Monday, 24 December 2012

My Year in a Nutshell

The year has been a very rough year for me, both personally and with the situations of my family and friends, for the most part I can't wait for it to be over and to start the new one. My brain goes fuzzy just trying to think about what happened this year as it has all rolled into a ball of cancer, births, deaths, MRI's, financial issues, stress, University issues, arthritis, labrynthitis, lost jobs, job rejections, fire doors, travel, needless expenditure on those that don't appreciate it, family arguments and constant concerns for the future. (Note that is not all me obviously, but a mixture of me and those around me.)

I have not blogged as much as I would have liked, partly due to the lack of time and stress from the situations mentioned above. However it has not all been doom and gloom this year, so I write this re-cap of the highlights and the times that have made me the most happy this year. :D

Janurary
Visiting my friend Naomi in Oxford and taking part in the Artist Meet and seeing the wonderful museums there, and afterwards an awesome cocktail party in which I developed a very fruity not sure what it was but to easy to drink cocktail. :)

Museum of Science - Oxford
February
Another visit to Oxford, this time organised by the University, and a chance to spend the day in the Museums again. I can highly recommend visiting as many times as possible as there is always something you missed or new to see.

Museum of Natural History - Oxford
March
Spending time with Lynn and getting to know her new dog Poppy, an adorable creature that has very cat like qualities.
Poppy the Puppy
April
Spending time with Kyle and Hetty during the Easter holidays, a time where the best every Irish Cream and Chocolate mousse was created by Hetty, the huge Steak and Kidney pie was cooked by Kyle and fun was had by all with Lego Pictionary, wine and modelling clay. :D
Mmm chocolate mousse. :P
May
My birthday, a nice quiet day with gorgeous food and fun silly presents, such as a model of Kathryn Janeway and a Sylvanian Tardis. :) (Also finishing the second year project!) An witnessing the Olympic Torch coming through town on a very nice sunny day that was then spent in the park with ice-creams. :)
Mmm ice cream and sunny parks....
June
The Jubilee, I was in London staying with Angie for this, and even though I normally wouldn't have gone to London for this it was a happy accident. A very fun night was had in the centre of the city with a flat full of Australians, lots of Jubilee themed decorations and some dancing in the rain in the small hours of the morning.
Me and Angie (slightly tipsy!)
July
My sister's graduation from Bath University! She misread her results and thought she only got a 2:1, turned out she had a 1st! :) It was a great day to spend with all the family, not something that happens often. I am so proud of her for working so hard for so long and happy to be able to take part in celebrating that.
My sister in her gown with the city of Bath in the background.
August
A quiet holiday before the third year starts, so I got to visit my Mum, step-Dad and brother. A sunny few days where we rescued a hedgehog, went swimming and went to the movies together. Felt just like the summer holidays of my childhood again. :)
Found by the road and taken to the Hedgehog Shelter.
September
Another visit to London to see Angie where we decided to take a stroll down the Thames, visit the Science Museum and chat late into the night. I also enjoyed the Women's in Game Jobs Conference where I got to meet up with Naomi and meet some inspirational people in the industry.
London in the evening.
October
A gaming month, I got to play the new versions of Jet Set Radio and NiGHTS as they were released on the PSN. But more importantly this is the month of GameCity, the best and most wonderful festival of the year! Seeing friends such as Rob and Elsa and getting to meet and hang out with some of the most talented an inspirational people in the industry. The highlight of my year as it was also my first proper holiday away with my partner. :)
Nottingham from the hotel room.
November
This is when I had to say goodbye to Pebbles, my dear cat who was part of the family for sixteen years. :(
On a happier note though I went to an open day in Birmingham to learn more about their MSc course in Game Production, it was all rather positive so it looks like my time in education is not over with yet.
Pebbles from May this year.
December
Making stockings for the younger kids in the family has been a lot of fun. :) Otherwise it's a month that has gone by so quickly, but a time where I am enjoying a nice quiet Christmas and looking forward to seeing close friends for New Years. :)
What started as a plain red stocking I made into a custom dinosaur themed one. :)

