Archive for category Personal

Kickstarter is my main new way to get games

I love Kickstarter. I think it is one of the best inventions from this decade. It gives the people a say in what gets made or not and that is a very powerful thing. So I decided that I would participate more to crowd funding. Notably in the video game area. Since I don’t really have time to get into huge games, the type of games usually found on Kickstarter are perfect for me. I’m going to try and buy most of my games from crowd funding.

Here are two games that I participated in:

The Fall

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/189665092/the-fall-dark-story-driven-exploration-in-an-alien?ref=live

This seems to be made by one guy alone and it looks awesome. Just for that it was worth it to help it a bit. Also who wouldn’t want a deeper /dark metroid?

Sunless Sea

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/failbetter/sunless-sea?ref=live

I liked the looks on this one, plus they said their inspiration was Don’t starve, FTL and roguelikes; that has to be good.

So there you have it, I think you should back those projects too, so that they are made more awesome. I will leave you with this tip, do not back too many projects at the same time, because you’ll get too many email updates from them.

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ActionScript Graphing Cookbook

I wrote a f**** book! I really did write a book. I wasn’t that excited about it until I got it in my hands. It’s usually like that for everything I work on, I spend so much time doing it that, in the end, I can’t stand it anymore. Looking back, it wasn’t easy to write this book. The writing was easy enough, it mostly was finishing and personal discipline that was hard. Anyway I’m pretty happy now that it is done. Other funny fact, if you look me up on Google, you’ll find an old bio stating that I wasn’t co-author of any books, well we can scratch that now!

ActionScript Graphing Cookbook

That’s the title of the book, it is mostly about taking data and showing it in a visual way, be it with a chart, a graph, a map or any sort of data visualization. I wrote chapter 3-4-6-7-8. The first thing I did when I got the physical book, is check out Chapter 6 : Mapping geographical and spatial data. I didn’t know so much about maps and how to draw on them, but I can say that learning and writing about them was very fun.  It basically became my favorite chapter of the book. Be sure to check the heat map recipe; it’s the best one in the book.

Code samples

Another great thing about this book is that every recipe comes with code sample. I would say that I spent almost as much time making the code samples than writing the book. They are meant as starting points to be easily modified to fit your need.

So if you need a book to get you started on data-visualization and making graphs in ActionScript, the ActionScript Graphing Cookbook is for you! Go and buy it!

 

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Glitch is over

I was shocked to learn today that Tiny Speck will be terminating Glitch in December.

But what was Glitch?

Glitch was a virtual world for kids that was awesome. The storytelling was awesome and the design was impeccable . It was fun and beautiful. I would have liked my kids to play it (I don’t have any by the way) . Here are some screens to show you, but you won’t get how well it ran.

So what is the fuss?

Well why I write about this is because of what they say is the reason of their failure. Their text about it is kinda weird. First they say that movement towards mobile was a problem. Ok, I understand that there is a huge increase in mobile traffic, but I don’t think there is a decrease in desktop traffic right? So people going mobile shouldn’t be such a problem. Secondly they blame the decline of the Flash platform, which I don’t really understand, because I never heard anyone uninstalling the Flash Player, so it is still installed on 96% of all computers. Also Adobe is now focusing on games. I really don’t see the decline there except in people’s mind. No other tech would have allowed them to do what they did. This game wouldn’t even have been doable on mobile. The screen size would have been a major issue.

Something else is fishy

Next, they say they won’t sell to another company, because they say there is no worth in their product. This is kind of a weird statement. If you do not see value in your product, maybe someone else will; maybe someone else will be able to turn it around. I say this because Glitch was an amazing product, for sure someone was going to see value in it.

So wtf happened?

My guess is that their business side went wrong. They weren’t able to monetize it. I don’t know what they tried because it has been at least 6 months since I went, but surely they failed on that. They say they are going to reimburse every one for stuff bought more than one year ago. Doesn’t that sound crazy to you? That or they really made no money at all and it is nothing for them to give the money back. Or it could indicate that they are idealists and that could have prevented them from making choices in order to monetize the game (like adding ads, not everyone like ads). I don’t know it all sounds really weird to me.

Someone there clearly think he knows what he is doing, but he doesn’t.

