AbsyntheAna Todor

Ana Todor is a Computer Scientist with a playful and literary twist. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Studies and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science, Digital Interactive Entertainment.

All articles by Absynthe

 

Happy birthday dear Romania!


Continue reading...  

Using the Amazon Elasticsearch Service with Hive

Amazon launched the Amazon Elasticsearch Service less than a month ago to enable their clients to spin up scalable Elasticsearch clusters directly from the AWS Management Console and forget about about managing these clusters by themselves. While you can spin up and use an Elasticsearch cluster in several minutes, this ease of use comes with a small
Continue reading...  

Using the AWS Flow Java framework with IntelliJ IDEA and Maven

Enabling AspectJ support in Java is a bit of a “love” story in itself. But making sure aspect weaving works for Amazon Simple Workflow in the Maven context (in which, I might say, any developer that operates in a production environment lives and breathes) is a challenge on its own. I’m sharing this article as
Continue reading...  

Simple fix for “Creative cloud desktop failed to install” error

“Creative cloud desktop failed to install” seems to be a very common problem for the Adobe CC users and that’s why I decided to share this simple fix. There is also an answer from Adobe but from my readings on different forum topics, that didn’t seem to work too smoothly. That is why I decided
Continue reading...  

Tomb Raider: The New Feminist Dream?

Why did Tomb Raider had to be reinvented? What was wrong with the generously breasted, fully lipped flawless female pistol wielder that used to territorial piss on ancient tombs with lame British jokes? If you look back in the press, it seems as if the Indiana Jones femme fatale concept has suddenly become exhausted, at
Continue reading...  

The Plan Microreview

What if you could have the ideal Kafkaesque experience, without losing your humanity? What if YOU, instead of Gregor Samsa, “awake one morning from uneasy dreams and find yourself transformed in your bed into a gigantic insect”? “The Plan” is a nifty 15-minute experience that gives you exactly this literary, yet visceral, opportunity.
Continue reading...  

The Sims 3 Review

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called it “night.” By the sixth day, we are told
Continue reading...  

Syntax highlighting in Zendesk

There has been a whole lot of talk on how to implement code syntax highlighting into Zendesk, both into the forums frontend and the ticket system. While the intergration of Markdown into the backend now offers a decent solution for tickets, the same cannot be said of the frontend forums section. As suggested in this
Continue reading...  

The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom Review

It is said that love goes through the stomach. Sunny chicken drumsticks, fine sauces, barmy sweets, they all sacrifice themselves for the feeling of love to purely prevail. For P. B. Winterbottom, who is a sort of ironic Daniel Day-Lewis clone (just imagine him playing the butcher in Gangs of New York), the ode to
Continue reading...  

Dragon Age: Origins Review

The currency of war is life. We pay the cost and hope in the end it was worth it. The currency of war is life. But, at the same time, it’s the war that determines the damned souls it devours to be aware of the real value of life, in those unique circumstances they experience.
Continue reading...  

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Review

Taking a trip down memory lane is never pretty. Who knows what skeletons you might accidentally take out of the closet? And there’s a risk that those skeletons are not what you remember them to be. Our mind is used to adding a LOT of makeup. It’s dramatically called coping with the unbearable reality. But
Continue reading...  

Custom Blur Shader for Unity3D

During the development of the HOTAH game under the DADIU initiative, I found myself flirting with Unity shader programming. More specifically, the art direction suggested we should have some nifty looking water which reminds of the milky water in Limbo. Limbo being a pure 2D game and us working in 2.5D, I got away with developing
Continue reading...  

Muse cancels shows in Malmo, Stockholm and Oslo

One event I’ve been feverishly waiting for in the last several months has just been canceled, and it’s confirmed on the official website. Muse has decided not to preform on three of its shows in Northern Europe. This is due to the fact that Matt has “broken two bones in his foot”. The circumstances of
Continue reading...  

Unity Work Showcase: a Dragon NPC

This October, through the DADIU initiative, I had the chance to do a Unity related  internship at Multiverse ApS, the small studio responsible for KoGaMa. Before you start jumping around and arguing that this is a Minecraft clone, hear these guys out, because the idea behind KoGaMa is actually a great one. We’re faced with
Continue reading...  

The Martian Chronicles

“Do you ever wonder if–well, if there are people living on the third planet?’ ‘The third planet is incapable of supporting life,’ stated the husband patiently. ‘Our scientists have said there’s far too much oxygen in their atmosphere.” – Chapter ‘Ylla’ from “The Martian Chronicles” What better way is there to start a book than by denying
Continue reading...  

Integrating Unity into your WordPress blog

If you are a starting game designer/programmer like I am you’ll most likely want to be able to showcase your creations easily on your personal blog or website. Since I’ve been using Unity a lot lately I wanted to make publishing my Unity Web Player demonstrations as easy as possible. It turned out to be
Continue reading...  

