Friday, 2 May 2008

Pot Noodle: the follow up

Seems the Pot Noodle video I posted a while back uses elements from the Stakker 'Humanoid' video. Yeah, I've never heard of them but I was three years old when it was created.

Strangely hypnotic.

Quicktime Movs and Flash files now available for download at my site, for the sake of it. Not proving massively popular on YouTube yet so maybe some more web promotion is in order.

My site

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Political Propaganda

This guy's videos are good. Wish I'd seen them before now, more specifically when I was still working on the Analogue Propaganda stuff. Dunno if the guy actually mixed them himself or if he stole them from some mashup show but they're impressive nonetheless.

RX2008's Youtube channel

Monday, 28 April 2008

Useful links

Just a few sites I've been using/bookmarked over the last few days:

Update: blasted autorun doesn't work on Macs. Why can't we all use the same computer and all these compatibility problems will be gone?

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Analogue Propaganda DVD

Visual scheme. Looking to follow the same theme with my DVD packaging.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Gough Road map

Maybe a bit late now, as the mapping brief's deadline passed ages ago, but the University of Belfast have created an interactive version of a map from the 14th century. Talk about old contrasted with new - some of the tools resemble those on Google Maps, produced some 600 years later! It's also interesting to see what the country looked like all those years ago, even if the cartography didn't prove to be wholly accurate.

The Gough Map
Gough Map at Wikipedia

Improveverywhere April fools

Meant to post this ages ago, but Improveverywhere's website was reskinned on April Fools day:

Click to enlarge. I love these parodies of early userpages... something I touched on in my MyPlace game.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

MyPlaceland beta

I'm pretty close to a version I'd be happy to post on my website. Some screenshots provided above - graphical and technical elements are all but complete. At this stage I wouldn't really have the time to add anything significant. I'm adding the finishing touches to the overall gameplay, specifically more people that may have a positive or negative effect on your points/sanity.

Apart from that it's just ironing out bugs through repeated playtesting.

Friday, 18 April 2008

MyPlaceland is nearing completion

What the title says. All rooms are in place and the next week will be the time to playtest and finalise the game, including adding a soundtrack (I have yet to mix) and messing around with the graphics a bit.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Reskinning MyPlaceland

Began the process of bringing more "Internetish" elements (especially graphically) into MyPlace. Beginning to work in places but looking like a nautical map in others...

Also the story has been changed to a more generic "you have to pick up bits of your corrupted webpage" collection based affair with the friends meter taking second stage.

I'm still thinking it through: I'm sure things will be sorted by the deadline.

I Wanna be the Guy!

Apparently this is the hardest game ever conceived. Pays homage to lots of famous video games and is graphically very cool.

I wanna be the guy


"I Wanna Be The Guy: The Movie: The Game is a sardonic loveletter to the halcyon days of early American videogaming, packaged as a nail-rippingly difficult platform adventure. Players fill the role of The Kid, a youthful, vaguely Megaman-esque protagonist on a quest to become The Guy. This inscrutable plot, however, is just a vehicle for a wide variety of inventive, well-designed and frustrating jump-and-shoot challenges that pay homage to many of the games you loved as a child. The ever-fragile Kid explodes in a shower of red pixels at the slightest brush from the game's many obstacles, from traditional spikes and bottomless pits to more unconventional killers, such as plantlife and puzzle pieces. "

Couple of links

Also, updated my website with new projects and some better quality YouTube links.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

MyPlace: inspiration

As said previously, the graphics and general idea of the MyPlace game take from classic puzzle games as well as some newer top down role-play games. In particular the graphics take from Grand Theft Auto 2:

In addition, the game borrows graphically from the SNES version of Zelda. Here's a quick video of that in action:

Now, compare to some screenshots of my game:

Spot the difference.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

MyPlace: quick update

MyPlace: the Game. Now has status bar, six rooms and unlockable areas. Also includes some new car sprites and yet more bits nicked from Zelda 3.

