Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Danger of Taking Advice

Hi all, Ellie here and this blog is going to be a little different from anything I've done in the past. I want to talk to you today about giving and receiving advice with a small focus on business development.
I find myself travelling at the moment and without an internet connection. I'm not sure when or if this will be uploaded but I've got a few hours to kill and thought I'd write a post to pass the time.


Late Panda has been around for awhile now. We've received plenty of advice and we've given advice ourselves. I personally listen to a lot of podcasts that dispense advice regularly. The most useful advice I've ever received is actually taken from the song Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen. The lyrics sung by Baz Luhrmann go something like this;


"Be careful with the advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling for more than its worth."



If you've not heard the full song I'd recommend it, I believe it was originally a commencement speech that was later adapted into this oddly beautiful spoken-word song. The above quote is self-explanatory yet thought-provoking. Basically, the advice is given based on experiences, as if it were some kind of a cautionary tale of how not to do a thing but packaged up and told as a form of wisdom.





Now, this isn’t the case for all advice, sometimes you'll come across people who give advice based purely on the fact that they like the sound of their own voice and want to sound smart. At first, It can be difficult to distinguish when you're talking to these people but I think detection is a skill you can pick up pretty quickly. If you start asking questions based on their own experiences on the topic they'll usually respond with anger, annoyance or remark that the solution is obvious enough that they don't need the hindsight of experience.


[insert some funny image here]


Even if the person giving you advice is an expert in the field you should still use a healthy dose of scepticism. They might not know all the information needed to make an informed decision. Experts are usually aware of this and will tell you that their advice is just that, advice, and should not be taken as fact.


Recently I was listening to the Woodlands Secrets podcast. Rami Ismail was talking about bad advice which admittedly sparked this post. During the podcast, he told the story of when he was giving a talk to a group of university students in Johannesburg, South Africa. A student asked Rami if he should drop out of school and Rami replied with something like "If you want to, and regardless of what I say, going to, then sure. Otherwise no". After the talk, the teacher was angry and informed Rami that Johannesburg is one of the most economically segregated cities in the world with a lot of extreme poverty. When Rami dropped out of education he had a social support network, welfare and safety nets to catch him but in Johannesburg, if somebody drops out of education they will die, without education there's no happy ending. Rami went back to the class and apologised for "being a privileged ass without realising it".


At the beginning of this post, I mentioned business development. There are a lot of books out there to help you start your own business and keep it going. There are thousands of people you can connect with who will tell you how to keep your business going. There are podcasts, YouTube videos, business mentors, blogs, you name it. Most will have useful advice that you should probably follow but remember that the decision to take action, to heed their warnings and teachings comes down to you and your business. Where do you want your business to go and how do you want it to grow? That’s up to you.


And yes I’m aware of this posts irony. Thanks for reading, you can follow us all over the internet if you like.




Ellie xx


“If I could offer you only one tip for the future sunscreen would be it” - Mary Schmich

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Post Insomnia X Resonate

Hey everyone,


So now that Insomnia X Resonate has wrapped up I wanted to talk about our experience with the event and how it compared to last year. To start off, this year’s event was significantly busier than it was last year. This could be due to more press about the event or better guests and activities during the event, either way we were happy to see an increase in attendance. We were in the indie zone which was sponsored by Henderson Loggie, as it was last year as well. This gave us the opportunity to not only showcase at a large event in Glasgow but also gave us the ability to meet some new indie developers.  




We attended the event with one of our 1GAM (OneGameAMonth) projects titled Late Panda. We wanted to get some face to face feedback on the game and see how kids and adults alike played the game. Players seems to think that the Late Panda game is both fun and very addictive, this may be due to us creating an event only leaderboard and having all attendees compete for the highest score. By the end of the event the top three scores were Reece with 1929m on day 1, Fraser with 2572m on day 2 and Tamara with 2193m on day 3 well done everyone for competing and we hope you enjoyed the game.




One of the indie developers that we met during the event was Asobi Tech, their booth was two up from ours and we chatted a few times over the weekend about each other’s games and the event itself.




