Ocean travel without a boat

Journal of Peter Greenwell

General software frustrations

I’ll preface this by saying I’ll overcome these dramas. Early days yet.

The biggest frustration is with Inkscape. It’s not an impenetrable program by any means, but I’m finding myself fighting with it to get anything productive done. There’s plenty of tutorials to make flat backgrounds (what I’m after with my game) but almost all of them are time-lapse videos that don’t explain any aspect of what the artist is doing.

One example of frustration is trying to draw a background. Have a look at this image (click for a bigger one):

Flat background vector art

Flat background vector art. Source: vecteezy.com

See that banded sky? Do you think I could make that using Inkscape today? Nope. I could make the bezier curves right, but when I tried to add a flood fill between the two curves, it did nothing. Nada. And everything I read said it could be done, and I was doing it the right way. Then I tried Krita with pretty much the same level of success. So here I am, with about 15-20 backgrounds I’d like to make for my first game, and I didn’t even get away from the starting line.

And, I’m learning Python – I got stuck today in a tutorial for that too, so that came to a screeching halt.

I will persevere though. I’m not giving up on the ambition to bring my stories to life, so I’ll reset and try again.

The Elder Scrolls hankering

The desire to play MMO games comes on in waves with me every six to nine months. After playing Lord of the Rings Online for a good while, my thoughts have turned to the Elder Scrolls universe again. As I’ve written elsewhere, probably over at Ulujain.org somewhere, I’m a great fan of the milieu, having been playing the Elder Scrolls series since Arena was released in 1994.

I’ve been working spasmodically on getting Arena to run on my Linux computer, but that’s a tale for some other time.

I keep tabs on what’s going on with the Elder Scrolls Online though I haven’t played it since May, 2017. I like what Zenimax have done and are doing to this game. From some very shaky and questionable beginnings, ESO has evolved into a quality product that is eminently playable, and eminently fun.

But…

It’s a timesink. It is not difficult to lose yourself in it for 12-15 hours a day. 12-15 hours one will never have back. It’s arguable that if you had fun, and you feel the better for it, then it was time well invested. But I have my sights on getting a lot done this year and anything that will potentially derail these ambitions is, quite frankly, toxic.

So, I’m going to let ESO and its allures remain a fond memory. Forever? No, I can never say never to going back, but not any time soon. Anyway, here’s Himalia.

My Bosmer Dragonknight Himalia

My Bosmer Dragonknight Himalia

A new game arises

One of the things I’ve had in the back of my mind to do for some time is make a video game. While it’s a daunting task for one person to do, it’s been done, and many times done successfully. Encouraged (and emboldened) I have set about getting things together to bring this game into fruition. I’m going to be reticent with details such as the game name, but it’ll be a “visual novel” set in the world of Aesedra, dealing with the life and memories of one of its long-dead rulers.

A few details (major updates 5/2/2018):

  • I’ve gone with ren.py
  • It will be a visual novel, complete with books, scrolls and plaques that the player can read.
  • There will be no combat or inventory
  • It will feature forests, streams, ponds, a pool, a large manor house, a basement, an attic, a crypt and a rotunda. This is at the least. I may even add more.
  • It will feature both music and ambient sounds/effects (Foley).
  • I hope to make it cross-platform, though I have zero idea how games work on Macs.
  • I’d like to release it on Steam and offer achievements and trading cards.

As far as knowledge goes, I’m starting at near zero. I am no artist or graphical designer, I am no musician, I am no programmer. What I can do is write a story – look around this site for evidence – and I have the self-belief that I can learn the skills necessary to bring this game to life. I don’t know how long it’ll take to make – a year, two years, I don’t know.

The materials I believe I’ll need to make this game. Check means I have it already:

  • ren.py – check. Its a free download. What powers the game.
  • Blender – check. It’s a free download. To create 3D structures and other assets.
  • GIMP – check. It’s a free download. To draw textures, colour materials and structures. Scrolls, books, plaques, gravestones, etc.
  • ProjectLibre – check. It’s a free download. This tool will be used to manage the game project.
  • Freeplane – check. It’s a free download. This is a Java-based mind-mapping app which will let me visually lay out the game.
  • Audacity – check. It’s a free download. This program is for editing sound files and Foley, as well as the voice-overs.
  • Inkscape – check. Free as well, for the backgrounds and some character art.

