Friday, August 28, 2015

Photoshop Elements

John Marine | 6:26 PM | | | Be the first to comment!
Adobe PhotoShop is the best of the best in art editing. However, many people can't afford PhotoShop for a subscription or its lofty $1K+ USD price. So what's the next best thing? Photoshop Elements. Photoshop Elements take in many of the powerful features from Photoshop in a lite package. It is Photoshop for those who can't afford the full Photoshop suite. Since buying Photoshop Elements earlier this year, I have been pleased with just how much power and control I have with images than with almost any other program I've used. I even uninstalled PaintShop Pro X6 from my computer as well as The GIMP because of the power Photoshop Elements has.

As of this post (August 28, 2015), the latest version is Photoshop Elements 13. My story with PSE was with wondering if Photoshop Elements would work for me. Prior to Photoshop Elements, my only other Photoshop experience was with Photoshop 5.5 from my brother. I mentioned that I had PhotoShop X6 as my premier art-editing program. I was intrigued with PSP X6 because I had previously used PSP4 on my Windows 98 and WinXP computers. Over time, I felt like I needed something better to work with. PaintShop X6 was good, but not really great. I bought that program for about $75 USD. Photoshop Elements is almost $110 USD. At one point, I even wondered if I would want a bundle that included Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Premiere Elements. Premiere Elements is more like for people to make videos with.

So I went ahead and bought Photoshop Elements 13 looking for a better editing experience. While many people would probably use PSE for photo editing, I prefer using it for making and editing art. It is a great program to use with a handful of useful resources. The amount of control in editing pixels and layers and such is pretty good. Photoshop Elements really does have many of the key elements to help you make or edit digital art. Because I use it to design art for games and such, I rarely have used it to edit or modify any pictures of mine. All I know is that I felt more confident making an image from start to finish with PSE than I had with PSP X6. As long as you are not using the seriously powerful features, this is a fairly decent program to use if you're a pixel artist.

Remember I mentioned Adobe Photoshop Elements as a "lite" Photoshop? A number of features from the main Photoshop suite are missing. Among some of the many missing features include things like making layer groups, scripting, vector graphics, and more. Animation is possible with Photoshop Elements, but it is a bit cumbersome doing so. Don't expect the level of animation quality in Photoshop Elements like with Photoshop (or even the former ImageReady program from long ago). There are just some features missing from PSE that almost makes you lament not having the money to pay for the full Photoshop or even pay for a subscription for Photoshop. To put it mildly, Photoshop Elements is like being confident enough to drive anywhere you want, but you know you can go only so far. I certainly would recommend you invest in Photoshop Elements if you are looking for a powerful art editor. There are many features to Photoshop found in Photoshop Elements that you can live without if you are willing to sacrifice. Photoshop Elements isn't too light to where it lacks the power and polish of Photoshop. Photoshop Elements is Photoshop- only about ten times less expensive and with as many features as possible to give you the full Photoshop experience without having to pay for a full subscription or in buying the full program.

I would surely recommend Photoshop Elements as long as you have the requirements to run this program on your computer. Look online for resources on how to utilize your Photoshop Elements experience in case you want assistance. Remember that you can only do so much with Photoshop Elements with a number of the offered features. However, you aren't severely limited in what you can do with the program. So play around with it and make the most of your experience with Photoshop Elements.


Were you compelled by my commentary of Photoshop Elements and want to get it for yourself? Here are the latest versions of PSE that you can pick up on Amazon. Click on these items to learn more:


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Perhaps I've swayed your interest with this topic. This has been another post of "John's Creative Space." Subscribe and Follow if you enjoyed this blog and want more content when it comes available. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Charity the Cat

John Marine | 6:43 PM | | Be the first to comment!
Cats are so well-loved for their cuteness and personality. One cat, however, begs a certain question: what if one could change the world with one's own charm and intrigue? Charity looks to do just that in her adventures... and misadventures. This blog post introduces you to my feline character.

NOTE: There is no formal material for this character. This, however, will change with future edits. So stay tuned to this blog post for updates.





--- Charity the Cat ---

Allow me to introduce you to my unique character.

Charity the Cat
^ (prototype image, from one of my Facebook albums) - This is an early prototype for my character, Charity.

