Thursday, September 30, 2004

Antaria: Profile: Satine Whitestone

Satine Whitestone, Grandmaster of the Galenics

A young woman in her early twenties, Satine is one of the youngest leaders ever to lead the Galenics. She has helmed the organization for two years now, and has performed admirably despite her relative inexperience in leadership.

Satine was originally the finest student of the master healer Wyr Solaceheart, becoming a full-fledged healer herself once her former mentor became Grandmaster. She was elected to her current position upon Wyr's death, after her husband - the knight commander Astaruc Whitestone - refused the honor.

While Satine still has little or no experience regarding some aspects of her position, she is in the process of learning them from her circle of advisors, among which sit the greatest leaders the order has ever produced. Her patience and generosity are nearly infinite, as is her willingness to simply listen to people - after all, these were the reasons why the Galenics chose her to lead them in the first place.

If Satine would have a flaw in her delicate nature, it would be that she is unable to bring herself to harm anyone or anything. Her indecision has stalemated a number of issues when she simply could not bring herself to slight any of the affected parties. Fortunately, the other ranking Galenics are not as deeply benevolent as she, and such issues are yet settled after a time.

In a way, Satine is the living embodiment of the Galenic Orders - beautiful, admirable, honorable, and in some ways too self-sacrificial for her own good.

Safe Words

The concept of "Safe Words" is sourced from sadomasochistic sex and bondage practices. Because of the nature of its sessions, it is possible for one or more of the participants to construe, say, cries of pain or pleas for release, as being part of the act. "Safe words" are therefore implemented in order to let the participants know whether or not the session is threatening the safety or comfort of the people involved. The word "Lobster", I hear, is a fair example of a "safe word".

Why do I mention this? No particular reason.

I don't engage in such acts, if you're curious enough to ask. I just heard about the concept somewhere, and found it to be a nice example of how each subculture can have its own viewpoints and practices. It seems that even sadomasochistic sex gets handled in a responsible manner after all.

The more I think about it, the more I consider the fact that the concept of "safe words" translates into other organizations and subcultures. The espionage game uses "safe words" ("code words"?), for example, which agents could use to send a variety of signals or messages. Some modern e-mail systems screen for "safe words" (present in legitimate company mail) in order to lessen their users' chances of receiving spam. And I imagine that people involved in the performance arts have their own "safe words" to act as simple cues, or subtle indicators of security.

How interesting it is that we have imposed such a degree of organization on such aspects of our lives. But then again, it's very telling of how far we can mature in any given field.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Perils of the Pre-Job

I found this posted on the Anino Entertainment forums earlier today:

I am a senior game programmer. I am available from Monday - Wed, 12 - 6 PM. Thursday - Sat, 9-1 PM. I wish to receive 60K for my salary and renumeration, ok lang kahit walang medical benefits at SSS. Assembly, C, and C++ ang forte ko. My cellphone number is 0919XXXXXXX. pls txt me kung interested kayo. I am willing to work in Alabang but I would prefer to work here in my lab kung gusto ninyo puntahan ninyo ang laboratoryo ko hehhehehe. Sige hintayin ko text ninyo.

Odd message, really.

I've interviewed people for open positions before, and what most applicants don't know is that a lot can be read about them even before the face-to-face meeting. People will make some of the darndest mistakes - some applicants will claim fluency in English in an error-filled cover letter; some applicants will plagiarize the company's own works in their portfolio.

Now, while I'm not saying that this person has committed such heinous acts, I must point out that he's already made a number of mistakes in this first missive. Whether or not Anino Entertainment calls him on this is another issue entirely, though.

1. 60K - Sixty thousand pesos a month is a pretty large amount for the local companies, much less a young company that has had only two game releases. I simply don't think that this is a realistic amount here, even for a senior programmer. Obnoxiously high salary requests like these will only get your name thrown out in the first batch of cuts, Medical/SSS or no Medical/SSS.

2. Workplace - Employees who work at home (or the 'lab', in this case) are usually a risk for a company, since these employees cannot be supervised effectively. There are too many communication problems with such an arrangement, and there's no way to guarantee that the employee will actually be working during his 'pay hours'. A company will not take pains to arrange this for an applicant whose degree of skill is unknown to them.

