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slayemin

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  1. I started writing and I realized I'd already written this story before, so to save time, I'll just link it here
  2. Double Fine Quest

    I played your game, I wasn't a fan. Sorry to say this. The messaging seems wrong, your game comes across as both begging for a job and overly reverent of double fine. That's a turn off. You should flip the attitude so that you are totally amazing and a company like doublefine would be lucky to have you working for them. You can't say that directly, so you have to show through your work why you're amazing. Don't make another game telling the player how awesome you are either. Instead, make a great but small and polished game which demonstrates your skills. It doesn't have to be 100% original, just take some ideas from existing games and creatively merge them into your own game. The most important thing to focus on is keeping your game small and then focusing on polishing it. Polish it until it shines. Make it feel good. You can polish a boring game into an amazing game. Check out these talks by Vlambeer game designers: Also, your game music was ripped off from Final Fantasy. That's not okay, that's using someone elses' copyrighted work. In academia, that would be the same as plagiarism. I don't care that you may not have musical talent to create your own music, find someone that does or ask someone for permission to use their art. Worst case, it's better to have silence than to rip off someone elses' work. If game companies did the same thing and used the copyrighted IP of other game companies, they'd be sued for serious damages. By seeing you feature copyrighted content in your portfolio, you're sending a coded message to the companies you're applying for. You're saying, "I don't respect copyright and intellectual property, therefore, I'm a legal liability which may get you sued if you aren't watching me." which translates to the manager, "This person is going to be a problem" and they'll throw your resume into the garbage. I would bet that you'll have many rejections from game companies just from this alone. But congrats on finishing a project! That's never easy. You finished one, now start the next one and do better!
  3. Introducing the Blockchain Tycoon

    I hope this has some hidden biting commentary on the whole industry...
  4. Neural Networks Neural Networks 101

    Overall, this article is not very useful. The wikipedia page on artificial neural networks is a far better starting place. There are much better articles on neural networks elsewhere on the internet and actually have enough depth to give the reader the capability to create their own ANN. This article also completely misses several very important topics to ANN's which cannot be skipped: -Deep learning -How to train an ANN with a training set Forward propagation: The sigmoid function is mentioned, but there is no mention of the commonly used RelU function: return (X>0)?X:0; Backpropagation: The meat and potatoes of ANN is in the back propagation algorithm. This article just says, "It's confusing, so look it up elsewhere". I also think that if you're going to do an introductory article on artificial neural networks, it might be more valuable to skip the technical details of implementation all together and just talk about all the different types of machine learning ANN's are out there, what they're useful for, and generally how they work. Maybe something about ANN's, reinforcement learning, convolutional neural networks, LSTM's, etc.
  5. I minored in Philosophy and I think it was one of the best minors I could have chosen. Here's what I would recommend taking: -Formal Logic -Critical Thinking -Elementary Logic -Philosophy of Science You'll find that this helps you reason better and that reasoning ability really helps a lot with game development. Math is helpful too, but mathematics are derived from Logic (See: Peano Arithmetic).
  6. The Blackwood Witch

