New Laptop

Recently, my old laptop has been replaced. So in this blog, I decided to describe how my experience has been with so far, what I normally use it for, and the changes I don’t really like. 

To start off, my experience with the laptop has been fairly well. Right now, during summer break, I’ve primarily been using it to consume media and write these blogs. However, I have also been using this laptop to do my Blender practice. Previously, renders would take around five minutes. Now, those renders feel much faster. However, there is one strange thing that has been catching my eye. Sometimes a small black bar will appear on the left side of my screen for no apparent reason. It does partially bother me or affect me because it last only maybe two seconds, but it’s still weird. Aside from that little annoyance, my experience has been pretty good so far. Some of the new additions I personally fond of is the speakers and the clearer screen. Now it feels like the sound is coming from the laptop and not underneath the keyboard. I also appreciate the cleaner screen, but maybe that’s just because it’s new and hopefully it stays that way. 

Sadly, there are more than a few personal changes I don’t particularly like. For example, the keys are really low. Unlike my last laptop, it feels like you’re practically typing on nothing. It can sometimes get annoying especially when I’m typing something or when I want to play a quick game of Tetris. However, I’m sure I’ll eventually get use to the new feel. Another change I don’t really like is the touch bar, although this is me just being use to it. It’s really cool, it’s just I’m not use to switching between all the different layouts. For example, I usually use the layout with the fast forward and pause button. The reason for this is because this layout is the most similar to my previous laptop. However, the problem with this is that now I’m missing the the escape button. Like the keyboard, I think I’ll eventually get use to it, but I still kind of miss my old layout. The last change I don’t really like, is the fact it only has one USB C if you don’t count the charger. Even with my last laptop, I found the lack of USB port annoying. An example of this is when I had to transfer data from one USB to another. I also don’t particularly like the idea of having to carry a dongle around. However, I guess it’s going to happen eventually with the way technology is progressing, so better start getting use to it now. 

Overall, I really do like my new laptop. Aside from typing on the keyboard, everything I do is faster now. Now, my laptop doesn’t take forever to load websites. It really makes a big difference, because now it doesn’t feel like your wasting time. By the start of school, I hope I’ll be ready to use this laptop to the best of my ability.

Phantom Bullet

For the past two days, I’ve been playing another Switch game. With my play-through of Fire Emblem Three Houses coming to an end, I decided to get another game. So, in this blog, I’ll be talking about this new game. Like usual, I’ll be talking about general game mechanics, my experience with the game, and my thoughts. 

Alright, the game in question is called Phantom Bullet. As you can tell from the name, it’s a shooter. More specifically a 3rd person shooter, meaning most of the time you’re looking over your avatar’s shoulder. The goal of the game, is to go through the story. The plot is that you start off at a low rank and then gain a reputation while looking for specific items. Not a very interesting is it? Well, the further you go into the story the better it gets. As you progress, you’ll have to fight multiple bosses to get access to new locations, not including multiple area bosses. Without any DLC, I believe the game has five in-game areas. I don’t really know how the game will end, because I haven’t reached it and I don’t really want to be spoiled. 

As far as the mechanics go, it feels pretty standard for a 3rd person shooter. Although, my only complaint was that the joysticks were really sensitive. This can sometimes make it a pain to shoot enemies as I always miss the target. I ended up going into the options menu and turning the sensitivity down to its lowest settings. Another thing that the game could improve upon, would be the maps. I knew going into this game I shouldn’t have expected much in terms of graphics. Still, it doesn’t mean I would’ve like seeing a bit more life. While travelling through all five areas, I don’t think I saw a single tree. There are monsters and building, plus the geography isn’t bad either. I just wish, there was a bit more life in the maps. 

In addition to the single player aspect, there is the still untouched multiplayer. Unfortunately, like Puyo Puyo Tetris, I doubt I could find a lobby. The reason for this, is because of who the general audience is. So unless you’re playing with friends, I don’t see anyone using the multiplayer function anytime soon. The only way I can see the multiplayer aspect drawing any attention, is if it’s some sort of battle royal. Even if that was the case, I don’t think I’ll be really interested. Unlike Kalen, I don’t really care about battle royal games. The only exception being Tetris 99. Still, I think I’ll likely just check out the multiplayer and not go any further than that. 

