Category: Random

So yeah…I guess I’m back…

Heh, so I suppose it’s been a while, eh?  I’m still around, of course (as you can tell by the twitter feed there on the side of the page)…unfortunately, life totally got in the way these past couple years.  Where to begin…

Well, first of all, Mass Effect 3 finally shipped!!  It was a long haul there near the end, but so worth it.  I know most everyone on the team was so proud of the game we made.  For myself personally, I worked a ton on the multiplayer lobby flow, including the store and card reveal UI’s.  I also had my hand in some of the single player screens, including the 2 Galaxy at War screens, plus Character Creation, Squad Selection, and a few others.  We supported the game as well over the course of last year, and while I was off on another project (more on that below),  I came back for a couple months to give a hand with the last single player DLC, Citadel.

After ME3 shipped, I moved over to help out the Dragon Age team with their new project, Dragon Age: Inquisition.  I spent most of 2012 (minus a couple months in November helping out with Citadel) working on various features.  I’ve since moved on, but DA:I had a HUGE presentation at PAX Prime this year…here’s a link to some of the demo that was shown.  The DA team really outdone themselves with that demo…I’m so proud of them!!

As of now, I’m back on the Mass Effect team working on the next game.  I’m mostly working on UI’s, but that’s probably all I can say (oh, besides the fact that I’m SUPER EXCITED to still be working on the best franchise ever!!).  It’ll be a while before I can really say more, so I guess stay tuned…

Been keeping up on a few games in my downtime.  Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us, and XCOM: Enemy Unknown are some of them, and just tonight I wrapped up Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch on the PS3.  Talk about an incredible JRPG.  Great art, great story, awesome battle system….all around great game.  I won’t go into too many details (as this post is already getting a bit long), but here’s a link to the Wikipedia entry.  If you are a fan of JRPG’s, this is a must.

And, to wrap up, just this week Square Enix released an updated version of the first Kingdom Hearts game called Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix.  It’s not only an HD remake of the KH1, but also the Game Boy Advance/PS2 game Chain of Memories, plus all the cutscenes from the DS game 358/2 Days.  I played KH1, 2 and CoM back in the day, but never made it around to the newer ones (the DS, PSP and 3DS games), so I’ve decided I’m going to start playing all of them.  I’ll be a long haul, but I think it’ll be fun (not to mention I’m very nostalgic for all things Disney…)  My hope is I’ll keep posting as I make my way through them.  Hopefully I’ll be done before they finish Kingdom Hearts 3…but, you know me.

That’s probably all for now.  

Until next time…



What a ride!!

Ok, so I know it’s been a while since I last posted here, but I’m still alive…you see the updated Twitter posts, right??

In all seriousness though, I’ve had a good reason to be away for so long. Things have definitely changed over the past few months, and I thought I should share them with everyone.

To start, I’m living in Montreal now. It was somewhat of an unexpected move, to say the least. To put it in the simplest terms, an opportunity presented itself and I took it. I am now working up here for Bioware Montreal, my dream company. For those that know me, they know how much of a Bioware fanboy I am, and to be given the opportunity to be a member of this team and make some really awesome games is truly a dream come true. I can’t say too much about what I’m specifically working on, but I can say that I’m part of the team making Mass Effect 3.

Unfortunately, I did have to leave a great job in Toronto at Tecmo Koei Canada. TKC gave me my start in the industry, and I’ll be forever grateful to them for that. I worked with some truly awesome people over there too, and won’t ever forget them. Regardless of the games we ended up releasing, I think those were some of the best people I have ever worked with. We had something special there. The truly sad part of this whole story is that I just learned that TKC went through a massive round of lay-offs this week. A lot of these friends are now without a job. I know they were all great people, and I know for a fact that every single one of them will land on their feet in short order. I wish them all the best in their future endeavors. To any of them reading this, you WILL find something you want to do…trust me.

