The Sad News

Posted by | Posted in Life | Posted on 10-02-2017

Danni and I have decided to split up.

Things are amicable and we’re supporting each other whilst we go through this because we still care for each other very much.
We’re pretty fucking determined to get through this and remain friends but as you can imagine it is difficult for us both right now.

There are lots of mutual friends who might be worried for us and how this affects things. You are all still our friends and we have no intention of being dicks about any of it. So see both of us, it’s appreciated.

Hugs, cake and beer are also appreciated.


Health Update

Posted by | Posted in Life | Posted on 21-01-2017

So I’m not dead :)

Not in much danger of dying from the heart thing either. It turns out I have some kind of tachycardia which in my case, since there are many different ways it can affect you, means that my heart just tries to run too fast.

We always used to joke that I was overclocked as I was very hyperactive as child.
It transpires that we were right.

For the last few months I’ve been trying out some low dose medication in the form of cardio specific beta-blockers and they seem to be working. I had 2 months on them, a few weeks off, and then back on them.

The only trouble I’ve had was during the few weeks where I stopped taking them. Apparently I found a bouncey castle just a bit too much fun and had a take a rest to recover, otherwise I’d have collapsed.

This means that I will probably have to keep taking them forever however they’re a very low dose and I have had no side effects.

Of course this gets reviewed every six months, or each year, but for now I’m exercising again and much happier that I won’t be collapsing unexpectedly!

Some health issues.

Posted by | Posted in Life | Posted on 08-10-2016

I wasn’t going to bother posting about these but they’re dragging on for so long that it’s … well it’s just time like I feel I need to talk about them I guess.

The minor health issue is that I had a lump on my head, for a year now. It’s nothing serious just a cyst, lots of people get them, sometimes they go away but at other times they need removing or become infected.

I went to the doctors after putting up with it for about 3 months and he said to come back in 3 more months. That was October last year so when I got it removed on Friday (7/10/2016) it has been there for almost 15 months. It has annoyed me every single fucking day of that time, and night. It’d probably still be there right now but thankfully I started seeing another Doctor (about health issue number 2 below) and she actually did something about it, including the minor surgery to remove it. In the end it’s made a mess because it had not only burst and gotten infected but had done so repeatedly over those 15 months and thus had made a mess of the area.

The second issue is a little more serious but we’re hoping that it proves to be relatively minor and easy to treat, maybe even temporary! (optimism!).

I started feeling faint and having to stop some of my exercise / training sessions back in June (yes this is ongoing, yay for the NHS) so after doing the obvious stuff like taking a break and making sure I was getting enough vitamins etc I went back to exercising and … had exactly the same problem. Since then I’ve only had a few things done: Blood tests, ECG, worn a heart monitor for 7 days, but this has taken absolutely fucking forever.

  • General health check, drink, diet, glands etc health interview 10 minutes – 1 week wait for appointment.
  • Blood tests – 10 minutes – 2 week wait for appointment then 2 weeks for results (the results showed nothing amiss so they didn’t bother to phone me, idiots).
  • ECG – 10 minutes – done same day, instant results! (done at the Doctors surgery).
  • Heart Monitor – 6 weeks waiting list, 10 minute appointment (2 hours waiting), 7 days monitoring, up to 4 weeks for results.

I’m still waiting for the results of the heart monitor and probably will be until NOVEMBER! No rush anyone it’s only my HEART. There’s not even any guarantee that the heart monitor will show anything and that’s beacuse it wasn’t really “monitoring” anything.

