Tuesday, 13 December 2016

About Forced Updates

Windows-10-Update-Limbo.png

Ellie here and today I’m bitching, in a kind of open letter type style, about the fact that we now seem to be living in a world with forced software updates.

So here we go,

Dear Software companies, especially Microsoft and Apple,

First and foremost, I don’t like your damn auto updating software policies or the fact that most of the time the choice I’m given isn’t whether or not I’ll update but when I will have to update.




This angers me to no end for many reasons but the two main issues are things I’ve wanted to touch on for a while so here they are. 1. I don’t like being forced to do things or passively aggressively told that the only way for them to stop bugging me is to update and 2. What should be easily avoidable updates sometimes breaks my shit and that doesn’t sit well with me

It’s fair to say that throughout history, humankind has had an aversion about being forced into situations they deem unwanted, undesirable, and/or unpleasant. Seriously, I can’t think of any time when this hasn’t held up.

Recently, you might be aware, Late Panda had a small Game Jam that you can read about that here (House of the Risin' Jam) and here (After House of the Risin' Jam). After that weekend our secondary Windows 10 PC forced an update. As part of that update a new version of a driver was installed I’m assuming, they don’t tend to give you any real information about what they’re doing these days. This fucked up my PC. Switching it on now it fails to boot into the operating system. I need to spend time that I don’t have to fix this machine so for the time being it’s just sitting there in the corner, dead. This is something that could have easily been avoided if 1. I could see what they were actually updating before they did it and 2. If I could choose to tell them not to install that latest driver update.

I myself am a software developer so as part of my job I need to test the software I and others develop. Simulators are great and all but they’re just that, simulations. At certain times, when I’m trying to debug a certain issue and need to replicate a device set up with certain parameters, such as a version of an operating system.

Quite honestly, it’s frustrating as hell having no other option than ‘Remind me later’ every time I use certain devices.
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iOS Later.PNG
I don’t want to be reminded later, I want the dialogue box to fuck off and never bother me again. I’m very capable of updating the device myself when it’s necessary.

Same thing happens on the iMac and Windows 10 as well. At least with the iMac I can postpone the update by constantly telling it to ‘Remind me tomorrow’.15451389_1140754829294493_1678531374_n.png

Lastly, sometimes updates are just pointless to me. There was one recently on the iMac for Airdroid. The update in question was simply an updated logo. That’s it. Why can’t I tell it to skip this update as it’s not worth updating? I don’t care if they have a new logo or not. I’m not using their product for their logo, I’m using it so I can transfer files from the iMac onto Android phones!

I know that security updates are important for obvious reasons. If Apple or Microsoft were to find a security issue and patch it up in an update I get that they’d want me to have that update to keep me safe but I should still be allowed the option to choose. Don’t treat me like an idiot, I’m capable of making my own choices dammit!

Hope you enjoyed that. You can follow Late Panda all over the internet
Website - www.latepanda.com
Facebook - facebook.com/LatePanda
Twitter - twitter.com/@latepandastudio
Vine - vine.com/latepanda :(
LinkedIn - linkedin.com/LatePandaLimited
MailChimp - mailchimp.com/latepanda

Ellie xx


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Post House of the Risin' Jam

Hey everyone,

I know this blog is a bit late, but after our game jam I was very tired yesterday and didn’t get around to the blog. We thought that one day late wouldn’t be too bad, so I thought I would talk about our House of the Risin’ Jam over the weekend.

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So last weekend we hosted the House of the Risin’ jam, it was a simple Game Jam the only rules were to start at 7pm on Friday and finish 7pm on Sunday with the theme “Turtles”. On Friday we got the Late Panda team together and started working on our project.

We spent the first day working on the concept of the game, deciding to create a puzzle heavy short game aimed at children. The puzzles would be used to educate the player about animals in a wildlife park using the plaque and images of the animals to ask the player questions. Over Saturday and Sunday we developed two puzzles for the game, a simple word search and a tile slider puzzle. We also added short dialogue exchange between an aquarium staff member and a nascit that would ask the player to complete the puzzles to improve the park.





Once we submitted this project we found that another user “xRenanZx” had developed a game for our Jam called “Oliva in the sea”. This game features 5 levels where the user plays as a turtle called “Olivia” and will collect turtle coins while avoiding the dangerous animals of the sea. Once the player reaches the end of the level they are rated based on the number of the turtle coins they have collected. Touching any of the other creatures will result in losing a life, if all lives are lost then it is game over.



It was very nice to see someone else developing for our game jam, we didn’t think anyone would submit any projects as we didn’t speak about it much on Twitter or Facebook instead only making a Blog post about it.

So what are our future plans? Well we are going to continue working on Skorian Tales but before that we wanted to finish up this Game Jam game. Our plans was to have more puzzles, dialogue, characters and GPS location detection that could be used to identify when a player is nearby a particular exhibit.

