Chris Holden's Blog - @ChrisHoldenDev  - CrunchCast  -

 Optimized Nutrition  March 10, 2014
Why do I care about this?
Sitting at a desk all day and eating garbage food isn't healthy. I started buying books on exercise & nutrition, and finding way to offset this lifestyle. Many have asked for assistance with their own challenges, some listen, but most fail into an unwillingness to adapt. In recent years there have been several hard hitting deaths in my family. Most difficult being my father who passed way too young. This type of information has become a passion. The following are some of my current views.

 Three Considerations for this write-up

1. Vegetable Cost Metrics ... Most Nutrients Per Penny. Here's a few at the top of the list for example:
  • dried beans: lentils, pinto, red kidney, black
  • carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes
  • red & green bell peppers, broccoli
  • spinach, collard greens

  • 2. Condensed list of researched "most nutritious foods". No surprises here. At least one of each type will find it's way into the final list. Obviously there's many other choices, here's just a nice condensed list (more later).
  • apples
  • almonds
  • broccoli
  • blueberries
  • oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies)
  • leafy green vegetables (Spinach)
  • sweet potatoes
  • avocados
  • oatmeal
  • eggs
  • asparagus
  • mushrooms
  • peppers

  • 3. Rock's diet (when training for the movie Hercules)

    Originally unsure how good it really was, but the Rock is the highest grossing actor of 2013. So you know he's paying for the BEST! I found it intriguing and justified just how much of the previous list is in his diet. Dwayne is 6'5" 260lb and shredded. Has insane workouts and work ethic. His caloric intake is huge to maintain size and enough nutrition for recovery. We are NOT observing total content, but the proper balance and ingredient choice of each meal.

    1. 10oz filet w/ 4 egg whites, 5oz oatmeal (dry measure) or cream of wheat
    2. 8oz chicken, 2 cup rice, 1 cup broccoli
    3. 8oz halibut, 2 cup rice, 1 cup asparagus
    4. 8oz chicken. 12oz baked potato, 1 cup broccoli
    5. 8oz halibut, 1.5 cup rice, 1 cup asparagus
    6. 8oz filet 9oz baked potato, w/ salad (Dinner)
    7. 30g protein, 10 egg whites scrambled w/onions, peppers & mushroom (bedtime Meal)

    It reads like a lot of meals, but really 3 regular meals with snack. breakfast, (snack), lunch, (snack), dinner, (bedtime meal) That's 6 meals and he's having seven. Now, if we break those meals down into smaller meals we start seeing something more reasonable.


    Drink plenty of it! A pint of water to start your day gets the body going. Most folks are dehydrated. This leads to headaches, dry skin, appearance of advanced aging. Many mistake thirst with hunger, leading to overeating. If you're hungry and it's not a regular meal time, down a cup of water and see how you feel. Don't substitute water with juice, soda or whatever. I enjoy a tasty treat during the day, but again, drink a cup of water first, then enjoy the treat. You'll find yourself drinking much less of the non-water liquids.

    Breakfast is the biggest meal of the day with of complex carbohydrates (slow breakdown and release), lunch is balanced, and dinner is the lightest on carbs. The basic idea is the complex carbs are for energy, if not used they become stored as fat. Digestion also slows during rest so it's a double whammy.

    If you can maintain similarly balanced meals around the same time of day on a regular basis, everything is easier to manage.

    Dispelling the Myth
    Carbohydrates and Fats aren't bad. It's their timing and how much that gives them a bad rep. If you're cramming donuts and cheese you know what's going to happen. Folks aren't stupid. Carbs and Fasts along with Protein are the main building blocks of life.

    Garlic and Onion
    Huge benefits to many-a-dish with flavor and additional nutrients (garlic for immune system). A huge part of cooking is spices. Eating a lot of the same foods doesn't mean it all has to be bland and the same. This can bring you down mentally as well. Additionally, seasonings can contain other essential vitamins and minerals.

    There are many types, table salt is garbage. Sea Salt and Kosher salt are great. Himalayan salt is considered one of the best with many benefits. Remember, salt is a mineral the body needs to survive. It's abusive amounts of sodium found in processed foods, sodas, restaurant food, etc. that contribute to more dangerous, high levels of salt.