Now onto the story of this character.


Charity the Cat: Story and Actions.

There are a number of cats who help make us laugh and be awed by their cuteness. Some are silly, and some others can be on the fierce side. Charity is no different. Only thing is that she is a cat with a difference. Charity is an average house cat who is very affectionate and lovable. As much as Charity loves to be cuddled and cared for, she feels she can influence the world on her cuteness as well as in trying to perform certain tasks and help people out. It all came to a head when Charity felt the world around her was becoming too negative. So to restore positivity and shift the balance between negative and positive into a more positive direction, Charity looked for anything she can do to help make the world around her a happier and more fun place. She knows she can't solve all of the world's problems, but this cat certainly wants to make the world better... for cuddles!

What Charity wants to do is help out others and try to influence the world around her to make it better and more positive. Anything to help bring smiles to others or to make others feel better is what she will go through- no matter how serious or even how silly. Another cause important to her is to try to rescue fellow kittens from those whom have kidnapped the kittens. That even includes trying to feed starved kittens with delicious cat food or anything else made available. In other words, Charity just wants to positively influence the world around her.

In addition to her efforts to make the world a better place, two other cuddly animals want to help provide their own positive influences on the world. One is a Maltese puppy named Matilda, and another is a bunny named Benny (or Bennie). Charity looks at these two as helpful allies and cares equally for both Matilda and Benny. She even tries to prove her love and loyalty to them by trying to help them with their own problems.


Charity the Cat: Inspirations.

The main inspiration for Charity was Pusheen the Cat. I chose Pusheen for cuteness and for being playful. Another inspiration of mine is Neko. In case you don't know who Neko is, first of all, Neko is Japanese for "cat." Neko is a popular program in Java. One variation of the program either is a sequence where this pixelated kitty runs to the center, yawns, cleans itself, takes a brief nap, wakes up, and runs off the screen. The more popular one features Neko running towards wherever the user places the mouse cursor at around a fixed space.

I wanted Charity to be friendly and fun. However, I wanted Charity to be a cat who could save the world and make it a better place. I wanted to choose a positive name for my character, and the only real name that seemed to fit her best was "Charity." I couldn't really think of a better name for the puppy, so I kind of went with "Matilda" just for alliteration since she is a Maltese puppy. The "Benny/Bennie" namesake is short for "benevolent."


Charity the Cat: Goals.

I actually tried to come up with game prototypes to try to enact Charity in a situation to help become a part of making the lives of others better. I have two different game ideas in mind- a side-scrolling platformer and a top-down maze-style game. Neither has been real successful in trying to create. Also, I had planned using Charity as my mascot for an Android app that offers positive messages.

So far, nothing really has materialized. I still don't have enough programming knowledge to properly create any true game, even a prototype.


You now have an idea of what all I am working on in regards to Charity the Cat. I will update this post with new content as I make it available.





Again- I will provide more material on this character when I get to make it available. Until then, thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Gaming Jams

John Marine | 1:40 AM | | Be the first to comment!
The way I understand them, gaming jams are challenges in creating a game within a certain amount of time. These jams challenge you to make as complete a game as possible within a certain time, sometimes even creating to a theme. Some of the most unique gaming concepts result from these jams from developers ranging from single hobbyists to multiple people part of a team. Whatever the case, gaming jams can really bring out the best in developers. This blog post offers a few thoughts of mine in regards to game jams.


BEFORE I BEGIN...

I have never participated in a gaming jam as of this post. Thoughts expressed here in this blog post are all based on opinions and ideas of mine.





--- Gaming Jams: General Thoughts ---

NOTE: Some topics and thoughts expressed here may be featured in their own blog posts in the future.

Creating a game from start to finish takes a lot of time and money. Especially among the independent gaming circuit, however, games don't have to take ages to complete. They also don't have to be overly fancy. So to put people to the test, people take part in game jams. In the past, I thought game jams was like when you have musicians who simply perform music to others. You know- like jam sessions. But as I learned, game jams and their namesake are named for trying to put in as much content to make a proper game within a short amount of time. Some jams even have an added challenge- making a game to a certain theme. If taking part in a gaming jam, people do have an opportunity to try to practice their skills before taking part in a gaming jam proper. This sort of practice will sort of ease the burden and limits being completely unprepared and inexperienced. Some people on YouTube set up YouTube videos showcasing time lapses of their created games from concept to completion.

