Self Portraits

Written on July 5, 2012 – 9:04 pm by Ding

I have a belief that anyone trying to create anything will inadvertently create self portraits of themselves over and over again without even realising.

I have started working on some pixel art for a new project and was very proud of some alterations I made on my ‘Ding sprite’ from Ego to make him a low level dungeon-crawling adventurer.



I thought that looked pretty good, until my girlfriend noticed the following things:

1) That’s probably closer to my actual hair colour anyway.

2) I appear to be wearing that particular tee-shirt today.

Right down to the V-neck.

Score one for extra confidence in a theory, lose one for falling back into artistic self-insertion habits.

Game Design Friday: Placeholder Graphics

Written on August 5, 2011 – 12:30 pm by Ding

I am ever trying to learn the art of Game Design through trial and error, or as I like to call it, error and error (which if you learn by making mistakes is twice as efficient).

One element of the design process that routinely throws roadblocks up in my path is the graphical development.  When you start making your game, it is inevitably not going to look like a polished game unless you’re making text only interactive fiction, and even then you might end up changing the font.  This is unavoidable and is something that you shouldn’t be worried about, but there’s a balancing act here whereby you need to get it looking like something you’re at least partially happy with, otherwise you’re not going to work on the game at all.

I am awful at working on things at the best of times, but I so frequently get stumped by the issue of working with placeholder graphics.  I want the game to look like its polished state from phase one and that urge can damage development and general productivity.

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CTS: Making background art and textures

Written on February 23, 2011 – 12:30 pm by Ding

Chaotic Tortoise Studios (CTS) is an indie games development studio that exists largely only in my mind.

I like this sprite. This sprite is not a problem. I will probably post this sprite a lot because I like this sprite.

I’ve always appreciated that to make a video game it takes a lot of work and mastery of several different disciplines.  Despite this, I’ve discovered that I never actually really appreciated just how much of this work and mastery goes in to making even the crummiest of games.  Never again will I outright dismiss a title as bad or worthless without first spending a bit of time checking the small minor details that I have overlooked. 

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CTS: Chaotic Tortoise Studios

Written on February 23, 2011 – 11:50 am by Ding

Despite being on the cusp of launching into my career as a profeshnul riter, I’ve been doing more work on fabricating my own computer games.  Putting the two together, I intend to therefore keep an ad-hoc log of my development process / journey / odyssey.  

 I’d like to say this is with the high-minded intention of helping other no-hope-want-to-be-developers like myself, but to be honest, it’s probably because I just like the sound of my own typing.

 Additional Notes:

All development-diary-like entries will now be included under the category Chaotic Tortoise Studios, and will be prefaced by CTS, because three letter acronyms (or as I call them, TLAs) are brilliant and everybody loves them.

The Tortoise and ActionScript 3.0

Written on October 31, 2009 – 12:36 am by Ding

HU-logoA while ago, I mentioned that I had written up a syllabus for my own course in programming which centred largely around C++ and then later on elements of ActionScript 2.0.  Needless to say this was a dismal failure and never quite got off the ground.

Whenever I’m studying something or have something quasi-professional that needs doing, pretty much anything else in the world becomes more interesting and appealing to me.  I understand this is not a phenomenon unique to me and it was an ongoing joke in a previous house that I lived in that you could tell when a lot of us had essay or project deadlines because the place was spotlessly clean.  This instinct to do something other than what my brain things it SHOULD be doing triggered around about the time I had something in my hands that looked vaguely like a course syllabus.

Of course, in this case, I had the last laugh over my bloody minded brain, as the poor thing jumped on to something different but that is in the same field and has instead for the last few days been trapped in a prison made of Flash and ActionScript 3.0, one of the programming languages that powers flash.

When I have something worthy of publication I will of course share, but for now I shall just have to state how much I’m enjoying finally getting some programming knowledge under my belt.  Up until now, it’s been like my dutch:  I understand more than I can speak, but I don’t understand much.  Now, my programming is at the level whereby I could probably reliably ask for directions to the railway station, even if I won’t necessarily understand the answer given to me.

Computer Programming at Hing University

Written on October 5, 2009 – 11:30 am by Ding

HU-logoAs mentioned in a previous post a few days ago, I am not a student and I am not starting a course this academic year, but I do have several friends who are students and are starting courses this year and it appears to have triggered off some sort of jealousy and bitterness about the fact that I’m not starting anything new (not even an NVQ in going-to-work).  Although I’m sure that this longing, jealous, self pitying feeling will rapidly evaporate around December or at the latest around Easter once the exams and deadlines start to fall from the sky, I’ve decided to take a different approach and write my own course outline to try and finally get to grips with my programming that I talk so much about learning.

Starting tomorrow is my module in fundamental C++, using the made-available-online “Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days” which I hope will do roughly what it says on the tin, and in a few weeks time I will also be starting to grapple a little more with Action Script 2.0, although I haven’t found a decent course text for this yet.  I’m also taking some secondary modules in Photoshop, something that I’ve been neglecting for far too long, and Game Design Mechanics and Theory (which will be a nice excuse to play some old games whilst playing very close attention to how exactly they work).  Also, even though it has no real connection to programming, I might even throw in a little Dutch vocabulary, depending on how ambitious I feel.  I always feel guilty when I meet my girlfriend’s family and my Dutch has not improved since the last time I’ve seen them.

I intend to keep a running record on how well this works out for me.  I’m fascinated by how I will put time aside to learn something, such as the majority of my law course, but seemingly only if I’ve paid an inordinate amount of money and I have someone with some sort of vague authority suggesting that it might be a good idea to hand something in.  If I can manage to motivate myself to learn this under my own steam, then the world is my oyster, or study-appropriate-metaphor-that’s-not-an-oyster.

The first update on this venture should land at some point on Friday, so if you see nothing around about that time, feel free to assume that the experiment has failed or been otherwise postponed.

Additional Notes:

Sadly enough, I actually intended to start this course at “Hing University” last week, but the lecturer was indisposed because he had forgotten his keys, thus locking himself out of the lecture theatre.

Programming as Modern Day Sorcery

Written on September 26, 2009 – 11:51 am by Ding

My background in programming is limited by professional standards.  This is something that has always baffled me as I have always remembered considering programming to be a kind of wizardry, and who wouldn’t train to use magic if they were given the option?

I think part of the reason I’ve never sunk a massive amount of time into the venture is that it can be fairly tedious.  There is however something highly satisfying about tinkering away and finding something slowly emerge from the metric ton of bugs inherent to any program.  This is something I’ve been experiencing whilst setting up this blog.

I’ve been putting off doing this properly for quite a long time.  I’m not saying that anyone hosting a blog on isn’t doing it properly, but WordPress is a lot more customisable.  With just my basic programming skill set, I’ve managed to tweak this theme into something that I’m quite happy with in a relatively short space of time and now I appear to have the bug for doing more.

There’s a real temptation to just accept the default on what we’re given with computers, but the truth is that they will do anything we tell them to do.  Of course, the problem is that they do exactly what we tell them to, like a bloody minded child following instructions to the letter, but so long as there’s a full proof wording behind your instructions, the only limitation on all of this seems to be hours one has to sink into the project.

I do believe this morning that I have managed to become a level 1 programmer with some minor cantrips in PHP and HTML.

Additional Notes:

If anyone would like to use the original theme for this site, it can be found here.  I especially like that it has been designed by someone called “techgremlin”.  It’s true, all the best blogging handles have been taken.