Sunday, 14 December 2014

about personal life (living with EDS)

It's nighttime and I'm feeling down. Whenever that happens I tend to share something very personal that I shouldn't. This isn't in any way work or industry related. It's just me related.

I have Ehler Danlos Syndrome. And sometimes I get overly frustrated because of it. I'm barely coping this year because of it. I'm doubting myself because of it. I don't know can I work because of it.

For all those that don't know Ehler Danlos is a connective tissue disorder. It messes up your joints, your digestive system, your skin, your blood vessels. I had two back surgeries because I had scoliosis. I have joint pains quite often. Knees, ankles would be my most common ones. I have very easily irritated stomach and acid reflux. Often I'll get stomach pains. I get nauseous almost daily. When I was a child, I would spend my nights sitting in the bathroom, thinking that perhaps I'll throw up. I think at some point I got used to it, as right now those nights are rare. I can cope.

However as time goes on there's more and more things that I can't cope with. The acid damaged my throat. I get the reflex of coughing every time I eat. I end up with a sore throat most of the time. This year I had to struggle with constant tiredness. They diagnosed that I'm badly anemic. Why? My blood vessels don't hold properly, so there's a slow seepage all over my body.

What hurt back then is that you're treated like it's pointless to take care of you. "Oh you're getting worse. But that's to be expected. Here drink this very strong iron. It has lots of side effects, but it might help. Or you might need to be on it for life". It feels crushing. Especially when you see all the people with the same condition that ended up in a wheelchair. Or with a feeding tube. Or with a drain in their head. And I've heard that as long as you don't choose the wheelchair you don't need it. And perhaps in my case it will be true. I hurt, yes. I get incredible dizzy spells because my heart doesn't like pumping the blood to my head. I get tired easily and my heart has tachycardia. But I tell myself that I can cope. Because I have to and I'll have to continue to. Because there's no way to fix me. So it's part of me.

What hurts now is that tiredness is really making me struggle with my second year. When I get home I don't want to do anything. When it's time to wake up, I don't want to go anywhere. And it's getting me to breakdown. In the last two weeks I cried in front of my professors twice. And I think I startled one of them. Others probably find me weird. Or overly dramatic. Or unreasonably emotional. And yet I'm pushing myself more than ever before. Christmas is coming and here's me planning to go in 5 days a week despite the holidays and code code code.

My own mind is conflicting with me.

One side is telling me that I'm pathetic for complaining. That the world won't adapt to me. That no matter what I think I'll end up in a corporation and will work for longer than just 9 to 5. Because I'll have to. Because I can't afford not to. That there's nothing really wrong with me. Just some pains. Everyone lives with some pains. My boyfriend struggles with hyperactive metabolism. That comes with bad organ damage and pains too. There isn't anyone completely fine and in general I'm not as bad as I could be.

The other side says that it's okay to give up. Why bother trying? It will just get worse and worse and all I'm doing is torturing my body. I could easily be a stay at home woman. It wouldn't be too hard without any children.

And yet knowing me I would probably continue pushing myself no matter what. Mostly because I feel like it's completely up to me just how bad I get. Because I feel like if I don't give up I will continue going no matter how broken my body starts feeling. But sometimes trying to be me and trying to be normal gets so frustrating that I just... Well I spend hours of my sleeping time just sitting there listening to music, watching random documentaries on youtube and moping while nobody sees me. So today I write. Write about this weird side of my life. Because I've seen others share their experiences on the Internet, so why not?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

the taboo of criticism and lack of freedom of speech (feminism rant)

Just going to be a quick one this time.

It really irks me how much freedom of speech you lose if you want to be employable. You can't stand in public and say "I dislike this video game because of these reasons", or "I dislike this particular group of self entitled people". Even if you have valid criticism, media will catch on on it and it will be blown out of proportion. Imagine working for a big company. You go out with a new acquaintance to just have a good time and you start spilling your heart out. Next day in the press "This company hates women!".

So I'm going to say things before I can be silenced. Once regret comes in years I'll just delete it. I dislike the current feminism movement against gaming in general. I dislike how Ubisoft is disallowed from telling that they don't plan a main female character for their own game, because that somehow oppresses women. I dislike those that said that in Hitman there should have been no prostitutes, because you can't display that, because you objectify women. I dislike the fact that you can kill millions of men over and over and over in video games and nobody bats an eye, but kill one woman that wasn't important to the story and suddenly you're using women as props and objects. No, you're setting a story line. And yes, a damsel in distress is a valid story line. Why? Because we can relate to wanting to save a loved one. Not because our loved ones are worthless, or weak. But because we love them and want to help them.
I'm frustrated with how one sided the discussion is. As a woman I'm ashamed that someone else is using our sex to stop someone elses creative work. We should be allowed to write our own story-line and set our characters however we want and customers should be allowed to vote with their valets. If someone creates a wonderful female lead, that's great! However why does everyone have to create only female leads? Also only ones that fit certain criteria that will satisfy some women? A woman big breasts, but she can have small ones too, a woman can be stupid, clumsy, weak, intelligent, strong, or any other descriptive word. A woman is a human. So why can't she be portrayed in a story, the way that that said story writer wants to portray her as?

