Oh look, it’s a blog

Written on January 31, 2013 – 8:06 am by Ding

I’m sure a lot of you have been saying “gosh, you’ve been awfully quiet over there haven’t you?” and you’d be right, I have been quiet, at least on this particular digital outlet.

I have been writing on a very regular basis at my old haunt Bit-Tech. I write something news-like over there pretty much every morning and even have a regular column on their blog. You can click here to see  the David Hing Bit-Tech blog archives. Not only am I writing there which is of course a massive draw for anyone,  but the other guys writing for the site are uniformly excellent.

I’m also no longer working at M&M and am instead working in digital marketing for an insurance company. Although I was initially reluctant to cross over to the “dark side” that is marketing, the work’s pretty good, the company is Not Evil and they let me write crazy things like this from time to time.

I’ve got a couple of projects in the works once again, most of which gaming related, and I’m tempted to write a little bit about them although I find actually writing about a project is the fastest way to kill it off for good, so I’m a little reluctant to talk about the game that I am making and have got quite far with. All I shall say is that it is set in space and I no longer recognise half the code I’ve actually written.

Additional Notes:

Fun fact: It’s really rather difficult to post something on a blog that has been dormant for as long as this one has. If you go through my archives, you’ll find quite a few posts that basically make excuses as to why I haven’t posted for a while.

There’s even a sub-category of that type of post whereby I comment on the fact that there are a lot of posts where I apologise for not posting for a while.

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.

Curiosity Killed The World

Written on August 20, 2011 – 10:30 am by Ding

As part of my Learn By Doing series of films like my stop motion adventure a few days ago, I did something in live action this time.

Lesson learnt from this video:  You can cover a lot of sins with sound.  I think every one who offers film making advice online says it, but you never really appreciate it until you record something horribly crackly.

There are some out there that might say “well if you’re not 100% happy with it, why publish it?” and to them I say good point, but also I want to share my mistakes to maybe help someone else not make them, or to feel better also making mistakes.

 

 

Sick of Ninjas

Written on August 18, 2011 – 11:59 am by Ding

For a while now, as you might be able to tell from some of the comments I made about online broadcast technology a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been dying to make a video series of some sort, because I can’t quite work out why I haven’t already.

Today, I have taken a short break from clattering away at my keyboard to try and learn a few video editing skills, using the first few things that I could find near to my desk.  Two of those such things happened to be some LEGO figures, so that goes to explain this stupid little stop motion clip that I’ve created to try and teach myself the basics of video editing.

I found the music on a creative commons royalty free site called incompetech.  Creative commons licenses seem to be a wondrous thing that I’m going to have to learn more about, because it strikes me as the most incredible thing the internet is able to provide right now.

Things I have learnt today:  Stop motion is hard and time consuming and a real art form that I would love to dive a bit further in to and Creative Commons is the future.

 

 

Portal 2 Music Video – Exile Vilify By The National

Written on August 11, 2011 – 10:30 am by Ding

I have another film from the Tortoise Butler crew to share today.  This one was made for Valve’s recent Portal 2 music video competition.

 

I actually didn’t have such a massive involvement in this one.  I worked on some of the special effects and just sat at my computer churning out Half Life / Portal themed posters and citadel images that they placed in the film in post production to give the deserted streets of London a more in-universe feel.

The production was really done on a shoe string (with a steady-cam repair being carried out using a wooden spoon at one point) and in a very short space of time, approaching 48 hour film challenge conditions.

The way in which this one came out surprised me.  Some of the effects I worked on were much more effective than I expected they would be and it just went to show just how much you can do with the machines you have in your home and how even in a short space of time you can produce some decent quality content.

I also can’t believe they found someone who looked so much like Chell.

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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Listening Post

Written on August 4, 2011 – 9:09 am by Ding

Sometimes I’ll work on something and completely forget to mention it at all to anyone because it’s actually completed and completed work is something I’m so unused to that it somehow drops out of my brain and scurries away from my conscious mind.

This short film is something I wrote and starred in to help a friend over at BBC Research & Development in testing a new piece of broadcast technology (which I think ultimately broke, but in a way that was useful to the development process).  It was recently shown in a “BBC Shorts” short film festival and presenter Francine Stock  thought I might be an actor.

I can’t watch this without cringing because I wrote it and had a very firm idea of what Tim was supposed to act and sound like and this wasn’t it.  It’s a bit like if you’ve ever tried to draw something that looked so good in your head but came out oddly deformed on paper; a mocking and twisted facsimile that taunts your inability to produce art (cf. every comic I have ever drawn).

Despite this I am oddly proud of it because it is something I have worked on that is complete and Not Completely Awful.

By some odd coincidence, my friend operates under the banner of  Tortoise Butler Films and other things that she has done with various other artists can be found by clicking that link.

I’ve worked on several of them in various capacities, including some photoshop work for an amazing Portal 2 video.

I also did a little logo for her which I think is still being used.

9 Second Lego Castle

Written on February 24, 2011 – 9:27 pm by Ding

Well, I like stop motion and I like lego…

I remember when I was young Lego used to make amazing adverts with everything building up in stop motion and flying around all over the place.  Maybe if I’m feeling ambitious I might try something similar, but for the time being I’m just proud I got this to work.  I want to try and make a little bit of traditional style animation using the same software so this has turned into a wonderful little test.

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.