You see the device you wear has a two sticky tabs that connect the wires to you, you must apply them correctly yourself twice a day which is pretty easy but also stupidly simple to get wrong. These sticky pads come in two forms, really itchy and “AARRRGH GET IT OFF ME!!!“, they don’t give you many of the “really itchy” kind because they cost more…

Next up is the issue that it only actually records something when you press a button it, and you only have 10 slots in the devices memory to record things, the button is very badly placed making it easy to press it by accident when for example:

  • You need to move it because it’s clipped to your belt stupidly and you can’t sit down wearing it
  • You need to move it back onto your belt because the wires are short and you can’t stand up when it’s clipped too a pocket
  • It’s fallen off your belt because the clamp is weak
  • You’ve gone to the loo and need to drop your trousers so have to either unplug it or hold somehow whilst you “go”
  • You roll over on it in your sleep and try to move it
  • a thousand and other situations that make you despair of actually having any slots left to record anything

Also this requires you to realise that you should be recording something, the device does no recording or monitoring of it’s own, just a 30 second long window of memory so that when you do press the button it *might* have caught the thing that just passed by that you wanted it to record. In total it records 1 minutes worth of data in each slot because after pressing it records that previous 30 seconds + the next 30 seconds.

Of course if you’re me you only get these problems when doing things like exercising, which I’ve been told not to do… so guess what I did?

  • The day after I got it I deliberately ran up and down the 6 flights of stairs in our building until I nearly collapsed: and pressed the button.
  • The next day we went for a long tiring walk around the nature reserve: another press although not sure that was worth it.
  • Then the first accidental press round at a friends… great.
  • Finally on the Monday I went to see my personal trainer where I used to do group sessions and exercise and we did an hour of very tough training with the result: I had to press that button 3 damned times! I count that as a positive though since that was the point.

There might have been other times that I should have pressed the button, but I’m the patient, I don’t know what my heart *should* be doing, it’s always been in here thumping away and apparently that’s not always been right so how do we know that I’m getting the correct data?

Hopefully by November (NOVEMBER FFS!) we should have an answer to whats wrong and then maybe I can get treatment and start to be more active again, I can stop feeling so tired and worn out as often.

I don’t want anyone to worry, we’re pretty sure that it’ll be some minor form of Tachycardia which will be treatable either with a short course of something, or pills forever.


Here finally is that point of this post though, this whole process has been a fucking joke to go through and I know for a fact that it costs peoples lives. I’ve never been worried that it would claim mine but it HAS weighed in mind just because it’s taken so long.

We’ve all seen videos / images of people wired up to ECG machines, with a mask on, running on a treadmill whilst a Doctor makes notes, yes? Well that would have been more effective than the little device I wore to monitor my heart, I know because I sat next to one such setup whilst getting that fucking device and chatting to the nurse. Apparently they don’t use those much anymore because it requires a doctor to be present.

Let me rewind briefly, to June when this started. Thankfully I started by seeing a different Doctor than usual, my usual Doctor (who I will never see again) would just have sent me away with a “come back in 3 months” which he has done for everything I have ever seen him for.

Anyway I’d been having these issues for several weeks by that appointment and it started with the health checkup/interview, then bloodtests and the resting ECG. Since then progress has been pretty glacial and in nearly 2 months I’ve only submitted the heart monitor device for analysis, by the time I get results it will be 3 months and then? Well then lets assume it shows nothing amiss … so I’ll need the next set of tests like a cardio echogram which i dread to imagine what the waiting list is like for that, after that it might be ..? I dunno an X-ray or CT scan or something?

The point is that each of these will have another waiting list, with another appointment with another wait for the results. So how many people die between “Ow my chest, I feel faint” and the diagnosis? Nevermind treatment just diagnosis.

I know someone who died on the waiting list for the very heart monitoring device that I’ve just given back and it freaks me out because I am the same age now as he was then. For what has actually been just 7 days and 30 minutes of tests I’ve had to wait 5 months and will still be waiting for another for the results meaning 6 months from that first doctors visit which was already a couple of weeks after the first problems.

