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Making epub files for ebooks

I did some research into how to make ebooks today.  I ran across this article called 4 Ways to Create an ePub eBook which was extremely helpful.

Epubs are Specialized Zip Files

It turns out that ebooks are simply renamed zip files.  If you download an epub to your computer and change the extesion to “.zip” you’ll be able to open it and see how it works.

A Web Developers Tools for Making eBooks

There is a free software tool called Calibre that can be used to edit ebooks.  I downloaded it and tried it.  It let’s you directly edit the html and css of a epub file (which is pretty neat!).

There’s another tool (which I haven’t tried yet) called Sigil Ebook.

 

Free Background Resources

I found this resource for free backgrounds at http://backgrounds.mysitemyway.com/

The interface isn’t the best I’ve ever seen but many of the backgrounds are pretty impressive.  All icons, brushes, textures, etc, are free for both personal and commercial use.  So it might be a useful resource.

 

Pyxel Edit

Pyxel Edit sounds like a great program for making tile maps or pixel art.  The best part about this program is that it makes it easy to make seamless tile-sets for a game (or even a website).

interface

Clip Champ for video compression

I was reading an article on Cinemagraphs in web design and found a reference to a service called ClipChamp.com.

The article mentioned that his video went from several megabytes down to 319kb.  This interested me, because if you want to use a video background on a website, you really want it to load fast.

clipchamp-login

Clip Champ requires you to log in with either a Facebook or Google account.

They have a free account that will let you convert up to 5 videos.  They also have a professional version for $9 per month that allows for unlimited video conversions.

In addition to letting your convert videos they also have a WordPress plugin that allows you to collect videos from your users, and makes sure they arrive to you in a consistent and compressed format.

HandBrake – A Free Alternative

After writing this, I figured there had to be alternative ways of compressing videos.

One thing I found was called Handbrake which is free and open source.  I also found this short tutorial.  After using it for a while I’ve become deeply impressed with Handbrake.  It’s hands-down the best video compression software I’ve ever used.  Easily reducing file sizes to 1/10th the original size.  If you crank up the compression further, you can get extremely small video files.  This makes it piratical to use HTML5 video on a website.

handbrake

One Last Unrelated Thought

The author of the article about Cinemagraphs has a pretty good website.

thedeepend

Some things I liked

  • Cinemagraphs for as hero images (which is fun).
  • They share marketing success stories about their clients.
  • They use nice colorful icons to punctuate their point.
  • They have testimonials with photos of clients
  • They have a form with a title “If your goal is growth, we should talk.”
  • They have a slide-in navigation that is better than most I’ve seen.
  I wonder if the company I work for could implement some of what they do.

Really Cool Space Aesthetic (would look cool in a game)

I saw this website with an outer space theme and I really love it’s look.  I think it would be really cool to make a video game with this look.

frontend

This shows the typography at the top.  It’s nice, but what really gets me are the illustrations.

planets

The consistent angle, the lines are just fantastic.  I love the ringed planet and the comet.  This design just has energy.

commet

I especially love these 2 rockets.  I love the geometric style and simplicity.

rockets

 

Mario Suite Performed by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra

Format Video

The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra performs a suite of Super Mario Brothers, Megaman, The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy and more.

Below is the video set to start with the Super Mario Brothers. There’s a heavy emphasis on music from Super Mario World (which I find very enjoyable).

Enjoy…

I also found some other fun orchestras.

Disney Music for Studying

Format Video

This is a great Disney medley that’s perfect for working.  I often listen to it at work.

Enjoy…

I especially enjoy the soft jazz “Alice in Wonderland” starting at 13:59.

