Immunodeficiency [1/4] – Journalism

This series of four articles was written as an exercise in developing a world through the use of creative writing.  In a team of three, I was project/creative lead, and responsible for writing the lore of our fictive world.


Terror Plot Revealed to be Act of God?

THE current health epidemic in Canada may be more closely linked to an issue in the natural evolution of the human race, than a terrorist act, according to an official report released by the World Medical Association earlier today.  With over one quarter of Calgary’s citizens now deceased or hospitalised with various seemingly un-related illnesses, the World Medical Association has released its first public statement regarding the cause of the catastrophe – and it appears we may have more to fear from our house-hold cleaning products than the weapons of terrorist organisations.

While the speculations of local doctors and scientists lead to rumours of an airborne mutation of the Human immunodeficiency virus – better known as HIV – as a terrorist attack, the World Medical Association report defines clear differences in the condition of Calgary’s population and the symptoms of one suffering from AIDS.  Having confirmed that these patients are indeed suffering from an immune system deficiency, the WMA are sceptical that this crisis has been engineered at the hands of a terrorist organisation.

As detailed in the globally distributed report, a person afflicted with any secondary immunodeficiency – that is an immune system deficiency acquired after birth – would have insufficient amounts of certain cells that are an integral part of the human body’s immune system, thus leaving it unable to form a proper defence against threats such as bacterial and viral infections.  The report then clarifies that unlike sufferers of secondary immuno-deficiencies, victims of the Calgary epidemic have all the elements of their immune-system physically intact, however, for reasons unknown, their immune-systems are struggling to fight off the most basic of illnesses.

The condition, named in this report as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), is confirmed to be a non-contagious threat, and this is supported by the reports of new SCID cases beginning to slow since reaching the 7 month anniversary of the first recognised case of this condition.  However, with SCID being non-contagious, the question of how nearly 250,000 people could simultaneously fall victim to such a catastrophic condition, becomes a critically vital question to understanding this new issue to plague human-kind.

Several theories were presented in the report, but perhaps the most convincing was the evolution of the ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’ originally presented by David P. Strachan.

The Hygiene Hypothesis presents the idea that children brought up in a cleaner environment will be more susceptible to allergic diseases than those that aren’t – a theory originally supported by the statistics that immunological and autoimmune diseases are far less common in citizens of developing countries than in citizens of the western, industrialised world.  The WMA report expanded on this theory, proposing that decades of living in such a clean environment made the human immune system redundant and by the process of evolution, the immune system no longer functioned at the level of a normal person.  This being the case, it comes as no surprise then a condition such as this should manifest in Calgary, “The Cleanest City in the World” as selected in 2007 by the Forbes magazine.  However, the drawback with this theory is that, without an accelerant, an evolutionary alteration such as this should take centuries rather than decades.  The lack of radio-activity in Calgary removes the likelihood of an accelerant that could affect evolution in this way, and thus the origins of the epidemic remain a mystery.


Conversely, the report ended on a more positive note – the WMA report stating that for SCID to appear anywhere else in the world at this time is “extremely unlikely”.



Independent Journalist

The Wonders of FlashPunk

After an unfortunately short day of work, I’ve blasted way ahead of the development schedule and got something for you all – The end of scope Prototype for Elemental Weaving!

~ Icon Legend ~

Icon for the Cloud Element
Icon for the Fire Element
Icon for the Flora Element
Icon for the Heat Element
Icon for the Moisture Element
Icon for the Soil Element
Icon for the Static Element
Icon for the Water Element



The 8 icons at the bottom of the screen represent the environmental elements.  Each spell changes the balance of the elements in the environment, and the idea for this prototype was to see if it was a fun idea or not.


Very satisfied with the way it turned out, and I’m super impressed by the speed with which I could develop it using FlashPunk.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be developing this idea further, as what really interests me is the way in which both players share the same resources.  It was originally an idea for a Collectible Card Game, but with inspiration from a GameCareerGuide Game Design Challenge, I though about pushing it into the RPG realm.

Dues to Pay

The icons were created by Henrique ‘Ails’ Lazarini, a fantastic pixel artist, and can be found on his DeviantArt Page, along with other amazing work by him.

The characters were ripped by ‘Freki’ from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2: Grimoire of the Rift, and posted for use at The Spriter’s Resource.

Grinding Away

After a the first 8 hour day I’ve managed in a while I’m feeling pretty good about how today went.  Not a whole lot to show for it, but it was really productive and educational.

I spent way too long messing around with Website security stuff, (to the point that “CHMOD” is now officially in my vocabulary,) broke it once or twice, fixed it again, changed themes to something that actually works, (even though it’s broken a few of my plugins,) and gotten onto posting again.  Gives me a good feeling, and a brightened outlook.