Lets say that instead of the heart monitor I’d had the exercise ECG which takes about 15 minutes. The total time would be 45 minutes of tests, throw in the cardio echogram and call it 1 hour 45 minutes… why isn’t this a single appointment? You’d still have to wait 6 weeks for it but that’d be the whole thing done and dusted. Lets say instead that you need to narrow it down rather than throwing all the possible tests at people, because I’ve been simplifying and there’s a few of them. Split this into two and do the easy stuff first like blood test & resting ECG at the doctors surgery. If that shows the problem then great you’ve got out of the testing loop early, simple optimisation isn’t it :)

If you haven’t gotten a diagnosis though then you’d move onto stage 2, and a battery of non-invasive/non-surgical tests at the hospital done in a single appointment. Spend 6 weeks waiting and 2 hours being prodded and poked. That’d probably deal with 90% of patient straight away, many filtered out at stage 1 with the simple stuff like viral infections, stress, hormone issues etc. Stage 2 would get most everyone else. The remaining few though could be sent onto the specific test(s) that would help them guided by the data they just got.


Then there’s the piece of shite heart monitor that I just had.

I’m fucking appalled by it’s existence, there are devices which actively monitor your heart, and remember it’s just a waveform so you can analyse it easily probably in realtime to detect any issues that might be occuring.

It stores so little data, it costs so much for what is some sram, a tiny cpu, ADC and a op-amp to boost the signal totaling perhaps £10 in parts, it’s usability is somewhere between insulting and a joke, the software that they use is archaic and does absolutely no analysis of it’s own, NONE. At work we were discussing more advanced beat detection in open source audio programs! It’s shocking, even the disposable pads for the electrodes cost £30 to £50 per pack! The result is a costly piece of shit device which probably won’t capture the data needed and has resulted in them no longer using the Exercise ECG machines very much.


So I’m ranting because I’m pissed off by the lethargic, half-arsed process of it all. The waste, the stupidity, the time it’s taken, the rip-off costs for the piece-of-shit equipment that the NHS is using and nowhere that I look can I find an answer to the question: How many people die whilst waiting for a heart condition diagnosis?

We know that it’s non-zero, it’s at least one.

I’ll be fine, this will get diagnosed and it’ll be something simple that can be treated or it’ll be complex… but can be treated. The process to get that far though, is shite, and I bet there’s plenty in the NHS who know that but are powerless to change it.


Posted by | Posted in Life | Posted on 13-12-2015

There are times when I hate my own brain.

This isn’t a depression post by the way, that’s a different way to hate your brain ;)

No this is when I hate my brain because there’s 3 or 5 or 10 different things competing for my conscious attention and it does nothing to filter or quiet them all down.

I start on one task to try and clear the load a little but cannot concentrate due to the competing volume of other things. This I know is the ADHD I’ve always suffered from, the inability to just hold onto one thought for long because the interruptions aren’t from outside, they aren’t pressures, there’s just this constant deluge of things you feel need your attention right now, like RIGHT NOW ANDY!

This is why I actually have 3 different Git repo’s for Pioneer, plus the branches for them all and keep them all sync’d. I know that sounds crazy but it means that I can have multiple instances of VS2015 open and the moment that one thing starts screaming the loudest I can just alt-tab and satisfy that disturbance for a few minutes.

As any coder can tell you though task switching is itself a productivity killer. So I’m less productive overall, yes, but more productive than if I just waded on through trying to ignore the screaming insistence and feeling of urgency.

Sometimes though, it’s just too much, the demands just come constantly and there’s no single loudest impulse for more than a few seconds.

Even concentrating on writing this it’s difficult to maintain the focus.

So i’m going to have a shower, that sometimes quietens it for a bit, maybe make some lunch.

Unspeakably rude.

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, Life | Posted on 11-08-2015

The Incident:

The other night (Friday, 7th Aug) I was in the RoundHouse pub with some friends when I spotted a group of former work colleagues sat at another table.

I exchanged the usual pleasantries with one I know a bit better & thought nothing more of it.

At the end of the evening as they left someone I didn’t know came over and said “Hi I’m ####, you’re Andrew Copland?“, and I said – whilst reaching to shake hands – “Yes that’s me“. He shook my hand and said “I fix all your bugs“.