Here is a complete list of the songs on this video…

1. Someday My Prince Will Come (From “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”)00:00
2. Once Upon A Dream(From”Sleeping Beauty”)02:11
3. Cinderella Medley (From “Cinderella”)05:52
4. Someone’s Waiting For You(From“The Rescuers”)09:48
5. Alice In Wonderland (From “Alice In Wonderland”)13:59
6. Winnie The Pooh Theme Song (From”Winnie The Pooh”)17:55
7. Second Star To The Right (From “Peter Pan”)20:33
8. La La Lu(From”Lady And The Tramp”)24:27
9. Beauty and the Beast(From“Beauty and the Beast”)27:20
10. Home(From“Beauty and the Beast”)30:05
11. A Whole New World (From “Aladdin”)34:32
12. Proud of Your Boy(From”Aladdin Broadway”)37:13
13. Part of Your World(From “The Little Mermaid”)39:47
14. Go The Distance(From “Heracules”)43:23
15. Reflection(From “Mulan”)46:24
16. Color of The Wind (From “Pocahontas”)50:40
17. Out There (From “Hunchback of Notre Dame”)54:39
18. God Help The Outcasts
(From “Hunchback of Notre Dame”)59:06
19. I See The Light(From “Tangled”)1:02:34
20. Magical Moment(From“Disneyland”)1:06:42
21. So Close(From “Enchanted”)1:10:18
22. You’ve Got A Friend In Me(From “Toy Story”)1:13:16
23. When She Loved Me(From “Toy Story 2”)1:16:37
24. Bella Notte(From”Lady And The Tramp”)1:19:50
25. When You Wish Upon A Star (From “Pinocchio”)1:24:01

Play The Beta Version of Turret Master X1

Beta testers wanted for Turret Master X1.

We’re looking for a few good Turret Masters to protect our colony and improve our defense system.   Qualifying cadets need to know their way around a laser turret, and be willing to give constructive feedback.

Play The Turret Master v. 0.4

TurretMaster0-4-desktop.zip

If you want to sign up for the beta program.  Like our Facebook Page and let us know on our wall.

Transmission out…

 

A Dungeon Tileset

A Dungeon Tileset

Format Link

I found this tile set for creating RPG (think the Legend of Zelda) dungeons. It’s nice artwork, and feel pretty complete. It has treasure chests, doors, keys, stairs, barrels, switches, gold, etc.  It also has animated torches and water.

You can buy it for $9 here.

 

SnapDrop.net – A Slick, Simple Solution for Files between Devices


Snapdrop.net let’s you send files between computers with no logins or accounts.  It’s easy and straight forward.

Unlike services like Dropbox or Google Drive, Snapdrop doesn’t appear to store your files anywhere.  It’s sent once.  it’s no longer available for download.  So it probably isn’t a great way to collect photos from clients.  Rather it’s a great way to send a file from one computer to another without a lot of setup or complication.  It’s device agnostic which means to you can use it to send a file from an iPhone to an Android Phone, or from a tablet to a PC.

If you’re interested in the technical aspects, check out their github.

Fun In Rexburg – Musings on a personal project

c3862fd945b949418bf058c09f1c8d57The Book

Several Years ago I wrote a book called “How To Have Fund in Rexburg“.  I spent months researching, taking photos, and designing the book.  At last I finished the book which was a very satisfying project.  I sold a number of copies to friends and acquaintances, and talk with the BYU-I bookstore about further distribution.  Unfortunately, this never quite got off the ground.  After a while, I let it go.  I was please with the final product and I learned a lot from it (even if I didn’t really make much money from the project).

The Fun In Rexburg Blog…

Last year I had the idea to launch a website about fun things to do in Rexburg.  I put together a blog with some of the information from the book, and also began writing articles about fun things to do at various times of year.  For example: Fun things to do in Rexburg in October, or How to Have Fun in Rexburg during the winter.

I shared these articles on Facebook and enjoyed moderate success.  Several of my recent articles enjoyed sharp spikes of traffic.  Thousands of people have viewed the website, and I’ve received generally positive feedback from the public.  Still I haven’t been quite satisfied.  I designed the layout myself, but time constraints and demands of life forced me to make it live before truly polishing the layout or design details.  After all, I could always go back and improve it (which is something I still plan to do).

Sometimes it’s better to get something out there, than to hold it back until they’re perfect,  so I settled for “good enough” with plans to eventually go back and improve the finer details.  One problem I know I’ve faced is the SEO was never properly considered.  As such, it’s never ranked very high in the search engines.  Today, I actually went back and fixed some of the SEO related problems with hopes that it may begin to rank better on Google.  I guess we’ll see how it goes.

What are your thoughts?  Was I wrong to publish the site before I was completely satisfied?  Does the site accomplish it’s goal?  I’d love your feedback.

