January 31, 2012

Ask me anything.

As the title says, ask me anything. I'll try to answer as many questions as I can if not all in the next blog.
Any topic though preferably work safe, and preferably in a manner that I can understand.

To eliminate a few things, I'm generally broke, early 20's. living in Flint MI, fluently speak 3 languages, have at some point learned part of several others on a significant enough scale I could've carried a conversation though I've been so out of practice  I'd look like a fool to try and use them. The languages I know in order of most to least are as follows, English, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, German, French, Finnish, French-Arabic.
I Play on my PC (look at previous posts for exact hardware) my old xbox 120GB don't have the new S model, PS3 Slim 120GB, With standard ps3 controllers for ps3, standard or MW2 xbox controller, and keyboard mouse for most pc game occasionally using an xbox controller and xpadder with custom profile.
I can't pick a single favorite movie, however if it were a gun to my head scenario I'd say R.O.D. Yamiko Readman, I remember after I bought it I had it on infinite replay for almost 3 months, something about it was just so addicting. I might put together an essentials list, movies that I think everyone should see at least once in their life if not own.
My favorite game is obviously going to be my own, you should buy it cause it's awesome, etc etc. Of course if I wasn't picking my own I'd have to go genre by genre. Ocarina of time has withstood the test of time, I'd still pick it up and play if I were to beat all my games and still be a bit bored. The excellent audio, gameplay, story progression, mechanics, just everything was 10 out of 10. The original halo was something almost magical, and it helped me bond with my first real friends once I was out of that kid phase and started looking at my future seriously. Unreal Tournament on the PC back in like 04 was seriously B.A. and brought me into the realm of competitive gaming. The Elder Scrolls series has been a serious dedication of my life apparently after I add up all the hours I put into it, Bethesda has claimed over a consecutive year of my life (Roughly 9,000 hours played) playing those games not including Fallout 3. The Gears of War series has also been a real friend maker, but was also my first rage quit ever, seriously easy to get infuriated on it sometimes, I remember one night a friend had a clicker for something and decided to count how many times I cursed or shouted, I shocked myself by comparison to how very little that happens in other games like MW or Halo where even when angry I'm in control. Of course there's always the Final Fantasy series. I seriously have viewed it as nothing but absolutely downhill since the merger of squaresoft with enix, FFX was the last good FF and even that was a little weak, the last GREAT FF was 8. Though even that pales in comparison to my next choice. I was first hooked early on by this great series and ever since I've been happy with every installment, it's beyond pure gold to me. One particular installment was so emotionally gripping it did what even the death of Aeris (/Aerith STFU!!!!) couldn't do for me in FF7, It moved me to a single manly tear. The game I'm talking about it Metal Gear. It was one of the first games I got with my PS1 along with FF7 8 and tactics. When the PS2 came along I only basically owned Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, FFX and Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3. MGS3 is what got to me, it was so perfect in so many ways it actually replaces Ocarina of Time as my all time favorite gun to my head choice game. MGS1 was also amazingly done and even got me to go way back and play the old games they had around, like ghost babel, metal gear (nes) the sequal was much harder to find, though I did accidentally pick up snakes revenge on my quest. Even though MGS2 was a little bumpy, I was still satisfied overall.
I absolutely never play sports games, the way I see it is if you're going to play a sport you might as well play it, not pretend to play it. I'm starting to reconsider my position on the subject with the newest installment of fight night, and the Real Steel arcade game, however the core sports games even though I love hockey I'll never play nhl, and I'm simply not interested at all in football, basketball, baseball, and while I used to be into soccer that too is no more.

My general choice of music is MeloDeth, Symphonic where possible, metal, classic rock, Classical (seriously I do mean old school 1800's classical) and various derivatives but I can't stand country, and I can rarely get into a rap or pop single, other genres generally I don't get into. I was into techno for a while but now it's just meh don't care either way. I love older music, stuff from the 50's through the 80's and a select few current bands. Though I must declare AC/DC as the kings of all music and they are my all time favorite band no questions. I'm currently into disturbed, kinda been into them after they got their stuff together after down with the sickness and it's just been getting better since. I miss Tarja Turunen but she has her own stuff now I get, she used to be lead singer for Nightwish which is still good but no where near where they were with her. Rammstein and Oomph! to round things out a bit. A lot of my audio work in my more serious game I've been working on is based on Rammstein's work with Sonne in particular influencing most of the guitar work.

