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Recap time. Week two was spent becoming acquainted with the numerous ins and outs of Photoshop. I found it rather interesting, and have spent quite a fair bit of my spare time playing around with it.

Week three was a bit more challenging:

Monday - we were introduced to Maya: we being the programmers, as the artists have already had a lot of experience using Maya, and they all set about creating really awesome things while we struggled with the UI. Maya is an exceptionally powerful tool, albeit a confusing one to begin with. Took all of that session just to get used to moving the camera around, and creating basic shapes.

Tuesday - totally made up for Monday, as we were given our task for the remainder of the week - find references, construct a city in Maya, destroy it in Photoshop. Finding references is pretty much just surfing the internets for awesome - and relevant - pictures. I approve. And Porter also told us wacky stories about Texas, and - of course - guns.

Wednesday - took a break from the week's task, to watch the instructional vid Character Design Pipeline, by Thierry "BARONTiERi" Doizon, produced by The Gnomon Workshop. I found it fascinating, and really rather impressive. Dude has mad skillz. He's just like whfiwhfoajfdjasplat, and there's the most awesome thing ever on his digital canvas. Also discovered that MDS has a bunch of videos from The Gnomon Workshop, which I've steadily been ripping from their intranet site, and taking home to watch in my spare time. Yeah, I'm taking the slow approach - physically learning the skills - instead of just eating the brains of those superior to me. Silly, inefficient me.

Thursday - Put together my city in Maya. I figured out what I wanted to have in my shot, and built that. I figured this was quite the straight-forward approach, and very time-saving. And, as such, I found it kinda odd when I didn't see anyone else doing it like that. People either built a square block of city, with fairly detailed buildings, or - the artists - constructed an entire city, and then picked their shot. Weirdness. Porter found it odd too, as this exercise is to practice concept art, so extreme detail isn't needed. Anyhow, here's the final shot, with just a basic white ambient light (I took it a bunch of times with different lightings, to help with the paint-over on Friday)

Base Image

It's hyperlinked, for bigness!

Friday - Painted over the render of my city. I was aiming for a "being destroyed by a volcano" feel initially, but didn't get a chance to do any lava flows. I enjoyed how the sky turned out, although it looks a bit more like lava itself than just a firey ash cloud. Spent waaaay too much time on the borked lighting on the building to the right. Stupid thing. Also, although I tried to get a silhouette of a person for the left building working in Maya, my lights just seemed to ignore some objects and be blocked by others. Really, really, really irritating.

Final Image

Also hyperlinked for bigness!

All in all, I'm pretty glad how it turned out, as it's near-finished, and most of the artists didn't get their stuff done - they didn't listen to Porter, who reiterated that we're supposed to be doing concepts, not finalised awesome things, heh.

Also, behind the cut - due to immature amusement - I butchered the Mass Effect logo. I couldn't resist.Collapse )

Not sure what we're getting up to next week - someone other than Porter is taking us. I think we have one more week of art basics left, before they split us off into Programmers and Artists. It'll probably be Leon taking us, as he's more of a Technical Artists, and I suspect we'll be doing some MEL (Maya Embedded Language) scripting.

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Current Music: Iced Earth - Come What May

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I was bored. Idle hands lead to wickedness.

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Rocked the Photoshop in class today. Porter was full of insight and tips as to how to bend the program to your will. Very helpful.

Anyways, slapped this together for homework reasons:

Great Fire of London

The prompt was something along the lines of "celebrity + famous photo," but people seemed pretty lenient in their choices as to what "celebrity" meant, and "famous photo." The guy next to me Halo-ised Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam", and next to him was a version of The Last Supper with Altair from Assassin's Creed. So, I went for Ragnaros (from World of Warcraft), and the Great Fire of London.

In other news, Lady Gaga's latest music video was released a day or two ago. Not nearly as awesome as "Bad Romance." However, I did notice something rather peculiar:


Check the last item on the recipe list. Yes, it says "TIBERIUM." WHAT. The only reference to Tiberium I know of is from Command & Conquer. Of course, with my new-found Photoshop SKILLZ, I had to do something about it:

Oh dear

Yeah. Kane's newest plan for global domination is his most devious one thus far. We're all doomed. DOOMED.

