June 26, 2009

Sugar on a Stick

Writing about web page http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Sugar_on_a_Stick

Today I had a quick go of Sugar on a Stick, the liberated version of the software that runs on the One Laptop Per Child computers. It’s pretty good and I can see where it would come into its own if it’s wirelessed up with a classroom full of other laptops, all chatting and learning and stuff. For me the best thing was dancing back in time to that day, once a year, when the teacher would drop this round robot on the ground and get us to program it to move forward and turn right. That’s right, the LOGO Turtle. Consequently I had retro fun using the Turtle Art software that’s included with a reminiscent tear of joy trickling down my beautiful face.


Fig 1. Witness my procedural vector text rendering prowess.

There is also a 2D physics playground app where you can draw shapes and watch them fall over and basically smash shit up. It’s pretty good and I’m usually all in favour of smashing things up but I dunno; not sure if kids should be learning science and getting all knowledgeable. They might grow up clever and make us look really stupid.

If you want to try it you can find some old dusty computer that’s not running very well and maybe use this to give it a bit of life, or you can do what I done and use VirtualBox to make it appear as a little virtual computer in a window, inside my real computer. I know, creepy.

January 28, 2008

Animation, the Two

Follow-up to Animation from Half Ninja

Thus endeth the January Monthly Challenge. A slightly more convincing walk; he looks like he’s walking somewhere now… maybe trying to get to Waitrose to pick up some cabbage before it closes.

(3 seconds)

Ankle bending, head bobbing, and a more springy demeanour all make for a more natural walk, even if he does still look like a bit of a goon. There’s always room for improvement though, and the next room contains animations longer than 3 seconds, with things other than a few steps along an imaginary boardwalk.

January 22, 2008


Writing about web page http://www.blender.org/

After quite a while away from doing any 3D animation, I decided to get back into it with Blender, which is free and has come an awfully long way since I first downloaded it 4 or 5 years ago.

I keep getting distracted from actually finishing anything so I’ve decided to set monthly targets. Hopefully blogging it up will encourage me too, and maybe even motivate somebody else who has an interest in 3D but thought the software would be too expensive. January’s target is to make a character rigged up with a skeleton, with a walk cycle. I went with a classic two-legged ball character to keep things simple.

Early model, testing the variable reflection (fresnel) on the eye.
Just got the model rigged, some simple motion to test it out. Also put in an HDR light probe for an environment map, as it’s an easy way to make shiny things look sweeet.
Walk cycle that I did tonight… only has a few keyframes so it’s pretty robotic motion; hopefully before the end of the month I can tweak it to a more natural stride, with a bit more spring. The “antennae” wiggle in the middle of the walk, which is a separate “Action” in Blender; you can drag and drop multiple actions together to make characters wave while walking, etc.

After this I’ll probably start with a new model with arms and a face, as it’s hard to get any emotion out of this little dude. On the other hand, it might be good animation practice to get some interesting actions out of the limited actions available. If Pixar can get an angle-poise lamp to look confused, I’m sure it’s possible.

September 03, 2007


Writing about web page http://www.fortawesome.co.uk/2007/saturday/

March 10, 2007

Time Cat

I’ve just had a text from Natalie from the top of a mountain, standing on a snowboard and loving it. Excellent news.

But to the main topic of this ‘ere written entry. For some reason or another my Duck game hasn’t seen a lot of development; it was going quite well and I can’t remember why I stopped. It’s usually just as I have to code the hard bits and Sam’s asking for extravagant features to do with flapping.

So, anyway, we’ve started on Time Cat. This is a game about a cat; it’s a platformer, and it looks like this at the moment.

Time Cat screenshot
Time Cat is somewhat stuck.

Note similarity to Duck Game, only without the isometric view that’s hard to program. The game is based around an idea that Sam’s had for years, about a cat who aimlessly stumbles through a series of time portals, serendipitously altering the course of humanity.

Please, talk to me about technology

Very well. It’s in C# again using Irrlicht.Net for the graphics and stuff, and part of Tao so that we can use SDL Mixer for sound. Oh, and our data format is JSON thanks to the Newtonsoft library that nicely serialises regular objects to JSON and back again. And we’ve just added NUnit to the project so we can do unit testing (as approved by Kent Beck himself). The unit testing has mainly proven just how difficult it is to properly arrange a game engine so that it’s suitable to be unit tested (without having to initialise the entire engine for every test).

All in all I think we’ve satisfied our lust for using an excessive number of 3rd party libraries. I’ve looked vaguely at just finding a 2D engine that someone’s already made and using that, but Dan calls me a douchebag for suggesting such a thing. Such a thing indeed. But one day.

