Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday December 28, 2007

Hi and welcome back! It's been a rather lazy week due to the holidays so tonight's post will be short and sweet. This week also represents a small milestone in that it's the 50th post made to this site. The main projects of the week were some more animations in Anim8or. I've continued working on a revamp of my web page and did a bit of music sequencing.

The picture of the week was created using Project Dogwaffle.
Click on the image for a full-sized view

The loops of the week are some smooth
synth tracks.

The book of the moment is The Armchair Universe by A.K. Dewdney.

The PC game of the week is still Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators.

Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.

Bye for now!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday December 21, 2007

Hail and TGIF! Cold winter weather prevails on this penultimate Friday for 2007. The topic this week is games, and I'm going to give my top 5 PC games for the past year. This list is purely subjective and based on what games I had access to and played the most. In ascending order, my favorite games of 2007 were:

#5 Star Wars: Battlefront 2
A good mix of FPS action and the Star Wars universe. It also has a nice space combat component that adds some variety to the campaigns.

#4 Toribash
This is the only online game that I've really devoted much time to. I'm up to the green belt level and playing every chance I get.

#3 Dungeon Siege
It's not the most original concept for a PC game, but it is exceptionally well executed.

#2 Civilization III
Get Civ 3 if you want a deep turn-based strategy that will keep you playing for hours.

#1 Supreme Commander
2 words: insanely addictive. I literally have to limit my SC sessions lest I end up wasting more time than I have. The good news is that my addiction pretty much under control. The bad news is that the “Forged Alliance” sequel is out.

And that's my annual game roundup for 07. Keep watching this space for more of my weekly picks and pans.

The picture of the week was created using Bryce.
Click on the image for a full-sized view

The loops of the week are some angelic choir samples.

The song of the week is the “I Want You to Want Me” (the live Budokan version) by Cheap Trick: a bit of classic 70s pop/rock.

The book of the moment is Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter. Another bit of late 70s coolness, responsible for growing neurons even as it blew minds.

The PC game of the week is Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators. This game is huge in scale and time consuming but I've managed to stay alive thus far.

Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.
Bye for now!  

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday December 14, 2007

Hi all and welcome back! It's Friday again and chilly tonight for So Cal. Most of my creative time and energies went into graphics and animation this week. I'd like to learn to use Carrara Studio or Blender, but every time I have a 3D animation project I end up going back to Anim8or. There are pricier and more powerful packages, but you can't argue with the sheer ease of use. The main animation projects this week were some more game art, an octopus character and a talking robot. With a cast of characters like that, can a comedy short be far behind? Stay tuned.

The picture of the week was created using Project Dogwaffle.

Click on the image for a full-sized view


The loops of the week are a set of bell-infused drum tracks.


The song of the moment is the Commitments cover of Take me to the River. The Commitments are, without a doubt, the best Irish R&B band ever.


The book of the moment is Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman.


The PC game of the week is still Worms 4: Mayhem.


Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.
Bye for now!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday December 7, 2007

Salutations! I'm back on another rainy Friday night with more creative and compelling stuff. My creative energies and time this week past were spent mostly on music, so I thought I'd share a bit of music technology technique. I was working on a synthesizer track with Orion Pro and I used 2 very useful and complimentary processes: Quantizing and Humanizing. The Humanize button adds a little random variance to the volume, length or start time of the notes, lending the selection a more “human” sound. Quantizing performs the opposite function. It will pull the notes to the nearest beat or adjust the note length to the nearest whole or fractional value. In short, the Quantize function will make the musical selection very tight and precise. Quantizing is useful for correcting the small variance in a recorded performance, or for imparting a very mechanical sound. So there you have the yin/yang, organic/technical pairing of musical tools to use on your own sequenced works.


The picture of the week was created using Project Dogwaffle.

Click on the image for a full-sized view


The loops of the week are a set of synthesizer samples.

The PC game of the week is Worms 4: Mayhem. It's colorful, animated, and utterly violent. Worms dispatch each other with grenades, land-mines, dynamite, rocket launchers, shotguns, kung-fu punches, baseball bats, gas canisters, jet packs, exploding sheep, little old ladies, and the occasional mad cow bombardment. You can even design your own teams, weapons, and game variations.


Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.

Bye for now!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday November 30, 2007

Warm greetings on a rainy Friday. I've been a busy gray cat this week, and once more my time management skills (or lack thereof) are getting pushed to their limits. I got a good dose of writing, doing more documentation for the Musubi project and writing up this weekly blog post. Musically I've fallen in with a group of guys for a weekly blues/rock jam and I've resumed work on a collaborated song that had been in the works for some time. In graphics, I've been creating new scenes and characters in Anim8or and I've started learning to use Corel Draw. Programming time was devoted mostly to SDL/Musubi in Euphoria and some preliminary work on a program for the Palm PDA. You'll likely see more of the results of those scattered efforts posted here on this very blog once they're in a state of completion. Next week we'll resume focus on the one topic or another.

