Single Status Update
Alright, I suppose my rather obscure presence here over the last 2 years demands an explanation - particularly for those who've been expecting input by me or feedback from me - so it's time for a little point-by-point catch-up. A number of things have gone on, but they're best summarized by a single word.
* School: I started taking college classes in fall '08. Self-education was getting me nowhere, and the inability to have real-time interaction with books or online tutorials was growing increasingly frustrating. I was tired of having to search through novels of information to answer a simple question, or waiting days or weeks for the authors to clarify something they wrote (if they responded at all), so I decided I'd turn myself over to the education professionals.
I had no concerns regarding academic standing or acquisition of degrees - I only wanted to learn practical knowledge and application. I started taking classes for stuff I was interested in or stuff I thought was practical for daily living - music, english, graphic design, dietetics, people & society, etc. - without wasting any time on gen eds. I also figured I'd focus on the relevant material in those classes and ignore any obnoxious or unnecessary academia - eat the meat, spit out the bones, so to speak. As long as I didn't fail, I could keep moving up in the areas I wanted. Like the collegiate work ethic says, "C's get degrees."
Then something stupid happened. I didn't get C's, I got A's. After that, the local honors program and the Phi Theta Kappa national honor society asked me to join. So I did. Which is ridiculous, because I barely made it through high school. But I figured, well, maybe I should try to keep it up. And for the last 3 years, I pretty much did exactly that (fuck aural skills, "absolute pitch memory" my ass).
What caught me off guard was the workloads. First semester, I took 4 classes - 12 credits. The counselor told me that was a full-time enrollment, but I didn't quite believe her. 1 hour on Monday, 6 hours on Tuesday and 3 hours on Thursday didn't seem like much, especially since high school was 8 hours a day 5 days a week. What nobody told me was that to get an accurate estimation of the time you'd spend on a class, you're supposed to multiply the credit rating by 4 - 1x for the actual class time and 3x for the amount of time you'd spend doing homework. Once that was in perspective, it became clear that this wouldn't be something I could casually tack on to the rest of my daily activities.
So I put those on hold and jumped into academic mania. 5 to 7 classes most semesters. Best to get through it as quick as possible so I can return to my personal interests as quick as possible. Ultimately, as it became clear that these people actually put good time into developing relevant programs, I decided to get on the degree track after all. I'm planning to wrap up an A.A. in General Studies w/ Psychology focus, an A.F.A. in Music, an A.A.S. in Graphic Arts w/ Creative Design focus, a Digital Photography certificate, a Web Design certificate, and a Dietary Manager certificate by 2013. 5 years at a 2 year school. No idea what I'll do with all that, but it's good to have options.
So it's been a hectic time lately.
However, the madness will be slowing down soon. One more semester and I'll have most of my core courses out of the way. Music theory, aural skills, music lit and class piano will be done; all I'll have left are some lessons and ensembles. Nutrition planning, sanitation standards and medical nutritional therapy are done; all I'll have left is an internship at a food service facility. Graphic design and desktop publishing will be done; all I'll have left is... well, the other half of the program. And some gen eds.
But the point is, the brainbusters will all be out of the way by the end of this year, and I'll finally be able to return focus to completing personal projects and getting back in touch with the people and communities I've put on hold.
In the meantime, things have been going fairly well. Since I did good enough in the core music courses, I'm currently in talks with the music department to become their private tutor for music theory and aural skills this coming school year. I'd see people one-on-one for an hour at a time. The pay wouldn't be great, and would depend on how many people decide they need my help. But it would still be the first job I'd have any satisfaction in doing, so hopefully it goes through.
And to think I didn't even know what a triad was before I started the music program. Honestly, it's a bit troubling how much of an academic nerd I've become. Last year I even got nominated for honors president by the original president and the PTK president, but I turned it down because I wouldn't have time to take the classes I wanted. I wonder if that makes me a bigger nerd than the actual president.
Anyway, now that I've got a little downtime during my 3 weeks of summer break, I'll address a few Doom/DW-related issues.
* The Espi Files: When Espi passed away, it was publicly announced that I would receive his Doom directories from his family, and that I would sort through them to find any noteworthy unfinished or unreleased projects of his and pass them on to the community. The DVD of 7,606 files totalling 4.08GB arrived a few weeks after his funeral, and I spent another few weeks doing an overview of the contents and learning his somewhat haphazard organizational schemes. Though I still haven't opened or played every single file, I've found everything I believe to be his, based on his filing methods and the things he told me about in IM conversations. I told my findings to a few close contacts, but never publicly announced them to the community as a whole.