He let go of my hand and left laughing leaving me in silence with my hand still in the air, stunned.

A friend that I was sat beside asked me if he really had just said that and I, slightly dazed, simply confirmed he had.

This has been bugging me more than it should so I want to get why off my chest.

The Past:

When I started at this former workplace I was broke. It was after another company I worked for had gotten into financial difficulty and not been able to pay, simultaneously several big studios in the UK had gone under and made about 800 developers (in total) redundant in the UK.
There was a massive glut of talent and finding work got really hard, really fast at the worst possible time. I was unemployed from early July to late October that year.

Eventually I went to this place out of desperation, I’d heard bad things about them, so even though they were based very conveniently I’d instead chosen to go up and down the length of the country before applying to them. Partly this was also because it wasn’t a games role but a Tools one and my first time doing more than just tinkering or bug fixes on development tools.

It started fairly badly with some office politics treating the outgoing developer I would replace unfairly. Thankfully the Tools team themselves were great and the guy who was leaving (that I knew already) made that whole time work despite the bullshit.

Sadly about 6 months into this I started to suffer from depression and a little anxiety. It took me a while to realise this of course, anyone with these things will know that they don’t come with an easily identifiable rash or something to give themselves away, they come on slowly and discreetly.

The pressure was on at work due to company finance problems, project deadlines, a new tool that needed creating – which should have been a simple affair and conceptually I had no problem with. However by now my mental health was affecting my work. This was when I realised what was wrong and went to my doctors.

To cut all that short, I got help.

The Fix:

I got some very mild anti-anxiety tablets to stop me having panic attacks and elected not to treat the depression medically but to get counselling (CBT to be precise) instead and to keep medication an option for later if that wasn’t helping.

I also started to look for another job as it was clear that the way the company worked, and the work itself, didn’t suit me at all.

Getting the anxiety under control really helped my work but during the time leading up to this I had written some of the worst code of my entire life. Even with things being better I was still under a lot of time pressure to fix existing bugs / features and to write the new tool so this code also suffered quite badly. I have no doubt that I left some absolute stinkers in that codebase.

Since I started as a technical QA (bug fixer) I’ve been on the receiving end of code like that too. In fact the code I was replacing was already pretty hideous and bug ridden but only because it too was written whilst it was being used in production with all those same time constraints.

What I have never done is approach someone else and mock them for their bad code.

I’m Normal.. No, Really:

Perhaps it’s because I am an average coder, I strive for excellence, I achieve average but I don’t see a reason to beat myself up for that as I always strive for excellence regardless. The attitude that you should only code if you’re some kind of code-magician is only held by the most deplorable of shit heads. Sadly I’ve worked with a few, being openly mocked in a company wide email by the lead programmer of another studio, as junior coder, for asking for help comes to mind. I shrugged it off as my own lead was far more supportive and the better man, it was his opinion (to paraphrase: “Don’t mind him, he’s a dick”) that mattered more. I’ve remained friends with many of the people I’ve worked with, and have been rewarded in my work by always being recommended and thought of highly, sometimes even for my skill and not just my dedication.

Over time I’ve learnt that I’m not alone, other people have gone through periods like me, outside influences in their lives that have affected their proficiency at work. It seems obvious when you say it aloud, but if you’ve been dumped by your girlfriend, divorced by your partner or separated from your children, maybe you suffer from depression or anxiety for any reason, then yes your work will suffer because you are suffering. You shouldn’t be mocked for that, not then and not unfairly in the future when some 20-ish-year-old University graduate has to see those bugs you wrote at one of the lowest and most difficult times of life you’ve yet faced.

My subsequent job was also in Tools, I found out that at least that hadn’t been the problem. Just some combination of the company / tasks / projects / environment had combined badly with what was going on in my personal life at the time to affect so horribly. The next job went well and I enjoyed it until the company was being bought out and I saw an opportunity to get back into developing games themselves. Tools development just isn’t for me, Tools are part of the process of making a game, and it’s the game I wanted to be making.