Not trying to insult anyone. Not going to talk about the dishonest people that censor their opponents and are seeking for fame, while playing a victim. Just expressing my opinion. Because why is it so, that certain kind feminists can silence other women just because those disagree with them? Am I oppressing myself by wanting the right to create whatever I would want to create?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

starved for more life simulation

With The Sims 4 looking more and more stripped and after being starved for any life simulation game for years now and annoying my family and friends up to a point where I started to sound like a broken record I thought that I will share my thoughts here and perhaps it will inspire someone besides me to do something.

The market is solely dominated by one developer. And it really irks me. What I would give for other known life simulations to be recreated. I would gladly throw my money at Kudos 3 or even Alter Ego 2. Unfortunately it's not going to happen. So at the moment, the only game that allows you to actually involve yourself in working a regular job, aging, having kids and living an alter life is The Sims series. EA is dominating and it shows. They're brave enough to price their game at 59.99 pounds and take away key features such as:
seamless neighborhood
toddler life stage
story progression
ability to re-colour your clothing
ability to use unnatural colours of your skin and eyes
And that already makes me disappointed. So I ask myself, when will the next life simulation game came out after this one? Never?

So let me share ideas. If one of the people reading this will steal these, I don't particularly mind. Because ideas are easy to come up with. Executing them is the problem.
Life simulation doesn't have to have Sims control scheme, or the lack of interactivity by being a text adventure with pictures. Let me tell you about the features that it could have.

What if for example, you had a chance to control your human in first person? Not trough the moments in life that would get you an adult only rating of course, but... Imagine if you could control your human yourself for for example extra work experience, extra skill point building, extra relationship building. What if what you worked as determined what you did trough out the day?
Oh, you work as a doctor, why not to play a surgeon simulator kind of mini game?
Oh you work as a cleaner, why not to play a less gross version of Viscera Cleanup Detail?
You're a manager? Want to play theme hospital? Perhaps Hotel Giant?
It would be hard to implement, but think of how much it would add to the game. And don't tell me that people wouldn't be interested. People would agree to clean virtual dishes for entertainment, as long as the game actually rewarded them for doing so.

Now think of that control being used outside of work place mini games. Perhaps we could add a crazy factor to it. Want to take out your microwave and throw it? Why not! Don't be surprised if it has repercussions though.

Now what about incorporating a dating sim into the mix? Picking up a partner shouldn't involve just pointless emote spamming. What if you actually had to use words to show that you care?

What about gradual aging? It would require a lot of models to go from baby to an adult and then a lot of texture changes to go from adult to an elder, but it would add depth.

What about such simple customization options as the ability to make your hair shorter or longer with a slider? Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion had it, so I don't think that it's impossible.

What about having different time periods to choose to play in? They don't have to be unlimited. They don't even have to progress, but player would appreciate the ability to choose.

All I'm doing here is spewing ideas at you all. Do I think that such game will ever come out? No. To put all those features in would be far too much work even for the most dedicated people out there. However perhaps someone could grab at least some of them, perhaps someone would be inspired to think about what could be done to life simulation genre as a whole and perhaps this post won't get lost in the sea of pointless Internet blogs and articles. All I want is for a bit more variety in the genre. I know that it sounds lazy, but I don't want to wait till I finish university and spend countless years working at my free time to actually see another game in the genre. I know that eventually I'll end up doing it, simply because the want to play won't go away, but in the mean time I would like someone to make a product and take my money.

Oh and while we're still here and on topic, EA is not all bad. They're giving away The Sims 2 for free with all expansions up until July 31st.
All you have to do is:
Download and install Origin
Create a free Origin Account
Launch Origin and log into your Origin Account
From the ‘Games’ tab in the Origin menu, select ‘Redeem Product Code’ and enter the code: I-LOVE-THE-SIMS
I understand not liking DRM. I don't like Origin either. Some call it a scam, some call it spyware. But it still doesn't change the fact that EA is giving out The Sims 2 for free on their official store.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Wildstar: my newfound addiction

I've fallen for yet another MMO. MMO that in the current stage is buggy, that's pay monthly, an MMO with grind in it and an MMO that does very little differently. And yet it feels right.

