Wednesday, 29 December 2010

I've recently decided to check out Lovemoney's free online banking service to help me with managing my money.

Originally, I was just typing in numbers on a spreadsheet from my online bank statements to work out my net outgoings and income each year since I've had a bank account. I found out about's service today, but then I realised it was for people living in the US. While searching for a UK version, I found out that I was too late too for the no-longer here Kablax, but there is another website called Money Dashboard, which uses the same software as both Mint and Lovemoney.

After a quick bit of browsing I found some complaints about Money Dashboard using some sort of Microsoft Silverlight software or something. Something about it eating CPU something or other. I didn't feel much motivation to get too engrossed on the details.

Having not really found any major complaints about Lovemoney, I've decided to give that one a go first. I got a little chuckle reading the terms and conditions:
"We only provide aggregate, non-identifiable information to our current and prospective advertisers and business partners. For example, we might tell advertisers that we have 120,000 registered members in Metropolis, but we won't tell them that Superman is one of them, and we won't tell them that his email address is"
Should be good, but we'll see how it goes.

Oh, and incase anyone wants to read the post that started me off today in the first place, here it is: How To Understand (and Create) A Personal Financial Statement Each Month In 5 Minutes by Brian Armstrong

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Did they do that on purpose?

I was just doing some research for my dissertation [guess what, it might actually turn out okay!], when I noticed an advert on the right hand side of my screen.

My mind, like most people's, tends to wander now and then when doing work. It wasn't hard to keep my eyes on the ad to see what happened next.

Picture the scene; you're on a boat, on your way to America. But it's not just any boat; you're on The Unsinkable Boat.. the one that sank after hitting the iceberg. You know the story. You don't make it onto one of the few lifeboats around, and die a long, horrible, freezing death.

Less than a hundred years later, someone makes not only a movie about it, but there are also at least two films called Titanic 2, and there are novelty icetrays to allow people to "recreate history in their glasses". I'm not joking, my sister received a "Gin and Titonic" icetray for Christmas. The ship shapes are too large to fit in a cup floating horizontally the way a boat should, so until they melt they assume a slanted half-submerged position.

I don't think I really need to go into detail about how sick it all kind of is... Meanwhile, the following advert for quick money transactions online appears on the net for anyone to see.

Now, is it just me, or is the wording on the second-to-last frame combined with the choice of movie displayed just a little bit unfortunate?

Friday, 24 December 2010

Dissertation: It's Christmas Eve...

... And I'm attempting to work on my Dissertation.

What I seem to be having the most trouble with - just like last time - is choosing what to focus on and write about. I don't have anything in particular to do with games that is deeply and academically interesting me in a positive way at the moment. Instead, the thoughts that are weighing most heavily in my mind are:

1. Oh, this dissertation malarky is hard.
2. What am I going to do for a living next year after Uni?
3. [And everything else I wouldn't be thinking if I were a robot, including "I'm hungry and my feet are cold"]

The result is that I'm spending even more time rejecting the games design scene, probably due to a lack of confidence in myself to succeed, and am instead focusing on things that are less difficult for me... like binding books. When I stand back from how I feel, I can see that some things aren't that hard to do - I can do them, and the only reason I haven't done them is not because I can't but because I've talked my mind out of wanting to do them. It's a bit of actual cognitive dissonance in action.

This blog is a prime example. I used to write lots of stuff. Sure, they weren't particularly academic posts, but they were words and they were posted often. The last post on this blog mentioning any work to do with my course was over a month ago. I've just been writing things down on paper now and then, but most of the time I've just been stewing inside my own head, changing my mind about what to write about - totally at the mercy of whatever I feel is being most pressing - until I gave up a short while ago and spent some days not touching any coursework at all. With a few weeks to go until I have to hand in the first draft, the awareness of the deadline being right after the Christmas holidays has prodded grumpy little me sharply in the back of my skull.

My desire to escape from all things computer gamey revived in me the ideas of pursuing handicrafting. Unfortunately, it's not something I can picture myself writing about academically. I tried, but it got out of hand like watered down PVA glue and ended up being all over the place.

I just want to make stuff.

From what happened with the last essay I wrote, I can see where this is going to end up. I'm going to take the essay I wrote about writing essays and work from that and how I'm feeling about writing the dissertation and end up writing about the difficulties students can face when writing dissertations. As you can see in the picture above, I've already started. Who knows when I'll finish.

