I’m not the easiest person to buy a gift for. I have a few wishlists scattered across the internet.1 But this Christmas, I knew exactly what I wanted, the Bioware Mass Effect LootCrate. I’m generally not one for random things to put around my office. But how could I pass up a box filled with things from a universe I absolutely adore? Unfortunately, we missed our opportunity to get the box. But my fantastic fiancée put one together for me anyway. First up the box she gave it to me in! Stellar job.

2016-01-13 - N7 Box

Next up, the cloth articles. First a hand towel. Then a t-shirt. Finally a patch. Towel is already in use after a wash. The t-shirt is a bit too small at the moment, but it gives me a reason to keep working out. I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to do with the patch.

2016-01-13 - N7 Clothes

The Art of Mass Effect book! I like to pick up art books here and there and this one definitely deserves a place in my collection. I plan to use it as drawing practice and reference material for my future Mass Effect cosplay.

2016-01-13 - Mass Effect Art Book

An N7 glass that will be primarily used to contain orange juice. Also an N7 card box she printed on our LulzBot Mini and painted. Inside a set of Mass Effect sketch cards from Etsy. Still need to figure out how I want to display the cards but for now the box is awesome. Finally, an iPhone 6s case. It took me a few weeks to get used to but it does it’s job and looks great.

2016-01-13 - N7 Cards

This haul was better than the box of stuff LootCrate delivered. I’m glad I missed out on that one and got this carefully curated selection of Mass Effect items from my fiancée. She did a kick ass job.


  1. Amazon books, Amazon stuff, CoolStuffInc games, Steam games. 

For the past year, I’ve been participating in the Ludum Dare game jam every few months. I started by joining up with some friends, A Flat Miner Studios, for the first two jams. A successful jam means that I’ve made a game and learned something along the way.

With A Flat Miner Studios, we built INtire and Renfield Hearts. Both were fun to play and had good mechanics. I learned how to use GameMaker and made my first two games ever. In August, my limited available time for the jam weekend prevented me from re-joining A Flat Miner. This was my decision, they had invited me back but I didn’t feel I could contribute much. Instead I organized another team with two of my friends/co-workers. They built Meownster. I provided guidance, design and some interface work. It turned out pretty good for our first attempt as a group.

Last month, we joined forces again and brought in two other friends/co-workers. This time most of assembled in Gainesville to work in the same physical location. This jam was a success but there is room for improvement.

LDJAM 34’s theme voting ended in a tie, Two Button Controls and Growing. Friday night we whittled away ideas and while we sort of settled on one. We were divided and didn’t come away with a clear concept by the time we retired. I think a lot of this was due to the two themes. One theme would have provided us more focus. But the two themes let us generate too many ideas.

When we reassembled on Saturday we still didn’t have a clear design and so we muddled through the day. We got a bunch done but we spent the first part of the day clearing up the design. In the aftermath, one of the team members has suggested storyboarding. Storyboarding promotes a clearer picture of the design to everyone.
Next time we’ll also focus on getting to a minimum viable product much sooner. The game we delivered only used one of the available buttons. The second button allowed the character to block incoming attacks. But it proved to be an ineffective strategy. So another team member suggested we allow more time for bug fixes and improvements.

I was disappointed with a few of my goals for this jam. It was my intention to livestream this jam. I still haven’t gotten comfortable with streaming yet. I hope that by the next jam I will be. I’d also like to be able to contribute more on the art side.

The art, sound effects, music, and level designs were great. Just the gameplay execution was lacking. It’s got the seed of a good to great game. It just needs a good amount of refinement that wasn’t possible in the space of a weekend. So, LDJAM 34 was a success but definitely felt like a sophomore slump. When we return in April, we’re hoping for a better end result but I’m still proud of what we produced this time.

And so, here’s Shemeowbi.

It’s been a while since I’ve worked on my drawing. I’ll admit a big part of that is that I struggled with the current exercise and gave up for a bit. But before I gave up, I got a chance to draw my hand again. And this exercise made me proud of my progress before taking a hiatus.1

For this exercise, we used our drawing panes to draw our hands. This process took a while but I like the result. Then we were to transfer the drawing from the pane to drawing paper. I generally consider myself a patient person but drawing continues to test my limits.

2016-01-08 - Hands 2

Another cool thing about drawing my hand again was that I used the same pose for my initial drawings. So we can look at a comparison of the same subject in a similar pose. The first before I read much of the book. The second after completing the current chapter

2016-01-08 - Hands 1

I found my progress pleasing until I started the next exercise and these drawing show how far I’ve come in just a few months. Now to get back to it soon so I can continue improving.


  1. The holidays also weren’t particularly conducive either. 

Hello 2016!

While I’m not a fan of celebrating on New Year’s Eve, I am fond of turning the page onto a new year. The clean slate. The upcoming events. There’s always a sense of wonder and excitement for me.

So here are my 2016 resolutions for all to see!

  1. Read one book every month.
  2. Watch one movie in a theater every week.
  3. Design a game as part of 1GAM.
  4. Continue progressing my workout routines.
  5. Continue podcasting at least bi-weekly.
  6. Improve the quality of blog posts and journal entries.

Most of these are incremental goals. Small steps that move what I have been doing forward. But that’s what makes them great resolutions. They are improvements that will take effort and dedication but are wholly achievable.

Oh and I’m getting married this year!

Joy

Joy winds through the life of the titular character. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is perfect. The rest of the movie fails to support her and wastes her talents in a boring flick. There are hints of a good film here. A worthy protagonist, a compelling struggle and a winning end. But nothing shines as bright as Lawrence and that leaves this film muddling through the latter half of the run time.

No Escape

I went into No Escape expecting a story of Typhoon Haiyan. Instead I found an action thriller. I’m not a fan of Owen Wilson. But this film convinced me he can perform well outside of a comedic role. Wilson guides his family through danger as the country devolves into revolution. Challenges abound and some timely help from Pierce Brosnan keep the family alive.

Pan

How about you and I pretend I didn’t list Pan as one of my most anticipated films of 2015. Got it? Great. Thanks.

The Gift

Jason Bateman continues to deliver interesting performances in smaller films. In The Gift, Bateman plays a bully who has a chance encounter with one his schoolyard targets. Joel Edgerton, writer, director and Gordo, delivers a creepy performance. Bateman’s life starts a slow spiral as he tries to keep Gordo at bay. But everything crashes down around him as he resorts to his bullying tendencies.

War Room

War Room surprised me but I’m happy I saw it. I’m not a fan of religious films. Often their focus on miracles instead of every day living is disheartening. I’m sure miracle stories are inspiring to many. But the practicality of War Room inspires me. It offers guidance that doesn’t rely on miracles to improve one’s life. That prayer, or meditation, and a willingness to adjust one’s lifestyle and forgiveness can do a lot. War Room isn’t for everyone. But it was for me.

The Danish Girl

Eddie Redmayne is excellent as is Alicia Vikander. There are qualms to be had with the subject source. I hope there was an attempt to cast a transgender actress. But their performances and the film as a whole are award worthy. This year has been the year of Alicia Vikander. Hope we continue to see her career grow.

Minions

Yep. Minions. I am not the targeted audience and it showed.

Concussion

Is Concussion the film that kills American football? Probably not. Will Smith is superb. I’m not sure if the accent matches that of the person. But his performance with it was perfection. I know I wasn’t keen on letting any future children of mine play tackle football. This picture shows the world why.

Goodbye 2015!

It’s been a great year but I’m excited for 2016. 2015 was a year filled with growth and change.

In April, I asked the woman I love to marry me.
In June, I moved to Tallahassee and in with my newly minted fiancée.
In July, I said goodbye to Gainesville for one last time.
In September, I returned to Atlanta for our now yearly pilgrimage to DragonCon.
In October, I helped two of my dearest friends get married.
In December, I built my third video game for 2015.

There were many more events. Seven weddings in total. Numerous holidays. Travel throughout the Southeast US. And a decent showing at the gym.

The Force Awakens is the most optimistic film in a long time… on Tumblr

I’ve found playing Jedi in the Old Republic video game series difficult. The Jedi Code promotes intellect over emotion. But while playing the games, your protagonist develops deep emotional connections with their companions. Some of these connections become romantic relationships. The games have often encouraged these relationships through mechanics while tsk-ing them in dialogue. This article suggests that we’re seeing a new side of the Force. It is an interesting thesis.

#ORUSingle

Presented without comment.

Is the Big 12 on the Verge of Major Change?

College conference realignment continues to intrigue me. Massive institutions of higher learning playing musical chairs because of their athletics departments. Granted, there are billions of dollars at stake. But that money is often a drop in the pond compared to their endowments. Four of the five major conferences are secure in their positions. This article examines the fifth, the Big12.

The Environmental Cost of Moving All Our Stuff is Huge. How Can We Shrink It? by Nate Berg

Berg takes a look at the future of moving stuff around the world. I’m most excited about the autonomous driving technology. It will increase the safety and efficiency of automobiles. I dream of a future where my children won’t have to learn to drive because automobiles drive themselves.

Introducing OpenAI by The OpenAI Team

Artificial intelligence fascinates me. Virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana are becoming more prevalent. As institutions inch closer to true AI, we need more safeguards in place to protect humanity from our ambition. OpenAI hopes to be one of those safeguards. Elon Musk, who has raised the alarm about AI, is a major funder of the group.

Why Splatoon is my game of the year by Sam Byford

I don’t own a Nintendo WiiU. But if I did, Splatoon would be one of my first purchases.1 A first person shooter, Splatoon turns the genre on its head by change the win conditions. Painting the walls with liquified color replaces the genre standard splattering brain matter. Byford puts Splatoon forth as his game of the year.


  1. Along with Super Smash Brothers, Mario Kart, Super Mario Maker, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. 

Vacation

John Francis Daley’s departure from Bones was a sad moment. He left a great acting role to be a screenwriter and director. It was my hope that Daley would go on to do awesome things behind the camera. Vacation fails to go anywhere. A comedy about the importance of family, the dynamics of the family ring true. The comedy doesn’t rise above elementary school penis and poop jokes. I wasn’t expecting much out of this film and that’s what I got. One can only hope Daley’s next screenwriting credit can graduate to some higher humor.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Normally, I’d spend a paragraph discussing a movie, but Star Wars The Force Awakens deserves so much more. So look forward to a full movie review in the near future.

How Pokémon Go will benefit from Niantic’s lessons from Ingress on location-based game design by Dean Takahashi

The Pokémon Company is joining forces with Niantic Labs to bring Pokémon to smartphones. Takahashi has an interview with Niantic CEO John Hanke. They discuss the spinout, partnership and direction of the game. Hanke provides a plethora of information about a product I’m excited about.

Star Trek Beyond Trailer Review by Toni Sanchez

Last week, Paramount Pictures released the Star Trek Beyond trailer. I avoided the release in hopes of seeing it on the big screen in front of The Force Awakens. Alas, no luck as AMC did not run the trailer in front my showing. My good friend, Toni Sanchez, posted a review of the trailer. I agree with what she says. It’s not my favorite trailer but it is built for a different audience. That said I hope that Toni and Simon Pegg are right1.

Best of 2015: Gamasutra’s Top Games, Devs, Events and Trends at Gamasutra

Gamasutra’s staff compiles a list of development studios, trends, events and games for 2015. This is a great article that captures most of what occurred this year into a single space.


  1. HeyUGuys got a brief interview with Pegg about the trailer.