#art

I skipped ahead

Well, kind of.

I purchased GameMaker for Mac, which is probably unwise since the Mac version is now essentially archived on the YoYo Games site. But I use my Mac far more than my 7-year old Windows laptop.

Anyway, after watching a tonne of tutorials, I decided that I could follow a basic one in GameMaker and create a very simple platformer using squares and stuff. Now, it’s early days (I’ve only been using it for about 45 minutes) but already it’s not behaving as expected, despite me following the video tutorial to the letter. Sigh.

Well, that’s something I can iron out as I learn.

There is good news, in that I have actually come up with a concept for my game!

It’s small in scope, as I know the work will be hard and in any case, anybody’s debut project should be small scale in most creative endeavours. Bolsters the confidence, what what? So scrapping (or, more accurately, temporarily shelving) my previous idea, I’m opting for a simple management/puzzle game. The genre is something I have yet to pin down by finding a similar game, but I very much doubt it’s unique as a concept.

Keywords: animals, food, rage, supply-and-demand.

Can’t wait to get designing the characters and elements. Best of all, I can understand how to make the mechanics work, so this is entirely plausible as a project that might actually get done! Woo!

Code and game dev tutorials - useful links

So, I thought I’d be making this game using idiotproof software. I had a list of free game dev tools - at least free initially - and marked them as positive or negative based on my understanding of the world thus far (ie: maths and science and coding are things I have actively avoided). Down near the bottom of the list was Unity 3D. The clue as to why it ranked so low is in the name. I don’t need 3D just yet, and according to PC Gamer magazine, Unity is not a program you pick up with no prior knowledge and just bust out a game. But then I started watching YouTube tutorials.

I dunno about you, but I could read a how-to book front from cover to cover and still not have a fraction of the knowledge I’d get from observing experts and repeating their actions myself. This is where TornadoTwins come in. I had made a playlist of dozens of video tutorials, knowing that presentation style, clarity of voice and level of expertise assumed can make a massive difference to how well I (and likely, most people) learn. TornadoTwins have a YouTube channel with in-depth tutorials and I happened to watch a 27-parter wherein they create a simple 3D shooter in Unity.

What happened was that they presented so well that I found myself having a vague understanding of the logic behind JavaScript. I KNOW! RIGHT?!

All credit to those YouTube fellows. They got me excited about learning how to code. Now, it might turn out that Unity 3D isn’t my best option, although there are 2D tools built in, as demonstrated in this series of videos by quill18creates (which I watched last night and which further convinced me to follow this path), but it can’t hurt to learn the advanced stuff.

So yesterday I searched for JavaScript courses nearby, but my cousin who is very good at all this stuff informed me of CodeAcademy and as of 30 minutes ago I was 23% through the beginner’s course. (I will admit to not quite understanding how I’ve completed some tasks though and I’m currently flummoxed by a Rock, Paper, Scissors game).

This is basically a roundabout way to say that I found a bunch of links and so I thought I’d share them with you. And that this stuff is hard, yo.

My video game - mission statement

Surprisingly, it’s still too early for me to have a finished game to show here. You know, since I only decided to do this last week. Instead, here’s a bunch of rules I’ve imposed on myself prior to doing any creative work, which I’ve hilariously called a mission statement (if you know me, you know that those words are far too grown-up for me to be using):

No guns and death - family-friendly
Recently, I realised just how ubiquitous guns are in entertainment. I mean, it’s obvious really but you tend to think of extreme examples like Reservoir Dogs, GTA, Call of Duty etc. The truth is, firearms are a normal part of even cutesy games like Sonic the Hedgehog and any movie with a cop in it. I won’t be a part of that. It’s not even me taking a stand, I just don’t think entertainment is representative of real life in this way - I’m 35 and I’ve only seen maybe a dozen guns in my life, most of those in airports or museums.


Have NOTHING to do with typical gamer culture, including PAX
Yeah, call me a snob. No, really. I am a snob in many ways - I have a low tolerance when it comes to the vast majority of music, I hate TV and movies, comedians and newspapers who pander to the lowest common denominator… and most of all, I hate what’s become of gamers (at least those who ruin it for others). The venom in their attacks on other enthusiasts, the sexism and homophobia which very rarely gets countered by tolerance. I’m not making a game for those people, who call people “faggot” on YouTube and actually tell people to kill themselves because they prefer one game to another. And that reference to PAX? I’d never be invited anyway, for SO many reasons, but they are facilitators of this culture when they have the power to combat it, so balls to them.

