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in search of Space Monsters – Page 20 – exploring arcade game design with HTML5, JavaScript and PhoneGap

Thoughts on a home-made ghostly movie

I am somewhat pre-occupied with the idea of shooting my own film. I have been for a while if I’m honest. Thing is, as much as I have ideas for a cool plot and visual style I have no clue whatsoever how to shoot a film. Even the basics are a mystery to me – framing, lighting and pointing a camera at the subject !
I could probably get by with my small family digital video recorder for the the simple job of shooting a rough film but for a larger more polished job I’m at a loss.

So first things first I think I’ll spend some time trying to figure out a story and cool characters.

In terms of a style I’m drawn to all things spooky. Supernatural stories always get me since I’m easily disturbed by things that I read or hear. Japanese ghost stories such as The Grudge or The Ring re-ignited my love of the genre a few years back.

So what ideas do I have ? What could I possibly come up with ?

Well for some detail I have to look back to the works of Lovecraft, Poe and even H.G Wells and Mary Shelley. I’ve read a lot of Lovecraft but not a jot of Poe or Wells. I recently downloaded the Frankenstein audiobook so hopefully in around 7 hours worth of playing time I will be that bit more enlightened as to the neat tricks of telling a spooky tale.
It’s the Victoriana that gets me. I love it. I’m often drawn to any television dramas that are set around that time – even though I may never actually watch them – since they are so stylish. I love to read about how people of a certain class became obsessed with discovery and exploration. What a magical time it must have been. Little wonder that H.G Wells, Jules Verne et al had so much to write about.

I’m hoping to just get as many ideas down as possible and start making sense of it all at a later date. Researching this kind of thing is a wonderful way to waste an evening once the kids are in bed. I can see some late night reading and web surfing with a low light and glass of whiskey for company.

Dracula 1979 – the awful transformation of Mina


Mina's awful transformation

Mina's awful transformation

The scene with Mina in the mines from Dracula 1979 on YouTube.

As a young boy watching the 1979 version of Dracula with Frank Langella, Laurence Olivier, Trevor Eve, Jan Francis and Donald Pleasance to name but a few I was horrified at the transformation of Mina. The effects of becoming a Vampire were so visual, so catastrophic to her that the image of her stumbling through the mines in rags and with those awful bloodshot eyes and pale, flaking skin has remained imprinted on my brain for the last 30 years. Utterly terrifying.

I don’t think I’ve seen too many scenes in a movie that have left such an impression. Sure the Exorcist had plenty scenes of a similar style but they were used so much you almost became desensitised to it. With this short 2 minute scene played out between Olivier and Francis (and later Pleasance) you have something that is both heartbreaking and horrific at the same time.

Today I landed a Space Shuttle – as you do !

Space Shuttle simulatorSo I downloaded a Space Shuttle simulator for iPad – F-SIM Space Shuttle.
How hard can it be to land a glider ? Well the short answer to that is pretty damned hard actually.

I’ve really not invested much time in the app but from I’ve seen you get to land the shuttle at either Edwards’ Air Force Base or Kennedy Space Center. You can make it a complicated approach or a straight forward vertical straight line descent. Naturally whilst you figure the controls the latter is by far the best option.
Never the less I still hit the dirt like a dart every time.

There’s something very nostalgic about this app for me. I remember clearly the first shuttle flight 30 years ago and remember waiting and waiting for the much hyped descent as it returned to Earth some days later.
As with everything back then film footage was a little hazy. I’m fairly sure that the air temperature around Edwards’ didn’t much help either.
But what a truly mesmerising and inspirational thing for a young teenage boy to witness as this spaceship that had taken off days earlier returned in its entirety to land just like a plane. Magical stuff and something that I will never forget.

I might just have to have a good look around for other iPad flight simulators now that I have the bug !

An evening at Frogg Manor, Cheshire.

Well I can honestly say that I’ve never been to anywhere quite like Frogg Manor. What a gloriously ridiculous yet thoroughly entertaining place to spend a Saturday evening.

Frogg Manor room

A room at Frogg Manor

We all knew the moment we arrived that we were in for something quite different. As you make your way up the handful of steps in to the old building and step in to the entrance hall you could easily be forgiven for thinking that you’ve stepped unwittingly in to somebody’s home. And that’s just it. You have indeed stepped straight in to somebody’s home ! The proud owners of this home, John and Charlee, are right there to greet you and waste no time ushering you upstairs for a few drinks whilst you peruse the menu and make yourself at home.

