Saturday, August 17, 2013

Why I have not posted to this blog in a long time?

As you can see from the history of my posts to this blog, I have been absent for a long while. The reason for my lack of posts is that I was involved in a search for a new position during the spring. In April of this year, I accepted a new position at KIXEYE in San Francisco. Since then, I have been busy getting my family moved to the Bay area, getting settled and getting up to speed in my position as an Agile Project Manager in the Analytics Engineering department at KIXEYE.

Raymond and I will miss the many people we met in the game development community in the Atlanta area. However, it is very exciting for me to be working at a game studio in San Francisco. We recently attended the IGDA Summit, something we would not have been able to do in the past.

While I am busy with my new position in the industry, Raymond is still working on his next game idea. I still have the music education project with Nan Avant on the back burner. Once I get settled, I hope to get back to that project.

Well that's all for now.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Evernote 5 for iPad

I have been using Evernote for several months now. It is a wonderful app and the new version 5 makes it even better on the iPad. I use Evernote on the my Mac, on my iPhone and on my iPad.  I have Evernote connected to Zite, Instapaper, Penultimate and PostEver. There are many more apps that support Evernote on both iOS and OS X. Evernote has become the central place where I keep track of items I read on the web that I want to keep for future reference. I also store PDF documents in Evernote. So exactly what is Evernote and how can it help you? Evernote is an app that lets you store information and retrieve it from many  devices. Evernote has Free and Premium accounts. I have Premium account.

With Evernote you can:
Keep everything in sync
With Evernote, all of your Notes, web clips, files and images are made available on every device and computer you use.
Remember things you like
Save everything cool and exciting you see online and in the real world. Snap a photo, record some audio and save it.
Save favorite webpages
Save entire webpages to your Evernote account with our nifty web clipper browser extensions. You get the whole page: text, images and links.
Research better
Collect information from anywhere into a single place. From documents, to web pages, to files, to snapshots, everything is always at your fingertips.
Work with friends and colleagues
Share your Notes and collaborate on projects with friends, colleagues and classmates.
Plan your next trip
Keep all of your itineraries, confirmations, scanned travel documents, maps, and plans in Evernote, so you’ll have them when you need them.

Read the rest of this post on my blog.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Software Upgrades - Modo 601 and Substance Designer 3.1

Over the weekend we upgraded two of our software tools, Modo and Substance Designer, to the latest versions. Both of these tools are key to our projects over the next couple of years.

We originally purchased Substance Designer when it was first made available at a discount to Unity Pro users even though it was not needed for the project that was in progress. Substance Designer is a texture workshop that allows you to create smart textures that can be modified procedurally. We knew we would need it in future projects so we just "put it on the shelf" for later use. When I received an email about upgrading to version 3.1, I realized I had forgotten about the software. Hopefully one of us would have remembered it when we got starting texturing the models for our project.

Why do we want to use Substance Designer 3.1? Well let's take a look at its features:

  • Bitmap + SVG + Procedural Painting
  • Substance Batchtools
  • Extracting Maps from the Mesh
  • Embedded Filters Library
  • 3D View
  • Graph Editor
  • Layer System
  • Automatic Tiling
  • Bitmap2Material Lite
  • Advanced Noise Graph Editor (FXMaps)

Here are some videos that show off the power of Substance Designer:

The other software package we upgraded this weekend was Modo. Modo is key to our 3D workflow. Modo 601 provides the final missing step in character creation, the ability to add rigging and animation to the characters. Modo 601 provides that feature in the same easy to use style as its previous features.

But Modo 601 has even more that will delight you:

  • Character Animation and Deformers
  • Skeleton Tool/Mesh Binding
  • Full-body Inverse Kinematics
  • Pose Tool
  • Alembic™ Support
  • MDD Driven Object Deformation
  • Rigid and soft body dynamics, based on the Bullet Physics Library™ engine
  • Dedicated Re-Topology Modeling Tools and Viewport
  • Topology Pen Tool
  • Pixar® Subdivision Surfaces Improvements
  • Mesh Cleanup
  • Vertex Map Painting
  • 3D Mouse Support
  • Render Booleans - use meshes to visually subtract out parts of your scene at render time
  • Skin Shader
  • Hair Shader
  • Cel Shader
  • Volumetric Rendering
  • RealFlow™ Support
  • Blobs
  • Particle Painting/Sculpting
  • Volumetric Sprites

Here are some videos that show off some of the great things you can accomplish with Modo 601:

Check out Modo 601 and Substance Designer 3.1 for yourself.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

First Look: LIFE for iPad

While browsing through Zite this morning, I discovered LIFE for iPad. LIFE for iPad lets you browse LIFE's legendary photo collection at a never-before-seen resolution. You can explore LIFE's vast archives, up-to-the-minute news photos, and special features not available anywhere else. ...

