Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Another year another project.

The Return 

So here we are once again, a new university year and all the projects which come with it. Lets do a nice lengthy post for today seeing as its been over a year since my last one, I've been out on placement and having to discover the joy of managing a house.  

Mongoose time 

So some people may have heard of this company, its called Mongoose publishing and its the biggest tabletop and role-play game maker in England. Mostly that entails making books, rulebooks for games and source books for settings. Now that's something I could really get into, I've been reading books since someone decided I should have an education and introduced me to a library, and it was genuinely fascinating and fun to make these timeless objects from the ground up. So this is what I will be dedicating this years project to, the creation of a book.

This is the big one

Year 4, the last call, the final onslaught. Ok lets stop that there before I just sit here listening to Worms Armageddon on a loop. But still this is the most tense year of university, so what on earth am I going to do? Well looking back through everything I've done before I'm surprised I hadn't done this already. I am going to be taking all those little folk stories from my 3 month stint in Africa and putting them in a book of my own. But that's not all, no we need to make this harder so it's worthy of a final year project. What else am I going to do? Why I am going to Write, Edit, Illustrate and publish this book (limited private printing of course) all on my lonesome. That should just about set the scene, raise the stakes Etc.

The dreaded spectre of ACADEMIA

 But what would a final year be without the fearsome prospect of a dissertation? Well a little friendlier for a start but this ones in the bag, my main piece required a few research materials to start with, amongst them my first personal copy of the Grimm fairy tales, and to make the best of my purchase I will be using that in my dissertation, in fact I'll linking it in with my Africa work. How do folk stories from dark and forested Europe tie into Bush stories from sun baked Africa? why they both developed from oral traditions and both of them have been retold and remade countless times. So why have we remade them so many times, and are they really the same after all those years and versions? well lets have a look at that shal we. But as you may have guessed from the title, academic works aren't really my thing, so lets make this a little more fun shall we? Let's make something a little easier on the eyes, like a magazine or a journal article.

 oh That... 

Well I've rambled on long enough for today, so I'll leave you with this parting 'gift'. See the powers that be made a stupid decision, really dumb, they asked for a specific format for a presentation and by god they weren't going to let me get away with anything else. ok that doesn't sound dumb, but this does. They wanted 20 slides, and they wanted them to last 20 seconds each. But not to worry 5 of those slides could be replaced with video that you made... well excuse me if I'm not an animator and thus have no video for you. And don't penalise me for making an inherently unimpressive visual object. It's a book in early development, meaning its mostly just a bunch of text documents. But they insisted on this stupidity so I've indulged them and followed their orders To The Letter. Behold The Frankenstein's monster of presentations!

This is not my style, this is not how a presentation should be made, but it gets the message across with a minimal amount of wasted time and breath. Yes I can still be bitter, a years gone by not an eon.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Standing on the edge


No I haven't forgotten about this place but, phew what a couple of months.

Final hand ins, placement opportunities, job hunting for the summer.
And to top it off unstable internet and the HMRC office asking me about work I did two years ago, talk about a time delay.

So yes I've been busy, and then I've been prevented from getting online, but I'm online now so I best make the most of it while I can.


Well this years hand in is finished now I just need to talk about it in the morning.

Having been given an aggressively small time limit and a ridiculous number of slides to fill up the presentation will look less like an overview of a years work and more like an episode of zero punctuation without the swearing.

Anyway, fingers crossed.

Personal time

Mostly concerned with finding a placement and getting the last university things wrapped up before heading back to Berwick for the the summer.
But I've been continuing the sketch of Damien (albeit slowly) and finally done something I've been planning for a while.

Some people may know my online title Guilt Blade, based on a story I wrote a while back. Well the story is mostly forgotten but the name stuck.
But the image I used to have for the blade dates back before my ability to sketch and my usage of photoshop.
So whenever people asked me what the name meant I would tell them the story and show them a rather dull looking, scratchy doodle.
No longer, as a new image has just been finished (about 2 hours work on a graphics tablet) complete with rather over the top flame background.


Basic colour

Additional colour and shade


Clean up and done

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Pictures at last

Damien Salem
Ahh Damien, poor poor Damien.

So the set up.
That presentation on gaming required the use of White Wolfs storyteller engine.
Now the best example of that engine in my opinion is the massively successful World of Darkness (WoD) game.

