Thursday, December 15, 2016

Surviving Dec. 15th (And it's always going to be "too early" - they'll still be telling you to be strong.)

So it's been exactly one year since my mother passed away from a chronic illness, and on her name day in-fact. Of course it hasn't been easy, it can't be easy. You see things that remind you moments.
What were you doing at the time you were told (i was snoring) and the moment that it got real (damn there were a lot of tubes...)

Btw, the way to know who really likes you and thinks about you is if they'll say "what do you need?" or "what can i do?" and stand behind you in case you need something (literally and metaphorically). Most other's will most probably just say "Be strong." and after the 100th time you'll be ready to pounce to the next one to tell you that because you'll be thinking "I want someone else to be strong for me for once." It's something people say when they don't know what to say, not realizing that there isn't much to say. Just hug it out.

And you don't forget, nor does it go away. You just accept it and get used to it. You'll be reminded of things and at times you may even turn your head waiting to tell'em something or even wake up and thing to tell'em something. At first you are just chocking, but after sometime you'll so "oh well."
You can't forget or let go; I mean just think about it, half your DNA is them and most of your ideas/morals are shaped by them one way or the other. Either by them forcing their own or in my case, with them looking after so that you get to form your own thoughts by thinking  (which basically should just boil down to "don't be an asshole". You don't need anything more and you shouldn't even have any need for a religion to tell you not to be an ass.).

Of course each one deals with this in their own way but one thing is for sure. Don't oyster up. People won't know how to behave around you at first but those that are close (and I don't mean relatives) will want to come over and check up on you or invite you to ... do something, anything.
Go. 'Cause you'll never be ready, it'll always be too early. Keep postponing just stepping out of the house and before you know it you won't even be turning on the lights when it gets dark outside. Just tell them that you are in a bad mood and if they push you too much you'll snap at them, but go.
Otherwise you'll just pushing yourself in a black hole. Listening to music the very next day or not wearing all black doesn't mean forgetting or disrespecting. My sister got a tattoo with their own phrase that they used to say to each other, I made my game so that on the 15th of December a dove appears in a secret place (Well, she was the first person that I played video games with so it's fitting). My dad is still a work in progress...

Eventually you'll be remembering those dumb things that they did and smile instead of the last time you saw them. And there's nothing better that you could've done if you were just there and just talked to them. Unless of course you drove a knife in them or something. That's not good. Don't do that.

But at least today we sharpened his chainsaw's chain, I did another bug report email to Unity and sis bought some presents. So yeah.

Here's some fire in slowmo. 
I didn't center to phone while taking the video unfortunately.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

101 texturing aimed at mobile games. (Just bake'em all in there)

Yes, mobile GPUs have gotten really fast. Yes, they can make more things than consoles from some years ago. But there is still something that hasn't improved yet. Battery life.
Forcing more fps means less battery life and a hotter device. But more so does giving more stuff to the GPU/CPU to calculate. Of course they can do effects like normal mapping and real time shadows, reflections/ refractions... But when running on a device that its battery only lasts for one or two days when on standby, that isn't such a good idea.

So... what's usually done on the art department is to cheat a bit.
Consider the scene below. From certain angles the floor looks as if it has some overhang and a relief/sculpted effect. (It's used in fact in a lot of places in the project).


The most common way to do so in a 3D project would be to use a normal map in order to give the lighting information to the rendering engine and have it react correctly with the lighting.

But in a mobile environment you'd want to have the device have the least amount of work to do possible. Think of PCs and consoles good at marathons, with mobile devices good for sprints. Even though a Nintendo 3DS or a PlayStation Vita are mobile consoles running on batteries, they have chips with relatively slow speeds running as fast as they can, while mobiles are given fast, multi-core chips; and we are trying to give them as few things as possible to do, because the more you give those chips, the faster they'll go, and the more battery they'll eat up.

So back to the scene; see that chiseled effect that gives some highlights on the sides? Or that shadow effect? Well those are all baked into the texture, meaning basically that they were pre-drawn in the picture that gets wrapped around the 3D object. Lighting is faked as well, with only a couple objects actually using lighting calculations done in real time. (The ball is one of them since you will be moving it, faking it on the ball won't do as the highlights won't move. It has a small normal map to give it bumpiness. It's ok to do stuff like that if they aren't covering much of the screen.)



