May 24, 2006: Dominica Leaves for Houston

Even though I got almost no sleep the night before last and even after going to bed much later than I had wanted to I was still awake at 5:40 this morning and responding to emails from work from my Blackberry while I was in bed. I didn’t fall back asleep and I kept on top of my emails until we finally got out of bed at a little past eight.

We ended up being ready to leave the apartment earlier than we had anticipated so we decided to run over to the Omega and get a nice breakfast together before Dominica leaves for her trip to Texas. We ate (she got her usual – the egg and pepper bagle sandwich – and I got my usual – French toast) but didn’t have any extra time to relax. Then I drove her over to the Jersey Avenue Train Station near our apartment and sat and waited to make sure that she was able to get a ticket and on to the train. It is amazingly handy to have the train run right from where we live over to the airport!

Since I was in a different spot than I normally am in the morning I drove right into downtown New Brunswich as I went to work. As I pulled into town the NJ Transit train pulled into the station as I went under the Albany Street Bridge right at went over. Then it went over my head again as I went under the George Street Bridge. I doubt that Dominica noticed me driving underneath either time though. I was hard to see being under the bridge and all.

Dominica is taking the train to Newark Airport where she is catching the Airtran flight to Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas. Her sister, Francesca, is picking her up at the airport and Dominica will be hanging out in Houston until Saturday when they will all be driving up to Frankfort. Dominica and Oreo are then planning on spending the week at her parents’ house there and somehow getting home the next weekend but we haven’t figured out all of the plans for that yet.

I didn’t get into the office until 10:40. It was a bright sunny day. A nice day for going in late and taking it easy. The first work for me had just gotten to me at 10:28 so there wasn’t even a backlog of stuff to take care of which made for a happy morning.

I discovered a very interesting looking “company” called Infamous Adventures who are busy completing a full-blown remake of Sierra’s classic graphical adventure title King’s Quest III. I was really happy with the Anonymous Game Developer’s remakes of King’s Quest I and King’s Quest II so I am really looking forward to KQIII and hope that it is just as good as those were. IA has a lot of “living up” to do but their screenshots look amazing and their forums lead me to believe that there is some decent activity going on there unlike over at AGDI where they seem to have ceased development on their remake of Quest for Glory II after two or three years of work. I will be very sad if they don’t manage to complete that.

Unfortunately, King’s Quest III is the weakest member of the King’s Quest family. (Okay, KQ VIII is awful because they tried to make it three dimensional back when you just couldn’t do that sort of thing and it came out so poorly that the series died with it. But KQ I-VII, except for III, were amazing games with great writing, graphics (for the time), sound, etc.) I own all of the originals but am really excited to see awesome remakes that take advantage of updated graphics, tweaks, sound and voice acting.

IA also has their own, original game in the works called “Quest for Infamy” which looks to be interesting. That is slated to released after King’s Quest III but I will keep you updated. You know I can’t resist a good graphical adventure game.

I really wish that someone who remake King’s Quest IV. It is the transitional game as Sierra attempted to update the graphics of the older games. The later titles, V and VI, were gorgeous but IV left a lot to be desired. KQ IV seems to be the forgotten title of the series, caught in the middle between the three classic title and the three later ones. KQ IV kept much of the old style but with slightly improved graphics, a larger team working on it and a whole lot more gameplay than KQ players were used to. I have never played through the game and don’t want to invest the time to do so until someone does a rockin’ remake for me to get immersed in.

If any of you are interested in making your own Sierra styled graphic adventure games (or Lucasarts styled for you Monkey Island fans out there) you can check out the Adventure Game Studio for Windows. It only works on Windows but the games that it produces can be played on Linux of Macintosh so it is only so bad. If you check out the AGS site you will also discover that there are tons of game links that you can try so that you can play some awesome games made using AGS. Thank goodness that the age of the amateur video game maker is finally here.

When I was younger, way back in 1987, I used to play with Electronic Arts’ Adventure Game Construction Kit. What a lot of fun that was for a kid of eleven. There was very little choice in graphical adventure games back then and being able to make your own was really cool. AGCK came with a built in game called “Rivers of Light” that I can still remember playing. AGCK was originally designed for the Commodore 64 and the Apple ][ and its heritage showed on my Amiga version. The whole game system fit on a single 880KB floppy disk. I spent many, many hours attempting to make my own games with that system. The big downside was that you had to own AGCK to be able to play the games and I was the only person that I knew who owned AGKC or an Amiga computer so I was out of luck as far as sharing games so it lost a lot of its excitement there. Sharing games that you have made is where the real fun is. Or at least knowing that someone might play them after you make them.