And then after I graduate, I will start to feel less pressure from the whole game thing, and I'll start to return again. I will play with all the free software I learned about, and I will make little games, and write up ideas for bigger games, and think about stories for narrative games and come up with mechanics for seriously simple but fun games. This won't happen all at once; it will happen slowly over time, mingled in with numerous other things I like to do and tend to return to, like playing things on guitar and reading about history and magic and learning about science and love and art and me.

This is what I'm hoping. Life was much better when I wasn't worrying about how long I would be able to keep going. I mean dude, I'm not even 21 yet!


This week I've been working on this design:

Made from a sheet of white A4 paper cut into four, it has one station of four sheets and the covers are made of the same paper as the pages. There are enough pages for a page per month. The spine is decorated with four light blue metallic beads [these ones were cheap ones I bought from the local pound shop in Saundersfoot - unfortunately the metallic blue wears off quickly, but leaves a nice translucent white plastic underneath] with macrame square knots in between, and the excess thread from the knotting can be used as a book mark. Didn't follow any instructions for this one, it's a simple design I worked out myself.

Inside can be drawn a month calendar on each page, with space below each for notes. In mine I have written in the daily Chinese "earthly branches" and "heavenly stems" in pencil with the intention of painting the squares in a pattern using those colours as a guide. I'm not sure why I like that theme so much. Maybe it's the way the simplicity of the five elements and twelve animals can build up into something really complex when they interact.

And because it's winter, here's a pretty picture I took of the view outside my window before I left my Uni bedroom for the holidays:

I might draw this on the cover for decoration. I might not.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Coptic Stitch and Secret Belgium Bind

I have finished my first four books; three bound using Coptic stitching, and one using the Secret Belgium binding technique [using these instructions, but adapting the Coptic stitch to incorporate the stations].

These three were lightly tea stained after being stitched together. They are shown here drying on the radiator.

They measure 20mm across and 30mm tall, using cardboard from a cereal box for the covers.

Here are the materials used for the book bound using the Secret Belgium Binding technique. The carboard was taken from a box of Carlsberg.

I forgot to bring a ruler with me from uni [woops!] so I used lined paper from a notebook to measure out the cardboard and the spacing between holes, and punched the holes using an ordinary pin [seen on the cork].

Halfway through the cover binding process:

The book itself is just over four lines wide and five lines tall when closed, and I used the lined notebook paper for the inside pages; five stations of four sheets, because one notebook page divided nicely that way.

These have been nice little practice runs for my first book binding attempts. I expect making bigger versions is only a matter of using bigger sheets and longer lengths of thread. What I'm really looking forward to is decorating the covers of the bigger versions, and developing some styles :D

Friday, 17 December 2010

Better looking ArtFire Studio & Blog

I made the studio look prettier:

I've also created a Blogger blog for the work I do, here :)

Ooh, hello there :)

My name is Charlotte Gyseman, and I'm currently in UWN studying a BA Hons in Computer Games Design.

Unfortunately, I seem to be a bit more into design than I am into computer games, so I'm not likely to be jumping into the games industry head-first when I leave uni... However, it's not all bad. I've learned lots of things here, much of which could come in handy sooner or later... such as making fancy banners for my ArtFire Studio...

But for now, I just love to make stuff... And that is what's going to happen when I leave university :) As you can see, it's happening already, and I haven't even left yet. Some urges just can't be stopped!

So here you will get to see lots of lovely pictures and read some descriptions of what I have been getting up to, as I prepare to set up shop and become my own boss.

Welcome to the CharGyse Designs blog!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Tagger Model [6/12/2010]

While we have done our presentation already, other groups' presentations are still going on this week. I've been working on this model of the Tagger. So far I've got the body, a foot and the head half done; still need to model the headphones, his bag and mask, join the head and foot to the body, double the body half and join the halves, and then UV-map it ready for textures. And possibly do the orthographics... I've been working from a modified version of the concept work Tim did.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Possible Painting Idea [02]

I like this one better, mostly because I had a photo of the skeleton of a bird to take reference from. Inspired by ROA. I can imagine this one on a floor, and the player having to get up high somehow to view it from above before being able to get in through the square.

Possible Painting Idea [01]

We have a presentation for tomorrow, and I wasn't sure what to draw for the painting example... So I drew Tim's Tagger dude coming out of the wall.

On the left is the image from straight on, on the right is the image when viewed from the left side of the image. When the image is activated the player will have to jump "through" the circular/square portion of the image to enter the next level.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Staircase and Door Frames

I completed a usable staircase today, so now the player can move between the floors freely. Will most likely pretty-up the staircase during the Production phase. I've also fitted door frames into position, but when I did I realised I'd made the upstairs rooms too tall compared to downstairs, so the door frames were too big for downstairs. That will be fairly simple to fix though, I'll just need to adjust the heights of the door frames and the upstairs to match those of downstairs.

