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Drumeo.com – Learn how to play the drums

Drumeo-OnlineDrumLessonsWhether you are a beginner or having been a drummer for years, there is always something new to learn on the drums. I have subscribed to Drumeo Edge for over a year and the website has been a great on-demand way to learn and improve my drumming skills. There are lessons on various styles of drumming and each course is usually split up into 5 videos. The courses are presented by some of the best instructors. After watching the video lessons, you can then play along to the patterns in either 60bpm or 90bpm (for most lessons). I find this very helpful, this forces you to get in sync with the rhythm. There is a marker that shows where you are in the pattern, this visually helps you to follow the rhythm. 

Drumeo.com adds new lessons all the time. Recently they added a double bass lesson, this is the lesson I’m currently working on and it’s helping me get that left foot to be more active.

Live sessions are streamed and you can join in and ask questions. These live lessons are also archived for later viewing.

Drumeo.com also offers help from instructors, you can film yourself playing the drums and get feedback on how to improve your techniques.

The website is very user friendly, you can save lessons as favorites, mark the lessons you’ve completed, and the website will keep track of what is incomplete as well.

I’ve been playing drums for 20 years and I still have a lot to learn on the drums. Thankfully, Drumeo will keep me busy and will keep pushing me to the next level of drumming. 

Watch the video below to find out more about Drumeo.com:

Stardrop Narrative Driven Game Now on Kickstarter

stardrop-gameThe line between games and movies is blurring. Today’s games are becoming more focused on story lines. STARDROP is a narrative driven game currently in development where you are the active participant in experiencing the story by being the central character in the story. 

The narrative driven nature of the game allows for chapters to be released for the game and continue on like chapters in a book or movie. 

I think the narrative that is spoken between the characters in the game makes for a unique way to tell the story by listening to their conversations. That sense of realism really adds to the experience. 

The sound effects in the game are really good and the visuals are perfect for a sci-fi space adventure. This is the type of game that mixes your own exploration of spaceships with an ongoing narrative story. Very interesting concept for a game.

Game Description from STARDROP website:

STARDROP is a narrative driven Sci-Fi first person adventure and exploration game set in the future. The player takes on the role of Aryn Vance who is a Salvage and Rescue Operative who goes out and explores space ships that are either missing or in need of rescue.

I suggest you support this game on KickStarter.

Watch the trailer for the game: 

To follow progress on the game visit the STARDROP website.

The Future of Music is in Video Games

the future of music is in video games

The time has come where independent musicians should connect with indie video game developers to create innovative and immersive experiences.

It’s funny to think back to the early games like Pac-man, where just beeps and electronic synth sounds provided the sounds for the action occuring on screen. Fast forward to the present and the games from the bigger game development studios have symphonies creating the soundscape. The indie game developer doesn’t have that type of budget. This is where I see the opportunity for independent musicians to connect with indie game developers.

With the rise of indie games, there is opportunity for independent musicians to reach out to small game development teams and possibly get their music featured in a video game.

The next logical step for musicians would be to release albums that are soundtracks to video games that they have contributed music to. Songs could break out of the 4 minute average song length. Bands could release condensed versions of the extended length songs that were created for a video game. Or go the opposite direction and create concept albums that have story lines that could become part of a video game or virtual reality game.

Making money as a musician is becoming increasingly difficult. With the freemium model of streaming music, artists can no longer make money on digital downloads. Only by touring and selling merchandise can musicians make a living in music. Innovation is the only answer to the current sense of limbo surrounding the distribution of online music and the decreasing profitability of that business model. Video games might just be the music industry’s savior.

If an independent musician can get their music in a game that is downloaded anywhere from 100,000 to 1 million downloads, this is a huge opportunity to get your music heard and get huge exposure to a large audience.

