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Game Developers Conference 2014 (GDC 2014) – Wrap Up

Game Developers Conference 2014 (GDC 2014) – Wrap Up

Posted by on Mar 18, 2014 in Gaming, General, Hardware, Mobile, News, Software | 0 comments

GDC '14 - Bustling with activity at the Career Center.

GDC ’14 – Bustling with activity at the Career Center.

This past week, I had a chance to attend the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, a huge annual conference for game producers & developers. As this was my first GDC, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet professionals in the gaming industry, attend seminars on game development, as well as seeing the latest games and technology on display. 

GDC '14 - GDC attendees getting an opportunity to try out Oculus Rift.

GDC ’14 – GDC attendees getting an opportunity to try out Oculus Rift.

GDC ' 14 - Unity promoting the Unity gaming engine to game developers.

GDC ‘ 14 – Unity promoting the Unity gaming engine to game developers.

While the first two days of GDC came and gone with little fanfare, things became a bit more interesting when the Career Center and the Expo Floor opened up on Wednesday. Companies like Oculus and Unity were in full force on the floor. Oculus, riding on the growing interest into virtual reality technology, were demonstrating the full capabilities of what the Oculus Rift VR headset had to offer for the next generation of games. As for Unity, they were heavily touting it’s capabilities as a versatile gaming engine that supports most (if not all) current gaming platforms, as well as high-profile games that were developed with Unity.

GDC '14 - The Sony PlayStation exhibit at GDC.

GDC ’14 – The Sony PlayStation exhibit at GDC.

GDC '14 - Valve's exhibit at the GDC.

GDC ’14 – Valve’s exhibit at the GDC.

GDC '14 - Valve's SteamBox, a PC running SteamOS.

GDC ’14 – Valve’s SteamBox, a PC running SteamOS.

GDC '14 - The controversial SteamOS controller.

GDC ’14 – The controversial SteamOS controller.

Some of the biggest announcements at GDC included Sony’s Project Morpheus, a VR headset similar to the Oculus’ Rift headset.  Another large announcement was Valve’s unveiling of the latest version of the SteamOS controller, considered to be controversial due to it’s unorthodox game controller layout. Along with the new controller, Valve was also demonstrating the SteamOS and the SteamBox PCs over at it’s booth.

GDC '14 - Intel at GDC, promoting it's Iris Pro GPU's abilities.

GDC ’14 – Intel at GDC, promoting it’s Iris Pro GPU’s abilities.

Hardware companies like Intel, AMD, and nVIDIA were also at GDC, demonstrating what their hardware can do for game developers. With Intel, they were promoting Iris Pro (Haswell’s integrated GPU) and it’s gaming performance. The message that they wanted to deliver was that the Iris Pro was capable of running the latest games (albeit at lower settings compared to nVIDIA & AMD’s GPU solutions).

GDC '14 - AMD demonstrating EyeInfinity with Battlefield 4.

GDC ’14 – AMD demonstrating EyeInfinity with Battlefield 4.

As for AMD, they were focused on promoting EyeInfinity, their triple monitor solution for gaming, as well as Mantle, an AMD API that allows developers greater access to AMD’s GPU capabilities on a lower level.

GDC '14 - nVIDIA's exhibit at GDC.

GDC ’14 – nVIDIA’s exhibit at GDC.

GDC '14 - nVIDIA's GRID rack server on display.

GDC ’14 – nVIDIA’s GRID rack server on display.

Over at nVIDIA’s booth, they were promoting their latest Tegra 4 SOC solution, as well as nVIDIA GRID, a cloud game streaming service that nVIDIA is currently promoting.

GDC '14 - A GDC attendee playing Crypt of the Necrodancer with a DDR mat.

GDC ’14 – A GDC attendee playing Crypt of the Necrodancer with a DDR mat.

GDC '14 - Bit Bros., a 2D fighting game that plays similarly to Nintendo's Smash Bros. series.