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Wtf I hate Flex

Ok when I say WTF I mean why the fuck, and this post will explain why I think Flex is shit. Wow, those are harsh words. But I truly hate Flex. I must explain first that I don’t think Flex has been built for me. I mostly make nice looking stuff; games and rich experience websites. Flex is made to be functional, but making it looking good, and by that I don’t mean half-ass good looking, I mean flawless, is pretty hard. Harder than it would have been using just ActionScript in the first place.

I came to Flash because I didn’t want to do HTML. Why would you try to emulate HTML (MXML) with Flash? It makes no sense to me… HTML will always better at HTML, duh! Flash is better at being awesomely good looking easily. Anyway I digress, but I mean if you are building a game or a microsite (everything other than a web app, and a corporate one at that), please stop using Flex.

I rant here because I have been forced lately to use Flex where I work and I don’t really like it ( and I can’t say much because I just started). I feel like it is creating so much friction for what I want to do that it ain’t worth it. Believe me I am trying to stick to ActionScript as much as I can, but in order to use the fonts that are already embedded in the game, I need to build on the Flex display list. It means using UIComponents wherever I would use Sprites and using UITextfields wherever I would use a simple TextField. It adds a lot of overhead and for a game, I don’t think that is a good thing…

Flex is not smooth and it is not made for smooth people. Flex as been engineered for hardcore programmers that don’t really care about design. Plus now Adobe isn’t even supporting it anymore, it makes its future so hazardous… Anyway, what I want to say with all this, please stop using Flex, please…

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Warming up on writing, this blog needs some love!

This was actually hard to do. Sit down and do like I have done so many times in the past; write a blog post. I shouldn’t be writing this post, there is one that comes before, but I’ll keep it for a rainy day. There are two reasons why I didn’t write a lot this year. First, I didn’t work much. Most of my inspiration came from having technical problems at work; no problems, no writing. Second is the fact that I was writing a book (well half a book). When you write as your main occupation, you don’t want to write as your side occupation. Makes sense.

Now the book is almost done (3 chapters to revise and it’s in the bag!) and I got a new job so I will probably give more love to this blog. Not sure if will be on the same topic, but I know for sure that I will write about whatever I want. No more directed writing for a while (at least ten years). Anyway, I got a job at WoozWorld, a social-media platform / virtual world website. It is pretty different than the agency world and right now it feels very awkward. I will let it grow on me a bit and see on it turns out. Also my official title is Flex / Java developer which is also bizarre but I am mostly pluging ActionScript into a Flex application so it’s not so bad.

While in New York I was working with FDT. I didn’t like it at first, but I came to like it, after they fixed a lot of issues. Now I have to work with FlashBuilder and I don’t like it at all, haha! Feels even worse than FDT at first, but I tried to use FlashDevelop on the project to know success. The project is really big and probably grew in a weird way over time, so it has weird dependency that makes it hard to just change editor (I know this must be weird that a project is so tied to an editor, but trust me I tried to use another). Well, it will probably just do like FDT and I will come to like FlashBuilder.

So that’s all for now folks, this was just a warm up post to get back in the game! Next post I will go more in details on what I did during the last year.

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My views on Adobe licensing the use of Stage3D in conjunction to the memory opcodes

I have been reading about this an nothing I found was really expressing what I fell about it. The thing is I never really had a project that could benefit from using the opcodes. I mean I have built rich experiences for the past 5 years and some of my projects were pretty complex. Stage3D I would use, big time, but not to build some crazy 3D world, I don’t have the 3D skills for that. My point being, in the state that it is in I don’t think I would ever use the memory opcodes and I believe it is so for 90% of the developers out there. Now I know that on the Flash roadmap from Adobe they are planning to give easier access to the memory opcodes, maybe that will change my views on this, but it hasn’t been done yet.

Lastly, on the 9% thing, this is the amount of money you must give Adobe once you have made more than 50k revenues using Stage3D and the opcodes, I think it’s fair. I think the Unreal engine has a similar licensing model, where you don’t pay anything unless you have made 100k. If I ever come to have to pay the fees, it will be a problem that I will be happy to deal with as I will have some kind of success anyway. What do you guys think? Am I a senseless individualist bastard or do you agree that it is mostly the elite crying out?

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Cinemagram, a must have app

Well this is not a shameless plug because it is not for me, but actually for a friend of mine. For the past month he has been working very hard on his iPhone application and for having seen the progress along the way, I can say that it is awesome work. The application is called Cinemagram and it is made to easily build cinemagraph with your mobile phone. Cinemagraph are still pictures where only a small part of it is moving.  To do them it would usually require an image editing software and a lot of manipulations, but the app makes it really easy to do right with your phone. Anyway, I think that for 2$ you can have a lot of fun building cinemagraphs, so go buy the app and help some indie devs!