Or Build Your Own Game and Provide the Music

Game Engines for indie game development have become so advanced that you can literally create a game without having to write a line of code. For an ambitious and creative musician, you might want to consider learning game development and create a game to go along with the release of your next album. Earn your living building games and use your storytelling and music writing skills…all within one medium. The future of music is in video games…

Doctor Strange Trailer – Marvel Universe meets Inception

Doctor StrangeThe teaser trailer for Doctor Strange has been released and looks very interesting. When I first saw Benedict Cumberbatch in the sorcerer’s cape I thought it was going to be the standard Marvel type superhero movie. This was before I saw the trailer and I’m now very interested in seeing this movie. The concept of a doctor that has an accident and then goes on a quest that opens him open to alternate realities, this is what Marvel needs to mix things up a bit. I’m getting a bit fatigued of all of these superhero movies that have a bunch of battles that take up a major portion of the movie. While the visuals are spectacular, the storylines need to have more than just action and one-liners. There are times that I do like to see Iron Man battle it out with his enemies, but with the ever expanding Marvel Universe it can get tiresome after awhile. The trailer for Doctor Strange reminds me of a Batman Begins type of origin story mixed with the visuals of Inception.  I think the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange is perfect. There are probably some Marvel die-hard fans that might differ on that opinion, but this is my first introduction to the Doctor Strange character, so I have no preconceived notions of what the character is supposed to be. I’m glad that Marvel decided to make a movie that can stand on it’s own and be a self contained storyline. Although, I’m sure that we’ll see this movie connect into the larger Marvel Universe, that would only make sense. Looking forward to the release of Doctor Strange in November 2016. 

Watch the teaser trailer for Doctor Strange:

Images courtesy of Marvel.

Building Virtual Reality Games Directly in VR

Building-VR-in-VR-Unreal-Engine-4The advances in virtual reality game development are just as amazing the technology. You can now develop a virtual reality game while you are immersed in VR. Welcome to the future of game development. Unreal Engine and Unity3D both have developed the tools to create and structure your VR game environment while in VR. Having all the game engine tools available from the game dev editor while in VR allows the game developer to know exactly how the experience will translate to those who play the game. I see a huge leap forward in the speed of game development with these new tools. The video below will show you a demo of the VR editor in action. I need an Oculus Rift!  I could spend hours developing a game while in virtual reality. This is one more step towards the dreams of a Holodeck. I can imagine these same tools being used to create an environment for the set of a virtual reality movie. Match it with motion capture on your actors and you would be able to quickly create an intense short VR film that is only limited by your imagination.  

Watch the Unreal Engine VR Editor preview video:

Drone Racing – A New High Speed Sport

drone-racingFlying at speeds up to 120 mph, the sport of drone racing is exhilarating for both the pilots and spectators. Quad-copter drones are flown on a real world course as pilots steer them from First Person View (FPV) goggles. The live feed from the onboard cameras is transmitted to both the pilots and to spectators.  This type of immersive sport will be a perfect match for owners of Virtual Reality headsets. You will be able to feel like you are flying with the drone at high speeds as they careen around courses that are lit up like something out of the world of Tron. There is now a Drone Racing League and championship competitions. I believe we will be seeing these races on ESPN very soon. 

Watch the following video to learn more about Drone Racing:

Watch the Word Drone Prix Competition that took place in Dubai this year:

Click here to learn more about the Drone Racing League

Indie Game: The Movie – A look inside the world of Video Game Development

indie-game-the-movieIndie Game: The Movie is a documentary film that came out in 2012. If follows 4 game developers and documents the blood, sweat and tears that they put into their independent video games. These guys decided to take the risk and develop the games on their own without being part of the big video game companies. This could be compared to the music industry, where you have indie bands that don’t care about the big music labels and prefer to break out on their own and plot their own course.

The film did a great job of showing what game developers Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes went through when developing Super Meat Boy. This game harkens back to the games I grew up with in the 80’s and 90’s. A time when you had more control of the characters on the screen. Too often modern games are so graphic laden that one move of your controller and 10 different things happen with your character on the screen. 

I sympathized with these game developers. They went through many highs and lows and it was a tough road to finishing their game.

The film also followed Phil Fish and the development of the game Fez. This story was a turbulent mix of emotions. The game took 4 years to develop and almost didn’t get released because of a legal battle. The movie also interviews Jonathan Blow, the creator of Braid. This game was a huge success and his story was a good counterpoint in the movie. This showed what can happen when you do break through and have a hugely successful indie game. You’ll have to watch the movie to find out if the other games featured became big hits or not.

