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Hey! You're looking at the front page of recorder.sayforward.com which is a temporary storage place for articles I didn't read/evaluate yet. I also use this platform to prepare new content to post sayforward.com where audio/video/image material is hosted completely on my server. On the recorder instead, media is loaded from external sources, so don't get mad if some of them don't work anymore.

Please note that the content posted here is explicitly intended to help me remember certain things, i.e. it is not intended to entertain you in any way (although you certainly will find stuff that fulfills this criteria).

Now: Happy Browsing!

One of the films featured on our extensive Best Movies of 2010 That You Probably Haven’t Heard Of list was a Brazilian action movie titled Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within. The original Elite Squad was released in 2007 (now available on DVD), and was highly acclaimed by critics and moviegoers.

I screened Elite Squad 2 at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, without having seen the first film (as I was told that was not a requirement — although I plan on checking it out when I return home). From director José Padilha, the highly acclimed filmmaker behind Bus 174, comes a crime thriller which might be best described as a cross between The Departed, The Wire and The Godfather.

The story is set in crime-infused slum area favelas of Rio de Janeiro — an area which has been explored on screen in the Oscar-nominated City Of God and the documentary Manda Bala, which suggested that the violent street crime was linked to higher political corruption.

This film explores this idea, with Wagner Moura reprising his role as Roberto Nascimento, rising from commander-in-chief of Rio’s BOPE (Special Police Operations Battalion) to sub-secretary of intelligence. As he eliminates drug trafficking in favelas, he realizes that he is working side-by-side with his real enemies — corrupt cops and dirty politicians. Fans of the first film may be in for a shock, as I’ve heard this is an entirely different movie.

Beautifully captured on film – gritty, bloody and dirt covered. Even though the movie is more of a crime thriller than an action film, the chase sequences sequences down narrow slum streets and street shootouts are exciting and well executed. Elite Squad 2 is one of those rare films which plays for the masses, not only succeeding as entertainment but delves into serious issues about the social reality in Brazil.

/Film Rating: 8 out of 10

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Multitalented game designer Luke Schneider has been releasing a new title every month on Microsoft's Xbox Live Indie Games channel as part of his Radiangames series.

The independently financed game creator handles all aspects of development, from gameplay implementation and art design to music composition. When it comes to the distinctive look of the games, he says he gets a lot of inspiration from viewing abstract art.

At the Game Developers Conference taking place in San Francisco next month, the game maker will share a panel with Brian Provinciano of Vblank Entertainment, Dajana Dimovska of Copenhagen Game Productions, and Jeff Hull of Nonchalance. Titled "The Next Steps of Indie: Four Perspectives," the Radiangames portion of the session will serve as a brief postmortem, offering full sales numbers and a breakdown of what aspects of prior titles might have been improved upon.

The panel will also cover key points of Radiangames' strategy of monthly releases, centering on strict scope control, reusing code, and finding an overall art style that's distinct but not too time-consuming to create. We caught up with the designer of Radiangames Ballistic, out this week, to hear about the requirements of the studio's prodigious output.

Were you interested in choosing the Xbox Live Indie Games platform because it would allow you control over the content you were self-publishing?

Luke Schneider: Definitely. Being able to create console games with no approval process is definitely one of the big reasons I went with Xbox Live Indie Games. I also knew that with my initial plan of making lots of small, high-quality arcade games, any major approval process would be a significant risk, so XBLIG was one good way to reduce that risk.

What are your impressions of the process of patching a game if there’s a bug that needs to be addressed?

It’s straightforward, but it’s slow. You have to wait a week from the time the game was first published, and there’s a peer review process that takes at least two days to get through. Once you do get it approved, I’ve had problems with the update going live.

For Inferno and Fireball’s updates, there’s been a timeframe where you could not actually buy the game because of the update. In the case of Crossfire 2, I've actually done two updates because I accidentally turned off online scoreboards. Because of that, the game's scoreboards didn't update for about 13 days. The fix was made in a day, but the waiting period and approval process mean it was more than just a blip.

How would you rate the peer review system?

