Game Design, the Attack of Caffeine Monster

Well, I managed to mess myself up on caffeine again. Having read that a black coffee + coconut oil makes a good preworkout, I’d been carefully doing this, limiting myself to that one caffinated drink a day. But somehow it always escalates, and within 2 week I was drinking diet coke during the day, multiple times at weekend, and finding myself wide awake at 2am, having to force myself to go to bed, knowing that I would be late for work in the morning. After yet another caffeine-induced panic attack at work yesterday, I realised that my latest attempt at moderation had failed, and I must go cold turkey again. So the headaches will be on their way soon, awesome.

In other news, my enthusiasm for web design has waned somewhat as the projects that I’d planned have all ground to a halt while the clients (some paid, some pro bono) get their acts together. I could be constructing fake portfolio sites in the meantime, but would far rather work on projects that are real and will see genuine use.

So I’ve decided to give game coding a crack. I used to program simple games in BASIC many years ago, then with something ancient called 3D Construction Kit, then moved onto the Amiga with AMOS and Shoot Em Up Construction Kit. Many years later, having long since discarded the idea of game design, but with a solid technical background from 15+ years work on business systems I find myself looking at the Unity 3D engine and think ‘I could do that’.

So far I have completed the Unity3D “Roll A Ball” tutorial project, and before jumping in for the next project I’m already looking at altering the workflow to suit me. I recently registered a license for the amazing Sublime Text editor, and am installing several Unity3D plugins to enable me to replace Unity’s default editor MonoDevelop with Sublime.

Personal projects, sleep, gym progress

The past couple of weeks have been a wild blur. The new baby has kept us very busy, and it seems we have next to no free time to do anything. On a selfish level this is bad for me, because my creative brain works best in the morning / afternoon. By the time the rest of the family are asleep in bed, the urge to learn or create is gone and all I want to do is shoot people in CS:GO. On the plus side, my progress is CS:GO has been good! But that doesn’t benefit anyone else really.

My gym progress has been good. Without being too strict on the calories, I’ve still eaten fairly sensibly most days and have lost a few pounds each week for the past couple of weeks while still hitting PBs on the weights. Today wasn’t good as I missed my bench session this morning, I’m going to try and get it done today though to retain my streak. I’ve quit using the MyProtein preworkout entirely and have been getting up with the aid of coffee + stevia. Need to get more sleep!

In other news the web design thing has gone a bit cold. The pro bono work I have done for other people has gone completely ignored which is worrying – if people who are getting design work for free aren’t interested, how can I possibly expect to make it work commercially? I still like doing it as evidenced by this site and, but it’s hard to keep the motivation in the face of apathy for something that is so client-dependant. So I’m changing tack for now and have downloaded the Unity 3D game engine. I’m learning to code up a simple 3D game using C# and so far it’s going quite well. I’ve nearly finished the first basic tutorial on their website, and have bought a Teach Yourself Unity in 24 Hours book from Amazon which looks like fun.

A new baby, Zombies, Run! And more lifting

The arrival of my son completely threw what was left of my flagging fitness regimen into the bin for a good 2 weeks. I was eating cakes, biscuits, ice cream, drinking caffeine to stay awake and resorted to alcohol a few times in an effort to feel ‘normal’ – this predictably ended in fuzzy-headed disaster.

Now that my paternity leave is over I can try and shoehorn some sense of routine back into my life. I have to get my ‘inner game’ straight as this is what has failed me and caused me to swerve on getting enough sleep, correct nutrition and training.

I’ve come back to the world of work with a hardened resolve and some new plans. For the last week I have been getting up with a single coffee and no other caffeine at all during the day or on non-workout days. I have reinstated daily use of MyFitnessPal and in order to get cut before winter, I’m doing CV now, something I hadn’t bothered with for months.

Yesterday I got up at 6am, worked chest at 6:30am, got through the whole day and then ran in the evening, using Zombies, Run! for the first time.

I strapped on my new iPhone armband, downloaded the Zombies Run C25K app and set off around 8PM. The ‘intro’ workout goes on for half an hour, and says ‘walk, jog or run’…

Stupidly I ran as much as I could and ended up doing 5.3k, felt like dying afterwards. I later realised it was intended as a freeform warmup, and I should have taken it a lot easier, as the ‘first’ workout will have me doing walking, jogging and sprinting.

The game is pretty good, it basically just plays songs off your own iphone playlist interspersed with bits of zombie storyline, the story encourages you to run faster when you’re being chased and although the voice acting is a bit ropey in places, in general it’s quite good fun. A bit like Sean Of The Dead.

