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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Chp 473. Game developing: Testing one’s limit

What is more tiring and exhausting than a 48 hours Hackathon contest?

A 66 hours Hackathon contest!

So last weekend, we participated in NASSCOM’s 66 hours Game Development Hackathon contest. Many reputed Indian gaming studios and individual freelancers participated as well, and in the end, 42 games were submitted!

The event started at 6:00 PM last Friday.

As soon as the competition started, we were given two lists of themes. One was the most voted list at the NASSCOM Forum, which were:
  1. Last Man on Earth
  2. Loop
  3. Keys

And the three least voted themes were:
  1. Lies
  2. Mine
  3. Synesthesia

So here’s the catch – For the competition, we were supposed to make a game using a theme from BOTH the two lists! Yes, definitely a twist and a bloody good challenge. We were supposed to take any one theme from the first list, and take any one theme from the second list, combine them and make a game around it!

And so it began…

By Saturday 2 AM, after much discussion and brainstorming (and Old Monk), looking at various concepts we laid on the table, we finally locked on the two themes for our game – “Mine” and “Last Man on Earth”.

After that we started the game concept design and level designing.

By 8 AM Saturday, we were ready with the complete concept. The design team too had zeroed in on the type of art styling we should use for this game. The coders too were busy building the first prototype.

By 6 PM Saturday, we were ready with our first alpha prototype, sans any design or animations.

As our second straight day in office came to an end, all of us we were content with the progress we had made so far. A part of me wanted to watch the Arsenal - Crystal Palace match so badly, but checking the live text updates sufficed. Some of us went to sleep on the chairs, while others continued working (though it was difficult for those trying to sleep because Rob Zombie and Judas Priest were blasting on the speakers to keep those working awake).

By Sunday afternoon, most of the basic animations and design assets were in place.

While the rest were busy coding and designing, those of us with free hands kept ourselves busy recording VO (voice over) audio files for the game. We also made a very amateur teaser video of our game, as none of us were experts on video editing. Below is an extended version of the teaser video, lemme know what you think of it? :)

Sunday afternoon went by quickly, the night came even faster, even though we couldn’t differentiate between night and day anymore, and more Old Monk and Red Bulls filled up the trash bin. We released our teaser video exactly at midnight, with 12 more hours for the deadline.

By Monday, D-Day, 9 AM, our first APK was ready.

Bugs here and there, glitches, incompatibility across some Android models, you know, the usual hell-hole when producing any game. Quickly fixed. More bugs. More fixes.

Finally, by 11:30 AM, Monday, with a good half an hour to spare before the deadline, we submitted our game!

Yes, by then most of us were stinking, smelly, tired, dazed, inebriated, extremely drowsy… but we all felt extremely good as hell because we pushed ourselves to a new limit and came out unscathed.

Our Hackathon game will be published soon on our Google Play page. The result of the Hackathon contest will be announced at the NGDC (NASSCOM Game Developers Conference) to be held at Pune on November 15. Wish us all the best! :)

Below are some of the photos that covered our “four days – three nights” escapade in office.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chp 472. Of men and our underwear

Let’s talk about Men’s underwear today. The little things that we men do – managing our underwear collection.

First of all, unlike women, most of us do not have a special type of underwear to wear for a certain kind of occasion. Nor do we find the need to match our underwear with any other garments we’re wearing. We just wear whatever we can find, ranging from our ck’s to our designer Homer Simpson boxers, as long as it is a fresh pair. says that “Men should have at least 10 pairs of underwear on hand at all times. That’s one for everyday of the week plus two additional for weekend nights and another thrown in for good measure or some sort of, um, emergency.” Yes I do read such articles. Being a 30+ bachelor, one has to be in full form even at the most unexpected and inconvenient of times ;)

I do change my underwear daily like most guys, but then, that depends on the lifestyle we lead too. Back in college I used to change my underwear thrice a day –> Wake up, morning basketball practice, sweat, shower, change underwear. Then classes, followed by evening basketball practice/match, sweat, shower, change underwear. In the night, party, sweat, shower, change underwear. Fortunately, I lead a much more sedentary lifestyle now, where the need to change one’s underwear occurs just once a day.

When it comes to washing one’s underwear, I always used to do that too, until the day I moved out from my cozy 1 BHK home of four years in Jogeshwari East [End of an Era]. I moved in with two of my close friends at this really posh 3 BHK apartment bang in the middle of Bandra’s uptown locality right opposite Olive’s, Big Nasty and Out of the Blue, with Carter road just down the lane. Problem is, none of the bedrooms have window frames where we can dry out our washed undees!

And so, we resorted to the “laundry” system.

