Creative Writing

From time to time, I’ve been known to write short stories. As a child, I often read the likes of the Best SF series, edited by Edmund Crispin, and stories like those became a source of my inspiration.

There are two sci-fi short stories that have always stood out in my memory, and both were included in Best SF Four. The first is Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (which was also adapted to film), and the second is Hobbyist by Eric Frank Russell; my all-time favourite.

In more recent years, my enjoyment of the sci-fi novel genre has grown to include Issac AsimovDouglas Adams and Richard Matheson, but I have plenty of favourite authors in other genres too, such as Sir Terry Pratchett for his Discworld series. I also studied the artwork and style of H. R. Giger while I was at school (i.e. Alien).

I prompted myself to make this post when I stumbled upon one of my old pieces of creative writing while rummaging through an external HDD full of backups. Rather than post each story separately, I’ve put them on individual pages within this one post, listed and linked below.

A piece of fan-fiction about the game Supreme Commander by Gas Powered Games, which I originally posted on their community forums in 2008.

I used a purpose-built programming language called AlanIF to make an “Interactive Fiction” game back in 2007. People who know me well will also know about my keen interest in Russian history and culture, which often inspires me for setting and atmosphere in my stories like this one.

“Dead Meat” was a short horror story I wrote just for fun some time around 2003. I’d visited Toronto in Canada a year before, which was clearly part of the inspiration behind this story.

  • Maybe others to be added later. Enjoy! 🙂
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Second Life

I have been part of multiple projects using Linden LabsSecond Life, a massive virtual world where thousands of users can interact using “avatars”. Almost anything can be created in Second Life, and its behaviour can be controlled using a scripting language called LindenScript.

One of the projects was an actual university assignment, whereby we had to design mini-games that were similar in style and theme to what you might have seen on a TV game-show, like The Crystal Maze.

The other projects, however, were extracurricular; and I worked with fellow students Chris Butler and Matthew Brittain. Firstly, we supplied the assets for a “machinima” in Second Life as a pilot TV programme for Channel 4, which was directed by Pixel-Lab. Secondly, we worked on a major press event when the University of Derby signed a deal with global technology services giant, EDS.

For the press event, we had to model a replica of the specialist Games Development Suite in Second Life, as that was where the signing took place in real life, and we produced avatars that would mimic the actions of the real people in the room. You can find the university’s article on the event here. Expand this post to see screenshots of how we built the virtual Games Development Suite.

Continue reading “Second Life”

C# vs. Python

One of our final year university modules was called “Languages, Platforms & Tools”. This module featured lecture material on compilers and interpreters, along with debates about various programming topics. The coursework required us to produce a simple application in a programming language that we knew well, and then port it to another mainstream language that we did not know at all. The bulk of the work, however, was a written report that compared the chosen languages.

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, the primary language I chose was C#, and the secondary language was Python. The application I made with these languages was a simple clone of Asteroids, so I utilised the XNA 4.0 Framework with C#, and a library known as Pygame 1.9.1 with Python 2.7 to handle the graphics for the game in each case. My report discussed the histories of both languages and contrasted their features. I also included a developer diary that reviewed the progress of my implementations. I was given a “B+” for my work.

A screenshot of the Asteroids Clone (Python version).

Download

Languages, Platforms & Tools – Report (.PDF, 485 KB).

XNA Asteroids Clone – x86 Executable (.ZIP, 25 KB).

I aim to compile and upload an executable of the Python version at a later time.

Continue reading “C# vs. Python”

Unreal Tournament 2004: Total Conversion

In the second year of my university degree, I was tasked with producing an Unreal Tournament 2004 total conversion mod for the “Game Development Techniques” module. The mod had to be based on one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books.

The level was created in UnrealEd and scripted with UnrealScript. It features a high-quality skybox, dynamic fluid surfaces, many prop objects and decal layers, in addition to terrain generated from a heightmap. The scripts simply define the custom collectible items and trigger the cutscenes, etc. I received a “B+” grade for this coursework.

Download

You can play my mod for yourself, simply download it from the following link, extract it to your UT2004 installation directory, and run the “MattMod” shortcut.

Unreal Tournament 2004 – Total Conversion Mod (.ZIP, 93.9 MB).

Further instructions can be found in the .zip file if you need them.