Ocean travel without a boat

Journal of Peter Greenwell

Tag: discussion (page 1 of 5)

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.

 

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.

Dw i’n dysgu Cymraeg

Or rwy’n dysgu Cymraeg – I’m not certain which one is more correct. In plain English it means I am learning Welsh. Just started mind you, but so far I’m having fun with it. Yes, the “ll” digraph is a horror to get right. Nonetheless, it’s all good stuff and someday, I’ll actually contribute to this blog in the language. Wouldn’t that be something?

A new grimdark fantasy story – some basic facts

I always have ideas for new novels germinating in my head. I guess most writers do.  There’s quite a few false starts in my repertoire of tales; a few excerpts and doodlings that haven’t gone beyond the 5000 word mark. Lots of incomplete material that I occasionally cannibalise for other projects. What I’m about to put down here is one such thing.

This is “high-falutin'” fantasy, full of big words, purple prose and passive sentences. It’s a self-indulgent workout, but it’s fun to do. It’s set on a world I haven’t named but gods and dark magic rules. It’s definitely “grimdark” to use a modern term, and the emphasis is on grimness and darkness. An assassin’s spirit gets resurrected inside the body of a powerful woman who died several thousand years prior to events in the novel. Ostensibly, she is raised to hunt down another woman, but that’s a front for something far more sinister.

Characters

Tila – I’d used this name in another story, but am appropriating it for this one. The other Tila will need to search for another name. The assassin who is reincarnated; the protagonist.
Sosophra Ikananyar – the body into which Tila is resurrected. Sosophra was the last Empress of Girsadea, and her war with the alien alfen race almost destroyed the world.
Chieftain Quana of the Yssusois – the ruler of Quscec. An evil, tyrannical necromancer. I’ve taken this name fro ma character in another story..
Ydrys – the god of secrets and shadows. Ydrys is a transplant from my Fels milieu.
Maorth – the goddess of death.

There’ll be more characters but these five take up the first parts of the novel.

Places

Quscec – once the holy city of the Empire of Girsadea, now the largest city in the world. A grim, horrible place where millions struggle against the evils of crime, sorcery, the undead, and poverty.
Blackfire Abbey – the abode of Maorth, the goddess of death. It is a dismal place.
Felltower – the stronghold of the Chieftain of Quscec, the ruler. Aptly named.
The Craeft – the realm of the Mages, the sorcerers of Quscec

Some action also takes place in “extraplanar” realms, such as the one of Ydrys.

I’m imagining this story as a precursor to a more traditional fantasy I have in mind for this milieu, that I’ve written about 7500 words for. It’ll be less wordy, more character driven than what I’ve outlined above. Anyhow, stay tuned!

Aswell, dissapointed and alot

More non-sequential musings


It kind of irritates me to see the above in text. Even in notepad++ all three come up as spelling errors, which of course they are.

It’s lazy and/or ignorant writing that leads to these horrors. I suspect that lessons learned in school were promptly forgotten amidst the madness of the Internet. Logically, I’m standing in the way of a tidal wave if I think this small homily will change either jack or shit. But it’s nice to give voice to it.

Folanae fanlo

I love putting obscure gaming references into the things I write. The title of this page is the password you need to get into the Mountainmen’s treasure room in the game Ultima Underworld 1. The heading of this section is the password you give to Illomo the Seer in the same game, who then gives you a mantra you need.

It’s not difficult to feel nostalgia for these old games, but when I load them up and look at those blocky, 8-bit graphics, of course I wonder how I ever played them at all. Well, it’s what I was accustomed to at the time. I genuinely believed back in the 90s that they were wonderful.

Incredible thing, nostalgia. I look back upon a lot of games I played 15-20 years ago with a wistful fondness. The first MMO I played to any length, Everquest, I often reflect back on with attachment. Gaming online – cooperatively – was very new then. I say cooperatively, as most of the online gaming with human interaction was with shooters such as Quake etc.

So I didn’t quite know how to react to certain people and occasions and I was a bit of a blowhard back then.

I got into it with a few people in Everquest, especially with one guy who had an interest in my wife. There was a hell of a lot of acting tough and hot-air generated threats, and I perpetrated some of it. Nowadays, people online laugh at that sort of thing – internet tough guy detected – or they make memes out of it.

So if I give that nostalgia close examination, my time in Everquest wasn’t as idyllic and fun as it initially seems. The game was also an horrific time sink requiring a major investment of time – it took a long time to do anything worthwhile in it. But that’s the allure of nostalgia. Some time ago, four of five years, I installed the game again and ran around on my wife’s wizard. Mixed feelings abound.

Cytherea alive

Random thoughts


Imagine if you will, that you get a new job somewhere…say, a baker in a bakery. You’re there for a few days and you get to meet the cast and crew of this workplace – some are new, some have been there maybe a year and others are veterans of the bread and cake making trade. Grizzled, hoary things of unenviable vintage.

One day, you turn out seventy loaves of new white bread and boy do they smell good. Your nearest workmate – let’s call her Alice – Alice has churned out ninety loaves of bread, and that’s the record she thinks a neophyte like you needs to better. But there’s another workmate – we’ll call him Gerry – Gerry points subtly to the old baker veteran up the end of the row and whispers, “But Harry there baked one hundred sixty loaves in one hit! and nobody else has ever come close to that.”

Everyone becomes reflectively silent as they take in this bit of breathless news. A quiet yet magnanimous respect for Harry descends on you and you regard him with new-found awe. One hundred and sixty mo-fucking loaves!.

160! What an unsurpassable effort! Insuperable! Harry is top dog in your smitten eyes now, big chief baker amongst bakers.

Of course, you’re no longer cognisant of the fact that before you joined the ranks of bakers, you wouldn’t have given a second’s thought about such an achievement.

I’m sure sociology has its own term for this, but I’m creative and made one up. This is a phenomenon I define as “relative heroism” and it occurs in nearly every workplace on Earth. The guy or girl who’s baked more in an hour, or arrested more criminals in a week, packed more cartons, sheared more sheep, cut more hair, served more beer, did the Kessel run quicker than Han Solo…

Elder Scrolls medals of valour

Relative heroism goes beyond the walls of the mundane workplace. It’s online too; ensconced in the virtual world. I was in a beta test for the game Elder Scrolls Online, and like most who applied to test it, I came into the beta fairly late, like a year after it commenced. Quite a few people had been accepted into the initial round of invites the developer issued, and some of these displayed the relative hero attitude. They’d been in beta for a year, therefore they were veterans; dogged, hardcore, burned-in veterans at that. So there was some condescending resentment towards the likes of myself, who was a “scrub”.

One went as far to suggest he had entitlements and perquisites with the game’s makers beyond what is probably normal in developer-tester relationship. He reasoned that the developers of the game owed him something for the time he’d put in.

He and his kith were heroes, almost of the war veteran kind, and felt they deserved some variety of reverential respect from beta-testing “scrubs” such as myself. Logically, and to the surprise of few, they didn’t get it.

Relative heroism.

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