So that was the year in a nutshell, only a small fraction of the ups and downs this year, but these are the ups that have made the year worth it. (Aside from Pebbles, but I am grateful to have had the time I did with her as she lived a year longer than the vet expected!) So farewell 2012, you were a busy and stressful year and I haven't even finished my Dissertation yet! :)

Here's to 2013, a new year and new starts, I hope everyone has a good New Years Eve/Day and I look forward to seeing friends and family at some point next year after I have come out of third year university hibernation. :)

Friday, 2 November 2012

The World's Largest Practical Science Lesson

This time last week was GameCity in Nottingham and me and Devilbod went up there and stayed for nine days to cover the eight day long festival celebrating games in all their forms, from digital, to alternate reality, to augmented experiences, to board games and everything else in-between. It is a fantastic opportunity to meet and greet not only people that play games but the people that make them as well.

However there is also a nice side note for me going to Nottingham as it is closer to my Mum, little brother and step-Dad, so this year I got the see them twice as the Festival span two Saturdays. The second of which was quite fun for anther reason.
Image from GameCity7's Flickr Photostream.
It was the World's Largest Practical Science Lesson, which me and my family took part in and in some small way helped break a Guinness World Record. It was a rather fun way to end the week long gaming festival (my blog post about that is over on Dream Development) and as a day out with little brother as we got to make slime and a rocket. :)

It was odd to note that the rocket was made up of an old film canister, the likes that most of the children taking part have probably not seen before. Even though this was a science lesson done using basic materials and chemicals it did strike me how much technology has progressed over such a short space of time.

My visit to the science museum in September also highlighted this, as me and my friend Angie went from the Alan Turing exhibit to the Google Web Lab experiment. It is amazing to think how far it has all come!

Above is the few photo's I took while there, realising that my little dedicated camera is starting to feel threatened by the phones these days. I remember how excited I was when my Grandfather gave me my first camera, it had film and the most advanced feature was the auto film rewind. It is nice to be nostalgic until I remember how easy it was to ruin a set of film by flipping open the back cover or not knowing if precious holiday snaps had come out until after the five day wait for your photo's from Boots! :) Not something the 'Facebook' generation will ever really experience.

Anyway all in all it is nice to be able to take part in things like this and to also visit the Science Museum, I may feel the odd one out in my family sometimes for not doing more science based degree, but that doesn't mean it still doesn't interest me, I just can't keep up with the conversations over the dinner table sometimes. :)

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Trying on a new template...

After having some issues with the 'older' templates on Blogger I thought I would try out the 'Dynamic' themes that appeared. After much tweaking I have something that I am sort of happy with, as long as it's viewed with the 'Sidebar' theme.

This all stemmed from lots of things being misaligned in the old theme, no matter much much I tweaked the HTML. It appears that I really do need to catch up again with all this stuff as I feel out of my depth again, not really that needed for career, but it would be a nice bonus.

Anyway here is a screenshot of the blog as I see it, I hope that it appears like this elsewhere also:

I would like to get rid of the search box at the top and I would like to add the 'Recent Tweets' and 'Profile' section on the side back, but for now I am leaving it as it is. Mainly as this is a form of procrastination from the large amount of Dissertation work I have to do. But enough, as it is currently defeating the whole purpose of the blog, which is to encourage me to get away from the screen more often! :)

Friday, 7 September 2012

The little things...

Sometimes it is just the little things that add to the decor or it's a little project that just helps you get away from the computer screen for a while. In this case it is also related to the namesake of this bog. :)

For my birthday a while back I got given a small bunch of faux bluebells from someone special. As bluebells are my birth flower and my favourite flower it was a nice little addition to the other gifts that year. For a while my Zora Tunic Link statue has been looking after them, but then this birthday I got given a rather nice reed diffuser that came in the sweetest little blue bottle with a little dragonfly attached. Once the oils had run out I washed it out and decided that I wanted to use it for something...

Staring at my shelf of figurines I realised that it was about time to relive Zora Link of his burden...


