# Where Have I Been?

Been a while since I posted here. How long was it….. Ooookay that is too long.

So here’s a bit of an update on where I am. I got a job! Not a game design job but a job nonetheless. I am working at the Channel Fireball warehouse in the fulfilment department pulling card orders. For those of you that don’t know Channel Fireball sells Magic: the Gathering cards in both sealed product and single cards.

This is not to say I have stopped looking for a game design job, I am still applying everywhere and sharpening my skills. But I needed a job to get me off my but and motivate me, the paycheck is nice too.

# Getting Back to Unity

Neo / Ipsum for Excel is almost ready for release, it should be ready latter tonight or early tomorrow morning along with a little surprise (I hope).

While I wait for final testing to get back to me with the ok I have gone back to working in Unity. Its been a while and most of the UI has changed. As part of getting back in to the swing of Unity development I decided run through some of the tutorials on the Unity website, and I am learning and re-learning a few things.

For most of the games I have made player movement was handled by waiting for WASD movement inputs and then applying the appropriate force or transform effect. In this first tutorial it used Input.GetAxis commands to determine what the input is for any given controller and use that to apply force. this has a few limitations but is much more flexible than the method I previously used most often.

Also I had decided I would make a quick rotation script to rotate the scene’s directional light, that should only take a minute right? 15 minutes, and three different methods latter I figure out that my script is working exactly the way it is supposed to but is rotating on the local axis. Because I wanted to rotate the Y axis and had already rotated the X axis this caused some silly effects. I solved this by making an empty game object, putting it in the same position as the light, setting it’s rotation to 0, 0, 0, and putting the script on that game object.

The rotation thing is something I have to relearn every time I try to do anything with rotation because of the way rotational math works (in short it seems to have an extra dimension and otherwise everything says “don’t touch unless you know what you are doing”).

# Mass Update!

Whoops! Didn’t mean to go this long without an update. So what am I doing now? For the last month or so I have been working on the last part of Neo / Ipsum. Thats right Neo / Ipsum for Excel!

So what the hell does Neo / Ipsum for Excel do? Based on my last to versions you might expect it to just put random phrases in to a grid. But that wouldn’t be all that useful, and instead it makes a table of data with the Ipsums being one of the labels and the other label being a number (Integer, date, or time). The data is randomized with several options for the user to choose from for customization.

While making Neo / Ipsum I have, as my dad puts it, learned to swear like a programmer. But the frustrations I had with PowerPoint and Word don’t compare to the frustrations with Excel. At least with PowerPoint and Word all my problems were based on the coding and not the tools I use to code. Excel fought with me to even write code in it. And if I hadn’t done the programing in the other two first I would have been lost with some of the problems I faced with Excel.

In addition I have been working on an update for all of the Neo / Ipsums. The update will allow Neo / Ipsum to remember the last set of options you had selected for use. This way if you like to use a specific setting you won’t have to reselect it every time. This feature is working in the Excel version but still requires more testing before putting it in to the live versions of Neo / Ipsum.

# Neo / Ipsum For Word

Neo / Ipsum for Word is officially released!

After making Neo / Ipsum for PowerPoint I decided to look in to adapting it for Word. After some initial stumbles regarding differences between VBA for PowerPoint and VBA for Word adapting the Add-In was fairly simple.

Neo / Ipsum for Word gives you a button that adds filler text to a Word document at your cursor location. Options include: number of sections, a customizable random number of paragraphs per section, number of lines per paragraph, and if titles appear at the start of sections.

If you have any feedback please send it to me, if you find a bug please notify me ASAP, if you just want to say “Hi” feel free.

There was a bug with Neo / Ipsum release 1.0.5 that has since been rectified. This was brought to my attention by a user and rectified as soon as I realised what was going on. Simple fix based on a simple oversight.

If anyone is having problems with Neo / Ipsum don’t hesitate to bring it to my attention. I am more than happy to help.

And if you just want to say “Hi” that is appreciated too.

# Neo / Ipsum Worldwide

After I released Neo / Ipsum I started to get feedback, and as I said before it has mostly been good. One thing I heard was rather puzzling though. In the German version of PowerPoint my Add-In was not displaying, it would show up if the user switched to English but not in German. After consulting with some people I found the fix in some of the installer files and got confirmation that it works.

I have a few lessons from this. If it is released on the internet it is released world wide so better test for that. Your product is never truly done (more on that latter). And having people in different parts of the world to test for you is invaluable.

What’s next for Neo / Ipsum? A few people have asked me to make localized versions of Neo / Ipsum various languages, but as I am only fluent in English I nave no idea how I would do that, however I have gotten a few offers of help along those lines so that might be in the works. Right now I am looking into making a version of Neo / Ipsum for Word, and I have already found some big differences in how it will need to be done.

I will update about what I am doing as I figure it out.

# Neo / Ipsum has been reviewed, in French!

So anyone following along knows I put Neo / Ipsum up on the download page ready for use. My father, Ric Bretschneider, who worked on PowerPoint for over 17 years made a post on his website and sent e-mails to a bunch of people he knows in the Microsoft MVP program. As such my site has had a spike in traffic and I have been getting some nice feedback. What I did not expect was for someone to make  a review of my Add-in less than 24 hours after release. Here it is from Chantal Bossé:

The video is in french and I can’t understand a word of it (besides my name) but I can understand what is happening on screen and make a few educated guesses about what she is saying.

I am simply floored by this. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to get this level of reaction from this (at least not this quickly).

If you want to see my father’s blog post it is also right here: http://blog.ricbret.com/?p=1165

# Surviving Global Game Jam

For those that don’t know, Global Game Jam is an event that takes place world wide where people gather to make a game in 48 hours. These people include artists, programmers, game designers, audio engineers, professionals and independents. Every year a new theme is chosen, it is revealed only when the Game Jam starts and is used as a catalyst for creative designs. Once teams have decided what they are making they have the rest of the 48 hour period to make the game. Sounds simple right? Hehehehe….. I used Surviving in the title for a reason.

When I say you have 48 hours to make this game I mean more like 42 hours because of the difference in start and end times. That is cut down to about 40 because of introductions, team creation, and brainstorming. Then you will probably take about an hour to set up your equipment. The idea for your final product WILL change (mostly because of over-reaching in initial idea or just cool new ideas). Then you have to factor in food and sleep. And different people have different schedules and limits for those things. So now you are down to about 30 hours. Then inevitably people will be waiting around for something else to be finished or given work that turns out was pointless. Also your equipment WILL have some sort of problem (Murhy’s Law). So yeah, simple premise, difficult execution. Also if you have been doing the math I only allotted about 8 hours for food and sleep, about 2-3 of which are for food runs and such. Yep, say goodbye to sleep if you want to get this done. This last jam I slept twice, the first time for about 3 hours and the second time for about 5…. I think.

So, what happened this year? The theme for this year was “ritual”. Lots of the ideas for this theme involved Satan, demons, or the never ending repetitiveness of your everyday lives as servants of society, I will let you decide which of these is scariest. My team went with an Incan theme for our game. The idea is that you are the strongest child of your village and must take part in ritual combat to prove yourself and attempt to ascend to god-hood. The game’s style is reminiscent of classic beat-um-ups like golden ax and double dragons. I helped with the programming and design of the game. Two of our programmers where not familiar with the Unity game engine so Victor and I helped guide them through it, but I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly they learned to use Unity.

At the end of the event our game wasn’t quite what we set out to make but we are happy with it, although I did hear some of the others say they wanted to work on it more so who knows?