Here are some example of cinemagraphs done with the app:

Blow ball cinemagraph

 

 

If you want to see more you can go to the Cinemagr.am website.

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Happy 2012!

4 years I have been writing on this blog. I am kinda proud, but I do have to ramp up the pace.  It’s been 4 months since I left B-Reel and let’s say that I have been semi-productive. I have not been doing nothing but I have not worked 7 hours everyday, not even 5 like I wanted. Kinda hard to wake up early when you are your own boss. Also, I only wrote 4 posts in 4 months so the traffic to the site diminished a bit but nothing too serious.

So here we go for 2012, I am about to finish a personal game and a contracted game, so that is good. I have another game that is about 45% completed, so I will be working on that next. My goal is to complete 3 personal games this year, not including the one that is almost finished. Don’t know if I’ll be able to make it, but it sure would be good. I would also like to post 2 times a month, to be realistic, more would be better but I am not sure I will have the material to write as much. I will probably also try to look into HaXe, I am very curious about this tech, what it can do and how to use it so we will see.

So happy 2012 for everyone!

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Adobe stops Flash mobile dev (or how I finally found something to write about)

Haha, yeah, haven’t wrote much lately, not that I don’t want to, I just don’t have anything to write about, but now Adobe did give me something. So, they will stop working on the mobile version of the Flash player. A lot of people talked to me about it this morning, with big grins in their faces, like saying: “See, see, it’s dead already”. Damn people are clueless sometimes, haha. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal right now, right now I mean, but I think it could mean way more in the future.

Ya, right now, on a phone, with its screen size, it is not the best way to consume Flash rich experiences like Aldo Shoes for Life. The screen is too small, you don’t get as much as what you get on the desktop. But the same goes for HTML rich experiences; would you interact with the Wilderness Downtown on a mobile phone? I don’t think so. Where I think it is more problematic, is on tablets, where the screen has more real estate. Most rich experiences would work pretty well on that. The problem is that the only tablet worth the name is the iPad (well that will change in time) so no one could see rich flash experiences on them and realize that it is working quite well.

So short term, no biggie, doesn’t really change much, nobody was doing Flash sites for mobile anyway. Long term, it’s hard to say. Phones are gonna get bigger screens that I am sure off, be it foldable screens or some other innovation, screens will get bigger. Also, there will be more tablets out there and their uses will be more defined. For that alone, it would be nice to have Flash on mobile. Then, there is the new mobile application paradigm, where instead of building web experiences and apps, you build native apps. I don’t know if this is a trend that will last forever. I mean the desktop is slowly moving toward web and cloud, shouldn’t mobile do the same too? So I think it might be a mistake to stop mobile development.

But I also understand a bit, I mean Adobe was already developing 3 Flash players : PC, MAC, Linux. Now with mobile, it would have to develop one for every mobile operating. So here it is, my views on the topic, one more in the sea of web.

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On my own; two weeks after

So from my last post you know that I left B-Reel and that I am back in Montreal. I haven’t posted much because I haven’t been working much. It’s been really good times, but not that good work wise. There are a lot of reasons for that, but mostly because I am in what I would call a transition state. I am not living in my apartment yet (September 1st) and that causes my lifestyle to be quite different (lots of travel time, no desk, no office, no gym, lots of food). But I did get some work done just not that much as I could have.

Building games is not building websites

It is quite different to be franc, mostly because the challenges are different and because of that I haven’t found much topics to write for this blog. I think it is my fault a bit, I chose to do a game that is very close to an application and doesn’t rely so much on the graphics. I thought this would be a better idea, because I could save a lot of time by doing so. The good thing also is that it is based on a lot of interfaces (visual, not code) and I website building made me very good at making interfaces. The challenge that I face is more about where to put the logic and how to organise my code.

Finding how to make it work (or make me work)

My trick right now is to go to a coffee place and work from there. That has been working quite well for now, but starting Tuesday I will have an office space and I really look forward to it. Working from home is just not doing it for me, I watch TV or do some other random stuff that I won’t do if I am in a working place. Now all I have to figure out is how to wake up earlier in the morning.

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