These days I do contract work, we re-launched an older PC title on Steam with some bug fixes and improvements including replacing the old networking with Steam’s system and I wrote a lot of improvements and additions for it. Now I’m still working with that company and with my friends because everyone has been pleased with my work, for the most part I am too. There are disappointments, I am after all just average and I make mistake or do stupid things, but I’m also successful far more than I fail.

The, let’s be generous and assume nothing malicious, “witty-put-down” I experienced the other night out with friend has been slowly gnawing at my mind now not because I’m without fault but because of that time, because of those difficulties I faced and how much everything hurt…

…well, that and it was a just a really shit thing of them to say ;)



NB: Yes you can probably look at my LinkedIn page and figure out where this all happened but I’ve deliberately omitted that stuff so keep it out of the comments please.

Work, DLC & DRM

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, Life | Posted on 22-01-2015

So, back from Xmas I get my PC working again at long last, several parts later but what the hell eh?

This means back to work too and immediately I am reminded of just how clueless this industry can be. Take our DLC releases, or rather the DLC we’re releasing for other companies for our game. Confused yet? Not as confused as I was since this wasn’t supposed to be on the cards for quite some time yet. However due to the games success it’s been pushed forwards from “many weeks” after launch to… well we’re about to release the 3rd DLC pack on Tuesday! How’s that for a change in timetable.

Maybe it wasn’t a change and the client are simply goddamn awful at communicating with us what is going to be happening, or indeed when it will happen. Having dealt with this now for a few weeks, and through my exhaustion, I can confirm there’s nothing malicious just sheer ineptitude.

The reason I am exhausted is because I’ve been implementing the initial DRM system we’ll be using for future DLC. Yes even whilst we’re releasing DLC that I have to double-check for problems I am writing the DRM for that same system. This is a DRM setup that I explained could take upto 3 months to write, but they wanted it in a hurry so I stripped it down and said “How about 3 weeks?” to which the reply was “Great! We’ll start testing it in 1.5 weeks then!” … that’s not how it works, 3 weeks means it will start working in 3 weeks. No I am of course now committed to doing what was initially a 3 MONTH task in 1.5 weeks because some people can’t read who sadly are also the ones who pay the bills :(

Then there’s the DLC, I’ve had them turn up without you being able to see outside of the plane, then to get a “fixed” version, where the plane was completely invisible. Or when asking for the raw original why is it that we nearly always get the installer? Meaning we must install the thing, get past it’s DRM / license then extract the changed files then build the DLC from them and hope we didn’t miss anything? That’s assuming that anything works. We’ve fixed issues in each and every DLC we’ve received, issues that were in them when they were sold as standalone products for the last 8 years! Simple text file and naming issues that take seconds to fix.

All the while I’m trying to create this whole new DRM system and my mind is staggering under it all.

Thankfully Rocco has finished most /all of his bugs and has taken the DLC checking off my hands, Steve does the initial unpacking/packing and testing, then Roc’ does a sanity pass on it in the Debug build to see what asserts, which given that they’re mostly conversions from an even older version of the game means that lots of things assert.

The lack of professionalism is confusing, nevermind staggering, and tiring to deal with. Files arriving at the very last possible second when testing them properly is impossible because it’s so late in the day, or last minute changes the morning before launch abound. It’s risky and it’s unnecessary.

Mostly I am enjoying this work but as ever the parts that suck are the parts where your deadlines are driven by those who don’t have a clue and don’t seem to have the nous to acquire one.

Back to work.

What to do when your PC goes Kablooey on you.

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, Life | Posted on 06-01-2015

Obviously your first response should always be to panic.

By “Panic” I don’t mean furiously try and solve your problem. I mean that you should take a long time to just sit there, scream, cry, wail, gnash your teeth at the wall of horror that is the demise of years of effort and a couple of thousands of pounds of hardware. Really wallow in that despair because lets face it: You’re fucked.

