Monday, June 28, 2021

Interactive Stories

Over the years I've made a number of interactive stories for my website. I love interactive stories, the various changing plot threads really make the story more alive than a passive book drawing the reader further into the story. This also makes the story far more entertaining when re-read as sometimes the plot can change drastically.

I keep the plot layout similar to the style of the old Choose Your Own Adventure books in that the story is divided into pages even if the reader is unaware of that fact. This means the reader can simply bookmark their place in their web browser and continue where they left off at another date, this also avoids the need for web cookies.

The problem with this approach however is the difficulty in converting the stories into an ebook format such as for the Amazon Kindle for example. While it's certainly possible the overall layout doesn't feel the same to me as it would otherwise look on a website. It's more than about the text on the screen, it's also about the background style and the overall feel of the website. Conventional stories don't rely too much upon such things however so simple text on the screen is adequate.

The point of this blog entry is simply to say that my interactive stories will always be available for free on my website even though they are far more difficult and time consuming to write.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Artistic Programming

It's been a long time since I've actually programmed a computer and I've realised how much I miss it. Technically speaking I program regularly due to creating so many websites but those for the most part are visually created and it's not very often I delve into program code.

While programming is pretty much a science there's a lot of art than goes into it too. To convert a task into multiple small steps, converting a problem into a sequence of commands, to complete that said task is an art form in itself. Two programmers for example could write programs that perform identical tasks yet the way they in which solve them could be vastly different. Then there is style to think about. Should the program be designed to run as fast a possible? Should it occupy as little amount of memory as possible? Should it be neat and easily readable? Should all the variables be structured for possible future updates? There's a lot to think about before the program is planned.

I was one of those programmers who pretty much specialised in BASIC. There were lots of variations to BASIC some vastly different that others but my favourite was SamBASIC, albeit that only applied to one computer, or a Windows PC if running an emulator. I also dabbled with Assembly language, C++, Pascal and Fortran. I always liked to keep ahead on the latest programming languages as well as the older ones. The only one that I've failed to get a grip of is C# unfortunately.

Computer programming is one of those odd professions where it's more about the personality of the user rather than their academic prowess that makes them a good programmer, patience being the main virtue. There have been incidences where people have been master programmers without realising only to discover their talent later in life. The story of a vicar comes to mind who created databases as well as a secretary who made printer drivers. In fact I think computer programming should be routinely taught in schools to discover if anyone has such prowess and to also teach people how complex programming actually is.

Programs can often appear vastly complicated, resembling long chemical formulas in some instances, but while complex as a whole each step is simple instruction. I have fond memories of sitting down in front of a computer and imagining all the program variables moving around inside my head resulting in a simple side scrolling video game. I get  a warm fuzzy feeling when seeing a computer program listed upon the monitor but I don't get that feeling with visually created programming such as using a web editor.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

What's The Point?

This may seem an odd post but I've just been feeling out of sorts lately and questioning things. I think when people get out of a routine they grow to question what their routine was and start to question what is the point of it all.

Last year in February I attended London Comic Con. It's similar to the London Film & Comic Con, in that it's the same venue, the same organisers and the same type of event, albeit smaller, but it's technically a different event. Due to certain things I won't mention that was making me feel down I intended to cheer myself up by attending lots of similar comic con style events throughout the year. I was intending to do to Hyper Japan which is basically a Japanese culture show, the usual London Film & Comic Con, and MCM Expo. In fact there were going to be two London MCM Expos that year. MCM Expo is great due to it being a mixture of Japanese culture and conventional movie, comic culture events combined. It's a good place to buy manga and anime for instance. The only thing I dislike about it is the vast crowds and crazy queuing system.

Anyway due to covid 19 and the various lockdowns the shows were cancelled. So I never got to go anywhere.

This year Hyper Japan is going to be an online event, as for MCM Expo I've no idea what's happening but the London Film & Comic Con is scheduled to take place in July. But I've suddenly found myself questioning whether I should go. I'd normally be excited, searching ebay and Amazon for cosplay outfits and wondering how much I'd be willing to spend on one, wondering if I should make one myself. The thought of spending money on a silly outfit and walking around a hall taking photos and meeting celebrities suddenly doesn't appeal to me in the same way it used to. I can buy anime, manga and Japanese sweets online so why should I go to all the trouble of attending an event?