The last bit of news is of course my trip to Italy. My girlfriend and I took a trip over there from December 28th through to January 7th. We started in Rome, and from there traveled to Florence, Pisa and Venice. What a time that was. It’s almost a totally different world over there…almost. There is a lot of stuff that’s very familiar, but also so much that’s different. To start, there is a McDonalds over there, but it serves beer :) The architecture is just amazing. Walking around the Coliseum was a sight to behold, and seeing the leaning tower in Pisa was spectacular. We even took a gondola ride around the canals in Venice. Just phenomenal. If you ever have the opportunity to go, take it. The only regret we have it that we didn’t have enough time to explore Florence. Next time, I suppose…

What else…wow…so much that I’ve missed. Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers for winning the Super Bowl. Didn’t really touch on football much this year. That’s probably because my Cowboys self destructed. I still watched, but just never had the urge to comment about it. I’m sure more thoughts will spill out now that I’ve started to settle down here in Montreal.

Until next time…



Red Herring

Well, I’ve been somewhat off the grid for the past couple months.  I haven’t forgotten about my site or anything, just haven’t had the time to keep it updated.  I’ve been wanting to share this with everyone for a while, but I promised to keep it under wraps until launch day.  Well, today is that day, and here’s my latest creation:

AlishaHayes.com

This is the website of my good friend, Alisha.  She’s self-publishing her first book, Red Herring, and I helped her put the website together.  My other good friend, Dave Bardwell, did most of the artwork, and I put the site itself together (in Flash, if it wasn’t obvious).  Please check it out….I’m pretty proud of this one :)  It took me the better part of 2 solid months of work, but it turned out amazing in the end, if I do say to myself.

I want to congratulate Alisha, of course.  She’s been a really close friend of mine ever since public school, so when she asked me if I could do the site, I said sure.  When she then told me of how she wanted it, I almost fell out of my chair :)  But, I said why not…it’ll be a challenge.  And it was, but it was worth it.

As for the contents of the site itself, if you think the book sounds interesting, please buy a copy from Alisha.  She’s worked really hard on the novel, and if things go well, there will be more books in the (hopefully) near future!!

Again, congrats Alisha on a successful launch.  *Raises a glass of scotch* Cheers!!

Until next time…



Now this is Multitasking

So, I’m doing some major upgrades on my computer, and have decided to jump on the Eyefinity bandwagon.  If you don’t know what Eyefinity is, read up a bit here on Wikipedia, and here directly from AMD.  Basically, it allows you to use up to 6 monitors to play your games on.  I’m opting only for 3 monitors, and ended up getting it about a month ago.  Well, I’ve just purchased the rest of the setup (for inquiring minds, I have a Radeon 5870 on the way, along with a Core 2 Quad Q9550 and an extra 4GB of RAM, bringing my total to 8GB), and as I wait on it to arrive in the mail, I decided to actually make use of this extra monitor I have.

And here’s the results:

Yes, that would be 4 screens that I can work on simultaniously.  The 2 right screens are connected to my current desktop.  I have my laptop on the far left there, with the 3rd monitor connected to it right beside it.  Now, the trick here is I’m using a piece of software called Synergy2 to share my mouse and keyboard from my main desktop to my laptop, which allows me to just move my mouse off to the left hand side of the screen, and transfers the new mouse position across the network to the laptop, and it’s as if I’m controlling it normally.  Pretty cool stuff.

The limitation of course is that I can’t obviously move windows from my laptop to my desktop, but it’s great to keep the browser and IM clients opened on the left 2 monitors, while I keep my main work (Photoshop, Visual Studio, Flash, etc…) open on the main 2.  I just get giddy over all this stuff :)

Anyways, just wanted to share.  I’ll post more when the entire Eyefinity setup is complete and have a real game running on it.

Until next time…



Welcome back, Commander

Command & Conquer 4 came out yesterday, and I thought I’d write a little about my beloved fondness for the series.

I’ve been a huge fan of Command & Conquer ever since the very first one came out way back in the mid-90’s.  The original C&C was one of the very first games we bought back when we got our first Windows 95 computer, and I’ll tell ya, I loved the hell out of it.  The awesome (albeit extremely cheesy) custscenes, the awesome units…nothing better than watching an Obelisk just slaughter an entire army.