Poker Mechanics in Video Games

I’m not a big poker fan. In fact, I don’t know my Flush from my Straight most of the times. But this doesn’t mean I don’t recognize a robust game mechanic when I see one. And after all, before there were video games, there were board games and before there were board games there was
Continue reading...  

Wells on humanity

In the universe of Wells, there is no such thing as the rationally elevated human being. Whatever traces of humane feelings and reasoning arise throughout the narrative, they are sure to be destroyed through the sudden arrival of exceptionally and stressing situations.
Continue reading...  

Hawthorne’s Short Stories

While reading Hawthorne’s short stories, I noticed a deep tension between knowledge and beauty, as if they are two antithetical principles that automatically cancel eachother and cannot coexist. In my opinion, Hawthorne identifies beauty with a heightened kind of knowledge that opposes the earthly one: it is the latent and chaotical knowledge of the unmanifest,
Continue reading...  

Children’s and Household Tales

Long story short, I’ve been missing my literary self. That’s why I’ve taken up a course in “Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World” this summer. It’s being offered through Coursera, under the University of Michigan. Since I’ll be going through a lot of nifty literary pieces anyway, I though I should
Continue reading...  

Blackwell Deception Review

Well folks, it’s done. I’ve munched through the last latest title in the Blackwell Series – The Blackwell Deception. And expected or not, the deception part in the title kinda sums up how I felt about this episode. Blackwell Deception has the feeling of a game from a series that is finally settling down. That is
Continue reading...  

Indie Game: The Movie Review

Every time I’m busy with a challenging exam I feel like I disappear into an existential bubble. It was the same with Indie Game: The Movie, whose interestingness had to compete with my Algorithms exam. It was the same with my blog actually, the result being that, although I got to see Indie Game: The
Continue reading...  

Blackwell Convergence Review

I can’t believe I have already finished the third title in the Blackwell series: Blackwell Convergence. On the one hand, I feel like talking about Blackwell Convergence for hours. On the other, I feel that I’ve said so much already in the review of the other first two titles that anything from this point on
Continue reading...  

Blackwell Unbound Review

As some of you may remember, I have discovered Blackwell Legacy several days ago. Of course, I devoured it like any thirsty gamer would. Also, being tortured by a deep curiosity regarding Rosa’s evolution as a character, I turned towards the next title in the series – Blackwell Unbound. 
Continue reading...  

Civilization 2 match predicts the future

Who would have thought… If you had the patience to play Civilization 2 long enough you would become a veritable Nostradamus and predict humanity’s future. An anonymous geezer going by the nickname of Lycerius, who’s quite the passionate Civilization 2 fan it seems, has recently posted on Reddit the current status of an ongoing Civilization
Continue reading...  

The Blackwell Legacy Review

With the exams taking place these days, I don’t really feel like playing anything too complicated lately. Deus Ex: Human Revolution, sobbing on my Steam shelf for several months now bears witness to my brain’s inability to munch on too complex reflex skills. Ow well, the good thing is that there’s always adventure games. Point
Continue reading...  

Embrace retro and indie games – the cheap way

So you suddenly decided that you want to be the hipster of gaming and trade all your triple A titles for obscure underground indie games only bit-junkies have heard of? Congratulations, you’re in the right place, my Guybrush Threepwood roof rocker. Below are some tips on how to become an indie and retro gamer without
Continue reading...  

Computer games as Myth Reconstructions

It took a while but I finally got it done. I’ve read through and corrected/edited  my first academic paper, made sure everything is hunky dory and finally published it online. I could swear this was in my New Year’s resolution like at least two years ago. Nevertheless, I am finally proud to announce my first
Continue reading...  

A Short History: The Rise of Video Game Genres

When thinking about the evolution of video games, we cannot, in any situation, separate it from technological advancement. “The history of the video game is, in parts, a history of technology” (Juul, 2001:online) because games rely on the processing power of technology to function, and even more extensively, to be visually represented. Some academic literature
Continue reading...  

Gamers are better at lucid dreaming

If you’re not in the least interested in the improving of the self, you might not know what a lucid dream is. A lucid dream is a  dream in which the dreamer is aware of the fact that he or she is dreaming and can alter the flow of the whole dream scenario. If you have at
Continue reading...  

The secret life of the Little Mermaid

When people talk about the Little Mermaid they imagine the classic Disney big eyed doll, with perfect hair and a perfect prince, that will live happily ever after. But the original Hans Cristian Andersen story is one about choosing to suffer in silence. The Little Mermaid sacrifices her hypnotic voice in order to get a
Continue reading...  

Lucidity – A game forgotten

In the same trend of grown-ups and growing up and growing down and childhood galore and what not, I remembered a game I have almost forgotten… There is a very fine line between light and darkness. A line that gets even feebler if you add the reality-fiction duality. And sometimes, this tense line shatters and
Continue reading...  