Monday, 24 March 2008

MyPlace: game progress

The graphical elements stolen from Zelda 3 stick out a bit....

Sunday, 23 March 2008

MyPlace Land: Work In Progress

I'm thinking of applying this game to the publication brief: video game mapping. I might not be able to finish it in two weeks, however so I may need some sort of backup plan.

Some of the graphics are lifted from Zelda 3 whilst some, such as the sprites, are hand created. The above screen is the starting room in the game and thus far is the only one I have anywhere near completion. I'm going to base the map around a long street with a number of different rooms a bit like Zelda 2's houses.

I think things will have to be modified to fit the time limit: getting health from the computer idea is binned (for now) and only the friends (lives?) and score (score) ideas remain.

One other problem: the physical size of the game could potentially be massive in modern terms. It's already 30Mb and only the first room is done! At this rate it could end upwards of 200Mb meaning it would be a CD only game - no embedding into web pages.

To do:
  • Create box art, packaging and distinctive graphics (purple, MySpace based). Apply to the game - make it more 'social networking' based.
  • Change wavs to mp3s and see if the file size is reduced.
And an idea for another game:
  • Teletext maze game. Simple beat the clock, Pacman 'avoid enemies' style.

Book Review - The Video Games Guide

The Video Games Guide, Matt Fox

Bought this book a while back from the Book Clearance Centre. It's actually a giant collection of reviews of some classic (and not so classic) video games from Pong to whatever you can get on the Playstation 3. Pity there weren't many images but it's a useful guide for ROM gamers.

The most useful bit of the book was the appendix which had some major game designers and a glossary of famous games from each year. There's also a useful list of 'generation' categorised consoles.

For my game, I will be particularly taking inspiration from Grand Theft Auto 2 (PS) and Legend of Zelda 3 (SNES) [which got four and five star ratings respectively in the book] in the top-down perspective and collection/exploration aspects of the game. The graphical element will be more akin to early SNES than anything due to the limitations of the game. I'll look to post some development screenshots.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Map design variations

Not sure what I want to do with these yet, maybe some UK wide statistical data. Colour variations:

Maps - initial tests

Done some rough mockups for visuals centring on an ascii map of Britain. Warning, rude place names ahead... HTML version above, Flash version below.

I like this idea. At the moment the links go to the Google maps page - I wonder if I could take this further/apply it to something else? Maybe a simple Game Maker game?

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Maps - initial ideas

Some ideas based on the starting point 'maps'.
  • Documenting a journey through film. Attach a camera to a hat and walk somewhere. Speed it up and put some daft tune to it. Really old idea.
  • Stupid place names - Shitterton, Dung (France), Balls (US) etc. Maybe a world map with these places pointed out. Use of Google Maps to extensively research.
  • Image maps - websites. Link Maps - maps of the web.
  • Video game maps. Create a (Game Maker) game. Might be too similar to the MySpace game idea? Somehow try and merge the two, maybe.
  • Cartography - hoax maps, place names.
  • False entries.
  • Explomap. Good site.
Some less sensible ideas:
  • Carve a map on a chocolate biscuit.
  • Web browser simply states 'you are here'. If illegal, 'you are not here'.
  • 'You are here' portable sign. 'I am here'.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Game Maker

My first Game Maker game! You can collect the coins and talk to people. Talk to the wrong person and you lose a life. Lose three lives and it's game over. You need to talk to the guy in green to remove the blocker from the door (top).

I think I understand what I'm doing with this now. Just need to find out one or two more things and I'll be ready to start proper - in fact I could probably do that now. I might just create a small game or two to start off with - maybe a collection game or a small top down shooter - before I take on the full game.
  • Carry on with Futuresonic website. I'm considering sticking with Futuresonic but there's always time to change.
  • Make some graphics and maps for the game.
  • Maybe do the Superlambananas brief. Distraction in Progress? Might be worth generating some ideas in sketchbook.
  • Still no word on the publication brief.