Graphically different - should be recognisable on sight
In my last post, I confessed to my absence from gaming for nigh on 15 years (with periodic lapses). In that time, I’ve seen games (d)evolve into a kind of visual mush. Very pretty, very realistic mush, but mush all the same. When the only way for a ‘n00b’ to distinguish between five games is to see which uniform the bad guy whose head he/she just blew off was wearing… let’s say that I think the big studios have been travelling one particular road for too long. Now, indie games have really stolen a march in this respect. Fez, Ilamentia, Guacamelee, Lumino City… the point is that I could easily design a game which would visually stand out against mainstream PS and XBox fare, but indies are another matter. I’ve got my work cut out, but I’m an artist so if I can’t do this, I might as well pack up and sod off.

Make it crazy and clever
We all love a good puzzle, don’t we? From crosswords to Tetris to Magicland Dizzy to Brain Training to The Room. It’s a basic human need to challenge ourselves, mentally. I think my game will be more sedate than frantic, with no running to beat the clock or else impending doom will cause you to start again. That’s not to say it’ll be the equivalent of sitting quietly on the couch in your gran’s house with only Murray Mints to talk about. My brain is a strange place, as any of my Twitter followers could attest, and there’s no way this game will be anything less than the product of a fractured mind. It’ll be mental.


Include humour - lots of it
If all else fails, at least you had a laugh, eh?

You want wildly ambitious? You got wildly ambitious.
I’ve come to the decision that I not only want to learn new skills but I also need to apply them immediately to a very public project. This might be something to do with my short attention span, granted, but if you throw yourself in at the deep end, you’re going to sink or swim, right? And I believe I’ll swim (Related: I’m learning to swim next month, so this is a little on the nose as far as metaphors go).
And so, I’m going to create a video game.
Sure, it’s not going to be easy - though certainly it’ll be easier than it would have been in the 90s or early 2000s (remember the allure of the Playstation dev kits?) - and there are no guarantees that this will pan out, but in order to keep on track, I’m going to blog the process. Starting now.
So where are we (the royal ‘we’) at the moment? We’re at a stage called ‘glint in the milkman’s eye’. You couldn’t even call this Stage 1, really.
I have a few very basic concepts rattling around in my head, along with a bunch of links to inspiring indie video games and their designers. I purchased a magazine with information about the current indie scene (oh, did I forget to mention that I haven’t really been a gamer since about 2001? How remiss of me. Yeah, that kind of ties into my mission statement, which will probably be blog post #2). I’m looking into the relative merits of the game creation software to determine the genre and visual style of the game. Basically, lots of research.
One thing I’m sure of is that, provided the software allows for it, I can make this game look gorgeous. There are some pretty games out there at the moment, particularly caiysware games, in my opinion.
Okay, this post is already too long. It’s a declaration of intent, no more. Come back regularly to see how it’s going / kick me if I haven’t updated.

You want wildly ambitious? You got wildly ambitious.

I’ve come to the decision that I not only want to learn new skills but I also need to apply them immediately to a very public project. This might be something to do with my short attention span, granted, but if you throw yourself in at the deep end, you’re going to sink or swim, right? And I believe I’ll swim (Related: I’m learning to swim next month, so this is a little on the nose as far as metaphors go).

And so, I’m going to create a video game.

Sure, it’s not going to be easy - though certainly it’ll be easier than it would have been in the 90s or early 2000s (remember the allure of the Playstation dev kits?) - and there are no guarantees that this will pan out, but in order to keep on track, I’m going to blog the process. Starting now.

So where are we (the royal ‘we’) at the moment? We’re at a stage called ‘glint in the milkman’s eye’. You couldn’t even call this Stage 1, really.

I have a few very basic concepts rattling around in my head, along with a bunch of links to inspiring indie video games and their designers. I purchased a magazine with information about the current indie scene (oh, did I forget to mention that I haven’t really been a gamer since about 2001? How remiss of me. Yeah, that kind of ties into my mission statement, which will probably be blog post #2). I’m looking into the relative merits of the game creation software to determine the genre and visual style of the game. Basically, lots of research.

One thing I’m sure of is that, provided the software allows for it, I can make this game look gorgeous. There are some pretty games out there at the moment, particularly caiysware games, in my opinion.

Okay, this post is already too long. It’s a declaration of intent, no more. Come back regularly to see how it’s going / kick me if I haven’t updated.

For the first time in two years, I have total creative freedom again and because my online presence recently has been limited to silly jokes on Twitter, I’m keen get some projects up and running.

Firstly, I’ll be selling my remaining stock of prints, as well as holding contests to win some. Secondly, I have new prints planned, which I’ll post here in stages as I create them.

Other plans include a t-shirt range in collaboration with a couple of other awesome artists I know, maybe a retro video game featuring my original characters. I have more plans and ideas than I’ll ever be able to act on, but it’s time to be prolific.

Rough of a print I think I’m going to get working on soonish.

Rough of a print I think I’m going to get working on soonish.

