The Blog of Ryan Foss

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Young Blenders

I introduced my son Aidan and Nathan to Blender today. Blender is a free 3D program for making geometry, renderings, animation, etc. It’s pretty popular and fairly complicated. I showed them a youtube video of someone making Minefraft stuff and this is what resulted.

Halloween 2012 Minecraft

I really enjoy Halloween. Of all the holidays, this one is the most fun for me. This year I went with another costume theme for me and my sons, our favorite game Minecraft. Last year we went as Plants vs. Zombies


Minecraft Halloween 2012

I regret not getting more pictures and video, but there is always next year!

Adventure Time Gamemaking Frenzy

Play The Game

Jake in the Land of Falling People is a simple game where you play as Jake the Dog and you have to save people who are falling, as well as keep from being bombed. To do this, you use Jake super strech ability to punch and grab things in the sky.

You can play the game in a browseror on your Android device (download the APK).

When I heard about the Game Making Frenzy with Adventure Time, I mentioned it to my kids, three boys ages 9, 7, and 5. They were very excited. When the jam started, we spent about an hour Saturday morning talking about game design and ideas. The design had a lot of crazy ideas, which I feared I couldn’t program, but the basic idea was pretty good. Having Jake punch things out of the sky was a great idea with lots of potential. Inbitially you were supposed to switch between modes, for punch and grab, but that was unwieldy and confusing. The idea of punching, instead of grabbing, falling people in the sky was funny, but also frustrating. Development took place mostly on Sunday. The boys would run up and scan in a picture of an airplane and bombs and ask me to put it in the game, so I would. And the loop went like that, with me developing other core stuff as we went along.

The game is unfinished, but functions in a complete game loop. There is a lot that I didn’t get to, but I didn’t get a good start until Sunday. The “boss” and “power up” items were not implemented. Sound is missing and very needed. It’s also sometimes confusing as to why you lose the game.

The Unity3D framework was used as the core engine. Code was written in C# using MonoDevelop. Art was drawn on paper, then scanned and edited in Photoshop. Playtesting was done on PC, Web, and with Android on Kindle Fire and a Nexus 7.

There are a few known bugs (mostly showing up in the Android version because of timing and touch inputs), but for the most part the game should function on most resolutions.

I worked with my three sons to make this game.  Instructions are lacking, but quickly its punch the bad stuff, catch the falling people, and don’t die.

Play in your Web Browser

Download the APK for Android

Young Ryan and PCs

I love old photos, especially when they are with me and a computer.  Every picture like this captures me in a trance, locked in on the PC with an unmoving gaze that I see in my own children today.   The difference though, I was using DOS while they are making worlds in Minecraft.

I have no idea what I may have been doing in this picture, but I’m guessing I’m around 9 years old.  I was probably playing a game, but its also likely I was playing around in BASIC.

10 Goto 10

Halloween 2011

I went crazy with costumes this year and got the family to do a Plants vs. Zombies theme.

We even made it onto the Plants vs. Zombies Facebook page!

More pictures in my Google+ Plants vs. Zombies Halloween 2011 gallery.

Combine Dodge, aka Henry Rain

I took the modified RockRain XNA game project I’ve been working on and deployed it on my Xbox 360. Pretty neat. Henry made me change it from Aidan’s face to his face. Plenty fun though none the less.

Don’t You Be My Neighbor

The DEA was out in force today in my back yard. Turns out for the last few years we’ve had our own weed house in the neighborhood.

This really creeps me out. So close.

On Sunday Gail and I noticed some strange behavior over at this house. We were on our deck and we noticed the neighbor was pulling dead plants out their backyard basement window. We commented on it jokingly, as they must be cleaning out the weed. We don’t really know these neighbors, having never taken the time to try and get to know them. I couldn’t identify them if I needed. Last night we watched the Season 5 premier (onDemand FYI) of Weeds on Showtime too. Then today DEA raids the house.

4 wheels

Grandpa and Grandma got the boys a four wheeler. Its a little too fast or underpowered though, depending on the speed controll, but Aidan still liked it.

I’m Sick and Tired of Combines

I really am sick and tired of combines, tractors, cotton pickers and the like. My son Nathan is just crazy about them, his blood is John Deere green. This is what happens when you let a 3 yr old use YouTube and surf for cotton picking videos. (That was fun to write.)

Taken using my new Google phone and using PicSay app to add the caption.

I Like Corn Too

Last night, while wife was away at band practice, I had the boys make her birthday cards and wrap her presents. While we were making cards, Nathan wanted me to write on his card. To that effect he had me write something like:

“Mom, I like to play with you. I like having supper with you. I like corn too.”

So mom and corn are apparently in contention.

A Wii Game Worth Owning

Boom Blox Rocks.

Target had a big 2 day sale which included Boom Blox for $20. Target was sold out, so I went to WalMart and had them match the price.

Totally worth it! It’s a Wii game that I actually turned on to play when the kids weren’t around. The wife and I played for almost 2 hours after the kids went to bed. My eldest son Aidan (5 years) was so excited to play it some more, he got up at 3:00 am to play it.

