June 14, 2009

Last Post!

As I wrote in my last post, I have a new blog at my new site that fulfills the purpose of this blog. trazoi.net is now no longer active as a blog site.

I’m hoping to keep the site around, but I am in the process of turning it into a static archive form rather than a dynamic blog, which I then will attempt to shift to the same server as my new site. Hopefully most of the changes will be transparent, but it is possible links may be broken. Some things I expect in the archive site:

  • The most popular element of trazoi.net, Learning Inkscape - An Order of the Stick Guide, popular with both Inkscape and webcomic fans alike, was written in static HTML and is extremely easy to move. It should survive the move seamlessly.
  • The Flash games and my legacy little standalone games will transfer across, although I may integrate them into trazoi.com instead of leaving them in the archive. They will be available somewhere though.
  • The blog is a little trickier, given it’s a dynamic WordPress site. I don’t think it’s worth keeping a whole WordPress database system active for an archive, so I’ll be turning the blog into static HTML pages. Obviously it won’t have the same functionality. I’ve already disabled comments and the vote counter. The search function will no longer work (although it might still be on the archive page). Some of WordPress’s category and tag pages might not make the shift.

In the mists of the future, I may reuse trazoi.net for something else - if I can think of something “network-y” that would suit the domain, in which case I’ll move the archive somewhere else. I suspect if that occurs it’s a long way off.

Finally in case you missed it, the new site is trazoi.com. Just like the old site, only at a new dot-com location. See you there!

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February 27, 2009

Update & the future of the blogs

Quick update, in tandem at GameDev.net and trazoi.net journals.

Firstly, I’m making good time in my Internet challenge round-the-world balloon race. The winds across the Pacific were incredibly favourable, and I’ve now made it to the west coast of the U.S., as can be seen in the photo. The trickest challenges have been maintaining my internet connection and in training the fruit bat to use the camera. Darn bat can barely aim the thing at the balloon, and when it does there’s always a bit of wing in shot.

Secondly, my PhD thesis is now at the printers, which makes it really and truly “almost finished”. This means the document is now unchangeable and submission will be in around a week. While I’ve only been doing touch-ups in the last couple of weeks which didn’t take a lot of my time, it’s a big difference psychologically to know it’s untouchable now. It’s like a huuuuuuuge weight off my mind. Now I’m really keen to start game development tasks, 100% guilt-free.

Today I’m going to start work on the first “official” objective - constructing my new website. I’ll be experimenting with a few different navigation designs and I’m not going to rush, so it might take a while before its done. This site will launch at a new domain that I’m hoping to build into a company site.

The future of trazoi.net, my personal blog site, is undecided. I’ll keep the site running for a while once the new site launches. However, I will mostly be using the new site to blog. I thought about splitting the content into a business blog (at the new site) and a personal blog (at trazoi.net), but honestly I just don’t blog much about personal stuff. The only things in my personal life worth blogging about are big enough to post at a more formal site anyway, and my usual day-to-day life that isn’t development oriented is frankly too boring to share with the world. It’s not as if you’re dying to know I had fruit toast for lunch today, even if it was particularly tasty fruit toast.

The future of my GameDev.net journal is likewise undecided. I can guarantee though that the journal will not close and that I will occasionally put posts in here. However, all my regular full posts will be at my new blog. I’ll either put links to the posts at my GameDev.net journal, or occasionally post a big special summary post.

However, I suspect this won’t happen for a month or so at least. It’s going to take a while for a new website to form, and it’s not as if I don’t have a lot of other tasks on my plate. Kickstarting game development, practicing my drawing, steering this balloon into the Mid-West, it’s all go in March.

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January 10, 2009

Belated New Year, 2009!

Belated Happy New Year, trazoi.net blog! Welcome to 2009.