Friday, 14 March 2008

To do list

For next week.
  • Continue working on Futuresonic/festival site. See Pixel is Power blog for more details.
  • Distraction in Progress - possible idea for the degree show material. If not, use for upcoming publication brief.
  • Game Maker - real life MySpace game. Have got to grips with the basics and will explore the program more in the coming days.
  • DYSTT - be on lookout for more videos to flesh the idea out. Email Sam and ask for help with putting it together (April 1)
  • If time - designs for DVD cover for final multimedia disc and Analogue Propaganda.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

MySpace: the game* - proposal

*Title is a working title. I would probably want to use something more generic to refer to social networking sites in general.

I want to create a game that is primarily a comment on the MySpace culture of 'collecting' friends. If this were applied to real life, it would equate to approaching people on the street and asking them to 'be your friend'.

The overall style could be compared to that of Grand Theft Auto 2, a top-down shoot em up in which the player is set 'missions' to complete. In my game there would be no shooting (at least I don't think) but there would be missions that could include collecting items that resemble Facebook icons. The main focus would be to collect friends which would involve making contact with the sprite of another character and maybe pressing a button. I am also considering adding a timer, known as a 'sanity meter' which constantly ticks down and would be reset when the user gets to a computer to check their friend status!

The user can visit various locations in the fictional world, including a shop that sells gaudy T-shirts (reflecting the poorly designed custom MySpace layouts) and various friends' houses, unlockable by meeting the right people as the user explores the game. You start off in the information centre, a small beginner level, to ease the user into the game.

Not everybody will be your friend, however. Some people will just give advice, or reject your friend requests. In the case of the latter, your sanity meter will decrease by a portion or two.
  • Life - Sanity level (meter). Reduced when a friend rejects you. Vice versa.
  • Items - add to popularity rating (meter, percentage?).
  • Score - friends. Plus one for every friend. Plus 10(?) for every group (just another scoring gimmick)
The longer you stay alive, the more popular you get, the more friends you make.

Graphics for title screens, popup windows etc. will be based on existing social networking graphics, particularly the MySpace ones. Occasionally you will get messages from the moderator or the 'Tom' type figure (who I'll probably rename Bob, or something) - for example you get a MySpace style welcome message when you start the game. Perhaps people you interact with could speak leet/text language/any other Internet language.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Myspace: the game

Characteristics of MySpace (good or bad):
  • Bad colour clash and generic template pages
  • Incrementalism. Collect things.
  • Rate things. Rankings - top 10s
  • Egotistical - add me! Vanity. Look at me! I am the best!
  • Makes people lazy - can't be bothered to go to meet them/phone them
  • Populated by children who use this as an extension of real life - cyber bullying
  • Waste of time. Addictive.
  • Slow loading times - crummy third party Javascript and Flash
  • Security problems - identity theft
Sourcepoints (warning: strong and/or nerd language follows) :
a. Listing and cataloguing your already existing friends, as to create such riveting conversations like, "Hay why haven't you added me yet?" These conversations don't limit themselves to the internet either, people actually talk about this shit in real life. There is something inherently sad about that.

b. Meeting random people to list as your "Friends." For f**k's sake, do you really need the internet to meet people? Especially those with a name like xXforbidDEn___aDdictionXx? There's a reason these people are on the internet and not hanging out with all the kewl friends that they have.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Film festival websites

Two reasons for these: layout inspiration for my own festival website and also possible places to rework and submit my 'Teletext is Dead' idea to.
Found through

Futuresonic 2008

The theme for this year's Futuresonic festival is Social Networking. Remember the real life MySpace idea? Now this has something to work to. I'm currently looking into creating a top-down, Grand Theft Auto style game - so why not MySpace: the Game? You go around 'recruiting' people to your friends list and you get 1 point for every one you make. Beware, though - some people don't like being confronted in the street and could punch you to the ground.

