The Blog of Ryan Foss

It's a start!

More Logo Work

We’ve finalized the logo’s.  Here’s some of the work that was done.

Fallout 3, Over 77 Hours of Play!

I just finished Fallout 3 tonight, racking up over 77 hours of game time.  I’d say that was a well spend $60 on entertainment.

I reached level 20 about 6 months ago and then stopped playing.  (Fallout 3′s level cap was 20, so no more character upgrading.)  I lost interest I guess, but I remembered really enjoying the game.  So after I finished Alan Wake (great game BTW), I told myself to go finish one of the many games I hadn’t finished.


Technically, this post is because I have a deliverable for my Senior Project GSP-490 class, and the website they ask us to use can’t upload images. I’m not really satisfied with my design, but I’ve got lots more other stuff to do (bad grammar intended).

context is king

context is king

i’m good at golf

I’m good at golf

Nailed to the wall

Railway spike gun used against ghoul. Decapitates it and nails its head to the wall. Fallout 3 is amazing.

Texas Storage

It’s a box… you put stuff in it.

Sister gets married

Who’s taking whose picture?


Posted via Pixelpipe.

Taco Taco Juan

Here’s a character I’m working on for an upcoming iPhone application.

More Torque

I’ve got some more custom textures, some animated things and some particle effects going. I’ve got some enemy AI in there too, but they don’t fight back quite yet (for some reason they don’t get their weapons).


Garbage RNC

My mom got this weird voice mail the other day she had to play for us tonight. It goes something like this (I pointed my shotgun mic at it so you should be able to hear it too, MP3 here).

Main menu, to listen to your messages press 1… Beep…

Yes, Joe Biden.

I don’t know that we can not deny to do it. I’m calling for John McCain and for RNC because Barack Obama is so dangerly inexperienced his running mate Joe Biden says he invites a major international…

If Democrats win full control of government they will once again serve (?) rights to terrorists and talk unconditionally to these terroristic…

Barack Obama and his allies lack the experience and agenda (?) to lead America.

This call was paid for by the Republican National Committee. And McCain Palin 2008.

Yea I have 3 hang ups. 866 558 5599, Thank you.


Bipartisan BS

I’m so tired of this election thing. I’m pretty one sided myself, but I also listen to what the other party says without jumping to defenses and shoving their words back in their face or using them out of context. It bothers me and its stupid, the ridiculous arguments. Today it got bad, which is really the first its happened at work. Some dumb ass in the kitchen are couldn’t shut up the rah-rah for his elephant team to realize what an ass he was being. He said things like “Obama will be assassinated because he’s black,” and “I love messing with democrats, they don’t get it.” The problem with this guy, and many people I work with, is they are focusing on disliking the teams, not the policies. Part of rooting for your favorite sports team is a total dislike for the other team, but the real truth behind a sport is exhibiting sportsmanship and realizing that its a game and in the end the other team are people doing the same thing you are. Perhaps better or worse. And also that’s sports is a game. Politics are bigger issues than “Obama’s a terrorist,” and “McCain’s a bad tempered cheater.” Whatever, its Halloween and I hope that is at least fun for my kids.

Words from the Young

Aidan, addressing his friend was was just sent home after roughhousing.

“I’m deleting you!”

“I’m putting you on the girls team!”

Working 95

I’ve been super over busy at work lately. I’ve got two projects that both come to a head on Aug 21st. One is a video project, which beyond the fact that my job really shouldn’t be about making videos, its been hell. The other is a scripted simulation project which also has been hell. 72 hours this week, with more fun to come next week.

The video project is hell because its not mine and my boss thinks I love this stuff. The major difference between playing with video as a hobby and doing it for work (in my case) is that I get to make what I want how I want it. At work, this is not the case. My customer for the video is using others to write the script and has had little control/feedback/input regarding my script suggestions. He’s obviously managing hoping that educated parties will make it work, which is fine management IMO, but he does need a backbone to support the guy who’s making the video. In the end, sections that I warned would be boring and out of place and phrases that were repetitive and/or confusing, continued to persist in the script regardless of my continued and cordial comments to that effect. So I said fuck it, and gave them what the script called for. A 9 minute video full long and boring pockets of weird stuff. The customers response was “Wow, why so long?” To which the script writers response was to remove all the sections I had previously claimed as useless or repetitive drivel. Seriously, there was 40 seconds of a guy reading numbers that were arbitrary (just imagine imaginary directions to an imaginary building, useless). Essentially, I wasted my time proving that I know what I’m doing.

The other thing consuming my time I call scripted simulation. “Scripted Simulation” is the phrase I came up with for animations done within our visualization software using our scripting interface. Essentially, it isn’t simulation really as its just playing out events that are done via keyframing methods, so the result is playback in real time as events occur, but its still just an animation. I hate it when people call my work animation and I hate when I have to make animations. I hate it more when they call it cartoons. This hatred is based in fact though I realize, as most of my work over the last few years has resulted in little more than marketing fodder.