Growing down

Yesterday it was my birthday, so I took a short pause from the usual ludic and literary discourse to simply celebrate myself with some all-you-can-eat sushi. That was well deserved and perfect for the occasion. But enough about me and my culinary journeys. Now I am back, and ready to fall into the deep meditation
Continue reading...  

A Portal Movie I Would Like to See (Video)

Since I was struck by quite a nasty flu these days I thought I would be better off making a tiny writing pause and delighting you with this short film created by Dan Trachtenberg, who plays with one of the most beloved gaming concepts of the era: portals. Portal: The Escape is witty and unsettling,
Continue reading...  

Yann Tiersen or why some things shouldn’t change

Once upon a time, there was Yann Tiersen. And a carousel of broken dreams. And all those pieces of the broken mirror, all delicately stuck to musical notes, tralala-ing out of Yann’s soul. It’s limited, yet fair to say that Yann was revealed to us through his French tunes, his playful acordeon that followed Amelie
Continue reading...  

Time in Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf admitted that life reflected in fiction is not a regularly patterned universe with an objective existence, it is a state of mind. Life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end. Because existence is not objective, it cannot be absolute. And even time, as
Continue reading...  

Of writing and other demons

I was told that in order to truly live your life, you have to do something you fear each day. Writing is, for most, not really a big deal. It’s just like leaving a post-it note on the door of the fridge -a comfortable and immediate way to communicate something to someone in the near
Continue reading...  

The bald singer (monologue)

While seeing Eugen Ionesco’s play The bald singer I had the grotesque feeling of slipping away. As if I was no longer there.. as if the unveiled theatrical mechanism, its absurdity, has taken over my emptiness too. I would have burst in a supreme laughter if I hadn’t remembered I wasn’t alone.. I would have walked up the
Continue reading...  

A student’s take on the Nordic Game Conference 2012

Ever since I moved to Denmark, as a Computer Science student and a game designer slash programmer, I have commenced an innocent, yet not too ostentatious flirt with the local gaming industry. This end of the week though, I had the opportunity to expand my knowledge-greedy paws over the stretch of water which is Øresund
Continue reading...  

The randomness of beauty

Common sense has it that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  I’d rather say that beauty is everywhere. A thick explosion of perfection, right here under our eyes. Symmetry and perverse geometry. That’s what it all is. I’m not only talking about nature, but also about the Divine Comedy of the human being.
Continue reading...  

Money, so they say, is the root of all evil today

…If only I had a penny for every wet money dream I witness in people’s eyes. I myself would be filthy rich by now. And utterly poor in spirit I might say. I wish I could bathe in pennies till I become one with the metal pennies are made of. Then I would walk down
Continue reading...  

Searching for God

For many years as a kid, I was upset with God. It was something in the way the priest gripped my cheeks each time he would come to bless our home after Christmas or Easter. It was something in the smell of incense that choked my throat when I entered the church. And, although my
Continue reading...  

My Venice

On my first trip to Italy, I wanted to greet Venice as a holy place. I somehow saw myself as a profane being, ready to plunge into the secrets of a city I could not understand, whose name only reminded me of an overwhelming culture and Renaissance busts. The floating city of Venice was, in
Continue reading...  

Reality distortion

As a very determined video game player  I have many times wondered if I’m not crossing the border between real and unreal too often at some point. What I mean is, am I trying to compensate for a sort of insufficient reality? Am I better off as a very voluptuous Lara Croft, or as a
Continue reading...  

Machinarium Review

This article first appeared on Eurogamer.ro, site which is no longer available. Machinarium is a very dear game to me, so I didn’t want to lose my thoughts on it. You’ve surely all seen Wall-E, the Disney movie about the shy adorable robot who ceaselessly cleaned up planet Earth in wait of the return of
Continue reading...  

Life of Pi Review (monologue)

This is the first question that popped into my mind after reading “Life of Pi”. Tell me, if you were to live on a stranded island for all your remaining years of existence, who would you take with you?
Continue reading...  

The Search for Identity in the novels of Virginia Woolf

The First World War was one crucial event that changed the face of literature forever.  A generation of writers became paralyzed by the extreme destruction that war brought about, showing a face of human nature that was never before seen. Gertrude Stein liked to refer to this generation as „the lost generation” because for the
Continue reading...  

Botanicula Review: Read the small print and you’ll be wonderfully surprised

Botanicula could have easily been a five star game if only it had been advertised a bit differently. As I prize myself to be quite the hardcore adventure gamer and having come to love Amanita Design through its wonderful, rusty and melancholic Machinarium, I was expecting Botanicula to be a game in the same trend of
Continue reading...  

The true angels

Only those shot in the head go to heaven. Their thoughts crawl out that hole looking like smoke rings. Like halos. And they diguise the dead into angels.
Continue reading...  

The Beauty of Silence

Today I’ve learned the most important lesson of all. The beauty of silence lies in the fact that it’s close to nothingness. It represents all the ideas and no idea in particular. It’s a complete feeling and at the same time, sentimental numbness.
Continue reading...