Category Archives: Personal Life

Garden Adventures

So now that Summer is over, I can do a write up of my gardening adventures.
We recently bought a house, which while in very good condition, had a very plain and low maintenance garden. In particular, there’s a 25sqm area that’s simply covered in gravel. I would prefer to have grass, so dogs can run around. It can’t be that hard to remove the gravel by hand and lay down some grass, right?

Well, the top layer of gravel was quite useful, and I reused some of it in other parts of the garden, and gave a few car-fulls of it to my mum, who used it in her garden. The problem was that under the gravel was a much thicker layer of useless concrete and rubble. That took many digging sessions to get rid of – and around 15 trips to the dump in my medium sized car. In the end I excavated 6 or 7 tonnes of rubble with just a shovel, pickaxe and some buckets. It definitely would have been worth hiring some professional equipment for that… but at least it was good exercise.

back garden

Once the rubble was gone, I finally reached the topsoil, but there was a final challenge. The soil was full of buried chunks of fences, bricks, and slabs! I had to go through it all with the pickaxe and pull out even more rubble. On the bright side, some of the slabs were complete, and I used them to build flower beds later! I didn’t get to plant the grass this year, but the area is almost ready so that I can plant it in Spring. I didn’t expect grass would be so much work. I invited some friends and family over, and we had a little planting session in the corner of that area.

In another part of the garden, we wanted to get rid of some grass and build flower beds along the fence, as this would make for a great view from the patio and rear windows. My mum cloned many of her plants for us, and Ronja helped with the planting and layout. The problem this time is that the grass didn’t want to die, and started growing back a few weeks later. That project is still a work in progress, and we’ll see how many of the plants survive…

front garden

We also extended the driveway a bit to look a bit more aesthetic, and so that it can potentially fit in an extra car. Whoever originally laid the driveway slabs got a bit lazy and didn’t put them all the way along the fence, so we cut some slabs into triangles and filled in the gaps. It seems like a simple job, but if you don’t flatten the ground underneath, they can wobble or break when you step on them, and one of ours cracked through the middle. Also at 70KG each, slabs are surprisingly heavy and make for a good workout.

I got some old decorative garden furniture from my mum, scraped the old flaky paint off, and spray painted it black. The intricate design made this a huge pain. I didn’t manage to get all the old paint off, so I’m sure the new layer won’t last that long now. But for now it makes for a really nice decoration in front of the house.

Anyway, that about covers everything. This was all very new to me, as I haven’t done much gardening in the past. I learned a lot in the process, and also got much fitter. It was satisfying how little money we spent on all that – mostly on a few essential tools and compost. Most of the plants and materials were recycled, either from my parents’ garden or from Gumtree. It just took a lot of hard, dirty work.

garden me

Play Expo Results

Hey guys, I’ve been without internet for over two weeks, but I’m back now. I guess I have to start off with a write-up of the Play Expo.

It went really well! Not a single thing went wrong!

Setting up was easy. I just brought in my computer, two monitors, a poster, an old pile of Kongregate stickers I got from Mochi London, some cute business cards to give out, and that was about it. The venue was conveniently 10 minutes away from my home. At first I didn’t have anywhere to put up my poster, but the guys next to us left very early so we essentially got a 2nd table just for that. Me and Ronja took turns manning the stall, so we didn’t tire ourselves out. (I also got to try some VR stuff on my break, woop!)
expo photo 1

EBF5 never crashed. Both days it ran non-stop for 8 hours without any problems, which was pretty cool, but also what I would have hoped for since the demo was just the most basic parts of the battle system. On the second monitor I had my YouTube videos of EBF5 running on loop forever.

The audience was a bit different from what I expected. EGX in England was mostly for gaming enthusiasts, but while this event still had some of those, it was generally much more casual and family oriented. There were a lot of really young kids, but also a lot of parents and grandparents who weren’t even into video games at all. I ended up showing off EBF5 to a huge variety of people, and it was a very educational social experience for me. I learned how to talk to kids, disabled people, and a lot of very socially-awkward people.

I’m glad I had EBF5 configured in work-safe mode, and I’m happy I made that option available in the first place. Bouncing anime breasts were not out of place at the event, but I think it would have been a bit awkward with the game’s default settings, especially when young girls came to play.

A related point that surprised me was the lack of PC gamers! I think EBF5 was one of the only mouse-controlled games there, and a lot of kids were confused when they couldn’t find the controller or keyboard. Quite a few people had trouble using the mouse accurately, and double-clicking when single-clicks were fine. But besides that people picked up the game very easily. I just told them to pick commands and hit the baddies, and that was all they needed to know really. I only intervened to tell them how to heal when their health got low.

expo photo 2Besides all that we also got to know some of the other exhibitors, including Mega Cat Studios, who make modern NES games, Wrench Games who make card games, and Oi Oi Games who are a store for retro games (their Mario Maker stall dominated the area at first and sort of overshadowed us – not fair!). I don’t think there was anyone particularly famous there – there wasn’t even any official presence from the big gaming companies. It was all quite local and modest. A reporter from The Sun talked to me briefly, but in the end I don’t think he actually wrote anything about me.