Sound Me

For a video project at work we hired a professional narrator and I got to tag along to the studio. It was really interesting to see how it’s done. The picture isn’t very good, but you can see Tom, the narrator, in the sound proof booth in front a microphone. Interesting thing about Tom is that he’s a narrator who’s also blind.

I’m so connected to visual things, it was interesting to hear him work, and talk with him. You could almost “see” the different way in which he lives. He’s good at what he does, and can do things on the fly, remembering complex and strange phrases without much added effort.

I’m Cool with Proof

I hit 1600 gamerscore (Xbox 360), aka Nerd Points, last night when I beat Crackdown and with some additional help from Geometry Wars 2.

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 is pretty dang fun. I had tried the first one in demo form and didn’t connect with it, though friends were telling me it was an awesome game. A number of the podcasts I listen too all seem to praise it so I tried it again with my 5 year old last night. Maybe it was his genuine excitement that helped me, but I’m drawn in. I spent about 2 hrs trying to reach/beat my friends top score before giving up for the night.

I think I know where my piece of mind is going (to Microsoft).

Confucius Says

I just found this and thought it was brilliant enough to remember.

If your plan is for one year, plant rice;
If your plan is for ten years, plant trees;
If your plan is for a hundred years,
Educate children.’ Confucius

Giddy like a Geek

As my friends and family know, I’ve gone gonzo for audio casts (I hate calling them pod casts, so note that so you know what I’m really referring to.) I listen to about 8 casts about video games. I listen to them on my daily drive, which is about an hour a day, plus some at work or at home if I can manage. I really enjoy listening, its easier than reading. The ones I like the most are more prone to comedy or goofy wit, but that correlates to almost all of them. Anyway, today at work I found myself half listening to some brilliant diatribe, a thought that corresponded much with my own, in fact it was my own.

About a week ago I found myself overly interested in one particular debate. To the point of interest where I e-mailed them my thoughts/experience. I didn’t think much of it because time passed and I listed to many a cast in between, but come the next update of this particular cast, after I had forgotten my previous message, I heard my own thoughts read aloud.

Now this isn’t something to pat myself on the back about. Its no major accomplishment or anything, but I still found myself giddy with happiness. But in the most geeky way I could think of, I wanted a ham sandwich (that’s a reference only the hosts or listeners of this cast would understand).

Here’s the cast if you care to hear: My e-mail is read at about 22 minutes; I’m gr8rdad. Granted it ain’t much, its not resume material, but it put a huge smile on my face.

I’m So Busy Entertaining Myself

I feel like I’ve been really busy lately but I know I really haven’t been. I feel this way because almost every night I’ve been playing video games. The wife talked me into Rock Band, so that and GTA IV have really sapped my free time.

Tonight marks my first online multiplayer console experience and I was super creeped out by it. I had never really thought about it, thinking only that it would be so much fun, but when I got there and started hearing other people talking and we started playing, it just felt so odd. I can’t explain it, but I almost felt shy and vulnerable, really out of place. Maybe like standing at a cliff, your body resisting the height like your instincts taking over. It was weird. Then I killed a rockstar and felt better.

Hail to the Ice From the Sky

Don’t need to say much here. We had a storm. Biggest hail I’ve ever seen.

Trouble in Polygon Optimization Town

Apparently my Inventions and Great Ideas post stirred some mud. I’ve gotten a few comments and some e-mails. E-mails from people conveying their experiences and also one from an engineer at Right Hemisphere, with a marketing director’s e-mail as a CC no less. Hmm…? Turns out some competitor to Right Hemisphere read into my post a little to deeply and wrote a blog post of their own, claiming that I allege my ideas were “stolen”. This isn’t true. The point of my post wasn’t to scream foul or claim theft, it was that I learned a valuable lesson, a lesson regarding my “ideas”. I freely gave my idea, a single idea not ideas as the blog suggests, to an engineer at Right Hemisphere and they listened. Is that so bad? No, in fact its good business. And when they came back, they pitched the idea back at me because of my unique problem and its unique solution. The point I was trying to make was that I hadn’t thought out the situation thoroughly and I gave up my idea to someone who could use it to their advantage, potentially with no traceback to me. The idea was anything but stolen.

In fact, I contend that the idea still hasn’t been implemented. I know of no tool or plug-in, for Right Hemisphere’s Deep Exploration or any other, that does polygon reduction the way I explained it. One person responded suggesting my idea was nothing new, as its just a “Hierarchical Z-Buffer”. However, what they failed to realize is I’m working in the modeling side of things, not the pipeline. I “concepted” a way a tool could analyze geometry and throw out useless polygons, similar to a runtime cull, but applied to the polygons in the geometry. My intent is to reduce and remove polygons from the geometry before it enters the pipe.

I feel I should mention some details about the second meeting since the situation was somewhat dynamic and beyond the scope of my original post. Really it is beside the point entirely but I feel that I should elaborate given the amount of attention I’ve received. I mentioned that the original man I explained my idea to didn’t work there anymore (presumably onto greener pastures) and I did so because it is truth, but also because it limited my options and perceptions at the time. Since he left the company, their was no option for me to contact him about the details of the tool/idea implementation, which was partially why I described the situation the way I did. Essentially though, the sales-engineers were listening to me when I explained what I do and how I foresee using their products. One of them was astute enough to recognize my situation and realize that something they had in development (or whatever phrase is appropriate) would apply to me directly in a positive way.