Also started thinking about lighting for inside the house. May just [unrealistically] place point lights in strategic areas, or will use multiple dimmed directional lights. At the moment it's quite dim, I've just placed one point light in most of the rooms.

Haven't managed to pull together the script for the Level-access mechanic, but I have collected various scripts that could be handy to mash up and put together and written out a basic outline of what the scripts need to do.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Plan of Action!

Final Project

I've been feeling very unorganised lately and don't feel like I've been focusing much brain power on course work. So, today is going to be a full on organisation evening, where I'm going to gather up all the different bits and bobs to do with the final project, such as placing blog posts into the dev-diary, and gathering written work into the Concept Doc, so I can figure out how much time we've got left to do what.

Rapid Films

Jess and I managed to hand something in, unfortunately I can't figure out what the problem is with the exporting of the avi... it did the compressed version but all the colours were screwy and the animations didn't play, but the uncompressed version ended up being 3.3GB and wouldn't play... I don't know.

The next brief is to add to the story of a video the organisers created, in which each of them died an unorthodox death and there was a mysterious brown envelope involved.

Only rule is that entries must contain the brown envelope. The original rules were to have exactly 3 minutes 33 seconds with an unorthodox death and less than 25% dialogue, but the organisers changed it and pushed the deadline back to December 5th to try to get more people involved and not scare off those already around. Personally I didn't think the original limitations would have caused any of them any problems, but some people seemed put off for some reason.


Got some a couple of interesting links about Digital Natives and Immigrants recently [here's Part 1 and Part 2], which nudged the direction of my dissertation over again. Definitely going to have to rewrite my proposal now and change what's going to happen with my chapters. I'm hoping this will be the last time now for major direction changes, especially since the Digital Natives idea has brought the ideas in the dissertation closer to the essay I handed in last year. It gives another explanation as to why writing an essay would be difficult for students now.

Monday, 15 November 2010


Here's the initial layout for the upstairs of the house. As for access to upstairs, we were originally thinking of putting the staircase in the middle and knocking out a wall downstairs, but I'm wondering now if it might be better to put the staircase in the top left corner of the building..

Baby Steps

Tim here., I've been busy working on the 1st Puzzle level aka. Training Level. Simple map which will look at movement and painting. I also wanted to see what kind of atmosphere I could get from Unity. Still having problems with the actual Mechanics though So any programmers out there please help out.

Saturday, 13 November 2010


Here's a quick printscreen of the ground floor of basic house model I've been putting together, based on the floor plans shown. Eventually there will be a staircase in place to allow the player access to rooms upstairs.

And an update on the Unity3D vs UDK question: We've switched back to the idea of using Unity3D. Much easier, so more brain power can be used on the puzzles :)

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Lots to dooo


Had a help session on how to write a dissertation yesterday, was probably very helpful. I realised that if I write a minimum of 500 words per week [starting yesterday], then that will be 9000 words in the 18 weeks I have left [not including 2 weeks for proofreading the final draft and a week for printing and binding]. I'm still a bit iffy on the subject I'm writing about, but I think it will definitely be centred around the concept of fun and having fun and the effects of the need for fun on society.

Final Major Project [blog]

It's going alright, this week I'll be working on the house which will act like a hub for the levels, while Tim works on the levels and some character designs.


The animation seemed well received, I enjoyed how many laughs the "that's what she said" joke got. The next challenge is to create a 2-3 minute film by Thursday based on two characters, in the genre our groups picked out of the hat. Our genres were Horror and Scorsese styled gangster/crime.

It's probably going to be an animation from us again, but so far all I've actually drawn is this picture of De Niro's face:

The story I came up with is this:

A gangster is walking along a street. He's somewhat aged and world-weary. He passes a young pretty girl; he doesn't know her, but her face seems familiar. He wonders where has he seen her before. As the girl passes, she also seems to find his face familiar.

Flashback to a faded past, and the guy is much younger. He has been sent to kill the men of a rival family - the girl's. Shots fire everywhere. Blood falls everywhere.

Colour returns. The man's eyes widen as he realises who the girl is. He turns, a breeze blows by. She's not there.