I do read a lot. The particular books I'd suggest are a little cliche but Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho, and The Art of War (Sun Tzu blah blah blah re-interpreted by whoever). Now in the particular case of Art of War I've re-read it several times, learning something new every time and it's perfectly applicable to every moment of every day even though you're not in direct violent conflict. Books themselves are a great source of knowledge and power, however for every good and informational book there are hundreds if not thousands of garbage ones that are a simple waste of your time.

With this much you now know about me hopefully you'll have some well thought out questions to ask that aren't quite so generic.

As for a Muse or source of inspiration, strangely enough Liv Tyler seems to always inspire me somehow, and I don't know why. Generally speaking women in and of themselves are always quite inspirational, if you're stuck on something get a good look at a decent looking woman and see if that changes anything for you.

January 29, 2012

Lack of progress

So my plans for today were to update you on what I've done relevant to development of an actual game. I even planned on putting up a pic or two. However this recent week has been quite possibly the most busy week of my life, and not in a good way. I've been to several funerals, been shot at multiple times, which the police refuse to do anything about, and generally dealing with cash flow problems unrelated to all of this. So instead today I'll simply say I'm thankful to be alive, and advise you to tell people how much or little you love them.

You can view my other blog for a slight expansion on this which will be built upon in the week/s to come. At some point it will also include the philosophy of game development and potential perspectives which I'll likely include copies of here as well.

January 27, 2012

Why I FF

Firefox is my browser of choice, as nice as chrome is there are just some firefox plugins I couldn't function without.

the about:config is another story as well as userchrome and those are powerful but I could live without them as difficult as that would be.

For example there's an add on called too many tabs, I love it for a multitude of reasons. The basic idea is that I keep a lot of tabs open as I'm sure you do, and they stay session to session till I'm done with them, but this is a serious waste of resources and processing. So too many tabs (tmt from here out) works in a way where I don't have to clutter my bookmarks. Because that was the only other option is to bookmark and close it them hope you remember to get back to it later. Instead I get a bar that I can drag and drop tabs into with various selectable categories. This way I can keep temporary tabs around without bookmarking them, then bring them back, use them and close them. It's particularly useful for my udk reference pages that I'd rather not bookmark because they're specific examples I won't need in a week or two but I don't know how often I'll need them in that time. I also keep an imdb section for upcoming movies to remind me when they're coming around and then when they do I just take them off the list. Sometimes I'll keep searches around so I can check for updated info quickly, or continue a search at a later date if I'm having a particularly difficult search. Which I should mention I'm fully aware of all the advanced operators for google search, but some things simply can't be found so easily.

Then there's adblock plus and flashblock which we all know and love. Download statusbar which moves the download window into the statusbar, just because I found it infuriating and this looks nice. Extended statusbar which gives more detailed info on the pages you're visiting such as how quickly you're getting info, how many pictures are loaded out of how many are on the page, etc.
Keyconfig for swapping out hotkeys and making new ones. It might seem silly at first, but sometimes I like my hotkeys a certain way, or need a special feature to be quickly accessible and this helps me do that.
Menu Editor lets me pick and choose what's in the menu and context menu and what order everything is in. Much more powerful than you might realize, especially when combined with Tiny Menu which condenses your entire main menu into a single drop down. Instead of File, Edit, View, etc you just get one nice dropdown, and optionally you can still have some things outside that menu if you just wanted to condense one or two things, but I opted to have all but my bookmarks in it. I then combine this with userchrome.css to put my addesss bar next to the menu to give me more screen space because I'm not such a big fan of fullscreen even with the full fullscreen add on to autohide everything it's just not my style. Speaking of style there was a nifty plugin I don't have anymore but I used to have fun with called Styles that allowed you to tweak every page you visit with your own css, or just certain pages, or you could simply modify the css present on a page if you wanted to change out fonts or colors or backgrounds it was all yours to play with.

Another add on I love is tab utilities, and tab kit however tab kit isn't updated for v9 and tab utilities might be implementing more or less the main feature I use in tab kit so I might be dropping it all together. The tab grouping option in tab kit was what I loved about it really. Tab utilities just has a lot of tab features that FF was missing. The current tab grouping options in FF and tab utilities is vaguely nice but way more effort than what was in tab kit where it simply grouped how you chose automatically, I prefered by site for example, and then when you were on a different page not in that site the tabs would condense into one and have a little plus marker to expand them back when you wanted back in. You could also hole the right click on your mouse and scroll through tabs quickly and if you selected one of those tabs sites it would automatically expand back open.