The paper says I’m famed, so I must be famous. It’s making me think things over. #Fame

The paper says I’m famed, so I must be famous. It’s making me think things over. #Fame

BANDWAGON 2014 - FREE SHRIMP

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all thoroughly sick of turkey and Home Alone repeats but still have a warm glow from the festive break (warm glow = increased stomach capacity and booze regret).

You may have noticed that it’s now 2014 and everyone is doing their best to enter into a doomed covenant with their social media friends which isn’t ever a big deal by January 8th. This isn’t one of those blogs.

Okay, it’s one of those blogs.

But not for the sake of the new year, that’s just an arbitrary date. And it’s not a new year’s resolution list as such, more of an ongoing guideline for how I want to live. Because let me tell you, freelance life is TOUGH. Tough as a Toblerone left in the fridge overnight. It’s been my life for 19 months and it’s eaten all of my money (and more) which in turn leads to a diminished social life. Sad, but true. The tram to meet friends costs money, as does “just one drink”, as does admittance into almost any venue you can name. After more than a year of this, I’m sick of the way working as a freelance illustrator has affected my life so negatively. But I’m ending this paragraph on a positive note - your hair looks lovely.

Anyway, like it or not, this is the best time of year to make changes simply because of the proliferation of links to feel-good blogs and sites, a brief support network from mostly deluded people all still believing they’ll stick it out this year. One such feel-good site is 100 Happy Days, which posits that uploading one image of something which makes you happy every day for 100 days (clearly) can have positive effects. My default stance is scepticism but even I have to admit that most of my happiest times have come from being wrong about something, so I signed up (there’s something about publicly failing which spurs me on, too).

That doesn’t work for you? How about this Cracked article from last year, now updated a little. Oh Great Titchmarsh, it’s harsh, but if you recognise yourself in any of the projected excuses David Wong lays down in the article, it’s well worth taking the advice on board. I wish I had someone do the Alec Baldwin Glengarry Glen Ross speech on me often, even though I was one of those people who reacted to that scene with nothing but disgust for Baldwin’s character the first time I saw it. The man has a point.

Honestly, there are a lot of places you can look for advice on how to crack on with life, certainly for the next two weeks, but you have to do the legwork. Writing this blog right now is part of my life improvement (you may disagree - this is getting a bit long-winded). In addition, here are my changes for the next few years:

  1. Begin to really earn enough to live comfortably.
    Easier said than done, sure. The details of exactly how this is to be achieved are still being worked out, but having a plan is the main thing. Escaping the microbudget life I’m leading right now is paramount.
  2. Focus my work more accurately.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with my style. I’ve nailed what I think it is that I do best and I’m concentrating on doing more of it while adding more elements to my ‘arsenal’. What I want to focus on is how my style applies to the world. A lot of projects don’t fit with a geometric, minimalist approach and that’s fine. But it means not wasting time chasing those jobs.
  3. Appreciate friends and family.
    Honestly, I have a great bunch of friends. Bunches, even. The kind who offer open invitations to go around for a coffee or spend an evening playing board games, and I hardly ever visit them unless I get a very concrete invitation. I never suggest meeting, either. My flat is the size of a fingernail, but I could invite one or two people around even. There are definitely three seats. And family… I live a fair distance from all of them, but I could call more often. In short, I could be making more effort.
  4. Do more.
    Nice and vague, eh? Well, not really. It’s just simple. It’s also kind of the point of that Cracked article and 100 Happy Days. It’s kind of the point of life, come to think of it. Doing things is great. It means you keep busy, stay active (mostly) and can go to bed each night, safe in the knowledge that you didn’t waste another day. Nothing good ever came of inactivity. Three years ago, I dressed as She-Ra: Princess of Power and zip-lined across a football stadium. Two weeks later, I stayed up for 24 hours drawing monsters live on the internet, then immediately caught the train to London for a party. It was so much fun. I think I personally raised about £400 for charities through these acts, too. As I sit down with a cup of tea and a packet of HobNobs to watch the third Big Bang Theory of the day (all of which I’ve seen before), it strikes me that life is about more. Doing stuff. So there it is.

I don’t expect you to read this. I’m doing it as a public declaration so I make myself stick to the principles, which are easy enough. If you have read all of this, you deserve a lollipop and a hug from a koala (careful though, if it pees on you, you get chlamydia apparently). At least you deserve a bit of art, so here’s Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie as Weebles.

image

Sean Connery, from his Bond days. Part of a James Bond series I’m putting together.
Yeah, I know I haven’t finished my Street Fighter 2 series yet, but I’m having one of those days when nothing but a portrait will work.

Sean Connery, from his Bond days. Part of a James Bond series I’m putting together.

Yeah, I know I haven’t finished my Street Fighter 2 series yet, but I’m having one of those days when nothing but a portrait will work.

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