The picture of the week was created using Bryce.
Click on the image for a full-sized view

The loops of the week are a set of synthetic bass runs.

The site of the week is singer/songwriter Nicole Alden's page. I stumbled onto her site while on an unrelated search and was rewarded with awesome music and beautifully constructed songs. Catch this rising star while you can.

The PC game of the week is Toribash. This game almost defies description; It's a martial arts game that is turn-based rather than real-time. The current version is free (always a good thing) and best played online, against other human players. It also earns a few extra coolness points for using SDL/OpenGL. Check it out!

Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.
Bye for now!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday November 23, 2007

Happy Friday. So It's Black Friday and for once I didn't brave the crowds in search of a good deal at any of the countless retail sales going on through the weekend. There were some rather tempting offers, but nothing enticing enough to overcome a tight budget and a bit of will power. Rampant capitalism aside, I've continued my work on programming in Euphoria in general and Musubi in particular. Making progress would be much easier were it not for various and sundry distractions and secondary projects. The distraction for this week was the impending birthday of my nephew and my desire to make a birthday card for him. My nephew shares my love of Star Wars, Legos, and Mecha so I decided on one of those themes. I started by doing a search on Dogpile using the keywords “Mecha”, “Gundam”,and “3DS”. The search yielded a few hits for models that weren't commercial. I chose a wicked looking mech with large bat wings and a scythe and once downloaded and unzipped, I imported the robot into Anim8or. The next step was to scale the whole model to fit on the screen
and to delete the scythe (too dark) and some other superfluous objects. I created a minimal scene with the the robot, a camera and a light source and saved the rendered image to a file. Finally I used the word processing application of Open Office to print the image and some text. It's more work than simply buying a card, but worth the while to have something unique.

The picture of the week is a larger version of the mech image, with a backgound created using Project Dogwaffle.
Click on the image for a full-sized view


The loops of the week are a set of drum fills in 6/8 time.

The song of moment is the acoustic solo version of Overkill by Colin Hay, formerly of Men at Work.


The PC game of the week is Onslaught, a flash game with an addictive quality somewhere between Oreos and crack.


Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.
Bye for now!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday November 16, 2007

Hi and welcome back! My topic for tonight is music theory once again, and I'm going to discuss the blues scale. As an aspiring Blues piano/guitar player I've had a little bit of firsthand experience playing blues scales. The blues scale has 6 notes, one less than the normal major scale, and 3 of those are flatted. The six notes of the scale lead naturally to melodies and from there to some of the great solos of the genre. Of course there's more to playing or singing the blues than knowing the notes, but having a look at the fundamentals is a good start.

The loops of the week are a set of synthesizer tracks.

The picture of the week was created using Anim8or

Click on the image for a full-sized view


The song of the moment is Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple. It's an unwritten rule that every novice electric guitar player shall learn the opening riff.

The PC game of the week is once more Supreme Commander. I completed the 3rd campaign at the medium level and I've done a few skirmishes.

Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it. Bye for now!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday November 9, 2007

Greetings! It's November and quiet here tonight. This week I tried to do a bit more programming in Euphoria. I've been trying to pick up where I left off on Musubi, a simple library for using SDL with Euphoria. My tool of choice for programming in Euphoria is still the Crimson Editor which actually serves nicely as a kind of IDE. The other major piece of work that remains to be done on Musubi is some meaningful documentation. I usually keep the manual simple, but a project with the scope of Musubi will require a more detailed approach. I'll post more as I get more work done and approach the first release of Musubi.

The loops of the week are a set of booming bass lines.

The picture of the week was created using Anim8or
Click on the image for a full-sized view


The website of the week is the Mathematics Graphics Gallery

The PC game of the week is still Supreme Commander. RTS rocks, and giant robots rule!

Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it. Bye for now!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday November 2, 2007

Hi all and welcome back! This week I've been working with Project Dogwaffle to create some small tiled textures to use as backgrounds. The main criteria for the images were that they be light in color so that I could print text over them, and that they tile neatly. Seamless tilings are best accomplished by using the transform/shift to shift the image horizontally or vertically with wrap around. Here's what my finished tiles look like :





The loops of the week are a quartet of drum patterns.

The book of the moment is still Hamlet by William Shakespeare

The website of the week is the Atari Archives, which contains information about the Atari and other 8-bit computers and complete scans of period periodicals and books.
The PC game of the week is still Supreme Commander.

Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.
Bye for now!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday October 26, 2007


Good evening all! It's Halloween next week, so I'll share more of my favorite scary stuff. In comics, you can't do much better than the truly haunting horror to be found in EC comics 1950's triple shot of titles consisting of “Tale from the Crypt”, “Vault of Horror”, and “The Haunt of Fear”. The EC comics were anthologies rather than the more common continuing tales found in other comics of the time. The stories were often centered on revenge or a kind of shocking justice, delivered with a brutal twist. The artwork was always a cut above (no pun intended), providing the right blend of atmosphere and graphic gore. The comics were well remembered enough to inspire a feature film and sequel, and a TV series, as well as being reprinted by various publishers. Check it out!


The picture of the week was created using Project Dogwaffle.

click on the image to get a full-sized view


The book of the moment is still Hamlet by William Shakespeare


The website of the week is the Pinhole Gallery; an amazing collection of photos taken using pinhole cameras.


The PC game of the week is Supreme Commander, which has consumed way too much of my dwindling free time.


Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.

Bye for now!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday October 19, 2007

Greetings and welcome back! It's another warm Friday night in the midst of autumn and I've finally found the time time make another post. The topic for this week is web design. I'm going to try to update my aging web site to better reflect my current interests. I don't have any sophisticated tools for development, and my budget is nil, so I'm going to make use of free or open source software. There are a number of decent applications available, but I've settled on a program called NVU to create my new page. NVU is an easy-to-use WYSIWYG editor that scores bonus points for simplicity. Right now the I'm at the road-map and rough draft phase of the project, but I'll post further information as it progresses.


The book of the moment is Hamlet by William Shakespeare


The PC game of the week is Dungeon Siege, an oldie but goody. DS is one of my favorite fantasy games.


The other distraction of the week was Sudoku.


And that's about it for this week. I'll be back in roughly a week with more good stuff to share.


Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.

Bye for now!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wednesday September 5, 2007

Good evening! I'm back with more info and fun for this fine late-summer night. The topic for tonight is music and the focus will be on music theory. I recently got a refresher course on musical scales during my weekly piano lesson with my niece Anna, and that reminded me of how useful the simple scales can be. The C major scale can be played on a piano or keyboard using all the white keys. Most of us are familiar with the 7 note sound of the major scale. You can also play an A minor scale by using the same white keys and starting on “A”. The tone changes from cheery and bright to dark and serious when you change modes from major to minor. If you play up and down the black keys on a piano/keyboard, then you're able to play a major or minor pentatonic scale. The pentatonic scale is so called because it has just 5 notes. One use of pentatonic scales is in Blues/Rock improvisation. An aspiring lead guitar player will often learn a set of “box” patterns for playing major/minor pentatonic scales, which can then serve as the basis for creating guitar riffs or solos. This has just been a brief taste of the scales. Scales are a topic of sufficient breadth and depth, that entire books have been written about them. I'll leave off until some future post to discuss more about the humble yet oft-employed scale.

There's no picture this week. Instead I've uploaded a short video from a summer day at the beach.

video

The loops of the week are still on hold while I search for another place to store them. Let me know if there are any good hosting services to recommend.


The site of the week is a gallery of 3D computer generated artwork at the CG society.

And that's about it for this week. I'll be back in roughly a week with more good stuff to share.

Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.
Bye for now!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday August 28, 2007