Tried to play it with my second son, Nathan (3 years) but he had a hard time aiming and then letting go of the button at the right time. He’s not really into video games.

3 Year Olds Amaze Me

My son Nathan is a thinker. You can just tell. He has focus to the point of concern. His creations with legos are developing in a way that makes his engineer father proud.

Today Nathan and I were playing legos and he asked me “remember the time it was you and me and mommy and Aidan in bed with food?” I responded no. He went on to explain in more detail about how we got the food and got a board and brought it upstairs to mom. It took me a moment to realize he was recalling the time we made mom breakfast in bed. That was last December, almost a year ago. He recalled something from a year ago, something we’ve only done once. He also said he wanted to do it again. Timely! Perhaps mom hinted at this since her birthday is coming soon, though I doubt that because she doesn’t like breakfast in bed.

Regardless of her distaste for breakfast in bed (is that a pun?), I think its good for the boys to do this sort of thing.


My wife writes haikus.
I really do enjoy them.
I wish to read more.

Random acts of Comedy

Being infatuated with video games and also a father of three young boys, I’m inclined toward research when the two come together. Violence and video games is often discussed, but I’ve yet to find something that seems truthful and shows real insight. Anyway, I came across this article at CNN and found it to be more of the same. I found the comments insightful however. It seems the video gaming public retaliates quite quickly. My favorite post, “If kids play funny games do they commit random acts of comedy?”

!= Tractor

My son Nathan, who’s three, is allowed on occasion (after incessant pleading of the ear bleeding variety) to surf YouTube. You just type in “tractor” or “bulldozer” or some variant and he’s good for an hour or so. He finds some pretty wacky stuff, but he’s figured out a lot in the process, such as the back button.

Anyway, he was doing the bulldozer thing the other day at grandma and grandpa’s when I noticed that some of the suggested videos didn’t look like heavy machinery. They were clips of girls of some sort or another. (How they relate to bulldozer clips is something I’ll have to investigate.)

“Are you going to click on the girl?” I ask Nathan.

Nathan responds “that’s not a tractor dad!”

No problem there, 3 year old self content filtering activated.

Super Mario Questions

Have you ever had one of those ideas that you just couldn’t shake and the only solution was to just do it?

I do, I did:

If you don’t know, its a question block from the original Super Mario Brothers. Its 16×16 blocks, or pixels, just like the original art (or a best as I can determine). Interestingly, the top right and left “pixels” are missing. So what your seeing in the picture is 254 2x2x.5 (really ~1.5×1.5 inch) blocks. I spent about an hour sawing then with Aidan and Nathan helped paint them.

Overworked, Overstressed, Undersleep

I’ve spent too much time at work. These silly projects that I can’t really attach myself to. The only reason I work is for the money. I’ve so much as said that although I may only be 75% effective after so many hours, at least I’m getting paid. It sucks that I only get straight time too, not double pay or whatever others may get if they work OT.

Last week I worked 72 hours. This week, I only worked 52, but I took Friday off (kids and wife sick, vomit in my wife’s purse to prove it).

In my case, anything over 45 hours gets paid straight OT. So my 72 hour week means I’ll make an extra $500 or so after taxes. All that time and effort, lost sleep, lost social life, lost family time. It adds up to so little. Is it worth it?


There is nothing like a death in the family to put the heavy on. My aunt, my dad’s only sister, passed away this week. I’ve had aunts and uncles die on my mom’s side, and although tragic never really felt this way. This is the first on my dad’s side (other than my uncle who died in Vietnam). It was really heave to see the whole thing, with all the brothers sort of acting weird, as if it were a family function like normal, but with weirdness maxed.

I’m not a very emotional person, my wife can attest to that. The thing I was able to connect the most with was my aunt’s husband Jeff. He obviously loved her and is in a place I hope to never be in. His words at the funeral really sent my mind into a whirl. Death is so heavy. It’s a wonder how we all go on. We just keep going, always pushing mortality to the end of the list as we get gas for our cars and go about the drudgery of everyday life.

My aunt was lucky. I don’t want to seem morbid about it, since she struggled with cancer for so long, but she was lucky because she was able to take her life into account and put her eggs in the baskets she wanted. That may be a mixed metaphor, but she was able to extend her love to everyone in a proper way.

At the same time, I hate to think she was lucky. Honestly though, that is how I may want to go. Able to extend myself to my loved ones, to express my love, to extend my concerns, to help put things in order. Getting hit by a bus, although quick and potentially painless, leaves more to scar I think.

This is Hard

Big John Games is the developer and Destineer is the distributor of a couple Nintendo DS games, both these companies are MN local. Big John Games seems like a group of people I’d like to support, so I bought Plushee’s for my 9 yr. old niece and Spitfire Heroes for myself.

My niece was very excited about Plushees. She played some and was very positive about it, picking out a couple animals as pets or whatever. I didn’t get much chance to see it in action, other than her getting to level nine of Whack-A-Troll. Point is she liked it.