There is this really efficient laundry service we avail of. The guy comes to our house and collects all our dirty laundry once a week, records them, weighs them, and returns them the next day, washed and pressed. We only have to pay by the Kilo, unless of course we’re giving our blanket or blazers for dry cleaning. Being Bandra, of course it is expensive, but that’s the price we have to pay for living it up.

And so we give our underwears for laundry as well, because like I said, there’s no place to hang out the washed undees in our apartment, except outside the common sitting room’s large windows. And since we regularly have important guests over like Angel investors, CEO’s, Directors and other big shots, we really don’t want our beautiful multicolored undees hanging outside the windows to be the main piece of attraction :D

Recently, a really embarrassing thing happened to me…

Two of my close friends H and A had come over for dinner. That day happened to be laundry day, and I gave a lot of clothes for wash, including 7 underwear. The total weight of my laundry stuff came up to 7.6 KG, lolz.

Since there were already other guests in the living room that night, we decided to chill inside my bedroom, watching the latest K-Pop music videos :P

Suddenly, the two girls started giggling like crazy. I turned around and noticed they had found my laundry slip (the customer’s copy, a carbon copy of the original) which was lying on my nightstand. They pointed at something in the slip, looked at me and laughed and laughed again.

They even took pictures with it!

I initially thought they must have found it funny that I gave 34 clothes for wash in a span of just one week… But Noooo… their intense attention to detail noticed what was written on the slip!

On the laundry slip, it was written “T-Shirt 20, Jeans 2” … Ok first of all, I didn’t give 20 tee shirts for wash, the lazy laundry guy included all my sleeveless cut banians as tee-shirts as well. And yeah 2 jeans, that is true. Comon, most of us wear the same pair of jeans for days. But what they really found funny was that, below that it was written “Underpants 1”.

Aaaargghhh… it made me look as if I was wearing the same pair of underwear for an entire week! For a bachelor, that is like the ultimate embarrassing moment.

I explained to them the laundry guy must have listed my boxers under “shorts” which was on the right side, but that column was freaking blank! They laughed further more. I looked deeper amidst their laughter and noticed it was blank for “Towel” as well, whereas I did throw a towel for laundry.

Finally, it occurred to me that the carbon paper the laundry guy was using while preparing the list must not have covered the right column, hence the reason why those numbers didn’t reflect in the customer’s copy. It’s ok as long as those numbers are there in the original slip.

My friends finally stopped laughing when I told them to look at the numbers. The numbers on the left column didn’t add up to the total number of clothes given, hence proving that there were indeed some numbers written on the right column.

Damn laundry guy, I have a bone to pick with him, lolz. Nearly spoilt my reputation!!! :D

So yeah, most of us guys do change our undees daily, even though we tend to keep the same pair of undees for a much longer period than most girls who actually throw away their undees after a week and buy new ones after that! Guess we cherish our undees more :P

Thanx to H and A for the rollicking time, and making me realize a discussion on underwear with the opposite sex is not awkward at all :P

And as a parting shot, this one is still one of my all time favorite boxers :P Cheers and keep underwearing… :)

:P :P :P :P

Friday, October 18, 2013

Chp 471. Delhi Replay

So last night I was at Hard Rock Café in Andheri, watching the talented Zedd rock band live jam. Met a lot of people, made new friends and had a rocking time. The vocalist was from Agartala and another band member was from Assam. Made me proud to be a Northeasterner. And that reminded me of my recent trip to Delhi when I went to see my friends Tawia and Nunpuii perform live.

Back in Delhi, since I was staying at Z’s place in Vasant Kunj, I decided to check out my friends performing at Striker Pub & Kitchen, Ambience Mall. Their band’s called Toya Band and they’re not just my friends and ex-neighbors back in Delhi, they’re an amazing bunch of people as well.

But first, let’s backtrack a little bit…

Staying at Z’s place in Delhi was extremely fun. Had a great time with D and J. We laughed our asses out till the break of dawn during my entire stay there. They definitely brought out the crazy young teen in me again :)

D&J were like two mischievous pixies always ready to give a witty repartee to anything I did or said. Here’s me showing off my new phone’s dual camera feature to D&J and a couple of their friends :)

So, eventually, we all decided to check out my friends Tawia and Nunpuii at Striker Pub & Kitchen. Delhi had become a much better place than the Delhi I used to know years ago. And for me, I think the best part was that all the autos in Delhi now run on meter, à‎ la Mumbai.

Striker Pub at Ambience Mall was much bigger than the one at Gurgaon. The ambience and service were great, and it was definitely one place I’d visit again.

