Fabular: A Medieval Space Folktale with Action-RPG and Roguelike influences

Fabular is going to be a fine indie space game with axes! The mechanics reminded me of Star Control, but the art is much more interesting and there are other gameplay elements to make it even better. Here is the trailer:

This game is special, because it’s being developed by one of my friends and the team is crazy small: they’re only three people. I’m in a constant awe how they were even able to pull off what they have. I remember last April, when Milan B. showed me the game at a birthday party, it was merely a concept. I wished him good luck and that was about it. Then a year passed and about month ago they launched the Kickstarter campaign. I was impressed!

There are only 3 days left to fund Fabular and they’re a mere £4359 short of their initial 25k ask. I have only once supported a project in Kickstarter but this will be my second one.

update: Successfully raised £26,093 with 1,102 backers

App Store and new Google Play badges for Sketch

I finally updated my old badges with the new Google Play logo and color theme. If you’re a Sketch user, you may find this useful as this is a version that you can start working with. Uses the same sizes for both versions. Origin story: last year I was struggling to find a decent version for reuse. Google only offers a shitty EPS file. (Good luck getting that one into Sketch with the proper RGB color gradients.)

You can download the Sketch file from below. Enjoy!

Download: app_badges.sketch.zip

Catching the Hylian Loach in Twilight Princess HD

Over the weekend I completed The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD to 100%. I acquired everything this game offers and had a terrific time playing it for two months. The last thing I had to do is complete the fishing minigame (with the 64 rollgoal levels) and the very last collectible was catching the legendary Hylian Loach. I spent the whole weekend trying to do this – I eventually succeeded.

I got so enthusiastic that I also had to make a tutorial video. While struggling with the Loach, I couldn’t find a decent one on the internet, especially not for the Wii U HD remaster. Here it is:

I really come to like this game, the HD version is amazing. It offers an entirely new dungeon experience, called the Cave of Shadows, which is not a traditional dungeon, but one where you need to fight interesting enemy combinations in wolf form. When I first heard about it, I scoffed, but in hindsight, it was perfect, challenging and rewarding.

Then it was time for the fishing minigame: you need to catch 4 fish to fill your fish journal, then lure fish the same types in the Fishing Hole. I spent 20% of my time catching everything but the Loach and 80% trying to get him. We’re talking hours. Most of the time, when I got his interest, it went away and I was like this:

Or rather like this:

Looking back, I can’t even believe I did it, but then again, this challenge made me appreciate the whole minigame and, as with many minigames in the series, you really understand the game mechanics when you catch the hardest.

This photo almost feels like real now:

FWIW, Here is a list for bobber fishing and where to find them:

Greengill, Hyrule Bass – go to the Hole, it’s easy from the banks
Hylian Pike – at Lake Hylia, just outside the spring there are a few
Hylian Loach – at Lake Hylia Howling Stone, there is a dig spot with many inside the cave
Ordon Catfish – at Ordon village, cast from the mill

Cool. I will now 100% the Wind Waker which I left to rot back in 2014.

Thoughts on Hyper-reality

Keiichi Matsuda made this video that shows what a mixed-reality world could look and work like:

The graphic design is vivid, crazy and pops all the time. To the fresh eye it’s very chaotic and is very difficult to comprehend what’s going on, but that lasts only for a couple of seconds and suddenly you immerse in the rich interactions and visuals. It’s not very hard to draw a parallel line between the user in the video and one who has a miriad of apps installed on their Mac. If we showed a video of that Mac screen to someone living in 1981 the effect would exactly be the same.

At 3:50 in the narrative the AR device is being restarted, so you get to see how many layers were composited on top of the original footage:

If you notice there is a fake ceiling in the AR version of this scene. What is the extension of actual structures are good for? If you’re walking on the street and you see people with augmented objects around them, your senses get confused after a while and you might end up doing things that can end up in potential danger. In the video the AR shows incoming traffic on the street with expressive visuals, but I see this something working the other way around in practice:

What if some visual obscures real traffic on a busy street like this? Seeing stuff appearing around people on the street you won’t even be able to walk among people. By forcefully pushing the line from real to augmented you’ll inevitably end up creating real chaos. Then again, this is nothing different than having many apps running at the same time.

The Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership, by Kent Keith

The Paradoxical Commandments were written by Kent Keith in 1968, when he was 19:

1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
3. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
6. The biggest men with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
7. People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
10. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

UX of the Honda CR-V 2nd gen

We have an old family Honda SUV (which is now clean as new by the way). At some point the remote control of the car stopped opening the rear door, but I didn’t care, we can still open it up with the keys. The process for opening the door was so weird, I thought it warranted for a UX blog post. 😀 Here is the lock:

The question: how do you open and close the rear door with the key? I wanted to post this question on Twitter, but then I realized it’s not how real life works. In real life you don’t UX-analyze things. You go to the rear door with a screaming girl in one hand, a melting chocolate bar in the other, and there is even a TV remote sticking out of your back pocket. How did the remote end up in your back pocket? Who knows! The only thing you want is to put SOMETHING into SOMEWHERE then expect the result to happen. You don’t have the time or leisure to look at things.

I didn’t even see the dots! This is exactly how I, as a user of this interface, went about it: I inserted the key into the lock and turned it left, then I was expecting the door to either open OR close depending on the previous state it was in.

And I did that exactly. The door opened, and when I was out in the city (in an even more complicated child situation) wanting to close the door, I put the keys in, I turned the same direction and the rear door was still open. I tried turning the other way around, then the back window opened. I retried the whole thing a couple of times, then I labeled the issue as something that a car electrician needs to fix. I even took the car to the expert who almost started to tear the whole lock down when it dawned on me.

[cue in cloud explanatory music from Captain Disillusion]

If you’re sitting in a comfy chair sipping precious liquids of your choice while looking at this photo, you can immediately see three dots as markers. Maybe they indicate something. At first I thought there is two information hidden in here and this is the grouping:

You can do one thing by turning the key to the left and you can do another by turning the key to the right. I figured if I turned my keys to the left, I opened the rear door. If I turned my keys to the right, I opened the window, right? In reality this is the grouping:

The solution: red – open, blue – open window, yellow – close. You need to feel how far you can turn that key until it closes. Turn it a bit more and you pop the window open. You need to learn all of this.

Did the designers of Honda make a horrendous mistake? I honestly don’t know. How would you have solved this design challenge? You have a lock and a key, but you need to operate three things with it.

First of all, it was my sole assumption that by turning the key to the left it reversed the previous state it was in. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s not even a good thing because then you need to manually check, by pulling the lever, if the door is really closed. I don’t mind that, but maybe you do.

I have a quick fix for the whole mechanism though: let’s leave everything as is for now, but switch the the yellow and blue dots. You rarely open the back window, but you do want to close the door frequently. This way if you need to open the window, you need to turn it halfway. All you need to learn is: left – open, right – close, in between – window.

But here is the thing: I don’t want to learn. I want to use. I see a keyhole, I want to put my key inside and I’m expecting the mechanism to either lock or unlock and maybe give me a feedback about it. A short chime perhaps?

Sketch 3.7.2 wrongly calculates combined shapes’ shadows

Here is an icon:

Let’s turn the fill off. What should we see? The outline cast shadow inside, bottom cast unchanged. Yet, the cast shadow renders at a different value:

Turning off or deleting the fill doesn’t matter. Actually, when the fill is applied, the Y Offset for the shadow gets halved, on the first screenshot it’s 1 pixel (instead of set 2).

According to my testing, this only happens if we have combined shapes. If I have a simple path with a fill, a stroke and a shadow, it’ll play out as expected. You can download the test .sketch at the end of this post.

My previous bug report from February still remains unfixed in 3.7.2. 🙁 Now I have two reported bugs. The plot thickens.

update 20160519:

Purple Tuesday

Wally Waves:

I was home watching TV and cutting up a steak when I got the call at 8PM. A friend of mine worked at a famous hotel in LA and one of the guests made a last minute request for a DJ to play the hotel bar. Someone that could get there and start playing in an hour. The bar frequently had live bands play, but never a DJ. So with little to no time, my wise and generous friend thought to throw a gig my way.

“Yeah, I can get there in an hour. Am I getting paid?”

“Yes, you’ll get paid.”

“What kind of party is it? What am I playing?”

“Someone’s renting out the bar for a private party. And that someone is… The Artist… formerly… known… as… Prince.”

That sentence was not real to me. Still not real.

Stay in for a fantastic story (and playlist!).

/via Márton Bede

Apple updated the 12 inch MacBook line

Apple bumped the MacBook line:

Apple has today released an update to the 12 inch Retina MacBook line, with new Skylake processors, overall better performance, and a new color: Rose Gold. The new internals have also allowed Apple to grab an extra hour of battery life out of the same sized product. The MacBook refresh keeps the same thin chassis, the same edge-to-edge keyboard and the same single USB-C port design as the original Retina MacBook, released about a year ago.