While storyboarding software would be nice, I can do this stuff in a word processor or text editor, or even Freeplane which will do the job visually. Mind-mapping tools are marvellous for laying out things like timelines, brainstorming etc.

The design computer is my gaming rig:

  • Windows 7 64-bit
  • Intel i5 6600
  • 8 Gb x 2150 DDR4 RAM (I have another 8Gb I need to fit).
  • Samsung EVO 250GB SSD (C: drive)
  • Toshiba 2TB “spin” drive (D: drive)
  • Asus Strix AMD 390x video card – 8GB VRAM

My linux computer – which I’m writing this on, is an old AMD K6 with an Nvidia GT210 in it. NOT a gaming computer! What it can do is run the Java-based apps such as ProjectLibre and Freeplane, and maybe some of the audio editing. It’s easy enough to move files between the two computers – that’s not an issue.

So where am I at with the game? I have a very rough map of the “game world” drawn – the actual area the player can explore. Just the exterior so far. I also know what the story will be like as I’ve touched on it in a couple of stories I’ve written. My next steps are to watch tutorials on UE4 to see how it works and what can be done with it. I’m already investigating programming (Javascript) so I’m on the way from that angle too.

Stay tuned. I will have more in the future to present!

🌞

Statistics don’t prove anything

Rather a broad, all-encompassing thing to state, right?

Well, it’s true. Statistics don’t prove anything. Even the most rigorously undertaken statistical tests can only strongly suggest whatever outcome the hypothesis the tester set out to examine.  Practically every properly conducted statistical test is built around a confidence level.  That’s to say that there is a % chance that the expected outcome may be incorrect, or the obverse of that, what you’re expected to be incorrect turns out otherwise.

I’m not going to go into type 1 or type 2 errors but in science, most confidence levels for tests are set at 95%. So, there is a 5% chance that data collected falls outside of the test’s purview. Five percent is a significant figure, when all things are weighed up. Even if the confidence level was set at 99%, there still a 1% chance of an anomaly. Even in things one would consider dead certainties.

So, while lawyers may be able to prove things, statistics can’t – and it’s not their task to. They can only strongly suggest.

 

Ulujain.org redesign

I won’t hide it – I strongly dislike the word “ulujain“. It was a place on a map I drew up for a story that no longer exists, crafted probably in the early 90s. Back then, I took a fancy to the word and used it for a variety of things: video game characters (ugh!), user names on forums (equally ugh!) and, alas, a domain name I registered nearly seventeen years ago, after using it as an account name on various ISP’s token web-spaces (i.e. bogus.url/~ulujain). Well, o frabjous day, I’m of no mind to just let it lapse. Sentimental value? That’d have to be it, and after using it for mostly miscellaneous purposes, I’ve finally decided to put it to some artistic and worthwhile use.

Firstly, it will be a testbed for my experiments with the W3.CSS framework. Secondly, as mentioned, I’ll be devoting some of my more artistic passions there, essentially photography. This site will remain the outlet of my written creative work.

So I’m sorry Mr. Google et al, for the numerous 404s you’re about to get, but that’s the price of progress, and putting factual mediocrity into the digital graveyard.

Ulujain.org

The efficacy of Richmond Valley Council’s Food and Garden Organics Collection scheme

A report I did for uni. As always, do not cite any part of this in your own work, as it’s not peer-reviewed or authoritative. A PDF of this report can be found here (725 KB)


Abstract

On the thirteenth of June of 2016, Richmond Valley Shire Council in northern New South Wales introduced the Food and Organics collection scheme. This scheme was first implemented in the Casino district on that date, and then other parts of the shire such as Evans Head, Coraki and Woodburn on the twentieth of June.
The scheme was introduced as a response to perceived wastages and environmental concerns disposing of organic waste in normal landfilling. It was decided that these wastes would be of better service to the community if they were composted, returning the product to the soil as mulch and compost. This composting is performed at the Lismore Recycling and Recovery Centre.

