Update…

It’s been a while since I have done a proper update. I’m not saying this is a proper update, but whatever.

I’ve been keeping fairly busy with various things. The beginning of the month was a conference I was involved in helping out with (since February!). The web work I managed to do went well, except for one small hitch I made to the conference registration page a day or two before the conference that resulted in registration not working for about an hour and a half. I don’t think we lost any registrations because of that, but it was a bit unnerving to find out the only real critical part of the website was broken. The whole experience was quite positive, and I was really able to enjoy myself (much more so than last year).

I’ve also been playing through Deus Ex 1 and 2, which I picked up on Steam for $2.50 each. The first one was easily as amazing as what I remember it being like. The sheer amount of content in the game amazes me, especially considering the size of the development team. Some of the graphics are definitely starting to show their age, but the gameplay is still rock solid and there are still tons of things in the game I have yet to discover.

Unfortunately, I am finding the second Deus Ex game to be not nearly as good as the first. I think there are a few reasons for this

  • Levels are much smaller – the levels in Deus Ex: Invisible War are a lot smaller than the ones in the original Deus Ex. This may have partly been a limitation of the consoles that they were also targeting, but also a limitation of trying to put higher detailed things in each level (and less time to work on all the levels).
  • The story isn’t as strong. This could be personal opinion but I find the story really hasn’t drawn me in at all compared to the first Deus Ex. The first cutscene really didn’t make a lot of sense, even after playing the first Deus Ex and having a good idea of the plot of the first game.
  • The user interface is not so great. I’m finding the user interface to the first Deus Ex was a lot easier to manage. In Invisible War, it seems like it was designed to run on a game console, so doing things that could easily have been done with the mouse now take a few clicks of the keyboard. That, and simply navigating through the menus had me a little confused at first. Switching weapons between your inventory (which is tricky to bring up unless you know the key for it) is a pain.
  • Lack of focus on various ways of playing. The first half of the original Deus Ex required the player to play a more stealthy role by using one of several various skills to progress – hacking, electronics, environmental skills. In Invisible War, so far it has been quite possible to simply run ‘n gun my way through, shooting anything that moves. This really makes it more like any other shooter, which isn’t a good thing.
  • The ‘magic wand’ multitool. The original Deus Ex had both lockpicks and something called a multitool that allowed you to bypass electrical devices. Deus Ex: Invisible War has replaced both with a multitool that looks about like a magic wand. Again, this not only looks silly, but really puts a crimp on the gameplay – rather than there being two separate skills (and thus ways of playing), they are all mashed into one.
  • The art style. I’m finding the art style of the second Deus Ex to be a bit cartoon-ish compared to the first. Not the people (which look pretty good), but the colors and styles of things in the levels. Everything seems to be lit up in neon colored lights, and claustrophobic-sized. That, and there aren’t as many unique brands of things. I’ve only seen several billboards and a few small products (candy bars, soy products), and they don’t seem as believable.

I’m not trying to rag on the Deus Ex: Invisible War team – making a game is a tremendous amount of work, and they have done a decent job. They just haven’t followed the same formula as the first, which is disappointing. I’ve heard the upcoming Deus Ex game should be quite different from the second – a bit closer to the first, but different yet. Here’s to hoping that they don’t screw it up.

Anyway, enough about Deus Ex.

My own programming has been pretty much nonexistent lately. Between various activities and a lack of motivation, I haven’t really done any programming on my own. I’m starting to get the itch again though. Monday and Tuesday evenings are usually busy, as well as there is usually something going on Friday evening, and Saturday. That leaves Wednesday and Thursday evenings (as I try to take a break from things on Sundays). Usually during those two evenings there are other errands that need running. I’m sure if I really wanted to, I could find the time though. I believe there was some quote in one of the Star Trek movies, where Scotty was talking to the captain, and he said something along the lines of:

If something is important to you, you’ll make the time [for it].

Here’s a picture of a wind turbine I took during a long weekend trip to Waterton back in May:

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