A Satisfying Return

So the absence is not inactivity but simply absence. Due to taking an organised week off of University there was nothing to write on University. To quickly sum up it involved preparing for the creation of a music video on that Saturday with a great friend who is a director. He did a fantastic job with our recording at Bognor Regis and the final product will eventually be uploaded and submitted to Peter Hollen’s Christmas competition. We had an amazing time. Because of this anticipation the rest of the week blazed by admittedly but there was a wonderful singing lesson and some local work which was good.

Now let’s get to the real meat of the week!

Monday I was still having my week off so I missed another lecture which was a shame but alright apparently. What I also did was sign up to another show… Thankfully this one is entirely relaxed with script in hand so it’s more a social event!

Tuesday was back to University with a bang! A busy day involving a missed 3D modelling lecture, which perhaps shouldn’t have been due to the complexity of Bevier curves and how to represent curves through Parametric representations. In short a lot of equations! Unfortunately having been unavailable I managed to hand in my first German assignment only by posting it under the door which was not accepted meaning that’s 60% marks immediately cut. A not-very-pleased-having-completed-my-assignment Peter continues to forget that I must return to re-hand it in with a cover page. I suppose that it simply must be done so next week that is task number 1. All that aside the Games Tech Demo meeting was absolutely astoundingly brilliant. The team is doing really well and it felt great to be back with them. Artur, our programmer, has been hard at work and can’t wait to show us his work. From now on we’ll also be fitting in some laboratory work to crunch those extra 3D models and assets into the demo. It’s all coming along swimmingly at this point but we are aware of the potential technical challenges. What was really great about Monday was the reunion with my wonderful friends who I have made, we all missed each other and it was nice to have a good ole pub dinner with them. Sadly I did have a German lecture that evening and had to hop off to that, which also went well. Overall an extremely satisfying return!

Wednesday however I woke up feeling strangely gruff, considering the great day prior. Either way it plodded on with a coding lecture that continued to non-plus me. But things can still be hopeful! Despite being massively behind on it there’s a chance for redemption. Today was a day for some baked beans on toast and a good cup of tea, which was most certainly had. With that lunch came some artwork which also went really well and I am pleased with the result. To round off the day I tried out the new Mount and Blade: Warband Matchmaking mod which basically pairs you with other teammates and opponents for a fight. It was good fun but slow and didn’t know how to balance the teams competently making my team a solid unit of professional EU cavalry on an open map. The other poor team couldn’t do anything. Meanwhile the next match pitched my team against a solid team of professional EU archers… stomping us and reversing the scores made from the last match…

Thursday we started our art session. Absolutely fascinating. We looked at colours and their complementing in the colour wheel which in turn could affect mood and design. This is something I’ve always found exciting and interesting, despite being colourblind which meant all those indigo’s and violet’s we were shown went straight over my head. Sadly yesterday there was a need for baked beans but perhaps having it again didn’t seem so appealing but that was all I had and so more baked beans ensued. Thankfully the next few days were a bit more exciting food wise. To all those who don’t know I also have a coding blog and a Games Tech Demo blog in the “BSc Computer Games Technology” section of this website, Thursday I updated them and intend to when I can, so do check it out! Thursday was a brilliant day more for the fact that we got a talk from Dan Pinchbeck  from “The Chinese Room”, creators of “Dear Esther”, “Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs” and “Everybody’s gone to Rapture”. It was extremely insightful, interesting and also very much about the reality of it all. The shocked and scared faces of those behind me was a sign of this. Thankfully due to prior research it was all something I was aware of and admittedly didn’t quite have the heart to tell all those who still held such enthusiasm for it all!

Thursday it was also decided I’d be switching to Computer Games Enterprise, the more business focused side of the course, as that is far more fitting for me personally. This choice was supported by the other lecturers who knew me to which was nice. I’ll be doing this year as normal and even want to because there’s the Games Tech Demo unit which actually involves the process of developing and designing a game.

A fun evening was also had with that director friend of mine back in Bognor! We were going to try out the game “Until Dawn” when sadly the PS4 didn’t have enough room on HDD to take it in…

Friday contained a long drive back in a traffic jam on the A27 but with time left for the 10am lecture. Due to the teacher’s lateness half the class left which was detrimental to them as actually it turned into an interesting and productive lecture, beginning with apologising profusely. It prepared us for the presentation we’ll have to soon do as mid-term which gives us 10% of our final mark!

The rest of the day involved simply catching up with work and therefore feeling rather pleased and proud of myself. It also involved a good friend in the Enterprise course who has shared his timetable with me so that I can hop into some of their lectures to get that little extra bit of info on it.

So overall a very accomplished and pleasing week. No more bad sleeping, but quite a few late nights!

Thank you to all who have stayed thus far to read my blog, it’s been a pleasure writing for you all and here’s to the next few weeks.


The Teatox

With dog on lap I commence the tale of the week prior, the highs, the lows and the importance of the ‘teatox’.