    Frozen vs Fresh
    With most fruits and veggies, frozen CAN be cheaper. Also, frozen foods don't have any additional preservatives for extending shelf life, and they can sometimes actually be better. When making shakes, frozen fruits usually make them just taste better because they are extra cold.

    Cheat Meal
    This is NOT a reward. The cheat meal is a stress relief used once a week at most as reducing stress has plenty of benefits we don't need to go into here. Don't go crazy. I love burgers and pizza, but that doesn't mean my cheat is a whole large pizza.

    Training Taste
    Simple concept: your body likes to lie to you to keep things the same. If you have a bad diet, eating clean just doesn't taste good. This is due to taste buds craving more salt or sugar.

    An example is the Velocity diet (not suggesting people buy all these supplements, it's simply an example). This is a modified version of the extreme diet doctors put patients on that are too obese for surgery. Try one of these diets for a week then eat a light salad. It'll be the best tasting thing you've ever eaten as it only takes a few days to reset your tastes. Get out of your comfort (food) zone. This is the same as exercise. People want to stop exercise due to soreness, but if you stick with it another week or two, the body adjusts and begins to crave the exercises.

    Supplements and Vitamins
    There's so much bad information and junk science out there it's easy to understand frustrations folks have with these. I waste tons of money on silly things as well as very effective supps over the years. Currently, I take a daily multivitamin and a vitamin D cap. I also enjoy the benefits of fish oil for omega 3 fatty acids (vitamin C and calcium aren't a bad idea either).

    I highly suggest listening to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast with Dr. Rhonda Patrick. She has a Ph.D in biomedical science and expert on nutritional health, and of course, Joe is smart guy with it comes to fitness and nutrition as well. Get your pad and pen (and Google) ready.

    The reality of supplementation is if your diet is crap, it's a waste of money. The reason is simple, a few extra vitamins and protein powder don't make up for all the other junk going in your system. Get your nutrition from real food in a consistent diet, then seek out what's lacking from that.

    I can't express enough how important this is, but this article isn't about exercising. I've written on it plenty before, and have a document in progress (like this one) expressing updated views and information. I hope to publish it soon.


    Food that can be eaten raw works great for snacks, and often require least amount of preparation (pick up and eat).

  • Dried beans usually have to be soaked in water overnight to hydrate before cooking. Then must be simmered for several hours before tender. I'll often start a stew just like this, and once I'm happy with the beans add vegetables and simmer for an additional hour or until they are tender to your likeness. Lentils, pinto, red kidney, black beans, etc. all serve as a great base to a lot of dishes. Soups, stew, and Mexican dishes especially!
  • Carrots, raw, snack (baby carrots), seems to be great to add these to anything.
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, baked potato is probably one of the easiest things to cook, just takes time. Garlic Mashed Potatoes is one of my favs! Sweet potatoes can be handled same as regular potatoes.
  • Red & green bell peppers, great ingredient chopped in salad, omelet, with steak, etc. There's plenty of hotter peppers out there if you want to spice things up.
  • Apples raw, snack, also great chopped in things.
  • Almonds, raw, snack
  • Broccoli, raw, snack, salads, steamed, etc.
  • Blueberries, raw, snack
  • Oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies) These can be considered a raw, snack, in sushi form! One reason sushi is such a great food is you get the good fats, lean protein and rice.
  • Leafy greens (Spinach, collard greens) Raw spinach in salads.
  • Avocados, another great raw food great for salads and Mexican dishes.
  • Oatmeal, very easy to prepare also good mixed with blueberries and in shakes for quick consuming.
  • Eggs, cheap great source of protein with many uses.
  • Asparagus, raw, do people snack on this? Good in salads, as a side, grilled whole, chopped in stew/soup.
  • Mushrooms great chopped in salad, soup, stew, with steak and so on. Very versatile flavor absorbers!
  • Brown rice takes about an hour, good carb with plenty of fiber to add to a dish.

  • Recipes, Links, Etc.

    Being realistic, I'm not going to list a ton of recipes, just a few off the top of my head, then linking to cooking resources. It's up to you to decide what you like. Knowledge, experimentation, and so on will take you further than I can.

