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Getting Started with UDK Review July 30, 2013
I'm back with another book review from author John P. Doran's latest; Getting Started with UDK Review. It can be purchased on Amazon or Packt Publishing
Getting Started with UDK is another book by John P. Doran covering setting up a tower defense game in UDK.
It begins covering the block out process with brushes (CSG). The info about the basics of navigating UDK, grid snapping and brush editing is great knowledge for initial scale and gameplay testing. Essential stuff for the beginner designer.
The initiation to Kismet answers a lot of basic questions I've found myself answering over the years and moves forward quickly as well as listing cons.
The next chapter covers the actual tower defense game setup. Most of this time is spent in Kismet, and gets advanced. However it's explanatory, and should make sense over time learning Kismet. This is the kind of stuff I like as I tend not to see much detailed Kismet discussion.
Detailing Environments (chapter 3) takes existing UDK assets showing how to use them effectively.
This goes over finding materials for brushes and how to align them, placing static meshes aesthetically, building lighting and placing pick-ups. Again, all good info for a designer looking to build levels in UDK.
The last chapter goes into setting up a main menu and HUD in Flash and getting this setup in UDK. Again, these types of tutorials are rare and this is a good, thorough one. Finally, there's a nice write-up on using UDK FrontEnd to cook and package the game for release.
Ending with a quality Glossary one can't go wrong with the information. The basic understand of UDK provided is beyond just a Tower Defense game, and I would suggest it to anyone wanting to make a UDK game.
Living on a Budget June 19, 2013
After researching all the topics, I've optimized this to a list of links. There's simply too much good information out there not to talk over like I invented it all.
Two general budget links: Laughing Wallet and r/frugal
Most basic concept is stop going out for food. Cooking your own meals saves so much money. Even fast food can be three times the price of fresh ingredients (consider a baked potato anywhere versus them being sixty cents at the grocery store). It shouldn't be all ramen, Vegetable Cost Metrics Most Nutrients Per Penny and r/budgetfood
Think smart about getting together with friends. Being a good host makes people want to come over.
Have fun when you can! This is the point of the budget. You CAN go out, just not all the time!
It can be as simple as walking and biking to places (these also have a travel bonus). Bodyweight Training, if you have floor space, you can get a full body workout. I wrote an e-book on this years ago! No sense paying for yoga unless you want to see butts. There's so much info on YouTube
Transport (walk, bike, public tranport, carpool, etc.)
There's a saying here "If you buy cheap, you buy twice." This holds true to shoes and pants most in my experience. So have good shoes, get at least one nice suit. Fashion is ridiculous. Clearance racks, and the possible thrift store find if you like digging around.
Get out and Grow! May 23, 2013
Game development is full of young people right out of school without adult skills. Seeing people fall apart because they never learned to live, I've compiled a few concepts to consider.
UDK DX11 Tessellation Break-down May 13, 2013
This uses DX11 mesh tessellation. Tessellation triangulates a mesh in realtime based on distance. It is however, expensive. Thus examples where it's used everywhere out in the open is discouraged. It's best served in cinematic character faces and other isolated assets.
The Material (click for image)
Only displaying the normal and displacement information as diffuse isn't important here and so it's less confusing.
I started with a Texture Coordinate Parameter as it's nice to have on a parent material.
Next are the Normal and Height map textures. These height map could have gone in the alpha channel of the normal map. There are two of each, one for grass and the other for dirt.
They are then Lerp'ed with a Vertex Color as the alpha. The Vertex Color serves as the control when blending in UDK (as in, when you watch the grass grow)
From here the normal is plugged in, and the height is sent through one last parameter and a Vector Transform to finalize the displacement. The TessellationMultiplier could possibly be a parameter as well.
In the video, this example is being used on a mesh, thus Mesh Paint is used to paint the blend. The result gives the ground a spikey effect.
Last, I use UDK's Foliage tool with a few planes of grass and flowers to paint in vegetation and smooth out some of the spiked appearance.
Additional DX11 Tessellation example with break-downs
7 Methods of Healthy Desk Dwellers May 7, 2013
1. Start small (baby steps). Committing to no vices, diet change, or exercising all at once can be stressful and possibly harmful.
2. Drink water. Dehydration can be mistaken for hunger, cause headaches, cramps and other annoyances. Juice, soda, beer, etc. are loaded with sugar, extra sweeteners, and other words no one can pronounce.
3. Learn to cook. It's cheaper and better than chain restaurants and processed foods.
4. Eat Vegetables. Blend them into smoothies (strawberries make anything taste great) and add more to regular dishes.
5. Make time to for yourself. Skip TV, browsing the internet and wake up earlier for a workout, book reading, chill out and take in the scenery.
6.Find exercise in your daily life. Take the stairs, bike instead of drive, hour on the hour exercise (push-ups, squats, yoga), walking makes a great break.
7. The body is a high performance vehicle. Proper nutrition, vitamins, exercise, nootropics, get a physical. Take care of yourself.
Bonus Exercise Tips
Mastering UDK Game Development Review May 1, 2013
I was recently contacted to receive and review the book Mastering UDK Game Development by John P. Doran which can be purchased at Amazon or Packt Publishing Without further adieu, here's my review:
Mastering UDK Game Development by John P. Doran
This book is about creating gameplay in UDK. It's content is broken up into "Projects" representing creating a gameplay element or expanding on one. The book jumps right into showing the basic steps to setup a side-scrolling platformer game camera, controls, power-ups. etc. using existing UDK assets in Kismet. It's a great introduction to basic level and gameplay creation without getting deep into content creation.
The second project gets more advanced with content and kismet with a space rail-shooter game. This covers importing custom meshes, textures, creating materials and particles. The basic knowledge one needs. Another fantastic gameplay example. Project three expands on this adding enemies and additional asteroids with more extensive kismet operations. The final part, Project four covers creating a custom HUD. A thorough walk-through of using scaleform, importing and implementing. For the fledgling designer and advanced user alike, there's a lot of great information in this group of projects.
Project five studies creating an environment scenes using the castle assets included with UDK with great points on material instances, set dressing, and basic lighting. A great chapter for the beginner artist.
Project six Dynamic Loot explains placing a torch on the ground, picking it up and carrying it. And Project seven goes deeper into scaleform for setting up an inventory. These two go together well as essential information for game makers wanting to expand a project.
Project eight is an introduction to UnrealScript. A fantastic addition after covering basic art and kismet. The final control everything
Outside of the review, I really enjoyed the book. The other reviews on Amazon really through it under the bus, but there are too many positives of this book to honestly review it below average.
UDK Reflection Tutorials May 1, 2013
Two video tutorials on reflection in UDK.
The Argument Pyramid May 1, 2013
I've always enjoyed this, from Name-Calling (bottom) to Contradiction, nothing is learned.
E3 1999 May 1, 2013
I was 20 years old when this pic was taken.
Made a Blog May 1, 2013
Haven't done one of these in a while, but I've been digging through tons of unpublished articles I've written and decided they need a home. Plus other new stuff. My additional aim is to use this as a motivational tool to continue writing. Maybe even some comedy or horror. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.