Things are working with the Elemental Weaving prototype, and I hit the first milestone 3.5 hours ahead of schedule which is… disappointing.  While it means I picked up FlashPunk a lot faster than I expected, and developed a quick-n-dirty turn-based combat framework in a shorter time than I’d planned, it’s proof that my time estimation abilities are still terrible.


As the day draws to a close though, I can’t help but think about where I’ll be this time next week.  Lookout GDC Europe, I’m coming for you!

Sentiment in Games [Part 1]: An Ode to those Lost

It has been some time since this all began – how long ago exactly, I couldn’t tell you any more – but it’s time I told someone.

Red (Character) Sprite - Red and Blue VersionI knew that even though seasons had come and gone, the world hadn’t changed.  That even though days were passing, the sun had never set.  My ability to measure time was not based on what had been affected in the world around me, but rather my achievements, my progress across this land, and the growth of my team.  The growth my companions exhibited in strength both strength and ability provided proof that, even though my own physical form showed no signs of time having passed – accumulating no scars, needing no sustenance, and never developing beyond it’s pre-pubescent outward appearance – the change I saw in them proved that the universe I lived in was more than just a static, barren landscape of signposts and puppets with tape recorders.

Squirtle Sprite - Red and Blue VersionBubbles had been my partner from the very beginning.  That is, he wasn’t always a Blastoise, his current form and power rendered him almost unrecognisable from the little Squirtle I’d make right back at the beginning of this journey.  We had connected right off the bat.  My neighbour, a crazy Professor who was named after a tree, offered me a companion in exchange for completing a favour for him.  It felt like the horrible decision that one would be making at an abandoned animal shelter, know that all of the lost animals there could one day be your greatest friend, but that your choice will leave all the others in this place of limbo.  The three little guys all looked up at me with longing eyes, all hoping that I’d take them along, and release them from the tiny confines of a miniaturised ball he kept them in.  Against the Toad with a bulb on it’s back, and unfriendly looking lizard with a tail that, most likely as the result of some cruel teenage prank, was always on fire, Bubbles and his awesome little turtle body was, from the moment I saw him, the one I had to take with me.  I didn’t care that it would probably mean being forever in my neighbour’s debt and hiking all over the world to complete his life’s work, Bubbles was going to be my best friend.

Blastoise Sprite - Red and Blue Version
After that fateful day, we’d recruited companions from all over, of all forms and races.  My brother had joined even in on a journey of his own as well, although by some amazing property of the universe and everything, his existence lay in a parallel dimension, where our journeys followed almost exactly the same path.  On the day our journeys began, we both awoke in a strange room, alone and finding only our mother in the house, acting in both dimensions as though the other brother had never existed.  We both fought tooth and nail against the same evil organisation attempting to take over the world, defeating the same enemies that came at the both of us, spewing the same angst-ridden speeches, and challenging our troupe with the same anger-filled creatures.  It was uncanny the similarities that our experiences entailed.  The only way we managed to communicate was through some kind of dimension travelling device that our local hospitals offered.  To this day, I find it amazing that being aware of this parallel dimension, they never pushed the technology further than a method for us to pass through our creatures, trapped in the miniaturised balls, or allowing them to battle somewhere in the limbo that existed between our two dimensions – dimensions that we later called “Red” and “Blue” for the sake of clarity.  Perhaps the technology couldn’t facilitate an exchanging of a larger mass.  I really would have loved to have joined my brother, or have him join me.  We would have been unstoppable.

Giovanni Sprite - Red and Blue VersionI look back fondly on those days, the days of ambient music, impossible physics, and people with 2 second memories.  Every day (I’m still not sure that ‘day’ is the correct term here,) was brought me an amazing new experience: the discovery that one of the creatures of this amazing dimension had abilities that were both unexpected and wonderful, that the antics of this “space-faring” evil organisation were almost childish and half-hearted in their planning and complexity, turning a corner only to happen upon a creature that I could never in my wildest dreams imagined, and seeing my companions grow.  Watching my companions grow, coming into their own – it brought wonder, awe and pride: that was by far the most amazing part of the journey.  Watching Bubbles grow from the cute little turtle he once was, unable to do little more than blow bubbles from his mouth and throw little his body at those opposing us, into the fearsome creature with the ability to blast high pressured water from cannon-like appendages that had sprouted from his shell – it fired off my imagination and dreams that one day, perhaps we would take on the famous Elite Four, the strongest of the teams in our world.  A dream that was shared in my brother’s realm as well.