GDC ’14 – Bit Bros., a 2D fighting game that plays similarly to Nintendo’s Smash Bros. series.

de with the large game & hardware companies, part of the Expo Floor was dedicated to Independent Game Developers, where the latest and greatest indie games like “Papers, Please”, “Crypt of the Necrodancer”, “The Stanley Parable”, and many others were on display. GDC has always had a large focus on independent game developers, but this year, indie game developers were definitely in force, as many of the indie games on display were quite intuitive and most importantly, fun to play.

GDC '14 - The Videogame History Museum Exhibit at GDC.

GDC ’14 – The Videogame History Museum Exhibit at GDC.

Outside of the Expo Floor, I encountered an interesting exhibit, the Videogames History Museum. It was an exhibit dedicated to the history of arcade and console gaming, with classic consoles like the NES, SNES, Atari, N64, Genesis, GameCube, Game Boy, Virtual Boy, etc. on display. There were several stations where gamers could reminisce and play these classic consoles; I was able to get a chance to play E.T.: Phone Home (a game that was largely responsible for the 1983 video game crash), as well as a few rounds of Super Smash Bros. Melee. The exhibit was definitely a trip down nostalgic road for me.

GDC '14 - Game Developer's Choice Awards

GDC ’14 – Game Developer’s Choice Awards

On Wednesday night, the Game Developer’s Choice Awards 2014 was held. It’s similar to the People’s Choice Awards, except that the winners here are games and their developers. A significant portion of the GDC Awards were dedicated to indie games, showcasing how far indie games have come in recent years. What I found surprising is that a large amount of the awards were given to the indie game “Papers, Please”, winning five awards for categories such as Best Narrative, Visual Art, etc. Another big winner was Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us”, a great game that rocked the gaming world last year.

With GDC ’14 concluded, I am still in awe over all the announcements, games/tech that were on display, and more importantly, the advice I received from game designers and professionals. As I have started the journey back into software development in the past year, I was initially overwhelmed, as I felt at times if I could ever get back to speed with what game companies are looking for in developers these days. However, I also gained insight and a better direction of where I should focus my software development skills on.

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Happy New Year and the Latest Updates

Posted by on Jan 17, 2014 in General, Mobile, Software | 0 comments

Happy New Year!

Hope everyone had a great holiday season! Although it’s been quite some time since my last post, I wanted to let everyone know that I didn’t pass away or abandon the blog. Ever since I returned from California in October (great trip BTW), I’ve been quite busy, mostly focusing on my efforts into transitioning into the world of mobile software development, amongst many other things.

In particular, I have been heavily focused on Android Development, working on a new project that I began in late November. Unlike previous Android projects, the end goal of this project was to produce a unique, high-quality app that could be downloaded on the Google Play Store. During the development of this project (dubbed “Project Geo”), I have learned quite a bit about developing on Android platforms, including best practices and system limitations (i.e. memory limitations). With the experience of working on Project Geo, I can say that I am much more comfortable with Android Development now compared to a few months ago, but there is still much to learn.

The best news is that Project Geo is nearing completion and I hope to release it onto the Google Play Store within the next few weeks. Read More

Twin Cities Code Camp 15 Sessions Posted

Posted by on Oct 6, 2013 in General, Software | 0 comments

After an eventful two weeks in the Bay Area, I’m back in Minnesota. It was great to meet and interact with a lot of the professional developers out there, as well as going to awesome seminars and workshops over at Twitter HQ and Kabam Games. Now that I’m back, it’s time to get back into the groove of things.

In other news, Twin Cities Code Camp 15 is coming up in two weeks! The list of sessions for the TCCC15 is now available and can be seen here: http://www.twincitiescodecamp.com/TCCC/Fall2013/Sessions.aspx

As a reminder, TCCC15 will be held on Saturday, October 19, over at Keller Hall on the University of Minnesota TC campus. It is a free event to the public. The registration link can be found here: http://tccc15.eventbrite.com

If you are a developer here in the Twin Cities area, I highly recommend attending this event, as it’s a great way to gauge the current developer trends, as well as networking with other developers in the area. I will be attending TCCC15 and will be covering the event. Read More

Super Smash Bros. Brawl 3D Model Viewer

Posted by on Oct 3, 2013 in General, Software | 0 comments

I just uploaded (on GitHub) the source code for the Super Smash Bros. Brawl 3D Model Viewer XNA 4.0 Game Studio that I worked on with a friend a few years ago. You can find the source code under my GitHub account (huhx015). The program requires 3D models and audio assets to compile, but I have omitted the content files, for cooyright reasons.

