I’m clouding, yo!

This blog is now clouded, yo. And I have a new domain name too.

Thanks to my newly gained experience in cloud and networking magic and, more importantly, my longtime webhosting provider jumping the shark I finally migrated to technology’s latest buzzword.

THE Cloud
THE Cloud

Philwebservices Started Sucking

I loved PWS. They did an excellent job despite being cheap. I didn’t hesitate recommending them to other people. They were very helpful when this wordpress blog got hacked. Things were going well until…

One day, they started migrating to the “cloud”. Maybe it was their sales team receiving an AWS webinar invitation. Or their CEO getting left out in this year’s Web Hosting conference buffet.

First, my .php files stopped working. I checked and they were gone, removed. As if some staffer did an “rm *.php”. I filed a report and then restored the site from my local backup.

Then, I can’t do file transfers anymore. Even the CPanel locked me out. I tried emailing their customer support but they did not reply. Their live chat support doesn’t work. Even their social media stopped updating mid November. I tried calling them but they weren’t answering.

I only received a reply when I emailed sales instead and told them I’m cancelling my account; the reply had 3 paragraphs of upsell followed by “Your account is still active. Why do you want to transfer?”

What Was In My Head:

… because I’m losing the advantage of using simple FTP to update my site and having you guys have my back when things go wrong, and I’m technically capable of running my own cloud apps anyway.”

My Polite Reply:

… because I want more control in my domain and hosting. And customer service hasn’t been that good to me, lately.

They asked for my phone, expecting that they’d call me immediately after. I ended up missing their call twice (I didn’t know they’d call after office hours). I tried calling back but they don’t answer. I tried asking them for a time to expect their next call but no response.

Codeanginamo.com goes to limbo

This went on until my domain registration expired. Turns out I can’t transfer my domain now that it’s expired. It will be in limbo for 3 months where it will be auctioned by enom (their domain provider). If no one buys the domain, its freed back to the market and I can buy it then.

“Sir, there’s a high chance other people will buy your domain, unless”, said sales/customer service girl, “you renew your domain with us. It will be safe with us for 3 months until you can transfer the domain.”

Forget the domain, man

Lesson learned: keep your domain and web hosting separate. They really shouldn’t be controlled by one company. You can keep an instance of your website on different webhosts and have your domain point to one instance and have the others as backup. If main host goes down or gets hacked or whatever, just point the domain IP to the backup. D’oh. It’s an easy mistake to make especially when I was young and didn’t know a lot about the internets.

On the up side, I now own nginamo.com (non-Filipino speakers should pronounce this as en-gee-na-moh). And I can subdomain the shit out of it!

Anything from:
http://app.nginamo.com
http://beta.nginamo.com
http://mail.nginamo.com (ako@nginamo.com)


to the obvious:
http://ta.nginamo.com

I am the proud owner of the internet domain equivalent of a Batas song.

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Flowers for Jose Rizal

Last May, I maybe started this game collective. There are a lot of reasons why I did that but they’re fit for another post. Now, a game collective isn’t one if we don’t at least make games for ourselves. So we did just that.

We were supposed to make a game about Jose Rizal to celebrate his 150th birth anniversary. I made a sorta game about his poem To The Flowers of Heidelberg.

It's a art

I have never read Rizal’s novels beyond what was required in school, though I like his poems. Rizal originally wrote in Spanish and experts say we miss a lot of his wordplay by reading it in translated English. But I trust Nick Joaquin’s work and his version of the poem.

When I was a kid, the poem used to be about patriotic nostalgia, but now that  I’m roughly at the same stage as Rizal when he wrote this its meaning got a little personal for me. This was written in the middle of Rizal’s intellectual growth in line with pursuing his passion. He and his “illustrado” friends are travelling in Europe, picking silly fights, fencing and modelling for paintings, along the way discovering the concepts of nationhood and freedom. 10 years later, he will be martyred for inspiring a revolution and attacking the Catholic church, his friends will die or be killed in the uprising, and his country will be sold to the Americans. In ten years, shit got totally real!

It would be cool to think that what I’m doing would be part of some revolution in the next decade and I hope no one gets killed (figuratively of course) because of it.