Read the rest of this post on my blog on

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Asgard Studios Early September Update

Nan and I have been working on the music education app. I was on vacation from my day job and so was able to complete several user stories and make great progress on the main menu scene.

In our design session, we decided that instead of creating one large iPad app/game we will create several smaller ones.

The current plan is to create a music education iPad app in Unity, two iPad/iPhone music education games using Cocos2D based on the starter kits from Cartoon Smart and a Parents companion iPad app using native iOS and UIKit.

We are using Pivotal Tracker to keep up with our user stories. It is a great Scrum tool for small teams.

As we did with Wizard Castle HD, we are using EZ GUI, Message Manager and Prime31 plug-ins. We just added a new plug-in to our toolkit, MegaFiers.

It has been a productive week and we are glad to finally be making headway on our project.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

When will it start raining? - Dark Sky App has the answer.

Dark Sky is an iPad and iPhone app that has one main focus and that is to tell you when the rain will start or stop. The app uses GPS to forecast rain or snow at your precise location for up to an hour. The app also has less precise forecasts for 24 hours. Dark Sky supports the Unites States including Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico.
Dark Sky takes radar data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA has over 140 radar stations that collect weather data. The developers of Dark Sky download the raw binary data and then process it to not only make their predications but they also pass this data to the GPU to create beautiful images of the storms. Dark Sky also uses the GPU to predict the storm's track and create smooth animations of how the storm will behave.

You can read the rest of my review of Dark Sky on my blog.

Monday, May 28, 2012

MOG for iPad

I recently changed the premium music service on my iPad from Spotify to MOG. At the time I made the change Spotify did not have an iPad app. Even though Spotify does have an iPad app now, I am sticking with MOG. ....

You can read the full review on my blog here.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Trip to Jekyll Island - Batteries Recharged

This week my family went on a much needed but short vacation to Jekyll Island. Jekyll is a wonderful, peaceful place to go and unwind and recharge your batteries. I spent almost all of my time there reading and watching the waves roll in.

Since December issues in my day job had left me drained of energy and I found that my ability to be creative in my after-hours activities was severely lacking.

Whether it was working on our educational app/game or writing, I just did not have what it took to make any progress. My wife pointed out that we had not had a real family vacation in 6 years. That is way too long. So we decided to go down to Jekyll and relax. We stayed at the Hampton Inn and really enjoyed both the hotel and the island. We had a balcony room facing the trees on the dunes. I could hear the roar of the ocean while reading on the balcony.

We went down to the beach a couple of times a day to just watch the waves and walk along the beach. One afternoon we all spent time just playing in the water. We have never lived near the beach, so the last time my son, now 23, got to play in the beach sand was when he was 3 or 4. All of us really enjoyed the quiet of the island.

If you need a quiet break from your daily routine and you want to vacation where there is nothing to do but enjoy the beauty of the coast and relax, then Jekyll Island is just the place.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

We're still here

At Asgard Studios we are still busy working on our music education app. We are planning some exciting mini-games within the app also. We purchased the new iPad when it was released and plan to make use of its wonderful display for this iPad music education app.

Our current plan is to make this a native iOS app using the Cocos2D framework.

We are also in the early stages of designing a new iPad game using some of the cool new features of Unity 3.5. I'll have more on this after Raymond has some time to flesh out his design ideas.

It is a beautiful Easter weekend here in Atlanta.

Have a Happy Easter.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weekend Update

Well things have been very hectic for Asgard Studios lately and for me in my day job. In September, Asgard Studios was the presenter at the GGDA (our state game developers association) monthly meeting. Earlier this month, we presented the Making of Wizard's Castle at SIEGE 2011.