Hello and welcome back! The days of late August and the tail end of summer have been filled with heat and high temps. I've been staying cool and chugging lots of cool water, and other drinks. The topic for this week is graphics, and the program of the moment is Project Dogwaffle. I've written in past posts about this nifty free program but I've only really scratched the surface. This time out I'll talk more about creating a simple picture from scratch. For this example we'll make a green vine with flowers over a background that looks like stone. I started with a new blank page, at 800x600 resolution. From the “Filter” menu select “Render” and then “Plasma Noise”. Keep the default setting of 7 iterations and press “Go”. You'll get a nice pattern ranging from dark to light with slight variation. Now we'll copy the pattern to the swap buffer. You can think of the swap buffer in PD as a holding area that is the same size as the picture you're working on. From the “Buffer” menu select “Copy to Swap”, to copy the current picture to the swap buffer. Now select “Clear” from the buffer menu to clear the current screen to white. The white color is a bit too light, so we'll make it a more appropriate gray. In the tool panel, right click on the paint brush icon, and select “Simple”, and “Single”. Now we'll select a nice dark gray color from either the the black-to-white gradient or the tiled colors in the tool panel, by left clicking on it. The black rectangle in the tool panel will change color to whatever shade you selected. Now select the fill icon in the tool panel, and left click anywhere on white expanse of the current screen. If all went well you'll have a solid gray rectangle instead of the white one. At this point we're ready to apply a bit of texture, and make it look more like rock than a flat wall. From the “Filter” menu select “Emboss by Swap”. Press the “Top Left” button and press “OK” and a nice texture will be applied to the flat gray surface. The plasma noise pattern that we made back at the top has been used as a height map with the white or dark regions representing different depths. The result is a cool looking bumpy surface. Now we'll draw some vines and leaves and flowers over the background. Select a green color, by left clicking on the palette in the tool panel. Now we'll choose a paint tool by right clicking on the paint brush icon in the tool panel and select “Pastels”, and “Soft pastels”. Use the mouse to draw some gentle green curves. Now right click on the paint brush icon in the tool panel, and select “Organic effects”, and “Leafy 2”. This brush produces a variety of small leaves with each stroke. Add some leaves to the green curves to make them look like vines. We're almost done with the picture now. The last step will be to add some flowers. Select a contrasting color from the palette in the tool panel. In this case a red or orange or magenta will work well. Now right click on the paint brush icon, and select “Organic effects” and “Flowery”. The flower brush works in a similar manner to the leafy brush. Draw some flowers on and around the green vines using the mouse and holding down the left button. There we go. A finished picture in less time than it takes to make hummus. You can save your completed painting in TGA or BMP format by selecting “Save” from the “File” menu. We'll try out some other features of PD in a future post.

Here's my finished PD painting:
Click on a picture to get the full-sized view.


The loops of the week are still on hold while I search for another place to store them.

The website of the week is a Czech Radio page featuring MP3 and FLAC recordings of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos performed on period instruments. Go there and get your Baroque fix.


Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it. Bye for now!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wednesday August 15, 2007

Belated greetings once more! I've been away from the blog dealing with a few personal issues for a couple weeks, so I hope that my meager readership hasn't lost interest and jumped ship. The last time I was here I was in the midst of a big computer game programming project. I felt that project was breaking too far away from my original intent to keep the focus of this blog on the arts. It seems that Mark's Digital Arts had strayed too far into the realm of technology. I've decided to launch a separate site that will deal with Game Programming in Euphoria, since I'm a devotee of that language. I'll find some more music, art, and writing related topics to share in future posts, and save the programming topics for the other page. In the meantime I have another true story to share that transpired during the last week.


Bella is a red parrot of the genus Eclectus, who lives with my good friends Frank and Martha. She has become something of a celebrity in my apartment building and she is an unofficial mascot to all the tenants. She's only 3 years old, and has never had her wings clipped, preferring to stay near home and eat sunflower seeds and fruit. On the evening of August 1st Bella flew the coop, straight over the gate and into the wider world. It might be that her instinct to fly overrode her need for the security and comfort of home. Any caged bird must feel the pull of the skies and tall
trees and wind. With Bella's departure, a kind of dark cloud settled over the apartments. Nothing seemed to work out right and Murphy's Law prevailed. I was already fighting a bit of depression and I found myself threatening to founder. They say that the one best thing about hitting bottom is that the only way to go is up. Hope was restored when a single feather was found on her cage, which had been left out in the courtyard with food and toys. That Sunday, August 5th I got up early, and went down to the courtyard and was greeted by the most beautiful sight in the world. Bella was home after her 4 day odyssey, tired and hungry and worn, but safe. She found a kindly couple a couple of towns away, and literally landed on the shoulder of the man. It took a call to the shelter and then a relieved family was reunited and whole again. The story might well have ended there, but for an almost incredible change in personal fortunes. The restoration of Bella to her perch brought luck, prosperity and balance. I don't know if it's Karma, providence or the Force, but something clicked back into place the moment Bella was home. For now I'm simply basking in the good vibes and pulling my own life back onto its path. It takes a little loss to realize what truly is important in life and what we can or can't do without. The most important are the family and loved ones that fill our lives and enable us to get on with whatever else life requires.

This is Bella!

Click on a picture to get the full-sized view.

That's about it for this week.. I'll be back next time with some fresh content and a renewed focus on art and the other oddities of life.

Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.

Bye for now!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday July 13, 2007

A slightly belated Good Evening to all! I've been away doing a bit of reorganization, and preparing more content for the game project. Yea, yea, it's an excuse, but life if full of those and I'll try not to exploit them too much. The topic for this week is audio and focus will be on sounds and a short musical loop for our computer game project. Last week I went over the creation of some graphic elements, and in keeping with the theme and genre (simple puzzle game), I'm likewise going to stick to only a few choice sounds and a very brief bit of background music.