The excitement appears to have dwindled due to waiting for so long for the events to open up again. Ironically I've missed shows before, for years at a time, due to money problems, so it's not just down to not having attended for so long. I may change my mind before the event but as of this moment I'm still unsure if I'll attend.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Going Viral

I had something surprising happen to me recently on Twitter. Usually when I post something I may get one or two likes or retweets but I've never had a popular post before until a few days ago.

There was a hashtag on the Trends list called #ThatsMyUnpopularOpinion with people posting all kinds of Tweets in response, many of which where serious while others were light-hearted. I wanted to post something light-hearted to do with anime but couldn't think of anything witty but then a thought came to me. I had been watching the Tangled spin-off series on Disney Plus so rather than post something anime related I posted a comment about Tangled.

It paid off big time and in just a short amount of time received thousands of likes, hundreds of retweets and lots of comments.

Tangled is better than Frozen.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Reading In Dreams

I had a strange dream today. A dream within a dream solved by reading.

I dreamed that I was sleeping with my cat Squeaky and I woke up to find my cat Bobo sitting upon a chair. Squeaky noticed her too yet Bobo died some years ago. I then thought that maybe she was my other cat Thomas and my tired brain imagined him to be Bobo, so I picked Bobo up and took her into the bathroom to find Thomas was in there too. It was then that I wondered if I was dreaming. (Thomas also died some years ago, before Bobo in fact, but I hadn't realised that inconstancy within the dream.) I then decided to hold Bobo in front of the mirror because hallucinations don't have reflections, but she was fully revealed in the mirror along with myself. I then remembered a YouTube vid that stated that reading in dreams will reveal that it's a dream especially if you read the same line twice due to the brain not being able to cope with the complexity of written words whilst sleeping. So I looked at a magazine resting upon my desk and read the article, it was about sources of catnip found in regions of China. I read the line perfectly so was sure I wasn't dreaming but as I attempted to read it again the article was gone and the page blank. In a flash I knew it was a dream and woke up.

I don't normally have those kinds of dreams. I wonder if I would have remembered it if I hadn't made myself wake up.


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Repeatedly Misheard

A strange thing happened to me a few days ago. I was playing the game Mirror's Edge Catalyst on the PlayStation 4 and was intending to do some bag delivery missions when I noticed a voice glitch. I had never noticed it before despite performing bag deliveries so often in the game.

The voice line said this:
Scrip making opportunity available nearby.
I urge you not to take this delivery lightly. Destination uploaded. Payment awaiting conformation.

I noticed the robotic female voice appeared to mispronounce the word conformation saying something like authormation instead, as though the voice actress fluffed the word then quickly corrected herself. I even plugged in headphones to confirm my suspicion. I then uploaded the clip to Twitter.

The next day when listening to it back on Twitter it was clear she hadn't fluffed the word and pronounced conformation clearly. I don't know what happened there. It's an odd situation.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

First Blog

This is the first blog entry I've posted this year, which is remarkable really as it's already February. Time has been going so fast lately. In fact that's not the only reason for the delay. I've just been feeling mentally run down recently and things that would normally be a joy have weighed me down turning into a chore. I had a lot of problems this time last year and I feel I'm trying to solve everything with my hands tied so nothing has really changed.

The covid lockdown isn't something that directly effects me as I work at home anyway, but the longer it drags on the more I realise how I miss going to conventions, comic shows, and so forth, with the days blurring into one another with nothing to look forward to. Incidentally long before I even knew about such conventions I used to go to a computer show every six months which in some ways was similar albeit without the cosplay.

Last year I was looking forward to the Hyper Japan Festival which was to take place in April, along with the London Film & Comic Con, and MCM Expo later in the year. Obviously they were all postponed. Both the Hyper Japan Festival and the London Film & Comic Con are due to take place in July of this year but I very much doubt they will actually go ahead.

Part of me feels I should simply go to bed and wait it out, hibernate until normality returns.

Addendum (10 Feb 21): The Hyper Japan Festival has announced that their event this year is going to take place online.

Interactive Stories

Over the years I've made a number of interactive stories for my website. I love interactive stories, the various changing plot threads r...