Archive | July 2014

Over Analysing Can Remove You From An Experience

If you want to be a game designer, writer or musician… etc… it’s often important to be able to analyse other existing material to deepen your understanding of what works and what doesn’t. It’s actually quite a difficult skill to learn as the very act of making an analysis can take you out of the experience. I think this is something that I’ve managed to master while playing a game as I tend to have many ideas about what I felt and why after finishing a play session. I think analysing too strongly however, can ruin the experience because it blocks you from being able to get into it naturally.

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Being On The Receiving End Of Over Protective Parenting

I don’t know what it’s like to be a parent, although I can imagine how tough it is. I’m speaking more on behalf of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of over protective parenting. I have good caring parents, but sometimes they can care too much. I worry that with all the scaremongering you see in the news parents are being persuaded to bubble wrap their kids ever more tightly, and that’s even after they grow into adulthood. It also seems to be taking longer for many young people to move out these days and so you find yourself in a situation where you can’t seem to really gain any independence. If I’m being honest, it feels a bit suffocating.

A lot of it comes down to a matter of perspective and I’m sure that if I ever have children I may feel differently. When somebody tries to give you advice about how to do something or be safe in the outside world it’s usually out of love because they don’t want to see you get hurt, but from my perspective all I’m hearing is that I’m incapable and they don’t trust me. While you may not want to see the people you love going through a hard time, sometimes it’s a necessary part of life. I believe we can learn more through experience than just being told the facts. Life is tough and at some point we have to be allowed to face it so that we can develop the confidence to deal with it and learn to stand on our own two feet.

I remember hearing a while back that many parents actually do their children’s homework for them, but I believe that this is only hindering that child’s ability to learn and grow in confidence. What does that child do when they then have to face something by themselves for the first time? Having achievements that we earn by ourselves helps to build confidence and teaches us what we are capable of. There may be times when a child fails at a piece of homework or refuses to do it, but they can learn from the consequences that result from that. In my opinion, learning should be about playful experimentation and that means trying some avenues that might not work out (see ‘Extra Credits: Gamifying Education‘.) I think we put too much pressure on having to get things right the first time through and many of us develop a fear of failure as we grow up.

Being over protected also doesn’t help when it comes to problems like depression/anxiety. I believe the job of a parent is to help prepare your children for the real world, even if that means having to do the difficult thing of stepping back and allowing them to make their own choices. I think many parents may also find it far less stressful when they realize that they can let go of some of those worries and focus on themselves for a bit instead – take a well earned break. If you’re on the receiving end of over protective parenting try not to take it personally because it tends to be done out of caring too much. It’s probably still better to have parents that care too much than ones that don’t care at all. One day I may come to appreciate it.

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Celebrate The Small Things: 25 July

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  • Went to a dog show and it was a really nice day. Ate lots of pizza afterwards.
  • Discovered a Pokemon art/writing competition which I’m entering. I’m feeling quite proud of the picture I’ve produced so far. I’m also going to have a go at writing something.
  • It’s only a week till my Birthday and it’s the weekend.

Copyright And Fan Art

So one grey area that I’ve never been sure about is how copyright relates to fan art. Even if the art work is entirely your own, the characters that it depicts are still owned by the original creators. For the most part I don’t think fan art is harmful, in fact quite the opposite. Communities often form over the creation of work inspired by a particular franchise and this in turn can help to promote it. I’ve frequently bought new games because of videos and work created by the fans. Out of curiosity, I once watched a ‘Let’s Play’ of a game that I never intended to buy, and yet afterwards I went and purchased the game anyway. Fan creations are so easy to find on the net that I don’t think it would be feasible to chase it all up. I think it’s ok so long as it’s clear that the work is unofficial and that no money is being made from it.

Yet I’ve seen many fan creations being sold through online stores. From what I can tell, unless you have permission from the copyright holder this is actually illegal. While you probably wouldn’t get noticed unless you sold a lot, it could potentially be taking earnings away from official merchandising. If they decide that they don’t want you to make any more money from their creation they may send you a cease and desist order or even try to sue.

It can be tempting to try and sell work from an existing franchise as it already has a fan base and will probably sell more easily than an original work. I’m sure there are many people who get away with this and copyright holders who are willing to let it slide, but is it a risk worth taking? Copyright is an issue that I’ve always struggled to understand and I admit that if I see a lot of other people doing something then I sometimes assume that it must be ok for me to do it as well. The truth is, many of us don’t even realize when we are infringing on copyright. I always thought it curious when I saw fan art for sale and wondered if these people had permission to do so. While it has been recommended for me to do the same, this isn’t an avenue I am going to go down.

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The Female Demographic – Female Thor

I heard recently through Mr Repzion’s You Tube channel that Thor is going to be turned into a woman to try and attract a larger female audience. I don’t actually read comic books – only tried Kick Ass – and so I’m not bothered by this news from the perspective of a fan. In fact I prefer Manga because it feels like there’s a wider variety to appeal to different audiences. There are many different types of Manga: Kodomo, Shonen and Shojo to name a few. From what I’ve heard comics are suffering through a similar problem to video games in that they are considered to be a male domain. Perhaps they could learn a lot by seeing how Manga is made more appealing to women.

