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 fxphd.com, 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: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allegrodigital/sets/72157646306034728/

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?

Vlog #10 In Which I Commence The West Highland Way

Beware of Poisonous Monkeys on Scotland's West Highland Way

We start off this vlog with a bit of rambling about my exciting plans (which I’ll only give myself two days to actually plan -after- my three day hike…).

I then start off on a short journey along the West Highland Way, one of Scotland’s most hiked trails and one which bring tourists from all around the world. These would be tourists who are generally used to living a more active lifestyle than I, I’m sure.

Vlog #9 In which I show a couple of extra time lapses

The fairy pools is an amazing part of the Isle of Skye, regardless of the weather.

My last vlog was essentially just an announcement that you could go watch the time lapses that I recorded while in the UK.

In this vlog, I include two additional time lapses from places I’ve visited, but hadn’t included in my montage sequence. Both the Fairy Pools, and Quiraing are excellent places to visit on the Isle of Skye. While the weather was quite rainy at the Fairy Pools, my time at the Quiraing was perfect, but I just didn’t feel that it fit with the other sequences.

Now that I’m back in SF, I’m set-up with a phone plan and am beginning planning a few new things, but I still have plenty of backlog for videos to post. Expect to see more from my trip around Europe over the next couple of weeks.

Also, did I mention that I’m going to be a father? I’m going to be a father.

Vlog #8 In which I reveal my UK Time Lapses

An image of Saint Michael's Mount in Cornwall, one of the many locations filmed for Stephen Tucker's time lapse compilation while he was in the UK.

I’m back in San Francisco! This vlog’s mostly an announcement video that you should check out and share my first ever time lapse montage video. The real meat of today’s edition of Allegro Digital, is the actual time lapse montage below.

Finding myself in the United Kingdom for a couple of months, I made an effort to get out now and then and see some of the landscapes that the nation has to offer. Most of where I visited was throughout Scotland, however there’s a little bit of Cornwall to be found in this video as well.

I used a Canon 7D with either a EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM or a Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD for the various shots in this montage.

Scotland has some beautiful landscapes, and I hope you enjoy this taste of them and share if you like it. It was great to have the opportunity to shoot these time lapses. Some of the photos from this trip can be found on my Flickr page at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allegrodigital. Also expect me to continue playing “catch-up” as I post the rest of these vlogs which were recorded in the United Kingdom.

Passing Time in the UK from Stephen Tucker on Vimeo.

Music is:
“Ambiment” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Vlog #7 In which my inner indie game dev resurfaces

Pixel art that I created for a previous indie game I was developing, called Super Hematoma

For those not in the know, in 2012 I began working on some indie game development. This later turned into incorporating a business, doing a fair chunk of design, pixel art, music, and marketing before development ended up coming to a halt. My partner and I went our separate ways, and this led to me taking my short contract in Scotland in the first place.

Earlier this the year, I had begun tinkering with a new project and learning Unity when I first saw that my partner was falling behind on programming our original project. My experiences here in Scotland have made me really want to get back into working on this Unity project, and so I’ve decided to revisit it.

There’s a bit of a time gap between Vlog 6 and 7; in that time I was redesigning my website, going through Unity tutorials, and doing some preliminary planning for the game. By the time I felt it was worth making an update, I had decided that Unity is not the direction I want to take this game.

It’s a bit of a tough decision as I’ve already invested a considerable amount of time into Unity and like the tools… but I feel that as a one person team, I’m going to have to use whatever tools I can to get the job done efficiently. I think that for what I have in mind now, Adventure Game Studio is going to be the tool that makes this project the easiest, and so I’m going to be pursuing that going forward.

If you’re interested in game dev yourself, you may wish to check out some of these tools:

  • Adventure Game Studio – Game development package for adventure games
  • Aseprite – Animated Sprite Editor
  • Famitracker – a free windows tracker for producing music for the NES/Famicom-systems
  • Graphics Gale – Powerful tool for spriting and pixel art.
  • Little Sound DJ – A tool used by the original Game Boy/Emulators to create chiptunes with the Game Boy sound chip.
  • PETileMapper – An importer for getting pixel art created with Pyxel Edit easily into Unity.
  • Pyxel Edit – Pixel art editor designed to make tilesets easy
  • Solarus -The free and open-source Action-RPG engine
  • Unity – 3D and 2D game development environment with multiplatform publishing