Overall it works, but there are a few details that bother me. After you put in a review, if you find something that would have failed the review, you can’t then go back and change your review. You have to contact the creator of the game to tell them about it. For my purposes it’s worked pretty well because I’ve gotten to the point where people review my games quickly.


Radiangames Inferno

Are you feeling confident at this time about the reception of the Radiangames series now that you are looking to expand to PC and iOS devices?

I think the reception is fairly consistent. Unless I do something that’s a little more appealing to a broad audience, I don’t see sales numbers greatly expanding. Based on the progression that I saw over the release of the first three games, I would have expected Crossfire 2 to do better, but the brand may be maxed out a little. Crossfire lends itself better both to the PC and iOS platforms, and I have plenty of other ideas for games that would work better on the iOS devices. I don’t really like twin stick shooters on the iOS devices, so I’m not starting with those.

You’ve also been taking advantage of online services. Has posting the soundtracks for streaming online helped interest audiophiles in the game series?

That may be the case for a small part of the audience. It’s kind of a hidden feature for people who really like the game. A lot of people have mentioned the music to Inferno. That was one where I promoted the soundtrack pretty heavily. With Fluid, I changed the style up quite a bit, and one response I got was that it didn’t “sound like a Radiangames game.” It's funny because another reviewer of Inferno (the game previous to Fluid) commented that all my soundtracks sounded the same... so you can't please everyone.

What software are you using for sound design?

I use a program called Stomper for all the sound effects. For music I’ve been using Reason, although the next game in the series [Radiangames Ballistic] will be using ReBirth.

Have you been developing your skill set (the coding, art design, music composition) in previous work, or did you have to pick anything up in transitioning to independent development?

The area where I had to grow the most was the programming side. I’d done some programming before and actually majored in computer science, but I wasn’t a really good programmer.

Do you prefer for there to be an established style that is recognizable from title to title? For instance there appears to be a resemblance between the various game covers.

Aside from shared code for loading and saving and online scoreboards, covers are one area where I get some help. My brother has provided three of those along with feedback on the others. He gets my style but also pushes me to do more with it. The art style for Fireball was inspired by laundry detergent boxes. But not showing the gameplay on the cover was a bit of a mistake because people have no idea what Fireball is until they play it, and even then they might not get that it’s inspired by Geometry Wars 2's Pacifism Mode.

Overall, I use the same process for the art on the games, and the shaders on Fireball, Fluid, and Inferno (as well as Ballistic and Crossfire 2) all came from the same core idea. I've heard some people say I need to branch out more and do more pixel art, but I've also had really good comments about my games being distinct.

How do you go about developing a gameplay system for games? Do you start there, or is it more determined by the other elements of the design?

I usually start with a general idea of what I want to do. With Crossfire I knew I wanted a Space Invaders-type game where you could flip the top and bottom. For the art style, I wanted there to be no circles. I’d already used a lot of circles in JoyJoy and my wife had sort of been making fun of me for that.


Radiangames Ballistic

You’re responsible for creating all of the design elements of your games and also getting the word out. Is it a challenge to be handling both development and promotion of the Radiangames series by yourself?

It can be. At the same time, I’m not running into problems with there being too much promotion to do. I try to do interviews whenever I can, but people don’t want to hear from me that frequently. I focus on it when I release a game. G4 featured Fluid for one of its segments and the sales jumped as a consequence. Getting onto Kotaku for Inferno was helpful.

Attention from large websites is the most helpful, but it’s not something that I have a lot of control over. I try to make the best games I can and hope that people cover them. I have to say I do feel fortunate that sites like IndieGames.com, DIYGamer, GamerBytes and GameSetWatch have been consistently covering my games.

Radiangames Crossfire 2 was a part of a grassroots promotion called the Indie Games Winter Uprising, organized by the developers themselves. The promotion was selected by Microsoft to appear on the Xbox Live Dashboard. Has it been beneficial for introducing Crossfire 2 to a broader audience?

I'd have to say: not yet. The initial download numbers for the first few days were not as good as for either Inferno or Fluid, even though those games were released on their own and not part of any promotion. Inferno has had the highest conversion rate and it’s also the highest rated. It’s easier for more people to get into than the other games so far.