Of all gaming jams, one is considered the biggest and the most popular of all game jams. That gaming jam is called...


Ludum Dare.

The most popular of gaming jams is Ludum Dare (pronounced: "loo-dum dar-eh"), a 48-hour gaming challenge. Many developers of various levels have made a number of games within these challenges. The challenge of gaming jams like Ludum Dare involve creating a game that is as complete as possible. Sometimes, a theme is offered that participants must try to stick to as part of the Ludum Dare challenge. For example, participants in Ludum Dare may be asked to build a game with the theme of friends and family. So developers want to try to make a game focusing on these concepts. Once the time limit has expired and once the game has been submitted for review, it is up to gamers like you and I to test them out and play them to determine who wins.

Now if you think Ludum Dare is some brand new deal with very few iterations, think again. As of the date of this initial post (August 13, 2015), Ludum Dare is about to enter its 33rd iteration with Ludum Dare 33 happening between August 21, 2015 and August 24, 2015. Good luck to anyone who may be taking part in LD33 and in future Ludum Dare jams.

IN CASE YOU'RE INTERESTED: Learn more about Ludum Dare by visiting its official website at ludumdare.com.


The Psychology of Game Jams.

Hypothetically, a game could be completed in just one day. In theory, anyone could create a game in less than 24 hours. Some even could create a decent game in even less time- even in one hour or less! Can you imagine making 365 or 366 games- one game each day? We all know this is humanly impossible since we need to take part in a variety of activities to stay alive and such. However, in the case of game jams, it shouldn't take forever to build a game as long as you have the proper skills to build a game from start to finish. What if you were trying to meet deadlines to complete games for a company or some client? Can you complete a decent game within the time frame of a game jam?

The primary challenge of a game jam is to try to create a game within a certain amount of time. It does not have to be overly fancy- it just has to work and work properly. The game can be made by one person or be part of a team. Many people who participate in gaming jams learn lessons in trying to create games in short order.


Learning from Gaming Jams.

I have read multiple posts on Ludum Dare's website and in others' blogs about what they learned in working on the games they attempted to create for gaming jams. Many wish they had more time and resources to develop games. Some others think of taking certain measures to be more efficient in developing games, especially when you don't have so much time to work with. So while the challenge of making a game in such a short amount of time is a great challenge, there is a lot to learn. I would say that people in gaming jams learn of the essentials to making a game before refining them further. Most gaming jams mean most developers have to do with certain development pieces since you don't have as much time to create certain elements as you probably would you had seemingly unlimited time to develop a game. The impression I get from those who do jams like Ludum Dare is to find out how much game they can create in the allowed time one has to develop a game. Because you have a set amount of time, does that mean you will create a game as complete as possible? Not all the time. Some games created in jams may even be broken messes that still are remotely serviceable. A game jam is NOT a contest of perfection, and games are only going to be as perfect as what one deems perfect (or at least decent) with games created in game jams. You're going to have to be REALLY good if you're going to make a game in a gaming jam that even would challenge any Triple-A developers or Triple-A games. If you're expecting perfection or play to a level of perfection, then you've already lost the battle before the battle even starts. Just like in life, you sometimes have to learn some lessons from mistakes you make from making games in gaming jams.


Would I Participate in a Gaming Jam?

Programming is not one of my strong suits in creative work. While I am a stay-at-home person not in college or having any proper job, I seemingly have all the time in the world to do as I please. That unfortunately doesn't mean I could create a game from start to finish should I take part in a gaming jam. As a solo person who takes on a vast array of publishing tasks ranging from art to music to blogging, I don't think I could stay focused enough and be as educated enough in programming to develop a game within a short amount of time. I also tend to think highly of myself. I would feel bad releasing something that isn't to a level that I think is acceptable of my talent level. While not the very best, I certainly don't see myself the very worst.

So the chances of me taking part in a gaming jam would be rather unlikely. Maybe I'll try a gaming jam when I feel I'm experienced enough and talented enough to take one on.