I had around 5 people tell me they were fans of the EBF games, and another 5 or so who said they’ve probably played them at some point in the past. So that’s not bad – I’m not a total nobody!

Anyway, it was all a lot of fun and I’d love to do it again if I get more chances to do it so cheaply. (Grand total spent on the event: £89 and around 3 days of preparation)

Cat Mosaic

Here’s the last of the mosaics, and that’s me done with all of my arts classes for now.

I’ve finished preparing for the Play Expo. Spent a grand total of £80 on it, including cards, posters, and t-shirts. I made a very restricted version of the Battle Demo for people to play for 10 minutes. I’ll let you know later how that all goes – we’ll see if my cheapo stall ends up looking at all professional.

It’s been quite a chill week with very sunny weather and lots of relaxing.
Also, I own a house now! Me and Ronja are moving in tomorrow!

catto

EBF5 at Play Expo Glasgow

Hey guys, me and Ronja will be exhibiting EBF5 at the Play Expo in Glasgow on the 9th and 10th of June! They’re nice enough to give free tables to small local game devs, so I have to take advantage of that. It’s our first time exhibiting, so we’ll probably embarrass ourselves. I wonder how many fans I have in Glasgow… probably enough for at least a few people to recognise me I hope. Mostly I’m expecting the kinds of comments I get on YouTube: “I remember EBF3, I didn’t know the series was still around!”

The timing is a bit unfortunate, as I’m in the middle of moving and would also need a bit more time to finish the EBF5 beta. I’ll probably just polish the Battle Demo a little bit and make it more presentable. It would have been nice to get feedback on the beta, but oh well!

Anyway, the Play Expo is pretty cool. It’s not as big as some of the events in England, but it’s got a lot of fun stuff to see like classic consoles, arcade games and pinball machines, and can easily keep you entertained for at least a day. If you live near Glasgow, you have no excuse not to go now.
play_event_jpg

Brb, Moving

Hey guys, all the battles in EBF5 have been defined. Most of what’s left to do is stitching all of the parts together, the title menu, tons of testing and balancing, translations, and the final boss. Then after that there’s still some promotional stuff like trailers and store pages etc. But it’s getting there. People who have volunteered to translate are getting a bit impatient, but I’ll get round to contacting you soon-ish. Still need a month or so before I’m ready to organise that.

I was supposed to be buying a house, but the seller is having trouble moving, so that’s been delayed. I’m moving back in with my parents for now – hopefully not for too long, but who knows. Maybe it will be a chance to take a break from work.

But while that’s happening, you guys can tell me what you want from Newgame+ in EBF5. Like usual, I don’t want to put much work into it, but I do want it to be a fun way to replay the game. Did you prefer it in EBF3 where you could just rush through the game again with super powerful players? Or did you like EBF4′s version where monsters got much stronger and you could keep levelling up for longer? If I do that again I’ll have to balance it a bit better.

In other news, I’ve been suffering quite heavily from nostalgia lately, and have been playing lots of games on Kongregate and Newgrounds again – old stuff and new. I’m probably too young to feel this way, but it feels like a huge part of my life is over. Flash games and whatever replaces them will still be around, yet I feel that some of the magic is gone, now that they’re no longer the cutting-edge of the creative space. I feel like the old man who doesn’t like what kids these days are into, because I had better entertainment in my day. Oh well. Maybe I’ll just have to keep making games in my style and prove it.

I read through my EBF4 postmortem, and I really need to update that soon. Back when I wrote that I felt like EBF4 was a failure and that I didn’t have much future making PC games, but since then EBF4 came out and Steam and was hugely successful there. Now my problem is that EBF4 might have been the height of my career and I won’t manage to make another game that’s so successful. That’s a bit silly of thing to worry about, I suppose.

I really need to blog more. It’s very therapeutic and a nice way to connect with people. I’ve got a few long ones that I’ve been meaning to write for a while, so maybe while I’m stranded at my parents house I can write some of those. I know I’m not the best at replying to comments, but I do read them all and appreciate them.

Bowls and Cats

My pottery classes are finished and here’s the final results. I didn’t quite manage to make a Zelda pot, but some of my bowls turned out okay. I guess I can use some of them for snacks.

I’m not very happy with the figures though. Making them bigger would have made them a lot easier to paint neatly (the tallest are about 2 inches). Also you really need some practice with the glazes to see how they turn out, as only the black came out as thick as I wanted.

I’d like to try using coloured clay at some point to make figures again. I think skipping the step of painting might lead to better results for me.
pots
potcats

Armos Mosaic

Here’s my first ever mosaic: It’s an Armos from Zelda!

Turns out my amazing idea of doing pixel art backfired a bit when I realised that the tiles were actually a bit too big, and now you can’t really see the design unless you’re standing a few metres away. Oh well.

Mosaics get my approval. Making them is relaxing and there’s not a lot that can go horribly wrong.

armos