Pollen is nothing to sneeze at

August 11th, 2015 § Comments Off on Pollen is nothing to sneeze at § permalink

Originally published on RiftArcade.com

Ok, that title was terrible, predictable, and probably will be done over and over when this game is released, so at least I got in early. The point is, this title is showing great potential for an experience that will show off what Oculus Rift and VR can be. Since this title is slated for both traditional screens and Oculus experience, it will be interesting to see how they balance the gameplay for both without one side feeling a negative impact. Since the early concept phase Minefield games has been planning Pollen to be ready for the full VR experience, but that brings a space shipload of asset and game play challenges. This is where an experienced game design crew will be necessary, and with a team assembled from Rovio, Housemarque and Redlynx/Ubisoft I’m hopeful they have the sophisticated chops to manage a complex, tiered immersive experience. The teaser trailer that Minefield has posted shows some promise, check it out below.

From the opening of the organic flower and bee at :17 (where the flower in the background magically shifts position) into the bright, polished and sterile environment of the lab at :31, the visuals are top notch, probably created with a combination of filmed and generated imagery. Interspersed are shots of different dark corridors with limited and focused lighting effects like at :38. It’s a simple technique, but limiting what you can see is huge for pulling the viewer into the scene. Our minds are great at filling in those blanks with the richest and often most terrifying details as long as we are given the space. Cutting these into the trailer early lets us see the range of environments to come. 

What really gets me interested are the dark shots at :43 and the psychedelic view at :45. This game isn’t going to be an old fashioned stroll through the building to make the right choices. If executed at this level, I can envision this experience going well no matter the screen you are viewing on. At :48 they break through the VR fourth wall and take us to view the player while in game to remind us of the tech involved, and how we’ll experience this. It’s interesting how they put us right back in the experience and virtually ship us off to Titan as we pull back through the airlock and corridors into the atmosphere above the surface. The final view after 1:15 show the Saturn planet rise over Titan. The sun wouldn’t look that big from Saturn’s distance, but there’s always room for artistic license, right? I’ll let that slide. 

On the Minefield press release page (http://www.pollengame.com/press/), they put up a variety of stills that show a range of other scenes and environments, and they are pretty cool shots. There are a few scenes where I’d expect to see more grit and texture on the surfaces, but without game context, it’s tough to judge. For example in this shot, if we are passing through a clean room in the lab, everything’s golden. 


But the fact is, this is a really clean clean room, and right of the production floor. A little dirt or variation in the specular channel would make it seem even more real. In comparison is this next image of the lighter with some real life in it. Distressed metal textures on the lighter, and some gritty living textures in the depth of field blurred background bring it into a world we are more familiar with, and ready to be part of. I’m liking this image more. One concern though, does this floating artifact hint at what types of game play might be in store? Will our tools float in front of us when we work with them? I’d be surprised, but we’ll see what develops.


Is this hyper-critical? Looking too close at details that will almost certainly expand and evolve before the game is released? Clearly, yes. Would I be looking this close at it if I wasn’t interested already? Not a chance. It’s tough to get a feel for the game play from a quick trailer and a few stills, so I’m looking forward to seeing more footage. Keep watching for this one on your traditional console and in the full VR experience, and if you play it before me, tell me what you think.

Guns ‘n Roses Pays Homage to Upton Sinclair

September 1st, 2014 § Comments Off on Guns ‘n Roses Pays Homage to Upton Sinclair § permalink

It is completely true that Guns ‘n Roses “Welcome to the Jungle” is an artistic homage to Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel “The Jungle”.

table press test

May 11th, 2014 § Comments Off on table press test § permalink

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Blog posts not posting to LinkedIn properly

October 13th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

This has been driving me crazy for a while. I have several blogs that I run and work on to varying degrees. I noticed one day that when I try to share a post through LinkedIn, none of the image and meta data would come in. I would only get the blog name.


When I set them up, one of the first things I do is set up security plugins to keep them clean from the very beginning. I noticed that on a few of my personal blogs that used to work fine aren’t anymore. Very frustrating.

After much deep thought and testing, I narrowed it down to something to do with the Better WordPress Security Plugin, I just couldn’t find out what part of it was causing the problem. This is one of the important plugins that I always install as soon as I start working on a site ever since having to rebuild ones that have been hacked.

Finally, Nathan Brauer figured out what the issue was. One of the banned list rules was blocking any user agent that starts with Link, which is of course LinkedIn. DOH!

Here’s the fix Nathan posted. I’ve done it and so far it is working. I’ll post here if it isn’t the full fix. Keep in mind that if you try to post a link and LinkedIn scrapes the info, it will be at least a week before LinkedIn will scrape it again. Seems you can’t force it any sooner.

Let me know if it works for you.

Ark Update and Official Log: Day 33

September 13th, 2013 § Comments Off on Ark Update and Official Log: Day 33 § permalink

Thankfully, the mood on board has lifted a bit. Most have accepted that we can only wait out the storm and then rebuild after. Some are taking it worse than others, but we are pulling together and will get through.