To facilitate this scheme, the shire council delivered to each resident a small kitchen caddy and a roll of biodegradable liner bags. When filled, the bags are then placed in a green-coloured recycle bin (a “wheelie” bin) for pickup by the council’s garbage disposal service. This larger bin is for all organic waste, namely grass clipping, leaves, cardboard and other compostable products.

The aim of this paper is to examine the efficacy of the collection and composting process in comparison with traditional landfilling methods. It will review not only the environmental impact industrial scale composting has, but also the financial aspect, and whether composting is cost effective vis-à-vis with landfilling.

Keywords: composting, methane, landfills, Richmond Valley Council, recycling
Continue reading

A day out in Loadstone

I went ahead and installed Foo Gallery. It seems to be the most lightweight of the ones I looked at. Anyhow, my wife, my youngest daughter and I went for a drive to Loadstone today, a location about 25 kilometres north of Kyogle along the Lions Road for her equine psychotherapy.  It is very scenic country, and i’m familiar with it as I had relatives living a bit farther south of this location at Mt. Lion.

Site update: a gallery

Just a brief update on a plan I have – that’s to introduce a photo gallery to this WordPress blog.  I’m currently looking at a few that are purpose-built for WordPress and will decide on one soon.

The theme for 2018

Oh dear, it’s one of these resolution thingies, you know, the ones all the rage this time of year. Yeah well, it’s a good enough time to reset as any other.

Theme: to get my weight and health where it needs to be. Health covers the mental side of things too.

Goal: I will have lost 35 kilograms by 31 December 2018.

Projects:

  • Obtain gainful employment in environmental science – this could be bolstered by volunteering for various enviro groups and concerns, lending aid as a scientist. Also by making myself known (and useful) to council enviro officers. It’s obvious to anyone in this industry it’s who you know that gets you in.
  • Adhere to a low-carb diet. My previous experience with these is that they both are great for weight loss, and I get to eat foods I like. Sorry vegans, I can’t be one.
  • Use MyFitnessPal to track daily intake and weekly weight loss.
  • I have an Honours degree in Gothic literature. Not going to let that go to waste. I need to keep in touch with the scene/genre (lifelong learning!), Tentatively – keep the option of a PhD in mind.
  • Keep calm and…keep calm.
  • Maintain and adhere to a to do list.
  • Choose a story, complete it, and submit it for publishing. I have a few options here.
  • Learn the Welsh language.
  • Work towards buying a Mazda MX-5
  • Work towards giving coffee the flick (It’s not a priority, but I drink too much of it).

Will update this as things change and/or come to light.❖

The most beautiful mechanical thing

The most beautiful mechanical thing

The year in review

Obligatory cynicism in 3…2…1

cynicism

 

OK, with that aside, let me commence the year in review. Or y flwyddyn yn yr adolygiad if you prefer.

These questions have been adapted from here. This guy writes some very pertinent stuff.


General reflection about the year

Finished my enviro science degree, stop-start with the weight loss, oldest daughter graduated school and got accepted into uni. Youngest daughter completed Year 11. Despite somme up and downs, it was another relatively painless and serene year.

Significant events

Oldest daughter being accepted into uni.

Biggest accomplishment

Graduating with my enviro science degree. Staying alive?

Challenges you encountered

Procrastination, couldn’t be bothered syndrome, laziness, muddled thinking, unfocused intelligence, envy for other people’s successes, being overweight. A few suicidal imaginings here and there. Fear not, they were nothing I was going to act upon. I’m still here, no?

Learning lessons

That using an application such as MyFitnessPal is beneficial (if not essential) to proper, sustainable weight loss. That positive things rarely happen by accident – they need to be created. That, to paraphrase AC/DC, waiting around to be a millionaire is neither fun nor productive. In summary – something *needs* to be done.

People

My family, and a few friends. My psychologist Neill.

Most common mental state this year?

Meh. That’d be it in one word.

Me on the 1st of January 2017 vs. me right now

Pretty much thinking the same things though I wasn’t at home this time last year. Now, I’m somewhere more comfortable and can dedicate myself to introspection better. There’s far more grim determination this year.

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