    Herby sat on a log around the campfire and half listened to the tales and gossip being told by the villagers. He took a long draw from the frothy mug of ale and set it back to rest comfortably on his large belly. After each story ended, he’d quietly huff in mild contempt and absent mindedly stroke his beard. None of their tales were any good compared to his. All of the other villagers knew it, but they waited eagerly. Every night, Herby always told his story last and it got better and better each time. As the night wore one and the campfire turned to glowing red coals, the stories and gossips gradually tapered off. One by one, the villagers grew quiet and waited for Herby to speak. “Herby, tell us o’ the Blackwood witch again!” one of them shouted. “We been waitin’ all night!” Herby glared at the villager for a moment in mock irritation, but secretly he knew he loved telling the story as much as they loved hearing it. All the eyes around the campfire turned and looked at him expectantly. Herby met each one and held the gaze for a moment, wringing his hands in eager anticipation, commanding their attention. He took one final long draw from his mug, and then wiped the froth from his mustache with the back of his sleeve. After a long pregnant pause, he leaned forward, as he always did, and began with a low whisper. “Ye e’er heard o’ the Blackwood witch?” he started quietly, eyes twinkling. “It all started a coupl’a years ago.” All of the listening eyes grew large and people quieted their breaths as they leaned in closer to hear. “Jonathan the miller had a daughter. She was fine as sin, she was. Had hair black as a ravens wing, skin fair as porcelain. She was a strange one, that she was. She had the most peculiar eyes any lad had seen, y’see? They were green as emeralds. I suppose that’s why old man Jonathan had named her Esmerelda. But, there was something off about her. I can’t quite explain it, but just one look at her and you could tell that she was the odd sort. Trouble, it just seemed to follow her everywhere she went. We didn’t know why at the time, but the most unusual, otherworldly things seemed to follow her everywhere she went. If she was in the kitchen, the teapot would suddenly boil fer no reason. The funny thing is, nobody turned on the stove. Or, she’d be in the mill, and a sack of flour would drop and narrowly miss yer head as if somethin’s trying ta kill ye. But the oddest thing about young Esmerelda, was that she seemed to talk to herself or something else that only she could see. Spirits, some said. Phantoms of the imagination, others claimed. Nobody really gave it too much serious thought though, y’see, she seemed a bit of a disturbed woman. Sometimes, she’d be yelling curses at the air for minutes. But, nobody had the heart to say a thing about it and just left ‘er alone.” “Well, one day a lad came down to the mill to get some corn ground into meal for his piggies. He’d ‘ad a pint or two … or three ... that afternoon, but who hasn’t, y’know? Anyways, he wasn’t quite in his right mind either, so he walks into the Mill, and who should he find there all alone? Lil miss Esmerelda. She was chattin’ up a furious storm that afternoon with some spirit or some such thing, and almost didn’t even pay the lad much heed. He got right agitated for havin’ t’ wait though, so he started shouting at her. He said he was just cursin’ her like any ol’ drunk ornery fool does, but she whirled around and looked ‘im right in the eyes with her emerald eyes. Oh, but they weren’t normal lookin’ eyes that afternoon. They had a piercing glow behind ‘em that looked right through ye, right into yer soul. She said to that lad, and I’ll ne’er forget these words, “You know nothing of curses, you miserable wretch. Let me show you a curse.” An’ she did. He said her eyes blazed green like wildfires an’ ‘afore he knew it, little itchy boils came up all o’er his skin, and whenever he scratched at the itchy suckers, little black spiders crawled out. His whole body was covered in these spider filled boils! I shudder to think about it, just imagining spiders crawling on me skin gives me the heebie jeebiees, but spiders crawling out from under the skin? That’s a whole ‘nother level of creepy. O’ course, you could hear ‘is scream clear down to ol’ Jebs tannery, and that’s pretty far considerin’ the walk. Anyways, he ran right outta that mill and left his corn fer the miller t’ take as he pleased.” “The lad ran all over town that afternoon, screamin’ and shoutin’ at the top o’ his lungs t’ any who’d listen. “The millers daughter is a witch! Esmerelda is a witch! She cursed me with boils and spiders!” an’ he’d show ‘em to any who’d look. It didn’ take the town long to rabble rouse outta their homes. The good townsfolk grabbed their pitchforks an’ torches, and marched right down to the millers house, shoutin’ for missus Esmerelda to show ‘erself. She knew they wasn’t up to no good that afternoon. She’d seen what they’d done to others suspected o’ witchcraft an’ sorcery, so she wasn’t gonna stick around long enough to have any o’ that. Before the townsfolk even got close to her house, she was gone into the Blackwood.“ “Back then, it wasn’t a cursed forest like it is today and the good townsfolk weren’t afraid to go in it for an afternoon picnic. But that all changed that evenin’. None o’ the townsfolk could find the young missus, but they were out for ‘er blood. Rabble rousing will do that to ye. A few o’ them were decent hunters, so they went off back home and fetched the houn’ dogs. Houn’ dogs are pretty good at fetching foxes, and young missus Esmerelda was quite a foxy lady, so they didn’ have much problem pickin’ up her scent that evenin’. The hunters said they’d go right into the forest and bring her back and then she could stand trial for her sorcery before the whole town, and then she could face the stake like the rest o’ them did.“ “We all heard it. The screams were loud as sin. At first, we thought the hunters had captured Esmerelda and she be puttin’ up a fuss. We all waited around for them to bring ‘er back, but hours went by an’ nobody e’er came outta the Blackwood that night. It later occurred to us that the screams we ‘eard were the hunters themselves. That was the last evening anyone ever saw them hunters, bless their poor souls. We all looked at each other with scared looks in our eyes. Nobody slept well that night. How could ye, when ye know there’s a witch prowlin’ the nearby forests? The next mornin’, a ranger set off to follow the tracks of the hunting party. No one ever saw or heard from ‘im again either. He got snatched by ‘er. From that day on, nobody dared to go into the forest again until the witch was dealt with. Some nights, if yer really quiet and still and listen t’ the wind, you can still hear her talkin’ to those ghosts or spirits, or whatever they are. T’ this day, the Blackwood is cursed. Any poor fool dumb enough to be out in that wood after sundown is a gonner. Probably cookin’ in ‘er witches brew. Stay outta the Blackwood or the witch’ll getcha.” Herby leaned back finished and out of breath. The villagers shivered a little in the darkness, a little from the cold of night, and a little from fright. The Blackwood forest behind them loomed menacingly in the darkness. One by one, the villagers gave their farewells and sauntered off to their homes for the night.
  7. Cryptocurrency in games