3. Forums post - A company's HR representatives may or may not access their own online forums - what motive would they have for doing so? It would have been a lot better to send a proper application form or resume directly to the company. For that matter, even if an HR representative would be browsing the forums, anything less than an actual resume probably wouldn't get their attention.

4. Schedule - A nominal point, but I'd wonder why this person would be free on MWF afternoons and TTS mornings - that's not a normal office schedule unless one works in something like a call center. But if that's the case, then what makes this person a "senior game programmer"? For that matter, considering that Anino Entertainment has released the only large-scale Filipino-made PC game so far, how can this person be a "senior game programmer"?

I remember having a client who was looking for someone who could do the voice-over for their new commercial. After a quick screening process, they called us to mention that they had gotten someone who had been in Miss Saigon. Having the script and all materials ready by then, we agreed on a date for which the recording could be done.

Whoever he was, he performed horribly. All the parties involved came back greatly irritated from that recording session, and eventually it was found that, although the voice-over "talent" had certainly been involved with Miss Saigon, he had done so as part of the Stage Crew.

Watch those resumes, everyone. They're more telling than you think they are.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Antaria: The Galenics

Among all the mages in Antaria, none are loved and respected as much as the Galenics. As the scions of healing and purification, many are drawn to their sense of responsibility and selflessness. Over the course of several centuries, the Galenics have parlayed these services into favors and influence, and are always in high standing with the majority of the Antarian population. Farmer, merchant, craftsman and king alike all look up to the Galenics.

The sphere of influence that the Galenics control has led them to form multiple associations within their order. Most Galenics are healers under the Order of the Guiding Light, with many acting as priests of the Aranist faith. Under the self-proclaimed duty of protecting the weak and helpless, Galenic knights of the Order of the Holy Sword keep order alongside each kingdom's guardsmen. And the special agents of the Galenic Inquisition are everywhere, seeking out and neutralizing any darker threats.

Whether or not the Galenics see fit to use their influence is a question best left to the current circumstances. Sometimes the Galenics pull their strings to the point of breaking, and for this they are seen as snobbish and elitist. Sometimes the Galenics lean against their vows of humility and neutrality, and for this they are seen as sycophant lapdogs. Despite this, however, one matter is plainly evident, and that is that the Galenics can do no wrong in the eyes of the people as long as they do not betray their trust.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Antaria: Scars

Sister Lyonai looked up. There seemed to be a slight commotion near the front of the tent.

She continued bandaging the leg of the ten-year-old boy she was treating - he needed her attention more, at the moment. When she was finished, she watched the boy hobble off the bench, then turned and found herself looking at a set of glimmering white armor.

Only it wasn't white - it was spotted with blood in a few places.

The owner of the armor removed his helmet with one hand, and Sister Lyonai could see at once that he was a young man of less than twenty years. Judging from the make of the armor, the young man could only have been a knight for a few seasons.

"Healer," the young man said, "I request your service."

Sister Lyonai could now see that most of the blood on the armor was gathered around a single spot on his upper left arm. "What happened?" she asked.

"Drunkards causing a disturbance near the Wyrm's Roar tavern," the young man answered. "One of them had a sword."

"I see," Sister Lyonai said, eyeing the young man critically. "If you would just step back and await your turn, good sir, I would gladly lend you my arts."

The young man looked back at her, making no move as he did so. "Why not now?"

"Others await their treatments, good sir," Sister Lyonai said patiently, "You are but the third."

"Yet I am here now," the young man answered. "Why do you choose not to service my wound before you would service these peasants?"

"All men injure themselves the same way, good sir, whether noble or peasant."

"Nevertheless, Sister," the young man replied, "I have received mine in the line of duty. It is a duty that these peasants' concerns would never match."

Sister Lyonai put the rest of the bandages down gently. "May I ask your name, sir knight?"


"Your name," Sister Lyonai repeated, without a hint of impatience in her voice.

"Gavin," the young man said, "My name is Gavin."