Colour fades and we're back to the past again. The camera pans up towards the nearby window. The girl has been left alone, surrounded by the dark red of her brothers. The breeze blows by, the scent of blood filtering out through the night, attracting the attention of a dark figure. The dark figure, fangs glinting, dissolves into the darkness, and the scene fades to black.

The quiet echo of a scream is heard, as the camera pans across to a close up profile of the man's troubled face, still peering out at the dimly lit street before him. Out of the darkness behind him, the girl emerges, hate ablaze in her eyes.

Just as she is about to strike, the scene cuts swiftly to black.

The Hub-House

This week I'll be working on the abandoned house, which will be the "hub" of the strange puzzle-levels [Tim will be working on those].

The layout of the house will be loosely based on the layout of what used to be my grandparents' house; a detached three-bedroomed house with two floors, kitchen, living-room, bathroom and study, with access to loft spaces either side of the upstairs-bedroom.

Some sketched layouts of the place

The house itself was built in the Sixties, but for the game we may make the house older. The time period is yet to be decided, but here's a study of a nice little fireplace I found in some friends' terraced house in Newport.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Some Art-Style Work

I did a little bit of playing with some watercolours and salt to see if I could get any nice colour/texture combinations:

And here's an image of what some graffiti on the wall might actually look like in-game:

Friday, 29 October 2010

"Stealing's Bad"

There we go:

Hand in for it is before 7pm on Monday. As this was pretty much just for fun for Jess and I, we're not going to spend the weekend making it look better... Especially not after Jess said it looked "delightfully crappy".

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Being Productive: RF, D, and the FMP.

Final Major Project:

Have not done a lot of work the past few days due to RapidFilms and life, but I did find some more beautiful pics of abandoned places and copied out Escher's "Relativity" to get to know it better. Tim sent me a link for another website with more nice photos of abandoned places too.


Been working on a RapidFilms project this week, so far spent two days on it. The brief was to create a film no longer than 2 minutes based on your favourite joke. I'm working with Jess Reynolds and neither of us seem to have one favourite joke [because all of life is either hilarious, or ridiculous...], so what we've done instead is taken some things we have found funny and worked them together into a storyboard [day 1].

Yesterday [day 2], I pulled all the images Jess drew into an animatic with silent-movie style piano music by Kevin MacLeod. I made a few minor changes to some of the text that would appear and switched the first and last scene around, but yeah, we're pleased with it so far for two days work. All it needs now is the images to be done properly and the transitions and camera movements put in, which will probably take a couple of days.


Jess posted the help sheet under my door this morning that they were given for writing dissertations. I copied it out, did the exercises, and I'm now going through the Georg Simmel text on "The Metropolis and Mental Life" we were given last year, separating the sentences with pencil lines. It looks horrendous until you separate the sentences out; then things become much more clear..

Here's what I wrote for the exercises:

"Free" writing [5 mins each]:
1. State the subject of your thesis in one sentence.
Fun - what it is, why we want it, and why it sometimes feels like we shouldn't be having it.

2. List the aims of your research/analysis.
To explore the feelings and mentality of those who strongly align their arguments with a "superego" kind of point of view. To suggest that living a life of fun is not at odds with working hard and being a productive member of society. To show the importance of "having fun" as a driving force and as a glue for a productive society.

3. "My project is about"
... the relationship between people and what they perceive as fun, and how society sees "fun" and those who have it.

4. "The stage I am at now"
... still the "Free" writing stage, although I have some authors to look at as well.

5. "The main argument is"
... that the freedom to have fun is vital not just at the beginning of our lives, as children, but throughout a person's entire life.

"Generative" writing [5 mins each]:
1. What I find difficult in writing and researching my dissertation is:
... keeping my mind on one subject. If I come across something interesting I will take the time to read it, even when it has nothing to do with my subject.

2. The key sections of my dissertation are:
- What is fun? [because fun is a term that covers different things for different people]
- Why we all NEED to have fun
- The ways we prevent ourselves and eachother from having fun
- "Rules were made to be broken". Thanatos and Chaos. How humans strive to break free and remain free.

3. What I can write about NOW is:
Expand the section about the ways society has prevented itself from being a fun one...
- Law, order, rules.
- Morality, religion, thou shalt not.
- Goals of a society and the accepted norms, how people are expected to behave, and the attitudes towards those who deviate from the expected behaviours.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Meet Mr Shiny

Hi guys this is Tim the monkey of the operation. I been working on some character concepts. Here he is "Mr Shiny" a character you will meet at the start of your journey and helps you out in times of need.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Unity3D or UDK?