Once their gig was done, I spent time chatting and catching up with Nunpuii and Tawia. But like any professionals, it was time for them to go home and rest, and so they left us as we continued with our merry making.

I think we left past midnight. Had so much fun, lots of wonderful memories, and hoping to have such fun again on my next Delhi visit.

Cheers! :)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chp 470. Our Hackathon

It may sound a bit geeky but… but… ok fine, I really don’t know how to make a “hackathon” sound non-geeky at all. A hackathon is, as the name suggests, an event where coders and others involved in a project including illustrators, animators, designers, UI developers, project managers etc work together continuously and intensively on a given project until it is completed.

That usually means staying at the same place together with the entire team for days until the work is done. Yes you heard me right. By staying together, I mean you work in office, eat in office, sleep in office, even bathe in office, until you meet the deadline. 140% focus on that one work.

So last weekend, we decided FITH Media should have a hackathon, just to test our limits and capabilities, and to see if we stand any chance of participating in NASSCOM Gaming Forum’s 48 hours BYOG (Build Your Own Game) Hackathon competition to be held on October 25th. We’re a new company and we just want to know where we stand among all these veterans around us. 

The rules were simple –

1. The hackathon starts from 0:00 Saturday and ends at 0:00 Monday.
2. Nobody can go home in-between.
3. The moment it starts, we’re to brainstorm on a NEW game concept.
4. We’re not supposed to discuss games that are already in the pipeline.
5. We’re to drop all projects and updates we’re currently working on.
6. The game should be awesome, and yet develop-able within 48 hours.

And so, as the countdown to the hackathon started, everybody excitedly looked at the timer and at exactly 0:00 Saturday, the discussion started immediately. Suggestions. Criticisms. Arguments. Counter-arguments. Interruptions. More suggestions. More criticisms. Wholesome participation from everybody. Here’s an idea. Here’s a reason why your idea won’t work. Here’s a reason why your reason why my idea won’t work is invalid. And so on. Lots of constructive criticisms. Tons of examples and gaming references and links and strategies thrown in. We actually came up with a couple of really cool game ideas, which unfortunately had to be sidelined because it was not practically possible to execute those within 48 hours.

Finally, by 06:00 Saturday morning, we had all decided on the concept. Stamped. Approved. Locked. Confirmed.

Some of us went to take a short nap, wherever they could find something to sleep on. The others continued working.

More than 100 redbulls were consumed during the entire hackathon weekend. Salim bhai, our regular general store shopkeeper across the road cursed us for not warning him we were planning to have a hackathon, because we not only consumed his entire stock of redbull, we even moved to other inferior energy drink products that tasted like shite. He told us he could have pre-ordered a whole bunch of redbulls for us had we given him a heads up.

By 4 AM Sunday morning, we were ready with our first alpha prototype!

We tested it thoroughly. Explored every avenue for improvement. More suggestions. More discussions. More implementations.

By 10 PM Sunday, we were ready with our beta prototype!

I even ended up missing the Arsenal West Brom Match but it was worth it. The pace, passion and enthusiasm in which FITH Media worked for this hackathon really placed everything else as a secondary distraction.

So here is our BETA release on Google Play, do let us know what you think of it. Ladies and Gentlemen, FITH Media proudly presents to you – Basti Basera: The Land Mafia, a 48 hours product.

Do download it from Google Play, and do give us 5 star ratings puleeze :D

Let us know what you think of the game, we’re open to feedback and suggestions.

By the way, we’re not promoting this game yet as this is just the BETA release. A lot of changes are coming up, like certain plot of lands having higher value than others, daily missions, achievements, global leaderboard, multiplayer functionality, ability to destroy an opponent's conquered land or even nuke an entire area, and many other special power-ups :)

Will keep you all updated. Cheers :)

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Chp 469. TV just keeps getting better & better

I love TV shows because a) You don’t feel that guilty about downloading copying downloaded episodes from usb drives you happen to find at some desolated corner of a dark alley, because such shows do not come to our TVs or stores for at least another year or two, b) Different variety of TV shows to entertain each and everyone, and c) When one show completes its season, it’s time for the start of another show’s season.

Some of my favorite shows like Newsroom, Suits and Justified have just completed their latest season, while others like Elementary, Sons of Anarchy and Person of Interest have just started their new season (and yes, BBC’s Sherlock season 3 will start airing soon too, finally! Can’t wait!), while a few others like Breaking Bad, House and Alphas have ended or have been cancelled.

I will not go into all the TV shows I love on this post. My 2011 post about the end of a season of some of my favorite TV shows pretty much talk about some of my favorite shows, which I still watch today. In this post, I just want to talk about some of the new TV shows that have come up recently, and why you should watch them too.