For those that are unfamiliar with the XNA framework, it was a library that Microsoft had made available to indie game developers to promote the development of indie games on the Xbox360 and Windows Phone platforms. XNA was a great way to get into developing games relatively quickly, as the framework’s libraries made building a 2D/3D game far more simpler. However, with the switch to Windows 8 & Windows Phone 8 platforms and focus on the unified RT framework, Microsoft decided to kill off XNA.

RIP, XNA. Read More

Gradle for Android at Twitter HQ

Posted by on Sep 24, 2013 in General, Software | 0 comments

It’s been a great time being here in the Bay Area, as the weather here has been nothing but stellar. Earlier this evening, I had the opportunity to attend a Gradle for Android event over at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. It was quite the attendance, as  300 developers were present for the event. The speakers for tonight’s event was Hans Dockter (founder of Gradle), as well as Twitter engineers Jonathan Le and Jake Ouellette.

For those that are unfamiliar with Gradle, Gradle is a build system that has been recently gaining a lot of traction among developers. Back at Google I/O earlier this year, Google announced that Gradle would be integrated into their new Android Studio IDEAJ-based IDE. As Gradle for Android is still quite new, along with Android Studio still essentially considered a beta product, it’s still a work in progress, with Android developers encountering some minor issues with building their apps.

Hans Dockter gave an overview of Gradle, along with demonstrating it’s build capabilities and functionalities in Android Studio. Dockter also talked about what to expect from Gradle as it’s tools mature for the Android platform. Along with Hans, Jonathan Le and Jake Ouellette spoke about their experiences with Gradle for their roles at Twitter.

Le, being the designer of the build system for the Android version of Twitter, discussed the process they went through to implement Gradle, as well as comparing the end results of Gradle versus their previous build tools they used for Twitter 1.0 – 4.0. Le noted that with Gradle, build times were significantly reduced, to roughly around 20-30 seconds versus 2 minutes with their old build tools. Ouellette, flying down from Seattle, also offered his experiences with Gradle in Crashanalytics.

Overall, it was a great event to learn more about Gradle for Android, along with being able to meet with many of the local Android developers here in San Francisco. I will update this post at a later time with a YouTube URL of this event, as Twitter will be making the video of this event available to the public. Read More

The Weekend Tidbits (September 20, 2013)

Posted by on Sep 20, 2013 in General | 0 comments

Well, I’m off to the Bay Area in California for the next two weeks. It feels strange leaving for another trip so soon, as I only returned from Atlanta last weekend.

Anyhow, I’ll continue to be posting from California with interesting tech tips and news. Have a great weekend everyone! Read More

Fake Death of a Crucial M4 SSD

Posted by on Sep 19, 2013 in General, Hardware | 0 comments

While making some Hyper-V configuration changes on my home server, my Windows Server 2012-based server suddenly went BSOD and immediately restarted. On reboot, I found that the motherboard could no longer detect the boot drive (a Crucial M4 512 GB SSD) BIOS.

The M4 contained the OS partition for Server 2012, as well as several Hyper-V virtual disk files for several VMs that I was using for testing purposes. My primary data files were unaffected, as those files are stored on a 6-drive RAID 10 array configuration. As I maintained an OS daily snapshot image on an external 3 TB drive, I wasn’t too concerned about the loss of OS data. What was annoying was that I was facing the ordeal of having to send in the M4 back to Crucial for an RMA, wait for a replacement to arrive, and spending quite some time to restore the OS partition configuration on the replacement SSD drive.