I look back to my childhood and remember the games of the Atari 2600, the Sega Master System, Nintendo, and later on the Sega Genesis. I see in the design of today’s indie games a renaissance occurring that takes us back to the simplicity of the characters in those old video games. After watching the documentary, I’m considering learning how to create my own video games.  Even after watching all the highs and lows that these game developers went through, they still were the controllers of their own destiny. And they should all be proud of what they achieved.  They’ve opened my eyes to the possibilities of independent game development. I’ve even sketched out my first game design and will be learning how to use the Unity3D game engine to develop it. I’ll keep you posted on my progress…

We are living in an amazing time when anyone with determination and imagination can create their own video games, music and movies and release them for the world to see. It’s an exciting time for artists.

Indie Game: The Movie can be viewed on Netflix. Rent it on Amazon.

Watch the Indie Game: the Movie trailer:

To view more excerpts from the movie and more stories from other game developers, visit indiegamethemovie.com

Star Wars Rogue One Trailer – Watch it Now

Star Wars Rogue One Cast

The first trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has been released. The story takes place before Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Do you remember in that first Star Wars movie when Darth Vader is demanding the return of the stolen plans for the Death Star and tells them that they are Rebel Spies? This movie explores the story line of the Rebel spies and how the Rebellion came into the possession of those plans. After watching the trailer, I am excited to see this movie. It looks like it has all the grit and action of the original Star Wars trilogy. Seeing the Death Star and Star Destroyers on screen again makes my inner child happy. We’ve never seen what happened leading up to Episode IV, in the years between Episode III and IV. I wonder if Darth Vader will make an appearance? I guess we’ll have to wait until December 2016 when the movie is released to find out. 

Watch Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer:

Image courtesy of StarWars.com

Tron Virtual Reality Game and movie – Exploring the possibilities

“The Grid…A digital frontier…I kept dreaming of a world I thought I’d never see and then one day I got in…” – Kevin Flynn

Oculus Rift opens the door for VR game developers to rebuild the Grid from Tron. These are my thoughts on the possibilites of the Grid within a Tron Virtual Reality Game and a possible Social Hub. I will also explore the possibilities of a fully immersive Tron Movie experience.

Entering the Grid

flynns-desk

In Virtual Reality you’ll want to explore every environment you find your self in. I envision hearing the 80’s music echoing down from Flynn’s Arcade. You then proceed to sit down at Flynn’s Desk and enter commands to be scanned into the Grid. You are transported to the Grid. First stop, the Game Arena.

Game Arena

Disc Battles

sam-flynnTo feel fully immersed in the Game Arena there would need to be some type of reactive vest that will allow you to feel the impact of a Disc hitting you or deflecting the Disc during your Disc Battle. The visuals of being blasted into bits or sections of you being derezzed during battle would be intense.

 

 

Light Cycles

Tron-Light-Cycle-BattlesThere has been some progress towards the development of a Tron Light Cycles game, but it appears to be in the early development stages. It has the right approach to what the Light Cycle game experience could be but I imagine visuals that are as intense as those in the Tron Legacy movie. Complete with multiple Light Cycles and battling with multiple other competitors. The ability to fall off of your Light Cycle and then have the ability to attempt to recapture a Light Cycle and get back onto to the Light Cycle would make the experience more complete. View the video below to view one developers vision of a Light Cycle game:

 

Light Fighter Battles

light-fighter-dog-fightSoaring through the grid in a dog fight battle with another Light Fighter, this opens up some interesting concepts of who you are in the battle. Are you the pilot? Are you in a 3 man Light Fighter? Are you manning the weapons to fire at other Light Fighters? The battle should soar over the entire sky of the Grid, over Tron City, the Outlands, and a final approach towards the Portal.

Social Experiences within the Grid

“Libations for Everybody!” at the End of the Line Club

end-of-line-club

Want to take a break from the Games and enjoy some drinks and dance along to the music of Daft Punk? A multi-level virtual club is where you could people watch and relax. Take in the view of the City from the windows of the club. Or maybe you need to find out some information from Zuse to help you on your quest for the Portal.