I was wanting to post something in here early in the New Year, but I just wasn’t sure what. Embarrassingly I have been posted lots over at my other, game development related journal (Trapper Zoid’s Trapper Keeper, over at GameDev.net). It’s the problem I’ve always had, having two blogs. The GameDev blog gets more traffic and seems more suited to game development posts, but those are the only ones I seem to have. I could reserve this one for just posts about my regular life, but frankly I find all the non-game development bits unworthy to share with the entire world; they’re either private or very boring.

To complicate things, I will be starting another journal later in the year. I haven’t worked out all the details, but this journal should subsume most of the posts from my GameDev journal as well as here. I will still be posting the occasional cross post over at GameDev mentioning posts at my new journal. However I am uncertain as to what the fate will be of this site. I think it still has a purpose as the repository of everything I want to stick on the internet in an informal way. But the blog might degenerate to just a news update for any changes to the site, in which case I might as well scrap it and replace it with a plain HTML page. I’ll have to wait and see.

Probably the only news I can post here at the moment that’s not game development related is that I’m working on getting fit. Over the last couple of years I have really packed on the kilos, and it’s starting to affect how I feel. I’m hoping to force my weight down to nearly what it was a decade ago (I was a bit thin back then). It might take a couple of months, but it’s doable. I don’t have a specific plan, I’m just moderating what I eat and upping the exercise to a significant level and seeing what it does. So far I think I’m two kilo lighter, but it’s hard to say if that’s permanent.

From now on, I’ll be cross-posting game development articles to both my GameDev journal and here, so I can get back into the groove of blogging and basic website management.

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July 16, 2008

It’s July and I’m still alive

I’m still alive, I’ve just been busy with mundane PhD writeup things too boring to blog about. Although I’ve been called out for posting back on my GameDev journal rather than here. I could rightly claim the stuff I posted over there wasn’t particularly relevant to this website, but it’s mainly that I felt blogging over there wasn’t so much a form of procrastination as posting here. In retrospect, that’s totally illogical, but thinking straight is a scarce commodity for me at the moment.

Relevant to this journal: according to my web host’s automatic billing scheme it’s the one year anniversary of the site. I’ve paid to keep this site running for another year, so I’ll be continuing to share my scattered thoughts with the rest of the world for a little while longer. But there are changes in the pipeline! Once I’ve finished my PhD studies, which I’m hoping will be the end of August, I’ll be putting some new projects into action.

First off and most importantly, I’m putting the first steps into an indie game business into action. I’ve already started with jotting down the beginnings of a business plan as a distraction break from PhD write-up. Up till now I’ve not thought myself ready and I’m still not fully certain, but I doubt I’ll ever be more ready unless I take the plunge. The exact form and function of the business is still very much up in the air, and I won’t be doing anything too rash until I’ve got a plan that passes a basic sanity test, but I feel it’s now or never and the lessons I learn even from a failed first business will be invaluable in the future.

Secondly, I still haven’t forgotten my pledge to start a webcomic this year. I’ve let my drawing lessons lapse a bit over the last few weeks due to PhD work and my tendency to injure my drawing hand (why do minor burns take so long to heal?), but I’m going to get back into this big time once I’m free of study obligations. The exact nature of the webcomic is also up in the air and the amount of time I can invest in it will have to be heavily tempered by my indie business plans, but I’ll start something up before the end of 2008 guaranteed. Expect the first notice of its existence to be posted here sometime in November or December.

Thirdly, I’ll be revamping this site. It’s been pretty stagnant in form for the last few months. I need to devote a weekend to working on improvements, but that’s something I’ve been putting off until after my PhD’s completion which keeps dragging on much longer than I expected. I also need to put thought into which direction to take the journal in terms of content. Most weblogs out there are focused on a particulr subject, but I’ve been rambling on about everything that interests me, which is nearly everything. I dabble in game development, programming, drawing, vector art, small business fundamentals, composing music and who knows what else. Consequently I’m not particularly good at any one of them, so I’m not sure if my postings here have value over a specialist experts blog on a particular subject.