--- Gaming Jams: Final Thoughts ---

I think gaming jams exist for one purpose among others- challenging people to create games in a short amount of time and usually without resources that most major developers and games would utilize. On a positive and encouraging note, being able to make so much using so little is always something encouraging. The dedicated developer would participate in gaming jams and be able to learn how to make their games more efficiently. I also feel gaming jams are the cornerstone of game development in a gaming culture in which games somehow have to be pretty and elaborate to be worth caring. Some people these days won't even go next to a game that isn't something Triple-A quality in every possible aspect. What such people would miss out on is the pure essence of games- playing them. Games don't have to be overly pretty. While not to say that games made by independents are ugly, at least there are people who remember that games are about proper play and are not beauty contests. In case anyone wants to know why the indie gaming community is so strong and appealing and why it seems almost anyone can get into the indie gaming scene and be their own star, follow game jams and games made in gaming jams. I would probably go as far as to say that gaming jams help you appreciate and respect the indie gaming scene and why games from indie developers have the sort of appeal that they have. So I'd say these gaming jams are the perfect platforms for indie developers ranging from hobbyists to proper studios.

If you take part in a gaming jam, be sure to try to create a game as complete as possible giving your full effort and dedication. Each game created in a gaming jam is both a chance to enjoy gaming, but also to learn how to make games more efficiently. Make something great while also being ready to take on various challenges in putting a game together to begin with. Your title probably won't be a Triple-A game killer, but at least making something you can be proud of through so much time and effort (and in such limited time) is something to be proud and boastful of. You are not going to be the next legendary game developer or lead gaming's next top gaming studio or company through gaming jams, but you have a chance to push yourself and your skills to the limit while also making great games through gaming jams.

Gaming jams are both great challenges and learning experiences. I salute all who take part in these jams regardless of talent and/or talent level.





These are at least my thoughts about gaming jams. I want to know what you think, though...

What are your thoughts about gaming jams? Have you participated in one? What would you recommend to others who may want to try a gaming jam?

This concludes another post of my creative works blog- "John's Creative Space." This is a blog where I share my own creative works as well as thoughts regarding making such creative works. It falls in the "anything and everything" mantra I follow for all of my online publishing work. If you enjoyed my blog post here, then please subscribe and follow this blog and my others. Get social with me on social media if you want to connect with me better. Thank all of you for your support. Simply visiting my material is the bare minimum that you somewhat care. That's all for this post, have a great day/night! Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Pusheen the Cat Camry

John Marine | 1:21 AM | | Be the first to comment!
#Pusheen the Cat is wildly popular. The cute animated cat has her fair share of cute and silly pictures both static and animated. I designed a car of her for fun using the NASCAR Generation 6 mod in "NASCAR Racing 2003 Season" (or NR2003). I will share with you my creation in this blog post.


Before I Begin...

DISCLAIMER: Pusheen the Cat is a trademark of Pusheen Corporation. For more on Pusheen, visit www.pusheen.com.





--- Pusheen the Cat Toyota Camry ---

Here is the car I created featuring Pusheen the Cat:

Pusheen the Cat Toyota Camry NASCAR Generation 6 Stock Car
^ from: (one of my Facebook photo albums) - Meow! It's Pusheen the Cat decorated on a Toyota Camry stock car.

In case you know nothing about Pusheen the Cat, let me give you a little introduction. Pusheen the Cat is a big tabby cat inspired by a real cat from the past of Claire Benton, the owner of Pusheen. Pusheen has a sister named Stormy. The term "Pusheen" comes from the Gaelic word "puisin," meaning kitten. Pusheen the Cat was featured a lot in an old Tumblog called "Everyday Cute" run by artists Claire Benton and Andrew Duff. Web comics featuring Pusheen basically showcase her hopes and dreams. Two of Pusheen's favorite activities are eating and sleeping. Both of which she does very well, I might add. Her popularity ultimately garnered her own site on Tumblr. As her popularity grew, Pusheen the Cat later became popular with various merchandise and goods in her image. There is even a book about her called "I Am Pusheen the Cat." It is safe to say that Pusheen may be the most popular fictional cat not named Hello Kitty. In fact, she may even be more popular than Hello Kitty!

I blogged about Pusheen the Cat before. You can read more in my main blog by clicking on this link in case you are interested: Pusheen the Cat (John's Blog Space). Now on to the car I created.

