SoCal: Why you’d want to live here

I spent my last two weeks in Southern California running around like a crazed rabbit, culminating in a last day worthy of the Amazing Race. If my first week was hectic, here’s my second week:

Me and Sarah Cousins Woot At the Improv

  • Went to Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Night with the cousins. If you know me at all, you’d know that I haven’t seen a scary movie in 10 years and I hate being surprised. Much screaming ensued. (There was one actor in the Saw maze who scared me so well that I had to congratulate him afterward!)
  • Had lunch with Ciara, a high school friend and now famous jewelry designer, in North Hollywood. We had Philly cheese steaks. Mmmm
  • Explored North Hollywood, with their little stores and cupcake places. I tried to hang out at Independent Coffee because I’m a fan of little neighborhood coffee shops, but I accidentally ordered the worst thing ever. (Do not have their powdered green tea latte – it tastes like piss. Seriously.)
  • Had dinner with Nelson, a Fil-Am designer whom I’d met at the IGDA Manila forums, and talked shop. He makes serious military games for different countries – they teach soldiers the culture of their assigned posts so they don’t misunderstand the locals and make stupid mistakes. Amazing job, if you ask me
  • Watched my first stand-up show at Improv in Ontario, with college friend Glowie. American humor is hit and miss for me, and the comics that night were so-so, though Gary Owen was kind of funny

It was actually raining hard that week so I thought business was slow 😉 I decided to make up for it on my last week: Continue reading

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SoCal: First week

Let it never again be said that I don’t get out of the house!

In my first week here in Southern California, I did the following:

Random Ninjas Me and Annette benefit Makeup Makeover

  • Watched my friend and uber-rock star Annette’s band Random Ninjas rock out in Pasadena. I’m unbiased about my friends’ bands, so when I say that they are awesome, they seriously are awesome.
  • Had a Benefit makeup makeover thanks to my crazy cousin, who refuses to be named
  • Bought a shitload of makeup because of it 🙂
  • Met up with Annette again to watch Inglorious Basterds. I loved it! It’s a bingo!
  • Took the subway and Amtrak to Irvine. First time on a train (not counting the one I took in London when I was five years old). I was very promdi* and thought the train was super fun

Train Station 1 Do not underestimate the smiling Sith. Universal City Walk

  • Toured Obsidian Entertainment, one of my favorite game studios ever
  • Had lunch with Jim from Obsidian, who is now one of my favorite people ever
  • Went to my first Beer Wednesday, organized by Jim and attended by a bunch of inebriated game developers and students. Mostly hung out w/ the students, but they’re sweethearts, and damn smart for their age
  • Crashed at another cousin’s place in Irvine. Yes, I have a lot of cousins.
  • Took the Amtrak and subway back to LA
  • Rode a golf cart around the Universal Studios backlot, with my crazy cousin driving. Scary shit. They should have seatbelts on those things.
  • Worked out of three virtual offices: Corner Bakery in Woodland Hills, CBTL in Irvine, and Jillian’s in Universal City
  • Am now in Upland at my aunt’s place, trying not to worry about my game’s beta deadline next week

Just another week in the US, apparently – and next week might be much crazier!


*Provincial; acting like you came from a small town and had never seen the big city

Seattle: Pax 2009

Teh Logo

Before I dive back into work, here’s a recap of my first Penny Arcade Expo.

Friday
Cowabunga! Strategic Game Design The Prince "Felicia Day is here with us... in spirit"

I got to PAX late, and missed Ron Gilbert‘s keynote (which I heard was good). I attended Geoffrey Zatkin‘s talk on Strategic Game Design; what his company does is gather data on all published game titles (including sucky ones) and study trends. It was very interesting to see what actually sold and why. (Did you know, for instance, that games with _just_ trailers sold incredibly more than games with demos, or games with trailers and demos?)

I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the Expo Hall (where all the indie / big-ass games were, of course), and capped the night with the Guild Season 2 screening and panel. (I’d never seen the Guild before this – and those guys are hilarious, even in real life!)

Saturday

Star Wars: The Old Republic Gabe and Tycho Make a Strip: Part 7 Smuggler class Freezepop

My first Saturday panel was about Women in Gaming; it got me thinking about my role as a female Filipino game developer and why I need to keep doing what I’m doing. (I wrote a pretty long entry in my journal about it, but it’s self-serving, so I won’t post it up ;). (It must be noted that I was late for the panel because I had to stop and do a photo-op with a couple of Jedi.)