I’m thinking it might be a good idea to convert the focus of this journal into more into a series of articles about my journey into areas I’m unfamiliar with, such as starting my own small business or creating a webcomic. I’m not sure whether this may be instructive as I’m fully expecting to unwittingly be making a ton of mistakes along the way, but it should be enlightening, informative, or at least better than an empty weblog.

All of this will need to wait until September though, as I’ve got a dissertation to finish.

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May 10, 2008

Trialling MacJournal

Sorry for the lack of posts here. I haven?t had a lot to post lately. However since I should be using this journal more I?ll make an effort to do more post-worthy things.

I?m currently trialling out a piece of Mac software called ?MacJournal? to see how it goes. It?s basically a word processor for journals, with organisational abilities like folders and tags. It?s pretty lean but it?s the sort of thing I need for organising small articles and other documents. I also have a paid copy of VoodooPad, a personal wiki software, but that?s more useful for my own reference notes and less so for complete documents.

MacJournal also has the capability to interface with WordPress blogs, or at least it claims to - this post is my first test to see how well the system works. If this seems to go smoothly, I?ll start typing up more of these things off-line rather than in the WordPress editor. And I?ll strongly consider buying a licence to MacJournal in a few days time.

Edit: Additional

Well, looking at the entry above it seems like it gets through smoothly enough, but something is eating up my apostrophes. I’ll have to see what I can do to fix that next time…

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April 3, 2008

Putting on a new look

I’ve been doing some thinking lately about what I’d like to do after I finish up my PhD study. I still don’t know what I’d like to do immediately, but there’s still a large part of me that wants to do the whole indie developer thing. I don’t know if I could do this full time, and I certainly don’t think I could straight out of uni, but it’s something I don’t think I should dismiss. At the very least it’d be a good hobby, and with a modest effort it could easily be a decent source of income.

I’ve deviated a lot off my original plan that I wrote a few years back for how to get there (according to the original plan, I’d have been selling games two years ago), and now I’m in the final throes of my PhD I don’t have the time for anything major. But I can still work towards the goal in my spare time, albeit slowly.

First on my list is to resurrect the original purpose of this journal - to get some experience in managing a website. I’ve been letting this site stagnate for a bit too long, defeating the original purpose. So it’s time to reinvent the site and make it look a bit like one I’d need if I were launching the commercial version.

To start, I’ve made a new theme to replace the light, airy minimalist one that was here. This one is loosely modelled off the look of my GameDev journal, although I won’t go as far as making the headers all Comic Sans to emulate the comic book look. I’m debating whether I should put an image as the background; sometimes I find them distracting, but a nice pattern can work well if it’s carefully chosen. I might also play around with the colours a bit once I’ve seen the site in action. I also need to see if this font works well for blogs - I’m not sure how Trebuchet MS handles large blocks of text at smaller sizes.

I’ve also retired the poll I’ve had up for ages: building blocks had been winning for quite a while (probably the game developer influence there!). I’ll try cycling them around a bit more often.

Any suggestions for the site look? Any layout bugs I’ve missed?

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October 14, 2007

Out with the Brown, In with the Blue

I was getting a bit sick of the brown theme, so I whipped up another one in tints of blue. I’ll give this one a go until I settle on a look I think is right.

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October 8, 2007

Journal Split

This may be the last tandem entry at both my GameDev.net journal and trazoi.net. I’m not going to be stopping either; I’ve just resubscribed for another year at GDNet and I’m keen on expanding my own site in the near future; but I think it’s time to give each it’s own flavour. Plus I’m getting sick of having to cut and paste everything.

For now I’ll start dedicating the GDNet journal towards GDNet related topics, such as contests (Four Elements, MAGIC, etc.) and anything I feel specifically relevant to the community there. I’ll also post regular summaries of what I’m up to from a game development perspective, but at a lower frequency than at my own site at trazoi.net. I can then start branching out trazoi.net towards other topics less related to game development if I wish.