"Very well, Lord Gavin," Sister Lyonai said. "Do you know this man?" she asked, gesturing to a man in a leather jerkin nearby.

Gavin studied the peasant, making careful note of the dirt that stained the man's hands. "I can't say that I do," he said finally.

"This man is a farmer," Sister Lyonai said, "One who plows the fields. His friends brought him here this morning because he injured himself scything the wheat for this year's harvest." She gestured towards the long scar, half-healed, that ran along the man's leg.

"Now," Sister Lyonai said, gesturing towards a young woman whose right hand was heavily bandaged, "Do you know this woman?"

"No," Gavin said.

"This woman is a cook and scullery-maid at the palace. She accidentally cut herself preparing the midday meal and managed to make it here before the wound became too serious."

"But what do they have to do with the fact that you refuse to lend me your services?"

Sister Lyonai took a deep breath. "You keep the streets safe, good sir. That is where you have received your scars. But this man toils in the King's lands to make sure that none in Lorendheim go hungry, and that is where he has gained his scars. This woman slaves in her kitchens for the sake of many others, and that is where her scars lie.

"We all have our scars, sir Gavin," Sister Lyonai said. "Yet no matter where they come from, they are still the same scars."

The knight considered this for a moment. He did not appear to be entirely convinced.

Finally, he turned, and, shifting his injured arm around a bit, began moving to make way for the next person. He felt a soft tap on his shoulder plate, and turned to see Sister Lyonai holding up a piece of cloth.

"Keep this pressed to the wound while you wait your turn, sir Gavin," Sister Lyonai said. "It will help stanch the bleeding and make sure that you do not feel too unconfortable."

Gavin smiled. "I thought you would have placed the peasants before me."

"Yes," Sister Lyonai said simply, "But I have a duty to you as well, sir knight, just as I do to them."

And she smiled.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Legacy of Work Done Right and Wrong

Walking around the Net, I've noticed how the development of Pinoy video games is accelerating. UGotGame, it seems, received quite a few submissions.

The Anito message boards are buzzing with comments from a number of people interested in putting together their own games. (At least, they were - site's down.) Some have shown surprising levels of creative thought, but I don't think many of them are familiar with how much effort goes into the creation of a game.

I found my old notes for Anito a few weeks ago, spending an entire afternoon looking through them. Maybe twenty or thirty characters, each with a description of what they seem to be like, and then a description of what they're really like. In exchange for those characters, I get my name in the credits. Not bad, I suppose.

If the development of Anito had a problem, it was the fact that the story was not fully realized until late in development. I think the stories went directly to the scripters and the programmers immediately after being written, which means that no one was really working under an absolutely complete script and set of requirements. In a sense, the team was playing it by ear. Odd, how it all managed to come together.

Personally, I'd like to try doing it again. I'd make sure to follow what I've written for myself in such a case:

1. Get the story done before development starts. Even an outline would be good here. Anything, as long as it gives direction.

2. Get the specifications straight before design and programming start. One can't just start writing additional characters, locations and features in the middle of compositing. I sincerely doubt that any development team will like it.

3. Have a story team as opposed to a lone writer. One guy working alone simply can't think of everything. If anything, having multiple people on a story team ensures that you get a lot of different facets of the story.

Of course, that's if I ever get to write another video game again. I don't suppose anyone out there is looking for a few good people? I mean, hey, I've got experience. :)

Monday, September 20, 2004

Antaria: Amalthea

Amalthea crouched in the near-darkness, waiting as her eyes got used to the dim light. Ahead, the stone path broke into ripples where roots had mangled the rock underneath. She straightened, steadying her staff upon the ground with a distinct clank, and continued walking. Her braid trailed listlessly in the air as she did so.

Thorngarde Keep was an adventurer's worst-kept secret, a forgotten ruin rising from the overgrown forests of Allandria. The massive castle had been abandoned close to eighty years before, and the ever-persistent rumors told of the fantastic treasure within its depths, wealth that could provide for a man until the end of his days and far, far more.

That virtually every single adventurer across Antaria knew about the Keep was a detail largely forgotten. Scant weeks would pass without some ambitious peasant, wandering knight or mercenary company passing by to have a look. Usually they would leave empty handed - eighty years of scavengers, after all, would have left no stone unturned.

