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High Definition

January 17th, 2013

When Horizon Studios as a team first decided to start working on Galoop for the iPhone and other iOS devices, we were limited to a couple of old iPhone 3GS’ and an array of iPods of various generations.

Given the limitations that we had in screen resolution and the fact that at the time of developing we had no guarantee that the game would be published after all our hard work, now that we’re self publishing and iOS devices have come along in somewhat leaps and bounds, it was great to revisit something from over 2 year ago and start replacing all the low resolution 480 x 320 pixel graphics to 960 x 640 pixels, enabling us to show off more detail and in some cases add more to make use of the newer Retina Displays.

The best thing about this week though is that since Sunday I’ve been pretty much tweaking, amending and adding to the graphical style of Galoop and coming up with different ways now that we can really start to get this game polished off.

Happy days indeed.

and we’re back in the game

January 6th, 2013

To say it’s been a productive weekend is definitely something of an understatement and without doubt one of great achievement.

Since Friday night Mike has been tweaking actions and effects for the latest boss battle on Purgatory and after extensive hair loss today I finally managed to get my PC and Mac talking to each other to the point of getting a playable version of Galoop onto our various iOS devices.

To say the team were delighted is an understatement, it has after all been almost three years since we first started working on the game, initially designing and released Galoop as a PC demo while we fathomed out how to get it running on our iPhones.

What was even more surprising was that the graphics looked crisp, clear and it ran really smooth on the iPhone 4S, but the actual graphics were created for the 3GS, so they’re half the resolution capacity of the 4S, meaning that I can put a lot more work into making the graphics look even better than they already are.

So with some graphic design work already in progress for the start of next week and work to be done on Galoop, I can see this coming week being a really productive one.

 

 

Positive thinking

January 4th, 2013

The problem with the increasing capacity of hard drives these days, the more space you have on a single drive, the more files you can lose if anything goes wrong.

Unfortunately for me I found that out the hard way, not just once but twice. One of my maxtor 1tb drives died taking a load of my most recent work with it. Under warranty the drive was replaceable but sadly the data was not and for all I had a backup of most of it, that was unfortunately on another maxtor drive that fell foul to the same problem and was deemed unrecoverable.

Somewhat gutted by this but still trying to think positively, I have recently been looking to relaunch my graphic design career, although that positivity sometimes started to wane when I looked at anything designed or printed and start thinking to myself “I have the skills to easily create (or recreate) that, but without sitting down for some extended time creating a range of random copied or concept artwork to show off what I'm capable of, what can I do?” and thus my catch 22 problem begins.

How do you show people that you're the right man for the job without a portfolio to support this?

Determined that I wasn't going to let this get the better of me I started scouring all the discs, websites and email backups that I had on other drives and old computers to see if I at least had any good quality proof copies of anything that could demonstrate what I could do.

Finally, after a long haul I was pleased to not only find a wealth of old artwork that I'm still happy with by today's standards, but I also started to realise that some of the work I've done over the last year or so wasn't as basic as I'd branded it and if presented in the right way it could speak volumes about what I could do, after all, the say a picture paints a thousand works, so it's time to start being selective and hopefully creative.

As my positivity started to grow I started pulling images in from all over, realising that I've done some good stuff over the years and kicking myself that I didn't promote myself harder in the past, of course with this positivity also comes the fun of picking the best out of the 200+ images I've found and moulding them into a portfolio I can use to sell myself.

Positively inspired

Of course, getting back into design made me start looking back at things I'd started getting into just as my life started going downhill, things like social networking that I never really got to take full advantage of at the time, but looking at my twitter accounts and flicking through some of the tweets made by those I'd started following some time ago I began to find links to blog posts on 'being a self employed graphic or web designer' which started to inspire me further, giving me different ways to look at how I was going to present myself, as well as other ways to tackle juggling the roles of being a house husband, family man, designer, printer and games artist without the pitfalls I previously suffered in what I've now come to think of as my past life.

2013 has definitely started off on a positive high, although there are a lot of challenges to overcome in effectively running three businesses while trying to keep on top of the house and the usual problems that come from having a house with three teenagers in it, but for the first time in a long time I feel that I can definitely rise to the challenge and will be quicker to dust myself down and pick myself up at any hurdles I stumble over.

Great Expectations

January 1st, 2013

So begins another year, the time where plans and unrealistic resolutions are made that fail almost as soon as they’ve been thought up, yet this year I feel more positive than I ever have before, having accomplished so many life changing things in the last year and having finally put many things to rest, although I know this year won’t be an easy one, I’m confident that 2013 will be the start of many ventures and hopefully the true beginning of my new life down south.

Having started this decade with great expectations and plans for a positive future (as mentioned in previous posts), after the last decade ended in a way that I never expected at the time I couldn’t see anything positive in the changes that were about to take place, but it turned out to be the start of something better than I’d ever imagined and a journey I would never have dreamed of.

Sadly due to this massive shift in what I knew to be ‘normality’, the changes to my life meant that pretty much everything I’d planned on doing from the start of 2011, even the normal things I’d done the previous years had to be put on hold while I completely changed everything I’d ever known, but now thankfully all these changes are behind me and I can finally start looking forward to what I’d wanted to do with even more determination than I had before, but with the added bonus of having someone who not only supports me in my ventures but who also believes in me and in my plans.