    I have put about 15 seconds worth of thought into this. I am 100% against having anything to do with cryptocurrency in any way with my games. I don't believe in the concept, I don't think it's necessary, and I don't want to deal with the headache of any overhead costs associated with it. I'll stick to doing doing business in dollars, thank you very much.
  8. More Contract Work

    It almost feels like it hasn't been worth writing an update for the last month because so little "progress" has been made on Spellbound. But I suppose such is life, and it too must be captured and noted as a part of the journey of an indie developer. I have still been doing various contract projects for both corporate clients and small game studios. On the contracting side, I've decided that it would be a good idea to subcontract work I can't do to other people and then add my management fee to their rates. I currently have my former artist working on a small contract project, so it is a viable business idea. He charges me $35/hour and I charge the client $50/hour for his work and I keep the difference. It's not much, but its a good start. In the future, I will raise his rates and pay him more when there is more work and larger projects, but I don't want to make public promises I can't keep. The hard part will be finding enough work to keep everyone busy. I've also been playing a light support role to my girlfriend. Her business is taking off and she's easily become the primary bread winner of the household and that relieves financial pressure from me, allowing me to continue working with minimal income. I can't stress enough how grateful I am and what an impact it has on my creative pursuits. A few days ago, she had a senator from China come and visit her company and our ranch. He was really interested in seeing my VR game, so I gave him a demo in my office. My roommates are all sales people as well, so they got to try out the game at the same time. One of them was instantly motion sick, but the other really enjoyed it. Probably the best takeaway from this was just how bad my user interfaces actually are -- they are not intuitive enough at all for completely new people to use. Also, the pacing of the action is also too rapid for novices, so I'll need to redesign my tutorial level to be more "tutorial" focused than story/immersion. Anyways, the Chinese senator was very impressed with what I'd been working on. I have a feeling that I may have a trip out to China in my eventual future. I think the Chinese market for VR is thirstier for content than the North American market, so it would be great for me to see first hand what the market landscape looks like. A fellow VR game dev told me the other night that he's been wanting to show my game to other people, but the trailer for the game is so out of date that it doesn't do the game proper justice. I completely agree, it's two years old and features old technology which I don't support anymore. Here's the stupidest objection in the whole world: I don't know how to produce a good game trailer. This is extra stupid because... I work in an office filled with film people who could help me. What's wrong with me? I'm a bit afraid to ask for help knowing I have no money to offer. I have been doing a lot of reading of epic fantasy books on the bus ride too and from work. I'm currently reading through the "Legend of Drizzt" series by R.A. Salvatore. Every time I read one of these epic fantasy books, I feel totally inadequate as a writer. I have a lot of self doubt that I could produce anything as good. Despite that, I'm going to have to push hard and write out a story for Spellbound. The writing is going much slower than I would have liked due to various distractions (ahem, contract work and lack of funding). I also feel a bit daunted/overwhelmed by the size of the writing project and what it's going to take. I should just shut up, stop whining, and start writing. "Yeah, Eric! Quit yer moanin', bitchin' and belly aching and get back to writing!" *whip crack* I have been entertaining the idea of producing another type of nature VR travel experience using 360 videos. It would be much easier and faster to produce and could turn into a new revenue source to fund my development of Spellbound and build my brand a teeny bit more. I must find some time to produce a rough prototype and see if its technologically viable. I've written out a 2 page business plan and it seems pretty good (but all of our own ideas sound good!). This idea has passed through my feasibility filters and its time