Friday, 22 February 2013

Masochism - MITAH

A post in which I exclaim why I am both insane and a potential genius.

As you may or may not know depending or not if you're me, I started an animation project a while back on my Youtube channel called 'The Man in the Ant Hill', which I envisioned as a series of animated shorts based on the 1960's comic story of the same name (The origin story of Marvel's Ant-Man if you're interested). My plan of action for this idea of mine was to animate the various stages, record my progress and then stick it onto Youtube, in practice so that potential employers will take note of my initiative and masochism.

Why masochism you ask? Well, a masochist is defined as somebody who feels some kind of weird gratification from being punished, and I think the fact that I chose to use the animation method I find the most difficult is definitely masochistic. Namely that doing frame by frame animation on a graphics tablet is about an exact a science as doing a life drawing with an icicle onto some bedrock. And never planning on letting up shows that I seem to derive some kind of glee in deliberately punishing myself.

Now, what I COULD have done when writing up this project was to, say perhaps, animate using a pre-existing rig of some kind or create one at my own pace. Things which, while comfortable with using, am definitely no Richard Williams at just quite yet, but instead I chose the method where I have to draw each individual frame in the long continuous sequence with no breaks because there are no camera alterations (Fun fact, the average drawing time of one frame is 10 minutes).

My original reason for punishing myself so was because I was using the 'Original series Goku from Dragonball' endurance test method of practicing at something. That is to say, rather than building up skill and endurance with steadily escalating smaller challenges, instead master the hardest method first and becoming virtually godlike in the easier methods because nothing feels quite so sweet after the back breaking pain that is trying frame by frame animation with little skill.

I would just give up, except I know that my punishingly low level of self esteem demands that I get just this one victory out of the way before settling for lesser victories, which ironically makes me more confident in myself and determined to work, which is always a plus. 

Clarification: In the original series of Dragonball, Goku exercises
with a several ton turtle shell on his back for six months and becomes
virtually unstoppable with his prodigious strength despite
having no formal martial arts training. The origin of my awfully phrased

Sunday, 27 January 2013


Haven't posted about my life here in over a year, blimey Kris, do the words "Decent speed for a glacier" mean anything to you? Not really, also stop stealing dialogue from Zero Punctuation. Ah well, I guess I'll let you know what I've been up to.

Previous Course!
First of all I've finished that Animation course that I loved so much around this time a year ago, I got a Distinction + Merit Merit, which is pretty hefty spoils to say I didn't like lots of my work, though my Final Project which you can view here is quite simply magnificent, not without errors of course but nothing is unless you're Sherlock Holmes. I'm going to miss that course because it changed my life in ways I couldn't describe.

Current Course and also Animation!
After finishing College I went back to College to do a different course, instead of Animation it's a more generalised Art and Design course, it's not REALLY going how I wanted but I've managed to teach myself how to be a better drawer, which has slightly rubbed off onto my Animation skills, not that I've Animated much recently, unless you count my clever idea MITAH where I'm working on a larger project but showing you all of the smaller elements because it'll take too bloody long otherwise.

University Applications!
In similar Animator-y news, I've sent off my University Applications about two months ago, all for Animation related courses naturally, I shan't give any details as to the identity of the Universities however I'll wait until I've properly been accepted to share such a detail, because it's best not to show bias at this stage, but rest assured I'll be in good hands for almost whichever one I go to.

I have not been as healthy as I used to be for this past year, I've had a fair few unusual stress attacks that four doctors can't agree on the exact nature of, I'm better now and that's all I'm really gonna say on that matter.

Current Work!
As said previously, at the present time, I'm on and off working on a small animation project entitled "The Man in the Ant Hill", it's a short story originally written by Marvel, being the origin of the character Ant-Man, and I've decided to adapt it into an animated feature because really, it's just dying to. I upload the various stages of the process onto Youtube for the pleasure of all, I'mma gonna link to it a second time for luck.

I'm notorious for starting personal projects and then not completing them due to lack of interest on my part and the part of whoever finds out about them, so I've decided to simplify the project making process and remind myself repeatedly how much I wanted to make it in the first place. This inspiration coming from of course the excellent Jack Howard, a guy on the internet who makes funny videos I'm a fan of, you ought to check him out.

I want to frame this and put it on a wall.

Well, that's all for now, I should really get into the swing of this again, it'd be nice to talk about my life stuff in greater detail, almost like a real blogger.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Interactive Storytelling is Impossible

An open letter then, to everybody with an opinion on videogame stories.

I've heard a lot of people complain about the ending to Mass Effect 3 (I should stress I haven't played Mass Effect, and that this is based off my own personal opinion.), and about how their actions didn't affect the story, and how they wanted the story to end in a certain way because of what they did.

