2010.2: First Play/Read

Jan 4 ⋅ 11:15 PM

2010 wasn’t a good year for gaming for me. I had very little time for gaming over the course of the year. Virtually all of Q2 and Q4 were game-free as I clamped down to get work done.

I did play some fantastic games that I’d like to highlight. We Didn’t Playtest This At All is quick, silly game that anyone with a sense of humor will enjoy. Bigi has that version. I have the follow-up We Didn’t Playtest This Either. I’m sure if you know either of us, you will get to play it soon.

On the video game side of things, I am thoroughly-impressed by Vanquish. It is a third-person, cover-based shooter where you can boost-slide around the battlefield and take over enemy turrets and vehicles. None of those pieces are groundbreaking, but the way everything is weaved together really makes the game shine. (Though there are still unfair one-hit kills and camera issues).

I also read a book this year! JavaScript: The Good Parts by Doug Crockford is a must-read for all serious web developers. I learned JavaScript through trial-and-error and googling for code snippets, so I never learned many aspects to the language that I should have been using and never learned proper JS code structure and organization. Crockford’s book covers all that in a succinct 145 pages that even a slacker like me can finish. Note that JavaScript’s significance goes beyond the browser. Node.js is a web server/app platform thing (think Apache+PHP replacement) that uses both JS syntax and fundamentals. A few years down the road, we could all very well be coding the backend of web apps in JavaScript.

Board Games

  • Agricola: Farmers of the Moors – highly recommended
  • Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer
  • Dominion: Alchemy – sucks
  • Dominion: Prosperity – good
  • Galaxy Trucker: The Big Expansion – crazy
  • Last Night on Earth
  • Roll Through the Ages
  • Twilight Imperium
  • We Didn’t Playtest This At All – silly awesome
  • We Didn’t Playtest This Either – ditto

Video Games

  • Batman (NES!)
  • Etrian Odyssey 3
  • Grandia 3
  • House of the Dead: Overkill
  • Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2
  • Sin & Punishment: Star Successor – good
  • StarCraft 2
  • Vanquish – wow


  • JavaScript: The Good Parts (I read a book!)
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2010.1: Crazy

Jan 2 ⋅ 9:39 PM

Truth be told, the most fitting word for my 2010 is crazy.

Working crazy hours: back-to-back 80+-hour weeks (Q2) and working through four-straight weekends (Q4). Industry changing crazy fast: Facebook credits, FrontierVille, EA buying Playfish, Disney buying Playdom. Zynga crazy hiring: acquiring companies in Austin, China, and Germany, setting up shop in Japan, and filling our SF offices to the point where you have to get lucky to get a parking spot… or a restroom stall. (And crazy over-counting: finding instances of double- and triple-counting in our tracking, heh).

So much has happened and so much has changed that it’s hard to believe only a year has passed. I’m a senior dev now—asked more questions than I ask others. (Me and another guy compete for most-cynical senior dev on the team). I won two company awards (Q2 and Q3). My closest friends on the team are now on a new team working on a new game. We went to Vegas… and almost left one guy behind. We had a month-long, office Dominion league. My car was totaled and I bought a new car, in the process becoming thoroughly frustrated with the car choices these days. I went to New York City and ate a lot of good food including lunch at Jean Georges (three Michelin stars!).

And silver exploded. And I read a book.

I’d say I fulfilled my resolution for 2010, no doubt due to being at a company where even one week is a long time. 2010 wasn’t an easy year for me; it was a lot of hard work and late nights. But things worked out well, so I’m recycling my resolution for 2011: “Make big(ger) plans; aim high(er) in hope and work”.

I’m cheating, honestly. I already know I will fulfill that resolution. Much of what I learned, worked on, and secretly slipped into the codebase in 2010 is in preparation for a refactoring of the front-end code that no one asked for and no one will schedule my time for, but is desperately needed and is a project I can’t stop thinking about. Ditto for a redesign. (I’m a cheater; I’ve already started working on both during this “break”.)

Like I said: crazy.