In the end, I’ve been having a lot of fun with the game. Like I said before I still think there are a few things the game could improve on. Unfortunately, with how long the game has already been out, I don’t any changes are going to be made. Still, it’s doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy the game any less. 

Blender Modelling

I’ve already talked about Blender in a pervious blog, but I didn’t really go into detail. In that blog, I pretty much just gave my opinion. In this blog, I just wanted to expand on that and go through the process of making an object. 

Whenever I’m trying to make something, I first get rid of the default cube. More often than not, the object I’m trying to create does not look like a cube. Next, I grab an image of the object I want to create. The best images are the ones that just show one face and are not taken an angle. The reason for this, is that the image will serve as a template and will only appear at certain default angles. You can create an object without a background image, but is a lot harder. For example, I didn’t really want to get an image of a vase. Instead, I just made the vase from my own imagination and in my opinion, it was pretty decent. 

After getting an image, I select the best mesh for the object. For the, vase that would be the cylinder mesh. Then I change the amount of faces on the object. Usually the less faces the better. If it looks a little rough, you can just fix it latter. From that point, I scale the object to the relative size of the template. It doesn’t really matter if it’s not the exact size you’re looking for. You can just scale the object back down when you’re done. 

Now, you’re at the most time consuming part. By moving around points and adding new ones, you create your object. However, sometimes shaping a mesh won’t be enough. Sometimes you might need to extrude to get the desired shape. An example of extruding, might be the handle of a mug or cup. At this point, it should still look really rough. To fix that, you can add on the subsurface modifier. From what the tutorial guy said, it works by electing the closet three points then smoothing it out. If that’s not enough, you can look up smooth shading and apply it to your object.  

With your object finished, you need colour. To create colour in Blender, you use a node system. Basically, you connect a bunch of nodes to create different colour. For example, if you combine red gloss and white mat, you get a mat pink with some gloss. However, Blender has recently changed this system, so I have to relearn how to use the node system. 

After adding your colours, you should be 100% done. Now just press render, and then after a bit of patience, your object will be there. Personally, I felt really happy after I created my first even if it was a tutorial. However, that feeling of satisfaction only gets better when you start making you own objects. 

Fire Emblem Three Houses

For the last few days, I have been playing the new Fire Emblem game. It’s my first time playing a game in the series, so in this blog, I would like to give a brief explanation and share my thoughts on the game. 

The general concept of the Fire Emblem games is that you complete the story by clearing stages. Each stage contains a map and many enemies. To defeat these enemies, you use different units with skills determined by their class and unique passive abilities. This means no matter how hard you try, each unit will be different in some way. Another feature that made the Fire Emblem some what unique is the addition of permanent death of units. The meaning of this is when a unit HP hits zero, that unit is gone forever and you’re unable to recover without restarting the stage, reloading, or in the more recent games, using a limited skill to go several moves back. As a first time player, I was unaware of this and now one of my units is gone forever.

Besides the permanent death, the most unique feature for me, is the amount of customization you can put into your units. I don’t know how it worked in pervious games in the series, but in Fire Emblem Three Houses, you can switch classes very easily. For example, if you really wanted to, it’s possible to turn an axe wielding warrior into an arcane mage. Of course, the characters still retain their personality due to story elements. Still, fun to play around with the different classes, plus, it’s always good to have some variety in your army. I also find it amazing how the game forces you to use all your units, or at least rotate through them. As you may have guessed, with the permeant death feature in place, levelling can be some what risky for my units. To level properly, you need to be within five levels of the enemy. If your level is too high you won’t get enough experience, too low and you’ll be instantly killed. Remember, once units are gone, they are gone. In the end, you are forced to use all units periodically or risk them falling behind. I don’t know if this was an intended feature or not, but it gives me a chance to try out all the units. 