Play Flowers of Heidelberg

Technical Notes

I tried to remove non-essential elements of gameplay knowing that it would only diminish the overall impact of the game. My goal wasn’t to make something addictive, though I could have tried that it wouldn’t feel right knowing the subject matter. I believe some games should only be played once and its abusive for games to force players to play far longer than they have to.

Thanks to the notgames community for the insights about the game.

 

[Sorry, the two people who read this blog, for my radio silence this past few weeks. I’ve been busy working on paid stuff, that I can’t actually show here. Anyway, I’ll post project updates soon.]

Sextinction Art Update

Background

I joined the Global Game Jam and made a sex game called Sextinction. It features some of the improvements I made on RPGAutomata (aka my RPG Engine). I spent majority of the weekend getting a pretty kewl dialog tree system up and running. The game turned out crappy.

It was crap because of two things: bad graphics and bad writing. Really, in a game where there’s no ‘fun’ gameplay the worse that could happen is if it had graphics made in 30 minutes and the story less than that –which says a lot at how dynamic my dialog code works btw.

Before

The art is so bad it's worse than the writing.

The style is all over the place. The pixel art characters clash with the crayon drawn background. The font style is bland. The NPC characters are almost invisible.

Now

Srsly. This is so derivative.

Straight lines make everything look rigid and manly. But the uneven shades makes the office look worn and used. I also limited the view to be smaller than the canvas so everything will fit without having to pan the camera. The text is no longer in the way. The overall look might remind people of  photo negatives– those people are voyeurs.

#LD19 Post Mortem (Very Lonely in a Spaceship)

I spent roughly 2 days of my life last weekend to participate in the most daring quest of the Ludum, #19’s theme being “Discovery”.

There are many reasons developers go to jams, I usually do it for the freedom but this time was different for me. Fresh from my Tron 3D experience the night before, I wanted to learn how to do all the neony stuff I saw, and given that the whole week I was studying rendering techniques I jammed for the learning opportunity.

Things That Are Bad

Unclear scope

While this isn’t my first jam experience, I still did a rookie mistake of trying to make too many things happen. I basically worked a couple of hours trying to make the game render in different screen sizes! Although experience worked for me when I used some code out of the box (like using PBE’s logging interface to create my own command line).

Too many distractions

I played CityVille too much. 🙂 (The fact that I’m using my girlfriend’s company issued laptop, which meant her bugging me to check if her crops haven’t withered yet, didn’t help either)

"Come let us ruin his productivity!"

Plus 2 Christmas parties on Saturday and a hangover half Sunday. (Look at the brightside, I actually have a social life!)

Lack of motivation to finish

The moment I knew how to make the glowing text thingy — bloom effect, for those in the know — I knew I was done. That was the thing I sat out to do and now I can’t find any motivation to do anything more.

Things I Should Have Done

Commit to goals before doing anything

If I should do a jam game the way I do a day-job project, I would set out to write the main goals — stories if you are an Agile freak– that I should accomplish during the course of the jam. Having the goals written down makes it easy for me to pace myself and map out the game’s direction. Writing a design doc is a waste of time, but writing bullet points isn’t. Here’s what I should have written:

  • Learn how to make things glow
  • Learn how to do those radar blips
  • Create dynamic captain’s logs

I usually let the design grow organically but it really helps to have a direction. I played CaptainForever again and I must say, I was unconsciously or consciously leaning towards that.

Anyway..

I learned a lot of technical stuff during the jam so..  it’s all good. I might finish the game in the future or I may not, but I’ll certainly reuse some of the things I did for this game.

Play Here

Love/Hate 1st draft

I had this idea about a 3d game where the player tries to rescue a girl confined in a box. Did my initial sketches in Flash and all of it were crap. I couldn’t imagine good enough gameplay or athmosphere for it to be compelling.

So I scrapped the idea and worked on something a little mainstream: a generic platform game with a twist (like all of them do). The twist is that the player doesn’t directly control the avatar. Throughout the game you or the avatar will converse and “understand” each other.

I’m not exactly sure where this is headed but I am going to stick to a few guidelines:

1. Stay away from puzzles. The game shouldn’t be something you have to solve.

2. Control the scope. I have limited resources so I have to keep things manageable.

3. No pixel art. Not this time. 🙂

Hmm, this looks familiar
From screenies

After taking a crack at it I created my heroine. A little girl wearing a big red shirt. The red and black reminds me of the girls from  Abandon and The Path, haven’t played both of them though.