Saturday, September 30, 2017

Point and click games -The way you interact should make sense.

Most people my age (30s+) that played a lot of games on their PCs, should know about point and click games and their moon logic puzzles. And on top of that, you had those interaction controls that had 3 different action buttons that could be combined in a single one, or had some actions that could have been done in different ways and would in-fact still make sense.

I'm not talking about using a fish that you found at the very start of the game on a robot that is waiting at the very end of the game, or for waiting the guy to go to the toilet and get wrecked by an octopus so that you can get his belt... (If anyone gets the references, you get a high five.)

I'm talking about having a walk command, while the game could simply take use the mouse pointer to where you wanted to walk, and even if you did click on an interactable object, simply walk to the closest point. Or if you had a fridge for example and had an "Open", "Close" and "Interact" commands, the open and close commands (while redundant) could do what they were intended to do, but the "interact" one should work as well; open the door if it's closed, and close it if it's open.

Same with inventory management. In almost all of point and click games you would eventually go to a point where you had to find a couple of objects and combine them to do something else. And in most games I've played of that kind (dare I say all?) the player would have to get both objects and then combine them in the inventory system. Why couldn't I just pick up one part of the object, go close to the second part that could be on a table and then simply "use" the first item directly on the object that is just sitting there? This issue is still present in some form in today's games, latest example I've personally seen being FF14. To give something to an NPC, I had to initiate dialog, and the game would then give me a small on-screen box to place the item in it, either by dragging the item from my inventory to the NPC's inventory, or selecting "give". Why couldn't I just drag the item from my inventory onto the NPC and then program the NPC to simply accept the item and respond with a "Thank you!" kind of a reply? (I'm not talking about point and click games where you have to solve a puzzle by using an item on a character, but on RPG games where characters usually want some items.) Screenspace to world space conversions can be done, so the game can indeed know if you are pointing at something. That's how mouse pointers work in 3D games and applications. (I have to clarify though, that if I remember correctly, I have seen a couple of games that dragging the item from the inventory on the character would give them the item, but as far as i could tell that is still not the norm.)

"You are splitting hairs dude". Well... you may have the best software out there in terms of what it can do, but if it frustrates users with the controls, or your users keep trying to do things differently, then perhaps the controls are not as intuitive as the designer may think and might need tweaking. It's why most 3D programs or photo editing/design packages ended up having similar controls. It goes back to the "you are not your clients" argument. It's only natural that the designer won't have any serious issues with their own interface, but any issues will come up when the client tests it. Case in point, the first pilots that tested the very first F-16 models. Supposedly the new flight system had a control stick that didn't move physically, but instead registered pressure along its axis depending on how the pilot was acting on it. You see the plane was using a cutting edge technology of fly by wire, which means that the pilot didn't actually control the plane's control surfaces but instead was sending information to a computer and the computer was keeping the plane in the air. The issue was that the pilots couldn't tell how much pressure they were exerting on the stick, the engineers at General Dynamics hadn't thought of that or didn't think that it would be an issue. It was the pilots that came back and said that the feeling needs to change as they couldn't tell how much force they were applying, which that would affect their flying. The solution was to add some leeway to the flight stick to move around.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Random Stuff (Pup)

This little guy is just a month and a half old, with the two snaps taken just a bit over a week apart, and the left most snap wasn't even when he was at its tiniest.

So far he's the cutest poop machine.
The poop. God damn the poop. And the pee! GOD!
I'm petitioning for putting you in diapers dude...

In other news, it's video games day today. So back to coding stuff.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Feathered Journeys (mobile app)

Released a new mobile app (for iOS and Android) almost a week ago, for a non-profit organization that's for protecting birds and their environment.
The app has a trivia game revolving around the difficulties that birds may encounter when migrating, a compact encyclopedia about a number of birds encountered in Cyprus and the capability for the user to report the location of an illegal bird trap if encountered on the island.

iOS App store.
Android Play store.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

6D Mark II thoughts.

My camera feels as if it's on its last ... clicks. So i was expecting to see how the new 6D Mark II would be when it came out. And it does look like a decent camera... except for the Auto focus system. Don't care about the 4K video not being a feature. Or that it doesn't have a CF slot or a headphone jack. That's for the upper class models.
But GOD DAMMIT Canon! Screwing up the AF system? The thing that allows us to focus when taking photos?

The autofocus system is supposed to be related to the one from the 80D model. But that camera is an APS-C, meaning it has a smaller sensor. If you take that system and put it on a full frame camera then half the sensor won't be covered, and since the autofocus points are in the center, that means that the sensor's edges aren't covered.

That isn't a big deal in every day shooting where you'll just aim with the center point and snap, but if you want to compose a moving subject to be at the edge then it will make it really hard.
This is compromising a dSLR camera's main job. To focus and compose a scene.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

2:50 am

The night is actually really nice and quiet, a nice calming breeze is coming through the window... is that jasmine?

And then there's is just one thing that bothers me. If there is someone at the end that would judge everything I'd like to just answer me one thing. Just one thing.

