I’m not dead! Really! I’ve just been very busy during the last few months. Turns out that once you decide to get married, your life is taken over by wedding planning until you’re married (well, at least if you decide to have a really short engagement). Oh, and yah, I’m getting married!

So, in an attempt to keep my life somewhat normal while everything runs around crazy, I’m going to try getting this blog back in order. If you’re still out there watching, you deserve at least something for your patience, eh? I’m probably going to start it off with some simple tutorials on the engine I work on, FlatRedBall. The engine has really grown out of the “2.5D” that it started in and into a decent 3D engine – with some of my help of course ;)

Aside from that, I might as well share some awesome stuff I’ve seen/played lately:

GemCraft: a tower defense game with a twist – your “towers” hold gems, which actually do the attacking. They can be upgraded and moved around, and as you level up later on you can use your new skills to go play old levels (without being bored to tears). You can also respec your skill point distribution at any time for free – which is really nice. I recommend it as a study of how to create a game where your character can get stronger without previous areas being any less boring to play (and without “leveling up” previous areas to match your new character).

Team Fortress 2: I know, I caught the boat late. If you haven’t played this yet, go get it off Steam! If you have, and you’re reading my site, you must be some sort of developer, in which case you should read about the rendering methods used in TF2 here and here.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Final Fantasy Tactics really drew me in back in the Playstation days, and I’ve played it quite a few times since. I also played all the way through FFTA (the first Final Fantasy I actually finished). So getting this was a no-brainer. Now that I have it, I really appreciate all the variety they’ve added to the game. I also really appreciate how the game is broken into “quests” which each take about 10 to 30 minutes to complete. With the amount of running around I’ve been doing lately, it’s really nice to be able to pull out a game that I can play for 15 minutes or so when I have to wait for something.

Rock Band: I always hated rhythm/music games – there was only ever one song on DDR I was good at, and it was in a very specific arcade version that was in a city I didn’t live in. Other than that, I was horrible. My first experience with Guitar Hero wasn’t that great either – they started me on Medium and I did horrible. However, my fiancée started talking about liking it (she played it with some of her friends), and always on the lookout for new games to play with her, I picked up both Guitar Hero 3 and Rock Band. That was it – we played all the way through Guitar Hero 3, and I still have groups of people over all the time to play Rock Band. It’s a lot of fun to play with friends – and it’s a game that a group of people can really enjoy playing (without having to really be any good at games). Just don’t make people feel bad if they start on easy – it’s not the hardest of hardcore games after all.

So that’s a pretty good list of games that’ve been holding my attention lately. There’s a few others, and I’m always on the lookout for good co-op games I can play with my fiancée (know of any?). Of course there’s also Shizoid – I tried the demo with my best man, then we played it all afternoon. I’ve also played it quite a bit with my fiancée – the one-stick controls are really easy for anyone to pick up. Unfortunately, the difficulty really ramps up around the checkerboard stages.

Oh, and look at my wrist, I’ve gotta go.

Edit: One final note: I’m going to try upgrading to the newest version of WordPress soon – I’ve used it on another site and it’s much nicer. So a little downtime in the next day or so is to be expected.

Edit(again): Alright, that was relatively painless – only lost the categories for a while. I’ve updated to the newest version of WordPress. Let me know if anything is broken.