This week I needed a break from painting.  I decided to look for ways to fulfill a long neglected dream of being a game developer.  I found this great webiste, http://www.protorpg.com that has a download of a role playing game engine written in Javascript by Pierre Chassaing.  I have very little programming knowledge of Javascript.  I was purely driven by my passion to create an online role playing game to study the Javascript files in the "Games," file that comes with the "Demo," Download.  After I played the game a few times, the Javascript computing language began to make sense.  In the game, there are NPC (Non-Playing-Characters) that have pre-determined responses to key words the player types when talking to them.  The "maps," folder contains the programming information needed to run the NPC and other entities in the game.  I started out by changing what the characters say, and when I played the game I noticed that the NPC responded to the key words like "job," or "name," with the words I typed in the "map," files.  I also looked at other files that come with the download, and saw files that contain programming information about items and various graphics such as doors, brick walls, grass, or forest.  At the bottom of each "map," file there are bitmaps that contain numbers that represent the various graphics in the game.  For example, the number 34 represents a fort.  By adding 34 into the bitmap of a map file, I was able to add an additional fort to the game.  Making the fort functional requires that something be added to the "egg," variable.  When the player moves over a staircase, or a fort in the game, the programming loads up a new map file that contains information about the new area the player has moved to.  The programming language uses an "egg," term to distinguish which map file to load once the player has moved over a predetermined point in the bitmap of the current map file using x and y coordinates.  I am still trying to understand how this x,y coordinate system works, but with a little tinkering around I am confident that I will be able to figure it out.  I am also trying to figure out how to add additional graphics to the graphics files that won't be rejected by the programming.  Having very little programming knowledge, it takes a great deal of patience, perseverance, and concentration to figure what each line of the script is doing for the game, and now to manipulate it to do what I want it to do. Once I have gained enough of an understanding of how the files work, I will be able to modify ProtoRPG enough to create an RPG of my own.  ProtoRPG is not open-source and is not free, so I won't be able to sell anything I create using the ProtoRPG engine.  I intend to use ProtoRPG for educational purposes, and to showcase my skills as an artist on my website while giving full credit to Pierre Chassaing as the creator of the ProtoRPG engine once I have his permission.   At some point, I would like to take a video game computer programming class, and gain the skills needed to create a game engine of my own.  Then I will be able to realize my dream of being an freelance video game developer, while continuing to profit from my talents as a graphic designer and fine artist of acrylic paintings. 
Yesterday I was going through some old sketch books that I put away in a closet, and found this character:

Notice how his arm is waving at you!  It might take a while to move at first, but after it loads he should be waving at you continuously, every 2 seconds.  This visual effect was achieved using a variety of programs and techniques.  First I photographed the character from my sketch book and imported him into a free graphic design software called GIMP.  I used a cutting tool to separate the alien's arm from it's body; a painful operation!  I cropped the arm, and saved it as a PNG file with a transparent background, and did the same for the rest of him.  Then I imported the PNG files into Flash Professional 8, on two separate layers in the time line.  The time line has numbers on it that represent frames.  There are about 30 frames a second in video, but the software lets you modify the number of frames per second.  Running the animation at 12 frames per second helps it to load faster on the web.  The arm PNG file has an anchor point, an area in the image represented by a circle that determines the center axis from where the image can rotate from.  To get the arm to rotate correctly, I positioned the anchor point on the shoulder area of the arm.  Then I copied and pasted the arm from it's frame on the time line, to other frames, rotating the arm from it's anchor point up and then down to create the waving action once exported as an animate GIF file. 

Part of being mulit-talented means not being able to specialize in one thing.  While I enjoy the fine arts, I also enjoy the feeling I get when I solve a problem.  Working with software presents many technological challenges that must be hurtled in order to achieve a finished work of art.  My passion for being a video game developer drives me to continue to push past my frustration with the challenges of technology.  I have to know how to program, how to create bitmap graphics, 3D vector graphics, and animation to make this happen.  The knowledge is out there in books, and in many tutorials on the internet.  All I have to do is be patient, be persistent, and concentrate on finding the answers to one question at a time.  Breaking the bigger tasks into smaller more manageable ones helps to keep frustration levels down, and the creation process fun.