I feel that by changing a well loved lead character it could potentially create more tension between male and female fans. If too much has to be changed to attract the new audience people could resent the newcomers. I’m sure there are also many women who already enjoy comics for what they are at the moment.

I’ve also enjoyed many stories where the main character was male and I never really considered that it’d be better if they were female. Admittedly if I have a choice in a video game I will often play a female character because I can relate to them more, but It’s not a necessity to attract me to a franchise. If a character has to be changed or a new alternate character is created it will still feel like they are living in the shadow of the male counterpart because they seem like an afterthought. I want to see original female characters that can stand out on their own merits instead of being added in lazily at a later date. I personally would prefer a franchise to have been created with people like me in mind from the very beginning. There also needs to be more strong female characters that women can relate/aspire to.

I can’t speak on behalf of all women – we all like different things after all – but I think it’s the portrayal of relationships that can make a franchise seem more interesting. I still like to see action, violence or fantastical elements, but I also want to have deep complex characters that forge different friendships on their journey. I think Mass effect is a good example of a game that does this well; you still get to enjoy the epic sci-fi battles while at the same time forming attachments to your party members. I think Mass Effect is a game that can appeal to many different types of people.

Trying to attract a female audience isn’t as simple as adding female characters or colouring everything pink like we’re moths to a flame. Perhaps we need more female developers to help create a better understanding in this area. In the case of Thor, I think they should have made a new character based on one of the many goddess’ in Norse mythology. I think it also needs to be considered whether the potential audience gain will make it worth upsetting your current fan base.

Celebrate The Small Things: 18 July

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  • Finally got to watch How To Train Your Dragon 2 and it didn’t disappoint.
  • There were a couple of obscure browser compatibility issues on The Stoops website but somehow I managed to fix them; What a relief.
  • My friend was offered a job which is great. Proud of him.
  • We’re having a BBQ tonight. Looking forward to the weekend aswell.

Share Your Own Baking Recipes: Share And Bake

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So a while ago I suddenly decided I wanted to go back to building websites, but I was a little rusty and needed some practice. My mum and I tend to watch baking programs together. I don’t usually have much time to bake – I enjoy eating the results though – but it’s something for us both to bond over. Then my mum suggested that I build a baking website to practice and have something in my portfolio. Of course, being me I couldn’t just stick with a simple idea and I started work on a site that would actually allow visitors to share their own recipes. The result of that project is Share and Bake – http://www.shareandbake.co.uk/.

I thought it would be interesting to see if I can run the site and get some more visitors. I’ve built a few sites but never tried to manage and run them afterwards. I could do with some help to test it and get some more content added. It’s all free to use and setting up an account will allow you to share your own recipes, keep a scrapbook, follow different bakers and rate and review. You also get a profile that will display all of your recipes and anything you wish to write about yourself. If you don’t fancy having an account you can still browse the recipes and share them through Twitter, Facebook and by email. I’m also hoping to find the time to add more bakes of my own.

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Thanks for checking it out…

Using jQuery To Display XML

Last week I wrote about how I displayed some gig listings on a web page (see ‘Web Development: Displaying Content From A Text File.’) I was left a comment asking me why I hadn’t used jQuery to do this instead. I admit that I’m still in the process of learning jQuery and haven’t yet fully covered topics such as AJAX. I would also like to make sure I’m proficient with Javascript first (It’s not one of my favourite languages and I don’t get much practice with it.) Finally, I wasn’t sure if it was worth including a library for the small bits of functionality that I wanted to achieve (see ‘Do You Really Need jQuery?‘) Of course jQuery can make coding easier by removing things like version checking, and so therefore it is worth adding to your toolbox. I’ve taken another look at my gig listings, did some research and have created another version that uses jQuery.

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How To Give Criticism

I actually struggle when it comes to offering useful criticism to others. I want to be helpful, but I’m not entirely certain that my advice will be and I’m worried about offending them. When working with others it’s important to understand how to offer criticism otherwise people will feel uncomfortable being open with their ideas around you. You may end up missing out on something really important because people were too afraid to share with you. If you find that people seem to act defensively towards your feedback then maybe you’re coming across as being a little too harsh. Remember, for most people it can be difficult to know how to receive criticism positively.

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Celebrate The Small Things: 11 July

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  • Finished and uploaded The Stoops website. I’m still tweaking bits here and there, but I’ve told them I’m happy to continue helping out with the site in the future should they need it. They allowed me to put a link to my stuff on the site and they also know of someone else who is wanting a site building and will be passing my details on to them. I’ve never really built much for other people before, but having the experience is a really good way to practice your skills.
  • The weathers been quite nice lately. I went on a walk over the weekend not really expecting to capture much, but then a squirrel posed for me and I’m really happy with the photos I got.
  • I started work on a new game. I haven’t done much game development in a while because I’m trying to update my web development skill set, but I really missed it and it felt good to be back programming game logic again. It’s going to be quite a simple game that I’m hoping won’t take too long to build so long as I get enough spare time to add to it.
  • Joined up to a free course about narrative in online games. Really looking forward to starting this.
  • Had a nice time out with my friends yesterday. We got a Pizza!

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