In summary I think the Game Jam was very successful, although we didn’t reach the level I wanted us too but we only had one weekend to develop the game to the level it is at, so I am not surprised. I am very happy that someone else joined and completed the jam it was very nice to see.

Thank you all for reading,

You can follow us all over the internet

Thanks for reading,
Stephen


“Your job as an executive is to edit, not write. It’s OK to write once in awhile but if you do it often there’s a fundamental problem with the team. Every time you do something ask if you’re writing or editing and get in the mode of editing” -  Jack Dorsey

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

House of the Risin' Jam

If you read Stephen’s blog “Let’s talk about game jams”, which you should have done, then you’ll know a little about what we’re planning. If you haven’t then you should read it now, then come back to this one.

So here’s the plan. We’re doing a private Game Jam this weekend 25th - 27th called House of the Risin’ Jam. The blog this week is going to talk about our plans for this event and then I’m guessing Stephen will do some kind of analysis about the event next Tuesday.

HOTRJ.png

You know we’re official because I made a logo and a Jam page over at itch.io you can check out here for a countdown https://itch.io/jam/hotrj.

Why would you do a game jam?
Well, firstly they’re fun. Honestly though, Skorian Tales is a huge undertaking and we decided to just take a weekend away to build something quick and fun. Most of our team have attended game jams in the past so we know what we’re getting into. We clearly like a good challenge.

How can we keep up with your progress?
We’re planning on streaming the event via Twitch. Although, we’ve never actually streamed anything before so we have until Friday to figure that out. We’ll also be tweeting pretty regularly. We’ll be using the hashtag #HOTRJ over the weekend. During a game jam people barely have time to eat but somehow we find the time to tweet. You can follow us @latepandastudio and we’ll tweet the Twitch link out if we get it working in time.

Who is allowed to participate?
I mentioned earlier that this was a private game jam but feel free to join in and make a game over the weekend in a team or by yourself. We’ll be posting the theme on Twitter on Friday the 25th at 19:30. You can also join the itch.io page and submit your game if you so wish to do so.

See you on Friday ;)

Hope you enjoyed that. You can follow Late Panda all over the internet

Ellie xx


“Time is the capital of your life, so spend it wisely” -  Tony Robbins

p.s. Shout out to my Dad who's celebrating his 53rd birthday today. Hope you have a great day <3 xx

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Let's talk about Game Jams

Hi all,

Today I wanted to talk about Game Jams, what you can get out of them and the kind of projects that are developed during these events.

So let's start with what a Game Jam is, for those that do not know a Game Jam is a gathering of developers from all aspects of the gaming industry with the goal to create a game in a short period of time. These Game Jams usually last for 2-3 days however, some can be longer but the main aim of these events is to gather a small team of like minded developers and create a short game based on a theme which can vary from something simple like “Four” to more complex to “Shakespearean”.


Now that you know what they are you may be thinking where can I find these? Simple really either check out the indiegamejams website or just Google “local game jams” they are everywhere. Once you find the event get yourself a ticket, usually free, and show up at the event with whatever equipment you are going to need and just start Jamming.

I actually attended the Global Game Jam this year and loved the experience. It was my first Game Jam and it really gave me the idea of the kind of games developed at these events and the mentality and energy of the attendees. When I attended that Jam I was with two Artists that I knew from University as well as joining a team full of programmers and designers. Personally I believe that if you want to attend a Game Jam you should bring along some fellow developers that you have worked with before, especially at your first Jam.


So you have your tickets, your team, your equipment and your theme, what now? First of all don’t try to develop something MASSIVE, remember you only have a weekend, so focus on something fun and quirky with simple artwork and gameplay features that will be easy enough to put together with your team in the time that you have.

Some may be thinking why bother with a Game Jam? It sounds like a lot of work for little reward, but the point of these events is not to create the next AAA title that will generate millions in revenue. Instead the focus is to create new and interesting gameplay features while working around the short time frame and smaller teams. That said there have been a few famous games created from Game Jams that have indeed went on to generate millions in revenue such as Jones on Fire, Surgeon Simulator and Goat SImulator but the majority of the games made during Jams are simple short games that have not gained worldwide success, some of which can be found on the Global Game Jam website.


The reason we have decided to talk about Game Jams today is because we here at Late Panda have decided to run our own private Game Jam. We thought it would be a great idea to stimulate team workflow and test our development methods while building a portfolio of work. We will be meeting up on the 25th of November 2016 and staying in a house until Sunday night developing a game based on a random generated Game Jam Theme. We have decided to title our private Game Jam “House of the Rising Jam” due to it being set in a house and it being our first Jam, we thought it would be a funny twist on “House of the Rising Sun”.

Thank you all for reading,

You can follow us all over the internet

Thanks for reading,
Stephen


“You feel what you’re focused on” - Tony Robbins

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

I recently started using an iMac

Hey buddies, I’m back and this week I’m talking about the big divide. Apple vs Microsoft. That’s right I decided this week that we’d go back 10 years to when this topic was still relevant. Not even going to go into the mobile side of the companies, just the desktops.

