I'm a pretty seasoned PC gamer (as I've been doing it for the better part of my childhood), and I've sort of grown unimpressed with the new games coming out. Either they're just a clone of another game (take every COD game in the last 5 years), they're short (Limbo was good for the 2 hours it gave me), they're overpriced ($60, really?), or the gameplay isn't interesting enough to keep me playing. With seemingly nowhere to turn, I've started to take interest in older games. I just recently purchased Dues-Ex Human Revolution (a newer title) and received the two older iterations of the game (the original, and Invisible War). I also have an old copy of Fallout 2 and a Majora's Mask N64 ROM that I can use with Project 64. In playing some of them (if only for a little while) I've come to see that some old games are, in fact, better than the glossy commercial products that many new gamers have come to know. I do say though, the Happy Mask Salesman is still really creepy.
Recently, I've decided to make a short animated presentation at a technology conference, mainly so I can be more comfortable speaking in front of an audience and so I can give my self a deadline for learning how to use 2D animation software. Since I'm only 13 years old and don't really have very much money, I started searching for a free, open source, and easy to use animation program. My search eventually led me to find Synfig, and I'm happy it did.
In the past I have had many frustrations with animation programs. When I was younger, I was bold and thought myself smart enough to jump right in to Blender (a free 3D modeling program) and teach myself how to use the UI with no help from tutorials or the user manual. Let's just say that didn't go down so well. Since then I've been trying to use these sorts of programs to very little success, so I figured now would be the perfect time to start again. It's a fact that if there's no deadline for a person to do something, often times it just never gets done (especially if the task requires lots of thought and technical issues). That's why I figure giving myself a month to learn Synfig and make a ten-minute presentation is a good idea.
Anyway, on to why I like Synfig so much. The great things about it are that it's easy to use, free, saves in a number of useful formats, and easily integrates with programs I already have (like GIMP and MovieMaker). It's so easy because of a feature called "animate editing mode". Basically, it's a feature that automatically keyframes all of the adjustments you make to onscreen objects while its active. Ie. I create a circle in frame0, then I turn on AEM and move it to the other side of the screen at frame12. Now, the program tweens all of the positions between just like that. No manual keyframing required!
Last night I was really tired (long day), but I couldn't fall asleep because I had just come back from a party (chocolate fondue). So, I made my way downstairs and started watching random things on Netflix, and I eventually stumbled upon a howstuffworks documentary on corn. Corn is actually one of the most amazing crops known to man, and I'd like to share with you what I learned about it.
Corn is in almost everything that is edible. Soft drinks, whiskey, bread, and even inedible things like synthetic rubbers and plastics. It's an extremely versatile plant, and there are 2 main reasons for it. The first is its quantity. Over thousands of years of evoloution and selective breeding, corn produces more biomass more quickly than any other grain in the world. The second reason is what it produces. Each of those little yellow kernals contains a ton of stored energy in the form of starch. Starch is a complex carbohydrate, and it carries more energy per gram than dynamite. Because of these 2 things, corn has nearly limitless potential for human and animal consumption, and industrial applications.
For instance, corn syrup is an example of a common corn product. It's produced by combining the corn with an enzyme, which breaks down the starch molecules into glucose. It's used in soft drinks as a sweetener and to keep the sugar from crystalizing inside the container.
An industrial application of corn is zanthin gum. Zanthin Gum is a type of lubricant and thickener, and is an essential part of hard rock oil drilling and other industrial operations. It's a waste product produced by the zanthinomus bacteria, and is produced in excess when the bacteria feeds on sugars derived from corn (corn syrup). Zanthin gum is a sort of viscious slime that is usually used to suspend dirt particles in oil shafts, but is also used to thicken things like toothpaste.
Before I get started with this blog, I'm going to define a couple of terms.
Developer/Dev - Company who creates a game
Publisher - Company who advertises, manufactures, and distributes hard copies of a game
Independent/Indie Developer - A Developer who sells their game without help from a publisher
Console/Platform - A device that can be used for gaming (Xbox, PlayStation, PC, etc.)
Port - A version of a game for a console (other than the one it was originally developed for). Can also mean the action of making a port.
Development/Dev Kit - A license and set of software tools that allow a developer to port their game to a console. Dev Kits are sold by the manufacturer of the console to game developers.
Open Source - A hardware or software item whose copyright license states that it can be used or modified by anyone as long as credit is given to the creator.
Many people don't understand how games (or many types of media) are created and sold, and a knowledge of that is required to explain why the Ouya is so revolutionary in today's world of mass commercialization. When you start a game, usually two or three little "intro videos" will play. It's a common misconception for people to think that EA developed the game just because their logo flashes on the screen first. EA is both a publisher and a developer, which means that many of the games with their logo stamped on the front are actually developed by somebody else (Dice, Maxis, and Popcap are just a few devs who publish through EA). In fact, very few companies at all are capable of publishing their own games (I can only think of seven off the top of my head). This is because most publishers and console manufacturers charge so much for publishing and dev kits that new game studios don't have a chance at getting their game on a popular console. This keeps new ideas from getting in to the mainstream, and something needed to be done.
This is where the Ouya comes in. The Ouya is a console for the TV, made completely with open source hardware and software (running android OS). On release, the Ouya is set to be priced at $99, and has been purpose built to bring independent games back to the TV. Because the technology to make a game on an open source android platform is so readily available, the dev kits are very cheap, and almost anybody can do it. I think it's amazing that Indie games are making a comeback into the mainstream, and I'm posting the Ouya's website for anybody who's interested.
A pretty nerdy teenager, aspiring to be a maker or programmer (in the distant future).
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