Why the f@ck are there mosquitoes!? WHY! I get roaches. I loath them but i get why they are here! 
They eat decaying matter and release the nitrogen back into the soil for the plants. But what do the buzzing devils do?! Other than transmit diseases and piss people off in the night. Food for big critters? You have other bugs and larva for that, just make them eat those! :P

My ear hurts from all the slapping.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Flashing and curtains. (I'm talking about flash and the sensor curtains of your dSLR...)

That flash. I'm talking about that thing over there to the right. The external flash that you hook up to your dSLR.
Many people think that you just strap it on and then the camera will take care of the rest.
That's true up to a point. The whole deal with flash is to allow you to manipulate light, not just make dark things brighter. It can help you with motion, it can make bright walls even brighter to allow you for some silhouette shots, make things appear warmer and softer or colder and harsher.

It can also change the direction of things. What do i mean by that? Most of us have seen those images of things falling into water, or water droplets in fashion shots. You know, the ones where there is a model in front of a dark background and lots of water raining down. Many of us amateur photographers just point the flash and fire it. Don't do that. I've seen posts in photography forums of water shots with a slow shutter speed (to get that water movement) and when someone says "Your rain looks as if it's going upwards" they reply with "that's because of the flash."

NO. It is NOT because a flash was used and "that's how things work".
It's the settings used on the flash unit.

There is a certain trait of the way SLR cameras work and that is (are) the curtains. They are your shutter, they are what is being affected by your "shutter speed" setting, and they really are curtains. Or rather flaps nowadays that cover the sensor. (Click here for an awesome slow mo video on shutter movement from The Slow Mo Guys on YouTube™.)
What they do is that they change the duration that light actually hits the sensor and exposes the scene. How they work is by first dropping the first part which lets light come in and hit the sensor and after some time, the second one drops covering it back up. Then they rewind back up to the top and re-arm themselves for the next shot. The defaults on a flash is to fire up when the first curtain drops (which is fine if nothing is moving). By the time the second curtain drops to cover the sensor (or film, all SLRs work the same) the flash is all done. In fact it's done way before the curtain drops.

1st Curtain
So what does that mean and what does it have to do with movement?
Everything. The sequence of events is as follows: 1) 1st Curtain drops, exposure begins. 2) Flash fires and instantly fills everything with bright light. 3) Sensor is still fully exposed taking in ambient light, flash stopped firing light. 4) 2nd Curtain drops to cover the sensor.
So, the the sensor took in the majority of light at the very beginning because of the flash and after the flash was done, it was still taking in ambient light.
Imagine a water droplet coming down. It reflected lots of light at the very beginning from the flash and when the flash was done it reflected back the less intensive ambient light. That is what makes the ghosting effect, and because the majority of light reflected back was at the very beginning, the brightest and sharpest imprint of the image is when the subject falling was at the very top position; when the flash fired and then the ambient light subsequently left a fading-out trail as the droplet keeps falling down. And our brain interprets that as moving upwards because of persistence of vision. The same thing that when you move something fast right to left, you see the object at the far left with a tail behind it.

If the flash unit used does not have any controls on it (as is the case with some really small units) then the camera can change those settings through a dedicated flash menu.

And yes, that is my oooold Canon 450D that is missing an eyepiece, the rubber is falling out, it has been drenched in sea water, rain, beer, coffee and tea.

The image shows the settings for the external flash, but they are still present for the pop out flash as well.

2nd Curtain
All anyone has to do on the flash is to set it to fire at the 2nd Curtain. That's it. The camera will trigger the flash just moments before releasing the 2nd Curtain to cover up the sensor and in doing so ensures that the majority of light hits the subject at the end, and thus reverting the motion of the moving objects to what our brain is expecting.

The sequence of events now changes to: 1) 1st Curtain drops starting the exposure. 2) Ambient light comes in, no flash. Moving objects reflect only the softer ambient light. 3) Flash fires, moving objects get a burst of bright light for an instant and then immediately after ... 4) 2nd Curtain drops, ending exposure.

This is not something that is only available in pro equipment. They are normal functions of consumer grade SLR cameras and external flashes. (Note: With Canon cameras you can't set 2nd Curtain if you are in optical wireless mode. Cheap RF wireless triggers or studio strobes can be used, but that's a story for another time. If you can go wireless then you probably don't need lessons on what the 2nd Curtain is.)

The above (shitty) example shows the difference with 1st and 2nd curtain. In both instances the fan is spinning counter-clockwise. But notice the difference in the ghosting/blurring between the two images. Sure, most people won't care about the direction a fan is spinning as long as it's spinning, but this is just to show the difference. 1st Curtain of course can be used creatively. If for example someone wants to make someone flying upwards with motion blur, then they can have the person fall downwards and shoot with the flash set to 1st Curtain. So it'll be like those water droplets we discussed previously, where the flash would freeze the subject at the top of their motion and then ambient light would create motion blur going downwards.