Microsoft's dashboard promotion of the Winter Uprising did help some, as that caused Crossfire 2's download numbers to approximately triple during the seven days the promotion was running. Overall I was hoping for a more dramatic effect from the Uprising, but I was happy to be part of it and would definitely do it again if the timing makes sense for a future game.

To find out more about Radiangames, visit the official website.

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The Guard, which was picked up at Sundance by Sony Pictures Classics, is one of those movies you’re going to be quoting and turning your friends on to. Though it seems pretty surface based on a general description, once you see it, you realize it’s a truly special movie complete with humor, action, heart and one of the most memorable characters in recent years. That character, Sergeant Gerry Boyle played by Brendan Gleeson, is sort of Bad Lieutenant Light. He’s got plenty of bad habits – drinks on the job, says horrible things – but is actually a decent guy and great cop. Put that character in the middle of a simple murder mystery, co-starring Don Cheadle and Mark Strong, written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, and you’ve got one of the best movies at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Once Gleeson’s character is established, with his thick Gaelic accent, he and a new Guard – which basically another name for police officers – discover a very mysterious murder. That murder ends up tying into a massive drug case FBI Agent Wendell Everett (Cheadle) has come to Ireland to investigate. The two become unlikely friends and help each other track down the bad guys, including the leader played by the always awesome Mark Strong.

The actual story of The Guard isn’t what makes it special. What makes it special are its award-worthy screenplay, which is filled with hilarious asides and biting banter, the performances – Gleeson in particular – and the perfect good cop, bad cop chemistry between Cheadle and Gleeson. When apart, each is a very unique and interesting person, but when they’re together, they bring out the best in each other – both in the world of the movie and as actors. There’s also a touching subplot about Boyle and his mother, played by Fionnula Flanagan, who you know as Eloise Hawking from Lost. All of these complement themselves perfectly in this tight, 90-minute film.

Reminiscent of the early works of Guy Ritchie, but with a more grounded filmmaking style, The Guard easily places itself in the same breath as other crime thrillers from the region – Snatch, In Bruges, Hot Fuzz, etc. It’s a film that will be one of your favorites of the year and also remain in your heart for years to come.

/Film Rating – 9 out of 10.

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The platform that a game is on dictates a lot more than many game designers realize.  Epic Battle Fantasy III has been out for a while, but I thought it was worth analyzing because of the unusual venue it chose … Continue reading →

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Owing to a tradition that goes back to the first samplers and hip-hop pioneers, sampling and digital performance have become a kind of instrumental technique. You might play well, you might play poorly, but even working with samples, you can actually play.

You can look at the simple design of the monome as the hardware embodiment of digital, a reflection of an array of pixels. You can see it as an extension of Roger Linn’s MPC and other drum machine concepts. It’s probably both those things. But since the monome itself makes no sound, it’s been software that has made that design musically relevant. While the original vision of the monome was as a blank canvas that could perform any function, ultimately a community of musicians focused their efforts on expanding a single patch, creator Brian Crabtree’s original mlr. Talk to these monome players, and they’ll very likely tell you about some little modification they made last night to use in a set they’re playing tonight, because they wanted some feature or another, or a little subpatcher they borrowed from a friend to solve a problem. Add up all those little hacks, and you get evolution.

Now, descendant mlrv has evolved into a live music-making environment of its own, and not just for the monome. Version 2.0, released this week, supports monome-like controllers such as the Novation Launchpad, Akai APC, and Livid Ohm/Block, but also conventional MPC-style grids like the Akai MPD.

The word the creators use to describe the playing technique: “hypersampling.”

mlrv is built in Max/MSP, so if you have a Mac or Windows and version 5 of the software (or Ableton’s Max for Live), you can edit the patch. Otherwise, you can download a free runtime and use the patch itself for free. Pay US$18, and you get your name on the startup screen and special email news and downloads. Pay US$80, and you get limited edition vinyl from artists galapagoose and ‘%’.