The reason for my silence was simply that there were no noteworthy unfinished or unreleased projects of his to pass on.
That isn't to say that there were no items of interest. He kept multiple in-development versions of his maps, a number of which have alternate scenes. The EDIV Map27 development history is incredibly thorough, and it's intriguing to see it progress from a linear river with 2 block piles at each end to what is now known as one of the most epic maps in Doom history. There are a few higher-detailed scenes in B2B that had their designs reduced to make it a vanilla-compatible WAD, the most notable being a version of E2M9 with all the buildings in one open space instead of multiple separate spaces. And there's the beginning of an E3 replacement, which has a whopping unfinished 2 rooms and a hallway. But since his final and preferred versions of all these maps are already available, and since he had no concern for his little E3 brainstorm, I didn't consider the release of his development histories to be an item of priority. I'm still going to sort and post them eventually, but for now there are more important things than these mild curiosities.
* Millennium: It still exists. I'm still making plans for it. I haven't had the time or energy to focus on it. When I last did, the engine had developed a glaring portal bug that rendered all our maps quite broken. I was putting together a Hub 1 all-up at the time, and I decided it would be a good time to update to the latest engine. I overwrote an old custom build from SoM for me, and it ruined the entire all-up. Since it was a custom build, the earlier public release was missing some of the necessary features entirely. The all-up fell into limbo while waiting for the engine to be fixed, and by the time it was working again, I was buried in classwork.
However, even though I haven't done much editing on the computer, that doesn't mean I haven't had it under consideration. I've been looking at the maps in what little spare time I have, paying attention to consistency issues and getting an idea of -exactly- what needs to be done. I've been making sketches of design options to implement when I have the proper time. I've learned a lot of good file management practices in the graphic arts curriculum, and I'm currently organizing the absurd amounts of resources and their various versions into an easily navigated archive. A lack of organization has caused numerous inconveniences and a few outright disasters in the past - now this will no longer be a problem.
Additionally, one of the discoveries I was happiest to make in Espi's archives was a set of completed metal textures. Earlier in Millennium's development, I put a variety of Quake2 textures into the resource. They were meant for a few specific scenes in a single map that were distinctly separate from the rest of the map. Of course, when I had a crew of designers revamp certain sections of the game during the work rush so many years ago, they plastered these textures haphazardly amidst scenes full of standard Doom2 textures with no regard for the stylistic clash. Replacing them with Doom2's Metal# textures left the scenes too plain and overwhelmingly redundant, so one of the reasons I was organizing the all-up was to pass it on to texture artists who could look at the context and recreate them to match Doom2's style. It seems Espi went ahead with this anyway, and now I can eliminate one of my biggest irks from the maps.
I'll look forward to resuming proper management of the project next year. The time away has given me fresh perspective on essential elements vs personal preferences, and the time spent working other projects in the graphic design department has given me a much better grip on handling large multi-faceted undertakings. It probably won't go as quick as I'd like, but constantly chipping away at something really does add up eventually.
* Eternity: I was anxious to try out the first official release of Eternity in a very long time, so I unzipped it into my Heretic directory and booted it up. Skipped to E4M7 and found myself shooting gargoyles and disciples with invisible shotguns and chainguns. Seems not too much has happened regarding Heretic development. Isn't this what the big GPL debacle all those years ago was about?
More importantly, is this engine still capped at 35 FPS? I looked through the menus (nice redesign btw) and couldn't find anything related to framerate. I think I've become spoiled after using ZDoom all these years, because this is... quite unplayable. I can probably get used to it for testing purposes, but... I doubt it will be too thrilling an adjustment :\
Still, I'll be trying it with the levels made for it soon, and I'm looking forward to seeing all the portal improvements in action.
* Team Insanity: Even when I was active years ago, the site was on indefinite hiatus. As of now, I have no plans to re-initiate it. The /newstuff chronicles dissipated any urgent need for WAD review teams when they began, and now that they're open to anybody who wants to write a review, I see no point in resurrecting a less efficient and exceedingly redundant review system. Safe to say, the site is retired. It was fun while it lasted.
Alright, that's it for now. I'll be going ninja on everybody again in a week. Beware :o