As for the story itself, I’m finding it quite enjoyable right now. As the name implies, there are three houses or factions. The names of these faction aren’t too important to this blog, so I won’t be mention them. I also don’t want to spoil any of the major plot characters in these houses, which why I’ve been avoiding names so far. However, what is important to mention is that all of these factions have clashing ideologies and values. This will be important latter on, that is because the game is split into two parts. The first part, which I’m currently in, is the school phase. In this phase you act as a teacher, guide students (levelling units) in the skills they want to learn and leading one of the factions. Think of it like Harry Potter where you have have the different houses. The second phase, is the war phase. At some point in the story, which I haven’t reached yet, there will be a five year time skip. After which a war will ensue between all three factions. This is where the house you picked comes into play. There are four endings in the game, three of them depending on the faction picked. The last path is a neutral path, which only happens if you decide not complete a certain quest (Spoilers which I don’t even know). 

So far, I have really enjoyed the game. Right now, the story is slowly but surely ramping up. I’m willing to guess the time skip is about to happen any second now. As for the war phase, I’m looking forward to seeing what ramifications my actions in the first stage have on the story. 

Progress Part 2

As you know, I have been working on a project for my mom’s friend. Since the last update, I have made a lot of progress and I thought it was about time to update my last blog. So like last time, I’ll be talking about what progress I’ve made, changes to my plans, and my current plans moving forward. 

So since my last update, I talked how about I was using HTML to create my pages. However to speed things up, I ditched this method of creating pages and moved to photoshop. Since the switch, progress has increased immensely. Starting from scratch, I was able to recover the progress I made with HTML in around one and a half day. Instead of switching between code and viewing my page, everything is now drag and drop. That means instead of typing in the exact position of a photo, I just move it into position. I found this much more intuitive, and easier to manipulate the photos how I wanted to. It also helped in retaining the original dimensions of the photos. Since every photo was different, that meant they all had different sizes . Using HTML I had to figure out the exact pixel measure for every photo which was time consuming. Now, all the photo’s appear as how I took them. 

Besides talking about the change in format, I also want to talk about my new plans. Prior to the switch, I would have just created all the pages, convert them to PDF, and string them together. However, now there are fewer steps. I’m now using photoshop now, so naturally I’ve got to deal with the resolution and image sizes when the photos come out to print. Thanks to the links mommy gave me, I can probably do this fairly easily. But prior to this I need, to send some samples to the client. Although, I have been dragging my feet, I still want the client to at least feel good about the end product. If the client then asks for any changes, I’ll make them. Wether it be changing the photo position, or retaking photos I’ll try to make the customer satisfied. 

Overall, progress has been going quite well and there isn’t much more to it. This blog has been fairly short, but only because there hasn’t been as many hiccups as I was expecting, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, this also means there isn’t a lot to talk about. Perhaps in my next blog, there will be more to talk about?

Summer Progress

Alright, I’m halfway through my summer break and I thought it would be a good time to recap all the events that have happened so far. From what I have done, to what I still need to do, and what else I want to do. 

First, what have I done so far? To be honest, I haven’t completed anything I would call a goal. However, I have made I like to call milestones in areas of interest. For example, there is my Blender progress. I’m still working on my scene of mine. You know, the donut, mug, and vase. I still have to add in particles and other small things, but through the experience, I have learned a lot of things. I’ll admit I have been moving really slowly over the past week with Blender progress. However, that’s because I want to hone my extruding skills in particular. Right now I’m not so much focused on the final goal, but rather the journey that will teach me how to apply the skill I’ve learned. Anyone who can follow the tutorial will make a donut, but it’s the skills that really matter because those will allow you to create what you really want. That’s what I have realized over the course of my time with the program, this especially holds true for my final goal. When I started learning about this program, I stetted out with the final goal of creating an anime-styled 3d animation. When I look on youtube I can find tutorials, but I want to create something I can call my own. To do that, I need to know the basics first. Especially extruding, like I said before, which is a skill I will likely use a lot. 

