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Aug 02

The soothing summer of acre

Hello dear internauts, figured I should blog and let you know how I am doing. This is either a very late or very early blog depending on your levels of pessimism. Either way I write to tell you that I am high of spirit and low of fund. The birthday celebration I attended two weekends a go was most joyous and I even managed to get an invite to visit the fair city of Oxford out of it. I used my invite last weekend and spent an amazing day in Oxford. I have to say I was taken back by the energy there, I expected the beautiful buildings and to a degree the tourism but not the happy go lucky energy. Even the drunks in the park had a bounce in their step and some scampish banter about them. In other news I am desperately hoping I get the money owed to me by Microsoft come the 15th, as I previously mentioned I am all but out of funds and require the money to start my web design company.

As promised here is the finished version of the Miyamoto painting I did for the young Smith

Mario-Miyamoto

Acre wise there has been an awful lot of progress. I have rewritten the combat system, the collision detection regarding npc movement. I added a dialog mode to the text window system as well as backgrounds and character avatars. I also added npc item interaction (which proved complex to think about and easy to write) to allow using items no npcs and npcs picking up items. I also extended npc alternative targeting to allow for multiple targets, (ordered by importance rather than proximity) this allows much more complex puzzles. For example there is a guard dog that attacks you upon entering a castle. You can feed him a bone which will keep him busy for the time you are in the castle but if you leave and come back the bone will be gone and the dog will attack again. But if you combine the bone with poison (I mean doggy sleep juice) then he will be an ex-dog and bother you no more.

Below are some screenshots of how Acre is looking. Please remember it is entirely made up of placeholder graphics at the moment :P

Dialog

Examine

Dog attack

Dog sleepy time

I would love to stay and ramble some more but as ever I am late and have lots to do!

Much love

-Jon

Jul 22

The Art of Pain

Hello sterling internet users! This week has been a bit of a mess. I had gained a lot of tasks at home and needed to prepare a painting for a friend's birthday. So I have only made a little progress on Acre this week.

I did to build is a basic dialog system. You can now have conversations with NPCs. With this I can tell the story of Acre, have NPCs give out quests and respond to being given items. I did think for a little bit about adding in a dialog tree but I decided it would require a lot more content and would shift the focus of the game away from doing stuff. Right now I am changing the collision detection to make it impossible for two or more live objects to overlap. This will mean that I will have to change the combat system, which is a good thing as I wasn't entirely happy with how it was working. I am also thinking of moving the tilesize up to 64x64 from 32x32 to allow for more detailed characters, although doing so will half the size of each acre. Either way next week I wish to start on the content, mainly the world map. I also need to test it on the X-box to see if I need to optimize anything. I fear I will have to do something with the moving from one acre to another but I will have to wait and see once the rest of the systems are in place. Lots to do :D

This weekend I am away at a friends birthday bash. As I am a poor friend and a cheapskate I opted to make him a painting based on any theme he wished. He picked Shigeru Miyamoto and Mario. Instantly I had the cool idea of converting Miyamoto's mug into a Mario level. So I wrote a little program that would convert a low res picture of said mug into a tile map. I initially selected just four coloured brick tiles. You can see the result below.

Marimoto v1

There are two problems with it but for now I will just focus on the main one. Its dull, it is boring. So I set about importing it into my level editor and adding new tiles. After some tweaking I got this, a little more exciting that the previous attempt.

Marimoto v2

It is at this point when I realised the fatal flaw in my idea. It doesn't look very much like Miyamoto and the reason being is that I have reduced his face to such a small resolution. I soon realised that to make this work I would have to use thousands of tiles and that if I did that I would also have to hand cut everyone of them. So I came up with a new plan which I sadly can not show you the results of until next week due to birthday spoilers. This painting holds many unique properties, it is the largest multilayer stencil I have ever done, it is the first stencil I have ever rage quit, and finally it is the last large multilayer stencil I will make using my current methods. Every single step of the way was plagued with bad luck. My stencils warped, my canvas ripped when I was tightening it, I ran out of all reds, the adhesive spray failed in the heat, paint refused to dry in some sections leading to it coming off, in worrying about wet paint I forgot to cover a section while spraying leading to massive overspray, and finally I broke one of the boards in the attic and punched an entirely innocent wardrobe while rage quitting. Luckily the results are passable, far from perfect but given the correct lighting and distance the effect I was aiming for is present. Just please do not look too closely or you will see embedded in all the imperfections the rage that the painting was born from.

On that slightly unsettling note I will bid you adieu as I must prepare for the party weekend! Woooo!