But Amalthea was more than some mere adventurer - she was a Metrian. And, while the benefits of her field of arcane study were not immediately obvious, Amalthea knew perfectly well that being a Metrian gave her access to the comprehensive stores of knowledge that her colleagues were so fond of collecting. So here she was, investigating a moldering old map drawn by a man who had claimed to have accessed the secret inner depths of the Keep.

It wasn't about the wealth and treasure, mind you. The Guild provided her every need, and she was content. But Metrians were highly inquisitive by nature, and Amalthea just happened to think that being inquisitive gave you the right to walk into places just to have a look around.

There was an odd grinding sound in the distance. Amalthea had been attempting to tie it to anything she had experienced so far, but it resisted association. It was unlikely that anything in the Keep was still in fair condition, so whatever it was, it was certainly of interest to her.

Turning her head slightly in order to gain a better idea of where the sound was coming from, she headed in that direction. As she walked, her staff tapped against the stone floor with every step.

Sick, Sick, Sick.

I've had a bad cough for the last couple of weeks, and I only decided to see a doctor about it last Friday. To make a long story short, I ended up paying an arm and a leg for the consultation and an x-ray, only to find out that I was as healthy as a horse.

My cough, you ask? Seems that my doctor thinks it's because of stress. She advised me to consume more fluids, ease up on the exercise and take it easy for a few days, which I thought was a very odd thing for a doctor to say.

Still, it didn't get any argument from me, especially in light of the fact that my wallet was running on empty by that time.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Antaria: Overview

Mages on the continent of Antaria are segregated into seven different classes, each with its own type of magic and its own independent philosophy on how the world works. The many alliances and vendettas between each organization, naturally, are tenuous at best.

Galenics - Healing, purification and protection magics. The Galenics are a quasi-religious order, popular among the people for the services that they provide. They hold a great deal of social and political influence, and have become somewhat elitist as a result.

Masquers - Illusion, enchantment and mind magics. The Masquers are the youngest of the seven classes, and maintain great stores of clandestine information on anyone and everyone. They are invariably mistrusted and rarely understood.

Metrians - Force, weather and teleportation magics. The Metrians have the most powerful war magics at their disposal, yet far from using them in combat, they choose to delve into study as scholars instead. Seen as bookish and reclusive, the Metrians do not choose to correct this assumption.

Druids - Nature, growth and survival magics. The Druids are a militant lot, making their homes in the natural environment and eschewing complex advancement. They are often seen as feral, brash, and downright difficult to reason with.

Tempestites - Craft, conjuration and familiarship magics. The Tempestites are best known for the elemental familiars that they command as bodyguards and servants. Tempestites are an arrogant lot, given to various wants of wealth, power and authority.

Shamans - Strength, enhancement and endurance magics. The Shamans are an enigmatic tribespeople who dwell in the harsh southern wastes. Though some consider then exotic, others consider them to be a primitive people, naive in modern ways and means.

Thanatai - Body, death and divination magics. The Thanatai are brooding, methodical necromancers who tend to be reviled by the general public. They have a very practical outlook on both life and death, in light of the persecution that they tend to face.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Antaria: The Great Game of Names, Part I

Might as well note them down here before I forget.

PanM, if you ever get to read this, I thank you very much for the names. I couldn't have gone into further development of Antaria without them.


The Tajik Wastes
The Maw

Disclaimer: September 2004

Still learning how to work this thing.

Every now and then a single image flashes before my eyes, and that's of those days in the late 80s when I was working out how to operate the VCR.

Everything's obviously different this time around. There's not even a "Play" button in sight.

Disclaimers now. Everything here is the property of Sean Uy, writings, ideas and whatnot. Steal anything without my express permission, and I will hunt you down like the dog you are.

Okay, maybe not. But I'll still bug you like no tomorrow, and you'll be powerless to do anything about it because, deep down inside, you'll know that these were my ideas and that I can prove it through multiple forms of media. Save yourself the humiliation.

Copyright is such a sensitive issue nowadays, isn't it?