Silent update, but the family is in focus for the company going forward. Also interesting what Phil Schiller added in the press release:

MacBook is the thinnest and lightest Mac we have ever made and it’s our vision for the future of the notebook

Translation: this is what the new MacBook Pros are going to look like.

Don’t fake it, do it correctly – in 64 kilobytes

I’ve long lost interest in the PC demoscene, but with the release of “Fermi Paradox” by Mercury (YouTube link – the executable code fits 64 kilobytes) this seems to change. There are two sides for me to give high marks in a given production: one, the general narrative and art direction, and two, the pushing of technical boundaries. Fermi Paradox excels in both.

Urs Ganse of Mercury shares some interesting details regarding the future of demoscene productions:

We are using actual material parameters…and a pretty physical model of our camera. And the resulting images seem very realistic. While physically based rendering has now been around for some years, this mindset, ‘don’t fake it, do it correctly’ is only slowly beginning to take foot. I think we will be in for more surprises in the future.

The UI of Soyuz-TMA spaceship

Ever wondered what the User Interface for controlling a Soyuz-TMA spaceship looks like? Thanks to Astronaut.ru you can download a training program, used by the astronauts, as a DOS executable, run it with DOSBox and try your luck. This is what it’s like:


Some of the strings in English:


Not Ready

It is time.



Тестирование MIL-1553
Testing MIL-1553


БЗавершение операции
Operation Completed.

Here is the full list, or the instruction manual (Google Translate). The UI in action:


Another screen shown running on the actual display:


If you want to dive in more, Slava Gerovitch at MIT has published an extensive set of information on the Russian space program in English, this is a good start at the computer systems by Yurii Tiapchenko. The level of knowledge that has accumulated in this is just mind boggling.

Next level skateboarding

The best video I’ll see all day:

The outfit is not a put on, Richie lives the part. From the interview with him:

I feel sketched out wearing the currently-acceptable gear because I know that it’s toast in two years time. I know I’m going to look back and be, like, “Aw fuck. Why was I wearing that?” So instead, it’s probably self-preservation wearing all this ’70s shit because I’ve taken myself out of the stylistic loop. I’ve just kinda wrapped myself in a fossil that’s already fuckin’ lame and I can just hang out there. I think it’s an insulation against development and movement of skate fashion.

It’s also worth noting, if you can believe it, that he hasn’t been using wax in order to “prep” for better slides.

The last iOS vector resource you’ll ever need


You’re probably thinking, “I already use Facebook’s and/or Design+Code’s iOS 9 GUI document for Sketch. Why download another one?” Put simply, ours is better.

But there is more:

Along with an extensive collection of navigation bars, segmented controls, table views, keyboards, and other reusable system components to help you build iPhone app mockups more quickly and efficiently, this kit includes a near complete set of Apple’s system icons for navigation bars, toolbars, tab bars, activity sheets, quick actions, settings, and weather.


Our kit also includes a collection of over 80 recreated full-screen Apple system app screens to review, study, and reference. This is by far the largest resource of system apps you can find.

This is all true. Just click the link and you’ll have 78 mb large .sketch file on your desktop with all this. Amazing, meticulous and outstanding work, it’s like if Apple had released its iOS resources.

(I wish we had a similar file for OS X, too.)

The REAL reason Slack became a billion dollar company

Satya van Heummen:

“Yeah the power of slack is that if you don’t follow it all then time you’ve lost the conversation. So just Slack 24/7 and you’ll be fine :-D” / And then it hit me. This is what drives Slacks’ success. Because if you don’t follow Slack all the time you do not and cannot take part in the conversation with your team members anymore.

When it comes to team communication I’ve been using Slack for something like 2 years now and this is an adequate summary. Slack has completely changed the way we communicate within the team, email has been reduced to basically nothing.

If you have an active stream, it’s very easy to miss important messages, especially when you’re not directly @ referenced in the conversation. I try to read everything, it’s become my No.1 Twitter. I definitely pay more attention to @ mentions (but @here and @channel should have a different notification, they’re certainly less important than direct mentions).

I still think it’s way better than email. Emails are like regular postal mails with the additional benefit of immediate replies. I’m also a proponent of transparency within the team: even if you have something to discuss with someone, it’s way better to do it in one of the channels than in private messages. I’ve had experience in both styles and the pros clearly outweigh the cons.