Nonesense I say to that.

Stories do not work that way. A story is a linear structure, a piece of art created by an author, generally, the beginning and end is written first, and the middle is incidental stuff.

What Interactive Storytelling actually is, is just cleverly disguised simulations. A simulation, by it's nature, tries to replicate reality, a stimulation is cause and effect, something an interactive story also attempts. If an event is driven by the event before it, then the final event will not be an ending, it will just be a final event. And reality does not have an ending, nor does it have a beginning and middle, because life is not a narrative, life is just driven by cause and effect, it's never building up to anything. 

In a story, the beginning and the end is what's written first, because you want a story to mean something, a writer then writes the events in the middle because in a story based on what happens afterwards, effect precedes cause. But in a game, cause precedes effect like in real life, and like I said, real life can't be predetermined. It's essentially the difference between Science and Art. In Science, one thing causes another thing and it can only happen one way, in Art, the emotion that the effect creates defines the cause.

If a game has a story, then the game must steer you onto the path of the story, if a game does not steer you onto a path, it can't have a story.

Two good examples of what precisely I mean off the top of my head, Portal and Minecraft.

The story of Portal is thus, a person has being stored in some sort of facility, you travel through the facility by doing tests, and the game ends with you (seemingly) killing the villain. That's a story right there. You start off, and the story goes that you solve all of these tests and eventually find the villain, and the reason the story progresses this way is because that's what every player will do, and every player will do that because, acting as the character, they'll want to complete the tests like the main character, they'll want to escape from the tests because to not escape would mean death, and they'll want to fight the baddy at the end because if you chose to not fight, you will be slowly poisoned.

Portal, has a narrative. And it has gameplay moments part of that narrative, for example, halfway through the game, you are ordered to destroy a cube that the villain mockingly stated was your only friend, at the end of the game, you then kill her in the same way, because it's ironic. 

See what I mean? They wrote that ending first, and then later wrote that middle point to add a narrative reason for it, because that's exactly how a story is written, the narrative being in the form of gameplay. The gameplay itself is flexible though, as you aren't forced to do anything, you just want to see how the story progresses.

Now onto my point about Minecraft.

The setting of Minecraft, is that you are the only human on Earth (Or you and some friends if you're on a server.), and that's about it. Every single person would react differently to this scenario, some people might explore the world, some people might build a shelter to protect themselves from monsters and make food to keep themselves alive, some might create artwork with their now infinite resources, some people might set fire to a forest for a laugh because there are no consequences beyond not being able to acquire wood. And you can do all those things, but it doesn't amount to anything beyond the direct consequences of those thing.

There's no ending to Minecraft, because Minecraft simulates a man alone in the world, rather than explaining a man alone in the world. The game ends when you get bored, or circumstances beyond your control, like death or a broken computer, stop it.

What I'm basically saying is, either you railroad the player into a story. or you don't railroad them and don't get a story. If you try to compromise, you'll get Mass Effect 3, and Mass Effect 3 had a lot of complaining fans.

What I think people want is to do certain things and for them to have certain consequences, which is neither of the two archetypes I mentioned. They want to do what they want, like an open ended game, but they want a specific consequence, like a story.

And what that sounds like is a whole third archetype of game, the only solution I could think of would be some kind of mechanic that lets the player write the story and then enact it, but that wouldn't have the narrative of a story, nor would it have the open endedness of a sandbox, what that actually is is just a fantasy. Just something that would satisfy you personally, and I don't think any mechanically produced game would be capable of that unless it involves ridiculously advances AI or is just plain manned by humans. In which case it wouldn't even be a video game, it'd just be a service, like laser tag.


There are four types of game.

1. A game, you do things to complete the game, that will have the result of the game being completed and you being challenged.
2. A story game, you do things in order to see the progression of the story, that'll have the result of experiencing a story and hopefully being challenged.
3. A sandbox game, you do things just for fun or to see what happens, that'll have the result of being amused or interested, but you won't be challenged unless your challenge comes from outside the game.
4. Some kind of Theoretical "Fantasy Game." in which you do things because you want specific consequences, that'll have the result of possibly being challenged, you'll have fun, and you'll feel satisfied by the way events panned out.

The only possible way I can see option four existing, is if you designed a game personally, then wiped your memory of the game you'd made, then played the game, anticipating every decision you're likely to make during the design phase.


There may never be true Interactive Gaming, there can only be approximations like Mass Effect 3, it's not because Mass Effect have bad writers, they might have good writers, they just not physically capable of writing an ending that everybody'll like.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Rubbish you don't care about.

The most descriptive title I've yet put on my blog right there.

Stoof has been marching on recently, not entirely unusual in itself, because things can only be homogeneous for so long before I get bored enough sit on my behind eating everybody's Easter Eggs for two weeks, bar occasional homework.