I used the Audacity sound editor for the sound effects. Audacity lets you generate a number of different tones, including saw, sine, or square waves, plucked string sounds, or random noise. You can then trim the sample down to a suitable length (I made mine about half a second), and apply a few effects and export it as a WAV. I made 3 samples to use as sound effects in the game and saved them as WAV files.

Click on the picture to get a full-sized view.


Right click on a name to download the WAV file.
---- Blip ---- Boop ---- Bump -----

Now let's see about a quick musical piece. My favorite “all in one” application for making music is Orion Pro. I created a series of patterns, little one-measure musical snippets, for 4 different chords; C, Em, Am, and F. I assigned 4 different software synthesizers to the each of patterns; A drum machine, vintage additive engine, bass emulator, and plucked string. I slowed the tempo down to about 110 BPM (beat per minute) to give it a less frenzied pace. Effects were applied, and the patterns were strung together (sequenced) into a short song of roughly a 1 minute duration. This rough mix was then exported using the “Stream to WAV” option.

Click on the picture to get a full-sized view.


We're almost through now. I used Sound Forge Studio to do the finishing steps on our song file. The main steps were adjusting the volume level using the “dynamics” and the “normalize” functions. I also applied a small amount of “reverb” to the song and exported to OGG (OggVorbis) format.

Click on the picture to get a full-sized view.


Right click on the song name to download the OGG song file.

----- Chroma -----

The name of the music file is also the name I've settled on as the title of our demo game. Chroma. That has a nice ring to it. And that's it for this week. Next time we'll have a look at the initial programming steps in Euphoria.

This game project has turned into something far larger than the original scope of this web log, and I'd like to know if my few but loyal readers find it the height of tedium or think I'm onto something. Would anyone want to see a more detailed version as an HTML document, going into the nuts and bolts of each of the steps I've briefly covered in the blog? How about a regular feature on a separate web page that exclusively delves into the in and outs of game design and implementation using free/cheap tools? Gimmie feedback folks and tell the old gray cat where next to go!


You Would Be a Pet Bird

You're intelligent and witty, yet surprisingly low maintenance.
You charm people easily, and they usually love you a lot more than you love them.
You resent anyone who tries to own or control you. You refuse to be fenced in.

Why you would make a great pet: You're very smart and entertaining

Why you would make a bad pet: You're not interested in being anyone's pet!

What you would love about being a bird: Flying, obviously

What you would hate about being a bird: Being caged

Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.
Bye for now!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday June 22, 2007

Greetings! The topic for this week is graphics and the focus will be on creating graphics for a computer game. Last week we started the the project and made some initial decisions about the type of game we'll make. The game we're working on is a simple puzzle game, so the graphics will likewise be clear yet limited. To begin with I created a gray background using Project Dogwaffle. Start by creating a new blank 32x32 square buffer, then use the “bumpy toy” tool from the filter/render menu. Then shift the picture, apply some noise and brush strokes, smooth it using “median”, and finally emboss it slightly. It takes a bit of effort, but if done carefully you can create an image that tiles nicely.
Click on the picture to get a full-sized view.

Now that we have a
basic background we'll create the game pieces. It was a relatively simple matter to use Bryce to render a series of shiny colored balls. Create a sphere, then change the attributes (size and position), and material. Then move and rotate the camera to frame the ball and save the pic as a BMP file
Click on the picture to get a full-sized view.


Those graphical elements should suffice for our simple game. Next week we'll continue the game creation thread and make some sounds and music for the project.




The loops of the week were created using Orion Pro

Right click on a loop name to download it.


----- Bass 1----- Bass 2-----

----- Drums 1 ----- Drums 2 -----

----- Synth 1 ----- Synth 2 -----


Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.
Bye for now!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tuesday June 12, 2007

Belated salutations. The entry for this week is late cause I’ve embarked on a long needed but all-too-brief trip to Australia. I’m currently in the city of Adelaide, which is located in the state of South Australia (closely adjacent to the grand state of bliss). What a remarkable world we live in when one day you can be enjoying the warming rays of a near-summer sunny day and the next gazing out on cold, crisp evening in early winter. It was a rather last-minute decision that leads me back to the southern hemisphere, but I’m here to scout out firsthand info on a possible (or highly probable) relocation here from my current gray cat’s loft.

