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Current Projects: Americana Engine (Game Engine Development)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The New Exploratorium

Multicolored lighting is not from spotlights, it's from the above windows.

Finally got a chance to see the new Exploratorium on Pier 15 since its reopening in April. It looks just as spacious, with more windows, and a lot more exhibits than I remember it having previously (I always thought it occupied the entire building at the Palace of Fine Arts, but it doesn't appear to be the case).

Even though some of this exhibits remains the same (as of almost ten years ago when I last visited), there's plenty of new stuff to see; even some of the benches outside are exhibits in its own right*.

Notable Exhibits here (in my opinion):

  • A Pac-Man game, with a twist: Four players, and each person has one button corresponding to a certain direction. (The button may not always be responsive)
  • Exhibit: The Changing Face of What is Normal
  • A Smorgasbord of Signs and Symbols
  • Museum of Wear and Tear
  • A lot of the exhibits in the sight and sound section
  • Rolling Through the Bay (it's temporarily over here)
  • Transparent Pinball Machine (an analog one, prior to any led screens, etc.)

In the Forum: One Click at a Time: Was only on August 24th, and consisted of a variety of stop motion clips. Was playing the following:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Americana Dawn: Equip Page, Crafting, etc.

With a HP cap of 1000, this allows you to survive most situations.

The inventory screen has been revamped heavily from when it was known as "The Long Goodbye".

The current (and maybe) final version of the equip page. Enough information on this page in the Equip Details and the description on the bottom to know what you're equipping and how effective it will be without consulting a walkthrough. (Finding all the accessories and rare items, however, might be a different story, but it might include a bit of crafting/trading.)

Inventory: Inventory and Equip is handled Disgaea style - the first slot is a weapon and the rest accessories. All your items are shown in the inventory because you only have a finite space to put everything.

Crafting: The shops in major towns usually sell pretty standard stuff, however some trading posts out there are run by people who are specialists in their own right, and will be happy to produce unique accessories, weapon upgrades, or consumables for you - given the materials and the right price. So it's more like trading.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Facebook Photo Size Limit: Larger than 2048px?

It has always been officially stated that the maximum size of uploaded Facebook pictures is 2048x2048 px, but this doesn't seem to be the case in this picture from a friend uploaded today, as this photo has a size of 3327 x 1259 pixels.

I can't tell whether the 2048px is a limitation within uploading directly from Facebook or the maximum size was silently increased, but it's proof that there are ways of bypassing the dimension limit for pictures on FB.

Despite this, the compression on this image is quite high; I can't tell whether or not this caused by a Facebook script compressing it down, but if this is the case it should never substitute for a site that stores images in higher quality like flickr / imgur. I attempted to use this as a background image for my laptop and couldn't stand the highly visible compression artifacts both on the ground and the sky.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Americana Dawn: Battle System + Mockup

Foster's team taking out a soldier in a microbattle, 3d mockup.

Americana Dawn is after all a Suikoden-inspired game (with the battle system) so it should be fair that battles be in 3d. However this requires a lot more work and sprites so it's a stretch goal instead. But the main points of the battle system are:

  • A cooldown system will replace the ATB system found in RPG games, and is based on weapon or skill used. Although the game is turn-based, how soon a character can make another move is based on equipment, skills, and buffs (or debuffs!).
  • One weapon and three accessories per character. Weapons are divided into eight different types each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Both weapons and accessories are random loot drops to some extent.
  • 15 levels of mastery for each weapon type, the higher your mastery the more effectively you can use it, as well as being able to learn new weapon-related skills. There is no other form of 'leveling up' in this game.
  • You can switch weapons during a battle.
  • When heroes (and some enemies) run out of HP, they are briefly incapacitated and will get up after a while at full health, however they will suffer fatigue penalties (temporary reduction to max HP). Units heal to full after a battle is over, but you will need to rest somewhere to remove fatigue.

3D Battle System unlock conditions: Raise over $120k on the second Americana Dawn Kickstarter.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Review: Boyelu USB 3.0 Hub (with Independent Power Controls)

Or AGPtek, or whatever. Anything with this specific packaging. But there's more problems than with just that.

I normally don't review small products like this, but the potential problems of buying generic brand items for cheaper prices forces me to give a fair warning about these.


The manufacturer from Newegg reads AGPtek (and there are three different products in the market, though they are sold by different companies, and one of them is marked as First From Asia). But a few problems:

  • AGPtek does not manufacture or sell USB Hubs
  • Their support website does not show anything about them.
  • There is no 'direct' manufacturing website on its product (nor does it have the company name on the product itself).

Those are just generic problems, and I didn't cover the product problems. They are:

  • No AC Adapter present in the box (that means I have to find my own, which could take a while).
  • Power for the hub is 500mA (it's on the back of the box, but the product overview doesn't tell you that, particularly since the product images do not show the back of the box. Nothing on the box says the adapter is present either.
  • Recognized as two USB 2.0 Ports and two USB 3.0 ports in Device Manager upon plugin. Does that mean I can only get four ports worth of usb hubs? Don't know yet, but will test soon.

There is an upside, however, and that is the power for USB devices for the hub are controlled via buttons, which means that you don't have repeatedly plug and unplug something for whatever reason (usually due to delays in booting up Win7 when multiple external hard drives are plugged in).

Two options remain, either return it to test it out. Considering I can't return or exchange it as there's parts missing when it arrived and the hub's not defective, and there's really no reviews for this, there's only one option left. (I do not want to waste $30 on this one)

Results: The USB 3.0 hub was tested with a card reader and five hard drives attached to it. Without an (optional) power supply, only three drives and a card reader were operational, anything else was not recognized by Windows. The number of devices recognized could be less if those devices used up more power. However, all of the ports appear to have USB 3.0 like speeds.