First of all, that. I finally completed my homework/project of modelling a car I designed in 3D. Your milage may vary on whether I succeeded in making it look good or not, but I think it looks passable. Something I really ought to be doing better on, 3D modeling has not been my ally in the great quest of College, so I think I need to do some extra practice of that here at home.

My tutor tells me that we're starting on 3D animation using a rig when we get back, which I currently have mixed feelings about, because on one hand, it's probably easier than hand animating 2D drawings, and hey, it's some form of aimation, but on the other hand, I don't get to practice 2D animation, my ideal future career, quite as much as I had wanted to. So I'll have to do some small one-off projects here at home in between those projects.

Of course, I currently have two personal projects that'll help hone my skills in more or less everything I'll need to know. One is a webcomic with original characters and a (relatively) original story, which should help me hone drawing and script/story writing skills, which I'm certain will be essential in the grand scheme of things. And the other is an animated series spoofing Doctor Who, which will help me learn to animate better and also do hilarious, laborious comedy writing, (and also contains excessive Doctor Who references). I'm sticking with the first idea at the moment (though possibly making it an animated webcomic), because hey, I need to draw still things before moving things.

I have a new obsession, and creation chose to name my obsession "Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann". It's a 27 episode long Anime series, which currently holds my place for 'Favorite Anime' and 'Most epic thing ever'. The story begins with a child finding a robotic mech head and fighting slightly bigger robots with it, and ends with the same person controlling a robot which is described as 10 million Light Years tall. And that, my friends, is the reason fiction exists.

Also, I started playing the Yu-Gi-Oh card game recently, I can't imagine why, because the Anime and Manga for them don't make it look like a lot of fun, they make it look like the card game version of psychological warfare. But it surprisingly is, so say that I've won exactly one game to date so far, time will tell if I collect many cards though and actually build a deck.

That's about all the random rubbish I can conjure up at the minute. Until next time invisible people!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Recent Stoof.

So, it doesn't seem like a whole lot has gone on for me, but it seems that I haven't posted on here in months, so I'll do my best to seem interesting.

In College, all is well, I've been working on a 3D Design project in Maya for the past few weeks, which I will post here once it's textured and slightly rendered. It's all very well trying to model things in 3D, but trying to add cohesive textures to a slightly complex 3D object is like pulling teeth if you don't know what you're doing, which I never did. For example, one of my objects was basically a cylinder with no roof and the top of the walls of it were all worn and broken down, and that took me a week to figure out, maybe it's because of my own personal idiocy but it really did take me a while to grasp how to do such things. Course actually drawing the textures was where my skill lies in this project currently, since it's basically just drawing on Photoshop, which I have experience with.

I have a week off for half term, so I'm continuing with that since our tutor allowed us to carry on even though we ought to have finished it by now. The rest of the week, I'm spending doing a multitude of things. Levelling up my Pokemon so I can beat a friend of mine next week in a battle, more on that later. Updating a practice animation of mine so it looks halfway decent, learning about the area I live in so I can gather courage to use public transport eventually, and generally practicing drawing.

Anywho, back to the video games. Said friend has been recovering from the effects of having surgery recently, so I went to visit her to cheer her up the only way I know playing Pokemon. It was quite a fun time, we bet Pokemon on the outcome of battles, meaning I lost 7 Mons including three legendaries, silly Crispee. But I'll try to win them back next week with any luck. :D

Also, I've been trying to find places online where I can order comic books, because I'm currently interested in the final story arc of the Yu-Gi-Oh Manga (Yu-Gi-Oh: Millenium World), as well as wanting to read more of 'Y: The Last Man', the first volume of which looks interesting.

Well, that's all about my life for now, until next time nonexistant readers!

Sunday, 31 October 2010


So I went to Tosho-Con last Thursday on the 28th!

What's that? What in zee poo is Tosho Con? Glad ya asked. Long story short it's a mini-localized Anime convention that took place at a Library near me that I swear wasn't there before.

So, I was invited to this here convention a few weeks ago (by College friends), and agreed to go without thinking much of it, as it happened it was actually pretty awesome and I would go again in a heartbeat.

Truth be told, I'm not a massive fan of Anime and Manga, I enjoy Yu-Gi-Oh and the occaisional Dragon Ball, as well as trying to get into Death Note, but apart from those three I wasn't terribly familiar with any of it. It turned out that I didn't need much experience to be capable of making friends at an Anime conversation because they are all extraordinarily friendly, in addition to being as mad as a box of hungry cats. Meeting people was, unusually for me, easily my favorite part of the event.