    Salads can be really any combo of veggies. Really anything they can be consumed fresh, chopped and tossed. For adding protein, beans, meats (chicken breast, diced hard boiled eggs) and crushed almonds/cashews. Berries are also a great mix in for flavor. I like spinach as a base green. Much better more nutrition than an empty filler such as lettuce. Examples

    Spinach and Avocado
    Spinach, Apple slices and crushed Almonds
    Spinach and Clementine (w/ Italian dressing)

    Oatmeal w/ blueberries is one of my favorite breakfasts. A bowl of oatmeal, mix in as much hot water to your desired lumpiness, and then frozen blueberries. No need to add too many berries, they pack a strong flavor. Two eggs on the side for extra protein and maybe a piece of fruit is a great way to start the day.

    Slow Cooking, Stew, Chili, etc. Great way to mix a lot of good ingredients yielding a large amount of food. Beans, carrots, broccoli, greens, potatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, peppers, all sorts of things go great in a beef stew if you can't find another way to fit them in otherwise.

    Two of my fav subreddits r/Cooking/ & r/budgetfood/

    Kitchen Cheat Sheet Guide

    Smitten Kitchen

    Serious Eats

    Google "ingredient" VS "ingredient". A neat tool Google has for comparing nutritional value of foods. Example Kale vs Spinach

    A Day in Meals
    This is a brief example of what I do. It works for me.

    First, a big glass of water. I fill up a 3 liter jug to keep sipping on all throughout the day as well. Depending on the daily situation, I'll workout before one of the main meals.

    Oatmeal w/ blueberries, two eggs scrambled w/ fresh garlic and sriracha and a piece of fruit. Also any daily vitamins.

    Apple w/ handful of unsalted almonds

    Today is a hearty vegetable beef stew. This includes garlic, onion, carrots, asparagus, potato and jalapeno in beef stock and chopped beef.

    Spinach and mandarin orange salad (very tasty)

    Meat and vegetable. Chicken breast & broccoli, steak & spinach, so many choices.

    Normally ready for bed at this point, but if up a bit later a light snack similar to the above or a handful of mixed nuts is a good choice. A light protein.


    Your mind, body and future are up to you. Putting this together has had great improvements on sticking to my own goals, and I hope to improve it over time.

     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.
  • Even a good six pack of beer purchased at a liquior store ~$8 still cheaper than weak beer at a bar during happy hour.
  • Mixing your own vodka-cranberry saves dramatically more than purchasing at a club, and who needs to get in a fight anyway?
  • How much do you spend at a movie theater? Not bad if you avoid the concession stand

  • 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.

    Final Tips
  • Don't buy stuff. It's as simple as that. Steam Sales, Netflix, the LIBRARY are nice, and make moving a lot lighter.
  • If you're reading this article, most game devs need the internet access for work, but maybe not cable TV.
  • And you're probably a creative type, try making gifts or things around the house.
  • Building your own PC saves money, and trains you to know how the parts work so you can always repair it yourself.
  • Know your income and spending. Always put away as much as you can!

  •  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.

  • Save your money! Don't go out all the time, cook your own food, just stop buying things. Being trapped check to check is personal slavery. This also builds a safety net for the unexpected lay-off.

  • Force yourself outside even in the worst of weather. Understand the reality our ancestors lived. Simple (1st world) problems become meaningless. I choose biking to work, and found it's not that bad.

  • Disconnect from Peer Pressure. Men insulting men for not getting laid, and women insulting women for being sluts. These impede full potential.

  • Also be aware when it's a true friend just trying to get you out of the office. Overworking yourself without reason has even more negative effects particularly to health. Work hard, get the job done and get out. No deathbed regrets!

  • There's a thin line between an asshole and an encourager as one does not know the situation an individual as been through. When someone gets upset at feedback, remind them this is their career, and you are not an employer turning them down.

  • If someone has to be drunk to say something, they're a sober liar. Drinking with friends can be a great team-building, but not be an opportunity to attack.

  • Have a trusted friend that's honest about your career no matter your feelings.

  •  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
  • Enough floor space to make snow angles is enough to do a full body workout. Burpees!
  • Improve Posture by stretching and exercising the Posterior Chain; hamstring, glutes, hip flexor, spinal erectors, latissimus dorsi (lats), rear deltoids and neck.
  • Research Carpel tunnel prevention. Press your fingers into your forearm around the elbow and down the wrist. Press hard and work out knots, stretch the wrists back and forth, yoga.
  • Movement improves circulation. Again I stress the hourly movement.

  •  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.

    My Youtube Tutorial Playlist

    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.