The project is the work of Trent Gill, Michael Felix, and parallelogram; check out developer galapagoose playing with it live in the video at top. (I will say, though, even as I am writing on a Website, you get more out of being in the same room with a live performance.) All the details:
http://parallelogram.cc/mlrv/

The software will be available February 1, with a release party that evening for the software and music. Also, while we’ll have details tomorrow, Handmade Music will host performances by galapagoose, %, and other monome artists (alongside chip music, MeeBlippery, and laptopism) on Saturday February 5. Both events happen in New York City at Culturefix.

On February 5 with CDM, you can come at 3pm and check out an open lab to get your hands on mlrv and talk to its developers. Then stay for the party Saturday night – US$20 buys you admission, supports the artists, and nets you a two hour open bar of beer and wine recently celebrated by the NY Times’ drink critic, Frank Bruni. Full details coming in a separate post, or in the meantime, RSVP on Facebook.

Tuesday night launch party details, NYC
http://bit.ly/hmfeb5 = Handmade Music party Saturday night, complete with hands-on during the day, more live performances at night!

Finally, here’s the obligatory, somewhat amusing, preview vid:

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I know this will shock you after seeing the blog post of funny photos I put up last week, but I’m not the only person in the world who can save funny photos from other websites! Today we received this email from a young man named Matthew Pelly who tried to steal my job:(...)
Read the rest of DICKHEADS WANNA WORK AT VICE (345 words)

© Alex for Viceland.com, 2011. |
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Grokking is a term not often heard outside the industry but very useful within. This article discusses how players grokking game designs is something to be aware of and how it affects level design.

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How to Write Clean, Testable Code

Google Tech Talks December 15, 2010 Presented by Miško Hevery. ABSTRACT The Clean Code Talks are designed to help teams get better at writing clean, well-designed, testable code. Such code is easier to write tests for, more robust, easier to understand and maintain. Having clean code lets you be more productive. It helps you release more often, with more robustness, more confidence, and fewer rollbacks. Miško Hevery works as an Engineer at Google where he is responsible for coaching Googlers to maintain the high level of automated testing culture. This allows Google to do frequent releases of its web applications with consistent high quality. Previously he worked at Adobe, Sun Microsystems, Intel, and Xerox (to name a few), where he became an expert in building web applications in web related technologies such as Java, JavaScript, Flex and ActionScript. He is well published and very involved in Open Source community and an author of several open source projects, most recently angular. This Tech Talk was presented at one of the Google NYC Tech Talk series. For more information, or to attend future events at the Google NYC Engineering Office, see www.meetup.com
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Tools for Continuous Integration at Google Scale

Pre Google Test Automation Conference 2010 October 27th, 2010 Tools for Continuous Integration at Google Scale Presented by Nathan York. Abstract: Software engineers rarely invoke compilers and lower-level tools directly. Instead they interact with a build system which analyzes dependency information and then orchestrates the overall build process. Yet build systems are often overlooked by industry and academia. This presents a challenge for large organizations as their code base grows and engineering processes struggle to keep up. This talk covers the key insights and technical design elements that enable us to scale the word's largest continuously integrated code base to thousands of engineers worldwide. Speaker Bio: Nathan refers to himself as "a tools guy". He worked on IDEs and developer tools at Borland before joining Google 6 years ago. During this time he has been involved in transforming Google's tools and development process to scale with Google's rapid growth. He strongly believes that great engineering tools and process are one of the key elements required for successful software engineering.
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As gamers we have been brought up with various control methods in games. It has become second nature and this can reflect in the games that we design today. This post looks at the difficulty that is posed by traditional control methods to new gamers.

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Web Testing at Google: Infrastructure for the World's Most Demanding Web Developers

Pre Google Test Automation Conference 2010 October 27th, 2010 Web Testing at Google: Infrastructure for the World's Most Demanding Web Developers Presented by Ted Mao Abstract: Every day, Google's web testing infrastructure runs millions of Selenium, WebDriver, and JsUnit tests on a variety of browsers and operating systems. In this talk, I will present the infrastructure we've built at Google to support web testing, discuss how this infrastructure evolved as our web testing needs increased in scale and complexity, and give you a peek into some of our future plans. Speaker Bio: Ted Mao is a software engineer at Google. He has worked as a both a producer and consumer of web testing infrastructure for many years, and is currently building really-cool-stuff-he-can't-say-much-about at Google.
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Some musings on what great games have in common...

