For nearly four years, every single time I write about the local video game industry in Vancouver it seems like I’m reporting bad news. I wish this post were different but unfortunately it is not.
I arrived at work this morning and not long after, I received a text message from a friend, who is a designer at a Microsoft studio. The message simply stated that Radical Entertainment had been shut down. There was no official confirmation at the time but soon social media networks lit up with the news. At the end of the day, we found out that parent company, Activision, had decided to lay off nearly everyone at Radical and prevent them from making their own games ever again. As a creative entity, Radical Entertainment is no more. An unknown but small number of people have been retained to help assist other Activision studios in their efforts. All of this was summed up in an Activision corporate statement. My favourite line from that was:
Approximately 89 employees or less than 1.5% of our global workforce will be impacted.
Activision just couldn’t state the number of people who lost their jobs today. Instead, they had to sneak that one little line in to spin how supposedly insignificant these layoffs were. This is the type of stuff that makes people hate corporations and corporate PR talk. I’m sure that every single one of those 89 people who lost their jobs today will sleep better tonight knowing their layoffs “only” represented less than 1.5% of Activision’s workers worldwide.
I’ve been an unfortunate witness to many studios closing down in Vancouver but Radical Entertainment will always hold a special place in video game history in this city. For one, Radical operated for over twenty years. In the video game business, there are just a handful of studios that are twenty years or more years old. For Vancouver, outside of EA, no one even came to close to Radical’s longevity. Many people have worked for Radical over the course of the two decades. I had the honour of attending their twentieth anniversary party in November of 2011 and I was amazed at the number of people who once toiled for Radical. Even people whom I had worked with before and knew for years surprised me with the revelation that they had at one time been there. Radical developed a long and rich history within the video game world. It’s a sad sign that even a studio like theirs couldn’t make it in the world we live in today.
As many of you, my loyal readers, know I worked for Radical for over eight months in 2011. I have written many good things about my experience there. All you have to do is type in “Radical” in the search box in the upper right hand corner and you’ll see those posts. I feel quite lucky this evening to have been afforded the honour of working there before they were shut down. To all my former co-workers at Radical, it was a pleasure working with you and I hope everyone finds renewed success in the near future.
This evening I downloaded the Android SDK again which will allow me to make Android apps. I downloaded it over a year ago before I got my job at Radical. I started doing the tutorials but didn’t get anywhere with developing my own app. Once I started working again, I put the whole thing aside. I’m gonna start again and hopefully I’ll make something fun and useful this time. The timing is good because Google just announced their very own tablet. Fart apps here I come!
I was riding around on the Internet when I discovered the web site for an auto parts store. They seem to sell your standard car parts but then I stumbled upon this item. They don’t state the cost for the item. I wonder how much it is.
Don’t tell anyone but I think you can make your own as well.
At the end of December of 2011, the last video rental store in my area closed down, leaving me no other convenient place to rent movies. I explored other options like a mail-order rental service or online delivery. Neither of them seemed convenient or cost effective. With the mail-order services you can’t really plan on what day you’ll get the movie. Sure, you can leave it lying around until it’s convenient but that means the service might not sent you additional discs until you’re done with the first one. For online delivery, the convenience is unparalleled but the cost is prohibitive. Some services, like YouTube, will charge you $5 for a standard definition movie. I didn’t buy a nice big HDTV to stream movies at a crappy quality. Yes, you can also get online delivery in high definition but some services charge you about $7 and higher for such a visual privilege.
I recently found an acceptable alternative. The Best Buy movie rental kiosk is a convenient and affordable method of renting movies in a high definition Blu-Ray format. There are kiosks throughout all major cities in Canada. In Vancouver alone, they seem to be in most 7-11 stores. You can use their web site to find a nearby kiosk and check the availability of any movies you are looking for. It’s even possible to reserve the movie at a particular kiosk so that it’s guaranteed to be there. The cost of a one day rental is $2 for a Blu-Ray disc. That’s the cheapest I’ve seen for a high definition rental anywhere. That’s less than half for what I paid when video rental stores were still around. When you take away a store lease, employees, and all other overhead costs of running a brick and mortar store, Best Buy is still making money by charging people $2 a night for a Blu-Ray. If you keep the movie for more than a day, they just bill your credit card an extra $2. To add to the convenience, you can return the movie to any other kiosk location.
For me, this is the best way to rent movies going forward. If you live in Canada, check out the Best Buy web site, they have a free rental code to get you started.