Asobi developed MaoMao Castle, which uses the Magic Leap device to control a flying cat. The player must try to get a highscore by getting to the furthest wave while collecting any points along the way. Ellie played this on Saturday after initial setup and set the first high score, sadly that score didn’t last due to the game’s popularity.  




The final day of the event Ellie spent the later half walking around to play some of the other games and check out the merchandise on the stalls. There were multiple different types of games like VR or retro that she played as well as the stands selling multiple different items.




By the end of the night Ellie had purchased this pluff doll Pikachu during the event because it looked really grumpy and she thought it was adorable, you tell me :P.


So this wraps up our experience with Insomnia X Resonate. We loved attending and thought we got much more out of this year than we did last year, since we already knew how the event would work. It has motivated us to continue working on the Late Panda game, updating it with more features as well as some easter eggs.


If you want to download the Late Panda game for your Android click here.


I guess I’ll leave it off here for now.


You can follow us all over the internet


Thanks for reading,

Stephen.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Insomnia X Resonate

Hi


Late Panda will be exhibiting at Insomnia X Resonate this year, in the Indie Zone. The gaming festival will be taking place from the 21st to the 23rd of July 2017. Don’t know what Insomnia X Resonate is? Allow me to give you a brief overview.


Insomnia and Resonate are both gaming festivals by Multiplay Events and QD Events respectively. This year they’ve teamed up to create the UK’s largest gaming festival, and they’re hosting it in the SECC Glasgow, Scotland.


Late Panda exhibited at Resonate last year, this was one of the biggest events we’d exhibited at and it was awesome so we’re super happy to be back again this year. With the addition of Insomnia, this year is set to be even bigger and better.

Resonate - Total Gaming (5).jpg COMPRESSED.jpg


They have everything from a dedicated virtual reality zone to eSports Tournaments to coding workshops where you can learn how to create your own games and music.


There are only a few days left to get tickets for the event but if you’re a fan of games in any capacity I’d recommend coming along. Hopefully, we’ll see you there, in the Indie Zone. 😉


Thanks for reading, you can follow us all over the internet.


Ellie xx

“Progress equals happiness”  - Tony Robbins

Thursday, 22 June 2017

What's going on with 1GAM

Hey everyone,

We missed last week's blog but I’ll catch you up on what we have been doing and what our plans are for the future.

So in my last blog I talked about our choose your own adventure noir detective game titled She Whispers In Shadows that we started developing as part of the 1GAM (One GameAMonth) challenge that we set ourselves at the beginning of the year. Well let’s just say things don’t always go as well as planned and we are not going to reach our deadline for May, obviously.

That said we do still plan to finish She Whispers In Shadows as we think it is an interesting concept for a choose your own adventure title. We will start with a short demo that showcases the type of gameplay that can be expected while we finish off the rest of the script for all of the possible endings. Once She Whispers In Shadows has been finished we plan to move back to developing Trapped, our Gear VR horror title.

During April we created the demo for Trapped and released it via our website until we could finish the full version. But since we committed to the 1GAM challenge we moved on from the game quickly to keep up with the challenge even though we felt like it was the best title to come from the challenge thus far.

Recently we have decided that we will no longer be developing games as part of the 1GAM challenge and instead we will focus entirely on updating the game we have already completed. This will allow us to add features we couldn’t within the timeframe and allow us to have a longer deadline rather than sticking to the 1 month development schedule we had during the challenge. I thought it would be best to go through the changes we have planned for our currently released titles to give you all an idea of what we will be doing.

I’ll start with our idle game Qbits since that was our first 1GAM title, and there are very few changes we want to make to this title. The main problem with Qbits is the math involved with game progression, eventually the game plays itself requiring no input from the player while they gain exponentially more money making the game exponentially easier. This is a relatively easy problem to solve, once the correct equations are made the game will be at the state we wanted to release it at initially. However, we would like to further update the game with more upgrades and playability as the upgrade system at the moment is a basic version of what we planned to add during development.