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You don’t have to be a great singer to write a great song—just ask Bob Dylan. Likewise, you needn’t be a Leonardo to draw your way to more and better ideas. Sketching helps you generate concepts quickly, exploring alternatives rapidly and at no cost of resources. The looseness of a sketch removes inhibitions, granting clients and colleagues permission to consider and challenge the ideas it represents. Mike Rohde outlines the practice, surveys the tools, and shares ways to become confident with this method of brainstorming, regardless of your level of artistic ability.

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Of course, it has been known for a long time that using Copy-Paste in programming is a bad thing. But let's try to investigate this problem closely instead of limiting ourselves to just saying "do not copy the code".

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You break out into a sweat, fearing that you’ve already tumbled past the point of no return and your only solution will be to either deliver a sub-par game experience or scrap the whole project. These moments are inevitable, but giving up isn't.

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This guest post is written by Radek Koncewicz, Creative Lead of Incubator Games.  You’ll find my (Brice’s) notes and bolded text throughout.  Part I can be found here.  I could have reproduced the entire thing as one post, but I … Continue reading →

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Zack sez, "Found a number of Oscar-winning short-subject films on YouTube -- a real prize was this number from legendary poster and title creator Saul Bass, which was also broadcast on the very first installment of 60 MINUTES. It's a classic look at creativity, along with an unforgettable sequence about the history of man involving an edifice.

Why Man Creates (Part 1)

(Thanks, Zack!)

 

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Unicage Development Method - Its Philosophy and Technologies (Japanese Audio)

Google Tech Talk November 15, 2010 ユニケージ開発手法 その思想と技術データベース不要、テキストデータとシェルスクリプトで作る大規模システム(Unicage Development Method - Its Philosophy and Technologies DB-less Large-Scale System by Text Data and Shell Scripts) Japanese Audio 當仲寛哲 (Nobuaki Tounaka) ABSTRACT ユニケージ開発手法の技術と思想を紹介する。ユニケージは、シェルスクリプトでテキストデータを加工し、大企業向けの業務システムを短期間で開発する手法である。データ項目は、常に追加・変更されるものという前提に立ち、柔軟な取り回しができるよう、至るところに工夫を凝らしている。また「システムはコンピュータにあるものではない。業務にある」と喝破し、プログラムよりデータを重視する。「全ては変化する」という東洋的な思想の下に考案された本開発手法の価値観を例に、東洋と西洋のシステム観の差異を浮き彫りにする。 Speaker: 當仲寛哲(とうなかのぶあき) 1966年 兵庫県生まれ1992年 東京大学大学院修士課程(情報工学専攻)中退1992年 株式会社ダイエー入社1996年 システム改善により社長賞受賞2000年 流通科学大学非常勤講師(~2002年まで) 2000年 IPA助成事業実施主幹2004年 有限会社ユニバーサル・シェル・プログラミング研究所を設立し、所長に就任現在、コーネル大学RMPジャパン講師を務める。 Title: Unicage Development Method - its Philosophy and Technologies DB-less Large-Scale System by Text Data and Shell Scripts Abstract: The philosophy and techniques of Unicage method is introduced. Unicage method has been popular on the field of business application software. The method makes it possible to apply shell <b>...</b>
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“A lot of our level 23 players are dropping.” “I know!  What’s going on?” “Not sure yet.  Maybe the items in the store are too expensive?  Maybe the XP level is too high?  But we need to figure it out…soon.” … Continue reading →

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Using the Game Design Canvas as an analysis tool, we look at some of the components that made the original Super Mario Bros. so successful, and how the title could be taken further.