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Twas the first week back at MDS for me. First week of the new course - Graduate Diploma of Game Development, which I'm trapped in until July of next year. A week ago, this was problematic. Now it's quite fine.

"Why the sudden change of heart?" You may ask. Of course, I suspect that the calibre of people who read this will phrase it in a more awesome manner. Anyhoo, basically, our new tutors are fantastic. We have two: Jon (programming), and Porter (art).

Thus far, this week has been Porter talking to us about his experiences in the games industry - an industry he's spent upwards of fifteen years in. He has worked on some interesting games too, including Shadowrun and Halo 3. Naturally, he's full of awesome stories to tell us. Plus, he thinks that when we have time to spare at the end of class on a Friday, an excellent filler is to watch awesome videos on the internet.

In short, I approve.

Also, this week we get to learn some Photoshop skillz, as they're making the programmers do some art, and the artists do some programming. Best quote from Porter about this: "Programmers, I don't expect masterpieces. Artists, I don't expect anything."

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Yes, just as the title says, that's what's on my mind right now.

No, this isn't a thought I will follow through on, it's just the product of a deteriorating mental state due to being on holiday. Yes, I know, my life is so hard, I'm on holiday, fuck off.

I just watched The Hurt Locker, a fairly decent film which demonstrates the harshness of the Iraq war fairly well, and demonstrates how it ruins peoples's lives. Not exactly the kind of movie that has you queuing up to sign your life away.

Yet, I still want to join the army. I guess it's a failsafe - "Oh, if this doesn't work out, guess I'll just join the army."

Am I worried about things not working out? Yeah. I'd say so. Beginning my 64-week Graduate Diploma of Game Development on Monday. I need to attend graduation for my Diploma of Interactive Gaming tonight.

So yeah, I never did get around to posting about how that went. I don't know. It was... good? It's hard to say. My technical knowledge increased, as did my work ethic - I tend to get things done, and sometimes before the night before the due date (not always though, we're not talking a complete revolution here). In other respects, I gained weight, met people I haven't talked to since, completely lost all semblance of whatever life I normally had, and bled my bank balance a fair bit.

I don't know if I can handle twice that - in terms of length, and possibly in terms of intensity/difficulty.

These holidays have been pretty shit. The ones over Christmas were great - a welcome respite from three weeks of hell, and I got to get away from everything for an entire week up at Te Pahi. Much needed.

These holidays... eh. Been working on a short story idea that blossomed into a novel idea, but still would've wished to have gotten more done on it. Watched all of the Castle currently available - briefly considered a career as a detective, but you have to be a cop first, and that's kinda lame. And basically realised that I have no life. I spend all my time at home, cooped up in the 5x5m, dimly-lit (I got the shit-all facing window), room that is mine. And computers, eh. They're okay. Just... a bit tired of 'em.

I think part of it is that once I've done this course, I'll be done. I'll have to find my own way, and that's a bit worrisome. I found out last year that I wasn't the most dedicated person in the class, I was kinda in the middle - not a bad student, but not an amazing student, just decent. What fucking chance does that give me. I'd wager it's pretty low. The furthest anyone from MDS - my school - has gotten is Australia, and they're one of those ridiculously dedicated people. The people who have no life but the course and love it. The ones who'll show up at 8:30am, and leave at 9:30pm, and code when they get home.

I don't want to work in New Zealand, and I sure as hell don't want to work in Australia, so, as I said, at least the army might get me to East Timor or something.

I think I covet the "not having to make decisions" thing. I'm tired of leading - was Project Manager, and it fucking sucked. Programmers are amongst the bitchiest people I can think of. For instance:

Lead Designer: "I don't like the rumble when you shoot, I think we should take it out."
Programmer One: "What? I like it."
Programmer Two: "Me too."
Lead Designer: "No. Rumble is overused. I don't like it."
Me: "There won't be enough tactile feedback when you shoot. And the playtesters liked it."
Lead Designer: "I don't like it. We're taking it out."
Me: "All right then, what about a vote. Those in favour? Two, well, three, including me. Those against? One. Everyone else? Doesn't care."
Lead Designer: "I still don't like it."
Me: "Okay, how about a menu option where you can enable or disable it?"
Lead Designer: *passive-aggressive* "I give up. You do whatever you want."