Lorelei Overworld Sprite - Red and Blue VersionBruno Overworld Sprite - Red and Blue VersionAgatha Overworld Sprite - Red and Blue VersionLance Overworld Sprite - Red and Blue Version

But those days are behind me now.  I never achieved that dream, and although my brother managed to continue on in his dimension, getting ever closer to the Elite Four, my journey came to a premature end.  All that’s left now are the memories.  I’m sure that Bubbles and the rest of the team are here too.  Somewhere.  I have no idea where the the void, the nothingness, the blackness, came from.  All I know is that it ate up everything I knew, everything I loved, everything I had achieved.  No, everything we had achieved.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember exactly where I was when it came, it seems so long ago now, but I do remember how much it hurt.  My valiant companions had always stood in between me and any form of danger, but even in their combined strength there was nothing they could do against the nothingness that swallowed the world.  It wiped out everything; the corporation and their evil plans, the puppet-like inhabitants of the realm, the computers, the buildings, the gyms, all the creatures in existence, my mother, my companions, and, finally, me.  I don’t remember exactly where I was, or even what I was doing, but I remember what happened when it came, after it had taken everything away.  After it had obliterated it, banished it into a void, erased any record of my journey from existence.  After that, there wasn’t anything else I could do.

I cried.

The Weave

I had a wonderfully revelatory moment in the shower this morning, involving why I do what I do, and what drives me.

It was a moment that has answered questions I’ve had about myself for quite a while, because I feel like I’m sometimes all over the place – lacking a focus, a binding element, a theme to the work that I do.

I’ve had goals, ideas, topics, everything floating around in my head for aeons, since I was a wee lad.  What I have now that I didn’t have before is a way forward, a source to draw from, a sense of purpose.


Welcome to the next chapter.



What’s with the post title?

Wilkommen ins Internet

And it’s done – I’ve finally taken the first steps to building up an online portfolio!

Now, to fill it up with wonderous little goodies…

There be changes afoot…

Of course, you all know I like surprises, but something I enjoy even more, is being a tease!

The only breadcrumb you may need is:
Google Search is a wonderful thing when you know what to look for.

What should I ignore?

As I’ve been using SVN rather often recently, I figured I would try and make a little bit of a collection of files I ignore when using Mercurial so that I’m not running all over the place trying for the info on re-writing the files everytime I start a new project.  Hopefully it’s useful for you as well!

For the time being these lists are written in the ‘glob’ syntax.  Seeing as regex is much more powerful and generic, I’ll get around to changing it… One day 🙂

WPF [VS2010]:


Setting up Mercurial with BitBucket (and FlashDevelop)

Atlassian have already written up a great tutorial for the basics, but here’s my trimmed down, TIGJamAU specific version.

Bitbucket Account

1) Install TortoiseHG, FlashDevelop and create yourself a Bitbucket Account.

2a) Open up PuttyGEN and click the “Generate” button to create an SSH key.  Add in a Passphrase as well if you want.
2b)Click “Save private key”.  It’s an important file, so keep it somewhere safe.  Eg. TortoiseHG install directory or otherwise.  Don’t close PuttyGEN yet!

3a) From the Bitbucket Home Page, pop down the user menu under your username, and open your account settings.
3b) From the nav bar on the left select “SSH Keys” and paste the entire contents of the “Public Key for pasting…” in PuttyGEN into the box under “SSH Key” on the BitBucket page.
3c) Finally, using the button at the bottom of the page, add the public key to BitBucket.  You can now close PuttyGEN.

4a) Open up FlashDevelop and create yourself a new project.
4b) Under Tools > Project Settings, scroll down to SourceControl.  Under HG; check EnableHG, point “HG Path” to hg.exe in the Tortoise folder, and the “Proc Path” to thgw.exe.
4c) Close FlashDevelop again.

4.5) From the TortoiseHG folder, open up “Pageant.exe”, and open up the SSH key you created with PuttyGEN earlier.

5a) With TortoiseHG installed, you should be able to navigate to the FlashDevelop Project folder with Windows Explorer, right-click it, and select TortoiseHG > Create Repository Here.
5b) Check “Show in Workbench after init” and create.
5c) With TortoiseHG now open, we’re almost there. Right-click on the newly created repository on the right, and open up the Settings.
5d) Switch to the Global Settings tab, select “Edit File” at the top right, and enter the following:

username = JOEBLOGGER <>
ssh = “C:\Program Files\TortoiseHg\TortoisePlink.exe” -ssh -2 -batch -C

It is of course recommended that you change JOEBLOGGER to your name used for Mercurial commits, and alter the TortoiseHG path if appropriate.
5e) Save and close that, switch to the Repository specific tab, and once again, “Edit File”.  Input the following:
default = ssh://
cipushafter = default
defaultpush = all
closeci = True
The path for “default” can be found on the BitBucket project overview page.  The other settings make it easier to sync stuff from FlashDev.

And done!  Try commiting and pushing the project at this point, and if there’s any problems, write me in the comments.  (I might even get around to adding pretty pictures after the Jam is over.)

TIGJamAU 2012 – Getting Started

So I’m just about to get underway with my very first GameJam.  Looking forward to the next 48 hours is all I  can say.  Also, as a means of communicating with the guys on the other side of the world, I figured I can use the opportunity to write up some tutorial like things here.  Double bonus 🙂  So here comes the first…