Some senior citizens take a smorgasbord of pills and medications on a daily basis to help manage existing conditions and to stave off the onset of other conditions. When I was younger, I didn’t take any pills at all, no vitamin supplements, nothing. As I grow older now, I find myself taking several pills a day on a regular if not a daily basis. Luckily, I’m only taking them as a preventative measure but it sure makes me feel like I’m getting to be an old man.
I’m taking Omega-3 supplements as I’m willing to believe that the fatty acid does in fact help in preventing heart disease and helps improve brain function. The proven effects of Omega-3 are somewhat inconclusive but the side effects are rather minimal. Keeping that in mind, if there’s even a chance it helps your heart be healthy, it’s worth taking every day.
I’m also taking a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D can be synthesized by your body given sufficient sunlight but give the nearly year round grey skies of Vancouver, I don’t get a lot of sunlight for most of the year. Also, keep in mind even on sunny days, I’m usually indoors in front of a computer all day. It’s also possible to get vitamin D from foods but I feel the supplement is the easiest way to ensure I have enough.
Finally, though I don’t take this on a daily basis, I sometimes take melatonin before I go to bed to help me get a better night of sleep. Man, I’m losing sleep just by the amount of time it takes for me to ingest all these pills!
On my way to work every morning I cut through a parking lot to shorten the walking distance. One morning this week I was walking through said parking lot when I heard a huge splat just inches away from my outstretched foot. There were huge splatters of white on the pavement in front of me. I looked up and several seagulls had flown over my head. I had just missed being pooped on by birds by literally inches. Had I been walking just a bit faster my morning would have been a messy one.
In all my years of riding on public transit, I finally did something I’ve never done before; I missed my stop because I was asleep. I was quite tired yesterday after work. I managed to get a nice comfy single seat on the Skytrain on my commute back home. Fatigue set in and I let sweet sleep wash over me like a soothing wave. I was full on asleep and I may have even started snoring, who knows since I wasn’t conscious. Anyways, I’ve done this plenty of times before but I usually wake up at regular intervals to take note which stop I’m at. I remember yesterday being half asleep but alert enough to know I was at a station that was somewhat close to my stop. That didn’t stop me from going back to sleep. The next thing I remember was opening my eyes and seeing the doors close at my station. Lucky for me, the next stop is very close by, only a block away. I easily could have taken a train going back the opposite way but I chose to walk back which only took about five minutes.
I’m lucky this didn’t happen when I used to take express buses back from downtown Vancouver. Those buses had stops that weren’t exactly close together. If you missed a stop, you’d be walking several long blocks back to where you wanted to go. Taking a bus back the other way would also be problematic since the frequency of buses is way less than the Skytrains.
Well, let’s hope that doesn’t happen again!
Last evening I attempted to update the software that this blog runs on and it took many more hours than I had predicted. This explains why this post is appearing several hours after the time in which you might normally expect a new post. Sorry for the delay. We’ll be back this evening with a regular post. Thanks!
Loyal readers, you’ll be happy to know I just paid the bill to renew both my web site hosting and my e-mail account for another year. That means you’ll be able to look forward to another year of quality writing and inane drivel from this blog. I know, I’m excited as well. Thanks for sticking with me all these years.
For those who live in Vancouver, you might have patronized one of the more popular food carts that have been popping up around town. Re-Up BBQ has been offering goodies like pull pork, brisket, chicken and other BBQ delights for a while now. A few months ago, they announced they were going to open up a permanent retail location at the River Market, which is located less than five minutes from where I live. As many of you know, I love to eat and BBQ is certainly one of my favourites.
Re-Up just recently opened their River Market location and this weekend was my first opportunity to sample their goods. I chose a two meat platter for my first foray. Pulled pork and brisket were my meat choices. For my two sides, I decided on buttermilk mashed potatoes and a freshly made biscuit. Once I got this meal home, I eagerly dived into the pulled pork first. It did not disappoint despite my high expectations. The pulled pork was soft and melted in my mouth. It had just the right amount of BBQ sauce on it. The brisket was good as well. It was the perfect amount of medium rare, still pink and red on the inside. The sides were great too. I finished the mashed potatoes before I was done with the brisket. I have to admit, I broke open the biscuit and slathered on butter on both sides before consuming it. Was that healthy? No, it wasn’t but it sure tasted good.
The eating is getting good around where I live. Did I mention Wally’s Burgers is right next to Re-Up as well? They have a five-dollar shake I wanna try soon.