Just before Christmas I was faced with this and I made the classic mistake: I didn’t panic. No what I did was carefully diagnose the issue, then the reality crept up on me. The costs to fix it began to mount, the work and personal data I had that could be irreparably lost followed by that absolute sadness that is the demise of your personal PC.

Maybe I should explain that last item. I built my PC. I didn’t make the chips and circuit boards that are in it I just picked them, carefully and after lots of choice. I weighed up all of the costs, the implications for the future, the path that choosing a particular chipset would set me upon. Those decisions were heavy and the impacts are still being felt now.

When everything was chosen, bought and delivered I sacrificed my old machine. It was another custom built one but I couldn’t afford to buy all-new and had to re-use certain components. This is fairly typical for the budget tight PC builder but it does have one terrifying downside: fuck-up and you have no PC at all, and no money left to get one. Things went well though and I built my new PC. it was awesome compared to the old. Over the years there have been numerous upgrades, memory, GPU(s), harddrives and even the CPU. An attempt at water cooling using a closed loop cooler is best forgotten but hey, I tried!

It’s been through 3 operating systems too and a couple of monitors, and multi-monitor setups, I’m probably missing out a lot of things. I think I had SLI GPUs for a while, I forget, there’s been a lot of things. Things I have done, with that machine, we have spent time together. More time than anyone spends on a car, more personal than any static musical instrument, more involved and consuming than anything I can think of beside having children. I don’t have children.

I’ve earn’t money with that machine, it has been my personal PC, my work PC, my hobby PC, my gaming PC, my learning PC, my development PC.

Right now it’s switched off. Inert, inoperative, lifeless and waiting for me to make it function again. People that I discuss this with tend to think I’m a bit special, then harp on about there own hobby, the one they spend the odd evening once a week/month doing, and how it makes much more sense to feel involved with that despite spending a tiny fraction of the time and energy on it. Yes it is “only a  PC” in much the same way someone might say to a musician that something is “only a guitar” – I wouldn’t, I have at least half a fucking clue.

The last time it turned out that it had fried the GPU, an expensive component by itself but thankfully under warranty.

By the way customer service were great, I phoned, told them the problem, they immediately sent me the return information and issued an RMA. They sent me a replacement card the same day that they received the broken one. I couldn’t have asked for better. They gave me the option of a refund too but I chose the replacement. Cheers anyway if you ever read this.

This time it’s looking like it might actually me even more serious, and more like the problem I initially believed it to be before Christmas. I think the motherboard might be toast. Not completely toasted yet, but getting a bit crunchy and too dry to call bread anymore at this point… I may have to abandon that analogy. The motherboard being the most central component of the whole machine means replacing other parts like the CPU and RAM too. At this point there are only a few other parts I’d want to bring across. That shiny-shiny GPU, the harddrives (2x SSD, 1x HDD) and erm… that’s it actually. Even the case is old and newer ones have some much better layouts and… I’m justifying aren’t it? I can hear the imaginary pound coins being sucked out of my bank account “full” of imaginary money.

When it initially went kablooey before Xmas, once I’d stopped not-panicking, I priced up a replacement machine. Then I went looking for how much a loan would cost me.

Time to dig out those figures and get a PC built then? Something a lot less Personal, less PC more Computer. Something with … a warranty.


Birthday Depression

Posted by | Posted in climate change, environment, film, Life, movie, plot | Posted on 31-07-2014

I might possibly be crazy as no-one else I know seems to get this way about their approaching Birthday so I thought I’d jot down how I feel as I approach 35.

Yep, 35 years old. An age that’s neither too old nor too young, for me it’s something of a nothing year. Just like all of the others.

Let us take my 30th as an example. I wasn’t worried about my 30th Birthday except in one specific way: It was my 30th therefore people would expect something of it.

A party, drunken nights out, some big event. The trouble was that like most of my birthdays I really couldn’t have given a shit.