 Session manager, simply one thing FF should've hat right off the bat really, at least as an install option. I love how easy  it is to save and resume your sessions this way and be confident that your session was not only saved but if something happens you have several backups from previous sessions plus your own custom save sessions. The built in just doesn't do a good job of confirming your saves and is a little flimsy in the actual saving process, I'd lost quite a few sessions before I found session manager and now I'll never go back. One of the great features it has is actually the ability to pick and choose which tabs to restore if for example you get a page that causes FF to crash every time you can tell session manager not to load it anymore.

Personas if you want to add a little flare allows a little play room with your browser without completely changing the theme, it's like a little bit of wallpaper for the browser. Now the next couple are probably on chrome for sure, while some of the others might also be I'm not so sure, I try to keep my chrome as free of everything as I can when I just need a quick search for something or don't need all the features I have in FF. Simply put I think of my chrome as a little speed racer quick and nimble it helps me get things in a hurry. FF on the other hand is my heavy lifter, my powerhouse of a browser that I use for serious work or long days on the net. Things like the real player recorder and tineye reverse image search are nice little add ons. If you want to download a video from the net to watch later offline or make a composite of do a little video editing w/e real player is great at grabbing things. It also has a built in converter to change file formats to mostly anything, including stripping the vid and just giving you the audio, for example if you wanted to listen to a lecture in the car you could use real to rip the audio and put it on a disc (who uses discs anymore?) or mp3 player. And if you're looking for information or sources of a particular photo or video there's a lot of various such "reverse engines" out there but tin eye is the most powerful image based reverse engine I've found so far, it's rare it can't help me find the info I'm looking for on a picture. Of course google is liking this idea and their reverse search is pretty powerful as well, but it's not as precise as tin eye yet so it'll get a secondary recommend even though it's not an add on... Which is really where tin eye shines, just right click and reverse search, you don't have to go anywhere or do anything else and it'll look for you and have results in a second.

These are just some of the add-ons I use, of course with all these I do have a couple extra seconds on startup of the program but I keep track of that to make sure things aren't too cluttered. I highly recommend you give some of them a try, they'll improve your internet experience a lot. One last shout out to chrome though, their built in session manager is consistent, high quality, and while it doesn't confirm I've never lost a session or had to worry about it, if you don't like add ons but need a great built in session manager chrome is king.

Unrelated... I used to be a serious Final Fantasy junkie, but ever since the merger with enix its all been downhill and I can't honestly recommend any SquareEnix FF games, only SquareSoft FF games, but if I had to say one that wasn't  horrifically bad it would be FFXIII or Crisis Core on the PSP. I'm not including movies because Advent Children was pretty BA even if it was a little weaksauce.

January 24, 2012

I completely forgot.

There's this awesome program called nuke / nuke fx and I completely forgot to mention it earlier. I don't know if you've used it before or not, but it's a part of my essentials, I mostly use it for cinematics, it can do wonders on anything that you don't have to render in real time. Sometimes if I'm working on a particularly special project, concept art, or other similar project I'll use it for a high polish finish which can really sell the idea sometimes. It had a bit of a learning curve to it though that I found frustrating. I managed to get right into it easy enough, but trying to do the more advanced features took a long time to really start understanding and start comprehensively using to achieve my goals. The main problem I'd say wasn't with the program itself as lack of documentation and examples / samples. I had a hard time finding info, so I was mostly learning by experimentation. That's not to say the material doesn't exist, just that there's not much of it in terms of high quality and relatively easy to find.

If you're doing any 3d animations, I can't recommend it enough.

January 22, 2012

I should probably be business as usual but...

So here's the deal, I write articles in advance for the most part unless something comes up. Right now I've got 2 fully complete articles and 6 more that have a concept and some work done. The idea is to keep a steady flow of communication to you the followers. However these last few days I've been M.I.A. and of course you're going to ask why if you're seriously interested so I thought I'd take your regular post to inform you of why I've been silent.

The last few days I've been dealing with a nasty bit of malware. Google chrome wouldn't start, and Firefox would hang in less than a minute. A few of my other programs were also out of commission, and while the system itself wasn't having any sort of sluggishness it was obviously a serious problem in relation to my daily work. After a long 3 to 4 day process of finding out what it was causing the problem, depending on how you count the days, I finally traced it and removed it. Honestly figuring out what the culprit was turned out to be significantly harder than dealing with it. The malware was using remnants of an old program I apparently didn't uninstall properly. The product in question is CORE Impact, a security testing system of all things. Now the system appears to be up and running again now that I've properly dealt with the malware and taken preventative measures against future malware.

