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Jan 18

Crafting Content

Greetings fine pre-sopa banned internet users! As you can see from scrolling down a little I haven't blogged in sometime. It seems I have grown ever tardier as the blogs go on. I think the fact that I have been running around like a mad man trying to come up with a plan to put a roof over my head and food in my stomach has been the main factor in my tardiness. My plan of gaining employment this month remains unchanged. I finally got my Microsoft money and my car is on the road. My lovely lady has decided she wants to live with me which is amazing and also means the rent will be cheaper :D. So all I need now is a Job.

To that end I have sadly taken a little break from games to ready my folio and CV for the great job hunt. I should be ready by the end of next week and will be moving to my lady friend's parent's house while I apply. This will mean I am near by for any interviews and of course see my lady friend :D. As part of my push to polish my portfolio I have dusted off some of my other sites and started creating content for them. Doodle Diary is a little site that contains daily doodles. Random Jam is a game prototype site where you have to make games based on randomly generated titles. I actually had so much fun making the game prototype that I plan to do another in a weekend or so. I have also added links to these sites as well as my Art shop and Portfolio site on the right hand column. Below is a screenshot of my Random Jam game Annoying Trebuchet Fishing.

AFT

As this is primarily an indie game site I should probably mention games. My plans for Acre went horribly wrong when I realised I spent so long focusing on the tech that I had totally forgotten what I was planning to make with it so I put that on the back burner and started work on a farming game. What I want from the farm game is Harvest Moon without the RPG element and with crafting and greater customisation. After a little polling on Twitter I have decided my farm game will be called Plough Wow! Below is a screen shot. I will sadly have very little time to continue this game until I have a job and have settled in to my new place but I am determined to finish it, even more so as it is a game I really want to play.

Plough Wow

A few nights a go I dreamt that I made a Downton Abbey game using the Acre engine and it was amazing. So amazing I have decided I will make a period game based on it. You will play a lady or gentleman of a manor (I haven't fully decided which one yet) and the objective of the game will be to incriminate the other members of the house while avoiding the scandals of your own dastardly deeds.

I have also been thinking a lot about what went wrong with Love Hurts and I think I have a good list of improvements that I could make. To that end I am considering doing a sequel. Story wise I want to make it about how the first game was so poorly received. Not in an angry way, more about the different stages of grief I went through when I realised it was a massive flop and how I finally realised that it was my own fault it failed. I have also decided to bundle the original Love Hurts with it as it is the foundation of number 2.

Now I best go as I need to add paging to the news section of my folio site.

Hopefully blog again soon

Much Love

-Jon

Oct 13

A bold new plan

Things have been pretty quiet for a while. This has been because I have been dating a lot and have totally run out of money. To try and remedy this I spent the last month trying to earn some money. I did a little contract work and I created Art.Jon-Keatley.com. Sadly I have not made any sales yet but I am still hopeful that things will pick up. To try and attract some business I am currently having a 40% sale on all items and have free delivery within the UK

Art.Jon-Keatley.com

Considering my failure to gain any kind of decent income I have decided that the best thing to do is to get a job and focus on indie games in my own time. I decided that I will start looking in January so I do not end up with anther depressing Christmas where I have to work because I haven't been at the company long enough to afford the holiday off. I have also decided to move to the Cambridge area as they have a pretty good indie scene and plenty of jobs. Doing so will move me a lot closer to my lady friend which is an added bonus. When I was in Maidenhead I rented a room in a shared cottage and it was utter hell. I was living with two guys in their late 40s and it was truly, truly awful. So this time I want to get a place on my own. After a quick look at rental prices it has become apparent that I will need all my Microsoft money to move and get my car back on the road.

Now that the January deadline is set in stone (as I simply can not afford to move before Microsoft pays me) I have a few months to play with. This means Indie games!! I have decided to make Acre episodic and plan to get the first episode out around the end of November. As it will be episodic I will have to write a much larger story, something I am very excited about. After the November release I want to do 5 more episodes release 2 months apart. I am also tempted to do a tiny week long project just to get a quick win under my belt. I will consider this over the weekend and either spend next week doing that or start writing for Acre if I am unable to think up an interesting week long project.

That is the short and curlies of what is going on with me at the moment. I will try and get back to regular posts from now on.

Much Love

-Jon

Aug 25

Update

Hello! I have been a little absent, sorry about that. Over the last few weeks, wooing has taken over my weekends so I had even less free time to work with. Other than doing amazingly well with the wooing (I can hug her whenever I want without the police getting involved!!) everything has just been steadily moving forward.

Work on Acre has been going well. I now have all the core mechanics in place and just need to add visual effects, sound, and the surround stuff. I also added a basic lighting system. I was tempted to go with a more complex system but I decided it is fine as it is for now. I may add slight light variations just to make things look a little cooler but that is something for later in the project. I have how ever taken a short break from working on Acre which I will explain in a moment. I also rewrote the combat and collision systems and added a weapon mode to the item system. You now have to stand still to attack. This solved a lot of the knock back issues and adds an element of risk to combat. Before if you had a weapon then you where unstoppable. Once the effects and sound is done I plan to actually start on the art work. I think this will give me an extra boost of energy to get the project out of the door. I have a great feeling about this game. I think it is going to be my best game yet!

Acre light test

Light results in event

Sadly the 15th of this month came and went without any of the money that Microsoft owes me. It seems that despite getting them all the bloody paper work they have came up with yet another reason to not pay me. I can not ask them however because they do not entertain 'where is my money e-mails' until the end of the month! Sadly I had plans for that money, most notably eating and starting a company which will have to be put on hold for the time being. The company not the eating! So now I am having to put development on hold while I pucker up and earn some money. I am hoping to do this with freelance work but to be honest I am getting tempted by the guarantied income provided by a job. So for the next few weeks the focus will be dirty dirty money!

With the previous paragraph in mind I am also working on a little art site in order to sell the various paintings that adorn my walls and provide me with endless pleasure. I say this to install due value into them. For those who actually like my art you can buy my art and enjoy it every day. For those who don't really care for my art but hate me deeply (Could it be you?) you can buy my art in the knowledge that you will be robbing me of one of the few sources of sustainable happiness in my life. Sounds good right :D. Anyhow after reading about various payment services I have decided to go with google checkout. The fees are reasonable (roughly 5 out of every 100) and google pretty much own the internet so you know your details are safe because well they probably already know them and they haven't blabbed yet!

So that is what is going on with me! Oh yeah below is a painting I did for my good friend Edmund. His brief was striking and bold. He is also very good at maths so I decided to base my painting on a shape generated using maths. Enter the chaotic attractor . Once I had wrote a little bit of code to generate my own and played around with the variables to make a pleasing shape (I wrote it in html 5 because I am all hipster and cool) I imported the generated image into flash and drew all over it like a 5 year old! Behold its striking boldness!

Edmunds abstract attractor

Now I need to get back to selling my skills on the docks

Much love

-Jon

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

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