Crap! I just made myself feel old.

Throughout my life I was always a Microsoft user. Starting with 3 then to Windows 95 to 98 to XP, to “drivers not found”, 7, 8, and now 10. The folks over at Microsoft sure know how to count.

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Anyway, for the past few months I’ve found myself needing to use an iMac again for some Xcoding and it got me thinking about the way I used to see both brands. Mainly that Apple were for the hipsters, the cool kids, the creatives while Microsoft were for the businessmen, the lawyers, and governments. So obviously those cheesy Mac vs PC adverts from Apple did their trick.


This underlying bias in my mind never stopped me from using Windows but it did make me wish I could use the OSX operating system. It came bundled with Photobooth, GarageBand, and iMovie, why wouldn’t you want it? Back in 2008 and with the help of a friend we installed a hackintosh on my laptop. He had to install a new NIC that was compatible with the OS so I could browse the internet, using safari but once that was done I could explore the entire thing.

My Apple fantasies slowly fell apart, the OS kept crashing, constantly, the software was way more limited than I had imagined and navigating files and apps was a joke. I put this negative experience down to the fact that my laptop wasn’t designed to run OSX. Knowing that Apple do their own hardware and software so they can tightly control almost all variables kept a small bit of the dream alive that one day I could have the full experience.

I’d like to point out that I was a child, and still in secondary school at this point in time. No, my aspirations weren't that big. I just wanted to try the different operating systems out there. I had already tried Linux and that scared me away from the terminal (command prompt) for years. I wanted to know if there was anything better out there.

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Now, like I said earlier, I find myself using an iMac. On a daily basis no less. It’s been almost about 8 years since the “hackintosh” and I can tell you that from my perspective the genuine and most up to date version doesn’t crash nearly as much, I’ve not had time to do anything creative with GarageBand or iMovie and navigating the files and apps are still a joke.

Furthermore, the dock is what I imagine my own personal hell would feel like and the lack of out the box customisation options is ironic considering I always thought iMacs were for the creatives. The people who prefer to be their own person, individuals.

Sorry, I know Microsoft have their own issues as well but at least I can snap windows side by side and when I maximise an application it doesn’t hide everything else on the screen.

So, why am I writing this? It’s not to piss you off if you’re an Apple fanatic and it’s not to be the voice to rally behind if you’re a Windows power user. I chose this topic because it’s pretty much a non-issue these days. At one point there would probably be outcry at a post like this. You’ve got to remember that this is just one girl's opinion and it shouldn’t matter if you agree or disagree. Especially with something as trivial as which OS somebody else prefers.

Hope you enjoyed that. You can follow Late Panda all over the internet

Ellie xx


“I have the best words” - Drumpf

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

What is wrong with mobile gaming?

Hi all,

With the introduction of the Nintendo Switch console, it got me thinking about mobile gaming and how far we have come. I can look back to the days when I would play Snake on the Nokia 3310 like EVERYONE else on the planet did, and now compare it to the days when people spend over 4 hours a day on their phone between social media, games or just texting.


When I was a child I loved to waste my time playing Snake on my mother’s Nokia, with a simple interface and no depth it's surprising that the game became as popular as it did. Then came the Smartphone with the touchscreen technology, new gameplay mechanics were created ushering in a new era of mobile gaming. Angry Birds and Clash of Clans became worldwide phenomenons making billions and creating a whole universe of spin-offs.


However, it has been 17 years since Angry Birds first came onto the App stores and there has been little change in the marketplace since then. It seems that most games on the mobile market are either updates, sequels or clones which is something that has really disappointed me in the last few years. I of course can’t speak for everyone as these games are still popular with millions of downloads and turning new startups into massive studios.


I have seen the technology inside mobile phones develop over the past few years from the technology we had 17 years ago to liquid cooled, quad core CPU super phones capable of running programs significantly more complex than what we have. The gaming industry has always been built on innovation with each company creating a game that can out sell every other, but it seems that mobile gaming has not used this method.

The marketplace for mobile games reached its peak in 2009 and since then games have stopped evolving and focused on mechanics the company knows will be successful. This has caused gaming to be split between “casual” and “hardcore” gamers, with the “hardcore” gamers seeing mobile games as too simple or lacking depth and the “casual” gamers seeing the console games as far too complex for them to enjoy.

This “rant” came from a recent experience of mine, where I spent several hours on the Android Play store searching for a game I could really enjoy the experience similar to the games I would play on my console or PC but failed to find anything other than a port of an older game. It seems ports are the only possible option for mobile games with depth but these can be poorly made or not designed for the mobile platform creating a bad player experience.


With the new announcement of the Nintendo Switch, I hope that the future of mobile gaming will change to a more mixed “hardcore” and “casual” focus to create games that work for both audiences.

Thank you all for reading,

You can follow us all over the internet

Thanks for reading,
Stephen

“When you believe it, it becomes self fulfilling”  - Tony Robbins