To the designer, thank you for the challenge and try harder in the future. The likelihood the designer will ever read this is negligible, and the malware may or may not be designed to find loopholes instead of that specific program which means even if the designer reads it he may not know it was him or her. So it's an open message to all malware designers. I now have that much more reason to run dual boot on my next system. I could create an image load system but meh I don't think so, I'd much rather just run linux when I'm on the net / regular surfing and windows for work and games.

In truth there's not much I can't do in linux and I do love various KDE based systems, I have several live USB's I already use, I just generally don't use them at home. So, as an amendment to my future build, I'll be making a dual boot OS default, I won't have to bother with USB at all, it's going on the drive from the start.

What issues have you had with your system lately? What's your favorite security setup? Somehow this got by VIPRE, and ad aware, It also wasn't picked up by scans from avira, norton, spybot, nod, and various other programs I quickly grabbed and tried, in truth malwarebytes actually got it where all other programs failed me, I'm making a nicely sized donation and buying full premium copy.
If you haven't heard about Vipre, I can't quite remember who technically owns it, I think sunbelt?, anyway I tracked down my old firewall hoping for an upgrade. I used to love kerio personal firewall and didn't really like komodo, so I found it changed its name around and got bought out etc now it's not even a stand alone, just part of the Vipre suite, which so far has done nicely for my anti everything, my scans in everything else turned up entirely clean until malwarebytes barely found something in a full system scan.

Update your security, and have a great week.

also, my other blog Kaironaught is updated almost on time so you don't see a copy of this there.

January 20, 2012

3D Max Plugins

3D Max just wouldn't be itself without plugins, and honestly a few good plugins and scripts save hundreds of hours of work sometimes, tens of hours on a regular basis. This is a list of what I use the most.
A custom city generator that I'm working on primarily based on analysis of work by tyson ibele
 BGPlus, it's a building generator, now including a city generator with street plan etc
city engine, another type of city generator
cebas thinking particles
RealFlow (liquids both stationary and moving)
Ray Fire
Sitni Sati package including Afterburn, Dreamscape, Enlight, FumeFX and Scatervl
The Foundry Nuke and Nuke X

Fracture Voronoi (for creating fractured objects for destructables)
Ghost Town (another city gen)
Ivy Generator (self explanitory, very niche)
GWIvy (a different ivy gen)
ADVPainter (used for painting directly in max on objects)
Bend Rig
BuildingGen (yet another building generator)
Greeble (if you wanted to essentially make the star wars trench run in under a minute this is the script)
collision map generator
decal objects
the fume fx source manager (strangely not included with my copy of fumefx)
joint bend
pelvis bend
PPainter (yes two P's, aka proxy painter, a kind of surface painter)
Super Extrude
Tentacle Rigger
Whimsy Wunda Walker

I've probably got a few dozen other scripts and plugins installed but I know I've used all of these in the last month, repeats are for different perspective or methodology or missing parts. For example I can generate the same city several different ways to see what style suits best, or changes in altitude, road design etc.

While ZBrush is a stand alone program I consider it closer to a plugin. It substantially increases workflow and cuts time which is why I didn't include it in my previous post.

Let me know what plugins you use.