That's just one example, I have so very many more. I just don't think I can put up with that for another 64 weeks. But what choice do I have? It's either that, or be useless for a year until I feel more "ready" to do it. Considering how much three weeks of holiday have fucked me up, I don't think I could handle 52 of 'em.

I do not know. We'll see. Either way, I'm keen to at least do the seven-week boot camp for the Territorials post-MDS. It's paid too. Swoot.

Time to go fail at sleeping some more.

(P.S. I made amazing shortbread today, so these holidays haven't been a complete bust. Just mostly)

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There are many differences between Mass Effect, and Mass Effect 2 - refinements of gameplay and the like - however, the more things change, the more they stay the same (with awesome results).

Mass Effect:

Mass Effect 2:

I can't wait for ME3...

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Yes, that's right, our end-of-course project began today. Eight weeks to make a game - two of pre-production, five and a half of production, and a couple of days at the end for our post-mortem.

And yeah, the project's codename is Narwhale.

Why? Long-running in-class joke which we've figured a way of integrating into the final game. Should be fun and enjoyable for everybody. Except maybe our tutor - he has no sense of humour.

Anyhoo, I'm Project Manager. Mostly from no-one else wanting to do it, rather than any aspirations of mine. Actually, I lie - I did covet the position just a little, otherwise I would've been a lot more reticent in my picking it. However, the position isn't finalised - our tutor has to agree to our choices, which will be interesting in my case, as I'm pretty sure he's managed to develop a bit of a grudge against me. Wouldn't surprise me - I'm none too fond of the chap either.

I think we might have to set up a blog for our project once we get production underway. I'll link that through for the curious of you who'd like to look at what we're actually doing. Production is when it gets interesting - for the next couple of weeks we're just writing massive design docs. Fun times.

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I have nothing to do!

Yes, that's right, I'm on a one-week break from class. I've spent my time pretty much doing nothing - 'cept catching up on sleep, and playing games. I would love to do something productive, like some writing, but I keep stalling before I even begin. It's mildly irritating. So, yes, this has been a pretty lame holiday thus far, due to everyone else I know in NZ still being horrendously busy with university - as their year is just about to wrap up.

Anyhow, let's look at some things that I've been up to of late.

First-off, and most important of all:

The Protomen: Act II - The Father of Death

NEW PROTOMEN CD. It finally arrived a couple of weeks ago, and I've been listening to it a lot since then. It's a step up from their previous CD in terms of audio quality - whereas the previous one had a bit of a garage-band sound to it, this one sounds every bit professional. In terms of how fantastic the songs are. Well. They're fantastic. It doesn't quite have as stand-out songs as their previous CD, but as a whole, it's a incredible piece of work, and superior to the previous one.

In terms of its narrative, it acts as a prequel to The Protomen's first CD - detailing the rise of Dr. Wily, and the fall of Dr. Light. It culminates in Dr. Light's resolve to keep up the fight, and build Protoman, which segues into the first CD. One trait of the album, which helps emphasise the progression of the narrative, is that the musical style changes from a acoustic guitar-laden, Western-sounding theme at the beginning, to a high-tech, synthesiser-based rock opera sound in the middle, which faintly bleeds into the more harsh, electric-guitar driven sound of their first CD by the end of the album.

In other words, it's awesome. If you're interested in it at all, you should have a listen to the first track: here.

Team Fortress 2

Another thing that has been keeping me busy and entertained, is my clan (Ju1cy), and its involvement in various competitive ladders and tournaments. We do fairly well, though consistency tends to be an issue - we often have people not able to show, due to real life commitments or internet issues, so even though we kind of have a core team of players, we don't get to play together as a solid group as often as we would like. Our last scrim was hindered drastically by our Ventrilo server throwing a hissy-fit a couple of minutes after the game began, cutting our communication to near-zero. The final score was an ugly 4-1. Our single point came during the few minutes when our Ventrilo server decided that it would work, before cutting out again. Shows how important communication is for solid teamwork.