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Next up is Echoes of Hope, our narrative experience we created in February. Echoes of Hope was always meant to be a project that focused on sensitive issues, dealing with them in a mature but gentle way. We created this project in the hopes that in comforting issues that many people around the world may be facing, could help them through the difficult times in their lives. Our future plans for this project is to continue to add more chapters, each of which dealing with another mental or physical illness people around the world suffer from while trying to give support and help to both the victim and their friends and family.


Our March titled Late Panda is the memory-infinite runner hybrid we made to give our Late Panda mascot a face and game. This was our plan far back in University when we initially started Late Panda we wanted to make a project that included the Late Panda itself. In the future we may update this title however, the updates would be minor for this game as we were able to add all the features we wanted to this title during its initial development.


Finally our Gear VR horror title Trapped. We have a lot of plans for this title, from including more varied levels, to updating the gameplay to focus more on the narrative side. We would also like to release the title on more VR devices such as Oculus and HTC Vive however, this would be much later in the project's development as we want to finish the Gear VR version first and get feedback from the users giving us the opportunity to create an even better version for the other devices.

TrappedLogo.png

I’ll leave She Whispers In Shadows plans out of this as the demo is not out yet and I don’t want to spoil the gameplay or narrative of the project.


We had a lot of fun during the 1GAM challenge and highly recommend that if you are an aspiring game developer that you get involved. It gives you the opportunity to see what you are capable of achieving over a short period of time and forces you to think outside the box in order to develop the title you would like to. If you are still a student and would like to move into game development I would suggest doing the challenge during your academic year. The projects that you make during the challenge may even be suitable for your classwork, and the challenge will keep you motivated to continue developing outside of your study time. By the end of your course you may end up with an extensive portfolio to showcase your abilities and you may even learn things from the challenge itself that you may not learn from any lecturer.

From the start of the 1GAM challenge our plan was always to extend our company portfolio. Each month we wanted to work on something that could showcase a particular talent but now we feel like we should focus more on the projects we have released and attempted to add a more quality experience to them. Like I said above, I highly recommend any developer gets involved in the challenge as there are many things someone can learn from something like this.

This is getting a little long for my liking but I’ve made all my points now so I’ll leave it off here.

You can follow us all over the internet

Thanks for reading,

Stephen.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The Science Behind Doctor Who’s Extremis

Obviously, spoilers are ahead so here’s a red and emboldened warning!

I’m going to assume based on the title of this post that you’ve watched Season 10 Episode 6 of new Doctor Who titled Extremis. I will give a synopsis of the episode for those who haven’t but I will say this; If you have not watched Extremis then you should, right now, then and only then should you return here to possibly learn something of the science on display in the episode.

So, spoilers, the episode takes place inside a simulation created by some creepy-ass looking monks. The Simulants are unaware of this fact until it is revealed to them in an ancient book; Veritas. The name comes from Roman mythology, Veritas was the Roman goddess of truth according to Wikipedia. The book asks you to write down a random number of any size then turn the page where a number is revealed. If your number and the number in the book matches then you’ve failed the test, you’re a shadow.

Extremis is an interesting episode for 2 reasons, the first being the concept of living inside a simulation of the earth and the other being the fact that computers are actually really bad at producing truly random numbers.

Simulated Reality is a hypothesis that states that it is highly likely that we are in fact living inside a computer simulation. If this is the first you’ve heard of the hypothesis you might think that sounds mad but many academics, and generally smart people like Elon Musk, believe this could be likely. The idea is simple; significant technological advances could provide the ability for humans to simulate consciousness either comparable or equivalent to naturally occurring humans.

Humans could still be considered primitive when it comes to our technology, we’re still burning million-year-old dead animals and plants to generate electricity, and yet we have highly developed physics simulations we use for training purposes or just fun. Grand Theft Auto’s physics engine Euphoria uses artificial intelligence, biomechanics, and physics to simulate realistic human motions in real-time.



There’s also the Millennium Run created at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Germany. A computer simulation of our entire universe from the big bang up until now.



