Thursday, December 31, 2009

Visiting the mountains in Rio Grande do Sul

From Canela with Ana

After Christmas with my family and the obligatory foray into the beach (of which I don't particularly like in southern Brazil), I managed to take Ana to more touristic parts of Rio Grande do Sul, namely the mountainous region in the north of the state. This particular area, which contains plenty of whitewater rivers among the valleys is, in my opinion, is the nicest sightseeing place in the state. We tried to visit the Caracol park by the end of our only full day in the city of Canela, but it seems that the park administration was oblivious to the fact that night only falls at eight thirty during summer in the southern tip of Brazil, and the park closed at six in the afternoon.

 Fortunately, we found out that following the dirt road that starts where the main paved road to the park ends it is possible to reach an eco-tourism park which has some of the most stunning vistas I have seen in my state, a sample of which you can check in the picture of this post.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Taking Ana to Porto Alegre

So it finally came to pass that my girlfriend Ana came to Porto Alegre to meet my family and spend Christmas with us. To her the great novelty was that in the southern hemisphere December, and thus Christmas, is summer, so instead of snow our Christmases were marked by sunshine and the occasional heavy rain. And instead of seeing people laden with heavy winter coats, people are wearing shorts and t-shirts and complaining about the suffocating heat that sometimes curses these days. In my case, I had almost forgotten how unpleasant temperatures above 30 Celsius can become and how ill adapted I am to these weather conditions.

Anyhow, I would like to believe that Ana did indeed like the country and spending time with my family. She did compare my city with the one in which she grew up, Cuernavaca in Mexico (not that there are many cities with this name anywhere else), which I take it to be a good sign. The only bad thing is that given the harsh winter conditions in Mexico this year, she arrived with quite a strong cold, and this sort of killed the fun of the first few days. Now that Christmas is gone, we should do a little more traveling to the countryside.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Wing Commander Privateer and Open Source

Given that last weekend was part of an extended holiday in the US, I found myself with some free time out of meat space (given that the gym I go to closed for the entire weekend) and I managed to pursue my traditional leisure activities. I initially spent some money on the second episode of the Penny Arcade Game, and thought that that was it for part of my weekend. It turned out that a friend of mine managed to find a "modern" remake of the Wing Commander Privateer.

I use quotation marks for modern because the graphics within the game my friend sent are entirely ASCII-based. Technically though, many of the characters used are not part of the 95 printable ASCII characters, but that would be just anal on my part. Moreover, certain elements in the graphics are not entirely based on a terminal layout, for example, the shots from the ships weapons do deviate in a way that would not be possible in a terminal window. In any case, those I believe, were necessary changes for usability, and ASCII Sector is a very promising game. You can see the difference in look between the same ship in ASCII (the first image in the post), and the 3D version of the same ship (the second image in the post).

Now, when writing this post, I tried to look for pictures of the original game, and found out that the idea of resuscitating this particular game is not unique to that guy, with at least two other games in the open source: Privateer Gemini Gold, and Wing Commander Universe, both of which are Source Forge projects (though the second project seems to be undergoing a major overhaul). These two graphics games seem to be more true to the game dynamics of the original game, but what really makes ASCII Sector stand out is that it allows one to interact with elements outside the ship flight simulator, allowing one to wander around space stations and talking to people, including person to person combat, which allows for all sorts of interesting extensions, like boarding a ship and capturing (or killing) its crew. So as far as depth goes, ASCII seems to win, but who knows that the source forge projects might evolve into.