I did play C&C Red Alert, but could never really get into it.  I don’t know if it was the fact that the units weren’t as advanced (ie sci-fi like), or that I just didn’t care as much for the story.  Either way, I did play it, and its 2 expansions, but the teaser in the game for C&C2 just made me more excited for that.  I did also play all the subsequent RA games, but again, didn’t enjoy them near as much as the original, Tiberium series.

Tiberian Sun, the followup to the original, was delayed a fair bit (especially considering Red Alert and the re-release of C&C on Windows 95 came with a trailer in 1997), but finally came out in 2000, 5 whole years after the original.  I don’t think the entire fanbase liked it as much as the first, but I sure did.  They really focussed in on the story this time…super cheesy of course, but they were still pretty fun to watch.  Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese from the first Terminator) and James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader) made appearances, along with Joe Kucan reprising his role as Kane…this time, much more sinister and dark.

When C&C3 – Tiberium Wars was announced in 2006, it shocked everyone.  I don’t think anyone was expecting another C&C game from the original series anymore, especially after they made C&C Generals a few years before that.  But I couldn’t have been more excited.  It was the first game in the Tiberium series to use a 3D engine, and did it ever look beautiful.  AND, we even got a 3rd playable race, the Scrinn, who were hinted at in Tiberian Sun.  Great custscens again, with lots more Hollywood talent, including Micheal Ironside, Tricia Helfer and Grace Park.  The gameplay was a little stale by this point (with games like Company of Heroes taking RTS’s in an entirely new direction), but it was still fun as hell.  There was also 1 expansion, Kane’s Wrath, that filled in a lot of details in between the 2nd and 3rd games (from Nod’s perspective), and continues a little beyond too.  I find it didn’t add a whole lot to the gameplay, but the story was cool.

We are now at the final entry in the Command & Conquer Tiberium series, Tiberian Twilight.  The name comes from the original name of C&C3, before the entire Westwood studio was scrapped and absorbed into EA.  EA held a poll online to choose the name of this game, and the fans overwhelmingly chose Tiberian Twilight.  A fitting name to the final entry in the series.  All the cheesy (although more serious in tone this time around) cutscenes are back, but they totally revamped the entire gameplay experience from previous C&C games.  This time around, there’s no base building, and it’s all about control points and micromanaging your units.  I’ve just started playing it myself, so I can’t really give any opinions on it yet.

I just wanted to show my love for one of the grand-daddy’s of the RTS genre (yes…Dune II was first modern one, but C&C made it popular).  It’s sad that this is the end, but I’m sure Red Alert 4 is still in the pipes, and also really excited to see where they take the C&C franchise as a whole after this.

Until next time…



GO CANADA GO!!

So yeah….apparently we won some big hockey game or something this past weekend. Who would have thought that, eh?

For those who have been living under a rock for the past 2 weeks, or just don’t live in Canada, the Winter Olympics were on, and they were hosted right here in Canada, out in Vancouver. I won’t bore you all with the nitty gritty details of every single event, but I will touch on the 2 sports I followed during the 2 weeks: Curling and Hockey.

To start, I’ll just say that Olympic curling is some of the best curling you’ll ever see. I think it’s better than the world championships they hold each year. Just the quality of the teams, the games played, the environment, everything. This is only the 4th Winter Olympics where curling was an actual medal event (in 1994, it was just a demonstration event), and I think each time, it just gets better and better. On the womens side, we had Canada’s Cheryl Bernard (who’s in her first Olympics) face off against the Swedish veteran, Anette Norberg. It was a tight game for the most part, but Sweden battled back being down 2 in the 10th end to tie it up off a missed shot by Bernard. Then, in the 11th, Bernard also missed her last shot, and Norberg won her second Olympic gold medal.

On the men’s side, it was a different story. Canada’s Kevin Martin faced off against Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud. This was Martin’s 2nd Olympic appearance, his first being back in 2002 where we won a silver medal. This time around though, he had an easier time, and never gave up the lead all game, and came away with a huge win in 10 ends. Although, the bigger story may have been Norway’s pants. They were a site to be seen, that’s for sure!!

For the hockey, the women’s gold medal game was a predictable site. As per usual, it was the US facing Canada, and it was one hell of a game. I’ll be honest, I didn’t see the entire game. I only caught the last period, but I could still feel the excitement. Canada ended up winning gold, with a final of 2-0.