January 18, 2012


Software AKA tools of the trade, exluding the wacom tablet which is practically a given.
A lot of people say the Adobe suite or macromedia if you're seriously hanging on. I am no different in that regard. I generally use fireworks or photoshop for a majority of art, and audition for mixing and mastering music and audio that I generally create with FL Studio and various plugins for it such as toxic biohazard, and ohmicide.
The big program, the all important 3d work, is 3d max hands down, if I ever had to give it up though I'd go with lightwave before maya.
I use my own compiler for most custom programs when I actually bother to make something like that.
For example I've made an interesting brute forcer, dictionary and password generator, encrypter, cryptoanalysis, dock (like rocket dock, just my take on the idea anyway), and right now I'm working on a photo viewer with built in tagger, think of it like scan lovers or ehentai, I give a photo a list of tags and rate them according to relevancy, this makes finding photos much easier, right now they're in a series of folders with vague categories but not much detail. If I wanted to find say a particular motivational poster I'd go into my motivationals and find if it's a regular, demotivational, or comedic then browse till I find it, instead of just searching for lava or people or anime w/e I happen to know is in it. When I'm done with that I'll be immediately starting work on a replacement for a program on this list called Final Draft which I'll discuss next. Basically it'll be a story writing program,
These are the details of the program, if you want to beat me to it, maybe make some money feel free because I'll be releasing my version open source and freeware for all when I'm done, which may take a year or two.
organized system for viewing stories or making them
add scenes, chapters, acts, charater names
add camera movements or perspectives
add locations
pop up viewer over locations that you can link to existing photos / art files on drive
simple () and similar options for quickly adding a new character or other item, and autofill in options/suggestions
highlights text based on movement, speech, action, etc, changes its color
same goes for types, character, enviro, scene, act, chapter, etc
go to file and have "add" function for adding new stuff without typing
quick browsing option on the left for jumping to act, scene, chapter, etc
option to view only X option, such as all actions by X character, or all "lines" /speech or all instances of X environment
Character Bio's /profiles
ability to import things from other files, characters, environments, bio's, etc
ability to define alternate versions of scene and interchange them with notice for letting you know there's an alt version of a scene
side by side viewing of the same file or multiple files
clicking a character name or environment name etc brings up relevent information in a popup, which is editable
commenting options
ability to post to internet and collect feedback on it
previous versions option
option to configure previous versions and increase/decrease # of versions to keep
option to configure autosave for X time, after newly entered text, on backspace/delete

Final Draft is what I'm using right now as a stand in for the above program. It does what it's supposed to but it could easily be so much better hence my plans to make the above program. Basically it's a simplistic / minimalistic story writing program directed towards movie makers.

I do most of my programming in Notepad++
If you're not into such manual and unforgiving programming, I suggest a good IDE like netbeans.
A good engine is essential when making a game, there's a lot of good options out there, right now I'm experimenting with Unreal / UDK to see how it fits.

This list is actually pretty short, all you really need is 3d max, photoshop, UDK and a lot of time and or a good mind, knowledge of some kind of programming laguage is necessary preferably C++ and Java or some other object oriented language. With those tools at your disposal you can make something, not sure how good it'll be but it'll be something, and it's been said that if you can do anything half-assed you're a one eyed man in the land of the blind.

January 16, 2012


My current hardware is as follows:
AMD Phenom 2x4 940
Cooler Master heatsink.
2 Radeon 4850 cards (upgrade coming in mail soon- to 6990)
Microsoft Sidewinder x4 keyboard
Gigabyte gm m8000 mouse (with aluminum razer gaming pad)
custom built case, also working on a new case for next major upgrade at the end of the year in which I'll be giving away old hardware except the new graphics card.
3 1TB drives, two from WD, and one from SG
1 external 500GB drive from Cavalry
1 80GB WD drive I use for top secret materials, ultra encrypted and very well hidden, if you don't know how to get to it you'd never know it was there other than obviously physically looking at it.
4GB DDR2 from OCZ
OCZ 900w PSU
Asus 25.5" monitor
Hand Scanner custom built
Brother Printer, monochrome laser, stripped
Linksys wifi card
Asus and Lite On DVD drives

The custom case I'm currently using is a lan party themed one. I used my amazing skills with metal to make a custom sized beer keg, the mobo sits horizontally in the middle along with all other vital hardware, suspended from vibration while also being fixed in place was quite the challenge. Below it is the printer I stripped down and re-engineered to fit and stay in place, with a push to release paper tray and a slot to feed out printed materials. On the side is an attached scanner that can receive and feed paper in then back out to scan, or can be detached to manually scan documents, but because of this obscure nature custom drivers had to be made to ensure smooth scanning, I won't offer any support for it to whoever gets it, it's a novelty item that's given me a lot of headache, and has only been worth it the couple times I've needed to scan a magazine or book and didn't want that distortion by the binding.

It also includes a push to release then partial manual pull up lit that lifts the hardware from the case, above the mobo theres a storage area for all kinds of things and an upside down spindle with spinning hook that sounded good at the time but I now realize how stupid it really was. Once you pull the lid upwards there's 4 short range hydraulic legs that'll hold it in place anywhere you let go, that was quite the feet to make it so it doesn't lower from its own weight even when things are in the tray and not push up either.
The lid as part of the push to release has a twist action to make sure it locks in place for travel, something to make sure and put back when you're done.
Next to the hydralics are green LED lights which automatically come on when the lid is open, but have a switch that can be turned off inside. I used to have colored NOS spray tubes that would go off when it's opened, it had an amazing look, but sadly I wasn't able to get any replacements of the small size I had once they ran out, tubes are still in place, just empty. Case is painted yellow hexagons with red lines.