to start figuring out what it would take to produce. Anyways, it doesn't hurt to give it a try and see what happens. On another note, I think some of my best ideas come to me while I'm walking to work. There's just something creatively magical about the act of walking and thinking. It really gets the juices going. I remember this one time I was working in Iraq on a tough problem with relational databases. Somehow, I had to get multiple records from one table to match multiple records from another table. I couldn't figure it out for days while sitting at my desk, but then I went for a long walk on base and solved it in my head. I came back, implemented it, and it worked perfectly -- it required an intermediary table to store lookups. Two days ago, I was walking a mile to my bus stop (in the rain) thinking about "stuff". The night before, I had been tutoring my girlfriends son on math homework. I have also given lectures at my former university and local meetups on game development and design. I have worked in Iraq and Afghanistan to rebuild war torn societies, and through my experience, I have concluded that the underlying foundation for a peaceful and prosperous society is an educated society. So, if you want to bring peace, prosperity and compassion to the world, start by educating people. I happen to love the acquisition of wisdom and the feeling of enlightenment it brings, so my way of sharing that is by teaching people what I know and hoping they too can share my passion. On my walk, I got to thinking: What if I give lectures in VR where people can learn something? It would be done within the universe of Spellbound, so the learning experience would be within a classroom of budding wizards, being taught be an old, gray bearded wizard (me). The character animations could be driven by a mocap suit and the voice could be recorded easily enough. The instructional material would be framed in the context of things wizards care about, so I'd be giving an hour long class on the intricacies of alchemy and brewing a witches pot, and it would be about selecting the right proportion of herbs, spices, ingredients, and cantrips. On the surface, it would be a lesson on magical brews, but in truth, it's a lesson on fractions and ratios. It would be a great fake out, where people come into a classroom expecting an hour of entertainment (which it is!) but they'd really get an hour of education. But, the lesson would be framed and presented in such a way that the audience doesn't realize its learning something else which is valuable in the real world too! I could produce a dozen lectures on various topics of interest, framed in the context of advanced wizardry, and people could attend my lectures in VR. If I can convey my enthusiasm for the subject, it'll be infectious and people will want to see all of the other lectures. What seemed like a action role playing game on the surface, had a lot of secret surprises on the back end. Some people may not be interested in this academic part of the game and prefer action and adventure, but others may be only interested in the academic side -- There's nothing wrong with wizards who spend most of their time in the academy advancing their own knowledge. After all, that's what wizards are predominantly known for! I think if I embed secret rune combinations within the lessons, students can get unique magical rewards by paying attention in class and it can be just as rewarding as exploring an ancient dungeon. I like this idea; I'll have to think about it more and let it ruminate. Lastly, I've been continuing my work with the Leap Motion and integrating it with 360 video. Check it out here: I heard from my partner that some sales guy saw our work and liked it so much that he said if we finish this app, he'd be willing to sell our services to other companies. If that brings in more work and it pays well, I'd be all for it. I'd eventually want to hire someone else to work for me and take over the production and I'd move myself into more of a creative managerial role, but for now, I have to keep building out the tech and envisioning how this will work. I've been trying to unite the film industry and the gaming industry for over a year, so this sort of represents a culmination of my efforts and helps create a sort of new type of media. I'm excited to see where other creatives can take this. Anyways, I still have a lot more work to do here and this is still evolving quickly, but I think what we're building here may be the first of its kind in the world. I'm excited.
  9. Opinion?