Besides blender, I have also been working on my math skills. Ever since the last week of grade 10, I have had a math tutor in the hopes of raising my math skills. So far, I’ve honed what I’ve learned in grade 10, and am now working on grade 11 concepts. Right now I’m working on something called domain and range, which is like all the X and Y points in a given function. So far, I have been able to understand the concepts fairly well. However, from what I’ve heard the first three chapters in the textbook are fairly easy and every just gets harder after that. Still, I’m happy I have improved even if it’s just slightly. Just like Blender, I have started to ask my tutor more questions so I have a solid understanding. I did do this a bit during the final two units of math and I did do better, but too little too late. 

Finally, the last project I have made considerable progress on is the photography one. I’ve finished taking all the photos and I’m putting them into the pages. During the first week of the project, I did encounter a few problems. For example how long it will take to faithfully recreate all the position of the photos. Besides being very time consuming, the photo’s would be way too small. An example of this is the first page. Like the original I had been given, I put in five photos onto the one page. After I did this you could barely see the four corner pictures with zooming in. Now, I’ve just opted for putting one to three photos per page, all in order of course. This will hopefully make it easier to see the pictures and keep the photos on the same page in the originals relatively together. Since then, I have made a lot of progress. Granted things are still moving slowly but they are moving. 

Overall, since the start of the summer, a lot of things have happened. I still haven’t reached the goals I’ve set out to complete, but with each milestone, I feel like I’m getting closer. Every now and again I feel like I never will reach my goal, but during times like these, I like to remind myself of what I have completed so far. Maybe the next time I write a blog like this I may have made more progress, only time will tell. 

Blender

A few weeks ago, I talked how about I wanted to try using Blender during my summer. Now, several weeks into my summer, I now feel confident showing what I have accomplished and my thoughts on the program. 

For those who don’t know, Blender is a 3D modeling program. Since I don’t have any other experience with another program, I can’t exactly take about differences. However, I will say as someone who has never touched a 3D modeling program, the number of shortcuts is mind-blowing. Even after practicing on Blender for almost every day, I still forget what some of the shortcuts do, and I don’t even know all of them yet. For example, the Z key does so many things… Like activate wireframe mode, lock an object on the Z-axis, undo, and a bunch of other things I’m probably forgetting right now. I realize when I finally remember what all of the shortcuts do, I’ll be more productive, but it’s still a slow process learning all the shortcuts. 

Besides the shortcuts, I find actually creating 3d objects quite fun. Usually, I try creating different kinds of household objects on my free time. For example, I’ve created a plate, mug, and vase so far. Making symmetrical roundish objects are the easiest while making things like the mug is a bit harder. A big part of this is me still getting the hang on extruding. I have to extrude, then rotate, and then sometimes even scale. I haven’t tried creating anything organic and I probably won’t in a while. Still, I find it quite fun making the objects. My proudest creation is probably the plate since it’s the first object I created all by myself. No tutorials, no guides, just me and what I’ve learned. I guess that was the first step in actually putting the program to use. 

However, the easiest feature to understand so far was likely the node system, at least so far. Basically, it’s just connect the dots with different materials. Although, the tutorial guy didn’t go into much detail and he made it sound quite complicated… Still, I found it quite fun messing around with the different shaders, especially the glass one. There are also textures, though I haven’t learned it yet. But supposedly the next tutorial is on textures, so I guess that will be quite interesting. Unfortunately, this basic understanding of the side system only applies to my laptop. For some reason, the PC has a completely different node system. All the shaders are different and if you don’t plan on using diffuses, life gets really hard. Instead of preset options, you need to manually type in every setting. Gloss, transparency, noise, all of it… I guess that the primary reason I prefer using my laptop over the PC when modeling. Still, maybe I’ve just been looking in the wrong place and the shaders are somewhere else. Either way, it just goes to show I still have a lot to learn. 

Overall, I’m having a lot of fun with Blender. Like I’ve said before, I’ve already made a plate, vase, mug, and doughnut. I originally started Blender with the intentions of creating full-blown animations. Unfortunately, that seems that’s not going to happen for a long time. Still, it’s really fun and I can’t wait to learn more about the program. 

What is a build in gaming

Recently, I started playing a new game of Skyrim. Unlike my previous games, I decided to create a pure mage build. So far I’ve played the game as a warrior, thief, and spell-blade. However, right now you may be wondering what exactly is a build. That is the question I will be answering today in this blog. 