As for Spitfire Heroes, that game is hard! I decided to try it on Veteran, the medium difficulty. I finally got to mission 4, and my ass got handed to me again and again so I started over on very easy and breezed through the first 3 missions. The fourth was trouble again, but I kicked serious ass and beat it. All that struggle taught me a thing or two about the game. I beat it on the very easy setting. The boat/destroyer mission was the toughest since there’s bullets coming in from everywhere. Luckily the plane you fly is a tank with wings!

I’m Big in Minnesota

When I arrived at work late today, 9:30 am, I was greeted by my co-worker Chris. He had a strange grin and a WTF look. I was feeling sorta sheepish since I was so late. Been having a hard time sleeping lately since I’ve been up playing Final Fantasy XII. (Makes me think of the drinking problem joke in Airplane.) Anyway, Chris says he has to show me something and he pulls out Minnesota Monthly magazine.
Here’s a better image from the Solstice Film Festival slide show. That’s me second from the left.
Bill’s Big Pumpkins red carpet at the June 2007 Solstice Film Festival at the Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul. Pictured right to left: Gail Foss, Ryan Foss, Stephanie Nagel, Bill Nagel

Go Speed Racer Go?

I took my 5 year old to see Speed Racer in the theater tonight. It was a Friday, 7:15 pm show. I was expecting a crowd. In total, there were 7 people in the theater. Granted it was also showing on the IMAX screen next door, perhaps more people went to that one.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the movie. It was fun and funny and exciting and cool and pretty. My kid loved it and gave the wife an ear-full when we got home. I hope the movie does ok in the box office, to help promote this different approach to films. Unfortunately, as of this moment the tomato meter is at 35%.

Gradual Decline

An old friend invited my family over for dinner and play time (kids of course) and for some reason they started talking religion and politics at dinner. These generally aren’t safe topics to discuss with people, especially people you know you’ll disagree with. My wife and I did our best to stay safe, but… To sum up: I was astonished with their opinion of the world. According to their view, the world is getting worse and worse and is in a gradual decline. Kids are loosing respect for their parents, becoming stupid and lazy and their parents are to lazy to care. More and more teens are getting pregnant. The world, “have you read the Bible”, is becoming worse and worse. Etc. Doom, right?

Maybe its me but I don’t think that. I think the world is becoming a more and more exciting place. Perhaps its my optimistic tenancies (my personality profile says I’m an optimist so don’t disagree), or perhaps it is truth. I’ve heard of statistics saying kids are smarter (or more knowledgeable) than decades past. I’ve heard that teenage pregnancy is down. I’ve heard that children are doing more and doing better in school than their parents. Maybe its my optimism getting the best of me. Unfortunately, on top of my optimistic tendencies is my skepticism. I need to know, is the world in a decline? Given the subject matter I guess, I would be referring to a a social decline as we American’s narrowly view it.

Teen Pregnancy, up or down?
DOWN! According to this study, the number of teen pregnancy’s has reduced significatly. Of additional note and further proof (at least to me) that things are not declining is that the total abortion rate has also declined, in 2002 it was almost half of what it was in 1986. I don’t want to start debate, and I’ll say I believe strongly in a woman’s right to choose. However, I feel the best choice is to choose life.

Drop out rates, up or down?
DOWN! From 1972 to 2005, the drop out rate has decreased (in total) from around 15% to the lowest its ever been, 9% according to this study. This table provides a real quick look at the statistics. (My DW, dear wife to those not in tune with the lingo, commented on this the other night saying its now law to stay in school, but I haven’t researched that or how, or when, it may have impacted this particular study.)

As with any statistics, they can be skewed to reflect the views of the presenter. So perhaps I am really, truly seeing what I want to see. Regardless, I refuse to live in a world destined to destruction and decline. I have high hopes for the future, for my children and my grandchildren, and their kids for ever and ever. I’m excited for them to live their lives as much as I look forward to living mine. It brings extreme joy to my mind thinking of the future. The bright shining, lovely future.

Film win, we’re big in Iowa

After an eventful weekend at a film festival in IA, and a broken sump pump which required my attention, I’m finally able to post an update. My film, Bill’s Big Pumpkins, took Silver in the Pro-Am Documentary category at the Cedar Rapids Film Festival in Cedar Rapids Iowa last weekend. Silver I guess is second place. It feels good to win something.

It was fun. I went with my wife, my BF from high school and his wife. We stayed at the lamest, 1970’s remodeled Ramada in Waterloo. It was an adventure that’s for sure. We didn’t plan much of anything and it was a real stress releaser. We just let whatever happen. We got the last two rooms at the Ramada too, so that was lucky.

We stayed later than we planed, sticking around to see another documentary called FRAG. FRAG is about the (or the theoretical idea of) professional video gaming. It was a really interesting subject, but… it was long and sooooo boring and repetitive. It was repetitive. Really repetitive, saying the same thing about 10 times, unnecessarily. I was really hoping it would be exciting and something to tell people about, but not so. So much potential. Still a good idea, and parts were done really well, but it did drag.

In preparation for the Speed Racer movie coming in May, I decided it was time to introduce the kids to the cartoon. It was nothing like I remember it. It’s almost laughable how weird it is but the kids still loved it.
In related news we recently moved our big TV from one wall to another. I took the opportunity to clean up the wires and get the laptop connected. I’m thinking media hub…