    I think a part of it stems from ignorance about software development and the creative process, another part may be arrogance, and the last part may be expectation management. The ignorance part can be remedied with a bit of education, depending on the context of the situation. Arrogance may be unfixable. Expectation management may also fall under the education umbrella. But, when you charge high prices which happen to be the going industry rate and the costs of a project are a function of the project scope, that too turns into a quick education on the actual costs of development. What's always been interesting to me is that a plumber can charge you $150/hour to fix pipes, plus a fee for traveling, plus a fee for materials, etc. and nobody seems to blink twice when they get the plumbing bill. When your pipes burst and there's water spraying all over the place and your basement is flooding, do you start calling every plumber in the area and trying to find one on craigslist who works for $40/hour and haggling them down to $20/hour? Suppose you do... would you want a plumber who charges $20/hour to fix your pipes, cuts corners, and does shoddy work? Or do you want to hire an experienced professional? It's gonna cost you, but it's worth it. Why would anyone expect software development be any different? Especially for software which gets built to help run a business? A burst pipe may flood your basement and cause water damage, which costs much more than just the plumbing repair itself. You don't want to cut corners on a repair only to repeat the same problem a few days/weeks/months later. In software development, all it takes is a fatal bug which crashes your mission critical business operations to bring your whole business to a grinding halt. Every hour employees who depend on the software can't work, is like water spilling out of a burst pipe -- you're hemorrhaging money instead of water. If you're lucky, you only pay for the lost productivity time. If you're *really* unlucky, you have a data security breach which compromises personal data and could potentially cost millions and damage a company reputation, if not put the whole company out of business all together. Anyone heard of or remember Knight Capital Group? A multi-billion dollar company went completely bankrupt in 45 minutes, losing billions, due to a software glitch. Gimme a burst pipe any day flooding a basement, that's a far smaller and manageable disaster.
  10. Opinion?

    I have no problem turning down work, even if they'd pay me for it. Bad clients just aren't worth the trouble or money. If I'm going to turn down work, I like to get people to turn me down instead so that they think it was their own idea. Just make an outrageous demand for something you'd like, see what happens. If they accept, either they're desperate (in which case, cover your bases with good contracts and down payments) or they aren't so bad to work for after all. I was contracting in Afghanistan for six months as a dev, my initial contract was up, but they wanted to keep me, so I told them to 4x my salary... and they did! So I stayed an extra year. I was pretty happy and did good work. My attitude is that it's 100% okay to leave money on the table if it means you avoid bad projects or bad teams. There will be more projects to find, and if you're stuck working on a bad one, you're not spending your time finding the good ones. If your name gets attached to bad projects/teams, it's bad for your personal brand and you're just hurting yourself working on them. What's the definition of a bad project? Any project that doesn't ship. Doesn't matter what the reason is, if it doesn't ship, it failed. When you get experienced with projects, you start to see the hallmarks which cause some projects to fail and some to succeed, so you learn to avoid the projects which don't have a chance at shipping. Usually, if you're hired as a contractor, you're pigeon holed into a role to fill and don't have much control over the fate of a project. If they give you control, that should be a red flag saying, "we don't know what we're doing, so we'll give control to anyone with any semblance of competence, no matter how little." If they hire you specifically to be a project manager, that changes the story completely, and then it comes down to fighting for time, resources and managing scope. Then, you have to assess how attainable those three things are going to be for you in order to successfully manage the project. If you can't get those three things, the project is doomed before it even started. When it comes to "bad teams", it basically comes down to who you work with and who you work for, and how everyone on the team is treated. If someone says "Are you crazy? People are starving in the world and it's your fault" type of stuff, they're clearly not the people you want to work for, so just be professional and say good bye. I'm personally a bit picky about who I work with, so take what I say with a grain of salt here, but I won't work on teams which have toxic personalities. Some people may say, "Be a professional, suck it up!". I kind of take it upon myself to take a leadership stand and say that if one person is berated/abused, then we're all berated/abused and I won't stand for it. The other really bad thing to look out for is really poor follow up. If you need something before you can complete your work (assets from other team members, getting paid, admin/paperwork stuff, etc) and it's taking forever, it is another smell of failure which can have major effects on the chances for project success.
  11. Can the “No kill rule” be violated?