Creative ventures

Having spent some 20+ years as a graphic designer, for all I have big plans to finally make something of Horizon Studios on the games side of things and finally fulfill a life long dream to make computer games, I still want to be a graphic designer and so, to realise that goal I’m currently working on making Creative Ink Design a reality, while trying to avoid as many of the mistakes I made with Broadening Horizons as I can.

 

Fashion with Character

When I first met Kevin, long before he introduced me to his wonderful sister who last year became my wife, we came up with a game called Galoop, featuring some loveable little liquid filled cubes with a personality of their own. As a team, Kevin, Mike, Justin and myself breathed life, sound and interaction into these characters, developing a free to play PC demo that received rave reviews from all who played it and for all there are still games to be made with these characters, at this exact moment in time they are just sitting there somewhat dormant and while trying to come up with a company name or brand for an offshoot T-shirt printing company, Kevin, Dawn and I bounced many names around before Kevin came up with the idea of calling it Galoop, after all it was the game name and idea that brought us all together, with two of the characters later featured on my wedding cake when I married Dawn, so it seemed only fitting to use the name and characters as a brand and general image, as well as giving us plenty of marketing potential in the future for both the tshirts and any games we make in the future.

and of course

2013 will see Horizon Studios finally start to publish games. I’ve already wrote about a number of positive progressions over the past year and having already invested massively (for a small team) in GM:Studio with iOS and Windows Phone 8 export modules and Unity3D Pro with iOS Pro, games like Purgatory, the original planned Galoop and the prequel that made the PC demo can finally see the light of day and start to appear on various mobile devices with the potential to make it onto bigger screens at a later date.

Organisation

Of course none of this will be possible without some proper organisation, some form of routine that is realistic and that I can stick to and of course the biggest problem is primarily working from home. Although I have a potential workspace (which needs a MASSIVE overhaul in order to be turned into a workroom), being your own boss is one thing, sticking to a routine when you work from home is another, especially when you have so many distractions and other ‘family related’ things you need to do during the course of the day so trying to balance everything, school runs, housework, clearing the workspace, setting everything up so that I can start working efficiently etc. is my first task at hand. I’m no stranger to ‘To Do Lists’, I used to have To Do Lists to keep track of my To Do Lists, what I need to do is start working on a proper schedule, set times where things are done so that I can hopefully manage things, instead of my usual way of doing something, pushing things back to later, then the next day, the next and eventually never.

So let the fun and games begin, it’s time for me to start working on making 2013 the year I turn myself around as I’ve been intending on doing since January 1st 2011.

Achievement unlocked

November 22nd, 2011

Well it’s been a long time since I’ve been on here to write anything, but all of those who know me personally know that I’ve been through a lot of life changing events this past year, with many things still needing to be finished off and I guess put to bed once and for all, but at last I’m starting to see a brighter future.

So while my gorgeous fiancée battles through the single player campaign on COD MW3 and my son sits tapping away on my mac mini doing his homework, I thought I’d once again put fingers to iPad and write a blog post.

Mainly because I’m quite happily buzzing from the fact that after months of hard work, today was a milestone for horizon studios as I finally took Mike’s build of our current iOS game Purgatory and created a working iOS test build.

It’s also been a long time coming but it was a serious achievement to be able to finally deploy and test a game we’ve collaborated on, not only on my 3GS, my 4S and my iPad 2, but also to drop a copy of the app into dropbox so that Kevin, Mike and Justin could also test it on their devices.

Finally we’re at a stage where we can build games for mobile devices and soon will be able to upload them to the app store.

It feels strange to have worked with the team for so long with an aim to building for iOS devices, but using engines that were pretty much PC only, so it will be really cool to start taking some of our older projects, our PC demos of forthcoming iPhone games and start to redevelop them in the knowledge that we’ve finally got a working system for building iOS apps.

It’s also weird to compare where I was emotionally and mentally this time last year to where I am now, and if it wasn’t for my wonderful fiancée then I know I wouldn’t be where I am now. As I said at the start of this post I still have a lot to sort out from my old life up north, but her belief in me and my ability, as well as her support for me and her brother Kevin with Horizon Studios, has pushed me to start building new assets for our game and I’m pleased to say that every day that I’m messing around creating things, I’m starting to improve in modelling, texturing and animating.

Seeing how my assets appear on the iPhone and iPad highlights different areas I can tweak and improve on so I’m looking forward to constantly pushing myself to improve what I’m coming up with so that when our first proper in house project is released, it will look highly polished.

I also find it quite amusing that having handed over one of our previous projects to “industry professionals”, on launch day there were so many obvious design and coding flaws that should have been spotted and rectified before release, things that I as a “noob” as it were spotted and yet went unnoticed by the professionals to a degree that made us wince with disappointment.

Hopefully these will be mistakes we won’t be making with our releases, not just in the way the games themselves look and perform, but also in their pricing and marketing (just hope that with the latter said, we’ll be able to make some money with them).

I think the next thing I’ll have to start doing will be developer diaries and a support website for our forthcoming titles, followed by a trailer and more work on the front end and interface.

All exciting times ahead.