The day was saved by Danni who organised a great day, with drinking, showed the original (and as far as I’m concerned: only) Transformers: The Movie at a small local cinema, with more drinking and celebrating as the evening went on. Just as well she did too because otherwise I’d have been sat at home with a beer/wine reading a book.

In the here and now as my 35th approaches my parents are asking me to update my Amazon wish list. I use it as a sort of bookmark for “things I will never buy and don’t really need/want but they looked shiny when I was browsing that one time…“. Friends ask/demand that I do or do not do parties and drinks and things either when they are or are not around, and many people seem to want to know what I plan-to-do.

On any given day I have no plans, ever. This isn’t some stubborn male thing, although it is more prevalent amongst my male peers I’ve noticed, perhaps it’s because we’re completely out of control of our lives.

Whenever I do make plans I inevitably discover that they conflict with someone else’s plans which were laid down during the time of William the Conquerer and are apparently recorded in the Bayern Tapestry so why didn’t I check that or at least respond to the FaceBook invite (I’m not on FaceBook)? Inevitably these plans take, at least historical, precedence and once this has happened for the 500th time (I’m a slow learner) you get the feeling that no-one gives a shit what your plans were anyway even if they don’t conflict with someone else’s, so why make them if it’s an exercise in futility?

Thus I find that like so many male peers I totally suck at planning things. So, no, I don’t have anything planned for my 35th.

Now the depression part.

Well I’m getting older, I’ve noticed it of course. I’ve been going to the gym and seeing a personal trainer for almost 2 years now. We’ve changed my diet, my drinking and I’m much more active. This has resulted in me achieving a little better health than absolute stasis. I am slightly fitter than I was, slightly less fat, slightly stronger and much, much, poorer. Oh fine I am also quite a lot happier that I’ve achieved that much rather than the stubborn and rapid decline that I was previously going through ;)

Still the fact remains that I’m greyer and things creak and ache more than they used too. These aren’t things I feel like celebrating or enjoying. The good bits sure, but most of those don’t revolve around this bizarre present giving ritual we’ve built up around “Birthday’s” as a special thing. It feels more “Hallmark(tm)” than Birthright. I long ago grew out of presents, most of the stuff I want I buy myself but more importantly the things that I want are either outside of the price range people can afford, or simply intangible.

I don’t want more stuff or possessions instead I want time-off, happy friends, world peace, good news, all sorts of hippy thoughts and mumbo jumbo like that. Now the thought of costing my friends money to buy me a round, or get me a gift disturbs me. It’s the opposite of what I want for them, from them, or our friendship. Sure when I was younger I loved getting toys, books, t-shirts and I still do get part of that feeling when they’re given as honest gifts but something has soured about the experience because I as an adult know it has cost them something in time, effort and money which are 3 things that I finally realise are more than just words.

All of this culminates in some mess of dreaded expectations, plans that’s don’t exist and a feeling of responsibility that I really should have done something with my life by now all because of a single date that comes by every damned year. It’s all atop the things that are already bothering me.

To end all this then please don’t get me wrong: If you enjoy your Birthday and celebrate it then I will be right there, buying you drink and handing you the gift that I spend time, effort and money getting for you and wishing you a sincere and heartfelt Happy Birthday – whatever you do just don’t entrust me with planning anything (see above) for it.

We are all different though, so as we would celebrate your Birthday as you would wish, could we just sort of … relax when it comes to mine? I’ll be out for a beer at some point – I would have been anyway. I’d prefer to buy my own drinks, and to only have between 2 and 4 in the entire night. No cards, no gifts, no crazy shit (crazy shit is alarmingly normal for me), I’d prefer to read a book, watch a film and chill out without organising, or being organised against my will.

That’s a Happy Birthday.


A new year!?!

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, Life, Pioneer | Posted on 04-01-2014

Seems I haven’t updated since September.
Well I got a new job, I’m now working on Unreal Engine 4 via my employer Pitbull Studios.

