Events and Exhibitions

Talk from Jack Gill at Central Library

On the 19th of January I attended a Careers talk by Jack Gill from So Good Studios in Plymouth Central Library.  So Good Studios is a games development studio based in Plymouth and Jack is the managing director.  Jack set up the company with two of his friends, technical director Sam Hession and creative director Will Hosgood.  The three of them studied Computing and Games Development at Plymouth University together.

Jack was interested in studying programming from an early age but he didn’t get to learn about it much in school.  Luckily his dad was a programmer and would talk to him about it, and bring home games which they would play together.  At sixteen Jack went to college and studied computing alongside english, chemistry, and maths.  He was also interested in and learning about cryptography and making Android apps, and made his first game, which was a text adventure.

Jack then decided to go to university to study computing and games development. He said that on his course he met many people from different backgrounds and with different skills, which is important when working together on projects.  Jack explained how his course worked at university.  Students would choose a module, study for six weeks, then be evaluated on their work.  He met Will and Sam on his course and they became best friends, and realised that their different skills worked well together, so they formed So Good Studios and made their first project, Bath Tubb Pirates.

Three days after their final exam, So Good Studios set up their business in the Formation Zone, which is an “incubator” for start-up buisinesses.  They made their first commercial product, a multiplayer game called Tap Tournament.  Jack said that there are many business and tech networking opportunities in Plymouth, including SOUP crowdfunding events.

Next, Jack talked about the Plymouth Game Devs which he described as a community to foster collaboration and cooperation and involves lots of local developers including So Good Studios, Brainy Beard, Sizeable Games and others.  Plymouth Game Devs organize game jams, and I have been able to take part in three so far; Ludum Dare 36, Games for Better, and the Global Game Jam last weekend.

Finally, Jack gave us “Jack’s Super Cool Advice for Aspiring Game Developers”:

1. Education!

  • Work hard on your studies while you are under 18
  • Studying at university or college is not a necessary route to get into games development but it can be extremely helpful!
  • Learning to find information and teach yourself new things is a vital skill for games developers.  You also need to enjoy learning new things.

2. Community!

  • Joining and building a community with other game developers allows you to show off your games and get support.
  • A community will also help you find people to collaborate with.  This is important because different people bring different skills to a project and splitting work makes it easier and faster to complete a project.
  • Being part of a community can help you to promote your work.

3. Portfolio!

  • Create a portfolio of your projects as you make them so that you can share your games, art, code etc.
  • A portfolio is crucial to your CV to show employers, colleges and clients what you can do!
  • It’s easy to make a portfolio online, for example you could share your work using WordPress, Patreon, YouTube, Tumblr, ArtStation and Scratch.

At the end of the talk Jack answered some questions from the audience.  The room was almost full and I think that the talk was really good!  I’m going to check out ArtStation and I want to get more involved with the Plymouth Game Devs and meet and work with more young games developers.

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Events and Exhibitions, Personal Work, Professional Work

Plymouth Cubed Talk at Central Library

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Plymouth Hoe in Plymouth Cubed

(The screenshots in this post were all taken by me on November 9th 2016)

On Thursday 27th of October I attended a talk about Plymouth Cubed at Central Library.  The speaker was Neil Argue, who created the project.  Neil started his talk explaining the origins of Plymouth Cubed. He had downloaded the Ordnance Survey Minecraft map of Plymouth and he thought that it was too blocky, the scale was wrong and the colours were unrealistic.  He said “I think we can do much better”.  Neil undertook a four-month process of building the territory using LIDAR (information collected by planes flying overhead), MicroDEM (which turns the data into a Minecraft map), and WorldPainter (which builds the map in Minecraft).  The LIDAR data gave information about the height of every part of Plymouth in a one-meter grid, and each meter translates to one block in Minecraft.

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My painting of Plymouth Cubed inside Plymouth Cubed

However, the LIDAR data does have a few drawbacks.  The data is rounded up or down so the landscape can seem quite flat, spaces under bridges are filled because the overhead laser could not pick them up, and objects such as cars and people are scanned and used as land data too, but it did give Neil the basic terrain of Plymouth mapped out to scale in grass and dirt blocks.  One of the fans of the project pointed out that Neil had “created a big colouring book shaped like Plymouth”.

It took Neil around a month on his own to build Plymouth Hoe, and by that point he realised that he wouldn’t be able to build all of Plymouth by himself!  He showed us a video of how Plymouth Cubed looked at that stage.  The audience were in awe and gave plenty of “ooo’s” and “aaa’s”.  You can watch Neil’s videos on the Plymouth Cubed YouTube channel.