Paul Irish

Gordon – open source Flash runtime in JS with SVG

Jan 17 ⋅ 10:16 PM

Awesome! (h/t Alex)


Fixing animation in jQuery

Jan 10 ⋅ 11:33 AM

I originally assumed jQuery used a timer for each animate() too…

2009.2: First Play

Jan 4 ⋅ 12:06 AM

Board games

  • Agricola
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Citadels
  • Family Business
  • Formula D
  • Galaxy Trucker?
  • Ghost Stories
  • Gubs
  • In the Year of the Dragon
  • Incan Gold
  • Power Grid
  • Through the Ages
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Viktory II
  • Winner’s Circle

Video Games

  • BlazBlue
  • Contra 3
  • Dokapon Kingdom
  • Final Fantasy X (yup, finally)
  • Knights in the Nightmare
  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii
  • No More Heroes
  • Rhythm Heaven
  • Scribblenauts
  • Viewtiful Joe 2

Computer Games

  • Cave Story?
  • Diablo II

Facebook Games

  • Atom Blast
  • Ball Toss!
  • Brain Buddies
  • Café World
  • Crazy Planets
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Tiny Adventures
  • FarmVille
  • Kick-off
  • Mafia Wars (for obvious reasons)
  • Mobsters 2 (ditto)
  • Mythmonger
  • Ninja Saga
  • Ponzi, Inc
  • Roller Coaster Kingdom
  • Spore Islands
  • Starfleet Commander ( rank #143 >:D )
  • Tetris Friends
  • The Hierarchy
  • Treasure Mania (now named Treasure Madness)
  • Warstorm
  • Yakuza Lords

2009.1: Who Dares Wins

Dec 31 ⋅ 11:23 PM

2009 was the year I made my move. I quit my job at Power Integrations after four years as an analog IC design engineer and finally made the jump to web design/development.

I had been contemplating the move for a few years already. At one point, summer 2008 was my personal deadline for the move. Then my project kept getting delayed and I pushed it back to fall 2008. Then Lehman Brothers went bust and the global financial machine seized up. Suddenly, just having a job felt quite nice.

But as spring came around again, I decided I was not happy with the way things were going and needed to make a change. Last week of May, I told my boss of my intent to quit and applied for the web designer position at Zynga (through Bigi; did you get your referral bonus yet?). First week of June, I was interviewed for web developer (not design) position at Zynga. Second week of June, I was given an offer from Zynga and immediately accepted. June 30th was my last day at Power Integrations; the following Monday, July 6th, was my first day at Zynga.

Six months later, I’ve established myself as the CSS expert and sole UI-centric developer on the team. While that means I’m assigned all the awesome IE6/7 CSS bugs, I have also been given the opportunity to do my own layouts and mockups, tasks normally reserved for the UI designers. Taking a concept from design to code—what I’ve long been doing as a hobby—is now my career.

I’m incredibly fortunate that this change has worked out so well for me. There were many places where things could have gone wrong or I could have come up short. If it weren’t for Bigi, maybe my resumé would’ve been screened out by a recruiter looking for web designers instead of ending up in the hands of the team manager, who decided that I’d be a better fit for web development. If it weren’t for the people I’ve met at TIC/AIC/TVA, I probably wouldn’t have pursued web design with the same grit and dedication. And of course, if it weren’t for Lloyd and AIC ten years ago, would I even be talking about this now?

I think the takeaway is best summed up in a snippet of the Burnham quote Gruber ended today’s post with: “Make big plans; aim high in hope and work”. That is my resolution for 2010. I hope it is yours too.

John Resig

Analyzing Timer Performance

Dec 25 ⋅ 10:45 PM

Particularly relevant to what I’m working on.

The New Yorker

Football, dog fighting, and brain damage

Oct 12 ⋅ 3:37 PM

Another juicy Gladwell piece.

My Project Will Be Going Live Soon

Oct 11 ⋅ 6:41 PM

Things that have happened in the past 3 months:

  • Ate a lot of good food.
  • Played Agricola, Dominion, Through the Ages, Tsuro, Vegas Showdown, and Magic (Time Spiral block draft) with coworkers.
  • Nerf wars at the office. Nerf raid on the FarmVille team.
  • Placed 6th and 3rd at the monthly company Texas Hold’em tournaments.
  • Worked all weekend twice…

What if we had a game room at work?