Above you can see the actual model of the platform blocks with no textures and in the lower right corner part of the texture atlas that has the texture info for all the platforms in this scene.
Which is another way to save on resources; placing as much stuff as you can on a single file so that the engine will only need to read one file once - but do that for things that won't be needed in a different scene. If you take a single object that uses this texture and put it into another one, then the engine will have to load the textures for that scene, plus the whole texture for that single object even if only a small part will be shown on screen.

All the shadows and highlights in the texture detail shown in the corner above were made in Photoshop, while the ambient light and shadows visible in the scene were precalculated by the engine and saved in their own image file as well. So that information is not being calculated while playing the game. That has its own limitations, but it helps in lowering the work needed. Since the light source and/or the platforms don't move, painting the highlights and shadows before hand saves on resources.



  




Monday, November 14, 2016

2016 Supermoon from Limassol (well kinda)

The time it was coming up and you could get the best pictures, this thick cloud was obstructing the whole thing. But i didn't care much because really, it was more interesting seeing that a lot of people were out and about just strolling by the beach. It was just a moon after all, only getting the importance that people decide to give it. Yeah it may affect the tide a tad more, but you're more likely to remember that you went for a walk with someone than you shoes getting wet.



A plane was passing at the time, leaving a trail. (It was leaving Larnaka from the looks of it.) 

I find this one more interesting than the moon though. Hope to catch the next full moon as it's rising and not when it's already up.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Looking from the other side.







I was just playing around with water reflections and upside down pics. Whenever I say that i won't need the camera, i always need the camera.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Quality settings on mobile VS battery life

(Repost from the dev blog)

It's always important to try and balance image quality vs performance in every project because when you get up to a certain point with a certain tech, then it'll stop giving out better perceptible image quality, while still eating up CPU and GPU resources. This is even more important on mobile platforms since they are powered by a battery and more strain on those components means less battery time.

When i was making my game i thought of adding an option to select the texture quality in the game in order to save RAM on devices that don't have a lot of that precious resource. All it does is if you set it "High", it will render the textures in their full resolution and have anisotropic filtering on, and if you select the "Low" setting it will render the textures in half their resolution and disable anisotropic filtering.

You can see the difference that the option actually makes. Left is High quality, right is Low quality. It may not look like much of a difference on a small screen, but it halves the amount of RAM used by the textures.


However: One my friends testing the game decided to do a small benchmark on battery life VS textures. Granted, the way it was done needs more refining and better controlled environment variables, but for what he wanted to check it's good enough. He just wanted an indicative value.

He took his iPhone 6s, went into flight mode and then only enabled the phone's WiFi. He then had just the game running and played the actual stages while timing himself.
The first run was done with the quality setting on High, and the second run on Low. He said that his times were very close with give or take just a couple of seconds. (And i trust him on that. He found exploits or "shortcuts" in the stages that i couldn't.)

And the battery life?
On High the battery went from 100% down to 70%.
On Low it went from 100% down to 89%

Granted, it does need a more controlled test with an automatic timer and standardized routes and video evidence, but this does show a bit how just changing the texture quality will affect battery life instead of just RAM usage. Personally i wasn't expecting such a difference on a device that is more than enough to play the game fine while the only thing that changes is the Texture memory use. No Level of Detail thing going on here or polygon reduction on Low setting.





On the left, Level selector for World 2 stages.
The texture on the "Low" resolution setting gets blurry as it is half the resolution of "High" mode.














On the right we have World 2 Stage 7. Same thing on this one as well. In some elements the texture resolution reduction is more evident than others, but it happens to all textures regardless.













   

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

State of journalism. [Rant]

So i saw this article in Forbes website, stating that apple is planning obsolescence in its products. What else is new, EVERY other company is doing that, and it's not nice.

However the article states that it's doing that with the iOS10 update and how it removed the "swipe right to unlock" thing and the users are now forced into pressing the home button and that it would wear it down faster. That shows how much research (wasn't) done into the thing. It's just a couple of clicks away to disable the push button and just have it unlock when you rest your finger on the ID sensor. Couple that with the capability of simply lifting the phone up and having the screen wake up, and you'll never have to push the button unless you reboot your phone!