    Tolkien actually spend about twenty years on the world building part for the hobbit/LoTR universe. He was one of those crazy exceptions when it comes to writers. I think he alone is responsible for launching the epic fantasy genre of fiction? There are also two types of writers: Discovery writers and outliners. The stories with the unanticipated inconsistencies usually stem from the discovery writing process or a shortage of world building, but these problems only start to surface later on. Usually the discovery writer will do world building on a JIT principle, but may go back a chapter or two in their writing to setup the scene so it doesn't feel as much like deus ex machina (ie, see J.K. Rowling). The outliners will create a massive outline which hits the major plot points of the story and how everything connects together, and then they go through and flesh it out in words. The advantage is that the story is much more organized and makes sense, but you can still get into trouble with inconsistencies if your outline only covers a fraction of the whole story series (as you've pointed out). I think the best way to avoid some of these problems is to spend a bit more time with world building and establishing the rule sets, then nailing down your characters and their strengths and limitations, and finally, it can be helpful to write the ending first so that you know where the story needs to go.
  12. Can the “No kill rule” be violated?

    One of the key take aways I got from a story telling class years ago was that characters have to be fallible. It's the imperfections and contradictions in their character which makes them interesting, and also... relatable. If you read a lot of the super hero comics or watch the super hero shows/movies, you'll find that the script takes great effort to try to humanize the characters, and they just also happen to have a special power/ability which makes them unique and special. Everyone wants to feel like they're unique and special, so in a way, the audience projects themselves onto the characters in varying degrees.
  13. Can the “No kill rule” be violated?

    This is mostly a writing/storytelling artifact. You want to have characters who are imperfect, fallible, breakable, conflicted, vulnerable, and have limitations. A story just isn't very interesting if the protagonist is an invincible machine of destruction because the audience ends up feeling like there isn't risk or high stakes. So, the writers have to invent exploitable weaknesses. Batman can't kill people. Superman is weak to kryptonite. etc. Some super heroes will even temporarily lose their abilities and have to deal with life for a day like the rest of us. The key is to create limitations for your protagonists and then throw novel obstacles at them to overcome, and as they try to overcome the obstacles which conflict with their character limitations, you increase the tension of a crisis so that it all comes down to one exciting climax where it is either resolved or not.
  14. Contract Work

    I don't know what part of the world you live in, but there's no way I could sustainably charge people $100-200 for working on their projects. Before going indie game dev, I used to be a senior dev making $240k/year. I'm a professional developer. This work is my profession which means I make my living from it. That means I need to make enough money every month in order to pay my costs of living (food, rent, bills, costs of living, etc) and also add in some profit margin to make it worth my time. If a client can't afford my rates, they're the wrong client for me and I turn them down (ie, most indies). But you're right: I can't compete on price with run of the mill developers based in India, charging $10-15/hour for their work. No way. I have to compete in better ways. I'm local. I can come visit an onsite location daily if need be. English is my native language. I have the same cultural value system. I have 19 years of experience. I'm not a code monkey, I look at all work I do in context to larger objectives. I can work effectively with people and communicate clearly. I complete my projects on deadline, on budget, on spec. My code is maintainable. I can teach/mentor junior devs. I'm also pretty specialized because I work in VR, but also have a broad range of experience to pull from. I'm worth far more than $75/hour, but that's what I was charging for now (to build a client base) and it was a pretty good deal. I have a friend (John) in high school who started his own company. He needed to build a specialized app for his business, so he decided that he would outsource it to India and save money. On paper, it made sense. Why pay an american professional when you could hire 5 Indians for the same price? You'd get significantly more work done for the same cost! Or, the same amount of work done for a fraction of the cost! My friend dove right in and hired a team to build his app. His budget was around $20k. He discovered that his biggest challenge working with a remote Indian team was the communication gap. He could write a spec sheet and functional requirements, but what he got rarely matched and was buggy. He had to send it back for rework multiple times. The code was often a mess. The language barrier made it hard for his team to understand him. The cultural difference made him have to not tell his devs they were "wrong" on something because their feelings would get hurt. QA was a nightmare. When all was said and done, the project costed him $50k, was very behind schedule, met functional requirements, but was unmaintainable. I thanked him for telling me his story and woes. Not every international developer is bad, but the point is that the true costs are more than just the dollar amount you pay (time, team management, stress). Lastly, there are some devs who do work for really low rates. They seriously undervalue themselves and don't charge high enough rates for what they're worth. This has been me, even at $75/hour.
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