Now, the men’s game…that was epic. It was Canada vs. the USA, and it couldn’t have been a more exciting game. The media really played this one up, of course, but it sure did deliver. Going into the tournament, Canada was of course favored to win, and the US was only expected to place, at best, 5th. That all changed once the tournament started. Canada was sharp, but they did show their weaknesses, mainly in finishing periods. They did have 1 loss in the tourney, and that was to none other than the US. Team USA, on the other hand, was practically flawless. They won every game they played, and pretty handidly too. Their goalie, Ryan Miller, was unstoppable.

As for the game itself, it was close. Canada did go up 1-0 in the first period, and finished the 2nd up 2-1. Though, as Canada has shown throughout the Olumpics, they lagged in the 2nd period, and it showed with a US goal. The 3rd started out well for Canada, but they slumped again. It almost looked like Canada was gonna win though, but with 24 seconds left, Zach Parise scored on Luongo to force overtime. In the Olympics, teams play a 20 minute sudden death overtime period, followed by a shootout. Both teams came out strong, and both goalies made some pretty decent saves, but a play developed in the US end, with a pass from Iginla to Crosby at the right of Miller. Crosby just shot the puck, and somehow it went in. I’ll tell ya…I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much excitement and happiness in my life. It was amazing. All the players poured out onto the ice, and even did laps with a huge Canadian flag. I will give props to the US though…they played a hell of a game, and Ryan Miller even recieved the MVP of the tournement. This game I think will forever be cemented in every Canadian’s memories.

Now, I watched the final at home, but decided after seeing all the excitement that was developing downtown, I hopped on the subway and proceeded to the center of the action, right at Yonge and Dundas. I managed to snag a few pictures too…take a look:

Now, that was the scene right from just south of Dundas all the way up to Gerrard on Yonge street. The police had the entire section blocked off, and as you can see, it was nuts. Here’s a video I captured too:

All in all, a great Olympics for Canada. We won a record 14 gold medals, and finished with 26 in total, 2 more than in 2006. I can honestly say I feel so proud to be Canadian….it’s the best country in the world!!!

Until next time….



Super Bowl XLIV

Well, it’s that time of the year again, where the whole world (or at least the US and Canada) sit down this Sunday to watch one of the biggest sporting events of the entire year, the Super Bowl. Some people watch it for the game, others watch it for the ads. Some people just watch it to see what all the fuss is about. To me though, I’m a die hard football fan through and through, and there’s no bigger event than watching the game that will crown the champion of the league of your favorite sport. No different than the Stanley Cup finals or the World Series are to hockey and baseball fans respectively.

This year, the “big game” is between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts. For the first time in 16 years, the #1 seed out of each conference will face each other in the Super Bowl. New Orleans went 13-3 this season, and played very well in the playoffs. They handedly beat the Cardinals 45-14 in the Divisional round, and beat Brett Farve and a turnover-ridden Vikings team (in overtime) 31-28 to make it to the Super Bowl. For the Colts, they shut down Joe Flaco and the Ravens 20-3 in the Divisional round, and promptly dismantled the league’s #1 defense in the Jets for a win of 30-17. For the Saints, it’s their first trip to the Super bowl in franchise history, and for the Colts, this will be their 2nd trip in 3 years (including 1 win).

As for who I would pick to win, it’s a tough call. Emotionally, the Saints will be there. They’re playing for a devastated city and franchise pride. Not to mention they have a great offense, both passing and running, along with a very good defense that can mess with the heads of their opponents. But, the Saints have also shown their weaknesses. They played horribly during the last stretch of the season, losing to my Cowboys (which was awesome, by the way), and then lost against 2 divisional rivals (and 2 very poor teams) in the Bucs and Panthers to round out the season. They had a great game against the Cardinals in the Divisional round, but even after forcing 6 turnovers from the Vikings, they only managed to beat the them in overtime (and arguably would have lost had it not been for Brett Farve making a huge mistake and throwing an interception while the Vikings were in field goal range at the end of that game).