The point is not to defend apple or the iphone, but to show how click-baity the whole thing has devolved into. If you go to that person's twitter, you'll see a "Great feedback!" tweet regarding that article. The feedback was every message telling how wrong the article is. But "Great feedback" has positive connotations and the comments to that article are not readily available once you go there to see the article, nor are they in the place you'd expect them. So it isn't apparent that the article was wrong! The comments are tucked away on the left of the screen and you have to click on a button to have a sort of drawer come out to see them.

Of course a "Thanks for correcting me" wouldn't be the same as "Great feedback!"...

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A.I. apocalypse... unless you speek greek :D

It seems AIs still get confused when listening to greek.
It would have been awesome to give the reply "its all greek to me" :D
(Yeah i know Greek is not in Siri's specs.)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Just being picky...

I'm being picky now, i know. But font and typeface is not the same thing. Lots of people get it wrong, many applications use the word "font" when referring to the typeface, but the two are not the same.

A typeface a family of fonts that share similar traits. The Times New Roman typeface for example houses a variety of fonts, in italics, bold...

Here are some typefaces


















And here's a font that is in one of them.















Yeah i know i'm being picky. But if you want the general family, you are a looking for a typeface. But you'll use a font when you click on "normal", "italics" or "bold" and set your size.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Obligatory full-moon report.

So last night's full-moon was supposedly the brightest. Well it did look like a spotlight around 2-3 am with it being directly visible from where my head was.

I managed not to transform into anything.









Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Forest - New design - iphone case cover and T-shirt

Time for another shameless promotion i guess :P
(Images are links to the store.)



The designs are available as wall prints, iPhone/Samsung Galaxy phone cases, T-shirts (the first one), mugs, pillows, notepads, hardcover journals...

 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Landscape VS portrait. (a.k.a.Rant about phones and their sensors)

Lots of people are holding the phone in portrait orientation (standing upright) when taking a video or a photo, and lots more are telling them to hold it "the right way" so that the photo or video will come out in landscape.
But what is the right way for holding it? I mean, it is a phone. It was made to be comfortably held in portrait in the first place. Whenever i turn mine in landscape my pinky will either hang infront of the sensor, or the moment i press the button to take the picture i'll shake the phone a bit.
But if i hold in as its shape dictates and commit a sin against photography, it's more comfortable.

So I either end up taking the picture in portrait thinking ahead of time to leave enough space to crop it later into landscape mode, or just take it into a square.

My question though is to the manufacturers. Why not mount the damn sensor 90 degrees tilted so that the phone will take landscape photos and videos while i'm holding it like its shape dictates?
Actual cameras are easy to hold in landscape or portrait because they take that into account in their shape. (Most of the time...)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Slow motion rain.

Was messing around with the slow motion video function on the phone today.
(probably better to view full screen)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Sunday pics ... picks.

Kitty wants a treat.


She's a maaaaneater....


I was so tempted to change the hue of all of them to red.


Probably the best way to spend a Sunday.


The air was dusty, so lets hide that with black and white.


In-house band came out? Yeah, bad puns.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Icon design for application user interface. (Guys the floppy icon should die at last.)

A big part of graphic design - or perhaps the most important part - is to make designs that can pass a message or an information to as many people as possible. It's not just about making pretty pictures. The idea is to try and make any message as universal as possible, though sometimes different cultures, different experiences make that difficult, as the same element in a design may mean different things in different cultures/ people will associate with different things. (With the toilet sign actually being a prime candidate for such a discussion.)

But the damn SAVE icon in a lot of applications isn't one of those special cases! I'm talking to you dear floppy icon. The icon that people born after the 90s knows as the picture to click when they want to save stuff instead of what it actually is, a storage medium. I keep seeing the floppy even in some modern programs. Even the latest version of the Unreal Engine, Microsoft's Visual Studio and Dreamfall Chapters are using the floppy icon even though all of them are distributed electronically (Not criticizing the titles themselves, i actually like all three of them).