Still, we have a bunch of fun, and mayhaps soon one of our members will cut together an e-peen boosting frag vid that we can show off to people. Good times, good times.

Death Note

After a discussion with Tim about anime, he convinced me that I needed to watch Death Note with great expediency. He was right, of course. I know I'm late to the bandwagon on this, but it's a fantastic anime, even if the second half doesn't quite measure up to the first. I'm always keen for stories that involve intelligent megalomaniacs trying to take over the world. Especially with the astounding amounts of Xanatos Gambits that go down.

Pool Game

So, for MDS, we had to code up a game of pool (8-ball), for the culmination of our maths section. Everybody in the class hated this project. Coding the game itself was a simple task, it was just a matter of endlessly fiddling with the collision detection mechanics to try get it working right.
I underestimated the amount of work this task would take, and kinda left a lot to the last minute (as in, a lot), which meant that last Thursday night I got all of thirty minutes of sleep. Good times, good times.
I got it into a working state by the time we had to submit it, so I'm not too bothered about it. Will be glad so long as I scrape a pass. There's only one obvious bug in my code that I can think of. It's pretty obvious - the balls sometime clip into the cushions, and zoom along them, popping back onto the table at one of the pockets, and traveling at a ridiculous velocity. It's rather amusing to see, but not quite realistic.

Counter-Strike: Source - Jailbreak

Something I was only just introduced to a couple of days ago, jailbreak mode for CS:S is a bunch of maps which have the terrorists acting as prisoners, and the counter-terrorists as prison wardens. It's pretty crazy. It involves the CT's ordering the T's around, and getting them to do silly activities, while trying to keep them under control. The T's follow along, so they don't get shot, and try to stage a rebellion at any chance they can get.

Basically, I imagine someone looked at the Stanford Prison Experiment, and said: "That would be lots of fun in Counter-Strike!"

And, well, it kinda is. The CT's are forbidden from just randomly shooting prisoners (freekilling), as there are admins on the server at pretty much all times, who will either kick you, or make you a T. Instead of being prison wardens, the CT's are more like.. well... kindergarten organisers, if you armed all kindergarteners with a knife and a thirst for blood.

The usual path of things will go something like this:
1. Cells are opened, T's are ordered to stand on a line for a gun check. (Some of the cells have pistols in them). Any T's who are moving during the gun check, or disobey orders, or essentially do anything to merit it, are shot. This isn't so much out of: "Hehe, killing prisoners is fun", but more: "Need to cull the numbers, otherwise it's too unmanageable to play games."
(Most of the times I've been on, there have been around 20-40 T's, and 5-11 CT's)

2. Once gun check is over, games are played until the T's are whittled down to a single man - all losers are shot.
Games tend to be one of the following: races, trivia, Simon Says, tell a story/sing a song, or an activity that has been coded into the map. (Soccer, diving, dodgeball, castle battles, basketball, boxing, water polo, etc).
Yep. Kindergarteners. With knives. And some of the worst attitudes you'll see outside of an actual prison (we are talking about CS:S players here).

3. Once there's one T left, he can challenge the remaining CT's to various duels - Knife Fight, Shot for Shot (take turns shooting at the other person), or Deagle Toss (throw your gun as far as you can. The person who throws the furthest wins).

Yeah. It's crazy. But often hilarious. The best of both worlds. If both worlds also involved racial epithets and nude sprays.

List of Interesting Links:

Hilarious rap song by CCP (the company who makes EVE Online). Icelandic rap ftw.

Two (one, and two) interesting articles about the largest mall in the world. It's in China, and nigh-deserted.

First person on the moon could've been a woman? I am disappoint.

Steampunk-ish web series? Might wanna keep an eye on this.

Also, as xkcd pointed out: Toy Story is older than my brother. Very weird and scary.

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 Tarnish notte the majest of my TOWER of HATS.

Tarnish notte the majesty of my TOWER of HATS.

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