Friday, October 3, 2014

Fall: The Great Pumpkining

Fall is far and wide my favorite time of year. Leaf change, Fresh Hop crops, Thanksgiving, and nice cool weather. Without fail each year fall is heralded in with fervent celebration of all things: Pumpkin. That's right. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin this, pumpkin that, and most notable Pumpkin Beer. Given the sales of pumpkin ale, and the fact everyone has made one(and for good reason, in October and November Pumpkin Beer outsells IPA, the number one seller in the US) I decided it was finally time to join the foray, and brew my own Pumpkin Ale.

First, let's start with research. For Science of course.

My Untappd will tell you I was not pleased with most of the above. The standout winners being Nelson's Organic Pumpkin Ale, Rogue Farms Pumpkin Ale, Dogfish Head Punkin, and Post Road Pumpkin Ale. The more I tried, the more I realized I was gravitating towards liking the "Pumpkin Pie In A Glass" taste. Strong Pumpkin flavor, balanced spice. So that quickly brings us into style.

We can't take any strong flavours or styles. Stout is right out the window, and anything with too small of flavour or body isn't going to hold up it's malt to the spice and pumpkin. Let's toss out most lagers, blonds, and pilsners. I gravitated towards an Amber. Selecting Crystal 60 to provide color, and some caramel flavor. Victory, a Pinch of Chocolate, and American two row to round out the malt bill. Add to that a bit of dark brown sugar and maple syrup and we've got our fermentables. For the Hop schedule, Liberty on the bittering, Golding at just before flameout. Mostly to provide a nice spiciness and aroma.

And that leaves the all important part. Pumpkin and Spice. I personally like pumpkin spice, so investing in fresh spice to grind for a batch seems worth the investment. I made my batch already by combining Cinnamon, Ginger, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. You can find plenty of recipes for this online. For the pumpkin, I prefer canned. Processing raw pumpkin is just too difficult to make worth your time. Add spice to taste, 1-2 tablespoons should be sufficient.

Personally, I'm going to route of Pumpkin into the mash. You get the profile desired, and it's one less step than trying a pre-boil. Ofcourse it adds difficulty to the Sparge. I'll ferment on WLP 060, a nice rounded yeast. That will help keep a mellow profile. Here's hoping the fermented result will be interesting.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes

It's funny, once you neglect a blog, its so easy to keep putting off going back to it. It ends up festering away as, I really should do this, some day, some time. Well I guess that's today.

I suppose there is some catching up that needs to be done. In the past few years, I've managed to ship Diablo 3 for PC & Consoles. Quit Blizzard, move to Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Contributed AI to Thief 4, changed out of AI to a fully Online/Network path. (I was a generalist on Diablo 3, so I had been doing some before). My tour at Eidos Montreal lasted a brief 6 months, before a transition to BioWare Montreal. I ended up contributing a small bit of Gameplay to Mass Effect 4 before migrating to the Online Team of Battlefield 4, something still unannounced from BioWare, and Dragon Age: Inquisition. From there it was off to Microsoft to do Online Systems work for Gears of War and such. Somewhere in there I managed to find time to start home brewing again, get married, and have a son on the way. 

There's a lot to say, and I'll spread it out some. That said, I'm going to defocus this blog a bit away from just game development and into more general online, AI, security, and home brewing. Since I've had a few interesting crunches in the past, I'll take a bit of time to post mortem bringing Battlefield to Xbox One & PS4, and maybe somewhere touch on Thief. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beta Woes

As most people know, we're working towards an inevitable beta. This has destroyed my sense of normal working hours. This week has been chained 12 hour days. It's actually been a wacky week. Between dividing time helping friends, getting my 12 hour days in, and trying to have a semblance of a social life.

