Once again, I have skipped a couple of months. I managed to do another dive trip in June, this time to Curacao in the Caribbean, where we went diving with Ocean Encounters. I did about 15 dives there, including a night dive. One of the dives was down to 110 feet to visit the Superior Producer boat wreck. At that depth, you can only stay down for 20 minutes before you have to come up. The eerie thing is that there is nothing to indicate how far down you are. The water is crystal clear and there is still a lot of light. I saw a school of barracuda near the boat and it seemed like any normal dive. Of course, if something were to go wrong, then you can have serious problems, so the dive masters bring extra air and we all take extra precautions. Thankfully, nothing went wrong and it was a wonderful dive.
The week before Curacao, I was back in Tokyo for work. SCE is constantly improving the PlayStation 3 and it is always good to get many of the different groups of people together to work on the platform. Consumers are seeing the improvements with every firmware release and developers are beginning to understand how to deal with the PS3. With the holidays coming up, developers are trying to finish their titles. I have been on the road about every week for the past month. One of the trips was to Epic as part of the “SWAT team.” Every time I visit a developer, I remember how much I like actual production and the messiness which is game production. I am sure that some year I will return, but not yet.
Once again, I am flying over an ocean heading home. DevStation, the Eurpean PS3 developers conference, just ended. I was over for a week to meet with my counterparts in SCEE, as well as attend DevStation. Lots of good meetings, lots of good informal discussions, and lots of good food. The dinner I had at Nobu was definitely one of the highlights for me, although random pints in pubs throughout the week was also a lot of fun as well. I sensed many of the same things from developers which I felt at the US DevCon last month. General consensus is that the PS3 is hard, but once you wrap your head around it and stop treating it like a PC (or like another “unnamed console”), then there is a lot of power. The SPUs are so much flexible than a vertex shader, but since people have been focused on GPU shader programming, it takes some retraining. I had some conversations with some developers which planted some seeds in my head for some very cool tools. Hopefully they will come to something.
The first movie on the flight just ended, so only about 8 more hours to go (it is an 11 hour flight from London to San Francisco). This time, it was Children of Men, which ends on a positive note, although it certainly is not a happy movie.. On the way out, I saw Stranger Than Fiction which was also pretty good. It is rare that I actually end up with movies that I like on flights…probably a combination of bad choices and my finicky tastes. Hopefully I can get some sleep soon so that the jet lag does not pound me into the ground on Sunday.
On the game playing front, I finished Okami a couple of months ago. This is an accomplishment, since it took me 45 hours to do. I needed a break from video games after that one, so I did not play much for a little while. On my Mexico vacation, I picked up my PSP again and cranked through both Daxter and Rachet and Clank: Size Matters. One would hope that I would stick with the shorter games for a while, but not even close. I am currently 15 hours into Final Fantasy XII on my PS2…and on this trip I started Final Fantasy III on my DS. Maybe in a few months I can finally get to God of War 2, but by then I am sure that something else I want will have come out.
Something cool…I mentioned MapMyRun.com a little while ago. My hotel was right near Oxford Circus, a prime location right next to the SCEE offices. I did a bunch of running leaving my hotel then heading around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. It was really cool to log the runs on MapMyRun.com and get the exact distances (6.19 miles) without figuring it out on a map with a piece of string like the old days.
I managed to get away for a week to do some scuba diving down in Mexico. My entire family heads down south of Cancun, Mexico once a year to dive, sit on the beach, and drink margaritas. We rent a condo in Puerto Aventuras and just do ocean things. Even though this was our third year doing the trip, we do not try to do any sightseeing. It is all about diving, relaxing, and spending time with the family. My parents initially started the trip so that they could spend time with the grandkids.
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As I’m typing this, I’m in a plane over the Pacific somewhere near the international date line. I spent the week at SCEI (Sony Japan) in Tokyo. It was a really good trip and I met many new people who are working hard on the PlayStation3. I got lucky that after only 3 weeks on the job, I was able to head over to SCEI instead of waiting for a few months. Nothing like jumping into the deep end of the pool.I have been to Koyto before, but never Tokyo. Koyto is much calmer than Tokyo. In Tokyo, the streets are still packed and everything is open at 2am. We spent every evening out “working”, eating, and drinking…a lot gets done on the business side over dinner and drinks in Japan. I did not get too much time to play tourist, but I hit the obligatory Japanese toy stores and Akihabara. I covet the Japanese electronics! I need to get a camera one of these days. Taking random snapshots with my cell phone’s camera does not cut it and my daughters always want to see where I have been.
The next couple of months are insanely busy for me. I am traveling about every two weeks, I have 3 developer conferences over the next 3 months, and I’m planning to go scuba diving in Mexico in the middle of April. Plus, I spent the plane flight working on a presentation for the PS3 Dev Con that I might give. I still need to see how good I feel about it. It is not an overly technical presentation, but it has some messages which I believe developers still need to hear again.