At no point during our stay did we feel awkward. Every effort is made to ensure that you are 100% relaxed.
The first floor library is a wonderful throw-back to a time of unashamed bourgeois luxury. You sit amongst books, tables and all manner of chairs and loungers in what I can only describe as a scene from an Agatha Christie mystery.

During the course of the evening John and his wife pop round to say hello and share a few tales of their time at Frogg Manor. It is precisely this approach to hospitality that endeared each and every one of us to the place.
If I told you that we left at 1.30am and could easily have stayed (and would have been more than welcome) another 3 hours you probably get some idea as to just how warm and friendly a place this is.

To write any more may well kill the surprises that a Frogg Manor newbie ought to experience first hand. If you’re ever in this part of England I heartily recommend you pay a visit. A bonkers night.

A quintessentially English affair

Now that I have some place to write I figure I should probably get in to the habit of writing on a regular basis. Of course the danger is that what comes out is pure nonsense but with a bit of careful thought and editing I’m sure I can at least offer something worth reading once in a while :-)

A week spent coding web sites takes its toll on my brain. I develop amongst developers where discussion rarely shifts away from the fine details of writing C# and more web specific code such as HTML and JavaScript. I certainly enjoy my job and the challenges that it throws up but I sure look forward to the weekend.

This weekend sees my wife Lucy’s birthday and we’re off out for a well deserved meal with friends to a hotel / restaurant that describes itself as “quintessentially English restaurant”. I’m sure that any number of restaurants will lay claim to this but there’s something about this particular place that somehow feels quite genuine.
When I called to make the reservation I’m fairly sure I could hear Noel Coward tinkling on the ivories somewhere in the background !
Check the web site out and you’ll see what I mean: Frogg Manor Hotel
It’s certainly a breath of fresh air to find a place like this since the majority of restaurants I visit are often less than genuine.

frogg manor

Unashamedly bourgeois the header on the web site tells us. With prices to match. Still if you’re going to do it you really should do it in style !

It’s seeing this restaurant that put me in mind of something that is a bit of a hot topic these days, the subject of identity. I often think that as a country England’s identity has changed over the years. We have a tremendous blend of cultures now and really I think benefit a great deal from it. It’s not of course as simple as just being able to go out and dine in an Indian or Chinese restaurant. More I’d say it helps us stuffy old English types to raise issues of living amongst such diverse cultures. Cultures that we helped ourselves to in times gone by but now rather reject since they pitched up on our doorstep.

But I guess for tonight I shall wander back in time to a point where none of that seemed to matter.
Bring on the roasted venison, apple pie with custard and sherries to finish !!

Art, books, patience

I find it staggering what some people can achieve with just their hands.
Take, for example, this set of images from the artist Brian Dettmer.

It’s not just intricate and beautiful to view it’s a work of incredible craftmanship. To maintain such a firm vision and produce such a stunning result is testament to the amount of patience present in some people. A level of patience that I would freely admit I don’t possess.

Incidentally I found this work courtesy of this blog post which in turn came courtesy of WordPress’ Freshly Pressed section.

Hello, world.

I always wanted some place to write about daily thoughts and events (and stuff) that wasn’t in any way linked to my game development. Writing about game design and the intricacies of making games work is a huge amount of fun but it’s very niche. I wanted to be able to express thoughts on all manner of things without messing up a journal with specific subject matter.

I love the “good old days” of arcade gaming and the problems encountered when designing games so that may well crop up but generally speaking I get free reign to talk about anything.

I want this to be a very personal blog. The beauty of any blog is that if it works for me it allows you to get to know the author. I’ve read, and still read, a good many blogs on a daily basis. I love the insight that you get in to somebody’s life who has a wildly different routine to you. Better still they belong to a different culture altogether. Even in some cases where the author is geographically less than a thousand miles away the culture and the outlook is quite different to my own.

I hope you return to read more and discover what it is that interests, excites, terrifies and motivates me. I hope for my part that I get the chance to sit down and write about stuff on a regular basis.
I’m always looking for a diversion / inspiration so please feel free to drop me a line or paste your own blog in to the comments section.


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