Other developments and updates:

  • The last hold out in the “I would never eat a rat” competition finally did. Angus from Deck 32 is the winner of the pool, and gets an extra serving of rice.
  • Cheese is no longer allowed anywhere below Deck 10.
  • Decks 35 to 42 have seceded from the ark and formed their own country. The security crew have decided to wait them out. There are no bathrooms on decks 35 to 42.
  • Deck 17’s “Kung Pao Luau” was quite successful, although there was some damage from the bonfire. We’ve agreed that future Luau’s will be announced to the crew in advance, and held on the outside decks.
  • We also agreed to only eat spare animals next time, although the mammoth steaks will last quite a while. Predictably, the Future Cannibals of Ameriark Association have disbanded, so that issue was resolved without conflict.
  • The Future Historical Philosophers Union has changed their name again to the Democratic People’s Union of the Future Historical Philosophers and Professors Organization, LLC.
  • We now have 424 rabbits and 693 rodents, and many more of the crew understand why I call all rodents tribbles, and wanted them in individual cages.
  • There have been some arguments about why we needed to bring 2 of each kind of tiger. A compromise was reached to put them closer to the rabbits to ease tensions.
  • Submissions for the “What did it feel like to be dry” essay contest have been robust, but most are grammatically poor at best. Writing classes start next week.
  • The Pessimist Club voted to change their name to Smuge Geniuses Guild and are having their weekly rush party on Monday.
  • There is still no suspect in the Lizarding Events on Deck 9, so investigators are expanding the investigation beyond the Reptile Enthusiast Club’s members.
  • All our stored raisins have re-plumped. We are planning a wine tasting as soon as possible.
  • No one can agree on what a cubit is yet. Meetings will still be held on Tuesdays, but will be moved to the deck 15 cubits above waterline until situation is resolved. See you there. 😉
  • We’ve determined that it takes on average 12 cow-a-bungie drops to break a rope. Additional cow-a-bungie events have been halted until we can ensure the safety of the cows and jockeys.
  • The Ewe Are So Beautiful competition on Deck 47 is taking entries now. Submit the name of your favorite sheep before Friday. It is suggested to submit unsigned nominations.

Generally, things are going ok. There are still complaints and issues, but we are managing to keep things civil. While life on board can be challenging, we all realize that we are in this together, and as illustrated by Mr. Fitzgerald, those who feel otherwise are welcome to find their own accommodations. Related: the recall election for Ark Captain has lost momentum and has been postponed.

Open .XPS file on a Mac?

May 20th, 2013 § Comments Off on Open .XPS file on a Mac? § permalink

I swear people do this shit just to be annoying. Let’s have open document types so that we can all communicate, but I have my own open document format that not everybody can read.

The point is, if you need to open a .XPS file on a Mac, use your Gmail account (or someone elses) to make it happen. View it through Gmail, and then you can print/save as a PDF.

Here’ where I found my answer:


You may notice that the answer is from 2006 so several questions come to mind.

  1. Why have I never had this issue before? Honestly I’m not even sure where an .XPS document comes from. Maybe I just don’t deal with “those types” of people enough.
  2. More importantly, why is this still an issue to be had? In 2006 this was something that happened, but that was way back when we were young and stupid! Aren’t we all grown up and have learned how to play nice?

No matter. Google saves me this time. Again. Sometimes I’m less worried about my privacy if I can at least get something done.


Another Test 2

April 18th, 2013 § Comments Off on Another Test 2 § permalink


Had to take the form out. Spam madness.

Private viewing on LinkedIn

March 21st, 2013 § Comments Off on Private viewing on LinkedIn § permalink

I found this the other day, and based on the number of times I’ve emailed it out this week, it seems not so many people are aware of it.

When you are logged in to LinkedIn and looking at people’s profiles, by default they can see that you have been there. You may have seen it with your profile that the following people have looked at you.

This can be sort of creepy if you think about it, especially if you are just browsing.

You can change this setting if you want.

Change your LinkedIn Viewing privacy.

This is helpful if you are searching through linked in looking for a contact or resource, or many other reasons I’m sure people have. I usually let everyone see what I do because I am comfortable with that. If you are not, change the setting and you’ll be more private.

Customize ShareThis URL and Title

March 11th, 2013 § Comments Off on Customize ShareThis URL and Title § permalink

Here’s the problem. I’m putting on a webinar and I wanted to increase the social reach, so on the landing page for the webinar, I used the ShareThis tools to create share buttons. No problem so far.

After people go through the GoToWebinar registration steps, they get redirected to a page that I specify, which I made as a great Thank you page. On this page I provide links to some other resources that are related to the webinar, constantly adding value every step of the way.

Clearly, when someone gets to this Thank You page, they are going to say “WOW! I didn’t do it before, but I really need to share this webinar with my friends.” And of course I want them to be able to do it. This is where things get sticky. When I put the ShareThis code on the page, it shares the Thank You page, not the landing page where people can register. This is no good. I could rewrite the Thank You page so that it makes sense to someone who hasn’t registered yet. Or do some fancy detection to see their referrer and redirect them if not the actual registration page. There’s got to be an easier way.

Thankfully, there’s a solution. ShareThis allows you to pass a series of values to the tool so that you can specify the URL, Title, Image, and description of the page that you WANT them to share. Very cool and helpful, and as a bonus, very easy. A lot easier than the custom redirect based on referrer approach for sure.

Here is a link to all the details directly from ShareThis. GO THERE >>

Hope you find this helpful. Have fun!

A Gear in Illustrator

January 4th, 2013 § Comments Off on A Gear in Illustrator § permalink

Yes, I’m a moron who doesn’t use Illustrator much anymore.

There have been several times where I needed a simple gear or series of gears for something and it was always a pain in the ass. It was never a massive part of the project, just a small additional element, meaning I never really put any time into figuring out how to do it. I usually would find a free vector gear, or autotrace a jpg and clean it up. One time I even used to pen to make one with an image template.

I finally put a few (very few) minutes of thought on it and came up with this approach, which works just fine for what I’ve needed. After I take it into Cinema4D or something similar, it can get super funky, but this is where I need it for now, and a lot faster than it used to take me.


The real learning lesson? Take a few minutes to figure out how to do things right in the beginning and you will save a ton of time in the long run.

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