The topic for this week is programming, and I’ve decided to forgo the usual structure of this log to document the creation of a small computer game over the next few weeks. We’ll go over everything from basic design through making the graphics and audio, to coding in weekly installments that should prove bite-sized and highly digestible. It will also be a learning experience for me, since I’m no seasoned pro when it comes to rolling my own games. Each week I’ll go over is some detail what steps to take, what tools I’ve used, and how far along in the overall project we are. The usual music, graphics and programming entries will relate to the building of our game. It’s a rather ambitious project, but most good things in this life make you sweat a bit. Will this be fun stuff? Of course! Some work? Yep! Shall we proceed? Make it so!

The first choice to be made in the game is what genre or type of game we want to make. For this project I think a puzzle game will offer the best mix of playability, challenge and relative simplicity to program.

The next step will be the choice of platform, or what type of hardware and computer OS we’re writing the game for. There is also the possibility of designing our game to be cross-platform (playable on many different platforms) though that has some special requirements. I’m limited to the choice between Windows XP, Suse Linux, and Palm OS. While I’m tempted to make a nice Palm game to play on my PDA most of my programming experience is in creating Windows applications so for let’s make this project a Windows game. We can approach the prospect of porting the game to another platform or platforms later.

Now that we have decided on a platform the next choice will be which programming language to use to create our game. Your choices may vary, but on my PC I have Java, Dev C++, FreeBASIC and Euphoria installed. This choice is a bit simpler, because I’m not versed in Java or C++ (yet), and of the 2 remaining choices I’ve far more experience with Euphoria. For this series, I’ll take the easier path and save the trailblazing into new programming realms for later. Euphoria is also nice because I can use my Euphoria header for the SDL graphics/multimedia library. That last bit of geek-speak will be clarified once we get to the actual programming phase of the project.

And that’s about it for this installment. Next week we’ll do the graphics design and start formulating the rules for our game.

That’s it for this week. The picture of the week and the loops will return next time.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday May 25, 2007
Hello again and welcome back. The topic for this week is graphics, and the focus will be on the creating your own cartoon characters. My software tool of choice for making 'toons is Anim8or, which aside from being a free program, has all the features you need to make your own characters. A good way to start is by building a figure out of primitives and simple shapes.

The samples below were created using Anim8or.
Click on a picture to get a full-sized view.

Using Anim8or you can also add the element of motion to your carefully crafted figures. It takes some time and trying to make a real animation, but it's definitely a project worth doing. Give it a go!

The picture of the week was taken in Melbourne during my last trip there in April of 2006. I've always appreciated a good pun!
Click on the picture to get a full-sized view.


The loops of the week were created using Orion Pro
Right click on a loop name to download it.

----- Bass 1----- Bass 2-----
----- Drums 1 ----- Drums 2 ----- Drums 3 ----- Drums 4 -----
----- Synth 1 -----


Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it. Bye for now!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday May 18, 2007

Greetings and bonsowa-ru. This week the topic is film trilogies. That's right people, we're talking movies with exactly 2 siblings and there are a lot of them. This month the 3rd Spider-Man movie and Shrek the Third opened, and the third installment of Pirates of the Carribean is to be released next week. Of course none of these summer blockbusters may remain 3-parters and it's no coincidence that a money-making movie will spawn a sequel or 2. Some notable film trilogies of the past include the Back to the Future Trilogy, the Matrix Trilogy, the original Star Wars Trilogy, the 2nd Star War Trilogy, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I've always favored the first film in any series, though the finale of a true trilogy is often a strong contender as well. Poised between films 1 and 3, the often overlooked middle film has to provide a strong continuity. The sheer scale of having a story told over 3 movies is almost an irresistible draw for any couch potato, so the next time you have 6 hours or so (or 3 consecutive evenings) try a trio of movies on DVD. And don't forget the popcorn and lemonade.

The picture of the week was created using Project Dogwaffle

Click on the picture to get a full-sized view.

The loops of the week were created using Orion Pro

Right click on a loop name to download it.



----- Bass 1----- Bass 2----- Bass 3----- Bass 4 -----

----- Drums 1 ----- Drums 2 ----- Drums 3 ----- Drums 4


Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.

Bye for now!


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday May 12, 2007

Good evening and happy Friday to all. The topic for this week is music and main focus will be on creating music using patterns. Repetition is a key part of music composition, and nearly every song has at least one repeated phrase. It's a basic technique, but very powerful and frequently used throughout all genres of music. A pattern can be a minimal drum beat, a driving bass line, or the melodic solo. The true power and flexibility of pattern based composition becomes evident when using a computer or standalone sequencer. Each pattern becomes a modular block that can be used or reused or stacked with others to form new configurations. In many ways, it's more intuitive to work with patterns than to try to write music using traditional music notation. Orion Pro (the program I use to create the weekly loops) is pattern based and I've found it to be extremely easy to use. I'll delve more into the use of patterns (and loops) in another installment.