To start off, what is a build? Personally, I define it as how you distribute stat points. The reason for this is because most builds are defined by what skills you invest in. For example, if you’re building a mage in any RPG, you would invest more of your levels into magic. Because of its very broad definition, it’s a term you will see throw around on any RPG forum. It doesn’t matter if the game is single player or multiplayer, if there are stat points of some kind, you can likely create a build. 

However, builds can also be very limiting, especially for games like Skyrim. In MMORPGs, this normally isn’t a problem because of how the skills are chosen. In games like WOW, after you pick a class, there is a skill tree. Basically, this means, you start off with a small selection skills and as you progress through the game more skills related to that base skill gets unlocked. For example, let’s say you have a skill called fireball, a basic AOE spell. After you level up, you have two options with how you would like to advance this skill. First, you could have the fireball do more damage. The second option is to increase the AOE of the spell. You can only choose one, so it kind of makes strategic building a requirement for games like these. MMORPGs with systems like a skill tree blocks players from accessing every skill available in the game, pushing the incentive to gather a large group of players with different classes and builds. I would also like to point out there is a difference between classes and builds. An example of this would be WOWs mage class. Normally when you think of a mage, you think of casting spells. However, WOW takes it one step further, where you either build an Arcane, Fire, or Frost mage. So when you fight a boss with a fire resistance, you would bring a bunch of Frost or Arcane mages. 

On the other hand, there are games like Skyrim. Given enough time, a player could unlock every skill in the game. There are still skill trees but none of them limit you. Instead, the newer skills just require the previous one as a prerequisite. An example of this is every first skill of each one of Skyrim’s skill trees. Most of these skills have very basic effects like increase damage, but they lead to all the better abilities later on. Unfortunately, with these kinds of games, there is eventually a point where you have everything, making a build kind of pointless. The silver lining to this is that people usually complete the story before reaching 100% completion. However, builds can also be used for roleplaying. What is roleplaying? The player chooses a build creates a backstory supporting their build and plays only skills that would make sense for whatever build they came up with. For the extra hardcore roleplayers though, they will carefully select their race, name, skills, and faction they join. 

In the end, builds can be seen as a way to limit how powerful a player becomes. In MMOs, this forces players to work together and in single player, they can be used as a nice way to roleplay. Personally, I like to try out different builds. Sadly, I’ve never reached 100% completion but maybe I will with my newest play through. 

My Thoughts on my Chosen Grade 11 Courses Part 1

As of now, I have completely finished grade 10. Exams are over and essentially my summer break has already begun. So what’s next? Grade 11 that’s what. I have already picked my courses months ago at the end of the first semester. Now, I want to share my thoughts and opinions going into the courses, in a two-part blog series.

The two courses I want to talk about first is English and Math. The reason for grouping them together is because these are the mandatory courses. I can’t really explain why I wanted a course if I had no choice in the first place. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t talk about how I feel about going into them. Starting with English, I feel decently confident I could do well in it. The course will probably consists of reading a novel, play, etc. All the trends that have appeared in every grade so far, unless grade 11 is really different. Math, on the other hand, I’m not as confident in. But after getting a tutor, I feel I could do better than I have in previous years.  

The next course I want to talk about is grade 11 Computer Science. The reason for choosing this course is because I wanted to be a computer programmer. Now though, I’m not too sure. I still like programming and found making games really fun. However, I honestly don’t think I could get the required marks. I’ve never been a straight A student even when I’m trying. So expecting me to become one now? It’s not happening. I know people say if you try hard enough the impossible will become possible. But guess what? I did try and it hasn’t worked. So instead of focusing on a trade that has so much competition, I thought it would be better if I broaden my horizons. I could do this by picking up different skills that could complement my computer programming.  