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Business Group
The Intel Software and Services Group (SSG) connects Intel to the worldwide software community. SSG strives to bring competitive advantage to Intel platforms by helping independent software vendors, operating system developers, OEMs, channel members and systems integrators deliver exceptional customer value and achieve differentiation on Intel's processor technologies. SSG provides global leadership to the software community through its technical expertise, industry enabling activities, and developer products and programs.

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Developer and blogger Miles Aurbeck takes us on a tour of his current book project in this post shared with his blog, in which he examines what he believes successful student developers need.

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Hanging on in there.

It's a true testament to the game that 15 years after release, the original Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is still rated as one of the best titles in its genre. In fact it was such a triumph it's featured in Famitsu's Top 20 Games list for 14 years running.

The premise is simple – you are a humble boy on a quest to bring freedom to the nation of Valeria. To achieve this, you control a group of up to 12 warriors and wage battles on 3D isometric playing fields.

Once you've individually manoeuvred your fighters into place you can attack, defend, cast spells or healing buffs... Whatever your soldier is trained to do. It's these intelligent turn-based battles, combined with razor-sharp AI and an emotive plotline, which have helped the game to stand the test of time.


Read more...









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A popular, but stale genre was served an shining example ten years ago. Alas it was ignored and instead moved in a most bafflingly opposite direction.

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50% per cent off Vagrant Story PSN.

PlayStation Portable strategy RPG Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together includes a copy of the game, a 44-page hardback artbook The World of Tactics Ogre, an exclusive mini soundtrack CD and a 50 per cent off PSN voucher for cult Square JRPG Vagrant Story.

Vagrant Story is considered by some to be one of the greatest JRPGs of all time. The PlayStation game failed to match the commercial success of other JRPGs of the time, including the all-conquering Final Fantasy VII, but its unique battle system and beautiful visuals helped secure a loyal fanbase, and Square Enix is often asked about the possibility of a sequel.

Tactics Ogre is the PSP remake of the classic SNES strategy RPG – never before released in Europe. It has reworked visuals and a re-arranged soundtrack by the original composers.


Read more...

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Everyone likes a generalist, but to get through the doors, you've first got to be a crackerjack specialist.

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"The key to writing in games lies both in understanding how narrative exists in games, and how it does not." In this post, I look at how and WHERE narrative truly exists in games, and methods to exploit this, using Fallout: New Vegas as an example.

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Hey everyone, as you might have read on the twitter & facebook – I just launched LOWEND3D.com.

The site is a collaboration with Brandon Boyer, founder of the indie games blog Offworld and chairman of the Independent Games Festival. Our goals for the site are laid out here.

I’m really excited about doing this. I made the decision early on to keep this blog focused on my own work, but I feel it’s time to share things from other people that I like and that are important for 3d. At the same time – I’ve made the decision to stop doing talks this year. I feel like the whole speaking thing happened by accident, and I kept it up because I got to travel a lot and spread my love for 3d-done-differently. It just takes so much effort to keep doing it and truthfully I’d rather be right here working, so – the new site is a way of me continuing to spread the good word.

I also recently had the pleasure of collaborating on a 2d project with Nelson Boles. I hired him based off his awesome short This One Time… Nelson is a uniquely talented animator and it amazed me he learned a good part of his skill on community forums. I’d like to create the same atmosphere for people to learn 3d, without the focus off technique and on creativity and experimentation.

I’ve made the decision to keep the forum to 250 users, and to not have people from commercial studios join. I’m aware this might piss some people off, but my honest feeling is that it’s NOT the destiny of all animators to work on commercials. 3d has positioned itself as the medium of choice for that industry and I feel it has lured too much talent away from doing more creative, original and authored work. LowEnd3d is there to try correct the balance. Join us!

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There are countless sources of design inspiration to be found everywhere. Even for ones directly unrelated to visual and web design. Music, films, video games, architecture. Well, one more item you can add to that list is watching anime – Japanese animation. In fact, there are 8 ways watching anime can improve your designs.

anime kyouran kazoku nikki punch copy Watching Anime Can Improve Your Designs

For those unfamiliar with or who have unfavorable first impressions of anime, it’s more than robots, school girls, and tentacles – although it’s that too (just how “guns, cash, hoes” is a part of hip-hop). From psychologically-probing action titles like Neon Genesis Evangelion, to sci-fi western noir like Cowboy Bebop, to fantastic magical adventure like Fullmetal Alchemist, to breathtaking film masterpieces like Spirited Away, anime is Japan’s preferred format for imaginative storytelling.

