I quit Pitbull before it became Epic UK.

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 19-11-2014

It seems I never mentioned that I had quit Pitbull Studio before it got bought out by Epic Games to become Epic Games UK.

So yeah that’s a thing that I did :)

Why?” you might reasonably ask as it doesn’t seem like a particularly great decision on the surface.

There are a few reasons with the main ones being:

  • When we were going through the process I was getting the feeling they didn’t want to have people remote working regularly – which I did 100% of the time.
  • I didn’t want to be working on tools anymore and that’s all that I was doing – tools to me are a means to an end, it’s the END that I’m interested on.
  • Another chance came up at about the right time that was working on games, remotely, for more pay, with people I knew and liked.

So you see that it kind of makes sense towards the end there.

Pitbull was good to me, the guys who work there are great, dealing with Epic was mostly great and UE4 is very interesting and some of the best tech’ I’ve ever worked on. It was just time to leave and get back to doing the things that I wanted to do before I got dragged into Tools development by the drag anchor of my mortgage commitments.


The process of ordering a laptop online is dumb.

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 23-03-2013

I’ve been wanting a new laptop for a while. My current one has a shit glossy screen with 1366×768 resolution, little memory, slow CPU, low-end GPU, slow HDD and constantly overheats. I have treated it harshly, used it for work, lugged it up, down and across the country dozens of times. Worked on it all day then gamed or coded late into the night. It has survived all of this, aside from the overheating, wheezing it’s way asthmatically through every task even when I can’t read it because of that glossy fucking screen.

So I begin my search, and I encourage you to try this by the way, by going to Dell to get an idea of what’s on offer.

First I must select a model… wait, how do I know what model I want? Or what size? What GPU? What CPU? HDD? Ram? Screen size/resolution?

Erm, ok I start delving in and spec’ing things out, then I go back up and start again because it’s confusing and I can’t get a reference. First I set my sights somewhere around the middle of the price range (anyone who’s written a sort/search algorithm should recognise this process!) and tunnel down that route choosing the options closest to what I might want. Then I return to the top having decided that it doesn’t quite match what I want.

Whatever happened to Dell? You used to be able to configure everything now I only seem to be able to choose to have, or not, a printer and some anti-virus software? But, I digress…

Anyway we’re back at the top and I go more expensive now, getting better but I still can’t choose very much, in fact some lines seems even more limited than others in what you can and can’t configure. I repeat this process going alternately higher or lower priced but the results are inconsistent. Some things can be configured on one branch of the tree but not on others. It would appear that my only option is to do a brute force depth first search of all the possible laptops and their configurations on the entire Dell website in the hope that one of them will get close enough to what I’m after.

Now as an interface I consider that a flat out failure.

It’s not just Dell though, it’s ALL of them. Even the sites like PCWorld, Overclockers, eBuyer, Dabs, where you can choose from a range of laptops from different manufacturers are still terrible. The filtering options are almost backwards in some cases but they’re just pathetic in others. On PCWorld you can filter by GPU dedicated or not, but not the make or model, and you can choose if it uses Shared or Dedicate ram, but not how much or what kind. You can filter by screen size, but not by resolution. Eventually I find a Lenovo laptop for £849.99 with £150 off … with a 1366 x 768 glossy screen… what the shitting hell? £849.99, a 15.6 inch screen and 1366 x768? Unbelievable. Total crap. Ok in other regards but no way. I consider 1920×1080 or “True HD” as they call it, to be the bare minimum. Of course there’s no way to filter by that on any site I’ve found. You can search though and that brings up these 3 “laptops”. There’s an ASUS there that might do, though it’s more than I’d like to pay, I can now at least search for that laptop on the ‘net and hopefully find a better deal, oh wait I can’t sadly because they sell exactly the same model name with different resolution screens, one being “Full HD” the other being… 1366 x768. Feck.

This has taken a while though, about 45mins so far, and I’ve scoured a few dozen sites including a lot of forums where people are asking about laptops with certain resolution screens, or matt vs glossy etc. Most of those are hopelessly out of date of course and mention laptops that aren’t made anymore or are older than mine. In the end I tried to get a clearance offer on an MSI laptop from Overclockers, ~£300 of a £1079 model that got 90% of what I wanted and the rest I could change later, like the RAM and HDD etc. Sadly I missed out on that one.

The whole process is infuriating though, the specific things you might want you cannot search by. The argument against listing these more “technical” details is that it confuses those who are less technically literate but I’d argue that’s complete bullshit, all you’re really doing is hiding information about the product from them. You’re burying it away in the details that they’ll have to wade through and try to understand, in effect you’re making it harder for them to know about the product they’re about to purchase.

The approach of presenting you with the model first is arse about face too. How do I know what model I want when I don’t know what the specification of the models is? I want to specify what I want, then I want the website to give me a list of the models that most closely match my desired specification. Because I know what I’m looking for, but I don’t know what “they” have.

For now what I’ve done, is nothing. I’ll just continue saving up for a few more months I think and then is Razer ever get their arse in gear I might splurge it all on their Blade laptop :) Or a MacBook Pro with Retina display perhaps? Who knows, Danni won’t approve either way :D

I fail at festivals.