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The Life Centre in Plymouth Cubed

Neil told us that there are around 30 builders now and he launched the game to show us what the up to date version looks like.  As it was loading Neil chuckled and said “Plymouth Cubed is always sunny – It never rains, unless i want it to!”.  We were given a look around Derriford Hospital and the Life Centre, which has a working water slide!  Neil also showed us that some of the bus stops actually work, and will teleport you to different parts of Plymouth.  Some of the builders are also trying to get the Torpoint Ferry working and Neil is hoping to use NPCs at specific destinations to give travellers information about Plymouth.

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Working bus stops in Plymouth Cubed

To join Plymouth Cubed a Minecraft player needs to contact Neil via Facebook (if they are under 16 a parent should contact him).  The server will allow twenty players on at a time and it is free to use, and there are some simple rules.

  •  Use the landscape as your guide, don’t straighten stuff out.
  • You can add new builds, but don’t take anything away.
  • Don’t touch other people’s builds.
  • Under sixteens need parent’s permission.
  • Keep it realistic by using the closest colour blocks to reality

Neil also encourages that people shouldn’t just build their house, but build their whole street or area.  He said the builders use a 100-foot rule, “if it looks okay from 100 feet away, then it’s good.” (you can get a distorted view by just looking up close).

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Charles Cross church in Plymouth Cubed

The talk went very well and the audience were really excited by it.  I’ve been a fan of Plymouth Cubed from when I first heard about it earlier this year (I wrote about it here) and it’s great to see how much has been added since then, and i’m going to make some time to help build Plymouth in Minecraft.  Neil has raised some funding to keep the server running with a Crowdfunder and printed some awesome t-shirts which have a lovely photo of Plymouth Cubed on the front and my own watercolour art of Plymouth Cubed (sketch, painting, screenshot inside Plymouth Cubed by Neil) on the back which makes me feel so proud!  Here I am with Neil and my brother wearing them:

 

After the talk I went downstairs to Central Library‘s Hello World club where Laura from the library had brought in some Halloween projects.  Hello World is a weekly kid’s tech and coding club which my brother J goes to and the room is usually busy with cool projects on Raspberry Pi, BBC MicroBits and Scratch.  I used a BBC MicroBit to code flashing green LED eyes inside a pumpkin (see it in action on the left in this video).  It’s pretty easy to programme the MicroBit and it’s really fun.  Hello World is on Thursday afternoons and you can click the link for more information.

 

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Pumpkin with flashing LED eyes

 

 

 

Personal Work

Recent sketches and activity

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Art cards I’m working on

Despite August being the “Summer Holidays”, my time has been filled with many different activities and events, including walks on the Moors and visiting the Dartmoor Summer Festival at Princetown Visitor Centre, going to see Finding Dory at the Reel cinema, taking more trips to Bigbury Beach and Plymouth Hoe, and last Saturday I went to a local anime and gaming meetup and met some amazing and funny people!  At home I’ve kept up with my usual work, including drawing practice and learning Japanese, reading The Manifesto on How To Be Interesting by Holly Bourne and Make Your Own Luck by Kate Moross, and my mum’s making us all clear out our old junk..  I’ve also been playing Monster Hunter Generations and Story of Seasons on my 3DS and have been taking pictures of the local area to help me work on part of the Plymouth Cubed project.

This month has been important to me because I’ve started volunteering with Plymouth Central Library.  I’m helping out with the Summer Reading Challenge, which encourages children aged 4-11 to read six books from the library over their summer holidays.  My first shift was at a Play Day on Plymouth Hoe, where I helped parents to fill out questionnaires about using the library, but my other shifts have all been in Central Library where my duties are filing, listening to kids talk about the books they’ve read, and giving them their prizes when they achieve their goals.  The prizes are pretty cool, there are collector cards, bookmarks, door hangers and keyrings, all with a Roald Dahl theme, and when the kids have completed their challenge they receive a medal!  The people at the library are really nice and it’s interesting seeing what books the kids choose to read and hearing what they think about them.

Here are some of the sketches I’ve been working on:

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A country girl in a fantasy land

A female character I’ve been thinking about.  I imagine she lives in a fantasy story, she might be a country girl who looks after horses and her family.  I think she has a big, big family!

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A nervous mage character

This is a mage, could be a male or female character, the sweat is coming off their head because they are nervous, they are about to fight a huge monster, something with enormous teeth and great cunning..

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Kaguya from The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya

This is a quick sketch I did of Kaguya from The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, which I watched for the first time with my brother yesterday.