We have been hard at work on our first education game and we joined the Moms With Apps group. This is a group of developers interested in producing great apps for children. We look forward to our participation in the group (once things settle down that is).

On Wizard's Castle, we finally found out the source of the Unity 3.4 bug and we now have a work around. We are planning on an free, ad supported version of the game soon. We also hope to add some new features based on iOS 5.

Well it is a beautiful Saturday morning here in Atlanta. Lots of errands to run today, so that is all for now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

iPhone Life Annual Holiday Buyers Guide Article

In an earlier post I mentioned that I had written an article for a print magazine. The article has now been published. It is in the iPhone Life Nov-Dec 2011 Issue, Vol. 3, No. 6, page 54 - 56. The title of the article is "Read All About It! The Best Personalized Apps form the iPad."

Please pick up the magazine and take a look. I hope you enjoy the article.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weekend Update September 17, 2011

We have really busy at Asgard Studios lately, which explains the long time since my last post.

Hopefully, this weekend we will submit Wizard's Castle HD version 1.2 to Apple. The new version will have Nan Avant's music and a Chinese language description.

Last Tuesday, I was the featured speaker at the monthly meeting of the Atlanta chapter of the Georgia Game Developers Association. It was a great chance to tell our story and to show Wizard's Castle HD to professional game developers. On a related note, we will be presenting the Making of Wizard's Castle at SIEGE 2011 in October.

As I mentioned in the past, I wrote an article for a major print magazine. The magazine is iPhone Life and the article will be published in a Best of Everything issue in October.

We have also started work on a Wizard of Draws Coloring Book educational game that will feature Jeff's cartoons and Nan's music.

Until next time, take care.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weekend Update - August 14, 20011

Another busy week for Asgard Studios and our partners. Our music composer partner, Nan Avant has been busy creating some new loops that we will use in Wizard's Castle HD and Wizard's Castle. Next up for Nan will be composing the original music for our educational game.

Speaking of our new educational game, Raymond has been hard at work on designing this new game. The current plan is that the game will have 4 educational activities:
1. Coloring book
2. Matching game
3. Jigsaw Puzzle
4. Find the hidden object.

Raymond is also working on the design of a new match and remove game using the same type of gameplay as Wizard's Castle HD but with many more levels and more power-ups. This weekend Raymond has been busy setting up his new iMac. The iMac he was using was 4 years old.

I just finished writing a review article for an iPhone magazine. I will give you more information once the magazine issue is published and is at bookstores. I also began the user interface work for the new educational game in Unity 3.4. The educational game will feature the cartoons of our cartoonist partner, Jeff Bucchino, the Wizard of Draws. He is preparing many of his great cartoons for use in the game.

Raymond and I were interviewed by a Brazilian journalist for an article on Father's Day in Brazil. Here is part of the article which is in Portugese:

Geralmente, pais não gostam que os filhos passem muito tempo jogando videogame. Mas quando o jogo se torna trabalho, a brincadeira une os dois, permitindo desenvolver projetos e criar uma empresa de games. A maior dificuldade quando a dupla trabalha junto é separar a família do trabalho.
É o caso de Randy Herring e sua pequena produtora de games, a Asgard Studios, na cidade de Atlanta, nos Estados Unidos. Ao lado do seu filho Raymond, de 22 anos, eles criaram o jogo "Wizard's Castle" para iPhone, versão lançada em junho, e iPad, versão que teve lançamento em maio. "Como eu trabalho o dia todo, trabalhamos durante algumas noites e nos finais de semana e, por isso, levamos um ano para concluir ao jogo", disse por telefone ao G1.
O game é um quebra-cabeças em que o jogador deve tocar em pequenos conjuntos de bolinhas da mesma cor para limpar o cenário. Quando a tela se enche das bolas coloridas, é game over. O designer de "Wizard's Castle" é Raymond, e o pai, o programador, tem que seguir algumas das determinações.
"O mais difícil é separar quando ele é o meu colega de trabalho e quando ele é o meu filho. Tem sido uma grande experiência para mim saber ouvi-lo e seguir o que ele quer no design do jogo".