I'll work on the premise more in the week and try and flesh the idea out. Over Easter will be the time to get cracking on it.

It will feature web based work, installation, software projects, performance and other formats. Projects can involve online, mobile or offline social networking. They can enable people to experiment collaboratively with different kinds of social experience and social interaction. Or they can intervene in the forces, inequities and inequalities that shape society. How can we make visible the unspoken rules and etiquette that guide what we do in public places, online and offline? Who are the social revolutionaries? The misfits? The conformists? Who has been left outside?
-- 2008 theme

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Pot Noodle

Going through videotapes for the DYSTT showing, I found this old advert for Pot Noodle from 1992 on a VHS tape at the back of my wardrobe somewhere. Intense.

And an old blog post that made me smile recently: Never Mind the Bus Stops.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Some good quotes

Some good themes to work to:
  • I do not sell products. I sell an entire civilization in a jar. - Shahnaz Hussain
  • Nothing is better than the unintended humour of reality. - Steve Allen
  • Just because it's old doesn't mean you have to read it. ~ "Jolene Sugarbaker, the Trailer Park Queen"
  • If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time. ~ Billy Joel
From Wikiquote.

Edited Bush speech and a similar Brown speech

Very well edited speech to completely change its meaning. It's got obvious underlying political tones but I just think it's funny.

Britain! Interesting how politicians use a lot of repetition. Also note the glitch bits...

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

404 Error pages

They can be frustrating but I will set out to see if people have actually bothered to make 404 error pages interesting. Those pages that make people forget they had the wrong page in the first place. I have come across one or two interesting ones in the past but no interactive ones as of yet... but I may do soon. If not, this is a gap in the market... as far as error screens go, anyway.

Notice that the below link is to a page on the Internet Archive... that's because I got a 404 message when I tried to access the current in Firefox! Oh, the irony.

Interesting 404 error pages
Illarterate 404

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Can't drum?

No worries - use video editing instead.

Now why didn't I think of that?

Monday, 3 March 2008


This is an interesting website that has a bunch of simple HTML/CSS etc. tools:

Dynamic Drive Tools

I used the favicon generator (I could have done it myself in Photoshop but this way was quicker :-] ) for my site and it worked fine.

Speaking of which, I finally managed to get Indexhibit working today, after trying all weekend:

Indexhibit portfolio
(Work in progress)

I intend to fill this in the coming weeks with an archive of stuff from my blogs, college etc. as an online sketchbook.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Blogger hacks

Since I haven't made much progress with the installation of Indexhibit, I've been exploring alternatives. One would be to use Blogger in a simplified format but I'm not really too keen on this idea.

Blogger hacks at the Blogger hacks wiki

A second idea would be to create my own HTML site but I would like to get indexhibit working because a) it will allow remote uploading and b) it's a much quicker process.

Sent an email to my hosts about database details so hopefully I can get moving with this tomorrow.

Other alternatives I have explored (with not much success) are Drupal and WordPress but at least I learned a bit about RSS.

Friday, 29 February 2008


I've been looking at this website template for a bit. Normally I wouldn't be one to use pre-defined templates or layouts but it's so simple I suppose it doesn't matter.

Anyway, I cant' get the thing working on my site. Could be a server problem, could be any number of things but the bottom line is I can't work it at the moment. I'll have another look on Monday.

If and when I can sort it, the site would be useful to organise all my ideas and work, bringing together the best of all the blogs, which can be quite hard to sift through for info., example of Indexhibit and creator's website.

Kung Fu Gordon Brown!

Yeah. This was just a bit of fun.


Tuesday, 26 February 2008

BBC Micro hacking!

I found this YouTube clip funny. The presenter was confronted with a hacker's message when he logged into his account! Brilliant for the hackers.

Also from BBC Micro Live, a look into the future of computer music, from 1985.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Yet more glitch movies

This one's a bit more colourful, by a YouTube user. It was created when Sopcast and YouTube messed up the video information.