As the sudden BSOD and non-detection of the M4 was very unusual, I did some research on what could cause this issue. Apparently, the problem was a bit more common than initially thought, as there were several other M4 owners that encountered the same issue. It seems that there is a rare intermittent power loss bug that affects M4s with firmware version 040H. I guess I was the lucky one, as my M4 was on firmware version 040H and encountered that “rare” bug.

To address the issue, Crucial released firmware 070H (latest firmware as of this post) earlier this year. However, I was still faced with the problem with reviving my M4, as the server could not detect the drive, let alone update the firmware on it. After speaking with Crucial tech support, they assured me that the data was highly likely to be fully intact and suggested that I power cycle my M4 a few times to revive the M4. Apparently, Crucial implemented a built-in fail-safe recovery mechanism in the M4 drives for such issues.

Power-cycling the M4 involves hooking it up to a PC or laptop with an available SATA power connector (with no SATA cable attached) and leaving it on for approximately 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, power down the PC/laptop and disconnect the M4 for approximately 30 seconds. After power-cycling my M4 a few times, my server was able to detect the M4 again and was able to boot into Windows Server 2012 without any issues.

I immediately performed a data integrity check on the M4 and surprisingly everything was intact. Running CrystalDiskInfo on the M4 512 GB SSD indicated it was in “Good” condition, running at 98% life. After running a few more drive integrity tests, I flashed the M4 to firmware 070H, as it fixes this power loss issue.

To summerize, if you suddenly find that your Crucial M4 is no longer being detected, make sure to power-cycle your drive a few times before shipping the SSD back to Crucial for an RMA; chances are that your M4 is not truly dead. Also, with issues like this and the 5200 hour bug, it is very important to keep your Crucial M4 SSD(s) updated on the latest available firmware. Either way, it’ll save you a lot of time, not to mention keeping your files. It certainly saved me quite the hassle. Read More

Disaster Strikes! A Sad Galaxy Note II :(

Posted by on Sep 17, 2013 in General, Mobile | 0 comments

Over the weekend, I went Atlanta for a friend’s wedding. (Congrats Jared & Robynn!) On the last day of the trip, my trusty Galaxy Note II met with disaster, as it fell face flat onto the pavement when I tripped over a parking block. The aftermath of the disaster:

The Galaxy Note II... after the fall.

The Galaxy Note II… after the fall.

While it looks bad with the cracked screen, fortunately that was the only major damage, as my Note II was still fully operational, with LCD and touch functionality intact. I’m grateful for this, as replacing the gorilla glass is no where as expensive as replacing the LCD digitizer.

As I had no accidental warranty on my Note II (as I purchased it from a previous owner), I went ahead and ordered a replacement Note II gorilla glass part from eBay for roughly $25 USD. With video guides available online on how to take apart a Galaxy Note II, I’ll be doing a DIY repair on my phone, as it’ll save me roughly $130 USD (if repaired through a professional local service).

It’ll take several days for the replacement glass to arrive, but as I’m headed over to San Francisco for two weeks starting next weekend, this’ll have to be a on-vacation repair job. In the meantime, the Galaxy Note II is in sad-face mode. 🙁 Read More

Registrations for Twin Cities Code Camp 15 Now Open!

Posted by on Sep 4, 2013 in General, News, Software | 0 comments

With the fall season now upon us, the time for the next Twin Cities Code Camp event is coming up pretty soon. Registrations for TCCC15 is now open and like with previous TCCC events, the event is completely free. TCCC15 will be held on October 19, 2013 from 8 AM – 5 PM and will again be held in Keller Hall over at the University of Minnesota. The link to register for the event can be found here: http://tccc15.eventbrite.com/

For those that have never been to the Twin Cities Code Camp event, it is a all-day event filled with seminars about the latest development trends and useful programming advice. In the past, the TCCC largely attracted a .NET crowd, but in the recent TCCC events, there have been an increasing number of seminars focusing on mobile and web development, especially with JavaScript. 

Whether you are an experienced developer or new to software development, there is something to learn for everyone. It is also a great event to meet with local developers in the area, as previous TCCC events have typically drawn in roughly 300-400 people. I plan on attending the event and like with previous TCCC events, I will be covering it in detail. Read More