Le Frimeur Part 1: Personal projects

2017 marks roughly ten years of myself finally starting to get to grips with who and what I want to be in life. The fact it took me ten years to solidify this to my current path says… well, it’s an indication of many things.

But ten years of faffing about has led to a lot of various connections as well as things I have tried, failed and sometimes even succeeded at doing.

Unfortunately, it’s also been ten years of fighting depression and self worth issues. I am finally sorting myself out, and my current situation is thus: Degree is ending soon with an almost guaranteed upper-class second, I have guaranteed graduate employment waiting for me, and an EngD application sent off. So not in a bad place!

However, with some nagging doubts in my mind still, I figure it’s about time I posted some things I’ve done over the years.

Le Frimeur – “The Show-off” – is a short series of posts I’m going to publish talking about my own work and projects, as well as other things I was directly or indirectly involved in and/or responsible for.

Some were good, some were bad, and most were failures, but here it is!

Note: Many of these projects are under the name “A Rock Called Steve” which was, for the longest time, the studio title for online releases.


Major Personal Projects

Simply stuff I’ve done without being on someone else’s contract. Nothing particularly finished really, either. But at least some attempts.

Project 1: The Unfinished Machinima – Ad Astra

From 2009 to 2015, I worked on and off on a series of pre-rendered animated shorts set within the Eve Online universe dubbed Ad Astra. Designed as a multimedia project including written, audio and visual works, the only public releases were a series of test videos and a (now removed) unfinished proof-of-concept short.

Ultimately the project failed because its scope was far too large for the time I had available to me. Regardless, I sunk hundreds of hours into it and learned a lot about animation and rendering techniques – let alone about the Eve Online engine itself, and how it handled its asset pipeline.

I don’t consider this work for nothing, despite the lack of output. At the time, I ended up discussing at length – and solving various engine problems with – the man behind Caldari Prime Pony Club‘s Jeremy viewer (and soon to be real-time, WebGL machinima tool) and the man behind the (seemingly abandoned) Eve Outtakes for beneficial results for all.

The last bit of work I put into the concept was in late 2014, after spending a year out of the game itself, and was a test to see if I could drop the photo realistic look I was going for in stead of a cell-shaded affair. It worked out okay, but I doubt I’ll return to Ad Astra any time soon.


Project 2: The Failed IndieGoGo – Spectrum

Spectrum was an idea I had while floundering for work around 2012. For some reason I got it into my head that I could, with my knowledge of the time, develop a side-scrolling shoot-em-up (shmup) with a unique style based on the work of Piet Mondrian.

I also decided, after the success of a lot of larger Kickstarter and IndieGoGo projects in 2011, that crowd-funding it would be a great idea.

Wallpaper Released for Spectrum
Wallpaper Released for Spectrum

Of course I was very, very wrong. The graphical style was fine – after some friendly and helpful advice from Cat Musgrove I refined the last couple of major faults and managed to get a suitable demo of the style ready. Unfortunately, I was naive enough to do everything too quickly, and support died quickly.

If you want to see the demo in action, I have a video here.

These days the only evidence I have that the project existed at all was a brief mention in a long-dead Kickstarter Katchup periodical on Rock Paper Shotgun (ctrl+f “Spectrum”) as IndieGoGo removes failed projects from their archives after a few years. In this case? Probably for the best.


Project 3: Various Attempts at YouTube

Over the years, I also attempted a few times to get into the YouTube community and potentially make a bit of coin that way. Most of my content was gaming related and very low brow – most of it either private or out-right removed from my channel over the years.

Amongst these were yalP s’teL, which was 19-20 year old me trying to be experimental and release backwards Let’s Play videos for the fun of it, and Once More Unto the Breach, which was the more traditional take on the idea. At one point I was in talks with the wonderful Amy on doing videos with herself – including testing Torchlight 2 at one point – but time on both of our sides fell apart (and she ended up working somewhere awesome).

The last attempt in 2013 was more of a hobby thing than anything else, as my application as a mature student to do a BSc had been confirmed. It was also around this time that Google saw it fit to lock off the income of a large portion of the gaming YouTube community thanks to a rights disagreement, which basically drove me off entirely for a while.

The series, called Ways to Play, was heavily inspired by Loading Ready Run‘s X ways to Y skits (you’ll have to search the videos for “Ways to”) and was a bit of prodding at various, less regular ways to do things.

Or rather that was the theory. In practice the videos fell short (mostly) and took far too much time to make for the result. You can watch the playlist here, though the only ones I’m really happy with are Kerbal Space Program (though with an intro that is far too long) and Dishonoured.

I still like this little bit from the latter, though.

That’s it for major projects over the past few years – or at least, all I want to write about them. Part 2 and Part 3 will be on their way when I have time.

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