Sliver Brich


Here is a silver birch, minding it’s own business. It looks close to dropping its leaves. I made it using Blender and its ‘Sapling’ tree generator, which produces a bunch of curves for the trunk and branches (based on your inputs) and some simple planes for the leaves. I wanted to give the trunk a texture map, so I converted the trunk curves to a mesh, UV unwrapped the mesh and created the birch bark texture in Krita (as it has a nice pencil tool).

Here’s a picture of the mesh if you like that kind of thing:


Why am I making trees in Blender? I just have an idea of a little game I’d like to try out and I like the thought of using Blender and Unity3D. I’ll post up progress from time to time.

If I ever

If I ever make another game it will probably have a whole mess of trees in it. It will probably be made with Blender and Unity3D. My open-source heart would choose Godot as my next game engine, but seeing that Unity3D gives you all sorts of useful stuff like tutorials, cloud build and app store integration for free… It really is a no brainer (for now). Especially if you’re a solo developer with limited resources and time.

I’ve delivered the final Pixelgrams update to the developer, and so after almost 3 years (3 years!? Game development takes time) I can start to think about implementing some of the ideas I’ve been storing in numerous doodles.

This picture is of a very quick and dirty test I did over my lunch hour when I should have been clipped into my stationary bike trainer (I’ll get on it tomorrow). I made a tree with Blender’s Sapling tree generator (that’s a birch), a v simple landscape and imported it into a Unity project. After setting up a bit repository on bitbucket, I managed to build an Android APK with Unity’s rather nifty Cloud Build service. When I have the time and energy, I’ll set the service up to also build iOS versions of the project. That stuff always takes time, and for now Android is a good testing platform.

Onwards, into the trees!

Fowl Intentions

It’s the Easter break and I have been distracted by eggs and JavaScript. I’m too busy on other projects to make any serious steps towards it but I would like to make another platform game similar to ‘Foxtrot!’ (check it on the App Store or Google Play). This time the game would benefit from lessons learned regarding touch controls on mobile devices (no virtual buttons, ever again. Ever) and I’d work harder on balancing the difficulty level. Platform games on mobile have come on leaps and bounds since Rayman and Super Mario Run have (almost) perfected the form. I don’t suppose the world needs another one, but it does need more games with chickens (and foxes) in them.

So, if I do find some time and resources to make this chicken-based platformer, what tools do I plan to use? ‘Foxtrot!’ was built by myself and Owen Bennett using Stencyl. ‘Pixelgrams’ was made by myself, Graham Spence and Ste Curran with Unity3D. So I could use Stencil or Unity. But I don’t really want to. Stencyl is a great game making tool that has a Scratch-like drag and snap interface. Unity3D is an incredibly powerful suite of tools and is always going to be a compelling choice. If I get more time to make games then I may well return to these technologies, but in the meantime I’m going down a different path.

One of the few itches I’ve wanted to scratch over the last few years is to learn some proper coding skills. Of course, I could achieve this with Stencyl (which is based on Haxe and OpenFL) and Unity (C# or JavaScript). But I’d like to try something that uses a more code based environment, rather than a visual IDE. Something that is built particularly for 2D and for mobile. Something based on open source technologies would be even better. There are a few tools available, but I’m going to go with either JavaScript, using the Phaser framework and Phonegap or Corona SDK. After brushing up on some of my long forgotten JavaScript knowledge and doing a Phaser tutorial  this weekend, I think I’m going to plump for that. It’s an incredibly full featured JavaScript framework written specifically for making games, primarily for mobile web browsers. If you want to convert your HTML5 game into a native app for iPhone or Android then you’ll need to follow a route that something like Phonegap offers. There’s a lively community of Phaser and HTML5 developers on HTML5 Game Devs.

So watch this space, but no breath holding. I’m still committed to Pixelgrams and another (secret, for now) personal project. I also have my day job to consider. So progress will be slow and most of my time at these early stages will be spent on planning.

I may even write a game design document 🙂

A Hard Frost in Preston Park

After almost a year of working from my home studio, and nearly going nuts with the daily solitude followed by the chaos of kids returning home from school, I’m travelling to Brighton to work on a new TV project. I get to walk across Preston Park every morning, which is especially handsone in the cold, hard winter sun. I can’t say much about the project other than it’ll be on the BBC maybe later this year and it’s very pretty.

New Year


If you’ve stumbled upon this post, let me wish you a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2017. It may seem that those things will be hard to achieve. I’ll be concentrating on doing what I can to stay in contact with my fellow human beings. Even the ones who I disagree with. Small acts of love and kindness, regular and often. That’s got to be the way ahead.

Have a good one!