After Computer Science, I want to talk about Media Arts. Media Arts is a course I had taken during last semester and enjoyed it. During the entire course, there was only one unit I was iffy about, which unit three and this wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy it. It was just because we had to work in groups and the team dynamic wasn’t really working out. Never the less, I found the course really fun, especially the final project. As I’ve said before on a previous blog, our final project was creating a piece of media that incorporated two skills we’ve learned during the course. I ended up creating an animation using Photoshop and iMovie. During the process of making the animation, I felt a bit stressed but also enjoyed watching my project come together. It invoked a similar feeling to when I created my final game in grade 9. Perhaps it was just because I was passionate about the project. However, that was what pushed me to make the best animation I could. I actually enjoyed the project so much, that during the final phaseses, I actually contemplated taking this on as an actual profession.

The final course I want to talk about this week is Construction. In a way, this is the complete opposite of Computer Science and Media Arts. Everything in this course is hands-on, using tools to create wooden objects. After taking the grade 10 version of this course, I can safely say I enjoyed it. Completing a project always gave me a sense of satisfaction. Especially when I got to hold the finished piece, created from scratch, with my own two hands. However, I don’t think I would take this on as a profession though. It is fun, yes, but making a living off it? I don’t think I could mass produce anything for an extended amount of time. Still, this could become a nice hobby. One that could help make and save money, as long as I do a decent job. The practical skills I learned are also pretty handy, although this only extends to basic wiring and home repair. However, for a mark booster course, I learned a lot, and I think I could do just as well in grade 11.

Overall, the courses I talked about this week is just me thinking about future professions. I could honestly see myself working as an animator or maybe a game designer. Before this, I was just going to focus solely on Computer Programming. But that is just unrealistic for me. I don’t have the grades. And even if I did, I like working on things that eventually become a product I can interact with. In the end, only time will tell if I even get these courses. 

Summer Plan

Summer break is right around the corner and I wanted to share my plans for my two-month vacation. So far, from what I know is my family and I are going to the cottage for a few days right after school ends. After that, I have to study for my driver’s license and then finish my photo project. But what then? So here is a list of what I want to do over the summer. 

During my time at the cottage, I will likely get bored. Don’t get me wrong, fishing is fun along with all the otheractivites at the cottage. However, I don’t want to constantly be in the sun. My skin is tanned enough. Therefore, this would be a great opportunity to catch up on my reading. I just purchased several books and I wanted to take my time reading them. Instead of cramming them like I normally do during normal weeks, I want to spread out my reading a bit. Maybe read two different books at a time to mix it up a bit. But as much as I like reading, I also still like my electronic devices. So, I will likely also bring my Switch. Unlike my phone, I have many more games on my Switch that don’t need any internet. This will be a good opportunity to finish Pokemon Let’s GO Eevee and maybe make some progress on MHGU. I might even get one of the games that I talked about in my last blog. Never the less, I will have a lot of things to do when I’m at the cottage. 

After I get back home though, I will likely have to study. Not only for the driver’s test but for math as well since my parents got me a tutor. However, in between my study sessions, I would still like to have my fun. In the end, I will likely end up in my room reading like I normally do. However, if I have time I would like to make some progress on a personal project I’ve been working since last September. It’s been moving rather slowly since the start of the second semester and I would like to get it back on track. Other than those two activities, I would also like to get on my PC more often. Lately, I’ve found my computer less and less, only getting on to play a round of Tetris. Perhaps I will finally start a new game of Skyrim or Fallout. 

Finally, any summer plan wouldn’t be complete without a few goals. Like I said before I want to work on my personal project and finish that photo request, but I also want to start a few new projects. Lately, I have seen a few high-quality 3d animations on youtube, especially by a channel called minusT. Along with the fact I realized it will be impossible for me to get anywhere with just programming alone, I wanted to try my hand in 3d modeling and making animation. I think it will be an asset that I’m already interested in this topic in general. Besides 3d modeling, I also wanted to try making a game using C#. Although this will likely fall to the sidelines when compared to 3d modeling. Still, I believe refreshing myself for the programming language they’ll use in grade 11 computer science will be an asset, even if I might not get the course.  

In the end, it seems I won’t be bored during my summer break. I have a lot of things to get done and things to do. From playing games to prepping myself for grade 11, I’m sure I will be busy. I just hope I have time to get all of this done.