I also need to spend some time into jazzing up this site at trazoi.net, since it’s been languishing for a while. I’m a bit sick of the brown CSS theme, and there’s a few more widgets I want to try out in the sidebar. I also need to clean up the games section and add a few articles in here.

On the game development front, I’ve been spinning my wheels for a bit, sadly. Without my MacBook Pro I tried spending a bit of time sketching out on paper where I need to go with Flash development but I didn’t really get to any useful conclusions.

I spend most of my useful time playing around with Inkscape again, this time with my new larger Intuous tablet. I’d forgotten how much I like it. I’m not sure exactly why it is, but working with vectors in Inkscape seems a lot more intuitive to me than with Illustrator. It might just be my lack of familiarity with Illustrator, but my present attempts to work with it have been a bundle of frustration. I suspect the interface has something to do with this though, as I haven’t felt the same way with my attempts to draw things in Flash.

I suspect even once I’ve gone up to speed with Illustrator I’ll still be using Inkscape as a development tool alongside it. The main downside to Inkscape at the moment is the Mac OS X port doesn’t run as nicely under X11 than the Windows version which is native. I think there’s an attempt to port Inkscape across to native Mac OS X, so I’ll check what they’re up to once I get my laptop back.

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July 20, 2007

Choosing the right tool for the job

After trialling out Joomla! and Drupal over on their test pages and reading through miles of documentation and comments on various CMS systems, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably best if I just use WordPress for my site.

My reasoning is that I just don’t need the full power of a total CMS system. All I really require is some blogging software to post progress, with some static pages for things like articles and game pages (possibly with commenting). WordPress will easily allow me to do all that.

Furthermore, there’s the whole time issue. If I have to choose between spending my time managing a website, or actually doing something worthy to post about on the website, I’d choose the later. From the looks of the more advanced CMS systems I reckon it would take me weeks to get them properly set up, and that’s time I can’t really afford right now.

I’ll start crafting the new site on the weekend. My current inclination is to make the journal itself the front page (since that’s what a regular visitor will be wanting to see), so the location of this journal may change.

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July 19, 2007

Plans for WordPress

For the next couple of days I will duplicate journal entries at both my trazoi.net journal and over at GameDev.net. On the weekend I’m going to try and expand my website, and there’s a fair to middling chance I might accidentally lose the contents of my WordPress blog; not a big loss seeing how it’s new, but worthy of mention. I’ll try best to keep the database intact but due to my unfamiliarity with WordPress there’s always the risk of data loss.

I’ve starting making plans for the changes I need to implement with the site. After reading through a lot on WordPress I’m thinking it might be best to base the whole site through the WordPress system. Given the journal is going to be the thing that changes the most it would be best to signify updates on the main page, and since I’d like the main page and the journal to look similar it appears to make sense to just use for the WordPress the whole thing. I’ve had a look at a few people’s web sites done in WordPress; Dan Marchart a.k.a. “Obscure” has a nice one over at www.obscure.co.uk; and I think it will do most of what I want it to, making it a heck of a lot easier to manage the site.

The main annoyance is that I’ve installed WordPress into a subdirectory, the journal URL, as that’s what I originally thought I would be using WordPress for. So I’ll need to shift the URLs around to the root directory without making too much of a mess. There’s a danger I might break something while doing this, so I’ll give you fair warning that things may go awry. There’s also a chance I’ll break any links here; if possible I’ll try to keep the main journal here at the journal subdirectory, showing updates on the main page. However what I actually end up doing depends on a combination of my final ideas for the site structure.

So don’t be surprised if things are acting weird on Saturday. I’ll try to plan everything I need to do in advance so the process is as painless as possible, but as I’m new to the whole webmaster thing I’m sure to have a few unforeseen snags. Still, I’ve got most of Saturday planned off to get this site rolling. It seems like a good day to spend indoors, so I don’t have a repeat of that time where my brilliant plan to head to the shopping centre just as it opened to beat the crowds on a fine Saturday morning was foiled by a horde of tiny wizards.

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