So it was on that Sunday before when a strange revelation occurred. I remembered why it was that I gave up the dreamy taste of two sugars in tea. A couple of years back I was diagnosed with Benign Essential Tremor and to find a way to minimise the consistent shake no sugar was taken in tea. Miraculously it worked and with it my sleep improved. Due to the passing of the time this story was forgot. Only when noticing the dreadful sleep and wake ups that has plagued me the last few weeks did I notice the only correlation being the new tea drinking habits. Sadly… It appears said correlation was correct, for now having stopped drinking tea altogether sleep has become regular, easier and far far more satisfying. Not only that but getting up has become extraordinarily easier. Hard to describe the difference but I’m sure we all know it from  one variable to another.

Now with the teatox explained Monday begins with the search for a career in this job focused world. Heading to Purple Door, Portsmouth University’s job centre, I was immediately assigned with an interviewer who was wonderfully helpful and got me to a jobs page in seconds to find what would fit. Service here is fantastic, apparently recently improved. To all you Pompey Uni students or potentials reading this: Go to Purple Door. Either way there were some good part-time opportunities which I have now applied for. The service also offers entrepreneurial help and volunteering opportunities, not worth overlooking!

Also worth mentioning was a fantastic psychology experiment I had the chance to be involved in where we were selected for being actors. We were to test a psychology test which some researchers suggest is capable of discerning those who have certain conditions and those who do not. Was absolutely fascinating, fun and I got £10 from it which is brilliant.

Not only was that important mission completed but The Last of Us was to. A fantastic game with an unsatisfying end yet a fitting conclusion, as agreed upon by many. It somewhat breaks momentum meanwhile making sense within the story itself. Far from the perfect game many people call it I can safely say it is excellent and if you do have a PS3/4 definitely pick it up. Also to my excitement a flatmate of mine made me a salad. I can safely say it was the best salad I have ever had but unfortunately being away from the flat cannot inform all you good folks the secret recipe to such a great salad. Just remember to add beetroot.

To get to the actual degree we have more on the defining games section where we started with our lecturer’s own research into the definition of an RPG (Role-playing Game) because the spectrum of games is so broad and no-one really knows when a game is or isn’t an RPG anymore. We then had a look at different genres and how there’s no definitive ‘taxonomy’ (order or division) in gaming. Despite there being accepted norms and tropes they aren’t definitive due to the amount of variants.

Tuesday was the first day which my timetable had been updated, luckily everyone else’s was correct and they were on the ball meaning I could turn up undisturbed. What I hadn’t been on the ball of was the washing which, having just recently been washed, was still left in my basket and therefore not dried. Of course I knew of the effects of leaving washing not to dry but it unfortunately meant another wash for the same clothes. Costing me £3 which, in my books, is quite the waste. At least the 3D modelling lecture was interesting as it explained polygonal mesh and how actually triangles are the most used and perhaps efficient method of modelling rather than polygons. To make and describe polygons one needs the vertices listed and then the polygon list to piece together the vertices, which need to be counted anti-clockwise for the computer to know its placement and order correctly. In games, alternative models are made rendered in lower resolutions for different distances to lower memory usage. All of which is interesting and more technical which is great to see.

Wednesday was my first proper student representative meeting which went rather well. It was incredibly interesting when it got into it unfortunately though for the first quarter I struggled with being rather ready for a nap but once the conversation proved engaging I started readily supplying input. The turnout was more than expected and there were plenty of people in the room so thankfully my first impression went unnoticed. Prior to this however I had a wonderful tutor meeting to sort out this week off and it went brilliantly. My tutor was incredibly supportive and continued to supply solid advice to see what we could do to get the most out of the course. Wednesday was also the first night of “As You Like It”, the Shakespeare play, and it went marvelously.

Thursday was also good with the teatox really kicking in by now and me being up and ready for the art lecture. The lecturer was mighty pleased to see me which was really nice and the session itself went swimmingly with a successful charcoal drawing of our life model lying down. This was also the day I settled on which job was most important and that is the potential as a Youth Teacher at the King’s Theatre to teach drama. This fits my plans perfectly so the application was worked on and sent as soon as possible. To add to this, one of the backstage hands in “As You Like It” works at the Kings so was happy to drop me a line. Here’s hoping!

Finally to Friday where we had a games tech meeting which was extremely successful and has laid out the plans till December as to where we wish to take the game. More details in the Games Tech Demo Blog in the BSc Computer Games Technology section of this website. It also lead to the completion of our design document which means we have fully decided how the game will be in the finished product which is excellent. Friday was also a chance to attend another 3D modelling lecture which I noticed I had the energy for and therefore jumped on that bandwagon, or train as the lecture involved stretching and angling a train as it moved along a set path. It was not too difficult and was interesting, 3D modelling does tickle me so we’ll see if it takes off on this journey.

Anyway that’s all for today and also all for the dog who noticed her tummy was not being stroked enough and therefore jumped away to lie in her bed. Her name is Jessie and she is a Jack Russel Terrier. She’s wonderful!

Now the show is over and the week of rest commences onwards and upwards the road now trots.

Coding Error

Another week of slow decomposition of the physical form, typical of the entity that we call “Student”. Yet thankfully enthusiasm and mental effort has not been lost. So despite missing a few more lectures other work has been advanced putting me forward in three units but behind in two. The goal then is to complete two units so that the last four can be completed at a good pace: Image Creation; Tools for Games and Animation; 3D modelling; Technical Game Demo.

