Monday, August 29, 2011

9/11 Memorial and the First Responder Conspiracy

There's a nasty rumor going around that the first responders won't be part of the  9/11 10th anniversary memorial.

And it's true. But it's really not a big deal.

Here's why.

First, the memorial ceremony is for the families of those who died on 9/11. Not those who survived, and not those who helped. The simple reason is space.

The entire 9/11 memorial area is roughly 8 acres.
Of that 8 acres, about 4 acres does not include a structure, hole, or monument of some sort.
Of that 4 acres, about 1 square acre is taken up by memorial trees and their bases.

So there are about 3 usable acres of space on the 9/11 memorial grounds. 

One acre is 4840 square yards.

Three acres is 14,520 square yards.

A single person takes up one square yard when standing, including room to shuffle nervously, which is what people do when they're packed in like that.

1,609 people lost a spouse or partner.
3,051 children lost a parent.

So only 4,660 people would be there for the memorial, right?


But of those who died, let's say there's one parent of each who would want to be there as well. 

That's 2,819 more people, for a total of 7,479. 


Keep in mind this is for just these people to be there. We're already over half capacity, and standing room only. 

7,479 invites
7,041 spectators

That's where we are before we include the first responders. 

In the 17 minutes before the second plane hit, over 1,000 NYC first responders were called to duty. If each of those brought one person, we're looking at roughly 2000 more people. So now we're at... 

9,479 invites
5,041 spectators

I don't know how many were there in the hour or two after the second plane. But the number of registered first responders who showed up from out of town in the first 24 hours of 9/11 exceeded 3,000.

If each of those brought a person, well, we wouldn't have room for them. 

15,479 invites
-959 spectators

Okay, back up. Let's get rid of those 'late' first responders. Just with the 'first' first responders, we'd have room for about 5 thousand people there who weren't part of the ceremony. 

Again though, standing room only. Surely, that's enough though, right? If we exclude first responders who showed up after the second plane, we can do this...

9,479 invites
5,041 spectators

In the first day the memorial tickets were for sale online, over 24,000 people tried to buy them. 

We could easily fit everyone there, if we stack them on top of each other, like a giant Jenga puzzle. 

Otherwise, maybe we should have more than one ceremony. And as I understand it, that's the plan. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

CryEngine vs. Unity3D

As hinted over a year ago,  of today, CryEngine is now free for non-commercial use. That's fantastic! CryEngine is used in at least 30 commercial games, and most of them look gorgeous. Here are a things to consider if you're looking at this new engine.

Even orphans look happy!

Awesome engine with a proven track record and a name that will get gamers interested in your title. Even the CryEngine demos are beautiful, so if you say your title is based on it, you'll get some bonus play with the gamer community, even before your game ships.

The CryEngine mod community is very active, and this translates into having a solid development platform. Its designers already knew the kinds of things people wanted to build with it. So if hearing that the engine is free excites you, you're the type of person they built this free kit for.

There are a few 'gotchas', of course.UDK and Unity3D are already free for non-commercial use. But unlike the other guys, the CryEngine team hasn't disclosed how much the commercial license will cost.

Also, like UDK, the free CryEngine environment is PC only at this time.
Unity3D can (with a single click) deploy to iPhone, iPod, iPad, Android, Wii, Mac, PC, and Web, and they provide help getting it onto the XBox and PS3 (I have no personal experience with this, so I can't say how extensive that help is).

And UDK can deploy to portable platforms as well...

I assume that if you pony up the dough, the CryEngine guys will let you deploy to other platforms as well. Time will tell. And frankly, if their development environment remains PC only, and their target platforms are only PC, XBox 360 and PS3, that will still be enough for most people.

That said, the Unity3D game engine isn't some doltish slacker. And keep in mind that their engine already runs on iPhones, computers, web browsers, and console game platforms...

How will it affect me personally? Well, let's look at the kinds of stuff I get to work on.

Shot Simulator

It would be fantastic for the Shot Simulator, but since it doesn't deploy to the iPhone, iPad, or Android, that would be a problem. Maybe in the future?


I'm honestly not sure if it would be a good match for the VTI Games like +Poker, since all of them are card games. Despite that they use real physics, objects, and rely on Unity's rendering engine, I've never seen a CryEngine based casino game. But who knows.

Project Griffon

It would be *ideal* for Project Griffon (which will be re-released in a few weeks). Griffon is a third-person mech combat / shooter. The lighting and visual effects of CryEngine will be fantastic. But I do all of my development on Macs, so I'd have to use CryEngine's kit by running Windows 7 on my Mac. That's a tall order. So far, UDK doesn't exist on the Mac, which was a show stopper for me. So I'll have to think about it.

I'll be looking into the CryEngine in more detail in the near future. Until then, I can say it honestly looks impressive. And it will be really nice to have them officially in the arena. But Unity's going to be extremely hard for them to compete with. With so many great resources, it's a great time to be a game developer.