Much Love

-Jon

Jul 15

The Phoenix Rising Perspective

Balloon

Hello much neglected readers, behold your time of abandonment is over, for I blog once more. I should have an awful lot to talk about considering my extended absence. Surly in this time strange lands have been explored, hearts broken, traps triggered and evildoers thwarted? Alas this is not so. I have mostly sat on my ass and programmed (or looked at just one more, funny picture on the net). But I have made great progress on my new XBLIG game which is possible called Acre. I am still using placeholder graphics but a lot of the engine is in place. One can wonder about the world, examine and pick up items. You items on other items and tiles. I also have the beginning of NPCs in place. They are capable of being your enemy and attacking you or chasing an alternative target if it is present. Marvel at the beautiful placeholder graphics below

Acre

Acre

Acre

Acre

Acre

I did plan to blog about my recent balloon ride. But I have to say it feels rather distant and ethereal now. Regardless to say I was dubious about entrusting my life to wicker especially since it had a hole in it (see below the photo I took of the nothingness between the earth and my fragile yet manly body) but it kept me up in the air even when lady gravity missed me so much. I was a little shocked about the pilot (a title I think is overly generous considering he can only control the elevation of the balloon) putting me to work so aggressively. I was made to both help inflate the balloon (hold a giant piece of rope and making sure the balloon did not engulf the near by people, cars, or horses. I was also made to help with the landing (push the basket away from the large prickly hedge that was speeding towards us), and help with the deflating of the balloon (again holding a giant piece of rope to keep the balloon from engulfing yet more victims). Once more my lummox physique has betrayed my tiny unhelpful heart. Please note, just because I look like I can help, and sport a friendly but slightly vacant expression does not mean I want to help or will not seek revenge if forced to help.

Where all going to die!!

It is nearly time for my jog so I best go prepare. To sum up work on acre is going amazingly, balloons are more work than you think especially for the larger gentlemen, and I should hopefully be back to regular blogs from now on

Much love

-Jon

May 30

The Last Lap elation

Hello faithful readers of the text! Incidentally how many followers do you need before you make that intrepid leap from crazy/con man to cult leader? Tell me and I shall reward you with some refreshing kool aid (as soon as I have determined what the British counterpart is)

Normally I blog late, you may not notice but each week I actually intend to blog on Friday although I rarely mange to, blogging instead late on Saturday or Sunday. This week I am blogging late late! One could despair at ones tardiness but one does not, for two reasons! (Sorry I could not resist). Firstly the quality bar is set pretty low as it stands. I am simply not talented enough to phone this stuff in! Finally I am hoping late late, with turn into late late late, and so on and so forth until it becomes on time. Fingers crossed this is just the bedding in period before a long and fulfilling life of prompted and purposeful blogging :D

Now that you are wholly wooed it is time to get to business! Firstly I am very happy to announce that I am finally on the victory lap of Grub. There are few tasks left to complete so the beta release of Grub is imminent. Once the beta release has ironed out any issues with the game play I will be all set to role out the full and final version!

Last week I added the redefine keys system, the tutorial system, credits, the remaining music, the pre-loader, improved the level selection screen and fixed a few bugs. Wow I have been busy! Below are a few screen shots of the changes

Grub mission tutorial

Grub controls tutorial

Grub level select

I also completed the third painting in my Literary Nutcases theme. This week's subject is a little different from the last two in that he currently lives and is one of my favourite authors. He is the wonderful Grant Morrison. I am still toying with Lovecraft however after reading his wiki pages I am not sure if he really held any none conventional beliefs. I have got my hands on a documentary which will hopefully give me more insight. Below is the Grant Morrison painting and also the template / poor attempt at paper art.

Grant Morrison by Jon-Paul Keatley

Grant Morrison paper art attempt

Much Love

- Jon

May 21

Inspiration overload

Blog ho me hearties!

How are things with you? Good I hope. This week has been fairly positive. I have got another painting sorted, started re-reading I'm A Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter, and made some good progress on Grub

As the title of this blog suggests I have been having a little trouble with inspiration this week. The problem is that throughout the week I have been frequented by (in my humble opinion) good ideas. The main problem with this it that its takes a certain amount of will power to keep focused on the project at hand when a parade of ideas are marching through the normally empty space behind my eyes. Here are some of the ideas I have had this week, a painting idea for a friend. A text generator based on the relationship between words. A rabbit simulator that uses weighted possible actions to drive behaviour. A sun collector powered sterling engine. And finally a possible direction for a web based business. The sterling engine is currently on top of the alluring ideas stack closely followed by the text generator. In fact I think I will attempt to build a sterling engine tomorrow

Grub wise progress continues to march on. This week I have finished four level themes. I have partially introduced the tutorial elements. Added three more food types. I also started work on finalising the redefine keys system but ran out of time due to a school boy error. It seems you need to disable the shortcuts in order for the Keyboard.ON_DOWN event to detect keys bound to the shortcuts. I only noticed by blind luck as I happened to try and redefine the action button to A. Below are some screenshots of the new world themes

Grub theme 2

Grub theme 3

Grub theme 4

As mentioned I have also finished another painting in my Literary Nutcases theme. This week I painted Aleister Crowley AKA The Beast! It came out pretty much as intended (after a false start where I messed up on the first layer). I am not full convinced I like it, although that is how I feel about everything I create. Currently I flip flop between liking it and planning to redo it. I will see how I feel tomorrow. You can judge for yourself as I have included Crowley in his old man form below.

The Beast

Well that is all for this week. It is late and I have a cheeky bottle of wine that is daring me to take her top off :P

Much Love

-Jon

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