Well that is about all for this week. Please go to the App Store and buy Wizard's Castle HD and Wizard's Castle if you have not done so already.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Chinese Language Description for Wizard's Castle for iPhone 4

A friend created this translation for us:

***要求:iPhone 4 ***
匹配和删除游戏, 老少皆宜
精灵城堡HD(Wizard's Castle) iPhone 4 版是适合于不同年龄层次的匹配和删除游戏。玩家进入城堡发现友好的精灵施法,无数有色的魔术球雨点般地从天花板落下。游戏的目标是在三分钟一轮游戏中防止魔术球充满房间。玩家通过触摸两个或两个以上相同颜色的相邻的球组中的任一个球来消除匹配的球。虽然游戏的初始级比较容易,然而随着难度提高, 时手眼协调并找到制胜策略是一个艰巨的挑。精灵城堡iPhone 4版,分8个不同难易等级, 在网络游戏中心(Game Center)有分数排名, 只有完成容易等级才可玩更高一级。
* 硬币宝石使玩家的得分10,000点或减1000
* 闪电柱宝石删除所有与魔法宝石有相同颜色的魔法球
* 火焰炸弹宝石,可摧毁许多附近的魔球
* 石头图案宝石引起石球从天花板上砸下,只有炸弹魔宝石删除
* 无穷大符号的宝石减慢时间,使魔球从天花板上非常缓慢落下
精灵城堡iPhone 4是可玩性高,因为彩色的魔球总是落在不同处。根据得分水平, 玩家可以取得高达三星级,玩家可重复玩任何等级以达到最高的三星级。在横向屏幕模式屏幕上方显示当前分数,最高分数,等级,和剩余时间。
* 极具挑战性,但简单的游戏适合所有年龄层的玩家
* 最多可使用10个手指触摸相同颜色的魔法球组
* 败涂地如能在整整三分钟防止房间充满魔法球,将晋升到更高一级.
* 魔法宝石也有可能从天花板上掉下
* 既可帮助也可伤害玩家
* 场游戏均不同,球随机从天花板上掉下

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chinese Language Description for Wizard's Castle HD

A friend provided this Chinese language description for Wizard's Castle HD

***要求:iPad 2 ***
匹配和删除游戏, 老少皆宜
精灵城堡HD(Wizard's Castle HD) iPad2版是适合于不同年龄层次的匹配和删除游戏。玩家进入城堡发现友好的精灵施法,无数有色的魔术球雨点般地从天花板落下。游戏的目标是在三分钟一轮游戏中防止魔术球充满房间。玩家通过触摸两个或两个以上相同颜色的相邻的球组中的任一个球来消除匹配的球。虽然游戏的初始级比较容易,然而随着难度提高, 时手眼协调并找到制胜策略是一个艰巨的挑。精灵城堡HD,分10个不同难易等级, 在网络游戏中心(Game Center)有分数排名, 只有完成容易等级才可玩更高一级。除了定位和防止静止或移动同色球组充满房间外,在某些游戏等级还有魔法宝石从天花板下降。
* 带箭头的宝石,使魔墙靠拢在一起,使房间变得更小,或者移动魔墙使房间恢复正常
* 硬币宝石使玩家的得分10,000点或减1000
* 闪电柱宝石删除所有与魔法宝石有相同颜色的魔法球
* 浮球宝石导致更多额外的球从天花板上下坠
* 石头图案宝石引起石球从天花板上砸下,只有炸弹魔宝石删除
* 无穷大符号的宝石减慢时间,使魔球从天花板上非常缓慢落下
精灵城堡HD是可玩性高,因为彩色的魔球总是落在不同处。根据得分水平, 玩家可以取得高达三星级,玩家可重复玩任何等级以达到最高的三星级。在横向屏幕模式屏幕上方显示当前分数,最高分数,等级,和剩余时间。
* 最多可使用10个手指触摸相同颜色的魔法球组
* 触摸两个或两个以上同色球组删除它们
* 如能在整整三分钟防止房间充满魔法球,将晋升到更高一级.
* 魔法宝石也有可能从天花板上掉下
* 魔法宝石具有非凡的威力,既可帮助也可伤害玩家
* 每场游戏均不同,球随机从天花板上掉下
* 要求iPad 2双核,频率1 GHzA5高效处理器