Also apparently there was a earthquake in Virginia. Who knew they'd hit the east coast? Living out here for so long we take them for granted I suppose. Eh the grounds shaking? Go back to bed. Richmond shook from a 5.9, if you've never experienced a tremblor over 3, feeling the ground move like a sin wave is... discomforting the first time. Why people are surprised the phone lines suddenly hit capacity is beyond me. Well yes, of course they did, half the folks had not a clue what was happening. I did find it ironic, at the time, my mother called to reassure me everyone was okay. Personally I had seen the quake news already and had mostly dismissed it due to the magnitude. Granted, 5 years ago, I'd have said I'd never get used to that.

Anyhow, on the Beta front, we're plugging towards some undisclosed deadline. I'm working harder, not the least of which is to prove myself. The other is to make a badassical game.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Subversion woes pt2

Okay, In fairness to subversion, I feel the need to amend my past statement. Subversion doesn't need to die, but all its poor implementations do. I finally got decent performance out of it, after removing Tortoise (Not even a Hoveraroud would have saved that one), Installing Ankh and a command line SVN tool. Both of which raised my times from, O(N) where N = Files in source, to O(N) where N = files checked out, or files modified since the last sync.

Which means, I ended up installing 3 tools, to get what perforce does with 1. On second thought, subversion can still diaf.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yes I'm rewriting THAT system before beta

Every now and again in the natural evolution of a project. You are going to end up with 2 similar paths for doing task X. Like all good divergent paths, eventually path A != B. You end up spending days, and days making A behave like B. But A isn't B. Too many times I watch people say, duct tape it and move on. Fix it, it costs less. If you don't have a producer that can understand frontloaded time now, saves bugs later during live, I suggest practicing in a mirror, your spouse, my cat (he has plenty of experience listening to me ramble, often sober).

That's why with a beta looming in the future, I'm re-writing a major gameplay system from scratch. We really don't spend enough time as engineers paying down the technical debt we accrue in the "Just ship this milestone" mentality. For Console guys, it's not as bad, its often in the gameplay layer and we can in practice, dispose of those parts. For live teams, that debt becomes your successors thorn.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Saturday I go out and get new tires on the FZ6R, So I decide to go up and ride Santiago Canyon Rd. I'm travelling up El Toro, and pass a sport bike and 2 Harleys off the opposite side, flip around and ask if they need help. Sure enough, one of the Harely's has broken down. Apparently I was the first person to stop in the 20 minutes they had been there. Helped them get it up on the tow truck, and get under way. Nice folks, invited me to come grab dinner and a beer on them. Sitting there waiting for the tow truck, not a single other person bothered to stop slow down, heck, most didn't wave.

When did the wave stop being common courtesy amongst bikers?  Also do you wave to a Can-Am? That last one has bugged me for a bit. Anyhow, I now need to find some time to scrub these tires before Glendora Mountain Road this upcoming Saturday. Urf.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dear Bank Name Here

If there is one thing that LulzSec has taught us latley, it's that our online security is non-existant. Big companies have skirted and flirted with making me feel safe via "Wish It Was Two Factor". They've made us feel safe by calling the attacks "Sophisticated, Advanced" or saying "There's no way we could have prepared for this". Okay Citi, how about not putting my credit card number INTO THE URL? Just sayin. (Also, thankfully I don't use Citi, if I did, I'd have canceled them)

Banks have recently been court validated to continue performing "Wish It Was Two Factor". For the non-security geeks reading this. Two Factor is by default defined by "Prove you know something (say, a password), Prove you have something (Say a Fob, or RSA dongle, etc)". Prove you know something, and prove you know something, or validate my IP, etc doesn't cut it. Sorry buckos.

You know what's the saddest part? My World Of Warcraft account has better security then my bank, loan accounts, credit cards, and utilities. Combined. Good Job Blizzard. Fuck You American Banking system. Seriously, if my bank wanted to charge me 5 bucks a month, and would give me a RSA dongle, I'd pay it. Heck, for better security, I'd accept a *reasonable* fee.

(On that note, I'd like to give a shout out to the Australian banking system, which does provide RSA Keys for their online banking)