See how watching anime can improve your designs here.

 Watching Anime Can Improve Your Designs
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Jessica Hische has created a nice little flow chart to help designers decide if we should work for free. Jessica has helpfully incorporated into her flow chart many of common scenarios that are used to bait unsuspecting designers. While this sort of thing is often common sense, this flow chart serves as a nice reminder to all of us.

This would make a great desktop wallpaper, no? Thanks Jessica.

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Der Inhalt der sogenannten "Insurance-Datei" der Whistleblowing-Website WikiLeaks ist momentan Gegenstand zahlreicher Spekulationen. Am gestrigen Mittwoch brachte WikiLeaks-Sprecher Julian Assange etwas Licht ins Dunkel. Assange erklärte, die Datei enthalte unter anderem rund 500 Dokumente über den Medienmogul Rupert Murdoch und dessen Nachrichten-Imperium sowie eine weitere Medien-Organisation.

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The Google Chrome team has released a blog post and a presentation that describes how their process can deliver a new version of Chrome to you every six weeks.  Maybe that is why, when I look at my logs, Chrome use has been climbing so quickly - up to 30% and gaining 2% per month. Their development process is very, very close to the "release early and often" process that I have been recommending, with at least one improvement.

The Chrome team can deliver a quality product with rapid evolution, while avoiding the stress that comes from arguing about scope ... and whether a feature needs to be in the release, and how they will stretch to squeeze it in, or change everybody's schedule .... They just release every six weeks, and people (read meddling managers) have confidence that if a feature doesn't make the release, there will be a new release soon.

Here is the basic structure:

The release goes out on time.  If a feature isn't ready, it just gets moved to the next release.

Features that are not ready can be disabled (hidden).  They have a flag for that.  After you start stabilizing a release, the only major thing that you can do is disable a feature, and you can do that by patching one little configuration.

They don't do development on "long running branches" and then do a big merge.  Everyone works most of the time on one trunk branch.

They have a long "feature freeze" period for testing, translation, and stabilization.  They make a release branch every six weeks and feature freeze it, and then the development team just keeps going. The release team spends the next six weeks stabilizing and building the production release. So, at any time, there is one development version, and one version in stabilization.

chrome dev cycle resized 600

 

Andy's Notes

I usually ask for a feature show/hide flag if I think a feature is going to pose a problem.  I now realize that I should ask for this on everything.  That's the improvement.

Before we get to the end of a release cycle (milestone), we create a new release milestone and start moving tickets.  This allows us to focus on the stuff that will be completed with quality.

Agile planning tools try to trick you into believing that you need to finish a complete feature inside one release.  This defeats the whole idea of incremental development and causes the sort of stress that makes releases difficult.  We designed the Assembla agile planner so that you can schedule the tasks for one feature into more than one milestone, encouraging a calmer incremental approach.

I also believe that developers should work together on basically the same code, with one branch, and that maintaining and merging feature branches is often not worth the effort.  Assembla will be introducing new workflows for git that make it easier to push, test, and review code in a shared repository.

The reality of continuous development processes is that you do need freeze time to stabilize a production quality release.  This overlapping approach, where you cut a stabilization branch, is the realistic approach to delivering quality releases.

In this process there are three live versions of the software at any given time - the production release, the release that is in stabilization, and the development version.  That's easy to manage for something self-contained like a browser that just requires some local disk space.  If you build Web server software, it's not so easy to have three completely separate environments with databases etc. ( development, stabilization, and production).  It's easier on the infrastructure side to have just one dev/stabilization environment, and switch your team from development mode to stabilization mode on that environment. However, this is the age of cloud computing and on-demand infrastructure.  An investment in infrastructure to build that third environment will allow your dev team to keep going.

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