The picture of the week was created using Bryce.

Click on the picture to get a full-sized view.

The loops of the week were created using Orion Pro

Right click on a loop to download it.


----- Fr Horn 1 -----

----- Oboe 1 ----- Oboe 2 -----

----- Strings 1 ----- Strings 2 ----- Strings 3 ----- Strings 4 -----


Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.

Bye for now!


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Saturday May 5, 2007

Hello and welcome back! The topic for this week is computing and the focus will be on scripts and scripting languages. To a computer programmer the term “script” doesn't refer to the lines that an actor will read on stage or TV. A script is a more generic term for a kind computer program. A scripting language can actually take the form of a general-purpose programming language, as in the case of Perl or Ruby or Smalltalk, or can be very specific, as in the case Unreal Script and Quake C which are used as in modifying FPS games. Anim8or, one of my favorite graphics/animation programs has added a scripting language called ASL in the latest version. The dark side to all this scripting goodness is that the potential for abuse exists. Javascript, a scripting language and one of the main web programming languages, has come under criticism for a number of security issues. It is apparently quite easy to insert a bit of ad-ware or other unwanted info into Javascripts. I'll have more on scripts and my own attempts at script writing in a future installment.


The picture of the week was taken on one of my recent bike rides.

Click on the picture to get a full-sized view.


The loops of the week were created using Orion Pro

Right click on a loop name to download it.

----- Bass 1 ----- Bass 2 ----- Bass 3 ----- Bass 4 -----

----- Drums 1 ----- Drums 2 ----- Drums 3 ----- Drums 4 -----

----- Guitarish 1 ----- Guitarish 2 -----


Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.

Bye for now!


Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday April 27, 2007

Hi again! It's a nice warm weekend here in So Cal and the topic for tonight is graphics. The program of the week is Virtual Dub, an open source video editing studio for Windows (95/98/ME/NT4/2000/XP). Virtual Dub can be used to record video from a camera, piece together separate scenes into a single long video, or to add an audio soundtrack to your video creation. It's loaded with features, reasonably easy to use, and free (under the GPL), so have a look and see if you can't create the next video clip to go viral and worldwide. For more info check out the Wikipedia article on Virtual Dub.


I've an update regarding the
bunnies in the park that had been the subject of a previous blog entry. They've been adopted and have a new home in what will almost certainly be a safer place. It was a happy (hoppy) ending for the rabbits and for me.


The picture of the week was created using Project Dogwaffle
Click on the picture to get a full-sized view.

The loops of the week were created using Orion Pro

----- Bass 1 ----- Bass 2 ----- Bass 3 -----
----- Brass 1 ----- Brass 2 ----- Brass 3 -----
----- Drums 1 ----- Drums 2 ----- Drums 3 -----

Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.
Bye for now!


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday April 22, 2007

Hello again! This week's entry is late because I was away visiting some friends in Sacramento. Due to my current state of employment (or lack thereof) I chose to rent a car and drive there. My luck was running true to form, and I managed to pick the first rainy weekend in months for my getaway. It wasn't all rain and driving the roughly 780 mile round trip gave me a bit of time to think about the various mysteries of life while listening to about a half dozen different classic rock FM stations. Monotony and sameness broken by the sounds of Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, the Eagles and Cream. There was a bit of snow to be seen near the Tejon Pass on the way north, and cows, horses, citrus groves, strawberry fields, all under puffy white clouds, or foreboding gray ones. I saw barns and irrigation trenches, small towns, power lines, billboards, and acres of nothing. It was memorable and in some ways quite beautiful. So once more I've taken a step outside of the box, and have been rewarded with some fresh experience. My recommendation to anyone faced with a similar opportunity? Go for it!


The pictures of the week were taken this past Friday, when I took the sole wrong turn of the trip, and wound up in the midst of some of that scenic farmland.
Click on a picture to get a full-sized view.















Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.

Bye for now!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday April 13, 2007

Hello and welcome back. This past Wednesday one of my personal and artistic inspirations departed this world for whatever lies beyond. Kurt Vonnegut wrote novels that were both fictional and full of truth. His humor was darker than the dark matter that fills the void between the stars, at turns satiric and cynical, and always a bit absurd. It was a balancing act that defied convention and definition. His books were often labeled as science fiction, but there was little hard science in them and the fiction had that persistent vein of truth that ran through everything he touched. I never read all of his works, but those I did read had a profound influence on the direction of my life and art. Slaughterhouse Five is considered by most to be Vonnegut's breakaway novel and drew on the author's experience during the allied fire-bombing of Dresden. That horrifying incident represented literally the death of art at the hands of war. What Vonnegut managed to do was nothing less than a resurrection of art in the form of the novel. The circle closed and the phoenix rose from the ashes. Art survives death and destruction and in doing so is a life force. Thank the fates for the bards and storytellers, players and singers, and above all those who can tell the truth, frame it as entertainment, and make us both laugh and find the truth within. I think I'll stick with writing for a while and see where it leads.