Yeah, science has already simulated the universe inside a computer. Granted it doesn’t have people in it that we know of, it’s still damn awesome!

Those who believe in the simulated reality hypothesis also believe that there might be signs we could detect to prove that we are living inside a simulation. Professor Martin Savage from the University of Washington, for example, believes that a possible limitation in ultra-high-energy cosmic rays could suggest we’re actually simulants.

In Extremis, they use the plot device that computers are bad with random number generation in order to figure out the cast are all shadow people. There is a little bit of reality to this as deep down, computers are just fancy calculators using arithmetic logic units (ALU) built into their central processing units (CPU) to perform logic comparisons (AND, NOT, OR) and basic arithmetic (add, subtract, divide, and multiply) to alter electrical signals (binary) 1s (on) and 0s (off).

It’s been awhile since I studied this stuff but here’s a simple representation that shows basically the Control Unit (CU) inside the CPU fetches a simple instruction for example, get the value at a certain memory address and add the value from a different address, It’s then passed to the ALU that performs the calculation and spits out the result where it can be stored in a new address.

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Hopefully, I haven’t lost you. What I’m trying to say is that computers, as we know them today, are simply big fancy calculators on the inside, so generating truly random numbers is rather impossible. Ever tried to generate a random number on your calculator? You can’t, you need to start with a chosen number, and because it’s a calculator, if you start with the same number and do the same equations you’ll get the same answers, every time. What they can do is generate numbers that give the appearance of randomness but are never actually truly random. They’re called pseudo-random numbers. This topic leads very nicely into a cautionary tale for security programming. I might write a post about that later on but for now, I’ll let you ponder.

Thanks for reading, you can follow us all over the internet.

Ellie xx

“You don’t have to be real to be the Doctor” - The Shadow Doctor?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

She Whispers In Shadows

Hey everyone,

It’s been awhile since I made a blog post, but I have been ill for a while now and only recently started getting better.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about our 1GAM (OneGameAMonth) project we started for May. Firstly due to my illness and being unable to get anything done and with Ellie busy with her own thing, we found ourselves with very little development time this month.

So, we decided we would focus on something smaller and easier to produce: a text based adventure game. With that general concept floating around we began brainstorming ideas for the storyline and mechanics of play. This is when we decided that not only would it be a text based adventure but we would create a “Choose your own adventure” type of story. This would allow us to keep the players engaged in the game itself, becoming a part of the story. We took inspiration from Ian Livingstone’s book series “Fighting Fantasy” where the reader would be taken through a tale making their own choices to ultimately win or fail. As a child I loved this series and would always go back to the book to find out how else the story could end.


We thought that this would be perfect for a mobile game. We immediately got to work on the mechanics of play at this point, deciding how the player would interact with the story and how much flexibility could be implemented into the game. We also created other features that the books would not be able to implement as well as a game could.

After the basic mechanics were decided we then moved onto the theme of the game story. We didn’t want to recreate the same experience that Fighting Fantasy produced, with the player taking control of a character in a fantasy land with goblins and creatures not of this world. Instead we focused on creating a film Noir type world, where the player will take control of a detective attempting to solve a mystery they have found themselves pulled into against their will. This would create a more realistic environment and allow us to focus more on the character and mystery of the story, rather than the world building and creature creation.


Writing a story like this is a very different experience for me. I thrive more in the fantasy realm of storytelling, where the entire universe is at my binding and allowing me to create anything I could imagine. Creating a narrative that is based in the real world restricts me to abiding by the real nature of our planet and all the creatures on it. However, I have enjoyed this challenge greatly I think it is always a great idea to get outside your comfort zone when it comes to writing, if you spend all your time writing in the same genre then eventually your writing may go stale. Stepping outside your comfort zone may allow you to produce a game or story that players could really enjoy, but it also helps you to learn different types of writing styles and methods which only expands your knowledge more.

We have titled this game "She Whispers In Shadows" and it will be coming to Android devices very soon.

Thank you for reading,

You can follow us all over the internet

Thanks for reading,

Stephen.