Now what is Wildstar? Wildstar is a recently released MMO made by Carbine studios (that consists of old World of Warcraft developers). What does it do new?
- it has a solely telegraph based combat system (video of a low level in-game adventure that I've filmed while in the beta to give an example of combat)

- housing

- costume and mount customization

- a wacky story based in space

But maybe what is new is the wrong question. Perhaps what we should ask is what is old?

- attunements
- 20 and 40 man raids
- 40 man warplots (a giant guild pvp thing)
- reputation grinds
- two factions fighting each other

One might find these old features repulsive. But I find them very much nostalgic. It's very hard to explain how remaking the old can create something special, but we have already seen this in the industry multiple times. World of Warcraft didn't do a lot of new. It took a lot of features from Everquest and just improved upon them. The same as Wildstar in a lot of ways feels familiar.

I don't know whether this bird will fall or fly. It has a lot of right things and a lot of wrong things (classes not very balanced, lots of bugs, botting and gold selling that the company is trying to fight very actively), however I already made enough memories to make this purchase worth it. And it did give me an idea to look back before moving forward. Is there anything in the game industry that we left in the 2000s? In the 90s? Even in the 80s? Was something forgotten like an old page in the book just because it was deemed outdated? Perhaps sometimes you don't need to be new to be right?

Sunday, 15 June 2014

guess who is back?

After my hand ins I went on a silence spree. And with a good reason. I needed to relax. However I wasn't just sitting on my bottom the whole time. I was busy playing, exploring, volunteering, moving... This summer is an active one for me. The next one is going to be even more so. Why? Because movement keeps away sadness, boredom and depression. Because contributing to the society throws you in groups of people that you don't know. It allows you to work on your confidence and networking. It also allowed me to get into plenty of debates and give me a lot to think about. That means that I have a lot of new things to write about! (That and my recent experiences with games). Either way this is just a post to show off my full hand in work for my digital arts module. It was far more work than I thought it will be and I only got a C for it, but work is work and I can still show it off (by the way, got an A in programming. My next year choice is most definitely right for me!)
Digital experimentation, all of the assets that I've done and the combinations of them

 pixel based road
 vector based road

vector based characters (this one was the most fun to draw, even though it was the one that I was worst at drawing)

vector based grass tiles

vector based general map assets (this is where I started. Then I expanded each asset category)

pixel based characters

pixel based grass assets

pixel based roads

pixel based house example

make your own house kit!
Now before we continue let me talk here for a bit.
First - what didn't upload? The pixel tree assets, but you'll see them being used further down.
If I had more time what would I spend extra time working on? Road and character assets. All were thrown together last minute and it shows.
What did I learn? When making your grass tiles, make your plants on the same sheet. Some grass tiles blended with the colour of my trees perfectly and obviously that meant that either some grass tiles were unusable or I couldn't use some trees.

If I didn't have to work on all of the assets what would I have spent my time doing? Thinking over the map layout and design. Out of the lack of time I went with very linear or circular map designs. If I could have just spent time designing the layout, rather than all the assets I could have done a better job over all.

Now let's head to combination and experimentation with assets! 

Map combination wise, what's wrong with these pictures? Well one, I could have played with sizes a lot more. Small trees, tall trees. It was supposed to be an isometric viewpoint, but it's not entirely right. Plus the fact that there's no depth of field bugs me. But as my first real digital arts work, it's not too bad.

Illustrating the problems with grass and plant assets:

there's a bush on the right.

plant assets on their own.
The overall lesson of this? I'm a programmer, not an artist. And that's exactly what my feedback said as well. Sometimes it's hard to take it in that no matter how hard you try, you still can't be good at everything, but it's for the best as we move on.

Now before I forget, this is a list of things that I want to discuss.
Salford Create Festival and my inability to understand art
Wildstar (the game that consumed my last 3 weeks)
my programming work
female characters, ubisoft and the recent media storm

Dear reader, if you just dropped in and none of those topics seem interesting to you, you're allowed to request topics. More to write about is always a good thing :)

Sunday, 4 May 2014

another small update

Okay folks, nearly done with my uni this year! Last 4 stress filled days remaining!
I finished my unity game. Really proud of it. sure might not be advanced visually, but I made it fully. Not some demo. Not one never ending level, but a full game with narrative. Will expand by showing code and all of the nice little stuffs that I did after I report the work in.
We also got to choose our modules for next year:
Agile Production Management
Digital Narrative Technologies
Games Design Planning
Games Design Prototyping
Tools Programming for Dig Games
Engine Programming for Game

Tools and Engine programming! Oh yeah! Today after finding out that 3 of my classmates (some very code oriented) are struggling with Blackjack which was quite easy for me I feel like I've made the right choice. Confidence going back - I'm going to be a programmer and I'm going to be good at it!