To get the 'flowers' to stand up was similar to the ship in a bottle conundrum. I had to cut the wire stems down to size, and after unravelling them they would make a good stand, but I needed to splay them on the bottom of the bottle and then get the whole thing to stay stable. Splaying the stems in the bottle was easy, just some force required to do so, to get it all to stay in the same place was another matter. Blue-tac etc didn't stick too well and the top heavy nature of the flowers pulled it over, as the stem of the bottle wasn't quite thick enough to hold the bunch up. The bottle is not fully opaque either to the wire from the stems was visible.

That when I had the idea of using the blue glass droplets, I used to collect them when I was a kid - having recently found them during a clear out it seemed the perfect solution. However the bottle neck, living up to it's saying, was too thin this time. Only a small selection of the droplets would fit through and none would go through while the bluebell stems were also in there. So it became a balancing act of adding enough droplets to cover most of the base, then feeding some more next to the thin end of the stems, then pushing the stems down through the droplets and hoping that they would still splay out to provide the stand for the flowers.

After some shaking, poking and prodding it worked, a nice quick little job using things I had around to create a little stand for my year round flowers and reusing my pretty little bottle. It's these kind of projects I like, spur of the moment ideas that give use to otherwise disposable items. :)

Otherwise life has been really busy recently and I have had little time to work on my else other than my dissertation, but as the autumn approaches my breaks from writing will be spent more on crafts I think, as at the moment the nice weather is too good to ignore and stay indoors. :D


Friday, 31 August 2012

Thoughts on Earth's Children

After starting my current course I have had the luxury of being able to walk into University, a far cry from my college days some ten odd years ago where I had an hour and a half commute on a train and bus! It is been nice to stroll in, but it has taken away my main reading time. It's not the first time I have been lucky enough to do away with transport costs to work/study establishments, and it is nice to save the money from doing so. However if I did suddenly find myself having to commute I would relish the chance to get my reading hours back, I always had a book on the go which made sitting on the train (or standing during rush hour) a task that I did not mind that much. So this summer I seemed to make up for it, I ended up reading a few books that have been on my back burner for a while and even read a series from start to finish, that series being Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children.

Jean M Auel's Earth's Children Series
Images From: Wikipedia

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Craft Containers

The weather has taken a nice turn around recently, so I have taken the chance to go sit in the park and take walks and potter in the garden. The downside of taking walks is this week is that I ended up in a retail park where Hobbycraft lives. As a lot of shops are struggling these days there are sales left right and centre. So I took advantage of this and picked up some storage for my sewing kit and dream catcher making kit.

The purple box in the middle is however a recycled gift box... several years ago I got given a very nice box of bath oils and such. The bath oils are all used up but the box was so pretty and sturdy thay it was kept and is a perfect home for the Dream catcher stuff. The fact thatnit is purple/blue like NiGHTS is a happy accident. :)

Anyway the organising neat freak in me enjoys sorting things out and making sure it is all stored nicley and easy to acess. It has also been a good activity to do that requires little movement in this recent heat spell that in comparison to the weather last week is just a bit too much.

The other upside is that I have started making dream catchers again today as well. Nowe I don't have to root around in a broken draw to get to the materials it encourages use more. :)


Thursday, 5 July 2012

Dreams of NiGHTS


So today 'NiGHTS into dreams...' is sixteen years old and today Sega announced that they were finally releasing a remake of the original in HD no less and with a port of the original Saturn game.

This game was special to me when I was around 15-16, although it is hard to explain exactly why. The simple answer is that is inspired me and held parallels to 'The Dreamstone' something else that I had held dear since I was very young. The complicated answer involves my introduction to games that were more than what I had played before on the BBC or Spectrum and the complicated relationship I had with the person responsible for showing me this five year old Sega Saturn game at the time when the Dreamcast was at it's peak.

Needless to day that this game coincides with a time in my life when nothing was certain other than the feelings I had towards that person and every time I think of this game I think of him. Not in the same way mind you, over a decade later I and he have changed and we have both moved on and gone in very different directions in our lives. As much as that time in my life feels like another lifetime and I look back as though I am looking back at another persons life it doesn't change the fact that this game along with'Ocarina of Time' and 'Sonic Adventure' started a change in my life that would lead to me to where I am today. All of that however is another complicated story and I shall leave at that for fear of rambling.