Orange is the new black

Orange is the new black - I really love this show! This show has it all - racism, prison life, and lots of lesbian semi-porn :P But no it’s not because of the sex that I am hooked to this show.  Taylor Schilling perfectly played the role of Piper Chapman, an engaged woman who suddenly had to spend time in prison for a very old crime she had committed years ago. I really love the way they synced both the present and the flashbacks regularly.

It was a bit strange seeing American Pie’s Jason Biggs as the fiancé of Piper, because it’s really hard to take somebody with an epic comedy film franchise to play a serious role seriously, the same way I felt when I watched Breaking Bad for the first time and I just couldn’t stop picturing “Malcolm in the middle”. Things like this need time to erase from our head, like how Jeff Daniels turned the tide from playing Harry in “Dumb and dumber” to ass-kicking news anchor Will McAvoy in “Newsroom”.

But what felt really awkward for me was seeing Laura Prepon, aka Donna from “That 70’s Show” playing the role of Piper’s former lesbian partner and fellow inmate. Seeing all the sex and juice, it felt like I was watching “Spartacus” all over again, where Lucy Lawless aka Xena: Warrior Princess indulged in various sexual promiscuities, all nudity uninhibited. Ooops, there goes my childhood once again, was my first thought… But don’t miss this show.

Under the Dome

Under the Dome - I really like this show. Is it practical? Can that actually happen? Don’t you think that’s too far-fetched? Seriously!!!??? It’s written by Stephen freaking King, so expect the unexpected. A beautifully directed show about a mysterious invisible dome that suddenly cut off a small town from the rest of the world. I really love how they build up the main characters right in the beginning itself.

Initially, I found Junior to be quite creepy and out of place, but then, as the show progressed, I realized that was actually the role he was supposed to play. Big Jim’s rollercoaster character changes have been phenomenal too (which kinda reminded me of that movie “Crash” sans the racism) and I can’t help finding him look extremely similar to Bruce Willis on many occasions :)

Would love to say more about the show, but then that would mean I’d be giving away spoilers so I’ll stop at this. Do watch it.

Ray Donovan

Ray Donovan - My immediate reaction when I first saw the promo of this show was - Hmmm… a male version of Olivia Pope from “Scandal”. Yeah, there had been one too many “fixer” shows running lately. But the main reason why I decided to watch this show was because of the cast - You have Liev Schreiber, Jon Voight, Elliott Gould, Steven Bauer and Paula Malcomson to name a few, all familiar faces on the big screen.

Ray Donovan is a professional “fixer” who can fix any problem you have and make it disappear, and is one of the most reputed fixers in town. The only problem is, he can’t seem to fix the problems his own family have, especially after his dad got out of prison on parole.

Well, urrmmm, as the season progressed, I ended up not liking it that much, but I’d still recommend it to you because of the stars and the… stars.

Da Vinci’s Demons

Da Vinci’s Demons - Another new TV show I really love, about the life of a young Leonardo Da Vinci. The quality of production is outstanding. However this show may not be for those of you who are into historical accuracies. Just enjoy the series like any other normal fictitious show.

Also, if you are religious, especially of the Catholic faith, you’ll have to watch this with an open mind. Urrrmmm… watch the show and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I guarantee it will keep you engrossed.

Magic City

Magic City - Among all the new TV shows I’ve seen recently, this one is my favorite. Unfortunately, the show had been cancelled and we’ll no longer see Season 3, which had such a suspense ending.

The first time I saw this drama show, I thought it was going to be like Mad Men or Boardwalk Empire, due to the similar settings. But actually, this is way more intense. It captured the 50’s really well. The show centers around Ike Evans, owner of a popular luxury hotel in Miami, and one of his investors is a notorious mob boss. From drama to beauty and brains to violence, this show will keep you sitting at the edge of your seat throughout.

But one of the main reasons why I really love this show is because Ike, in spite of being the boss and living in a glamorous world surrounded by beautiful loose showgirls and prostitutes every day, is actually a very faithful family man who doesn’t cheat on his wife. If it was Don Draper from Mad Men, how many of those women would he have slept with behind his wife’s back in the first episode itself? Lolz :P See, I’m not trying to be a prude here or judge anyone based on their promiscuity. It just feels good to see a main character like that on TV again these days.

And of course the ending of Season 2 was a real shocker. And that didn’t go down so well with many loyal fans. In fact some people were actually happy the show got cancelled because they didn’t want to imagine what would have happened when Vera stopped by at Stevie’s place as the season came to an end.

So those are the TV shows I really recommend you watch too. Take care and cheers.