You don't have to watch all 6 minutes, nothing much changes. The sound seems to disappear after about a minute.

The video above is an excerpt from a 30-minute long 8-bit glitchathon. You might recognise it as Legend of Zelda.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Web design - it's a constant battle for compatibility.

Whilst doing a magazine/booklet inDesign layout brief, I ended up stumbling across this page at outlining and providing jpegs of some of the more common browser fonts. Some of them differ quite wildly, especially in IE and Safari.

There's some more info on common fonts at Browser News but it worries me slightly that I weasn't familiar with a couple of those common fonts.

Even more worrying is the fact that 'American Typewriter' seems to be the most common font in the world. Rubbish. Mortifying is the presence of Comic Sans on that list. Source.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Don't Watch That, Watch This

A show that was on the BBC a couple of years ago. Mashups of archive/current footage mainly focusing on politics.

Weakest Link World Leaders Edition:

Brown vs Blair: 'Watergate'

Blair pours water on Brown at the Labour Party conference!

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Spam casserole - Delia Smith

Delia Smith makes a 'delicious' Spam casserole

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Website online

The Illarterate web space was finally sorted this afternoon and by the time you are reading this it will hopefully be online. I'm still deciding whether to go for a less 'dry' design but at least something is uploaded.

Monday, 11 February 2008

A Call to the LMB

I think, to save bandwidth and server space, I will have YouTube host my website's videos. This will include A Call to the LMB plus some screen recorded content from the interactive stuff.

Illarterate YouTube channel

Friday, 8 February 2008

Thursday, 7 February 2008

The meta tag is dead.

  • Martha Rosler is a New York based video/installation artist. The Martha Rosler library is coming to Liverpool in a few weeks time and there's bound to be some projects based on this. I found this video (Semiotics of the kitchen) of hers interesting.
  • I was going to add meta tags to my portfolio website today but found this article with loads of links to why they are dead. I don't think I'll bother now.
  • The Illarterate site should be online soon at, whilst the Illarterate YouTube account is now up and running with some content.
  • Louise Gallery

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Around Hope St - Photography

I don't do much photography as I suck at it. However here's a few little photographs that might spark something for a future project.

A new Illarterate website

Been getting back to the issue of the personal website. I'm going to try and get this sorted within the next week or so and I've been working on some possible layouts. It's going to be a long process though and I'm thinking of re-using some of the Hit Enter aesthetics, only slightly more simplified. Not yet decided on logos and links bar but I think I would rather keep it basic. Some options are shown above but I'll work on this more tomorrow.

Another idea is to use the side of a dusty van complete with links drawn in the dirt. Not got very far with this idea yet but when I find a suitable van I'll give it a go maybe.

Looks OK but might be a bit cheesy, especially since the 'hand drawn graffiti' bits were actually done with a mouse in Photoshop. I've got some more van photos I might post later.

Finally, some links:
  • Past portfolios from this course. What I'm up against.
  • Colour scheme generator. I didn't use it because it's mostly useless. Nevertheless it's fun. The site might be worth a bit of exploration too.
  • Uni Qlo. Never heard of them before but their grid is quite fun. I like how it's integrated with the store so you can buy t shirts with your designs. At least that's what I can gather.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Damb spellchecker


  • Unconventional advertising in conventional places. And/or the other way round. Some very good inventive pieces of guerrillas marketing and advertising. I particularly like the 'smoker's maze' and the job ads (right).
  • The above found via Design Observer, which is regularly updated with design and multimedia related stuff.
  • Coudal Partners. Similar to above.
  • Cory Arcangel lecture on some of his work. Interesting to hear how the Andy Warhol game (now sadly removed from YouTube) arose from the fact that most pop icons are difficult to render on a 32 by 52 px canvas. Hence the other characters - the Pope and Flava Flav as well as Colonel Saunders. Very interesting.
  • Web design usability. Useful page which acts as a reference for web page designers. It's gonna take years to digest all that!