hotel this time which already means this thing is about 100x more classy than the last event.
LaQuisha didn’t go to the last one but years ago I had relayed to her what went on since I attended myself. I’ve written this before but I can only continue to laugh at what transpired at the last reunion. It happened in the summer of 2002 which was a bit of a transitional period for me. I had just quit my testing job at EA because I was entering grad school in less than two months. At the time, I was about to move into the graduate residences at UBC so I was still living with my parents. So when people at the first reunion asked me what I was up to, I couldn’t really lie and the truth was, I was jobless, ladyless, still lived at home, hadn’t worked at any job for more than a year and a half, and had to borrow my father’s car to drive myself to the reunion venue. There were people there who were just genuinely happy to see me and didn’t really care about my situation but I wonder if some others went home and felt sorry for me. “Man, that Erwin had so much potential and look how he turned out.” Hilarious! I can laugh about it now because my life got wickedly awesome essentially right after that. From the first day of grad school to basically now, I’ve been pretty pleased with my life.
I’m pretty sure I’ll go to this next reunion but not because I want to show people how much my life has improved, just because I think it’ll just be really interesting to see everyone again. And also because LaQuisha told me whom among all the girls from high school are still really pretty and single.
On the weekend, I discovered that the president of the company I work for bought a desk from a friend of mine who was a roommate from my undergrad days. I’m still not sure of all the details behind the purchase, like where my friend posted an ad and how the president found it. What I do know is that my friend texted me about the president, which I thought was weird since I hadn’t told him about the details of my workplace. My friend did know the name of the company so I believe they must have had a conversation of some sorts where the name came up.
I wish there was more to this story, like how the desk contained gold or something but there isn’t. So, um, yeah.