Portfolio Woes

I need a portfolio online, I just don’t want to spend time making it. This is stupid because I would really like having one place to show off my visual art, I’m just so busy. I hate that I use being busy as an excuse.

I’m considering the catch phrase “I Create.” I’m waffling on that though, I don’t know what a potential employer/peer might think when they read it. Hopefully it would be good.

I’ve considered expanding upon it, perhaps “I create worlds” or “I create experiences.” I think it could be a powerful message, though I think adding more detracts some from the power and simplicity of the short version. Leave it short and sweet; leave the details up to the imagination, to the individual. Of course, I will need art to back up my claims.

I remember this show from the 90′s, a sitcom about college life. This girl, approaching her finals, worries and nightmares about one of them. Her classmates reacted poorly to her uneasiness when she asks for advice, as if they may have some insight into the professor’s test they don’t want to divulge. Finally, after night after night of worry, and eventual exhaustion to the point where she sleeps through her study time, she arrives at the test in frantic concern. The test is one question. I don’t remember the question, but I remember the girl seeing it and the look on her face, the look of pure understanding. She scribbles something in a split second, jumps from her seat and turns the test into the professor, slamming it down defiantly. She leaves the classroom walking tall, while WTF expressions appear on her classmates’ faces, as if they were left out of some important conversation. What was her answer? “Brevity is Bliss.”

I Create.

Inventions and Great Ideas

As if I needed more to do…

I’m now working with a friend on some invention ideas. He’s a real entrepreneur and thinks some of my ideas are worth investigating/researching and maybe even marketing. Being more active in my ideas feels good, especially talking with someone who sees their potential, is not a threat (NDA, w00t), and is willing to invest/investigate them. He’s a real hardware tinkerer, whereas he imagines I’m a computer arts tinkerer. I have to mention though, that the idea that got this situation going was my wifes. She’s rightfully apprehensive of the situation.

Regardless, this made me think of situation I had regarding an idea I had a few years ago. First let me explain the context. My day to day job was/is often translating Pro/Engineer assemblies into real time geometry. What that means is that the CAD software the engineers and designers used to design in was converted from its engineering 3D data, high detail, high accuracy, parametric model parts and assemblies, into low polygon, simplified representations. As much as I tried automating the processes, and even invented some automation techniques, the results still never looked very good. The computer just didn’t know what it was doing, where it was important to keep data (is that hole important or not), or where data could be removed, like the internals of a bearing assembly. Thus I was often struggling in Pro/E removing extraneous small details and then fighting in the low polygon modeler to further reduce details to get my models to adequate sizes, as well as optimized for run time performance. I still do this today, though not as often. You could say I’m a seasoned veteran in polygons. Here’s a picture of what I mean, I’ve come a long way baby!
Anyway, I had this idea to help my process, a way to automatically reduce poly counts quickly within geometry by simply looking at it. (Proof, an old forum post of mine!) Essentially, you loop the observer around your model, looking at it from all the important angles and note any polygons that are never seen, essentially an all encompassing cull. So one day Right Hemisphere was visiting, demonstrating some of their products, including one that supposedly could do this sort of thing for me (I think it was called Granite, Pro/E to OBJ with dial-a-fidelity sliders). The meeting was over for the most part and I mentioned my idea to one of the presenters. He seemed interested, but blew it off to show me something “interesting”. So nothing happens for some time, then I’m invited to another meeting with Right Hemisphere (they came back, they were trying to worm into our business, getting us to go with some of their content management solutions which we weren’t interested in). At the meeting we do the same thing but more focus on the bigger picture though I do get another demo of their products that apply to me. This time one of the sales-engineers says they have a new reduction algorithm in the works. Do you see where this is going? Yep, he explains the quick premise of how it works and you got it, it was my idea, the one I stupidly blabbed to the guy at the last meeting. Needless to say I gasped and asked if it was GuyName’s idea, to which the reply is yes, but he doesn’t work for them anymore. Long story short, I learned a couple valuable lessons that day.

Since that day I’ve continued to have ideas, some good, some obviously horrible (pork chop beer mug, drink then eat), but now if I share them I double check my audience and the purpose of me sharing (do I want to sound smart/important) and more importantly, can they gain from my idea without payback to me. In the case above, the situation provided me with little to no advantage (it was in a product or module/add-on we didn’t have or want) and gave them another bullet on their list to help sell their product and no credit back to me. However, I continue to use Right Hemisphere’s Deep Exploration product at work, but purely as a geometric conversion tool. At home, I’m still using 3D Exploration for the more obscure/older formats (3D Exploration was what Deep Exploration became, after RH bought it out and before they slopped the multi-hundred dollar price tag on it).

[UPDATE: New Blog Post: Trouble in Polygon Optimization Town]