I’ve created two playlists, a dance one and a metal one. Last night I ran to the dance one;

Blood Rave (from the Blade soundtrack) – The Crystal Method
Absurd (from the Sin City soundtrack) – Fluke
Creep Crawler – Zombie Girl
Dragula (from the Matrix soundtrack) – Rob Zombie
Go Zombie – Zombie Girl
Liberatae Tutemae – Specimen A & Xin m Bass
Cruel feat Julie Thompson – Pyramid
substanceD – hi-cut
Hands Around My Throat – Actual Phantom
Snyper (High Velocity Edit) – Hybrid
Night Stalker (Meat Katie Remix) – Altitude
Evil Voice (Aggressiveness Remix) – Destroyers & Viper X
Night Fighter – Christian J
Acid 8000 – Fatboy Slim
Innocence – Nero
Relapse feat Sam Nalfie – Shock One
Painkiller – Freestylers

I turned off my PC at 10PM and got into bed before 10:30. Today I struggled a bit with my deadlifts but that will get better I am sure.



Day Four Of No Caffeine

I’m finally starting to feel normal. Stayed up a bit too late last night playing CS:GO but managed to drag myself out of bed this morning without too much pain, and felt pretty awake most of the day. Picked up some cream soda and some ginger beer so that I can still drink something carbonated that’s more interesting than water.

Paid a visit to GNC in town as I was looking for a caffeine-free workout. The guys in the shop talked me into buying USN Creatine X4 – it was expensive at £30 a bottle, but I was suckered in by the promises of taurine and beta-alanine. However I looked the product up online and found very few positive reviews, if anything it was grossly overpriced, plus the type of creatine included was not monohydrate-based, so I decided to return it this morning.

To their credit, GNC didn’t give me any aggro on this at all, it was unopened so they just credited my account. I’ve now got my eye on Hemavol on Amazon now. Again, it’s £30, but Hemavol has mountains of blinding reviews so I know it’d probably my best option for a caffeine-free workout. I just want a decent pump with maybe a bit more endurance, rather than daily anxiety attacks and weird heart palpitations late at night.

In other news, Wildstar launched this morning and so far it seems very good. A few initial bugs on login but nothing serious, and my clan mate has already ground enough gold to form a guild for us ingame :)

Day Two of No Caffeine

My eyes hurt. I woke up to my alarm this morning and discovered I’d gone deaf in my right ear, it sounded as though it was under water. Went to bed about 11:45 so probably only had maybe 6 hours’ sleep total. I managed to wake up to my alarm for once though, and dragged myself into the gym for a round of high-bar squats, hack squats, and romanian deadlifts. Weirdly, I managed to exceed last Thursday’s rep counts, even though I took no pre-workout this time (versus my usual 9g of Pulse v4).

Caffeine withdrawal is definitely kicking in though. I feel like I just want to close my eyes all the time, and my head feels really wooly. The tinnitus is back this morning also, although the workout seemed to unblock my ear! Squats for the win.

A letter to myself

The last alcoholic drink I had was on New Years’ Day, 2014. It was the last day of a week long holiday with friends during which I probably drank at least 4-5 beers a day. With our 6 month old daughter sleeping as babies do, this meant for some truly horrific early mornings, and I came away from that experience with a strong desire to not be hungover around my kids. That and the hangovers – I just can’t handle them anymore, they go on for at least 2 days!

I’m quite an obsessive person, and when I find something I like, I tend to go overboard. Without alcohol to hold me back, I hit the gym with renewed vigour, aiming for 5 days a week training. To go harder, I started using a pre-workout that contains a fairly strong amount of caffeine, I would typically have the equivalent of 2 diet coke’s worth of caffeine at 6am, then hit the weights.

At some point during the last few weeks, either the amount of caffeine that I consume or the amount of aspartme in the diet cokes or the sugar in the numerous cakes and crap I’ve eaten have conspired to make me ill. I had some kind of hypoglycaemic attack at work, and have developed tinnitus over the past few weeks.

Coupled with this, my need for at least 85mg on caffeine just to function in a day invariably results in my going to bed after midnight, meaning that I have failed to get up in time for my pre-work gym session for the past three days. I’m not sure if it’s stress, tiredness, or my shit diet that’s causing problems, all I can assume is that in combination these poor habits are working together to seriously impact all areas of my life.

I cannot achieve the goals I set for myself when I am like this. Today it stops. I am completely cutting out all caffeine & aspartame from my diet. This means no more caffeinated pre-workout, no more caffienated tea, and definitely no more coke, diet or otherwise. I’m also re-organising my work diet to save money, by bringing in precooked chicken, rice & vegetables every day, rather than relying on trips to the shop or the deli for burritos and snickers bars.

The withdrawal symptoms will kick in at some point today or tomorrow. I’ll have headaches and I’ll be irritable. But I will be able to turn off the PC and go to bed at a decent time each night. I’ll have more energy for playing with my daughter at the weekend. I’ll be more focused at work. My gaming performance will improve. I’ll be more motivated to make personal bests in the gym, and my productivity for my fledgling web design business will increase.

There’s too much to gain, why wouldn’t I do this for myself ?

New blog

Decided I would like to have my own personal blog area, mostly to use as a scratchpad / journal for the things that interest me. At the moment it’s fitness, health, productivity, gaming, but in the past it’s been martial arts, skateboarding, DJing, music production, and I’ve discovered that I tend to get very excited about a thing for a few months before getting bored and moving onto something else… but most things do get revisited eventually.