End of this year: my budget will be for around 3500$ I'll be getting new mobo, cpu, ram, SSD (ocz vertex if it stays on top, the vertex 3 is kicking butt right now.) PSU, heatsink, monitor, and depending on who I give the old hardware to if they prefer their own keyboard and mouse I'll keep what I have or order extras, the mouse has a gold upgrade with a few extra profiles etc that I'd like and the keyboard is the best I've ever had. I'll probably use one of the wifi cards I already have, since I got several rosewill and linksys wifi cards just sitting around

With the new system I'll be having at least 8GB of DDR3, probably fewer drives but larger spaces, a couple 3TB drives and downgrade my 80GB to a 32GB flash drive or two.
new monitor will either be oled 3d larger than 30", and or a projector, may or may not order another card to crossfire, if budget allows I may get a second screen as well because I generally do like dual screen setups though that may prove difficult with the idea I have in mind
if the opportunity arises I may spend a little extra to get a FusionIO drive, hopefully by then it'll be able to run as the root drive and put my OS on there, if not I'll still be getting another SSD
I'll probably grab a decent sound card, the built in ones are always garbage but DFI made one that was sufferable, and if there's change left in the budget I'll go after a video recorder

The custom case will have a control box that uses rg6 cable and BNC connectors to connect to and from the case where all the wires will be mounted appropriately. It'll control power on/off, fan speeds, cmos switch, a multimedia bay for sd cards, extra flash drives, misc. 

It'll be a kind of translucent fiberglass or acrylic depending on which test turns out better, the idea is that from the outside you can't see anything really on the inside till the LED lights are on then it's much clearer in addition to casting shadows. More specifically if you hold PCB up to a light you can see the patterns on the other side, that's what I'm going for, in addition of course to having a different pattern on the outside.
The disc drive will be a slimline autoloading bluray drive, no trays or anything
Liquid cooled with a non conductive specialty fluid, that actually seems a lot like anti-freeze....
The reservoir will be a miniature version of the case and will be on the front panel, the disc loader will be on the side, the whole case is a kind of X shape.
The radiators will likely be 2 Danger Den 3 120mm fan types and be positioned on either side along the bottom.
Not my first trip with liquid cooling but I don't do it often either.
the mobo will likely be laid out diagonally with a sliding tray out, but if not then it'll definitely be horizontal, still with a sliding tray which will likely be hydraulics instead of the standard sliders or balls not only because of the smooth non hitching and quiet action but also because it's less likely to warp or bend under extreme circumstances and I'm thinking similar to the previous case of having everything on a frame that comes out seperate from most of the rest of the case.
There may be a secondary opening using simply clamps and hinges for the diagonal half over the mobo where the pumps will be
I'm also devising a system to keep as much of the cords as I can simply entirely out of the way, I'll likely be doing a lot of cutting and applying my own heat shrink wrapping to a lot of the cords, maybe even some plastic melting depending on how detail oriented I am at the time.
if I can manage, the primary color instead of a grey for your standard translucency I'll try to go for green as the actual material color, on the inside right now I'm thinking I can manipulate a certain kind of LED bar into emitting green from the inside in addition to UV and I could use UV paint on the inside to get the shadow effect I'm going for

I'm not including a scanner or printer or a majority of other junk like last time, but I will likely be trying new extremes. I'm going to try and built storage areas inside for the keyboard, mouse, and pad, and likely have a system to fold out the monitor. The idea is that I can fold the monitor inside the case and have a protective cover over it that can easily be replaced if it gets damaged or dirty so much that it can't be fixed.
Carrying handles on the top

If you have any suggestions, ideas, or questions feel free to ask in the comments, I won't be doing pictures until it's done though, at which time I'll be presenting a project log which includes detailed pictures of every step of the process.

January 13, 2012


So yesterday I was tweaking projectile properties and trying to get a better flamethrower going in game. I also spent a lot of time working on a logo and fleshing out other ideas for subsequent games. Interviewed a couple story writers but I'm still looking for more / better. I'm starting to get a budget together to be able to pay for some things, probably by project basis / commission.

The real question though is once I'm done with the first game should I follow up with another mini game / arcade game or go for a full game which would still likely be short but have some substance to it all the same. Does story matter? If I just came out with the most insane plot that at least stuck together but was otherwise seemingly random, would you still play it?

