Game Dev Update #3 – This Time with Audio

The third update on my game dev project.

I’ve decided to take the plunge and record another game dev update video. This time with audio. Having free time that aligns pretty much with my son’s nap time, I was very hesitant to record any audio… which made videos no fun. But I’ve got a new mic that lets me talk much more quietly, and Laz sleeps much more regularly, so I’ve now got the confidence to make this regular.

I’ve been busy in the past month updating my files to Unreal 4.8, getting a versioning system in place (I’m using Perforce with OneDrive for versioning and Cloud backup), and of course learning more things in Unreal so that I can actually eventually have something that resembles a game.

You can see it in action here:

Some of the new stuff since the last video include:
-Getting a different mic, suitable for my recording needs
-Porting from UE4.7 to 4.8
-Moving to a persistent level system which includes loading/unloading, persistent bg music, matinee screen fade when changing levels, multiple doorways doable per level
-Quick save prototype that lets your character resume at the same location when loading a game
-NPC that moves to scripted locations
-Inventory / Crafting system prototype based on

I’ll likely spend a bit of time refining the inventory this week, but hope to only fix some glaring problems before spending time with dialog. The dialog system I’m looking into uses spreadsheets, which I think could be beneficial to add to the inventory system… so it’s not worth polishing too much until I can look into that.

See you soon!

Working on Game Dev Again


Last time I updated the blog, I had a kid. This has not changed, I still have a kid. What this means is that my spare time has suddenly diminished below what I feel is humanly acceptable. So the only choice I seem to have, is to stop being so damned human.

I’m working on Game Dev once more. Both for my day job, and my night job. During the day, I’m working as a VFX artist in Vancouver once again, but this time on a game project that I’m pretty happy to be a part of! I’ll leave the details vague on that as my website really isn’t intended to be a bragging and or venting place regarding the ole 9-5.

My night time work, however involves A: making sure that my wife gets time to work on her shit (meaning I’m on baby duty), and B: attempting to squeeze in whatever bit of productivity I can when the young’un is asleep. Let me say this: being a parent has taught me time management. While I was able to throw my time onto whatever I wanted in the past (largely resulting in playing video games) I’ve come to realize just how precious a commodity time is. I feel like I’m much more able to just sit and focus now than I could this time last year.

So, hopefully this means you can expect me to once again make some regular noise here as I tinker on a side project. No more travel vlogs for me. Those things were boring even me, so I can’t imagine what kind of torture they must have been for someone *else* to try and watch :)

Enough rambling though. As I said, time is precious.

Here’s the playlist I’ve got up on YouTube covering progress on the game I’m now trying to prototype. As of this post going live, I’ve only got two videos. Things I’ve blocked in so far include: Character movement, with a locked 3rd person camera. Being able to move an object around the environment, and a day/night/year system that tracks whether the user is in the northern or southern hemisphere and behaves appropriately for the time of year.

I’ve also got Perforce set up and running to manage file versions though that process isn’t covered in the videos.

Lazarus Soren Phoenix

My son, Lazarus Soren Phoenix was born in December!

I’ve got a new addition to the family!

We had our son earlier this month, and as you can probably tell by the hour at which this blog post has been created, he’s done wonders for our sleep habits. We decided to name him Lazarus Soren Phoenix, mostly because we just like the combination of sounds. We wanted something unique, and something that would stand out a bit. While some cultures feel that a child should inherit the mother’s last name, and other cultures feel that a child should inherit the father’s last name, others still take their names from religion. Back in the day many last names were derived from the town the person hailed from, or what they did for a living. When people moved to new countries, spellings were often altered. With all this lack of convention, we decided that there wasn’t any point in sticking with any one convention in particular and decided to give our son his own last name.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this little guy turns out!

Rocking a Player 3 has Joined the Game onesie from etsy, baby Lazarus Soren Phoenix is the New Challenger that is Approaching.

Onesie purchased from: Mami Origami
The background is by: Vecky Graphics ~ 03/23/2012
License: Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution Non-Commercial

The Animation Workout

The Animation Workout is a podcast started by animator Andrea K Haid

Back in September, my wife (Andrea K. Haid) started a podcast called The Animation Workout. Andrea’s a 2D animator who graduated from Sheridan College’s final year of the Classical Animation program and has since worked in Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto, and San Francisco as a character animator for television and video games. She’s got a couple of hours of content up now including interviews with the amazing illustrator – Deanna Marsigliese, and brilliant animator – Joanna Davidovich.

If you’re a fan of podcasts, why not check it out? You can visit her website directly, or subscribe on iTunes if that’s your thing.

Vlog #15 From Scotland to England

Glen Coe is one of the more impressive features in Scotland between Fort William and Glasgow.

Long time no see!

Between preparing for the impending arrival of a newborn child, creating an online Houdini training course for, and even doing some classroom training at Lost Boys Studio in Vancouver, I’ve been pretty busy the past few months! I feel terribly guilty whenever I start trying to do self-promotion… even here on my own site. I haven’t bothered to try talking up my Houdini course very much, but I’m pleased with how it turned out. If you want a practical project that will get you started passing data around through every context of Houdini then you should consider checking out that Force Field project I linked above.

As for the Vlog, I’ve still got a bit of my travel through the UK that I’d like to brag about, so without further ado here’s Vlog #15!