However I wanted to try and express an inkling of why, when I saw the Tweet leading to Sega's blog post about the HD remake, I was at a loss for words; squeaking in happiness with tears appearing on my cheeks. Yet I guess the reasons and such are only personal to me as I am the one who has lived it, but anyway, as you can guess I am a more than a little happy at the news that I no longer have to coax my failing Saturn into working each Christmas to play NiGHTS and Christmas NiGHTS. :)

It has also given me the opportunity to share something a little personal but also something I was proud of as well, the fan work I created when I was younger with NiGHTS as the subject.

This is a small Flash animation done back sometime in 2000-2001, I can't quite remember after all the computers this file has been transferred from the original Flash file and date have been lost. I was trying to learn the program by myself at home with the help of the previously mentioned partner at the time, to do so I tried to copy and imitate things I was a fan of so therefore knew well to get to grips with the program. This was among the first fully finished attempts at that. To this day I am still quite proud of it. :)



Going back a little further was this series of drawings I did, one of the original NiGHTS and then two other 'Elemental NiGHTS' concepts I did. Then a mash up of Sonic and NiGHTS inspired after playing as Sonic in Christmas NiGHTS. The drawings were done in pencil over the space of probably several weeks in-between classes as college, I was not happy at college when I was 16-17 and I didn't have any close friends there, so lunch breaks etc were spent walking in the woods along a river nearby. I found a clearing with a fallen log and that became my spot where I would go for lunch or lesson breaks. I spent many a sunny afternoon there with my sketchbook drawing, ironically occasionally skipping art classes as I didn't like my tutor or him me! Instead these drawings were among the many I drew back then, scanned in some years ago I fear now that I may have lost the originals.
Original NiGHTS
Water NiGHTS
Fire NiGHTS
Sonic NiGHTS
Then there was the image that started it all, when I first started playing NiGHTS was was commuting back and forth London and Brighton, so I had many hours on the train. Again when I was 16 I never went anywhere without my sketch book, the game had made an impression on me and I used to study the manual and box making doodles of the character. This was the first piece of fan art that I did for the game that I finished and as proud of, started on the train and then finished during my exam revision breaks I completed this from memory.

Original NiGHTS Fan Art

Looking at these again certainly brings back memories and a few regrets, as events in my life soon after all this led me to lapse in my drawing. I was working soon after college and along with a new found social life I found I had little time or inkling to draw as much as I used to. Yet it was this inspiration and passion that I had for games that led me to that job and the social life that sprung from that employment, which in turn led me to meet some of my most cherished friends, so I may regret letting my skills lapse I wouldn't change it. :)

Anyway, it is really exciting to finally be able to play the game without as much hassle, and to also be able to pay Sega for it as I missed it the first time around and was only able to play it thanks to eBay. :)

Although I do think the main thanks for this has to go to the community effort behind the NiD15 Campaign and the founder of the NiGHTS into dreams Fansite, Lynne Triplett. Who is a very talented artist and has kept the dream of NiGHTS alive for a very long time and has probably had the biggest influence in getting the game what it deserves a second chance to be played by fans and the those who missed it the first time around.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Previous Craft Projects

All my life I have been known to be creating things out of random things around the house to starting specific craft projects that have required tracking down miscellaneous materials. I have been creating everything from odd little Christmas decorations to full outfits inspired by game characters. (My favourite one so far being Jade from Beyond Good and Evil - but that's another story.) ;)

However each time I create something it has normally been for something specific, a gift or for decoration. It has also been a long time since I sat down and just decided to create something as inspiration struck. The busier life gets the easier it is to forget these things. So I have recently started some new projects, but before I post details on those I just wanted to talk about a few things I have already done on a whim.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Working Environment

This past weekend I have been having a spring clean and re-arranging my computer desk. I have gone from having a desktop on one of those Argos compact desks to a laptop on a another Argos job that has never been quite fit for purpose. (My dream is to one day have a desk that is custom built, but while I am on minimum way/student the Argos ones will have to do.)

Anyway here is the before:
Layout From Summer 2011
Here is the after:
Layout from Spring 2012