January 12, 2012

Looking Forward

Today isn't so much about advice as it is a wish list for future hardware. Some older systems had genius ideas that were lost at some point that need to be brought back, others aren't taking full advantage of the evolution of tech.

Most of us remember the N64. One key idea that they had right was the expansion card, essentially an updated graphics card. This prolonged the life cycle of the console significantly in addition to allowing better games to be made, this feature isn't in any modern consoles, and it's not my place to say whether or not it should be, but it wouldn't have been such a bad idea for the xbox 360 given it knew that ps3 would have better graphics simply by waiting a little while longer.

It used to be that almost every game was run from cartridges and back then there was no "loading screen". The main reason we switched to disks were for higher capacity and cost effectiveness. Now with the new speeds provided by USB 3.0 and the significantly larger capacities it wouldn't be unreasonable to give it a try, because you never need to blow out dust from a usb or worry if its fitted correctly and it's remarkably cheap these days, perhaps not as much as discs which may be a downside, but it would allow for more content at faster speeds than disks and they take up much less space. I dream of the day we'll never see another loading screen.

This is about looking forward though. To that I must say that in about 4 years when we really start considering new consoles, perhaps slightly sooner for xbox probably 2 years, there should be advancements in input methods and content creation methods, and content sharing. The Vita for example could completely replace the dual shock controller and be your controller on the ps4, of course by then there'd probably be a new handheld and ideally for such a high price tag as I'm sure it will have then the console should come with one of these controllers that serves as a portable as well. Xbox could adopt such an idea, break into the portable market by including one with every new xbox as the controller for said box, and if they can somehow match graphics or get close to doing so then even have it so you can take your game on the go.

Then there's content, focusing specifically on the one thing that's always bothered me about console content, once you buy it, it's for life. Sad truth about this is that I honestly almost never play halo 2 anymore which I bought so many map packs for, or oblivion now that skyrim is out, and all that content will almost never get played again, and with game of the year editions out if I really wanted the content I could just grab a copy of those instead. The next iteration of consoles should include a system for gifting games, sharing games (temporarily loaning it to a friend) and optionally revoking my rights to a game or its content in exchange for some form of currency I can use on the marketplace for new games and content. I would love to revoke my claim to old map packs and content to get some points and buy an arcade game or get new map packs for newer games. I like to give gifts when I can spare it for a good friends birthday or christmas, and in the case of oblivion since I'd mastered it completely I gave it and the guides to a friend only to remember he'd have to buy the content like knights of the nine and shivering isles so I had to help him grab a game of the year, which he could turn around and sell back to the store if he ever got tired of it. A lot of these features such as gifting already exist on steam, and I like it sometimes when me and friends can go in on a 4 pack and get the game slightly cheaper. I might not be able for afford full price for one copy myself, but if my friends put their cash together we can save 10$ a piece sometimes and all get a copy. Then there's another nuisance that I'm sure will never be addressed, but it's the fact that a lot of games are multiplatform but you can only play them on one console for various reasons. It would be nice however if I bought a copy of the game on xbox I could turn around and play it on pc or ps3 through steam or similar without having to buy extra copies. Mass Effect was generous in this area by giving me an extra copy for pc, and for that I am extremely grateful, it did a lot to turn my views of EA, even if it was BioWare's idea (not sure but probably). BioWare was awesome enough to make sure that any DLC I bought for dragon age, dragon age 2, mass effect, etc I could get on any console or pc without any problems and I could get it for all consoles and pc if I wanted, which because now I had a pc copy of mass effect 2, and had bought an extra dragon age copy for pc I certainly wanted to do so.

One thing I'm happy to see recently that I was going to include here was that nobody makes controllers that can be used on both xbox and ps3, given that they aren't technically too different as opposed to the wii controler which is wildly different from either. As I said though, recently I've begun seeing such controllers around and that makes me very happy, now they just need to get it down pat. In my case I unfortunately have friends that sometimes don't use common sense, which means they spill liquids on my controllers sometimes and sometimes I can't fix the problems that come from that. However because they are cool enough to replace what they break I have parts to play with in the future. This one day lead to a stroke of genius in which I gutted a ps3 controller and more or less installed it in an xbox mw2 controller with the xbox buttons and sticks. After a lot of strenuous work and probably breaking several laws not to mention warranties I managed to get it to work with the ps3 flawlessly including plugging it in and charging when the battery gets low, something I've always wanted to be so easy on the xbox but instead of regular usb they insist on the play and charge kit which breaks after a while and has large battery areas that feel unnatural by my fingers. Through my efforts though I also managed to manipulate the controller to work on xbox as well, however sometimes the xbox freaks out because of it, and I never use it online because I'm fairly sure I'd get B& almost immediately. However when using it on the pc it's a lovely little item to have around and that gyro-sensor  can be mapped to do some very nice things that you just don't get on regular consoles, such as leaning in call of duty.

