Dry Bones

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Eric Archer

Eric Archer is one of my favorite people on youtube. Here’s him poking around inside of the Oberheim DMX:

A serious audio and electronics geek, Eric has a whole grip of homemade devices and hacks on his website. His Andromeda series of noise makers feature some pretty rad features, including IR sync (in AND out!) warbly analog filters and a pretty neat sequencer. Here’s Eric and some friends running an event in Austin:

It’s not all bleeps and bloops though; he’s got quite a few projects involving some real esoteric miscellanea.  Here’s Eric modeling a bouncing ball with an analog computer:

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WordPress Ancestors and Custom Fields

I’m doing my first serious wordpress project and I’m loving the page ancestor scheme. One of the cooler things you can do is define custom fields or featured images for the top level page, and have the children pull it in. All you need is a way to find out who’s the parent of the current page.

WordPress leaves us with the solitary get_post_ancestors() which returns an array filled with the ID’s of the page’s parents, all the way up to the root. Not so helpful in the middle of your template… and what if you’re AT a top page? get_post_ancestors() returns null!

I wrapped it in a helper function that grabs the last element in the array or returns the current post ID in case of null. An alternative is to recursively follow the $post->parent_post links, but this is way simpler!

function get_top_id($mypost){
  //pass in a post, get the id of the top ancestor
  //or the post's id if it's the top
  $ancestors = get_post_ancestors($mypost);
  if($ancestors != null){
    //pull off the last element of the array
    return(end($ancestors));
  } else {
    return($mypost->ID);
  }
}

So, what do we do if we have the ID of the parent? We can perform lookups on special content that we stored there, for example a featured image (cryptically referred to as a ‘Post Thumbnail‘). We do this through the function get_the_post_thumbnail()

<?php echo get_the_post_thumbnail(get_top_id($post));?>

Now we’ve defined a single header on our top page and all the children have it too. This works for custom fields attached to the parent in the same way. I defined some fields called ‘quote’ and I can access them via get_post_custom_values() :

<?php
$quotes = get_post_custom_values('quote',get_top_id($post));
foreach ( $quotes as $value ) { 
?>
<div class="blockquote">
<?php echo $value ?>
</div> 
<?php } ?>

Bam!
Now my sidebar has a bunch of quotes from the head of the section all the way down to each child page.

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Quake Done Quickest

Just a few of the better moments:
rocket jumping DOWN at 2:47, picking up the launcher and firing all at once 4:34, waiting for a loooong time at 5:50, grabbing the usually impossible key at 7:28, the whole level from 8:15 to 8:38, bouncing off a fiend in lava 11:02, literally flying after grenades in 11:15, the seven second level from 11:50 to 11:58

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The MADE

Alex Handy is heading up the The MADE, a non-profit and soon to be museum for digital entertainment (aka Video Games). He’s got the right idea summed up in the MADE’s tenets:

a. The preservation of historic artistic works in the digital media.
b. The education of the public in the process of creation for digital works of art and video games.
c. The exhibition and curation of individual artists and creators, their works, and their biographies.
d. All exhibits should be playable: games are to be played, not viewed from afar or watched on video.

It’s the focus on creation and live display that makes this unique. There’s been a lot of talk about games as art and games on display as museum pieces, but all static content fails to describe what’s possible in interactive media. Secondly, displaying design documents and early versions of games does so much for the spirits of people who want to make games. The dominance of assembly line game production destroys not only the final product but removes the idea that games created by a single person could possibly be worth playing. In some cases, it seems to even remove the idea that people create games.

The MADE is in the final laps of getting funding, you can visit their kickstarter page and help financially, or join the mailing list and volunteer.

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ExciteMike

I had a chance meeting with ExciteMike a few weeks ago during GDC, and I realized I wanted to show off all of his awesome games. These aren’t his ‘best’ games necessarily, but I did enjoy myself playing playing them.

The awesome four player BallpitSharkFootball

The Satirical Art Can Never Be Games, the only logical response to Ebert’s bizarro critique of games.

Pushy Elephant, for two players (as seen above)

You have to save everyone but there isn’t much time

and, the feature rich Advanced World Of Numbers Go Up

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Defrag – Quake in motion

Defrag is a mod for the now classic Quake 3 engine. It focuses on trick jumping and time trial races through a variety of maps. What makes the quake engine a sensible choice for racing?

Strafe jumping is a type of glitched movement found in certain first-person shooter games. It takes advantage of the way the engine caps player speed. It’s a combination of movement keys (strafing), and subtle mouse gestures to direct the energy along a different vector than the direction the player is facing. Players in Quake 3 are normally caped at a speed of 320 units per second. Skilled strafe jumping brings that up into the neighborhood of 500!

A scene from w3sp's defrag demo

So, what makes this bug abuse beautiful and not just another geeky inhuman feat? It’s that strafe jumping offers a gradient of performance, a spectrum of possible results. A better twitch of the wrist gives floating-point gains to your speed, rather than being a binary ‘you’ve cheated successfully ‘ glitch. It means that even in professional competition settings, players can do surprising things (e.g. this fight between Rapha and Cooller).

Check out this fantastic defrag  demonstartion by w3sp for some beautiful examples.

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