Looking at the screenshot of AGKC on Wikipedia really brings back memories. It is hard to believe that video games used to look like that. Another game of that era that came from the old 8-bit systems that I used to play on my 16-bit Commodore Amiga 1000 was Electronic Arts’ Tales of the Unknown: The Bard’s Tale. Most people just know the game as “The Bard’s Tale”. It was a ground breaking role playing game and practically the entire first person perspective RPG genre owes its origins to “The Bard’s Tale”. I put so many hours into that game! Now the Bard’s Tales games should be big contenders to be remade.

[In 2004 inXile – the company founded by one of the original creators of the Bard’s Tale series – made a new game called The Bard’s Tale but he did not have the rights to the original games, characters or stories so the new game is a Bard’s Tale game in title only. Andy and I both have this newer game. I didn’t like it much. Dominica played it some. Jeremy is borrowing it now. Andy likes it but he also likes Dungeon Siege which is practically identical to The Bard’s Tale as a top-down, three dimension, action-RPG hack and slash.]

Coming in late really helps make the day fly by. It was 2:30 before I even realized. And somehow I managed not to get super sleepy this afternoon. Maybe it was that full six hours of sleep that I got last night 😉

I stepped out of the office for a few minutes today to make a couple telephone calls on my mobile and discovered that it was a pretty incredibly beautiful day. It is warm and sunny and quiet. Just awesome. I haven’t had much opportunity to be outside since coming down to New Jersey. I spend all day in the office and all the other daylight hours driving to and from the office. The weekends I have either been away, busy or by myself and none of those conditions make going outside very good.

I tried calling Mary and Jocelyn today but their phone is turned off again. They are very hard to get a hold of on a regular basis. Recently their telephone has been on and off but it just rings and rings so it is hard to tell what is going on.

I have been having problems with my Netgear router in the apartment. Fortunately I have two of them there so I am able to fall back to the other one when the first one has problems. I have never gotten the wireless working in the apartment and I am getting suspicious that it might be an antenna problem or, less likely, some weird effect caused by the walls or the rack that I put the units on top of. I worked on that for quite some time last night and it is going to be a bit of a continuing project tonight. One of the most annoying things to work on is your router because the moment you do anything you lose the ability to get online.

At 5:15 it was time to leave the office. My week has been pretty slow so far and I don’t think that it is necessary for me to just hang around the office. Nothing ever comes through for me after 5:00 anyway. Most of my work happens early in the morning so it makes more sense for me to be available at that time instead of in the evening. It is easy to stay late at work, though, because there is so much driving between the office and the apartment that it makes it easy to not want to face it. So there is actually a procrastination issue with going home!

My email was almost totally silent today. I don’t think I got more than three or four actual emails all day. That is quite the change. Normally I get many. Dad, my Aunt Sharon and Andy each emailed me once and that was about it. That makes for a boring day. I rely on my email to keep me entertained. So everyone needs to email me tomorrow.

I got home and spent the evening working on little things at the apartment. I am very happy that I managed to get the Netgear router working with its wireless now. I am not really sure what I did. I tried tons of things and I don’t know which one caused it to work but it seems to be fine now. I am happy because it means that I can now check my email from my HP iPAQ handheld Pocket PC device. I don’t have to fire up a computer every morning just to see what is going on. That will save me a lot of time and effort every day.

I also managed to build a FreeNX remote access proxy server. I only just thought of needing one about a week ago and I have never worked with NX or FreeNX so I was worried that it would be quite the challenge but it turned out to not be bad at all. I got a chance to really use it tonight for a number of things and so far it is working really well and I can see that it is going to be really useful for me. It is a really neat technology.

I watched a few episodes of Magnum P.I. while I had the apartment to myself. Dominica isn’t into it all that much so it is a good “background” show for me to have on when I am home alone working.

Dominica’s flight arrived in Houston ten minutes early. Francesca picked her up and everything went fine. Francesca called me on her way to the airport to let me know that Dominica had arrived and then Min called me once they got back to the house. Francesca said that Houston is one hundred and four degrees Farenheit this evening! Dominica is not going to be happy about that.

I ordered dinner from Domino’s. Now that I haven’t had it for two weeks I started to miss it. Although once I got it I remembered how tired of it I was.

Dad emailed me to let me know that two more computers arrived at his house today. There is just a constant flow of them these days.

I worked until 11:30 and then headed off to bed. It was later than I had wanted to be up but that seems to be the norm these days. I never seem to manage to get to bed by 10:30 which is really when I should be getting to bed.

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