As far as C# is concerned it’s proven officially fast enough for such a game; we thought it was slowing down massively when adding a lot of tiles but it was just the debug mode causing it to go slow. C# events are also hella useful because the Observer pattern is hott, as are delegates.

Please, stop talking about technology

My pleasure. So what about the game itself? It’s not set to have particularly innovative gameplay other than the storyline; it’s just a platformer basically. But I think it’s good to try and finish something rather than continually drop projects in favour of trying something bigger. An example of this was when Nick and I started making a quick Asteroids game almost purely so we could finish any game, but in the end gave up after we’d decided to make it a networked, multiplayer Asteroids and got annoyed at packet latency and so on. We really are a bunch of idiots.

But the game’s coming on fairly well now, we’ve got it loading levels and it’s got a basic level editor that Dan’s done (with good use of various design patterns thanks to me continually shoving them metaphorically down his programming throat).

In summary then: the end.


December 03, 2006

Upgraded my box


September 18, 2006

Duck! tragedy

The saga continues! At an alarmingly slow pace.

Alpha transparency and the Z-buffer are not friends, nor are they bum chums, so I suppose I’ll just have to render tiles in the correct order manually. I feel compelled to blame communism for this.

Duck shocker

P.S. Duck does have feet now, it’s just the Z-buffer deciding they shouldn’t be drawn. Who died and made Z-buffer king, eh?

September 16, 2006

Duck! video

Bit of a rubbish video but thought I’d give the [media] tag thing a go seeing as I wrote it. (Don’t listen to Mat, he just copied me.)

September 15, 2006


Sam and I are making a game. It is all because of XNA and the enticement of writing in C# which is like Java and C++ had sex and one or both of them had a baby and that baby had garbage collection.

I wrote some code:

Duck! code

And Sam drew some tiles:


The duck, is actually just a photo of a duck which I stole (I would worry about copyright but I don’t think it applies to ducks). It will have feet eventually. The premise of the game is to accurately simulate the genuine experiences of a real duck navigating a series of two dimensional tile-based puzzles.

This isn’t the first time I’ve started making a game. My hard drive is full of the initial code for numerous 2D platformers and isometric tile based thingamajiggers. The difference is that this one isn’t in C++, so I won’t throw the computer out of the window in frustration. Also XNA lets you make games that work on the XBox360 (if you pay some money), which is great because I don’t have one of those, I’m getting a Nintendo instead.

And that’s all the weather.

September 11, 2005


Hello underlings. Again your ignorance concerning common areas of knowledge has led me to write some more words, about things. This time it’s elephants?


Yes indeed.

The history of the

Elephants...elephant is long and boring. It all started in the Woolly Age when elephants were woolly and their name was Mammoths. It would not be until later that they would realise they were named after Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and be forced to seek a new moniker (elephant) in order to avoid copyright issues.

They would later find that they had existed several tens of thousands of years before human civilisation had been established, but by that point it was too late, all the forms had been sent in.

The mammoth period was relatively interesting nonetheless, involving many a scuffle with a dinosaur, often arising from an argument about who last put the rubbish bins out on a Thursday or why there was toothpaste on the toilet seat (dinosaurs are notorious jerks).

An elephant never

fails to impress the ladies. It also supposedly has a good memory, but I’m still waiting for the fiver I lent to Henry last week. On second thought, Henry may actually just be a human with a very long nose. There’s me again, always too quick to animalise people based on outstanding facial characteristics. I’m pretty sure Alan the Duck is actually a duck though.

The animals certainly have their uses. Many a time have I used them to my strategic advantage when placed in a tight spot. Have a look here at this bit of a Soduku I was trying to finish off.

Pretty tricky stuff, and I’m awful at Sudoku, and I am always spelling it wrong which never helps matters. Anyway after a certain, very short, spell of deliberation I unleashed the mother of all Soduko on this Sudoku.

No problem!

Elephants are made of

various different minerals, which give them their grey leathery texture, and rough feel when rubbed against the tongue. Also, they smell of elephants; I cannot for the life of me imagine a situation where this would be beneficial, but you never know. Their tusks are made out of piano keys, and it is for this reason that elephants are natural musicians. The African Elephant orchestra is wonderful if you can make it all the way over there; if you want to check them out there are fairly frequent trains to Redditch.

The food of

elephants is nuts (yeah it’s crazy, har har), we all know this from circuses and Disney’s Dumbo. But what do they have for pudding? We just don’t know. Some say meringue, others say this is far too delicate a dessert for the elephant’s unwieldy flat feet. However these people are quick to criticise, but if you press them for a better answer they will bury their heads in the sand. These people turn out to be ostriches. Animalised again! Well that’s what you get.

And finally,

Why is there a steering wheel on your crotch?

Yarrr, it’s drivin’ me nuts!