Bit Blaster XL Review

1459181022_bbxl20

I bought Bit Blaster XL on Steam recently.  It had great reviews and was make by a guy not unlike myself (someone learning to make games in his spare time).

The game is simple but fun (very much in the spirit of the old arcade classics).  The controls are simple.  It even fires for you unless you change the settings to manual (which I did).

There is a good variety of enemies, and you can upgrade your ship as you collect coins.  From a physiology stand-point, upgrading to new ships kept me playing longer.

The game is currently $0.50 (50% off as of June 29th). If you have a steam account and like classic arcade games, go give it a try!

Buy on Steam

Developer’s Website

I found this very encouraging because it’s a simple arcade game like I’m working on.

It was created by a game by a guy that’s “learning to make games in his spare time”.  Sounds familiar.

Space Game Sound Effects

I’m compiling a list of resources and sound effects suitable for a space-themed arcade game.

soundimage.org

Eric Matyas has a free collection of both music and sound effects.

Sci-Fi sound effects… http://soundimage.org/sfx-scifi/

Space Cannon

Laser Sound Effect

Quick Explosion

Hull Breach 3 (could also be the launching a photon torpedo)

Cyber Chime (Could be the approaching of a boss ship)

Power Rez 2 (could be good Game Over sound effect)

Power Rez 9 (another good Game Over effect)

Sci-fi Ambient Sounds http://soundimage.org/sfx-scifi-amb/

REZ DRONE 1 – A repeating sweeping electronic hum that might sound cool as ambience in a Sci-Fi game.

Spacecraft hum (could work well in background of game).

freesound.orG

Freesound.org has some decent sound effects, though you have to login to download them.  Here were a few I liked…

Lasers

Good Basic Laser Sound: http://www.freesound.org/people/nsstudios/sounds/344276/

A Cool extended laser http://www.freesound.org/people/CosmicD/sounds/93021/

Good Mining Laser http://www.freesound.org/people/mazk1985/sounds/187405/

UFO Scanner http://www.freesound.org/people/peepholecircus/sounds/169991/

Big Enemy Laser Charge http://www.freesound.org/people/GeronimoGeronimo/sounds/338067/

echoing laser http://www.freesound.org/people/AndreOnate/sounds/135118/

Space Ships

Cargo Ship background: http://www.freesound.org/people/vumseplutten1709/sounds/320529/

Starship Bridge http://www.freesound.org/people/kaumodaki/sounds/245773/

Ship Passing By http://www.freesound.org/people/Sergenious/sounds/55849/

Mysterious UFO Landing http://www.freesound.org/people/sunfly/sounds/122679/

Spaceship white noise http://www.freesound.org/people/DrNI/sounds/34736/

Interesting Spacey noise (almost musical) http://www.freesound.org/people/GeronimoGeronimo/sounds/338065/

Video Game Music Sources

I’ve been looking for suitable music for my game and wanted to share what I’ve found…

SoundImage.org

Sound image is a collection of game-worth music all written by one guy named Eric Matyas.  Pretty impressive.  His music is free as long as you give him credit.

Below are a few pieces I might consider using.

80’s SPACE GAME LOOP – Might be nice in a space shooter game or app. (00:34)

INSERT QUARTER – Vaguely in the mode of 80s arcade games. (00:32)

COOL ADVENTURE INTRO – Might be fun under titles/menus for an upbeat game. (00:34)

GOBLIN LOOP – might be fun in an RPG or some kind of fantasy game. (00:28)

 

 

incompetech.com

Imcompetech.com has a nice variety of music that could be used in a game or video.

“Killers”  Instruments: Guitar, Choir, Percussion, Basses, Cellos, Violas, Violins Feel: Action, Epic, Intense

“Take a Chance” Instruments: French Horn, Trombone, Strings, Xylophone, Percussion, Flute, Clarinet Feel: Action, Driving, Epic, Intense, Uplifting

“Full On” Instruments: Cellos, French Horns, Trombones, Violins, Percussion, Basses Feel: Action, Aggressive, Dark, Driving, Epic, Intense

Lots of little sections ending with soaring horns. Who doesn’t like that?

 

More Options

There’s a great (long) list of music/sound sources at UnityAnswers: Where can I find music or sound effects for my game?. A sampler of some of the free ones: