Kroc Camen Writes: #6
This is one of a series of personal letters written to / from
Tanner Helland during 2003–2005. These letters cover—in immense
detail—events in my life during that period, including many unfinished and aspiring designs and creations. As a
person however, I have changed from the inexperienced, often immature person I was and my skills in programming and
web-design have changed just as radically.
These letters have been republished to give deep insight into the way I tick, and to show a lot of background work
that lead up to the concepts and skills needed to produce this website, which ultimately I failed to do so back
About the Letter
Amongst influences in my life, the art of Rafael
Valencia is of utmost importance to me. This will become extremely evident in my letter #7 and beyond. His
dark, neo-apocalyptic interpretation of the Sonic universe (and anthro art in general) stands out as dripped in a
cool lustre that—frankly—Sonic has been anything but since the ’90s. For those of us who grew up with Sonic,
in a period where, yes, Sonic was cool, Rafael painted a vision where Sonic had grown up with us.
In the opening of this letter I describe finishing off an art piece I had intended as a gift to Clint, inspired by
Raf’s work, the completed piece can be seen here (this is my anthro-style
interpretation of Clint based on a real picture, with his real sword).
A surreal attention to dates seems to permeate this letter. I don’t know if this was that I had too much time, was
being too emphatical or placed so much importance on these as I had nothing else in my life. I certainly don’t pay
attention to dates now, I don’t know what day of the week it is a lot of the time.
The Lost Alliance (formally TGP) finally falls apart, ending some four
years of work together, and with the loss of one job I find myself detached from a number of previous
responsibilities. I fill this void with a lot of off-hand creative work, so this letter contains a range of bits and
pieces I made; so that despite some small very negative bits, overall the letter is quite upbeat.
Remember that throughout “THIS” is used as an abbreviation of
“Tanner Helland Independent Sound”, the website I was making for
Tanner. Work had begun on it in my previous letter.
Emoticons used by me from this letter forward are
Aqua Emotes by
Kroc Camen Writes
Your letter hasn’t even arrived yet and I’ve started mine – whaaaat? I know, but typical
sods-law, as soon as I finally got around to sending you my letter I had a sudden burst of energy and started
creating stuff like mad! You know that, ‘Leaving’ present for Clint Franklin I started†, oo – on the
28th of January 2003? Well just after I sent my letter out I was off work ill for almost a week, during
that time I would either not sleep at all (for 3 days at the end) or sleep until half two in the morning, eh
afternoon? I didn’t feel like working on something current and a spark reminded me that something had to be done
about that picture – the photographic print I sent you was missing the colour on the trousers and shoes, the parts
(well the trousers mainly) that I feared the most. I am still trying to learn how to do clothing as I cannot see in
my mind how the folds and shades should go, because of this I am planning a piece of artwork to practice this. Well
anyway the stomach cramps gave me a reason to have a try, and try I did. I had to erase and restart several times
– I tried so many methods, all coming out so messy as I couldn’t massively blur the surface like I did with
everything else – it had to be sharp, so in the end I copped out and did a minimalist style of cloth, which will
do for now. But I’m sure you’ve noticed more than just the trousers in the print attached (There’s me looking
at the little details again) – the rain and the background! I believe that I had been inspired to complete this
work, by an artist I had found browsing the astonishing artwork at Team Artail, after some hunting I tracked down
this particular person’s site and what I found blew my socks off!
How, I don’t know, but Rafael Valencia has re-invented Sonic in this neopoliptic, bleak future style and there’s
more mind-blowing artwork than just this – He’s even working on a comic with artwork of that quality, I don’t
have the ink to print it all so there’s some thumbs below to give an idea. When I saw these pictures I was amazed
at how he produced such realistic skies
and rain effects and I had never thought to include such a thing in my Clint Franklin picture – even from the
start I never had a clue what to do with the background other than plain white, or plain black – dull. So set I
was to have another go at the picture I started one year ago.
The first thing was to apply all the rain-drops; this was done with the Water Tube in PSP7 which allows me to just
click to add a water droplet to a picture. Several thousand clicks later I had my water droplets, the next thing was
the water trickles – something I couldn’t auto generate myself, so I had to think about it. Examining one of his
other works, I realised that water trickles are simply a zig-zag line that is half white and half black to give it a
tubular effect, but the water is transparent so that the white and black inherit the colours underneath them –
which would be simple to replicate in PSP7, by changing the layer glue to ‘Soft light’. Below is a shot showing
how it was done:
Nothing more than a set of zig-zag lines drawn as vectors all over the place – looks a mess, doesn’t it? To then
change this to the water trickles you can see on the photo print, I selected “Effects” > “3D Effects”
> “Inner Bevel”, which made the lines half-black, half-white and then changed the layer glue to “Soft
Light” so that the black/white was tinted by the colour underneath.
It really is very lame how I’ve produced all this rain effect, no actual hard work at all, I feel like a cheat,
claiming it was my own work when a child of nine could follow these steps and produce a similar effect! Pretty much
all of this picture I could explain to you how to reproduce step by step and you would slap your forehead exclaiming
“That’s so obvious!”
The grass was also a cheap-trick that came out better than expected. The grass started off as a gradient-ed green
square occupying the space where the grass would be – nothing difficult. If you have PSP7 Anniversary Edition, it
comes with a set of extra plugins – one of them being “Fur”. I tweaked the properties to give a grass like
effect and applied it – tough stuff
To make the “wavey” effect,
I selected rectangular areas and applied “Swirl” to bend it.
I was just about ready to start drawing every blade of grass to go in-front of the boots when I had an idea – For
the grass that’s in the foreground, I created another green square on-top, but this time transparent on top, that
way when I applied fur, the grass would fade out over the boots, that saved plenty of time.
The Background Mountains and the trees were the real laborious things, taking two sleepless nights to complete. The
mountain was a zig-zag line with curves applied in as many varieties as I could think of and I drew one tree, copied
it and pasted it several hundred times to create the forest
The A4 1405x1987px PSP image takes
over 400MB of RAM just to display.
All the clouds were auto-generated with another plugin and the rain is no more than flicking the mouse a lot and
then applying motion blur. So in no way is this picture technically good, as I kinda cheated doing most of it using
plug-ins and what not. With enough time I could produce a tutorial on how to reproduce this picture step by step.
It’s absolutely laughable to look at the old version now, so I guess I have something to be proud of, your
Music News <jingle>
In latest news, I’ve bought the Evanescence album “Fallen” and F’Beans it’s excellent. The songs sound so
much better through headphones. Also hunted down some Matchbox20, which I’m not sure if I’ve got the right file,
but I didn’t realise they did “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”? If I get enough time I will try and download that
song from Hoobastank you suggested and if it’s great I’ll go out and buy the album – Like I could download an
album on my connection
Here’s a few of my favourites for you to look up when you arrive home:
“Baby’s Got a Temper” – The Prodigy, “19-2000 Soulchild Remix” – Gorillaz, “Under the Weather”,
& “21st Century Meltdown” – Feeder, “Kick Some Ass” – Stroke 9, “The Planets: Mars”
– Holst and one of my favourites
“Ukrainian Bell Carol”
Badly Drawn Adventure:
Now onto more progress, The Badly Drawn Adventure has seen a small spurt of activity, hmm mainly concerned with
making that large step into maintaining instances in the screen stack and then rendering them back. For yourself,
the most obvious thing is the new wooden desk background, rather than just plain black – I’m still in two minds
about whether or not this improves the game, but it’s much more in the Badly Drawn style by highlighting how he
lives on a piece of paper.
I’ve added a few new buttons to the toolbar, first the “Screen Boundaries” button with Red Grid icon. Once on,
the 640×480 screen boundaries are marked and indexed with +1, +2 etc so you can find where you are in the level
easier. Second button is the “Frame Advance” button. When the game is being played in the editor and the user
presses the pause button, they can then use the frame advance button to step forward frame by frame, which’ll be
handy for aligning objects etc.
Oh yes, sorry – and the big obvious thing in the centre (there’s me looking at the niggley minor details again)
– It’ll be the New Project screen. I’ve bought a graphics tablet and the picture of Yokozuki is the first
thing I’ve drawn on it so far. By having a graphics tablet it means I won’t need to draw everything on paper,
scan it in and then trace it – it’s going to save so much time doing the animation, yay! This form will also
double up as the load-project screen as well. When you close the editor, it saves a screenshot of the editor window,
shrinks it down to a thumbnail (thanks to your excellent bilinear code) so that on the load screen, each project has
a thumbnail of what you were last doing when you closed the program.
Perhaps you know what it is like to break down and confess you want to kill yourself in front of your boss, I hope
you don’t for your own well being. But today has marked a bleak future for me, I’ve had to resign from my Job
because of damaged relationships. Everything has been ruined because Chinese-whispers behind my back have blurred
and distorted opinions and it’s not nice to be in a working environment where everyone greets you with a smiley
face, but behind your back they despise how I have supposedly called them names, or declared to someone I think
I’m superior to everybody – how do you think this makes everybody feel, to be called stupid? I was asked.
“Angry”, I replied as I was read a list of slander brought to me and that I had supposedly given out. I was told
how I can’t work effectively as part of a team, how I’m single minded, egotistical and selfish.
I don’t disagree. I am stupid, have difficulty spelling, have difficulty creating an effective sentence when I
need to make my point of view. And for the first time, I stare back at myself from the watermark on this page –
and I see sadness, not defiance. I see a soul, unable to communicate face to face with anybody, somebody who has
difficulty connecting with others and somebody who tries, who doesn’t want to be egotistical but it slips out
sometimes and destroys everything, it ruins relationships and sours them permanently. Ask any member of TLA what
truthfully, they think of me, behind my back and the answer will always be – “He thinks he knows it all” Even
what I’m saying now would be impossible for me to say verbally, I’m hiding behind a wall when I write my
feelings down, because I’m protected from immediate backlash and I can form sentences given the time which I
can’t do in front of somebody. I have nobody in my world other than me, and I seem to think I’m the best there
is, I seem to think that my knowledge is unsurpassed and it just comes across, I curse myself inside because I
don’t want that to happen. I go about things how I want, and everybody else is wrong, what I say is always correct
and I can never be a part of any team. Nobody, truly, likes me – they only like me in front of my face. I need
help, I need help to crawl out of my self-dug pit, my own self-obsessed world where everything is how I want it and
nobody else gets a word in edgewise.
From now on I will not be stupid, because I was never intelligent in the first place – I shall pause every single
time, before I speak and shall never utter a word until I can say something that will not harm others. I shall give
way to others first, and I shall read this statement every time I feel I am not doing this. I shall simply help
others with their decisions, not create my own decisions and force others to follow them.
I must be a manic-depressive or something, as it is often seen in these letters that at one moment I’m elated to
have a new job and then the next trash talking the corporate machine for firing me.
The truth behind this instance is that my volatile unwillingness to fit into corporate mentality and my
self-directed nature meant that I simply wasn’t doing what I should have been doing. I worked in a
computer superstore and my duties were mainly behind the reception desk assisting customers with returns, broken PCs
and advice. Whilst I am not a people-person because I am shy and retracted, I speak with an absolute confidence when
it comes to technical matters and that my allegiance is squarely with the users who suffer at the hands of
incompetent companies producing badly design junk. The company I worked for, you have to understand, knew nothing
about computers on the whole. It seemed as if computers were something they just happened to stock and needed to
sell. None of the decisions from head-quarters had any technical merit and were not based on giving the consumer a
better chance in the minefield that is purchasing a computer.
The facts were thus; we were totally understaffed, the company was a road-block to actually helping customers and I
worked by own personal convictions. I would be absolutely honest to customers, and spend a great deal of time with
them making the whole experience a pleasant one. This often meant that I would disappear for hours at a time, which
no doubt clashed with the other staff who worked on a more tactical approach.
As I had mentioned, I played by my own rules. My morals were based on the customer, not on units-shipped or
money-in-the-till. There came a busy day, probably in the run up to christmas, and as part of my usual duties I had
to perform “healthchecks” on PCs that had been dropped off by customers. We had to de-virus and clean up 8 PCs a
day, at the same time as serving the tills and manning the reception desk. A rarely-chosen option for customers was
that they could book an appointment to be present with the technician during the healthcheck. One elderly, and
obviously patient gentleman had come in with a quite nice early all-in-one computer that must have come out a couple
of years after the iMac. I recall it being an all in one TFT, running Windows ME. This gentleman had come in before
on two separate occasions and had been turned away due to the staff being two busy and had re-booked for the next
week each time.
I sat down with the gentleman and went through the computer with him and generally gave him my direction. The
computer was in good, organised condition and all he needed was someone to tell him some practical knowledge on
Windows. My boss interrupts and declares that I need to go help on the tills now, like now. I politely tell
him that I am with a customer and that this needs to be done. He tells me something along the lines that the till
needs doing now, more than that; as if the customer himself was not there, hearing this. The boss goes away, and two
minutes later comes back telling me to go do till. It is at that point that I explain that the customer has booked,
and paid, to be here and that he has twice been put off before. The boss interjects again and I simply stand up and
say “No”. He walks away in a huff, defeated. I was indignant that a customer could be treated this way and my
morals were not going to slide for nothing.
It was not me making enemies that was anything like my downfall, that boss simply had a different set of priorities
than me. It was the crippling stress of me not being able to reconcile my unmovable morals with the sheer brutal
workload and profit-driven company. I went completely to pieces and was technically sacked, but out of either pity
or even the tiny possibility that there was some respect for my unmovable love and respect for customers (no
customer left me unhappy), I was given the opportunity to resign on the spot.
A week passes, and for the first time I realise what a weight off of my shoulders it is to be rid of that Job. Nay,
the pressure of finding a Job is a sweet holiday compared to working at a crappy computer superstore. I am jolly and
on a journey to town (the same direction I walk to work) my mind wasn’t eating at itself like before, I can
actually think a sentence without visualising a whole gamut of pointless crap in the way. I’ve got a little more
time now, for now and I promise I’ll write more often – I won’t leave it anymore than two months, it must be
torture to have to wait nearly half a year for a letter
(Damn British postal service, lol)
Scary, but it’s coming up for the big one year since Badly Drawn was scribbled on a piece of paper at midnight
12th March 2003. I’m certain I’ve explained this in the e-mail I sent you early-on (‘ProjectY’),
but you won’t have that to hand – I decided to make Badly Drawn because I was fed up how I couldn’t draw a
random scribble, my mind would just go blank. So late at night I decided – sack all this application programming,
I’ve gotta make a game or I’m going to go mad. I was thinking of something that I would be capable of doing –
although ProjectX (The XiaoXiao clone) was my idea of perfection, it’s way-way out of my skills. Going with the
badly-drawn style of XiaoXiao, I knew my let down was art and music, the two key things – curses. Music I knew I
could do without until I had finished the game, and if necessary just use some catchy royalty-free tunes from Dark
Basic or similar. Art, however had to be weighed up, could I realistically, sit and draw 12/24 fps animations and
tile work for an RPG? I couldn’t make a decent looking grass tile to save my life! So badly drawn was the marriage
of something I was capable of, and something I wanted to be capable of doing – just sticking pen to paper, and not
worrying too much about it before I had even started. This really is the first time I’ve started creating a game,
but on commercial scale, no longer a piece of freeware to download off of my site. No, with each and every passing
application I have burnt-in a set of things to improve next time. (I’m certain you’ve noticed the progressive
differences in each of my letters). No, I didn’t have a starting clue how to create an accurate and fast render
engine at the start and no nor am I some expert in game programming. But I’ll learn as I go because I’m
determined to complete something so absolutely mind-blowingly large scale that few would believe that one person
made it – that’s the kind of person I am.
Your support is so important to me, for that matter Badly Drawn Level Editor would not even be close to the state it
is now, if I wasn’t writing letters to you, because, as delayed as it is, this is as good as IM’ing you and
worrying about trying to impress someone with my achievements pushes me to get on with it. You know I want to be
recognised for doing something right?
The graphics tablet has paid for itself, It’s made this dreaded icon production a whole ton easier. I’m whipping
an icon out one every ten minutes! (Well, considering that the icons themselves are nothing more than a quick
I had expected to grossly under-estimate the amount of work required, and I did. The animation was harder to produce
than expected and I could end up with several thousand animation files and a download way over 20 MB. Well,
whatever, by the time this game is completed (original estimation – 2 years) sometime in the next 3 or 4 years
then everybody should be on 10Mbps broadband internet and the fastest computers will be double-digit GHz
Everything is kinda made up as I go, but writing these letters to you, really give me a chance to thrash ideas
around which I wouldn’t otherwise do. Most ideas for the editor and the gameplay have come from me thinking of
things to say in my letters. Off of the top of my head my plan is sort of like this:
- Add full project support so that editor can load the objects from global and local folders
- Add ability to click on item in editor window and move, resize and delete object
- Create a few more objects to better test the editor such as the grass tiles and one of the traps
- Add grouping support and recognition
- Start library code by saving groups into library items and saving a preview icon into the file
- Finally force myself to make all the animations for the player – walking, jumping, dieing and stuff
- Get preliminary playability by making player controllable with keys or joypad
- Create scripting class excluding the kernel functions to start with
- Create basic script editor and compiler
- Start adding kernel functions to kernel class and implement in the script editor
- Get scripts working in play mode
- Unknown for now…
Stuff to leave till last:
- Help files
- Cut Scene Animator – basically a flash-style animator, no thoughts or designs on this yet.
- External playtest – only once the internal engine is complete can it be linked to a full screen app
- Printing functions – yawn
- Security protection and licensing
Any input, no matter how minor (like a pixel you’ve spotted out of place) will be of great help to me. I need to
try and stay fresh on the ideas and not get too lost in the project to lose the Badly Drawn Adventure style of
thinking. Features, Ideas, Gameplay and funny stuff you can think of will help me becoming blind to the obvious.
Even already I’ve become so involved in the Level Editor that when I looked at my early pencil sketches they
“felt” different. (Which is why I’m whipping out some sketchy icons to get back in the design flow). It is no
doubt clear my aspirations to make the perfect application, and though the game may not be a perfect game, I’ll do
my best at making a good editor.
I don’t require Kroc-style 20 page analyses from you, and same I really don’t need you to write 20 page letters
to me – you get your point across unawares in a short amount of space – I do not. So do not worry yourself over
the monstrosity of some of my writings and no-doubt it must be a pain to try and to respond to something this size.
I hope I’m not offending you with the amount of time and effort out of your infi-decimally short free time being
spent on replying to me.
You’ve kept me going on the smallest of phrases and sayings and given me more encouragement with a 6 letter
alphabet then the 26-letter one. I simply cannot doubt myself any longer, I can’t let Badly Drawn slip, now that
For a bit of fun, I read through all my previous letters and nearly fell off of my seat laughing. First they all
look really stupid and poorly done, second they’re mind-numbingly short (like 6 pages for letter 1) I need 6 pages
just to say hello! The funniest thing though is the earliest picture I have of Badly Drawn Adventure – there’s
no toolbar! Half of the tabs are missing and it looks very, very crude! HAhahahA! Since the Badly Drawn Adventure
project was started just before you went out to Canada (in fact I sent you e-mail with my ideas titled
“ProjectY” just before you left) I suppose you’ve been able to track its’ progress from the very start,
hopefully by the time you get home I’ll have a Level Editor that, although not complete, will allow me to build
levels and playtest parts of them. That sounds like a viable estimation?
As far as music goes, if you want to help I won’t say no!
Early concepts for sound were
a pee-take of the Mario 3 music, a sort of tongue in cheek at other platform games. Although this may be good for
one of the levels, an entire soundtrack in this style would only be irritating. Music will make or break this game
– regardless of how perfect or flawed the game itself is. You and I realise the importance of music to evoke
emotion and just like you’ve set me the impossible task of a “Mind Blowing” web site I would appreciate it if
you could make an “incredible” sound track for my game, please
Let’s take a short break. I’m on 7 pages so far and your letter hasn’t even arrived yet, so I hope to get this
out to you real quickly. In other news, TheLostAlliance.com has faded away and is no more and with it a whole load
of memories. What are we to do? It was only yesterday I joined the project, it seems like only hours ago I created
the website. All that conversation, those arguments and those good days – when things went right, those days when
we had time and never knew it. <sigh> Who are we, the star-crossed team who, had they just gotten on with it
when the time were good, could’ve gotten somewhere. It’s still eats at me that I cannot think of any
“product” that we actually produced in two years of toil, could’ve at least had a map editor to show, but that
was discarded, twice. Is it just me, or do you feel like an idiot to metaphorically be asked “Well what did you
achieve?” and can only reply “Well, we decided on 2D maps, but that we weren’t sure of.” – great summery
of 2 years work, pah.
That’s behind us now, and we learned a lot and achieved nothing, you can see now why I fear not getting Badly
Drawn completed, eventually. Sorry, but I tend to go off on one like that. You have to wonder, where would you be if
TGP never existed? Without TGP there would be no Vacant Brains, that means no reason for me to try making web pages
and whose site I wrote (based on the Vacant Brains template), that means no TGP Awards as that was based on the
that means no ASP experience and no Camen Design, that means no Badly Drawn Adventure. Without TGP, Clint would’ve
not told me how to colour things in with Paint Shop, without that absolutely none of my artworks would exist and
more so – without that knowledge gleaned from creating various wallpapers I would’ve not learned how to create
site designs in Paint Shop. Without TGP I would not be a web designer, I would not be a graphic designer, I would
not be Visual Basic Programmer like I am now. Who would I be without TGP? It scares me to think.
Without TGP, would the MSP’s have existed? Would songs like “Halls of Despair” exist as these were takes on
DragonFyre’s style? How many songs could you say exist solely because of TGP/TLA? We must be missing out on
something without the team since the team and the project gives us the reasons to create songs/art/programs and with
each successive work we better ourselves. There is no doubt that, that random coming across TGP in March 2002 has
defined absolutely everything in my life. I owe you more than you can possibly imagine DS, why do you think I want
to help so much, why I do such insanely crazy things without being asked like that photodemon e-mail!
Now I don’t believe in fate what-so-ever, and I never think about the future other than the quick plans I make in
the present. TGP has been a lucky strike that I underestimated. Thank goodness I got kicked out of that previous
team just in time to accidentally stumble across TGP. Ha! Bunch of assholes, look at me now
The Gathering Project will live on, some other place, some other team, some other time. Goodnight and God bless.
“Here we were
But now we’re gone
We still live on.”
Phew, that was one late night, or morning - !? Whatever. Today I’m working on re-organising the startup procedures
for Badly Drawn so that the “New Project” window pops up before the objects are loaded as creating a new project
always involves loading the object set back in (because of the local and global object sets).
The wallpaper in the
background of that Badly Drawn Adventure screenshot is by an artist called
‘DivineError’ on DeviantArt, you should look
him up when you get back. Well anyways inspired by the beauty of something so simple (I might be no expert in 3DMax
but even I can make metal cubes!) I decided to try some cube arrangement to see what I could do.
A total fluke, no less by the way. The strange luminous shadows are not actually lights – by some stroke of luck a
property I had not set correctly created a freaky inverted shadow effect and by tweaking this it makes this
excellent neon glow. Instead of making the cubes ultra glossy I played on this “Tron” like effect I had stumbled
across. It’s a painfully slow process as every time you adjust a property you have to wait 1 minute for the scene
to render in low quality. The final wallpaper size render (above) took 3 hours which is not bad considering how long
it can take for more complex things. I’m not quite sure what exactly to do with this picture (other than a nice
wallpaper), or what to do next for that matter. I’m sure I’ll stumble across it soon.
I’m hoping to somehow put 3DSMax to use on
creating some metallic objects for the site. Of course I’m not sure what yet – what do you expect from me?
I was going to work on the
site a bit today, but dreaded having to work on it, in case there’s anything major you want changed – or you
don’t like it and I’ll need to start again – I’m going to have to wait for your letter to turn up with your
thoughts on the site before I’m going to have the metal enthusiasm to crack on with it…
It’s Clint’s birthday on the thirteenth (typical Clint,
) so I’m rushing to get him
a present complete in time. You know that picture
“Don’t Move an Inch”? (You should have a
thumbnail of it on the screenshot of Camen Design’s Art section I sent two letters back) Well, I’m making a
sequel to it where Mighty gets his own back! The importance of this picture is that whereas the original was the
first image I coloured in Paint Shop Pro using a mouse – this is the first time I’ve coloured a picture using
the tablet! I thought up until recent that the first one was good because it had a lot of tone in it – I look back
at it and it’s AWFUL! There’s the tiniest piece of dark red here and hardly any shading anywhere. I am so
massively proud of this work as I’ve managed to break into two areas I was stuck before and they are 1 –
Effectively colouring with a tablet and 2 – Pixel work. I’ve never managed to create any decent pixel art but
the background just astonishes me!
I’ve also printed this photographically on A4 paper with the new printer, framed it and hanged it on my wall - and
it’s absolutely outstanding. I would send you one, but only have the ink and paper to send you the
Clint V Franklin picture, attached. If you want any of my artworks or anything
of your own printed out on A4 to hang on your wall, just give me a shout and I’ll wing it your way. I’ve also
printed this letter on the new printer too; otherwise the pictures would have come out grainy and light coloured
like my previous letter (that really annoyed me that did, lost all the quality on those pictures) – Don’t worry
about the cost of this letter, the paper was very, very cheap and it makes the letter look just as it does on my
screen. I’ll tell you what was expensive - that finalised picture of Clint attached has been printed no less than
10 times on A4 Ultra-gloss photographic paper – your copy must’ve cost me 20-odd quid to print
Why? Well when you’ve got a picture
that is of such sharpness and the water droplets are so small, and the grass is a mushed-together collection of
green-shades that stretches the colour output of a 32-bit screen as it is – it’s very, very hard to calibrate
the printer to create a pixel-accurate recreation on paper. Very Hard. I’ve printed it several times and it’s
been too dark to see anything, the grass came out just one shade of green so it looked naff and the detail was not
sharp enough to see the water droplets. Everything is so easy on a screen where each pixel is in its desired place,
but replicating some of my pictures on paper has taken hours to get right! I hope you enjoy the picture. Be careful
when handling it as unlike the paper this letter is on, the Clint picture is on full-gloss paper and absorbs dirt
and fingerprints easily like a real photo.
Here’s a bit of fun for you, Clint made a hilarious little post on his forums, which I’ve cc’ed below.
Grab a pen and some paper, and for each one that fits you, mark it down. When you get to the end, slap a %
after it, and then you’ll see what percentage of Clint you are.
Be sure to let me
know how you score!
You might be Clint V Franklin if you…
- Have more than three origami cranes on your computer monitor
- Have more than three origami cranes on your TV set
- Made the origami cranes yourself… all of them
- Killed at least one bonsai
- Killed at least one bonsai potato
- Bought both the bonsai mini-kit and bonsai potato mini-kit
- Have a dad who drinks all your liquor
- Have a red mouse pad that has turned cigarette-ash gray
- Know what Jamaican Gold is…
- … and are mad that Wal-Mart doesn’t carry it anymore
- Never did any homework until you were 18 and in college…
- … and then started doing homework you weren’t even assigned
- Programmed a dozen complete games
- Have your own message board
- Gave up on keeping a diary more times than you can count on one hand
- Have a pina-coloda-scented car air freshener…
- … hanging over a martyred missionaries poster
- Use an arcade machine as a shelf
- Have a shelf dedicated to religious books
- Own one third of the entire Left Behind series…
- … in hardcover
- Have two DVD players…
- … and feel that it just isn’t enough
- Have two non-working PC monitors in your bedroom
- Have a notebook computer sitting under the keyboard of your desktop computer
- Traded your computer speakers for a guitar
- Plan to take an extended trip to the Middle East…
- … and have told almost everyone but your parents
- Have a guitar chord poster on your wall…
- … but want another
- Have two PC motherboards hanging on your wall…
- … with CPUs and RAM sticks still plugged in
- Constantly forget that you’re trying to quit smoking
- Ever bought a Palm OS PDA…
- … as a gift for someone else
- Own a Dreamcast…
- … and still play it
- Have a toilet seat in your bedroom, still wrapped
- Own two copies of more than one book
- Believe that a book lent is a book never seen again
- Own a “The Bar is Open” sign…
- … sitting on your own mini-bar…
- … complete with refrigerator
- Have a dartboard with nine darts sticking out of it
- Buy or make Christmas/birthday gifts but never give them to the intended recipients
- Have a phone made to look like a ’50s Pepsi machine
- Use bedsheets as doors
- Pre-ordered a game just to get the free gift
- Wear glasses…
- … that you’ve repaired yourself…
- … at least twice…
- … once using electrical tape…
- … because you decided it blends in better with the frames than masking tape
- Are a hopeless romantic…
- … literally.
- Ever dazzled others by the size of your plectrum.
- Have more close friends on your MSN Messenger list than in real life…
- … and most of them never come on MSN or have you blocked.
- Have more junk than items of real use
- Take six months to finally get a current calendar…
- … because you lost the excitement of buying new calendars…
- … after they stopped making new Far Side calendars
- Are going on 24 and never even been on a date
- Are going on 24 and feel life has passed you by
- Own a mouse for your Sega Genesis
- Bought gifts given to a friend by one of their old flames at a garage sale
- Bought something you didn’t need…
- … and it wasn’t on sale
- Love that number.
- Also call UPS delivery trucks “giant chariots of rolling brown death”
- Ever got an apology from the US Postal Service…
- … more than once
- Just can’t have too many open A/V connections
- Ever threatened to break someone’s pinkies if anything happened to your Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine
- Were conceived in a potato chip delivery van…
- … in which your parents were living in at the time…
- … because they lost their house in a flood
- Are unable to count the cardboard boxes in your house even if you take your shoes off
- Ever played school football even though you knew nothing about the game…
- … or ever even watched anyone play it
- Ever considered starting a club for stacking things on top of other things
- Are flirting with buying the special edition DVD of Monty Python and the Holy Grail…
- … even though you already own the plain version of it…
- … just so you can see the Lego version
- Dropped out of high school…
- … but graduated college
- Take two different medications prescribed by the same psychiatrist
- Have crushes on more Fox News Channel hosts than you can list
- Ever wrote a story about how crappy your first experience programming with Python was
- Have to go outside to go to your room
- Have over 100 icons on your desktop
- Feel that as far as resolutions go, 1600×1200 is adequate
- Ever had to resolve to make a resolution for next year
- You have damaged electronic equipment in fits of anger at them
- Bought a display box full of coffee-flavored hard candies…
- … and had them so long that they became coffee-flavored soft candies
- Have a grandmother who runs a commune
- Ever had a straight-I (incomplete) report card in high school
- Need a hug
- Ever took the time to list 100 things about yourself to see how much like you others are
Now let’s see your score!
So I decided to have a go myself, here’s my own list.
You might be Kroc Camen if you…
- have your hard disk so insanely well organised, some folder structures are 12-15 deep.
- have skinned windows to look like a Mac…
- …and have a Dock.
- have never trimmed, cleaned or even opened the start menu (I use the dock and the run-box for everything)
- have eaten a McDonalds quarter cheese meal a minimum of 7 times a week for 2 years - straight.
- wear headphones, for everything…
- … ear-bud headphones that cost you more than £30…
- …and at least 3 backup pairs as well
- use your own HTML editor for all web programming
- did not produce 1 piece of paper with your name on it, for two years of Craft & Design Technology
- own all of the following (1 point for each item, and 1 extra point for having all)
- i) a Commodore64c
- ii) a Commodore64 1541 Floppy disk drive
- iii) two Sega Master System II’s (Must have two)
- iv) a SNES (Super-Famicon elsewhere)
- v) a DreamCast
- vi) a Mono Gameboy, with Gameboy Camera
- vii) a Gameboy Advance (NOT SP version)
- viii) an original Playstation 1, spray painted red/orange, with matching Controllers and memory cards
- ix) a PSOne as well (The re-designed tiny white one)
- x) … with an official Sony carry bag!
- xi) a GameCube
- xii) a Silver Playstation 2,
- … that you got by trading-in your black PS2….
- … that you actually bought a Vertical Stand for, just so it looked “official” standing up
- xiii) an iPod 40 GB model
- xiv) an XBox that you don’t actually play
- xv) and finally a PONG Machine!
- have most of the above emulated on a computer as well, just as backup
- are so worried about losing everything on your computer, your Hard Disk contains ISO backups of all of your
- still have the boxes for all computer peripherals you’ve brought in the last four years (Epson 670
- have a huge Spyro the Dragon cuddly toy (half-my-height big) in your bedroom. (Any large cuddly-toy or
freakishly-large model of a game character counts for point)
- have walked four miles there, four miles back everyday to work, because you can’t be bothered to wait for
- have read the entire Enid Blyton Famous Five collection
- have created a shed-load of stuff, but feel you’ve never achieved anything to speak of
- have had the patience to complete Shenmue 1…
- …but not Shenmue II
- have never received a present or gift from someone - ever, but have made and given many gifts yourself
- actually use a program you made yourself, daily
- use more than 2 programs you made yourself, daily
- have never been out of the country, ever. (for Americans you only get the point if you’ve never left your
- have completed Sonic and Knuckles, more times than you have completed a modern game
- started walking to school/college one day because your bike got a flat overnight…
- …and have never repaired the bike since then.
- have any Pokémon trading cards…
- …and know how to play cards with them…
- taught the college tutors how to program in Visual Basic
- change your wallpaper daily
- have a DeviantArt account
- …but haven’t had any favourites yet
- own two copies of one game…
- …but on two different platforms.
- require one and only one tool to fix any PC regardless of fault - Philips head screwdriver…
- …and each time you end up with two screws left behind…
- …even though this must be the third time of repairing it, and had two screws left each and every time
- can build a PC using four screws only. (three at a push)
- actually sit and enjoy watching a Windows98 machine defrag for two hours. (I just love those blue squares)
- have a spare 1.5 GB worth of SDRAM sticks here and there.
- have made your own operating system at any point in your life
- wish you were born two years earlier, for a whole gamut of reasons
- use your online name so much that few know your actual name…
- …and hate your real life name so much you want to change it…
- …and your name badge at work says your online name…
- …and the people at work don’t actually know your real name.
- listen to music, a minimum of 12 hours a day
- are on a computer a minimum of 18 hours a day
- sleep, “only on occasions”
- have a wall clock, that is stuck at 10:45, but you haven’t bothered changing the batteries for the last 7
- always visit the options screen of a game first, before playing it - regardless if it’s on PC or
- always read every bit of text and watch every cut scene of every game you’ve played - regardless of how
unimportant it is.
- can claim to have played a computer game for 36-hours continuously or more (Gran Turismo 1 in my case)
- can turn your eyelids inside-out
- have the office assistant always-on for amusement… (I use the cat)
- …and never grow tired of it. (two years I’ve had that cat now)
- are sad enough to have some of your own artworks hanging up
- forget about calendars, and only ever use text files for organisation
- have removed the recycle bin, to achieve zero icons on the desktop
- changed the windows98 BSOD to a different colour (go GSOD!)
- once wrote a text adventure batch script that wouldn’t exit until you had completed the game, and then
added it to the AUTOEXEC.BAT of a college machine so that you couldn’t load windows until you had
completed the game…
- …and then got caught coz you left your name in the credits :P
- can speak fluent Pig-Latin
- ancay ecitray ay entytway-unway ordway obscenitay ompletleycay inay igpay-atinlay
- read Sabrina Online…
- …and 8-Bit Theatre…
- downloaded the entire LoveHina anime on 56K (1.81 GB)
- have more Mac icons than you do Windows ones.
- have printed a picture – photographically, 10 times – just because a couple of pixels were not right.
- hoard various bits of paper, that “look nice”, but never use them
- have written a game – on an emulator
- own a cubic-foot worth of Lego
- downgraded from 800MHz to 300MHz and saw a noticeable improvement in performance
- own a Zip drive, but don’t know why
- despise irritating shareware with a true passion
- have completed a game on both an emulator – and the real thing
- can have a conversation consisting of only Monty Python quotes
- are such a perfectionist that you completed Max Payne, without being hit once. (damn, wasted a bullet –
- played network quake – in a cinema, during a film
- spell like a 10yr old, but were above average at 10yrs old :P
- ever wasted three days trying to think of 100 things about you
In efforts to get better at 3DSMax I’ve tried creating a logo for a section of Camen Design known as “Cold
Storage”. The original idea was a crate inside an ice cube, but I wasted a day trying to create an impossible
ice-cube in 3DMax. During the many frustrating efforts I came across an effective way of creating “snow” using
the cell-shader so eventually I decided to go with that and forget wasting more days on making an ice cube.
“Cold Storage” is where I file away anything that is no longer needed, but somewhere where it can be kept for
historical purposes. For example if I update a site design, I could put the old design into cold storage so that it
can be remembered for the future. I’ve started creating a very simple site at “camendesign/coldstorage”. Items
are stored in “Crates” that are indexed by the database with a consignment date. I’ve started filling the
warehouse by consigning very-high quality versions of artwork that a few people may need as well as website/artwork
concepts and incomplete work. Currently I’m aiming to start whatever sections of Camen Design that haven’t been
started and hopefully tie up lose ends with “Under Construction” signs. A very large amount of Camen Design has
been done (and an infinite more to do) and I’m hoping to get it in a usable state so that I can purchase the
domain and get it uploaded. Cold Storage just serves as a good reason for me to bear in mind all that development
stuff that’s going on and to give me reasons for keeping hold of things I can look back on an enjoy. I’m still
considering if I should put The Lost Alliance website into Cold Storage since it’s no longer online and people
would be missing out on the great Music Extravaganza. I do hope you enjoyed your present whilst it lasted
If you like, I can give you an account at the Cold Storage warehouse so that for your own site, if you decide to
delete anything instead of removing it permanently, it can be put into cold storage so that should someone ask you
directly for it you can link them to the relevant crate in the warehouse and also have somewhere to store things
that people may want to see, but are not good enough or not necessary enough to put on the main site.
I’m looking at the submission dates on the files in cold storage and they seem to keep on catching my eye for some
reason. I’ve seen those numbers 23/03 before? I wonder if you can guess where, or more precisely, ‘when’
before the end of this sentence? Bang, I was straight off to another section of my hard disk and my hunch was
correct – it’s been two whole years since the day I started working on VacantBrains.
Which is odd, because today,
I unwittingly started making Vacant Brains 2.0 for Camen Design – without even knowing, weird eh? Must be a good
omen. I’ll go with it. Woosh!
In examining the whole of Camen Design to find what needs doing, I totally forgot about the web design section I
hadn’t shown you. This template was actually created wahey back the day after I sent letter four (the one with the
NN3 site). Typical that I seem to suddenly come up with stuff the day after I send
out my letters. I forgot to include it in Letter 5 because it had not yet been translated to HTML. That’s the
actual web page itself below and all flash animated – imagine each tile appearing white and then fading out to
reveal the picture underneath, and then all the tiles staggered so that the image is revealed bottom-right to
top-left with a delay on some to cause a more scattered effect.
As of today, Camen Design now stands at:
- 2’053 Files in 246 Folders – 110Mb (entire site + development files)
- 475 Files in 102 Folders (excluding development files) – 16.4 Mb (this will be the online version)
- 266 Files of JPG, PNG and GIF format (11.1 Mb)
- 79 Files of SWF format (905 Kb)
- 200 Files of HTM, ASP, JS and CSS format (1.13 Mb)
This is ill, I’ve never
tallied up the file count before – I’ve actually hand typed 200 files and over a million keystrokes
And we’ve gone from 8 Mb
in letter 4 to 16.4 Mb of content!
These letters are also getting ridiculously large as well! I’m soo happy to be writing these letters, it really
gives me a way to prove to myself that I am achieving something that I wouldn’t otherwise realise. Without these
letters to leave a “paper trail” of the progress on various things I’ve been creating. It’s served as some
form of measurement that I will be able to remember – that both Badly Drawn and Camen Design were started just
before you left for Canada. I’ve been keeping track of dates, recording my history more than I have before. I’m
designing the sites to maintain history too with things like Cold Storage so that I should never forget how far
I’ve come. Without these letters I just wouldn’t have any purpose to continue, there would be so little point.
But I’ve got an obligation to have something to say to you, I know – even though you are thousands of miles away
and it takes a long, long time to get the correspondence to you, I’ve got a friend who is kind enough to listen
and who can provide the constructive criticism I need. The speed at which I’m expanding what I’m creating is
insane – each website is bigger, better in every way, I’m learning new tools, I’m building a repository of
code and the file size of these letters is reflecting this literal exponential “building upon the previous”,
like that which I haven’t experienced since my college years!
Letter 1 – 1.26 Mb > Letter 2 – 142 Kb > Letter 3 – 2.42 Mb > Letter 4 – 2.15 Mb > Letter 5 –
3.46 Mb > Letter 6 – 10.1 Mb
Now for a twenty year step back in web design (and a 7 year step back for me). I’ve been investigating how to
embed fonts into web pages for one sole reason: so that I can make an accurate C64 website with the correct font†.
I’ve also got the correct colour palette from an emulator so that all the pictures and text are in the actual
Commodore64 16-Colour palette.
Along with the C64 site I’ve also been making some windows icons for it and a wallpaper. You may remember a post
made in The Gathering Project forums a long, long time ago about some screenshots I had made of my C64 Operating
System. I’ve transferred the icon files from that into a PNG and have started working on creating windows icons
from them. If I can do it, I may create a WindowsXP skin as well.
Regarding Clint v Franklin:
TheRAjE has found a new purpose to produce stuff – he’s been given a sub domain at programmers-corner and is
the purist’s hand-coded way. Hey, but let’s not forget this is Clint. He was ready to give up only after having
written 10 lines of code
which was really beginning to bug me, so I gave him the answer and was quite firm with him, letting him know how
much effort it is for us, to be bothered to help, when he wants to give up at every single opportunity. I think it
worked though, the next day he had the whole home page almost complete
His new site is a massive improvement over his previous sites; the hand coding method has really shone through. In
the screen to your right the news box appears when you mouse over the news category on the left and the little
dotted line in-between is animated like marching ants. Very cool. Clint being Clint is also trying to add full
support for alternative browsers like Netscape (using the word browser lightly and the word alternative heavily) and
Opera. Difference is, he doesn’t have Netscape on his computer. There’s something not quite straight with trying
to support a browser you don’t even have.
Also Clint would like you to write to him, he says he accidentally lost your address!
1 Year – 30/03/04:
Hard for me to believe but another big important day has occurred – the 1st Anniversary of Camen
Design. It is one year today since I randomly scribbled an ellipse and cut an eye shape out of it – to create the
greatest logo I have ever made, and will ever make. A logo of this sheer relevance to myself, deserved the best site
I’ve ever made – and so for the first time in 7 years a “personal” site for me. The fact that the logo
consisted of a “C” and a “D” and created the eye design at the same time was just such a stroke of luck that
it blew me away. And when I got it to blink the whole effect was complete – something of this design potency
deserved nothing less than my full attention. After all the potential was staring back at me from my screen.
As proof of its’ inspirational randomness, I have never, ever been able to re-draw the Camen Design logo on paper.
The first time I drew it on paper will be the last, it was so perfect that every attempt I’ve made has come out
squiffed, no matter how careful I am, I can’t get the proportions correct. Try it yourself – it’s really,
really hard to draw accurately.
Discontent with the downward spiral of my previous sites (The Lost Alliance being the most recent) that I wasn’t
happy with as the colours were getting more and more grey and dulled down; I had lost the insane vibrancy I had
stumbled across with the “independent software” design.
Which up until Camen Design I thought was the best I had made and that I had lost what I was good at not being able
to meet its colours with The Lost Alliance. Thankfully I had a look at this whilst organising Camen Design’s
structure and for the first time since I created it I finally thought I had surpassed it with Camen Design. That was
a whole load of weight off of my mind to be back on track and not worried that I was getting worse and worse.
Sometimes the sites I create are just inspired by other people (and mostly by those in TGP) and I struggle
thereafter to just meet that kind of stroke-of-inspiration before. This worries me greatly that I am getting worse
and worse at web design as I must always improve upon the previous.
Just like Badly Drawn only days before, I had had enough of this “routine” that created the TLA site and was
ready to throw everything in the air and “get fresh”. I opened the palette and choose the most vibrant –
un-tweaked – decent 32-bit colour I could find. Orange
I was like “sack all this
blue, I’ve had enough of being completely stuck wearing out the blue hue” and whacked together a whole screen
coloured only in orange (now the entry point† for Camen Design) – I was rebelling against myself, doing things
without thinking – “scribbling without drawing”. I didn’t care if the colours melted your eyes, this was
site and I’ll do it how I like – I just wanted to get away from the design-disappointment that was TLA. And
don’t deny that as technically-astute it is – I didn’t even get as much as a thank you or “it’s nice”
from anyone bar-you. I call that a failure. “If it doesn’t blow them away it’s not good enough”. And Clint
calling I.S. “bland” and “sterile” – that I was not prepared to
take after working the entire night pouring out all my excitement at the prospect into the design, I hadn’t slept
but my eyes were wide open – I was eager to hear people’s comments about something I had never had the skills to
do before and all of a sudden, over night I was inspired to no longer make sites like “Vacant Brains” which were
graphically basic at best and “felt” too “Front Page” and start making “real” sites.
You must remember that time I went mad at Machira for calling Vacant Brains pointless after I had spent all that
bloody time on it – I had to be held back before I bit his head off and shat down his neck.
One thing I cannot stand is
people who will only point out the negative and care nothing about providing something positive to build upon.
<Machira is dutifully added to the elegantly penned “List of people whom shall recieveth an
‘up-yours’ upon completion of Camen Design and/or Badly Drawn Adventure”>
Another Thing I Forgot:
Actually did this ages ago. Tested using the
on a program. When I plug the iPod in, this dock bar appears and backs up the whole system to the ‘pod. Nice
etched text an’ all. Should be using this style for the upload prog on
Regarding Tanner Helland:
This is not bad – I’m on page 17 and I haven’t even received your letter yet. I was amazed to get to page 10
as it was. But enough about my day to day (if you could call it that) routine. There’s a lot I want to ask you
too. In all this time, how have you been? What with the novel-and-a-half that was my last letter to read / reply to
I can’t see how you could possibly have any spare time! It has been a long time since I have asked so I find it
right to ask again how your novel is coming along. Your SLC submission was
the largest word document I have ever seen! 41 pages, forty-one ruddy pages – HOW!? The largest document I have
ever written was 22 pages long – with no images and that was at college, the thing took 3 damn days to write
spending all day working on it. And I look at this and it’s 41 pages long!?? It’s insane! Anybody who can write
a document of that length certainly must be able to write a novel of some kind. Although I am good at reading I’ve
never found anything to read. In fact the only books I have ever read are the entire Famous Five series by Enid
Blyton and The House at Pooh Corner by A.A.Milne. There’s so many books nowadays I don’t actually know what’s
my style and what’s worth reading (that’s not a manual!) but I do know that any book you write would defiantly
be worth my attention.
You must be enjoying your new CD’s, or at least I’m hoping you are enjoying your new CD’s –
<DS can be heard screaming “Damn WMP Sound Font – I wanted the DX Font” from across the
pond> I tell you, it would be impossible for me to live without my computer. And if I couldn’t
have that then the iPod would be the only thing that could keep me sane/insane! (Delete as applicable). There’s a
ton of errors on the CD covers – you sooo must’ve noticed. Give the signal and I’ll print out a correct
version for you if you need to be finickery like me. Oh, also I wanted to ask you if you’ve had any thoughts on
new music whilst you’ve been busy, now that you’ve got your good old block-rockin’ beats back.
Now since Camen Design is made up of so many sections, I’m getting more and more ideas to carefully thread these
together. This is controlled by two layers of design. Layer 1 is through obvious and basic hyperlinks from section
to section. For example an item in the art gallery can contain a link to a crate in Cold Storage in its description
and Vacant Brains can contain links to the NN3 and HoTMeaL sites as they are VB related. Layer 2 is by carefully
weaving together data collected from one side of the site with other sides through the central database. In order to
simplify matters – when a user signs up for a forum account, their account is valid in all forums under Camen
Design so that they don’t need to sign up several times over. To centralise this collection of information each
member will have a “home page” (much like DeviantArt) which can be viewed by clicking their name or avatar in
any forum in any sub site. In ezBoard style the home page will contain their most recent forum posts, their personal
info and so on – but that’s all regular stuff. To actually go the full hog and “pull” data from one side of
Camen Design to the other we’ve got to take information specific to one sub site and make it available at the home
page to bring all sections into a central area. Now what has this got to do with
(since this whole paragraph has been about Camen Design)
This will be covered on the next page.
If the user has signed up for a forum account anywhere else, and they visit your site (assuming it
is held under camendesign.com) they are automatically logged in, meaning they can post using their
full forum account with their avatar and name. As an anonymous option anybody who is not a forum
member can post without having to sign up but doesn’t get an avatar or anything special. Once
they’ve posted they are offered a forum account – the only two things they need to type in to
get an account are their e-mail address and a password. Additional details can be added later by
going to their home page.
When browsing through your songs on the site, they can add any they like to their “Favourites”
list. This favourites list allows them to go back and listen to the songs they have chosen, for
example if they wanted to show a friend a song on their computer. This favourites list appears on
the left hand side of your website, but also on the user’s home page! If they haven’t yet
visited your site and have no favourites marked – a message appears saying “no favourites”
and provides an enticing link to your site. (As a side note to facilitate this concept, the
user’s Badly Drawn levels they’ve made, if any, will also be listed on their home page)
This is still concept, but hopefully I’ll be able to track the user’s position anywhere within
Camen Design – so that if for any reason another user is on someone’s home page – the status
at the top will read “~User is: Currently listening to <link>Cyaron’s Gate</link>
at <link>Tanner Helland International Sound</link>”. Other examples would include
“~User is: Currently viewing DMAI2 at the art gallery”, or “is
currently making a post at the Badly Drawn Forums”. This will help bring the sections together
and I’m hoping with your help we can really get everything very nicely linked together.
It’s ambitious – but I’m hoping to have it so that the user’s home page will be skinnable
to their favourite Camen Design section. Skins will include – Camen Design Normal,
Badly Drawn and C64 for now.
You will have an administrator account so that you are free to delete / modify any post made
anywhere in Camen Design. Also whenever you post in any forum, or on any song / artwork so on,
your name, rank, avatar and link to
will be displayed.
Me and you can have customized user home pages so that a section can be added to the header of
yours to explain that you are the owner of
and j00 make k-a music. Reason being, if someone searches “Tanner
Helland” on Google, they might find your user page first.
Featured news in
will also show up on the
Camen Design home page. I.e. “New song released at Tanner Helland International Sound – Check it out!”
- Anybody who is subscribed to the Camen Design update newsletter, will receive an e-mail when you add new
your site. When somebody comes across a section of Camen Design that’s not finished, they can add their name to
the newsletter so that when the section is complete they will be notified. The newsletter also serves out updates on
all sections of Camen Design so your music can reach people who may not have stumbled across the site otherwise.
Ambitious? I’d say it doesn’t matter as long as good use is made of it.
Huzzah, I got a job! And it’s not in retail – w00t!
I’m so amazed it’s hard
to believe. It’s a job in the nearby town Horsham, as a technical support type guy in an insurance broker’s.
Daily routine will involve start up procedures, backups, printouts, technical support as well as network maintenance
and computer setups. The position is in an office environment so I no longer have to deal with shitey PC superstores
who don’t actually know anything about PC’s. What’s so cool is that I went to the interview – was there
about two hours, and as soon as I arrived home, I got a phone call saying they wanted to offer me the Job! YAY –
I’ve never been so amazed. <Kroc does a little jig on the spot>
And because it’s an office job too, I won’t be doing absurd hours like I was before. It’s 9 to 5 but on some
days there’s an early start – like 7.30! but then I finish at half-three – how cool is that. I’ll finally
have time to do a Job as well as work on Camen Design and Badly Drawn Adventure – and not forgetting your website
either, no I’ve not forgotten
Now I can be “Crap, I’m
late for work” too!
16/04/04 - the Badly Drawn Level Editor (Again!):
Some old untidy code was getting in the way of upgrading the graphics engine to the next step, so I decided to go
through all the code in the project and clean it up as well as upgrading some redundant parts with new functions.
Because I was going through the lot, I decided I would add a function to log system messages so that as the program
operated, a log file was produced in case that if the program crashed at any point I would know exactly where it
happened. That way if it crashed on a end-user’s PC the log file could be beamed back to me to debug the problem
and get updates out quicker. And because I’d created this System Message Queue, I thought that it would be
practical to create the console now, instead of later so that I can browse back the queue whilst the program is
running and query internal variables and sub-systems without having to pause the app. I’ve created a console class
that handles the data collection and logging so that I only need send a message to the console class every time I
need to. The class handles line wrapping, colour formatting and saving to the log file.
The user will be able to press the normal console key any time to make it appear where the system message queue can
be scrolled through. The console itself slides in quickly and slows down smoothly also.
I’m adding the console primarily as an advanced programmer’s tool and won’t be necessary for anybody who’s
not hot on computers so I’m free to be technical here. Console commands will allow the user to, in the editor or
in game, query the internal system variables and sub-systems such as the frame-animator and the graphics engine for
figures like scripts per second and script execution time for particular objects. Commands can be sent directly to
the scripting engine to influence objects and the user will be able to take quite some control of the internals.
I’m adding this so that we can effectively debug the game and it helps with the development, but will also leave
it in for the release so that serious programmers can totally customise the system variables for the editor and
game. For example, a startup script could be written to show console in compact (4-line) mode by default, run the
game windowed and display the extended debug variables from go.
I wish I had your code statistics program, I wanted to count how big Badly Drawn Adventure was. I had to download
someone else’s from freevbcode. Badly Drawn Level Editor stands at:
Total Lines: 9846 (Beating my previous best, HoTMeaL, at 8797 lines)
of which Blank: 1099
of which Comments: 2634 (Every sub is titled and almost every line commented!)
of which Code: 4436
Variables Declared: 884
Constants Declared: 273 (Most of these will be API so it doesn’t give an
API Declarations: 86
Unfortunately it looks like the end of the road for NoNonsense3, simply due to the lack of programming know-how and
time put into the project everybody else has quickly caught up and superseded it. Winamp 5 finally got around to
including fade-in and out as well as global key hooks. Matey these other players were years behind me. I had NN2
fading in and out late 2000. Problem is that the expansion in NN3 to automatically recognise albums and artists is
limited by the capabilities of the old Media Player 6 control, and to go beyond that would mean upgrading the
internals to use the WMP9 core and that means that NN3 would require WMP9 to work, a bit pointless really. That has
nothing to do with giving up on NN3 though as NoNonsense is designed to be a simple alternative to the other bulky
b*stards out-there. But now there’s very little point, all the features I had that made mine usable beyond it’s
major technical inferiority have finally been implemented in it’s competitors and I’ve lost every ounce of
enthusiasm for working on the NN3 project. No, you can’t talk me into working on it, no matter how nice the
website is and how good it looks. Let’s face it – to write an MP3 player these days you gotta write your own
playback engine so you can trap everything as it goes through for equaliser and visualisation abilities. There’s
just no place left for natty players made in Visual Basic anymore. I simply cannot compete in one market or another
when players are so mind-numbingly powerful now. All I can do now is smile, to know that at one point I was way
ahead of the crowd.
It does upset me to lose a decent web site also, NN3 can gather dust in Cold Storage now. You yourself should now
that any attempt to continue NoNonsense would only be flogging a dead horse. (Only two people ever used it every
day, and I doubt that included yourself). Let’s try and at least retire it gracefully…
24/04/04 – Your Letter Arrives:
Joy, sweet joy! Your letter has arrived, I was beginning to slow down in my production because I was writing this
letter in anticipation of this day (and yes that was my fault for writing such a bloody huge letter!) Thanks so much
for the photo, haha! It’s great, that’s unbelievably cold! Thanks for freezin’ your ass off for me
Now this is where the real
“letter” starts –
Preparing to reply to your letters is a bit like preparing for some type of final exam – it takes weeks
of preparation and study
Non-intentional, but I just tend to treat anything I make in the same manner. The bigger in sheer scale and ambition
– the better. At least you enjoyed the letter, you haven’t seen nothing yet – well you have now, you’ve read
up to this point. My previous letter pails in comparison, and this time around, this letter will be winging its’
way to you ASAP.
RE: Thank Yous:
But first a number of thank you’s are in order…
…Thank you for all that you spend on postage and ink costs…
…Thank you especially for the 4 CDs and jackets…
Postage and ink bothers me not, if it ever cost me as much as £20 or more to send you a letter it would not bother
me in the slightest. I would not hesitate (much to the annoyance of my parents) to spend my last ever £100 on
writing to you should the cause need it. I am well intent in doing whatever is necessary to do my letters the
justice their presentation deserves. I’ve got to keep up a respectable self-image here! (And I’m sure you’re
probably proudly showing off your CD’s and the various pictures in my letters)
The CDs had to be perfect, but due to last minute time restrictions, they weren’t as good as I wanted them to be
due to many writing mistakes; however the graphical presentation is not bad. It’s so cool to see an actual product
of TLA, to have something physical in my hands that are a product of what was otherwise a failed project. It makes
me smile every time to see the CD’s there, for real and presented the way they deserve to be. I hope you liked all
the little touches I added to do the CDs justice (like the Special Thanks, and Tanner’s Personal Copy: Lose this
and lose a limb!) It brought back a lot of fond memories of the hey-day of the project.
Believe it or not I managed to eh, “provide” myself with a chance to look @ your websites. But to my
dismay, they wouldn’t appear! www.computerbitsuk.com was down, www.camendesign.com didn’t work and as I
had suspected www.thelostalliance.com was nowhere to be found…
I think I had mentioned in an earlier letter, probably way back, the current location of Camen Design. I haven’t
been able to buy the domain yet – due to lack of cash and yup you are right the TLA site is no more, a bit of a
shame. Camen Design, whilst under development is located at www.computerbitsuk.com/kroc/camendesign/ - write it on
your arm and don’t forget it, now!
RE: About Me:
…Within a week I was called to be a district elder – which entails watching overseeing 11 other
missionaries, 9 men and two women – which placed a huge restraint on my freetime for writing letters and
any other kind of personal business. Combined with this was my call to train a brand-new missionary
simultaneously, which is also a time-consuming venture. So not only was I to run my area while training a
new companion, but I was also to watch other and help 5 other companionships and their areas. I was to
busy. But I loved it
I have no doubts that, despite any difficulty, you can handle responsibilities well, I think you did well at TGP
especially in the early days just as I joined. You were always the organised one, who knew what to do when everybody
was running around, bumping into each other, screaming “don’t panic!” But it’s even better you liked it.
Life is all relative, everything good is only measured by the negative things and when you get to the end of a
difficult job you are pleased at your ability to succeed at the challenge. That’s what I love about learning.
It’s a complete b*tch but very self-rewarding to see what you can achieve.
I’m amazed at the size of your new area, it’s like here’s several million people, you know what to do – go.
Lol! You’re right at how time has really flown. A year already, just like that – woosh. But at least both of us
have achieved something in that time, and it has been time well spent. The shortest time is the thing you spend the
most time on! But now you have less time left than you have to go, things should start going much slower. I bet
those last three months will go sooo painfully slow in anticipation of getting home and forgetting how to switch on
a computer, let alone use one!
So that’s my life right now :) How have you been? Are you still working?
Yup and see above. I’m well, I’m in an enthusiastic mood, I’ve been making stuff like mad (as you’ve seen by
now) and I’ve picked up a whole host of new skills. I’m definitely getting better and I’ve got a measurement
of progress by these letters I no longer feel the severe depression from when I was working at PCWorld, and I can
only look forward to the next thing I do, that I couldn’t predict myself.
RE: TLA Resurrected:
In all seriousness, I have considered one last, grand final VBRPG project upon my return. The possibility
of it working haunts me. I know it can be done. There is no physical limitation preventing it from working.
In fact there are only two reasons TLA failed – lack of planning, and lack of unity. The talent was
there, I would even go so far as to say that the desire & dedication was there for key team members…
…So obviously the key to success would be to have a recipe before gathering the ingredients. In TLA we
made the mistake of doing things backwards. We gathered the ingredients before picking the recipe. And when
we semi-agreed on a recipe, we realized the ingredients were all wrong.
This is always difficult to reply to, in that yes, everything is so obvious now, why it fell apart. But the
feasibility of doing it all again is tainted with some form of doubt in how the people you have in the team will
react in reality. A good plan helps, but then due to the way we have to communicate across the Internet and
people’s lack of spare time it all falls apart. Conversations in the forums are slow, slightly unconstructive and
begin to lead nowhere, this is totally unavoidable, I doubt there is anyway that you can make online discussion
anything resembling constructive. This is why, at last minute though, I proposed to the team that we all go away and
write proposals for an application that each team member will produce. I.e. me on MapApp, Asuka on the game engine
and Clint on ABoxLt. I wanted to shift the focus away from chatter on the forums, to production of objects in each
persons time, and using the forums only as somewhere to “report” progress. That way, there’s more development
and production, and I made it clear that when you get to a point in your app where you need compatibility with
another person’s app you should contact that person only via e-mail to discuss strategy. This spares anybody and
everybody adding to the discussion in the forums, on a topic they are not actually well versed in – such as
intrest86 bemoaning on how we should use VBScript for the internal scripting instead of custom script. That was
needless and pointless and serves only to fray the teams communications and relationships.
I don’t doubt the possibility of a VBRPG. Having come this far on Badly Drawn, I know that even Badly Drawn,
despite its’ scope is possible given the time and input. Hell, in TLA I wanted to try and prove to people it was
all possible. The idea of an RPG maker was mine ages before I even joined the project. I demonstrated it to the team
as an example of a map editor and then was told to remove all the RPG-Makey bits to make it just an editor. The more
open-plan the better; If you spend a year creating an RPG-Maker and don’t bother to consider the story of your
RPG, at the end of it what you have is an RPG maker you can use to make anything you consider, but also have
something to show for yourself. You don’t create a word processor because you want to write one, and only one
letter, and thus gear the application’s abilities to making only that letter. By being open plan you are free to
change your mind later on and not be stuck on the course you are on. If someone wanted to make a VBPRG then they
would want to have the tools first so that the focus can be ploughed into creating a story rather than too many
unnecessary things on the side.
What do ya think: So here’s the catch – I’m getting too old to do this alone :) Hehe.
If I were to do this, I would want a partner whose judgement I could trust. Say that partner was you…
:) The two of us would probably do the majority of the design & script work before we
even went public with anything…
…I can’t shake this burning desire to make a VBRPG project work. If you’re game, I say we give it one
last try… “the grand finale” if you will
This is also difficult, as competent as I am now thanks to BDA and other things to come, I’m going to have to be
blunt in saying that I won’t be available to work on the project as of yet. Approx. two letters ago I presented
Clint with the idea that for the whole two years you were away I would sit down and create and entire game design
document that would describe every inch of detail. All story, all programmatical constructs, every single design
consideration and documentation imaginable so that the game would exist, just not in an animated form. This would
rely on lending me total designership on the game to avoid all constant back forth pointless bickering about things
that others don’t have proper experience of. Clint’s not interested. He has his own agendas with his website and
progressively learning VB by producing a string of small games. And because of that I’ve now got Badly Drawn
Adventure and Camen Design, which must be completed at all costs. I would not be able to live with the burden if I
didn’t complete it, or put it to one-side permanently by taking up too much work. This is how I see it, we want to
make something that’s never been done before, it’s large in scale (larger than Badly Drawn and that’s one hell
of a big project), and it’s only going to be possible through doing nothing short of what a real game house would
do – proper, full scale planning and production. Is it even possible to pull such a thing off across the
Maybe, I even have doubts if a project could be planned to the nth across the Internet, It just has too many
communication issues. Something like this should not be rushed into, not even in the slightest. I don’t think we
should plan to start this not even next week, not next month, not even next year. Something like this needs time to
marinate, for the idea and the abilities to slowly get organised and prepared for the planning. It would just be
totally naïve to think that either of us has the skills to plan such a thing at the moment. It’s far too vast in
scale. Absolutely nothing will come between me and completing Badly Drawn Adventure so until that’s complete I
will not be working on any games of any kind, at all. Mean-whilst I feel it acceptable to mellow on the concept of
how to go abouts the first proper VBRPG. Even though I have no intention of programming one now, I still have notes
on what I would do, the features I would include, the design. I’m sure you have the same. I need plenty of time to
carefully think about the idea and this should provide, every now and again, some great ideas on how it could be
achieved. Also we would need to first have created something in similar before being able to do a VBRPG. It’s not
clever to attempt to make this thing, when we don’t have a 100% completed map editor to prove solidly to ourselves
we know exactly how to go about it and also our understanding of the logistical side of doing it as well.
It’s my evident intention to complete Badly Drawn Adventure first. This will serve as the spring-pad to launch
into VBRPG. BDA can teach us the programatical, logistical and organisation skills (in a smaller scale) that we will
for certain need in creating one of the most ambitious projects since TGP. Can you say that you have had the
experience of organising the final measures needed to competently tie the loose ends up on a project and package it
as a distributable 100% complete product, despite the logistical nightmare of having code and versions spread across
the world and resources not in their desired place? I think that as large scale as Badly Drawn is to myself, it’s
just within my reach (with your help, no less) and being able to click a button on the screen and say that that is
it, that is years of work totally and utterly complete is going to teach us precisely what we need to go one step up
and launch into a bigger team and a bigger project. Neither of us can claim to such experience proper, so It’s my
intention to earn it now, before starting off on a bad foot and ruin our one and only last chance to complete a
VBRPG, and possibly the last chance ever on the Internet if you think about it.
We have years and years of time, no rush needed. And you know with something so important to yourself (hell this has
been your dream from childhood to complete this) that to rush would not be wise. You’re going to have to forcibly
take it easy and ultimately well prepared. I do want to help you achieve this, I would love to see the final
product, the ultimate accomplishment, but I can’t see it being at all possible right here, right now, not until
I’ve completed Badly Drawn Adventure. It’s far too big, even for me. But not too big for TLA if it were just
taken slowly and carefully enough from now. For now, until BDA is done and out the way, I recommend working on
coming up with organisational ideas and generally scoping the RPG out to how such a thing could possibly be
effectively managed. But don’t put too many hours in, just keep to a relaxed train of thought…
RE: Music for You… and Anything Else:
And you’ve got it – one whole musical score for BDA. Now I’ll have to warn you, that – as you well
know – my music is far more suited to an in-depth love story will full blown 3D cinematics than it is a
comedy. But I’ll do my best! :) It’ll be an adventure, that’s for sure. (Not unlike
everything else we work on, heh). Also, any programming assistance I can provide is yours for the taking.
No hope of payment necessary – if we do sell it, you can keep the money. You’ve certainly earned it…
I’m really proud to have you as the musician of the game. Oh I have fully intended to do you justice by have the
T.H.I.S logo on the case, and when the game loads with “Music Produced by Tanner Helland”. I’m going to
nothing short of placing as much advertising for the new website in the game as possible. When the user goes to
choose the level music in BDLE there will be a link there. The about box too and in the game itself they’ll be
able to play the songs in the sound test. This should bring in plenty of visitors for you.
If you could read my mind it would help, but as far as music goes I’m definitely leaning toward using a Music
score that doesn’t necessarily match what the screenshot may say about the game. Think of it this way. Whenever
I’m working on my laptop, I’m always listening to music whether I’m typing a letter or programming. This puts
the music out of context to the action I’m doing. I’ve been listening to your songs whilst working on BDA to see
what would work and I honestly think that a lot of your style would fit fine. I imagine the player as someone like
me playing the game wearing headphones and the music being almost ‘detached’ from the game as if they were
playing the game the same time they had an MP3 player running in the background. This style of soundtrack-detached
music means that the music they are listening to is very enjoyable, and would help them focus on the game in
question in the same way as if you were listening to any music whilst doing something irrelevant (such as word
processing). I don’t think I’m making much sense here, but I’m saying that the music doesn’t necessarily or
all be “comical”, but rather just a set of damn good ‘tunes to listen whilst you play. Right now I’m
listening to Beethoven’s Symphoney No.5 and as much as it or anything by the Prodigy has no relevance to writing a
letter, it serves to really get me focused and moving and I want BDA to be similar to that. To not have music that
is there only to suit the player’s perception of what it should be, a failure of the many early platform games but
more like the console games of today whose music is there to be cool and not necessitate the description of the
players actions or environment that they inhabit. (other than where it is appropriate, e.g. a funky tune with a
slight Egyptian twang to it, for a level in Egypt – but primarily made as a cool tune and not to stereotypicallize
Egypt) I think you can be free to write a nice range of music for BDA from classical to heavy rock, just whatever
gives the player total focus and determination and makes the rest of the world around them fade away so that only
the game exists and they can enjoy it.
Quite a brief eh? And regards payment, I’m the person who won’t accept money – If, that’s if, I make any
money. I want to pay you your keep for the essentially vital soundtrack. You deserve it and will only be losing out
just for being too humble. If I earn anything from BDA, you’re having some if you like it or not, lol!
I love the editing pane idea. Brilliant, simply brilliant. It’s the little things like that that I would
never in a million years devise. You never fail to amaze me, heh. The play / Pause button is also a great
idea but I hope it’s not too hard to implement. The structure pane is possibly your best idea of all,
simply because of how practical it is. It’s about time that an editor used something intelligent like
that. Very good idea. In fact the whole thing is simply a masterpiece as far as the programming design
goes, I love it…
Thanks for your comments, they let me know I am doing the right thing and not doing something that would really
annoy someone. As for the Play / Pause button, I see it as more necessary than it is difficult to program. The
editor would be useless without them as lining up jumps would be a total pain. I’m certain it’s going to be
difficult to program, but look at it this way: All the data I need is already there, the editor knows the positions
of everything and knows which scripts to run (because they are compiled when the object loses focus) and the editor
is already in a CPU-Timer driven constant refresh. That means that positioning is already handled, and the graphical
refresh is already handled. All that needs to be added is that when the game is being played, the CPU-Timer diverts
to a subroutine to get the input and move the objects / run scripts appropriately. And with those various engines
already implemented due to their requirement in the Level Editor, it’s not such a nightmare after all. Plus when
the internal play function has been written – well then the game is complete. You have a fully playable game, just
only inside the editor. I can then copy/paste that code into a new project which plays the game fullscreen – the
benefits are many and everything falls into place better with the internal playtesting facilities.
The aim is that nothing will piss you off in this editor, you won’t curse at it because it’s doing something you
don’t understand. You won’t curse it because it’s doing the opposite to what you asked it to do and finally
you won’t curse it because you can’t achieve what you want. Not sure if I can achieve that, but I’ll certainly
The only thing that I doubt is the story, and that stems somewhat from personal experience rather than any
significant fear… / …I would worry that an entire game based around a training camp wouldn’t provide
the depth to entertain players for much more than an hour or two. I would see the training camp as a level
or two or three, merely enough to acquaint the player with the basic controls and game mechanics. After
that something more in-depth should provide the motivating factor… / …I also like that, especially if
we send Yokozuki international, because then I can write a whole bunch of different style of music. If
Yokozuki has to traverse the Egyptian Pyramids, I can write an Egyptian song! Same for Spain, India,
whatever. It would be fun! :)
This is probably going to take a whole ton of verbal-poo to try and reply to and due to my total lack of English
skills I doubt you’re going to understand a word of my grammer! But here goes.
I did myself a favour by not choosing the most obvious and simplest thing to create. I could’ve opted for an RPG
– RPG’s are easy to design, easy to program (thanks to tile engines) and everybody likes RPG’s! No instead, I
started with something severely flawed, a basic, almost retro platform game. Difficult to program (non-tile based
engine, instead a difficult collision engine) and full of design flaws – such as longegevity, consumer recognition
and limitations in gameplay depth available. I did this because I wanted to go in a new direction and try something
new, rather than just try and do the TLA project on my own, to which I had no faith in by the end. As I’ve
mentioned earlier in the one years section for BDA, I created BDA because I was tired of following a path I
couldn’t get off. Time to break rules and do things I never thought I was capable of doing. Thus as mentioned
again, somewhere way up there, Badly Drawn Adventure is the pursuit to take something inherently imperfect and
perfect it as much as possible, to bring back those old days of old-skool platformers Sonic and Mario.
The best Brittsih sitcoms, always take a small situation and milk it for its’ rich comical potential. Rather than
a more American view of gotta-keep-moving onto bigger better things or people will get bored in the next 3 seconds
(What a joke the film industry is at the moment, it’s a new shite horror movie every week). For example, Father
Ted is all based in a house on a totally remote island off Ireland itself. The best one is Porridge, if you’ve
ever seen it where Ronnie Barker plays a coy convict in HMS Slade. In one episode the whole twenty minutes is spent
talking with his inmate in their cell – and that’s it. No American sitcom would dare do something like that in
‘fear’ of boring their viewers to death. But that episode of Porridge is great, it’s really funny and really
builds the characters up. It’s much more British to take things a little slower, and to get all the benefit out of
a situation before moving on. I really think that the American industries have gotten themselves into a viscous
circle of making everything too big, too fast, too cheesy in their attempts to keep up with their self-perpetuated
perception of the consumer who’ll get bored if you don’t blow something up within 30 seconds of your film.
I’ll tell you now that most Britains are tired of the film industry at the moment. Finally, after a very long
period, the industry is coming around to doing more radical and original films to please people rather than just
making the next big-cheese-action-thriller-whatever.
In this same respect I’m going to take the risk in not progressing way too fast, but take a more relaxed approach,
that most people don’t really realise is what they’ve been looking for. I’m not sure about America, but in
England the retro scene is huge! Companies are re-releasing old games and consoles (like the
Atari2600/VCS) and tons of t-shirts with the old game logos on like Atari and Space Invaders. This has come around
because of the nostalgia created by all the absolute crap that’s been coming out as of recent - tons and tons of
“Yet Another Action Film” and so on as well as a real lack of decent television. So everything has folded back
on itself, the industry accidentally creating demand by not providing it.
Regards Badly Drawn Adventure. It was my intention from the start to take a small situation and really expand on it
to get the full benefit and experience from it. Each level would introduce a new concept, new object or new
mini-situation in the same way any kind real “training” does. The first level would be a basic run against
cannons and straightforward traps, the next level would include heavily something new, for example acid traps, then
the next level would focus on another new, more difficult object such as the rolling bolder, and every now and again
the whole style would be changed for a single level with the introduction of a slightly different situation. One
level I want to be really tall, but very thin, and Yokozuki jumps off of the top of the cliff and parachutes down to
the bottom dodging cannon fire and the like coming up from the ground. For every now and again this breaks up the
paltformic style and resets the user’s enthusiasm for the game for another couple of levels, by not tiring them of
walking along the same grass patch over and over again. Each level would focus on something they’ve not seen
before, as well as building upon the traps they’ve seen before. I don’t know about some people but I do feel
that some game objects are not re-used enough. For example some of the cool traps in Tomb Raider 1 only occur once.
I would personally love to see some of those traps re-used in new contexts with a few minor changes in newer games
but they’ve not done this.
I think you’ve gone completely to the other side, believing that the training levels being one one-two or three!
What a waste of all the many hundreds of original combinations you can use your objects and what a loss in not being
able to create more objects to spread out the training levels with more content, that’s almost ignoring a whole
load of artistic possibilities by not making the most of the situation. I was thinking more like perhaps 10-15
levels. Each one simply introducing a new trap/enemy to suss out, some levels really short and left-to-right, other
levels more explorative, having multiple routes and some levels that follow none of the others at all (like the
parachute training) – All we need to do is design plenty of fun objects to fill up these levels with and I’ve
already created a few, but need more. These are:
- Cannons for rudimentary beginner level style traps (a lot like Bullet Bills from Mario)
- Spike pits, also another rudimentary starting trap
- Acid Towers, as a basic run-under timing trap, later replaced by great big vertical pounding-hammers
- Balaclava thugs and dogs (For the anti-terrorist training level)
- Ninjas armed with Swords or Ninja-stars (for the ‘Training for invading Japan’ level)
- Wooden platforms (like scaffolding) that can be stacked up or across any number of times to allow the player
to climb up to higher heights, provide multiple two-tier upperlevel/lowerlevel routes
- Rig systems (Moving platforms of any number, size, speed and direction)
- Perhaps some electrical or fire based trap?
- Pushable crates and oil drums to add a puzzle element as well as climbing element with multiple routes
depending on where you push them
- Army training style, rope swings?
- Chased by a rolling bolder
- Night time, stealth infiltration, avoiding the machine-gun armed search lights…
Possibilities for filling levels are infinite. A while ago I was thinking that the game should end with Yokozuki
completing training and being taken off to a real war, something he never expected even though joining the army
(well, that’s Yokozuki for you), the animation would be of him in the back of a helicopter about to set down and
in the background loads and loads of people fighting with plenty of comical stuff in the background, but the kind
that shows what Yokozuki’s in for (like stick men slicing each other to pieces with swords and one person firing a
rocket from one side of the background to the other and blowing one stick man to pieces) It would be a good open
cliff hanger ending. But I do like the idea of making the game a little larger in scope, in part. For example, after
a good number of very diverse training levels then we could move Yokozuki to warfare in other countries that America
decides to invade In one
cutscene (before the Ninja level), the sergeant will be explaining that this training level will involve learning to
fight Ninjas should America have the chance to get back at the Japs for Pearl Harbour. To which Yokozuki relies
“But you nuked Hiroshima!”, however the sergeant in front is too busy in a patriotic stance with a tearful eye
“We lost a lot of good men on that day” <Patriotic music>. “He’s not evening
listening to me!” Yokozuki exclaims before the level starts!
So I’m beginning to like the idea of moving Yokozuki around, but I want to ensure the most is made out all the
possibilities that you get with each situation. Whereas you might possibly thinking of having one level training,
one level Egypt, one level India, so on, I’m much more thinking 10-15 for training and 3-5 Levels for each
worldwide location. And it’s your skills that will help us avoid this extended use of a situation (regardless of
how diverse I make it) becoming boring. An excellent soundtrack in the way described thoroughly earlier would help
keep the player motivated in the same way the music I’m listening to now has kept me going, writing this section
of this letter for the last four hours. Without music Word would bore me to death in an hour and a half.
It could still be comical – maybe Yokozuki has to perform outrageous feats to impress his demanding
Girlfriend, who sends him out on stupid missions to earn her love. Or maybe he loses his pet gopher and he
has to pursue him through miles of (bumpy?) circumstances until he finally gets him. I don’t know – I
just think that we should think bigger than just a training camp.
As for these suggestions, who knows, I’m kinda finding out what will happen to him as the editor progresses. In my
previous comments on TLA, I was saying that a level editor should be developed open-plan so that any possibility
could be covered and not programmed solely to meet the incomplete and undeveloped ideas from the start. The BDA
scripting engine will allow the editor to remain open ended because almost any object can be catered for. I don’t
know about gophers (no, literally) – what is a gopher? Any animals I’m including are going to be comically plain
Brittish boring like some BSE Infected Cows enemies in one level (The Invading England level
) It’ll be great fun to
take the pee out of stereotype countries!
I’m not going to be designing for worldwide travel at all until the level editor is 98% complete. Basically,
spending too much time on scoping the game out is going to hinder the production of the level editor. So for now,
the training levels and the objects they use will be what I will create to make the level editor and to keep the
workload down as I won’t need to create hundreds of objects to test the editor, just the few I need for the
training levels. Once the editor is in Beta I can draw all the new objects and use the open ended editor to handle
these objects. During early development I’ll be using the training objects to create hundreds of internal test
levels, e.g. one level solely to test cannon mechanics, one level solely to test rig systems and so on and these
levels will all act as a scripting test and gameplay test. Once we are happy with the engine performing suitably
well, we can start making the actual levels of the game (and perhaps tweak some that we’ve already got)
…and that stems somewhat from personal experience rather than any significant fear. In my limited
experiences, the best games are the ones that draw me in emotionally. When I have some sort of attachment
to the characters in the game, it provides a strong motivation for succeeding. After all, these are my fake
“friends” at stake :) Hehe.
I’m also going to be taking an alternative approach to this. So far response on Yokozuki has been good. One girl
said “eeeeee… check out that cute stickman” and others think he’s ‘cool’. In non-RPG style, the
attachment to the character is stupidity. The reason he smiles all the time is because in the intro, just before
setting off on the first level he says “My momma said if you just smile, you can get through anything”. So
beaming, he sets off, unprepared on level 1. He’s hapless and needs
the player’s help. You love him because he’s so silly and if he dies or survives, you still love him the same
for the comic stupidity of everything he does. From the way he walks to the violent and silly deaths he experiences.
I’ve never had so much positive reactions about a character before like I have with Yokozuki, people seem to
really warm to his charm for some reason. Sure you’re right that it’s not really “emotional” attachment like
that you are speaking of, but I believe that the RPG style of emotional character attachment doesn’t have to be
the only style that’s right, sure there’s gotta be other ways that are good in their own respects as well and
this is just me exploring an alternative and if it doesn’t work as good as your suggestion then I will have learnt
something, and if does work out just as good, or better, then I’ve learnt as well. Can’t lose there.
Blimey, that’s just added 7 pages replying to your letter without any real effort! Onward! Finally, after all
Anyway, what can I possibly say about T.H.I.S? “Just mind blowing” should suffice :)
Hehe. Kroc it’s amazing. I love it all. The colour scheme is great, the layout is intelligent and
user-friendly; the menus look great and the feel of the whole site is indeed more than I could have
You have a gift for design. I couldn’t possibly offer any advice that would improve the site. It’s
already a masterpiece. I guess my only idea would be to change “international” to “independent”,
maybe even “Tanner Helland Independent Studios”. Or if you think international sounds better, have it.
I trust your judgement completely.
I hope you’re only working on T.H.I.S when it appeals to you. Just seeing this much excites me beyond any
hope I could ever have of designing a site for my music. You are truly one-of-a-kind. Amazing! Simply
As you’ve no doubt noticed, this letter is severely missing info on T.H.I.S, I’ve not been working on it
unfortunately because I was not sure if I was doing it how you wanted, and couldn’t work on it, if I then would
have to change it if you didn’t like it, or the colours, or something similarly major. So I promise that next
letter, I’ll get some stuff done and give you some new screenshots. Badly Drawn has progressed massive amounts
this letter, so I’ll let that rest for a while whilst I get T.H.I.S sorted out. Please give any suggestions you
can think of regards functionality of T.H.I.S. as you’ve all the music know-how but I haven’t, and also refer to
the notes in my previous letters and this ones for the suggestions I’ve made so far. As far as me and my
‘kind’, you’ve obviously not met many designers then, same as I’ve obviously not met enough musicians!
I’ve got my own unique
attitude and style when it comes to my designs, I’m a bit brash, wanna be different and like doing things how I
see fit, regardless if that is following standards or not. (hmm perhaps a bit like you and your music!)
Oh and “independent” instead of “international”, what a fantastic idea – I would never of thought of that,
it’s so much better. I had the word “THIS” just locked in my mind and was trying to think of
words to meet the acronym but never got past “international” due to lack of ideas. I shall implement this right
As you may have guessed, it could take a very, very long time to complete
I’m really doubting that it will be complete by your return, but at least with you back in America you’ll be
able to help me work on it. I will promise you one thing though. No matter how long it takes to complete it, it
will be completed, I absolutely assure you of it. And it will be nothing short of the best music
site I’ve ever made. You’ve just gotta keep poking me with the proverbial stick to keep me enthusiastic about it
if you want it hurried!
The Final Countdown:
Yeah, biggest letter I’ve ever written, biggest word document I’ve ever written (although it is full of
pictures). It’s been fun to write and hell, most of the stuff in here, exists solely because I wanted to put
something in this letter. I’ve got a new job, a new career and am out of that hell hole PCWorld that came very
scarily close to killing me. Keep up the positive and constructive work in Canada, don’t let it grind you down at
all and write to Clint and cheer him up a bit, he really needs it. As much as I fear-to-death hitting 20 years old,
thanks to the positive things that have been happening to me as of recent, I don’t feel so old anymore, I feel
like I’ve got more time to do whatever it is I’m here to do. Before I was frightened that I absolutely must
achieve my life’s work before I reach 20 otherwise I’ve missed my opportunity to be ahead. I think I’m seeing
20 as the starting point to achieve my life’s work and Badly Drawn and Camen Design is the foundations for that. I
sometimes wonder what I might be capable of doing sometime in the future? It scares me to think that wahey back when
I was in TGP I could not have predicted in a million years that I would be able to do the things I’ve shown you in
this letter. Your music has progressed loads thanks to TLA, I’m so looking forward to all the new things you might
produce when you get back! Speaking of
I’ve only ever listened to your music whilst working on it to ensure that I didn’t design anything that
wouldn’t fit the music that would be hosted on it.
Sign Off - 24/04/05:
I’ve printed this letter in A5 book format as a sort of experiment, yes I know the text is small I’m sorry –
if you’ve had real problems reading it then I can go back to A4 for you. I’m trying this size out because I
think it looks real cool in A5 book form. The pictures, though smaller are sharper and of higher quality, and also I
only have to print 7 pages and not 28
The paper this is printed
on is semi-gloss double sided photo paper (the same used in the
print I sent you), this paper is fantastic as the image pixels come out solid and dark unlike the printing disaster
of my last letter, all the images were low-res and too light. Please do not worry about the costs, it really
wasn’t much and it was well worth it simply to do the images justice.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you again, which probably won’t be until you get back since it’ll take
that long to reply. Enjoy your CDs, and have fun checking out my websites and work. Man, we have really gotta meet
up at some point, I’d love to shake your hand, and if it were only possible, I’d love to meet you as the
crocodile himself. It’d be so much easier to work on something if we were in the same room, I really can’t stand
the communication and expressive limitations of the Internet. After BDA, maybe VBPPG will be the “one”.