Also, the actual events included watching cosplayers make fools of themselves, which is like watching a man with no legs fall over, whilst showing off their really cool costumes (incidentally, do male Bakura cosplayers exist?). It certainly encouraged me to consider some form of cosplaying in the near future, though I'd definitely not start off with the Androgenous ones first. I should look into that in the future.

Also, there was a drawing session being presented by a chap called Rob Deas, who is a comic artist who specialized in Anime/Cartoony comic style drawing, I'd not heard of him before or read any of his work but after meeting him and seeing what sort of things he's done I am entirely considering giving it a look. His deviantART page is for those interested, and some of his works include a Manga based adaptation of MacBeth and a strip in the UK based comic book DFC. (plugging over :D)

There was also a fair amount of random hugging, groping and glomping going on, which anecdotes read on the internet tell me is entirely normal, each one of which was performed at me at some point.

Well, that's all I have to say without repeating myself, but in short, Tosho Con was amazingly fun, thanks again guys. :D

P.S. Also it was my birthday on the 30th too.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

College, if you can call it that.

So I finished my first week of College, if I could call it that, and I can safely say that I enjoy it. Allow me to go into uncanny detail about it, since it's the most recent important thingy that happened recently. If you strongly dislike reading incessant ramblings about people's lives then I suppose you can leave your computer and do whatever there is to do there.

Day One:
On the first day, admittedly nothing important much important happened. I walked in and found my room with almost everyone there, since everybody was staring at me I looked for an empty chair is casually as possible and enjoyed the silence. There was definitely of lot of that on the first day since none of us knew each other and my fellow classmates seem like they're capable of being nice to me, which they all have been so far, which is a massive relief.

No actual work on the first day, we just did a mini task where we had to do a quiz about the College for some really arbitrary reason. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are all three hours long, or that's the idea anyway since we finished an hour early that day.

Day Two:
Day two in my humble opinion was rather important to me, to because we did any important work, but because I actually semi made friends among the people in the class I was working near that day. Tuesdays are seven hours long and doesn't involve Animation so it doesn't look like I'll enjoy these days an awful lot, we started out doing some task of such importance that I completely forgot what it was by now. In the afternoon was where the fun really began.

Bottle Rockets.

That's right, Bottle Rockets. What this has to do with the Art of moving images will remain a mystery to me, but it seems that the purpose was becoming familiar with each other, and it worked surprisingly well, especially since many of the people acted the same as and strongly resembled people I knew at my old School, the normal people that is. So me and another dude who's name escapes me made a Bottle Rockets, it wasn't the most well thought out design since its wings we uneven and it span when we fired it into the air, not even my 'go faster' stripes were enough to help, and also out parachute concealed in the nose-cone of the Rocket failed to deploy, likely because we were idiots enough to give the parachute no way of escaping. While the dudes to our right made a Rocket that was also a Ninja Duck for some reason, and still flew better than ours. And the dudes opposite the table made their unnecessarily heavy and complicated by adding a flag to it rather hilariously, which remained intact upon hitting the ground, everyone elses I forgot by now.

Day Three:
This was the day we actually did some honest to god Animation for the first time in several days, it consisted of doing a series of drawings on a strip of paper and inserting it into a Zoetrope and then making it spin around very fast, thus giving the illusion of animation, mine was the best I saw so I'll assume that mine was the best out of everyones. Being three hours long I only managed a total of three of these before packing it in and going home, it was rather fun and easily kicked the arse of most School days, yet I imagined it'd be boring compared to whatever I'd be doing in the future.

Day Four:
Today, more animation ensued as we did some pencil animations of a wavy thing being wavy, I chose to make mine the tail of a Monkey because I've been watching the original Dragon Ball recently, the second was a bouncing ball, which was solid enough but very jerky not entirely unlike people I disliked from School. And being three hours long again that was all I managed, but we have the option of carrying on tomorrow of we want, which I'll probably do at home since I 'borrowed' necessary equipment. The actual idea behind this animating was pretty much just taking pictures of 16-17 images of stuff in the process of moving and inserting it into a Mac program called FrameByFrame, which I'll download since it's apparently free.

This next bit will be similar to mentioning that rain is wet, fire is hot and Jack Thompson dislikes games in that it's painstakingly obvious for normal people to notice, but whilst trying to talk today, I remembered my prominent fear of doing so and promptly stopped. And if you ever fancy having a chuckle, then you should watch me staring at people and trying to Psychically tell them to talk to me since my voice box wasn't up to the job. Maybe soon will be the day that I talk like a normal person, but there's no way of knowing for sure.

Teh Edn:
Well, that's everything interesting I have to say the for moment, I might give an update next week if anything exciting happens and I'm feeling particularly bored that day. Overall I like my course since it largely involves doing something I like with people I have things in common with (or so I assume).

Until next time none-existant readers, and also xxninjacookie if I've made you read my ramblings again.