Thanks to COVID-19, many of us are trapped at home for the next month or 3, and are looking for a productive way to spend our time or keep the kids occupied. What better way than learning new skills in something you are really interested in doing while spending no money for the training? Pluralsite is one of several companies offering such training, in their case for any kind of computer skill set you can imagine. For some of us that means training in a wide range of IT jobs that you can do remotely, which could mean additional income during the current crises. Then there are things like video game creation, 3D modeling, and programming, all across a range of platforms, that can grab the imagination of anyone who wants to become truly creative. You don’t need to give them a credit card to sign up for the free courses, just an email address, but you only have until the end of April to take the classes; come May 1st it will go back to costing money to get access to them.

Thanks to the folks at Games from Scratch for the heads up on this opportunity. I am including their YouTube video on the Pluralsite offering, where they go into some detail about what you will actually have access to there. They also mention several of the other training opportunities, such as 3 months of free classes on every aspect of making games for the Unity Game Engine with free courses, projects and tutorials to get you creating with style.

I updated my web site tonight, and I am very happy to report it doesn’t look like I lost too much (or maybe even any) of the database of articles I have been collecting here. And I even managed to retain the basic layout, with the header at the top (silly place for it, I know), and the menu/widgets functions all running down the left side of the page. It looks like all I lost was the graphics branding (the images making up the banner, the border/trim colors, and the font choices/colors) and the widgets and content of the left menu/widgets area. I will only be putting a few of the widgets back in place, but will treat the rest of it as my opportunity to rebuild my site with an improved functionality, and maybe even a better sense of style. OK, that last may be a stretch (stop sniggering, those who know me in RL), but with any luck this site will look at least half way decent in the next few weeks! Let me know what you think as I try to pull it back together!

If you are playing with 3D modeling, be aware of MakeHuman, a free open source tool for creating 3D characters. Written in Python, it integrates seamlessly into blender, and allows you to instantly generate a fully rigged and ready to animate human or near-human. It’s slider set has over a thousand morphs you can apply to modify your character, including (but not limited to) Age, gender, height, weight, body proportions, face shapes, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, ears, neck, hands, feet.. the list goes on. And it is licensed under the CC0 license from Creative Commons, giving you unparalleled freedom to use your creations however you like. The folks over at Games From Scratch did an excellent introduction video on this, which I am including here so you can see just how easy and powerful this package is.

Studio Ghibli has done amazing animations over the years, and in this fan made video from Kojer called Studio Ghibli in Real Life we get to see just that. If you have done any work with video editing and compositing you will recognize just how masterful this creation is, but anyone without those skill sets who loves Ghibli will want to live in the world where this kind of thing can happen. Thanks to Otaku USA for the heads up on this one!

If you haven’t done so already, check out the Humble Game Maker Bundle, and add a very powerful collection of game maker tools to your personal arsenal for very little money. The fact that you get to support charity at the same time is just a bonus, made even better by the option to add your own favorite charity to the purchase! You can also select the percentage of your money that goes to each of the participants (software creators, charities, and humble bundle), although for myself I tend to let the percentages stay at the default, because it seems like a pretty equitable distribution to me. The part of this deal I found particularly exciting were the modules that allowed you to export your finished game to multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, and Windows, as well as the cross-platform power of HTML5. They give you the source code to a number of excellent games as well, so you can study them and learn exactly how they pulled off major effects and game functions. The games themselves, including the ones you create, run on the Steam game engines alongside such iconic classics as Duke Nukem, and can also be accessed through YoYoGames. There is no downside to this package; consider picking up this powerful collection of game creation packages at this insanely reduced rate, supporting charity in the process, and set yourself up to make the game you always wanted to play.