I know I said I wanted to use Unity3D, but that was when there was only one person on the team. It feels quite daunting starting over with a program I've only played with once [yesterday], but the tech sessions on Tuesdays will be covering UDK, not to mention there's plenty of support on the Internet if we need help figuring out how to do something. I feel like we should be trying to rise to the challenge here...

And I know graphics aren't everything, but after seeing what can be achieved fairly simply thanks to the materials and stuff already on there, the idea of learning and utilising the Unreal Development Kit for this project is prrrretty enticing.

It will mean a little more brain power for learning it, but I think that's okay. I think we should probably limit the number of level designs down to the Main House [which will act a little like a hub], and a few Strange-Levels [say... 3 to 5?] and treat this project as a demo game-slice rather than a full-blown game.

As for actual course-aims, the task for the next Tuesday morning [which will actually be the Tuesday after next, due to the GameCity trip] is to nail down the visual style to show everyone. We already know that the Main House will be neglected and abandoned with spatters of graffitied images here and there, and the Strange-Levels will contain "stairs, lots of stairs", so most of the hard work is done already.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Dissertation: Shouldn't be too hard...

Had a group session with Caroline, an animation lecturer, about dissertation stuff yesterday [I think.. my memory is mixing my days up a little thanks to Freshers Week], and it doesn't seem too bad. She said a dissertation is basically taking a few key texts about what people have been saying about a subject [preferably something academic..], and rewriting and writing about them to show that you understand what they are saying, and that dissertations normally get better marks if they are posing a hypothesis, an idea that needs to be tested.

So, just thinking about it today, I was thinking of writing about what people think about ethics or moral duties in computer games or what should or shouldn't be put or allowed to be put into computer games. Should give me plenty to read about, but I'll have to check out academic stuff to see what's there.

Solo Project no longer solo :)

Now that Freshers Week is starting to wind down to it's last few events, it's time to get busy.

Everyone met up for a session on Tuesday, and we went around the group telling each other our ideas for the final project. When I told the guys what I wanted to work on, they told me some stuff that might be helpful for me to look at [including Echo Chrome, Labyrinth, Inception, 13 Ghosts and Arkham Asylum], which was great. After the meeting, Tim messaged me saying he liked the sound of my game idea and the art style and asked if he could come on board. Awesomeness.

We met up before the Dissertation session to have a chat about the idea and presentation stuff. I think we're calling it FP3 [cubed], at least for now, as it's a 3D first person perception puzzler. We came up with a few ideas for M. C. Escher-inspired puzzles, and realised the most challenging part of this project will probably be coming up with some good challenges for the player in the first place, but it should be fun.

I've just been looking through some of my 6th Form work as some of things I'm thinking about are quite heavily based on the art I researched, back in Year 13 of school. The things and people I wrote about in my art dissertation included graffiti, Feek, oblique [perspective] and catoptric [mirror] anamorphosis, Matthew Carver, Trompe L'Oeil, Julian Beever, Community Bridge, Felice Varini, Cool World, Daniel Rozin and Michelangelo Pistoletto. I'd love to utilise in the game some of the techniques those artists use :D

I'm going to have a play in Unity3D later to see if I can get some of the initial ideas to actually work, and get a bit of self organisation going on. Module Handbook says we've got until end of January 2011 to work on documentation and test pieces, with the intention of creating one of three things afterwards:

- a completed game and/or interactive project utilising an existing game engine and/or games development software;

- an extended design portfolio suitably presented demonstrating an awareness of professional context;

- an extended set of dioramas and/or moving image sequences including full character and situation detailing.

Pretty sure we're going to go for the first option.

Saturday, 9 October 2010


I was trying to think for ages who it was who did those pictures that mess with perspective. I was only when I saw stairs moving around strangely and the mention of an Escher Vault on a Warehouse 13 advert on Syfy that I remembered. His work is amazing, so check it out if you happen to have never heard of him before.

[Wednesday, 27th October 2010]
Edit: This is a tracing of Escher's "Relativity", which I did in the past week to get to know it a bit better.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


Started packing and getting ready to go back to uni [woohoo!] so I haven't done very much work today. Basically just started thinking about colours, using a few of the images I liked before to pick colours from.

I want to give the game some colour without going too bright or in-you-face with the hues, so I'm liking how the colours in these pictures are generally quite muted but not all too grey. There are a few greens, blues, purples and some very different browns that I can have a think about.

The shifting-architecture aspect of the game is one I need to start thinking about more as well now. I kind of want it to feel a little like you are inside a machine-like maze, something systematic but also a little unpredictable.