So what better way to gain an understanding of this system , but to play it.
Now I know a great person who was about to run a WoD game in the near future, but I have a problem.

I don't actually like the World in World of Darkness.
In a game of modern fantasy, in which vampires manipulate men from behind the scenes, Werewolves hide themselves as everyday people, Changelings are haunted by the fey and Giests walk around long after their deaths, I can't bring myself to like any of them.

But a solution was found, in a poor fool now called Damien Salem. A character who was created as pure mortal, a normal every day man waiting for some unspecified horror to befall him.

The agreement was that I would play a normal man for the first game, and the Storyteller would surprise me by springing a random transformation on him.
So now Damien, Navy seal and British immigrant, lazy as sin and hates red wine, is a mage with control over time, space and luck.

I laughed so hard I just had to draw him, which is why I have here 1 sketch and 1 line-art.

The aftermath

So I posted some videos, and in those videos there's some guy talking about some slides. But you can't really see those slides so I went and got them for you.

Slide 1

Slide 2

Slide 3

Slide 4

Slide 5

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Presenting Table top gaming

So tabletop gaming is this thing.
Not sure if I said it before but its also a thing I'm interested in.

And on top of that I gave a presentation on the topic for a case study.

I've been splitting it up into videos.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

It's technical

So long time no post, or rather a lot going on to prevent a post being released.

You see I don't wish to release a rather dull post with out any pretty graphics for readers, and most of my work has been graphic free.
Well that's not true but unless you wish to see version four of the silver path released as individual trees and dirt there isn't that much for you.

But how about a progress update to tide you over and to keep this place looking lively.


This project has changed alot of late.
I purchased myself my Arduino UNO board (I can't believe how tiny it really is) and finished building a DIY pulse meter to patch it into.
Now if my camera behaves you can have some photos.

That little rat tale like bit covered in white tack? That's the infra-red LED.
This is quite a cheep little board (not the Arduino sitting on top , the thing hidden in the black box of mystery), so it works by sending infra-red light through the thumb, and receiving it as it exits. It will then register as a binary on or off depending on the amount of resistance from the blood in the finger.
This activates one of the most annoying little buzzers I've had the misfortune of working with.

Now the plan is that this will feed into my Silver path project, which is being expanded to take the used on a journey following the path and exploring the environment.
But with a twist, the value from the pulse meter will dictate the pace of the journey and, if Flash will allow, the volume of the sound.
This will terminate at a certain point, when the pace is too fast with a dramatic and sudden stop, flash and eventual reset.

The idea is to show case a new element for interactive programs. Take a horror game such as the recently released Dead Space 2 by EA, or Amnesia dark decent.
These games try to induce a state of panic, to horrify and startle. For this they have to rely on pre-scripted content, or in Amnesia a 'sanity metre'.
But this could be dictated instead by the users condition, a fast pulse meaning a peak of terror has been reached, or optimum suspense.
Then events and in game effects would be in direct response to the user instead of an arbitrary value or being forced onto a user.

All this from a simple USB device.
And the best part?
All this is possible with none specialised kits at a current total of £20 (not including batteries and fancy black box). An official piece made for games consoles or gaming computers can be churned out easily.


Its done.
There's nothing else to be said on this one, I'm going to put together a little flash demo but its just a slide-show for the most part.

Well OK, there's two new elements in it now.
Conflict sections are the equivalent of the final boss fight, or rather the closing curtains for each segment.
A little bit of a Hegalian reference.

Next there's now storyboards for small side animations, going on in the background of the program to create a more living environment.

In closing

Well that's it for a status update, I'll post as soon as I have a new visual for you all.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Still soldiering on

Karl Marx

Nope I haven't forgotten this project, in fact its been a key focus of late.

An opening screen, seeing as we're working with the original Icon books series, what better cover could there be?

Dun dun dudun. du dun dudun. Hmmm? Oh right. Segment two of Marx's life is his wedding to dear Jenny.
note the organ pipes, the copy of the Rhenish on the floor of the isle and the flowers by the alter.

Ahh the desk job. One of the more miserable parts of Marx's life, his time in Paris where he worked in  job he could not stand.

The Silver Path

Well I didn't expect this one to go on for so long, but no matter how close to an end it seems to get I just don't want to put it down.

With the code all finished and the new animated segments edited in I could call it a day here with this project but I think I'll just keep dropping in the occasional thing here and there.
Fingers crossed this LINK works.