Imagine enjoying a night with your real world friends (that might be many miles away from you)…and coming together for some fun at the End of the Line Club. This could make for a very different Friday Night. The Grid would need to be able to become a MMO game (massive multiplayer online game) to make this possible. Connecting via Virtual Reality within the Grid will be a challenge but within the realm of possibility as Virtual Reality becomes more social. Facebook is a huge player in the social scene and they are funding social in VR. So it’s just a matter of time before this could be a seamless social experience.


Own your own part of the Grid

Tron_Legacy_flynn-residencePurchasing real estate within a virtual world isn’t something new, Second Life has been doing it for years. Imagine if you could live in Tron City and have your own apartment to design and furnish. To help pay for your apartment, maybe you would open your own Light Cycle Dealership and sell new models of Light Cycles to the citizens of Tron City in exchange for Bitcoins? There are endless possibilities for the exchange of merchandise in the world of Tron.

 

Looking towards the future – a TRON Virtual Reality Movie

Imagine experiencing a first person view of interactions between characters as you follow them through scenes inside a Tron Movie Experience. This could be approached in 2 different ways. The first being a linear movie experience that has a beginning and an end. The 2nd approach that would be more interesting would be a “choose your own adventure” movie experience. Maybe you want to follow Quorra’s storyline and experiences before the destruction of the ISOs. Or you could choose to be Clu and rule over the Grid and send your programs into battle. Depending on which character you decide to follow would give you a different experience each time you entered the Grid movie. For the production of the next Avatar movies they have created a virtual set that allows them to turn the camera around and see into the world of Avatar. The filming of their characters in that world can then be seen immediately and show what the characters look like in Pandora. This type of technology could be utilized to create the expansive world of Tron and help create a Tron Movie universe. This would be a whole new way to feel immersed in a Tron movie as you become part of the action as it occurs around you.

Disney are you listening?

Disney’s decision to not proceed on a 3rd Tron movie and also the cancellation of Tron: Uprising left a Tron fanbase scratching their heads and wondering why you would abandon such a rich universe that you’ve created.

Be innovative. Build a Virtual Reality Grid and we will come.


All images Copyright Disney

Best Programs to protect Windows Computers from the Bad Guys

protech-computer-2

The following is a list of programs and browser extensions that I use and recommend to protect your Windows computer from spyware and viruses. Included in the list is a tool to assist in deleting excess unneeded temporary files.

 

 

Virus Protection

Webroot – Light weight virus protection that doesn’t hog resources like Norton or McAfee.

Anti-Malware / Spyware programs

Malwarebytes – This program was able to remove Spyware that Norton Anti-virus couldn’t find when I had a PC that got hit by multiple forms of Spyware.

Use a Modern Browser

Install a modern browser such as Firefox or Chrome (avoid Internet Explorer like the plague). Google Chrome will warn you if you are about to visit a website that is on their list of sites that might be hacked or have malicious code. If you are using an old browser like AOL then you are asking for trouble. Please take my advice and use one of the browsers I’ve mentioned above. And make Firefox or Chrome your default browser.  Extra advice: don’t install 3rd party toolbars in your browser. Only use Firefox or Chrome approved extensions.

Install Adblock on your browser

A lot of Spyware comes from Advertising on websites, the ad companies can’t keep up and insure that all of their ads are safe for loading on websites. Adblock prevents the Ads from showing on a webpage. This has caused a huge reduction of Spyware infections in my experience.
Download: Adblock

Registry Cleanup and Temporary Files Maintenance / Deletion

CCleaner – This program is very useful. It can delete temporary internet files from multiple browsers. It can check your registry and fix issues in the Registry. After removing Spyware with Malwarebytes or removing a Virus with Webroot then running CCleaner is a good idea to make sure that the Registry is in good working order. I also really like the Startup tool, this allows you to disable the startup of programs that load when your computer boots. Sometimes this can get out of hand and you have way too many programs loading and this helps reduce the amount of memory you are using. Free version works just fine.

I hope these programs help keep your computer safe and free of Spyware and Viruses. No one likes to waste a day(s) recovering from an attack. Be smart.

 

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