Last but not least there's online premium services. PSN has always been free, granted it hasn't had many exclusives specifically shooters that make great use of it, but when MAG came out I was overjoyed that I knew I'd never have to pay to play online with friends. XBL however 60$ a year to play anything online at all, I rarely get discounts or freebies that silver members don't get, and I could just rant on it all day, the end point being that I have never once felt like I'm getting my moneys worth. PSN plus service however, I've already saved my moneys worth and I've hardly bought anything, tons of free content that gets updated regularly, and useful system features that I'm comfortable in the idea that I shouldn't expect them for free because they aren't necessary but are very welcome additions all the same. The PSHome experience is also much more mature than the childlike avatars we get on xbox with cheaper additions. Yet I maintain my XBL, not only for the exclusives such as halo or gears of war but because of the friend system involved and the better controller for shooters which is what I play most on xbox. However, if XBL doesn't do some serious improvements or somehow lets their exclusives start slipping I might actually end up cancelling. right now I would be happy to pay 30$ a year for XBL, and if they were to implement a cloud save system, automatic updates while I'm not playing, and various other features the Plus service has, I'd almost be happy for even a 50$ a year service. I love logging on to PSN to find all my games have been updated, latest system update, etc knowing that I won't have to ever wait to get into a game because it's updating. The Plus service I was worried about at first, and early on it definitely wasn't worth the money but now it's getting into a groove and I feel that it's money well spent, enough so that I bought several gift cards and plus service cards for my psn friends over the holidays hoping that they'll get hooked on it as well. Now if only playstation could actually get more exclusives.

January 11, 2012

Army of One

It's important early on to not only have clear focus but clear perspective. Most games are not done by the so called "One Man Army". While in this case my early game /s will likely be just me, in order to grow I'll have to establish a reliable team of skilled people. The reason I don't say professionals is that generally refers to experience, that's not necessarily such a great thing in the face of fresh and upcoming titles. Seasoned vets of this industry have become locked into a certain way of doing things and are less likely to take risks. I'm not afraid of a setback or failure if it was outside the box.

Advice aside I'm also establishing this as an open call to anybody with skills willing to work for free or consignment, or otherwise no money up front. I've already got groundwork for a topdown shooter that should take me about a month to finish by myself (I'm already about a month and a half in so I'm fairly sure that's not an unreasonable timeframe). Right now I've been using UDK but that might change with the next game. Before dismissing it I'd like to point out I'm not using it exclusively and that I don't develop assets in it.

Opening moves.

Having grown impatient in my efforts to break into my industry of choice it's time to break out and claim territory for myself. I am a game developer.

The first point to start with is a name and a business plan, which is already well under way. This leads me to the current preliminary model, which is based on tactics I've learned to be effective in competitive games. Establishing a base of operations, or a territory, or some groundwork for a base and income or other resource is all important.
Evolving into a refined machine and finding more efficient methods of completing current objectives in terms of cost, time, speed, etc.
Then taking this momentum and being aggressive with it, expanding outward and claiming additional resources establishing new bases or camps, forward operating bases and using this as a new establishment for a subsequent evolution.
This process is repetitive until victory is attained, however each phase should be progressively longer than previous to ensure stability.

Ideally each phase has primary and secondary sub categories simultaneously being worked on and thus each primary phase includes parts of the other phases. While you may sometimes be on the defensive a strong and continuous offense is important even in the midst of a strong defense you should have some kind of offensive strategy at play unless your goal is merely survival which ultimately leads to defeat. During most offenses your attack should include some plan towards damaging the resources and income of your adversaries, this economical advantage you create for yourself should prove itself invaluable in the future. Preventing an adversaries expansion or sabotaging it to strain their resources is also quite important as simply letting them expand will give them a foothold to establish a new offense quicker and stronger than before.

The focus right now however is exclusively on establishing myself, otherwise nothing else matters. The best methods for this are unavailable to me right now however thus I will establish myself with a simple game using the best of my abilities, it will be creative, addictive, and cheap to encourage new followers to join me and establish my income. For these reasons my first commercial game will be short and likely have a lot of replay value. Perhaps a cross between a top down shooter and a dungeon crawler...