I chose the Toyota Camry as the car to feature Pusheen with. The car is adorned with the number 18 to represent the calendar day Pusheen was born (February 18). The car was painted to demonstrate the sponsor layout for cars in NASCAR for the Generation-6 stock car. Since no actual driver was thought of as the one to drive it, I decided to let Pusheen be the star of her car! So she is the one who has her name atop the windshield visor along with the Toyota logos. I was really unsure what pictures to put on the car to represent Pusheen. I've saved a LOT of pictures of Pusheen from various animated GIFs. The one I chose for the hood was a cute picture I would sometimes see in Facebook sticker comments. The chosen hood picture was Pusheen sitting up with a heart over her head. Up front is one image on both sides of the car with Pusheen waving hello to you. On the sides is Pusheen running; and on the rear quarter panel is Pusheen next to a laptop. The roof of the car features Pusheen on a scooter. Originally, I wanted to have that as the image on the sides of the car. However, I didn't think the running animation of Pusheen would work well as the roof image. So what I did was put the scooter Pusheen on the roof of the car. Past the rear windshield is "pusheen.com." The rear of the car features some graphics I grabbed from an app called PopCam, which is a vastly popular photo app in Japan. Pusheen appears over the Toyota logo on the back of the car saying "meow." And to complete the design, I added some hearts because after all, Pusheen just wants to make friends and look cute.


For More Information...

Here is where you can learn more about the different elements of this car:

NR2003 NASCAR Generation 6 mod on BullRing Motorsports - includes mod and templates.
Pusheen the Cat official page


Cross-Promotion/Other Reading.

More on Pusheen from me:
Pusheen the Cat (John's Blog Space)
^ More on the animated cat that inspired the creation of this car.

I Am Pusheen the Cat (John's Blog Space)
^ My review of Pusheen's book.


That concludes this post.





I may share more of my work with you as I make them available in posts. So be sure to stay with "John's Creative Space" for more! Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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Moonlight Motorsports

John Marine | 12:03 AM | | Be the first to comment!
My fictional racing team in games is called Moonlight Motorsports. It is the team I use for racing/driving games that allow for customization or in which cars can be painted. The same blue and gold that identify my work also make up the team colors for Moonlight Motorsports. I am making this post basically to introduce another avenue of creative works of mine. This one pertains to custom art for games. So welcome to my creative works blog- "John's Creative Space!"


About the Label: "Custom Art"

In games that allow for customization of art, I offer my own custom art in my posts. These posts feature artwork of mine designed for computer games. Some of my work may or may not be made available for download. I will consider offering some of my work for download based on interest from the general public-at-large.





--- Moonlight Motorsports ---

Any official cars or logos or such haven't been made available. So this post may be updated from its original posting (August 8, 2015) to reflect new changes. Here is my car in "NASCAR Racing 2003 Season" to share with you in the meanwhile...

Moonlight Motorsports Chevrolet SS NASCAR Gen-6
^ from: (one of my Facebook photo albums) - This is the team car for my team in "NASCAR Racing Racing 2003 Season." I haven't yet decided on a proper primary sponsor.

One thing to note is that I haven't selected a primary sponsor for my team. I do have an idea for one in mind. This car is really just a team car just to identify myself and my team. There are two different primary sponsors I was considering as my proper car to use in NR2003- Samsung and Logitech. Both cars are Chevrolet SS models I have in mind. For now, I just have my blue and gold car to represent myself and my team in the game. The number I use in racing games is #25. Alternatively, I use #3; but there are very few games or times where I use the #3. So my driver/rider number is 25.

The car was created using a Photoshop template of the NASCAR Generation 6 stock car mod. I used Adobe Photoshop Elements 13 to paint the car up. NR2003 uses TGA format for uploaded images- which PSE13 unfortunately doesn't support. So what I have to do is use another program to save images in TGA format. What I use is the free Paint.NET program to save in TGA format. I then upload everything into the game and enjoy racing my car!


For More Information...

Here is where you can learn more about the different elements of this car:

NR2003 NASCAR Generation 6 mod on BullRing Motorsports - includes mod and templates.

That's all!





I hope I can share more of my art creations with NR2003 with you all. So be sure to stay with this blog to check out my latest material. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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