The picture of the week was created using Bryce
Click on the picture to get a full-sized view.

The loops of the week are going be delayed while I find a new host for the files. Those acidified WAV files take up a a fair amount of space, so I'm on the hunt for a bigger place to house them.

The website of the week is Jump the Shark, a page devoted to the moment when a TV show looses all touch with reality or the illusion thereof.


Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.

Bye for now!


Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday April 6, 2007

A very good, Good Friday to one and all. The topic for this week is music, and more specifically live performance. Every band or individual will eventually reach a point at which they've outgrown the garage or bedroom. The likely first gig for an aspiring artist will be a nice non-paying night at the local pub or coffee house, or an “open-mic” night. While playing for free or for beers doesn't seem very glamorous, you're slowly gaining the essential experience necessary to take it to the next level. It's a well known fact that the Beatles played a number of low-rent dives in Hamburg before hitting it big, and there is a persistent rumor in these parts that the band that would become Van Halen performed at Pasadena High School in the days before they were the toast of the Sunset Strip. It all goes to show you need to pay your dues and do the hard yards before you reach stardom. This past Tuesday I did my first live performance on guitar (rather than keyboards) at a local pub during a blues jam/open mic night. The house band was very forgiving and overlooked my beginner nerves and obvious flubs. It's a continual learning and growing experience that I would recommend to anyone with a love of making music.

I thought it would be appropriate for Easter to share some pictures I took of bunnies living in the park near my home. They aren't wild rabbits. They're domestic pets that were abandoned in the park. That bit of thoughtless cruelty nearly made me cry, but fortunately for the little long-ears there are some good people who have been putting out carrots and proper rabbit food. They have a comfy hole in the concrete wall to evade the numerous dogs and occasional coyote and they seem quite healthy. Happy Easter Bunnies!


Click on a picture to get a full-sized view










The website of the week is my old friend Mark Craig's Blog. It's something like the mathematical inverse of my highly artistic and largely unstructured blog.


Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.

Bye for now!


Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday March 30, 2007

Greetings my faithful friends and long-distance co-conspirators. I'm back after a bit of absence caused by a great deal of job stress and the stain of making the hard decision to resign. Old Mark the gray cat was being worked like a gray mule and continually underpaid, so I quit and decided to seek some other line of work. I'm currently looking for an opportunity to do some freelance computer consulting, and I'd like to start my own music production and software design business. I'll keep making the Mark's Digital Arts posts in the meantime, if only to keep some small semblance of sanity. This week is for recovery and transition and next week I'll be back to the usual mix of fun and enlightening stuff.

The picture of the week is one I took just down the street from my apartment. I liked the look of the neon and was experimenting with taking photos without a flash.
Click on the picture to get a full-sized view

I'll be back in a week or so with more of my skewed views and lyrical leanings.

Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.
Bye for now!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday March 16, 2007

Hi all. Old Gray Cat Whiskers (Mark) is not feeling well tonight, so the entry will be postponed until tomorrow or Sunday. I'm going to bed early and we'll see if we can't have the usual week's worth of stuff here!

TTFN and TGIF!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday March 9, 2007

Good Evening Friends! Life goes on and I continue to roll along with it. The topic for today is computer programming and what is often the first program you write. One of the simplest tasks that you can do in any programming language is to display a text message on the screen. What has emerged as a kind of non-standard standard is for that simple program to display the message “Hello World”. There are literally hundreds of examples in just about every known programming language of this simple program. The earliest known example of the “Hello, world” program was created by Brian Kernighan, the co-author of “The C programming language” book, the definitive tome on C. Check out this fairly funny list of Hello World programs based on age and experience, and this rather exhaustive list of Hello World variants (314 computer and 25 human languages).

This week’s picture was created using Project Dogwaffle
Click on the picture to get a larger view.


The loops of the week were created with Orion Pro.
Right click on the name of a loop to download it.

----- Bass 1 ----- Bass 2 -----
----- Drums 1 ----- Drums 2 ----- Drums 3 ----- Drums 4 -----
----- Ping 1 ----- Ping 2 -----

The website of the week is Dork Tower, a web comic that explores the lives of gamers.

Send your comments and feedback and I’ll read it all and respond to some of it.
Bye for now!