Next week will be an extraordinarily busy one with every evening rehearsing and performing in the Shakespeare “As You Like It” with the wonderful “Southsea Shakespeare Actors” but the rehearsal process has been a little strain on time and therefore when completed work, boxing, fencing and all the rest can continue un-hindered. At least both the process and the company have been fantastic.

On to the juicy bit…

Monday I completed the ePortfolio unit a major breakthrough but one that will require a couple of minor updates over the year. Nevertheless this takes away a weight. Our first cancelled lecture was luckily none other than ePortfolio to so that suited the situation fine. The later lecture I unfortunately did also not attend due to a friend being rather unwell and unhappy and whom needed company. Thankfully this lecture in Define Games was once again self-explanatory meaning a 6 minute read of the powerpoint allowed me to memorise the various camera positions within games: 1st person and 3rd person with variations due to constraints or character. It was also a terrifying day because it was Halloween. First time in a club and it was alright. Perhaps because I typically don’t drink and have yet to be drunk it was not quite my scene however with some friends it was quite fun. Unfortunately by the time it got fairly late and the music didn’t ever get more interesting it was time for bed and thankfully it wasn’t so late as to inflict upon the morning anymore than most nights.

Tuesday is, like most weeks, a free day that involved a £50 shopping trip and getting a contact lens stuck in my left eye. Both of which were equally as traumatic. One to the wallet and the other to the owner of said wallet. Luckily the shopping trip will last me a long time and has barely been dug into in the first week meaning it should last another 3 making it almost a months worth of food. Meanwhile the hero of the contact lens dilemma was none-other than my mother who just so happened to be engaged in her weekly course which is situated opposite my flat. After one hour and a half of exhausting energy on poking my eye she managed it in two pinches. Mums are quite the miracle workers! This came after not being able to go to the local opticians as they had all closed at that time of night. Being my first month and a half with contact lenses it was only inevitable that this event would happen soon. A bonus to do the day was I got in some more “The Last of Us” in which I entered the chapter “Winter”. It was fantastic and well scripted, a much enjoyed romp that changed both the pace and the formula of the game for a short stretch.

Wednesday was back to coding. This did not go down particularly well as for some reason it did not make any sense to me, it was quite simple in some ways but I couldn’t quite work out how the computer was understanding what I was inputting. This stalled me from making progress as it just confused me. One lecturer struggled to explain  it and even got quite frustrated, thankfully the lead lecturer did manage to get the message across. Unfortunately for some reason the computer failed to save the file properly so the template we created was lost meaning so is my memory of the knowledge. Back to the drawing room with that one I suppose. It’s all about mindset. Some people can do music, some people can do coding and we all work it out in our own special way. With this I have yet to tap into my ability to comprehend it, hopefully we’ll get there soon but it will take some work and motivation of which, for coding, there is little. After that things took a turn for the better with a Games Tech meeting where only two of us eventually got round to it. Luckily that meant pancakes, a bit of bailey’s irish cream and some playing of Nidhogg (A well designed fencing simulator which has an influence on our design for our tech demo) went a long way.

Thursday, even when missing the Art lecture, was a day of art. The Playstation Classic Medievil has been a great inspiration for me in gaming and therefore the concept design I am currently pursuing for the little art project we were tasked with is a variation of Sir Daniel Fortesque, the protagonist of the series. A much pleased Avastrat has finished the face design and now begins work on the body of Sir Dan. This was also the day which I began a new Halo playthrough to finally complete the series having only played Halo Reach and the first one due to an obsession with playing the games in order and not being able to get my mitts on Halo 2. Once again an amazing friend has another games console on which I am now able to get the chance to play these excellent games.

Friday was another 3D modelling session. In this the second workshop was completed and understood. Though being a week behind, which could perhaps be redeemed fairly easily, my comprehension of Week 1 and 2 I feel fairly confident in as the tool kit seems to make sense. Hopefully this wont be quite so bad as coding. To add to this productive day as a little team some of us organised a coursework group to finish the Define Games coursework. Many of us five are also not confident with coding but with the coursework out of the way, that for us being the far easier part to the course, we’ll be able to knuckle down and work together to finish the other units.

So to wrap up yet another slightly less appealing week motivation should pick up at some point. The pieces and parts are all laid out and so it is when time arises for it to be taken that a step towards more appealing weeks begins. In the meantime attention has been drawn to the incredibly well written, scripted, directed and shot Netflix series Black Mirror. Without spoilers, for that would entirely ruin the point of watching, it is a show with individual episodes, all of which are standalone, that reflect a potential future, both recent and far, with a twist on technology and the world around us. It can be moving, sinister, shocking or all of them together and with each episode different you never know what to expect. It is more than excellent. If you have the time that is my recommendation for the week. To be even more appealing the first season is 3 episodes long each episode only 35-45 minutes. If you like it then there’s more in season 2 and 3. If you don’t not much time has been wasted. Now, aside from the unfortunate consequence of Netflix prices, there should be nothing stopping you.