I’d been planning on revisiting the Fairy Pools on my last day during my Scotland Road Trip, but with full memory cards, depleted batteries (both biological and technological) and poor weather, I decided to just head back to Glasgow for a bit of rest before continuing the next day to the far south east of England.

I didn’t stop for photos on the way to Dover since it’s a rather lengthy drive from Glasgow, but there’s a few final photos from the Scotland road trip now visible in the album on Flickr.

Vlog #14 North West Highland Geopark

The best part about driving around Scotland is encountering these totally random castles that you weren't expecting to be there.

After Vlog #13, I camped up by Strathy Point Lighthouse. In my naivety, I had hoped to find some Aurora activity; however this is not something one can expect to see in summer. It was still light out after midnight. Disappointed/relieved, I went to sleep much earlier than expected.

I woke up and continued west toward Durness, stopping in for a bit to explore Smoo Cave. For just £4, you can have a short tour of the cave. Definitely worth a stop in the next time you find yourself at the far north of Scotland.

From Durness, it was time to start the trip back south. I took the A838 south toward Ulapool, making frequent stops along the way to look about. Sometimes, just from my window, sometimes attempting a failed time lapse in the rain, sometimes climbing over a fence to explore a castle with some sheep, and sometimes up the side of a cliff just to see what could be seen.

With my goal for day 4 being to visit Skye, I decided just to find somewhere close-ish to Eilean Donan castle to wild camp for the night. I believe I ended up in a nice secluded spot near Loch Dughaill.

Photos can be found on Flickr.

Vlog #13 From Oban to Thurso

Castle Stalker was made famous in part by Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It's an amazing place to visit!

Day two of my four day trip around Scotland saw me drive from Oban to Thurso. Getting up rather early, I headed to Castle Stalker where I was quite eager to record some time lapse.

Despite being out in a relatively remote location, there was still the occasional person around and I saw several boats coming and going to the castle. Getting to see the location, made famous by Monty Python, was great and I wound up with some images that I feel were worth the trip.

From there I headed to Fort William, where I must confess I hastily ate a Big Mac before continuing west to Glenfinnan Monument.

Glenfinnan itself was nice, but my trip was rather packed with places to be and my schedule didn’t afford me the time I should have had to properly explore and hike.

After Glenfinnan, I continued north to Thurso. I stopped only a couple of times.. either for fuel or photos. I enjoyed the Highlands north of Inverness. It was a relatively nice drive and I stopped in at Dingwall for dinner at… well, I’ve eaten at better restaurants.

Unfortunately I didn’t make as good of time as I’d hoped, and as we were past the Solstice, I hadn’t accounted for the earlier sunset than I had been counting on. I guess it’s important to check for the times on these things :) but this means that I only just caught the sun set, and not from where I had hoped to be. Still, it was beautiful.

Be sure to check out the photos on Flickr!

Vlog #12 From Glasgow to Melrose to Oban

A random field on the drive from Melrose to Oban, Scotland.

I decided to make a four day road trip that would take me to some of the sights which were left on my to-do list before my time was up in Scotland. Leaving Glasgow in the early afternoon on a Monday, I made my way south east to Melrose, before heading north west to Oban.

Don’t miss diving up the east side of Loch Lomand, it’s quite beautiful!

I didn’t get many photos this day, but you can check out some of them at my flickr page.

Vlog #11 In Which I Hike Drymen to Rowardennan

Ben Lomond is definately one of the nicer areas I made it to in Scotland. Check ou this southern-most Munro if you get the chance.

My second day hiking the West Highland Way was less successful than my first. I had unfortunately not paid proper attention to how much micro fiber tape I had left from previous hikes, and so I ran out first thing in the morning. Since I wasn’t wearing suitable footwear, and had no tape blisters started to form pretty early in the day.

If you’re going to hike like I did… wear proper fitting/broken in shoes for hiking. Wool socks are also much better for absorbing sweat than the cotton ones I was wearing. Tape, socks, shoes. They make a huge difference.

At any rate, I was able to get a nice time lapse of Ben Lomond on this hike, but I wasn’t particularly satisfied with the first stages of the West Highland Way. It’s an experience that I’m glad I attempted, but it’s not worth lugging tons of camera equipment with you. At least not for these first two days. I imagine that the last half of the full trail has some great scenery.

Aside from the time lapse, I only ended up with about eight photos that I was satisfied with. You can see them over on my flickr:

I Felt Like Doing Some Street Fighter II Pixel Art

Nothing like a day of making retro things even more retro such as this Street Fighter II pixel art

I’ve been pondering for quite a while now what I want my own game to look like. I’ve been waffling between it being somewhere between a Zelda-like style or a Quest for Glory-like style… I haven’t been sure how much I wanted it to be tile based, versus each screen being a unique illustration. I think I’ll try to find some sort of a happy medium where I make unique backgrounds but find a way to get some re-use in there from time to time. But while exploring syles I think I’ve decided that I’m going to go with a look similar to what I’ve done in the below Street Fighter II fan art. I whipped these off today as an exploration, and I think that limiting the graphics to this quality will give me something I’m happy with while not being overly time consuming to produce.

Anyways, I chose Street Fighter II to play around with as it was an amazing game that I loved as a kid. It’s got a great ensemble of characters, and it was fun to sit back, relax, and play around with some pixels today. I tracked down the old profiles from the game to make sure that they were kind-of-sort-of height proportional to each other.

Be sure to click the thumbnail to see the larger image!

Street Fighter II fan art done in a retro pixel style

Which was your favourite character to play?