Jul 11 ⋅ 9:22 PM

I think most people would either say (1) it’s a bad idea because people would play games all day or (2) it’s a great idea because I’d play games all day. After a week at Zynga, I haven’t seen anyone else use the game room for games. I saw at least three meetings held in that room. On Thursday, there were people sleeping there.

I’ve noticed that the game room doesn’t have that many games though—even though it has the full set of Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3. Perhaps I should lead a project to change that. ;)


The end of the edge case

Jul 11 ⋅ 8:36 PM

Especially relevant now. (via Kottke)

The sun that sets on one day rises for another

Jul 5 ⋅ 9:12 PM

Sunset @ Edenvale

Today was my last day at Power Integrations

Jun 30 ⋅ 11:33 PM

Starting Monday, I will be a web developer at Zynga.


Designing vs. Engineering (really quickly)

Jun 29 ⋅ 9:45 AM

Yesterday, I went to SF with some friends to watch Objectified (and have yummy Mitchell’s ice cream). The film really cemented in my mind that designing and engineering are much more similar than most people realize. Both involve finding pragmatic solutions to everyday (or perhaps not-so everyday) problems. That’s all for now.


There’s A New Korg DS-10!

Jun 25 ⋅ 11:34 PM

Great product + great promo video. A must-watch for any Steve Jobs fan. ;)

I can has Elspeth?

Jun 20 ⋅ 2:52 AM

Earlier in the day, I asked for Tansen’s luck to help me open an Elspeth at tonight’s FNM (Friday Night Magic) draft. It’s the most-important—and most-expensive—card that I’m missing from Shards of Alara. Guess what? The guy across the table opened one and my only match loss was against that guy. In the deciding game, he was able to deal just enough damage to kill me because of Elspeth. =/

Starting with me and going left around the the table, here’s what the nine players in my draft pod drafted: Jund (me), Jund, Naya, Jund, 5-color good stuff, Bant (with Elspeth), Naya, Naya, Naya. Yes, we had six consecutive players fighting over red and green. Halfway through the Shards pack, I realized something was up because I kept seeing so many blue cards left in the packs. But I couldn’t bring myself to not use my first-pick Kresh the Bloodbraided.

Even with all the other Jund/Naya drafters, somehow I ended up with this crazy-powerful and crazy-consistent deck:

Goblin Deathraiders
Grixis Grimblade
Nacatl Outlander
Putrid Leech
Viashino Slaughtermaster
Ember Weaver

Rhox Brute
Blitz Hellion (first-pick from Alara Reborn)
Bloodpyre Elemental
Fusion Elemental (seriously! Check out all my mana-fixing)
Kresh the Bloodbraided (first-pick from Shards of Alara)
Igneous Pouncer

Magma Spray
2 × Wretched Banquet
Dark Temper (first-pick from Conflux)
2 × Fiery Fall (got both in back-to-back picks)

Colossal Might
Deny Reality
Voices from the Void

Mistvein Borderpost
Veinfire Borderpost
Arcane Sanctum
Jund Panorama
5 × Forest
6 × Mountain

Kresh was a huge beating. In one game, I had a Rhox Brute staring down a Wild Leotau. I played Kresh and attacked with my Brute. My opponent decided to trade and suddenly my Kresh was a 12/12. It grew to 27/27 by the time I won that game.

The two Fiery Falls were my MVPs though. In at least half the games I played, my opening hand was Mountain, non-green mana source, Fiery Fall, and red/green spells. With Fiery Fall, I was able to search out a Forest for turn 3 and never miss playing a threat each turn from then on.



Jun 20 ⋅ 1:38 AM

I need to mess around with this more later… (via twitter.com/zefrank)


Ze Frank: That Makes Me Think of…

Jun 20 ⋅ 1:29 AM

Ze Frank! (via Daring Fireball)

How the World Works @ Salon

How testosterone poisoning wrecked the economy

May 19 ⋅ 2:19 PM



Back-and-forth with Malcolm Gladwell and Bill Simmons

May 15 ⋅ 8:45 PM

I wonder if there isn’t something particularly American in the preference for “best” over “better” strategies. I might be pushing things here. But both the U.S. health-care system and the U.S. educational system are exclusively “best” strategies: They excel at furthering the opportunities of those at the very top end. But they aren’t nearly as interested in moving people from the middle of the pack to somewhere nearer the front.