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Hassle Comes Free

Turns out Dell can’t repair my laptop afterall, unless I shell out another 250 plus tax to get my motherboard replaced. This is on top of the 250 plust tax I already paid for the Hassle-Free Depot Repair. They diagnosed my laptop, I gave them the error codes, and they told me the hassle-free process of getting my GPU fixed was 250 plus tax. If I had known that they were going to charge me an additional 250 to replace the motherboard once I sent it in, I wouldn’t have sent it in! What a scam. I had to jump through so many hoops just to get everything sorted out. Simply terrible service. Instead I’m getting my money refunded and my broken laptop returned. What a disapointment. I’ll be getting a new laptop, and it won’t be a Dell.

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I finally sent my Laptop to Dell.

Here’s what happened so far:

I call Dell Expired Warranty Services. They hook me up with Hassle-Free Depot Repair, costs 249 plus tax, includes diagnostic, troubleshooting, boxes, shipping cost to and from the depot, repair and replacement of all parts except Motherboard and LCD. Turns out I don’t have to replace my motherboard, and only my GPU needs fixing/replacing.

I wait a week, and I still haven’t received the coffin I’m suppose to send my laptop in. I call Dell Support, end up talking for over 2 hours only to find out they somehow sent the box/coffin to Halifax? How is this hassle-free like they advertised? Anyways after another hour of talking they finally send me another coffin, which I received the day after my call, and sent in today. The most annoying part was that I was transferred to different callers 5 times, had to explain myself over and over, and deal with people that barely spoke english.

Hopefully I won’t run into any issues when they send my fixed Laptop back. Dell has reassured me it won’t get sent to Halifax again.

My laptop is dead…

At precisely 10:10pm Monday June 22nd, my laptop and only computer rendered it’s last pixel before the GPU died. True story, I was working on my Animation assignment for my CMPT 466 class and my friend and I were discussing whether or not it was possible to deform a cube so that it would become a concave object. To be able to visualize it better I opened up Blender and rotated the top 4 vertices 90 degrees. Just as I finished my screen began flickering with rainbow colours and it wouldn’t stop. I turned off my laptop and turn it back on only to realize that the GPU stopped working. It won’t display anything.

I have a Dell XPS1210 with a discrete graphics card, the GeForce Go 7400. I haven’t contacted Dell yet to see what the cost of fixing it is, but from what I understand, the graphics card is soldered onto the motherboard, so replacing it will require replacement of the whole motherboard including the CPU. I’m not too intent on getting a new laptop or desktop yet, so hopefully getting it fixed won’t put too much of a dent on my wallet.

On the bright side, I was able to remove the hardrive and  put it into an enclosure to use as a portable hardrive so that I could finish my assignment.

Let the Games Begin!

I’m now ready to actually start work on my XNA game. This past month and a half I’ve been experimenting with XNA, going through tutorials, programming, and most importantly learning. I built my first 3D XNA demo. In the demo I loaded different models that I created in Blender, implemented a pretty decent camera system, calculated collision detection, learned about HLSL syntax and implemented a particle engine that procedurally generates rainbow coloured explosions. A lot of the work I’ve done in the demo I think I’ll be able to reuse when it comes time to implementing my game.

I already have an idea of the game I want to implement. In my head it seems fun and awesome. However, in practice that’s a whole different story. I’m going to start by writing it down into a short design document and getting feedback from the Game Developers Club at SFU as well as playing a mock-up of the game on paper with close friends. Check back for updates!

Homeworking

I was suppose to do my school homework this weekend, but  instead I did things like watch Pixar’s Up in Digital 3D (and now I want to watch all my movies in 3D),  go on a 6 hour bicycle ride, and eat weirdly addictive sushi rolls like the Nobody Home Roll for the first time courtesy of Wakame Sushi. So now I’m doing my homework today. Learning more about High Level Shader Language will have to wait until tomorrow.

E3 is upon us!

And that means an influx of videgame news awaits me to feast on. So many games to look forward to. The teaser on Mass Effect 2 has me interested in playing Mass Effect 1 again, but then again Dragon  Age: Origins will be out sometime in Fall to help tide me over. I don’t own a PS3 but Uncharted 2 definitely looks awesome. There’s actually a lot of sequels to look forward to: Bioshock 2, Lost Planet 2, Modern Warefare 2, Assassin’s Creed 2, Dead Rising 2 and several others. I also can’t wait to see what Nintendo has to show off for the Wii.

GDC Postmortem

Pros:

  • Keynote by Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk on “Emotionally Engaging Narrative: Gaming’s New Frontier” was pretty awesome. I consider Mass Effect one of the best RPG’s this generation so I really enjoyed listening to these two talk.
  • The lecture “Go Indie or Go Home” by Jamie Cheng was the highlight for me. Excellent speech and very insightful.
  • The panel on “Industry Origin Stories: Or, How I Got My Awesome Job” was really fun and interesting. It’s nice to see how some of the top guys in the industry made it to where they are. Stories were told with a lot of humour.
  • Swag: Subscription to Game Developer magazine (comes with the pass), May 2009 issue of EDGE, rock climbing clip with compass, awesome paper/styrofoam planes. There were tons more, but I wasn’t thrifty enough to get all of them.

Cons:

  • Seminars “How to Get HR to Notice You” and “So You Want to Be In the Game Industry” were uninteresting for me. I didn’t really feel like I learned anything new that I haven’t already picked up from resume/career workshops at SFU. However, being reminded of all the tips and tricks for resumes and interviews is a good thing to brush up on once in a while.
  • Canadian gaming company presence on the Expo floor not as large as I would’ve liked. There were four: Radical Entertainment, Relic, Blue Castle and Next Level Games. Canada has a lot of talent and game companies. It would’ve been nice to see more of them out here representing for GDC Canada.

Was it worth the cost of admission ($100)? Yes.

Hello World!

My name is Daniel Truong, welcome to my game development log. I’m trying not to think of this so much as a blog, but more of a space to track my progress on a game that I’ll be working on during the next 4 months. The problem with blogs is that I have a hard time putting down my thoughts into words, let alone words for all the internets to see.

Setting this up to have a clear focus should help me when figuring out what I should post. There are a couple of goals I have with this space. One of which is to share my experience on getting a game released on Xbox Live Community Games. I’ll be starting from scratch, so I’ll be posting about everything from initial conception of the game to the final gritty details of polishing it up. Additionally, my personal reason for creating this log is to help me follow through on a personal commitment I made to myself a month ago.