Still doing Pioneer stuff, I’ll post a review of work done and work to do some time soon-ish.

2 weeks already?

Posted by | Posted in Game Development, Life, Pioneer | Posted on 13-09-2013

Wow time really flies when you’re … um, reading books and going to the gym more often?

Ok so I have been doing some programming on Pioneer; fixed up the solutions & projects for VS 2012 & 2013 Preview (I could do VS2010 too but am not touching 2008!) to deal with latest changes, fixed the GLEW changes to get it all building and compiling and then took up the Oculus Rift integration again – that’s a bit hairy that stuff since I’m having to modify a LOT of stuff in Pioneers rendering process.

Anyway the result so far is the following;

  • distortion shader working,
  • head tracking working,
  • rendering two cameras to a framebuffer working.


So all done huh? Nope, not by a long shot.

There’s a lot of other stuff that needs to be done to get a 3D projection + FOV + view offsets for each eye and a few other bits before we actually get a working 3D view and I haven’t worked through all of that yet since I’ve been busy with time consuming other stuff.

Unexpectedly, probably only to me, some of it is just stuff that didn’t used to take much time at all but is now quite time consuming.

Take going to the gym, this is what it used to work out like:

  • Leave work & walk to gym (11 mins)
  • Get changed (3-ish mins)
  • Exercise (30 mins)
  • Shower and get dressed (10-ish mins)
  • Hurry back to work stopping at Tescos (15 mins)

I think that in truth that used to usually take about 1 hour and 15 minutes, sometimes longer if we’d been doing leg work and I couldn’t walk as fast on the way back. Now however I’m coming in from Beeston which entails an extra train journey, and because I don’t choose when the trains run I have to catch them based on which one gets me there _before_ my session with my personal trainer. This means that I’m getting in quite a bit earlier, but that I’m travelling for much longer and due to the scheduling granularity of the trains… well, I left the house at 11:30am and got home today at 15:00pm just to do a 30 minute session. I could have gotten home earlier today, but decided that since I’d be missing one train anyway I got a haircut (I’m male, so if it takes more than 10 minutes to cut my hair then something is wrong). So I could have shaved 30 minutes off that (Train schedule) but even so it’s around the 3 hour mark to go to the gym just once.

Everything has scaled similarly though, popping out to get milk was to the nearby Tesco Express and less than 10 minutes but now involves walking across Beeston to the big 24 hour Tescos (or further for Sainsburys) because that’s the nearest one that does the Lactofree stuff. I’ve also been getting to the doctors (knee injury and anxiety attack stuff), dentists (keep flossing!!!) and the talking therapy place for an assessment (I’m not mad, might want to work on my confidence in a couple of months – quitting was the right thing to do apparently!).

At first I was worried about how this was going ot impact on two of my stated goals from the previous post:

  1. Work through some UDK tutorials – the new job is on Unreal Engine 4 so I think getting a footing in the tech’ will be good for me,
  2. Work through Frank D Luna’s D3D 11 tutorials but convert them to OpenGL 4.0 – Been meaning to do this for a while, it’s a good ramp up and parallels these SlimDX posts,

…but screw that, I’ve really really really (emphasis!!!) needed this downtime to get myself sorted and simply running into yet more challenging stuff and then freaking out about that wasn’t going to help anyone least of all me.

My plans haven’t changed, I still want to dive into the UDK stuff – I have it all installed and a selection of tutorials ready, I’ve just pushed the start of it back until this weekend or Monday. That takes the pressure off me for doing the Pioneer Oculus Rift integration which is acting like a pressure valve and gentle reentry into doing some coding again for fun.

Now though I’m going to go and tidy up downstairs before Danni gets home. She’s started at a secondment to a new primary school which is in Special Measures. It’s taking a lot of her time and mental capacity, everyone there is under tremendous pressure, so I’m trying to suck less at the housework. Of course I come from a position of sucking _utterly_ to begin with but I am getting less awful :)