For the Colts, it’s “been there, done that” for Peyton and his crew. Offensively, they stack up pretty much equally. Defense is a bit more questionable (especially if Dwight Freeny is out), but the one thing the Colts are good at is consistency and poise. They never get worried. They’ve been down going into half more than any other team this season, and have mounted so many 4th quarter comeback that is ridiculous. And Payton Manning is a coach right on the field. It won’t matter what the Saints throw at him. He will adjust and promptly score at will come the 2nd half. For the Saints to keep up, they will have to match the Colts point for point.

In the end, I think it will be the Colts, 31-28. But, that’s just me. I guess we’ll see in the final result in a couple days.

Until next time…



Mass Effect 2 Initial Impressions

Mass Effect 2 is awesome…that is all….

I suppose I should back that up a bit, eh? I’m gonna warn you though, in the interest of full disclosure. I’m a bit of a Mass Effect fanboy, and therefore my views may be a bit biased. So, take these impressions for what you will. For that reason, I won’t be doing a full review on this game either.

This game is such a huge improvement over the first. I won’t lie and say the game is much different overall. It still feels very much like the Mass Effect we’ve grown to love. But, what Bioware has done is they practically took every single complaint about the first game, and either removed it, or fixed what was wrong with it. No more randomly driving around planets in the Mako. No more horrible inventory management. And no more long elevator rides!! There’s a lot more that they improved/changed, but to me, these were the big glaring problems in the first. The rest of the problems, for example framerate (which they fixed this time around) wasn’t so much a problem because of the style of game.

I’ll expand of these 3 things in particular…

First of all, the planet exploration bit it totally gone. Well, maybe not totally, but it’s completely changed. Instead of driving around on every planet you can land on, you now fly (actually control your ship) from system to system, planet to planet, and scan the planets, one by one. The scanning only takes 2 seconds, and if you happen to come across an anomaly, the system will alert you. You can then choose to land, and you’ll be placed on a very specific mission, with totally different environments every single time. No more cookie-cutter warehouses. You can also choose to scan the planets for natural resources, which are used in upgrades….I’ll go into that next.

For the inventory system, they’ve scrapped the entire system from Mass Effect 1, and have gone with something completely new. You don’t pick up individual guns anymore. Instead, you pick up sort of these blueprints for the guns. These blueprints are sent up to the Normandy, and you can now equip any team member with that gun (as long as their trained to use that type of gun). For armor, you no longer equip individual teammates. You can only customize your own. You can purchase armor upgrades for your own armor at the various stores, but all are variations on the stock N7 armor (unless you got some of the collector’s edition or pre-order armors). As for the upgrades, you can buy the upgrades (or I guess I should say the right to upgrade), and then use the raw materials from scanning the planets (as I said above) to actually unlock the upgrade, which is automatically available to everyone. Really, really slick.

Oh, and no more elevator rides either. In the first game, the long rides were used to mask loading times, and loading times still exist, but they’ve gone and created a custom load screen for almost every situation in the game. I won’t go into much detail here, but it’s just an incredible amount of detail and polish….just awesome. They even make fun of the old elevators during once scene. Hilarious.

Well, I suppose I’ve spouted on long enough for now….I’ll post again in a few days with some more impressions.

Until next time….



Welcome, welcome

Hello there everyone,

This is the first blog post from my new presence on the web, DarinCasier.com.  I’ve been working the past 3 weeks on getting this site up and running, and I feel now is the time to show it off!!

As for the purpose of this whole site, I just felt it was time I had my own little corner of the internet where I could be myself (not that I’m not normally).  I’ll be writing about all sorts of random things here.   Anything from gaming to tech news, or just random stuff I feel like blogging about are all fair game.

I’ve tried to get many blogs started in the past, but this time I feel is a bit different.  This time, it’s my own site.  And I hope this time around I’ll stick to it too.

Feel free to comment on the site too.  How’s the theme for everyone?  Does it work in your browser?  Any oddities?  Let me know.  You can reach me at darin [at] darincasier dot com (sorry…spam bots like to scroll over sites…).  You can also follow me on Twitter, or check out my About Me Page for other ways to find me.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy the site.

Until next time…