New Direction

My past few posts have felt more like a diary entry than what I assume should be a blog post (and have already been removed). Which end up making me feel silly after for expressing what feels like personal thoughts, into a field which generally only wants to read something relevant to them.

I’m still learning, and figuring out if these are even something I want people to read. It’s more for myself at the moment, and I’ll do one whenever I feel like it.

I did want to talk about what I’ve been up to lately.

Past couple months have been sort of a blur between game development, and learning new skills.

Something I’ve been quite interested in learning for a loooong period of time is Shaders.

Programming Shaders. The type of coding that some consider the black magic of programming.

I’ve been trying to slowly gain a better grasp of shaders, and have gotten to the point where I can fairly comfortably read HLSL/CG, and write them in Unity’s ShaderLab.

It is similar to C#, and once you understand it, it’s not black magic. It can involve a lot of math though…

Though most of what I’ve been doing hasn’t been anything to spectacular. However, I have gained a far greater understanding of how computers compute things like normal maps, albedo, emission, metallic, spec, etc. (Pretty much everything that makes up a PBR texture).

It’s been quite interesting.

I have a few Shader projects for myself I want to complete in the next little while:

Easiest – Create a texture with translucency that moves/distorts itself on top of a model.

Mediumish – Sonar Echo pulse thing… Moves over top of a model outlining it’s geometry.

Image result for detroit become human gif

Something like this…

Hardest – create something as close as possible to the Sea of Thieves’ ocean

Image result for sea of thieves waterImage result for sea of thieves water gif

I can dream…. I caaaan Dream.

I was also going to play around with creating my own lighting model, and make something toon shader esc.

Though I have already done some thing like that, and I might play around with trying to make the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker toon shader, or making my own to the idea I have in mind.

I don’t normally post my work since I can never deem it as good enough to show, but I will try to post some stuff in the future. in regards to my work.

Whether it be Shaders or something completely different.

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Ludum Dare 40

December 1st to 4th, that was the duration of Ludum Dare 40. This was my first Ludum Dare, but not my first game jam. (if you are unfamiliar, it is a 72 hour game jam.)

The theme of this jam was: “The more you have, the worse it is”. It was an interesting theme.

I probably spent the first 20 hours trying to come up with a concept that was scoped appropriately to my known abilties. This length of time was also used to go out to dinner with family, sleep, and teach my regular programming classes, but by the end of all this I still didn’t know what I was going to do. That was until I told one of the other instructors where I work about my dilemma.

He pitched some ideas, which gave me a creative spark, which led to the idea, which was later called “Collect More Precious”. I’m still not super jazzed about the name, but even now, 2 days after the fact, as I have mentally recovered can still not think of anything else to call it.

Naming was never really a strong point.

Though I feel I should give a shout out to Instructor Shervin for helping me with my development block 🙂

In this game you play as a ‘Treasure Goblin’ (inspired by Diablo, you know those goblins carrying around those fat sacks of loot, where if you kill them they drop a bunch of swag? YEAH, THOSE GUYS, EVERYONE WANTS TO KILL THOSE GUYS). Though the story has changed several times during the course of development, the final take was you are trying to collect more treasure for master. Get all the gold and loot you can, and get out as quickly as possible, as you don’t want to keep master waiting.WIP_screenshot

Unfortunately story doesn’t matter too much, as there is none of it touched on in the game, and there is only one level, which I just barely managed to complete on top of everything else that I needed to do.Gameplay002

I wanted some Adventurers in there that wanted to take the Goblin’s treasure, but I had to ditch that Idea in the essence of time 😦

WIP_Adventurer

Still I am Happy I was able to pump it out in time, by myself. Initial scoping plans were just a little ambitious, but I was able to change course effectively during development, with losing a couple hours of work.Gameplay004

Not the best result, but I consider this a win, with great learning experience as well practice.Gameplay005

If you are interested feel free to check out the hosting site over at gamejolt, and either download the game, or play it in browser.

Now I am on to my next thing(s). I have some Art courses, and some character rigging courses at the top of my to do list.

Hopefully I can get back to my game projects in the next few weeks.

Derek

The Beginning or the End

Well, it’s happening again. Lord knows I’ve tried to start a blog, a few times. Always sounds like a good idea at the time. I come at it with the best of intentions.

The Games/Digital Media/Entertainment Industry seems like you need a strong online presence to be seen. Well here I am again… trying to be seen. (I’m tall enough, I should be easily noticeable, c’mon people…)

Let’s talk Present-Future. I’m quitting my current semi full time job. I work as a Sales Associate at a Fitness studio franchise called “OrangeTheory Fitness”. Honestly love the workouts, and will probably pick myself a membership up again shortly after I’m gone (As I leave, so to does the benefits of using the facilities for free, good bye sweet free workouts, you will be missed).

The reason for my future absence is mostly due to lack of motivation. I don’t see myself progressing in the field of sales, and wish to focus my time on the areas of my life that truly matter to me. There are other some other reasons as well, lets not talk about those.

My last day is Nov 30th, and today I said goodbye to sir Steve. A comical coach that I frequently closed the day out with. He as well as everyone else there shall be missed (but on the slim-to-none chance you are reading this Steve, I miss you the most. Tell your ego I said your welcome 😉 ).

I’ll tell myself I’ll visit every now and again, but I’m honestly the worst at keeping in touch. So many people I need to get back in touch with, but I seem to just let them keep drifting further and further away from me, but that is a story for another day… maybe…

Now on to the next big thing.

With my main source of income coming to an end a question comes that is: “What next?”

What next indeed.

Here is what I came up with.

School. Or rather home school.

This next month I am going to be putting my all into furthering my education, and here is how:

  • Pluralsight
  • StackSkills
  • Udemy
  • CubeBrush
  • Pencil Kings

The things just listed are websites I have been chipping away at course work over the past couple years. Most notably Pluralsight, which used to be Digital Tutors to me before they were acquired by Pluralsight.

A mix of Programming and Art skills is what I am after, with the goal of furthering my knowledge and expertise in all things games.

I would really like to be a Technical Artist though I am still not 100% what that job description is since each one is different…

I have always been fascinated with how a computer can interpret code on a screen. Robotics. Computers. Making them bend to my will [insert evil laughing].

I like to think I have a good understanding of the fundamentals. Pluralsight to thank for that. Coupled with my already good understanding of Unity, is probably how I was able to land a part time job as a teacher, teaching kids how to program.

That doesn’t come without it’s shortage of insecurity, and self doubt. Having never had a real programming job, or a formal education in Computer Science has left me feeling inadequate in a lot of areas related to that field of study, and wondering if what I know is enough. Along with the fear of unknowing. “You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it”… Terrifying…

As for Art, I only discovered my art side roughly 4 years ago. I haven’t been doing to most to cultivate it, but I really want to start tapping into that again, as I really enjoyed my time spent, and results received from applying myself into that creative vein in my life.

I have this strange recurring fantasy where I am a concept artist, 3D Character Artist, and all things Animator. Yeah… We’ll see how long that lasts.

On top of my plethora of coding, art, and a little business, courses lined up, I will also try to apply my knowledge over a series of small to large projects, which I am hoping to document here on this blog.

Motivation is one of the biggest risks to my whole self education plan, and this blog is one of my ‘hopeful’ combatants to this. Something to hold me accountable. However, this plan has failed me before, so on top of this I have joined a meetup group to get out and study with others.

The next few weeks/months look bright, as there are at least 3 game jams coming up I will be attending. Love me some game Jams, they push me past the norm, and is a realm where motivation is a non-issue.

Hopefully I will have something better to talk about coming up!

Until then, yours truly.

Derek