Currently in the middle of doing level designs for my arts module hand in. What I didn't realize is that I'll need to make every single little asset that the level design would be made out of in the game. On top of that it has to be varied. Already finished with the vector side, doing pixel art now.

vector graphics house making items

pixel graphics house making items.

Off to do the rest of my work. See you more often soon!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Post of the day - small update

The hand in day is approaching and I'm stressing out. My group project is being stalled by our assets artist. As a level designer and assembler I don't know whether to laugh or cry. On one hand I would like to just be able to implement my revised levels (our team decided that each level should last 30 seconds, therefore the previous level concepts were scrapped and replaced by something more fast paced) and I know that even later down the road I'll have even less time, on the other hand I want the opportunity to work on my other projects. 
Currently I'm most invested into my unity project. The text adventure one trough various life stages.

But to be honest I'm losing faith in myself. I'm not good at art and that's why I chose this approach, but could I really show this to any of my future employers?
One way or another in a month it will all be over. And I hope that I could show you all some quality work at that point.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Post of the day - Long time no see!

Hello all, I was sick and now I'm busy with moving. Nonetheless here is the progress that I've made with my project some far. I made a level 1 design for the group project. Then refined it twice. 

The level was already made in unity 3D, however I'll have to remake it in unity 2D soon enough, because my group has decided that it will be easier to work with.

Was quite busy working with my programming unity game as well. Made a prototype that I've shown off at Thursday and I got the greenlight to continue working on it. What's perfectly done for that one? I made girl child life stage, boy child life stage has all the assets that I need and only needs assembling in unity, currently working on backgrounds for the toddler stage (already finished the backgrounds for the baby stage). The game is very simplistic, but still requires a lot of work. I hope that you all are doing good. Hopefully I'll find time to post here more often :)

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Post of the day: razor statement and rip-o-matic

This post is just a small update on what I've been doing.

Spent my weekend doing the Razor Statement and the rip-o-matic for the game. For those that don't know what that is, Razor Statement is supposed to be an information sheet stating what games you looked into and how is your game going to be alike those (or at least I think that's what it is), and the rip-o-matic is an inspiration video for your game.
We have two rip-o-matic videos for our game, because we couldn't decide on the music. You can watch both versions here and here.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Post of the day: small game Thursday - Girls like Robots

Girls like robots, nerds like courners, everyone likes pie, except for robots, fish like company... Yes, it's a puzzle game. Puzzle game with a story that's equivalent to a hallucinating chipmunk on coffee and steroids. Yes, it's that crazy and all over the place. But most importantly, it's funny.

The bad points

The game is pretty short. And that's pretty much it.

The good points

It's the best story that I've seen in a puzzle game. It's the most humorious recent story. It's crazy, it's all over the place, you literally do not know what the next level is going to be. And that's what's great about it.

Stare at this wonderful octopus rant:

Now that I gave away too much about this game - yes, you should get it.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Post of the day: Making a level background - some houses to combine with the sky backgrounds!

Did quite a few version of how the houses in the level could work. Going to post some of them below. Started working on several different styles as well in case those will be requested.

example of how the background works with the houses

Monday, 24 February 2014

Post of the day: Making a level background - my work so far

Took a weekend off, before all my university work hit me. Will be a busy week this week. It turned out though that being a level designer/ background pixel artist is fun. Started working on level 1, scene 1. For that I needed some Japanese houses and the sky. Ended up spending a whole lot of time on the sky behind the houses. Produced several different variations of it, so my group will have a nice choice. Houses are a work in progress at the moment. This is my work so far:

Background Sky

Initial sky that I started with. In case my group goes with very very very pixely look they can take it.

The same thing blended together far better. I included some transparent colours in between the ones portrayed above and then blended it all.

Added more blue.

Darkened the sky significantly.

lowered the blue down. Maybe the sun has already set and the nighttime is coming?

the darkest version. If I would go even darker I would have to start adding stars and my team is against celestial bodies at the moment.

What I did with houses so far

mostly just this. It took a while to get the shape even semi accurate. Will need to place some extra houses in a separate background tomorrow and finish these ones off.

Tomorrow's blog is likely to be about this again.