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 09-06-2012

Today I feel old and a little disappointed in myself.
We got tickets to go to Download Festival a while back and we went yesterday, I even took the day off work.
Now I’ve never been super-comfortable about being at festivals. It’s the people. I get seriously overwhelmed and with so many stoned, high and drunk people around I’m constantly on edge, I usually deal with this by getting drunk myself and fitting right in. Except that this year I’m trying to drink less so I didn’t drink anything yesterday.

I was variously bored, nervous, tired, cold and totally failed to be interested in almost any of the bands playing with the exception of Lawnmower Deth and Devin Townsend Project at the end of the night. There were some good bits, I got to see some people I haven’t seen in a while, and the above two bands.

The highlight though was when we left at the end of the evening, I was suddenly almost giddy. Happy to be heading home and away from it all.

So come this morning I got up eventually not wanting to face going back, showered and got dressed and I just felt like I wanted to be anywhere but go back there and all those people and all that crap and boredom.

So I haven’t gone back today, and I don’t feel like I’ll be going back tomorrow either.

Braindead ramblings about needing a new job!

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 12-05-2012

I’ll just repeat what I posted to +Dan Groom instead of elaborating I think:
“Circumstances might be changing where I am :/ might be time to kick games development to the kerb as a career it’s just pissing me off too much constantly having jobs disappear beneath me every time I start to get back on my feet :(“

I dunno, I got into games development like a lot of people did/do because I wanted to make games, duh! However, I’ve made racing games, MMO’s, mini-games, a Kinect title (can’t discuss), worked on a new platform at Sony (also can’t discuss!), currently I’m making a mobile game and out of all that the things that really motivate me have been +Pioneer Space Sim and the handful of other little things I do that are not done at my work.

That last part really just sums it up for me right now, I could be doing anything with my day job because it rarely reaches the core of me that is genuinely excited about game development so why not get paid better for doing something else and put all of that passion for games coding into the spare time projects that I love instead?

Of course I do have 8+ years of game dev’ experience and I don’t want to leave, I keep hoping something that inspires me will come along at any moment like it did on the MotoGP games. I had a tonne of health issues back then but even when we knew we were fucked as a studio I still had to spend the last 3 days coding furiously to improve the texture compression on PS3 because it truly mattered to me that we shipped with that fixed, that it looked as good as I could make it.

+Richard Coen told me that he had to fix a bug with that particular bit of manic coding in the following weeks :D but that’s what you get when you take a 2 week task (according to our PS3 lead coder) and do it in 3 days and it was worth it. The customisable bikes and riders in MotoGP 10/11 looked a lot nicer than the MotoGP 09/10 ones.

That game, Monumental Games and the people I worked with there meant that I cared about what I did, not all the time of course, but often enough that it was worth being paid crap.

Recently though, it’s gone and I don’t know what to do now.

I’m spending today recovering from a hangover after going out and talking about this that descended into just drinking and wearing silly glasses :) Listening to Insomnium, coding a little on +Pioneer Space Sim , looking up contact details for people I need to start emailing again about possible jobs etc.

Hmm, mega-ramble and no punchline. Sorry folks!

Stunt Car Racer

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 09-05-2012

The other week I helped a guy called Daniel Vernon open source a project that he’s been working on and had created a website for here: http://stuntcarracerwin32.bravesites.com/

Anyway this came about because I was impressed with what he’d done but I found the controls confusing as I always used to play on the Amiga with a joystick. So I emailed him and asked if I could add XInput support for the Xbox360 joypad and he very kindly agreed – sending me the sourcecode in the process.

In the same email I had asked if he was going to open source the project. He was interested but didn’t have time so said that I could do it if I liked.

First up I looked into various open source places and more specifically how to transfer project ownership since I figured it is really Daniels project. Eventually I opted for a SourceForge project using their Git repository (although there is still an SVN repo I need to remove!). With the project uploaded, I created a branch and implemented really basic pad controls, did all the usual and it’s now available in the master.

So why am I posting this? Because he is now also a project admin, there’s a few more things like screenshots and a downloadable zip, and the code is up for anyone to take a look at right here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/stuntcarremake/

Hopefully I’ll even find time to do something useful with the XInput stuff :)

StoryBricks is up on KickStarter, aka putting my money where my mouth is.

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 03-05-2012

It looks like KickStarter is becoming more and more the route to funding for a lot of projects.

StoryBricks have just created their page and I’ve put forward what I can afford right now and here’s where I explain why it’s not just because thedarkproject & Psychochild work their.

First a little background; I’ve funded one other project previously, a much smaller effort to produce a sprite animation creation tool – this one I originally decided to back because I had a much much much earlier version of the tool already through my involvement with the “Natami” project. It came from such humble beginnings and was such a clear little idea that I wanted to support it.

StoryBricks is obviously a little bit different, it’s not a 2 person team working on a tool … oh no wait, it kinda is :) Everything is relative.