I played a demo round of the board game Last Night On Earth, which I enjoyed! Then I lined up in the Queue Room, which is a snake-like line of hundreds of gamers, to watch Gabe and Tycho make a strip. (If you’ve never read Penny Arcade, please take a minute to do so now.) Gabe and Tycho are as hilarious and obnoxious as their 2D counterparts ;D And watching them draw/write a comic in real time was really cool.

To my dismay, I had to queue up _again_ to attend the real highlight of my PAX, which is the Star Wars: The Old Republic live demo. But the long wait was worth it. Sith. Lords. Are. Love. And even the bounty hunter and smuggler classes are love, too. Actually, I loved it all. Continue reading

T-4 Days

Firefly (bigger cast photo)

Similar to July, the month of August has been a flurry of activity! (But flurri-er.)

  • My blog is suddenly extremely popular in Iloilo. One blog post made me an online correspondent overnight. It is a strange and humbling feeling.
  • I dressed up as Kaywinnit Lee Frye from Firefly, and tricked all my other friends to dress up as well. Laugh all you want, but it was helluva fun!
  • I finished my game design class early, and had to forcibly stop two groups of students arguing on GDD presentation day. I swear, it could have ended in a fistfight. “Your game is too easy to make – anybody could do it!” “Well, I don’t see why yours is so special!”
  • I filed my taxes as an individual (aka not through a company), since I’m a virtual office worker. I’ve been meaning to write a tutorial on how to do it, because apparently nobody knows. It’s a pain in the– yeah.
  • I watched Pixar’s Up. I sobbed through most of it, and cheered loudly when Ronnie del Carmen‘s name came out in the credits. Amazing job, again, Ronnie!
  • I read Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon, which soared its way into my top 5 books of all time. It is fan-tas-tic. My first hardboiled SF book. And also the first SF book to make me cry. Hahaha! What a sap.
  • Lastly, I’m speaking at the IGDA Leadership Forum in San Francisco, in November. They’ve put my name and pic up on their speakers page. This fills me with great terror.

I have four days left to finish all my errands before I fly. Wish me luck!

Selling my Panasonic Lumix FZ7 camera

I’m selling my three-year old Panasonic Lumix FZ7 camera.

Lumix 3

It’s a 6 megapixel prosumer – in between a point and shoot and a DSLR, both in size and function. It’s got manual controls (shutter, aperture) but I never really used them; the automatic settings (aperture-priority, shutter-priority, scene settings) were more than enough for me.

I’m selling it because I want a smaller cam (this makes people laugh, that I am _downgrading_) – but really, I’ll be traveling a lot, and I want a cam I can fit into my pocket. The FZ7 isn’t big though – just not pocket-sized.

A serious technical review can be found here. But here’s how I experienced this camera. The things I love most about it are:

  • A great OS – everything is ridiculously easy to use. Histograms, custom white balance, self-timer, etc – everything is a click away. It can be as simple or as powerful as you’d like it
  • The optical (not digital) zoom is 12X – super useful for concerts
  • Great video and sound, surprising for a still cam – also useful for concerts
  • The Hi-Sensitivity mode ramps up your ISO for low-light – useful for gigs or fast-moving toddlers
  • It feels good in my hands – there’s a stability in cupping a lens that I will miss when I move to a point-and-shoot

The things I didn’t like about it are:

  • Almost impossible to shoot in really low light – but I suppose you get that with any camera
  • It doesn’t fit into my pocket. Hah.

I’m selling it for P10,000. The package includes:

  • The camera
  • Battery charger
  • Lens hood (to shield the lens from the sun)
  • Lens adapter (you screw it onto the camera so you can attach lenses)
  • UV lens filter (to remove UV light)

Everything is in pristine condition, though you should probably clean the outside of the camera – it’s been everywhere. (I’d do it myself, but knowing me, I’ll go ruin something.) Its value in the market, used, is P10 to P13K; you could probably get a brand-new one for P15K, but if you are reading this you are probably my friend and want to support me 🙂

Here are some of the pics I’ve taken w/ this camera (usually just on automatic mode). Click on the links for individual pictures. Or check out my Flickr photostream here.

PLACESFZ7 pics - places1. Entalula, 2. The Small Lagoon, 3. Banga-an rice terraces, 4. Sunset 1, 5. Reflected Sunset 2

PEOPLE

FZ7 - People
1. Razorback 9, 2. Street Performer 3, 3. Joon, 4. I like my soup!, 5. Chochukmo (Hong Kong), 6. Joon and Statue

OTHERS

FZ7 - Others1. Cat, 2. Seahorse, 3. Sleepy Botchok 5, 4. Sleepy Botchok 13, 5. Toys, 6. Spiral

If you are interested, please e-mail me at deathcabcutie, on gmail. If no one is interested, I’ll just keep the camera 😀 Thanks for reading!