"So what's your point?" My point is that the floppy icon is not relevant anymore. And that is a problem when you are not trying to abstract a bit your icons while you are able to do so. What's the purpose of that function? It's not to save a file on a floppy, or on a CD or on a hard drive. It's purpose is to save your work on local storage medium, what ever that medium may be.
Don't use the actual medium as it will eventually be rendered obsolete down the line.
"We'll use a cloud then! People are going crazy about the cloud and using it."
...NO! That is for saving to the cloud, not saving locally. Keep it about the specific function it'll correspond to. Try to abstract the idea. Show that you are putting something into something and try not to take that out of context.

It's about making stuff as future-proof as possible, making them part of concepts instead of binding them to something physical. I still see signs of "no photos allowed" that show a bellows camera... In a time that more people take pictures with the phones instead of even a dSLR camera. Sure a dSLR camera is still relevant and identifiable but for how much longer? And even then, are we going to have a phone on that "no photos" sign? That'll mean "no phones allowed".

It's going to be a hard thing to disassociate the floppy with the meaning of saving, and I'm sentimentally attached to that thing, especially to the mechanical sounds it makes when you insert one. So much in-fact that i still have a drive in my PC even though it's not connected to the motherboard. But seriously; it's time.
Express the function, not the medium. Most mobile operating systems do a good job as they don't have to carry legacy luggage needed for supporting old hardware.

Just a quick, undeveloped idea for "saving",
"loading" and "new file".

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Adventuring snail.


























Look at the cute adventuring snail! Look at it! It doesn't know any better and it's sooo happy!
Then it ended up in garden. Dunno if something ate it by now or not.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Monday, February 8, 2016

Quick Adobe Illustrator trick - moving pen points.

How many times have you put a point down on your design, only to have it land not exactly where you want it and then hit undo to try and put the point down on a better place?
Or perhaps said that you'd fix it after the whole shape is done.
Well, if you don't let go of the mouse button, you can just push and hold the space key and then drag the mouse while still holding the left mouse button.
Instead of moving the work area, it will instead change the point's position without changing how you set the manipulator arms.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

OSX doesn't like sharing.

I own a PC with Windows 7 and a mac mini with latest version of OSX. No I'm not a collector or have them just to say i have them, I actually use both of them. So naturally I sometimes need to share files between the two and to do that, I made a shared folder in Windows because at the time; that was the computer that was running.
When I first got the mac mini (it's so cute... especially with the stickers i put on it.) it had OSX 10.8.
So for sharing I had to use a 3rd party plugin to enable it to use the NTFS partition. Hm... ok...
Windows could read and write fine into OSX.
Then the updates came along and that plugin stopped working. Well damn it.
A friend of mine that is a real genie (he's an actual technician certified in most stuff apple) told me that OSX doesn't like it if the shared folders are not in OSX.
"So wait, instead of the computer telling the other computer - hey here is some data, please write it in your folder - it goes by itself and accesses another machine?"

I didn't really like that method as changes in an operating system or in a file system may ruin that.
I was expecting the transaction to go more like "here's a buffer, write it as you will".

He then said "You can do two things. Either make the folder to be shared in OSX and access it through Windows, or enable OSX to read *and* write in NTFS partitions."

Wait. So OSX already has the capability to do that but is disabled by default? - Yeah, it's Unix based after all. There is no option visible in any configuration panel though, so I can only guess that apple just didn't want it's operating system to be able to do stuff out of the box. It doesn't make sense to me since a lot of companies may run multiple departments with multiple systems. Why force them to either use FAT32 in networked drives or just only use ... osx ... oh....
And no, that 3GNTFS plugin thing won't work anymore. Or not well enough.

Well in any case, it seems you can enable OSX to read NTFS by using terminal and then edit a plist file to just tell it that it's ok to ready NTFS. And it is per volume, not global...

So i had to open terminal, then sudo nano etc/fstab (for the uninitiated, sudo means super user, do).
That would open a GNU editor called nano and load the fstab file that is located in the etc direc... folder. (could use any other editor in sudo mode i guess, he just likes that one) and write LABEL:DRIVE_NAME none ntfs rw,auto,nobrowse then save it with CTRL+O (It's a unix thing it seems. It means write Out.) Then restart the system.

I guess my main issue with this whole thing is that an operating system should let you do the things you need as hassle free as possible. Having the capability and then just not letting you do it...

I also have another issue with the sharing stuff in View info in OSX but that is a logic VS UI design thing instead of a technical one.