They’re a small team of developers, admittedly some very talented and experienced developers, who are trying to redefine the way that MMOs/RPGs/Storys in general can be created and edited in games. That’s a tall order when you look at the hundreds, literally hundreds, of developers required to create the tools, gameplay and content for a regular MMO or RPG. It seems like a goal that’s worth pursuing because the real joke about the “kill-10-rats” meme in MMOs/RPGs is that sadly it is real!

It could be argued that it affects more than just MMOs in fact but lets stick with the territory that StoryBricks are after.

Real story, that develops and reacts to you as you play – something tabletop gamers are used to and that I haven’t seen in a computer game beyond the most cursory of changes in so many years that a little of what I feel for gaming has slowly withered away – might actually be possible. Of course I can see uses for it far beyond MMOs, hell I’d like to use it in Pioneer to give it more character(s), or think of Deus Ex where following leads changes the plots as characters realise you’re onto them but instead of being scripted it could be dynamic involving the various attitudes of the NPCs to you and those characters.

That sort of thing has to start somewhere, and it looks like it’s starting with StoryBricks and their KickStarter page – I think Psychochild (aka Brian Green) does a much better job of writing up what it’s about so go read that.

Right I’m not good at explaining myself so I’ll stop there but hopefully you can see something of what I see in it and maybe fund it a little too.


Embarrasing search history…

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 28-04-2012

My embarrassing search history will now also include the term: “How long to boil an egg?

I’m 32 and I’d forgotten!

WordPress so far…

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 28-04-2012

So far WordPress is proving to be “ok”. it’s just another blogging service after all except that I’m hosting it on my own site, which is itself hosted on a service somewhere “out-there” in the world at large.

I’ve managed to wrangle the plugins to handle cross-posting a bit better now, had to actually edit some of the php :/ a bit crap. Also the actual importing from LiveJournal just doesn’t seem to handle comments and for some unknown reason they removed the ability to import LJ’s exported XML files… Fuck knows why.

So you’re reading this because you want to get your comments from a LiveJournal based service (InsaneJournal, LiveJournal, Deadjournal, etc) then here’s what I had to do… it’s hilarious you’ll “love” it.

  1. I had to find the fixed version of LJArchive which still works with LiveJournal – thankfully someone had paid to have it fixed!
  2. use LJArchive to download your LJ, then export it to an xml file. Or if you have a lot of posts, split it into posts grouped by year NB: this is what I had to do.
  3. Now go and grab version 2.6 of WordPress, it has to be an older version because they still had the xml importer back then. A slightly newer version like 2.7 might work which would avoid the manual upgrading step but this is just what I did!
  4. Setup WordPress 2.6 but don’t go customising anything.
  5. Go to Manage -> import ->LiveJournal, it will ask for your LJ xml file, upload it and import. If you have multiple xml files that you separated by year then just repeat it for each year, don’t worry if you upload one twice, it seems to handle that, mostly.
  6. Once you’ve imported everything you need to “upgrade” WordPress 2.6 manually. This means you need to download the latest one, extract it and overwrite your WP 2.6 installation. There are instructions here.
  7. You should now have your posts, your comments and everything else from LiveJournal AND if everything worked you’ll also have the latest WordPress.

Discovering this process was a pain in the balls, but actually doing it wasn’t too bad. Just a bit time consuming so I hope you have more luck whoever you are!

Paradise Lost Gig

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 28-04-2012

Thursday night was the Paradise Lost gig at the Rescue Rooms, or whatever that room upstairs behind it is called!

We got there I time to most of Vried play their set, which was interesting because when we arrived they were playing something that sounded really good, heavy, fast, lots of shouting etc and I thought “Oh good, loud, fast metal, shame we didn’t get here a bit earlier!” and then they went downhill a bit and I found most of the rest a bit disappointing in comparison. So it sounds like they can do good stuff but might be a bit hit-or-miss.

Insomnium however, well, I got home, slept, and then bought two of their albums as soon as my PC would boot. Really impressive, consistently great sound at the gig. Danni of course already knew about them but great discovery for me since they’ve got a good few albums out and I can do some catching up at my leisure! Currently deafening myself to them right now in fact.

If there was one downside to the Insomnium set then it was that they made Paradise Lost seem really flat and dull in comparison. Not really what you want for the headlining band that you’re there to see. They were good, solid performance and played songs I liked, I found the songs from the new album a bit off but then I hadn’t heard them before and they were amongst ones I had. Always a weird effect that, familiar vs unfamiliar songs from the same band always makes me feel like there’s something dissonant about them. Anyway rambling aside I ended up getting quite bored during their set!!! Sat and chatted for a while and drank too much beer for a week/work night.

Some good, some bad. One new band to follow plus I got to see a few friends I don’t see often enough. Actually “Regain The Fire” is just playing and it’s fucking awesome.


Moving over to a wordpress journal, don’t panic!

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 27-04-2012

I’ve been meaning to do this for some time, not leaving LiveJournal, but having a separate blog that is cross-linked.

It took some bloody effort to pull all the data across, mostly due to LiveJournal AND WordPress being crap at exchanging and sharing data. Specifically comments.

Well, lets see how this cross-posting and comment handling actually works then, by the way if you’re reading this on LiveJournal… it did ;)