About Me

Allison by Allison James

For anyone curious, I recently came out as transgender. This wasn't a decision made with haste - it was one made through a lifetime of wonder and years of knowing. This will be a blog post to detail everything I remember as I see, plan, and experienced. (Skip to "Realisation" for just the actual meat of this, everything prior is piecemeal older memories.)

First Experiences

I had a number of early life experiences that made me suspect early on.Perhaps my earliest was of running around the playground in primary school at maybe 5 or 6. I tasked one of my friends at the time with making me follow her around, scalding me wearily with "Come on, Alice." every time I stopped. I remember little else other than that, I just know it was profoundly stupid.When the Pokémon craze first hit its stride in 1999 or 2000 or so, I was swept away by it. I bought the cards. I watched the animé. I screamed with delight when my parents bought me a copy of Pokémon Yellow, and I played it to death. But I remember having an admiration for Sabrina. Any time I fantasised about living in a Pokémon world or pretending it with friends, I wanted to be Sabrina. She was really mysterious and interesting as a character - far more to me than anyone else in the show.Speaking of wanting to be animé characters, Pokémon brought with it a number of other, similar animé TV shows. One of those I watched Cardcaptors/Cardcaptor Sakura, and yep, she was another one I always wanted to be.

Enter Videogames

When games started to be more inclusive of women and specifically when character creation or just choice allowed you to pick your gender, I always swayed female.Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 and 3 are my earliest memories of this. I would always pick Elissa Steamer as my character - I had a male friend that was also explorative of playing as females at the time and would use the games' character creator to create her a sister. I can still visualise how Stephanie Steamer looked - I had THPS3 for PS2 and didn't own a memory card for a while, so he would have to recreate her every time we played the game together. We didn't play the actual career mode, we literally just role played in Free Ride.In Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire, I picked May. My excuse to others was simply that I was born in May so she seemed fitting, which was convenient, but she felt like the correct choice. Brendan looked stupid anyway.I've blogged about a decade ago about my experience with PlayStation Home, a PS3-native free online game where you could socialise with people. I was a girl in that, as is tradition. But there's a small twist to that one - I was asked for my name once, and with my username on that account being NAL-USA (my main friend at the time had a US account, so I played on one myself), I used the AL of NAL to conjure the name "Allie". As far as I can remember, that is my first use of Allie or Allison as a name.Home was one of numerous games with in-depth clothing options though, and I've always been terrible for sinking hours and hours into virtual fashion. I grinded in newer Pokémon games with dressing mechanics (X, Y, Gen 7) to get the most expensive stuff I liked, then ground again when I needed new colours. I experienced actual anger when a game like Elder Scrolls or Fallout forced me to choose between dressing how I wanted and being armoured enough to actually be alright in the game.The strongest gaming memories were immersive ones - games where I could feel like I was in them, as a girl. Fallout 4 has been the strongest to date. When I started playing it, I made myself - that's the Allison version of myself - with the intentions of playing the game in a very specific way. And... I couldn't. I was so into the game, I became her. Every single choice I made was literally just exactly what I would have done in her shoes. I couldn't finish the game any other way until I made a guy with a man bun called Boobies.But plenty of others captured that too. Animal Crossing was great for it. Far Cry 5 was as well. VR has been incredible for it.

Daydreaming

For quite some time (a decade or more), I generated a female persona I daydreamt about, mostly between closing my eyes and actually sleeping, to let out more feminine steam. This is an exceptionally deep rabbit hole so I'll skip the details now and perhaps go into it in the future via the medium of blog or game or something, but long story short, it's how I suppressed my feelings.The persona drifted wildly and started separating into two - the unrealistic persona there is no chance I could ever be, and then a more realistic one that I could. The former's name is Lara; the latter, unsurprisingly, was called Allison. Anything ridiculous like film-making, athletics etc went to Lara, but game ideas went to Allison - because they are realistic, and she is me. Many of those ideas still exist in my mind, perhaps to be created one day or at least to be written down and turned into something.

Realisation

Perhaps four years ago, I worked out that an actual transition was the route I was going to have to take. Fantastical feelings became almost a sense of claustrophobia, uses of my old name incorrect.I started off slow. I stopped getting haircuts and started growing my hair long. I removed as many uses of my old name as possible, changing simply to NAL. Any account I could make gender neutral easily, I did. But it wasn't enough.Through the late end of 2015 and most of 2016, when work with Chequered Ink was picking up, I started researching properly. I worked out what to expect in terms of time from initial contact with a psychiatrist to getting hormones and to getting surgery far beyond that. I worked out what would be covered by NHS and what I'd have to pay for. I also worked out how much I'd expect to pay if I went private, and what advantages might make it worth it. I also joined a couple of support forums.I nearly actually came out two years ago this month, but felt eventually like I needed more time to be absolutely, 100% sure it was the right move. Minuscule shades of doubt still glossed over me now and then - I didn't want to execute the start of a full transition until I knew that everything it entailed was something I could handle, from the physical changes, to the mental ones, and also to the kinks of the transition itself.In the meantime, I created Soundproof Cell. It was a free, narrative game that, although largely fictional, did cover a lot of how I was feeling. Focusing on a transgender woman called (by birth) Emilio, who wanted to be Emily, it covered my feeling of claustrophobia, my anger at my genetics, my desire to release my feminine side and wear it proud. I called her that because she was often referred to as "Em", which is "Me" backwards, and ended the story with "This is my key". It wasn't my key (to escape from my own "cell"), it was a little too fictional and disconnected. But it did help me.Throughout most of 2017, I felt like I had stabilised. I was more and more certain it was the way to go, although still not quite ready to come out. I was wearing gender neutral clothing since 2016, my hair was becoming very long, uses of my name were rare so I didn't get much in the way of dysphoria. I felt feminine. There were certainly pangs of emotions though. I think a key one was when I had given my hair a particularly thorough wash, and later that day my mum, for a laugh, plaited it, joking "I always wanted a daughter!" I feigned embarrassment, but I got insane butterflies from that moment - a glimpse of the future.2018 has been a crazy year. Me and Dan (the guy I live with, who I've been friends with five years since we met at YoYo Games, and who I formed our company with), at about the start of October 2017, were looking at our Chequered Ink earnings and realising that, if we were sustaining the income we were getting, we could finally afford to rent our own house. We made a simple pact - if the last three months of the year were stable and didn't drop off, we would start the year by househunting. And that is what we did.It took us three months of frequent searches for affordable, pleasing Newport houses on Rightmove and Zoopla, and a good few unsuccessful viewings from Dan (who lives far closer to there than I did), for us to finally secure one, which we moved into in mid-April. In those three months, my mind was largely focused on the move, but I did still think about my gender - especially with the fact that Dan was already fairly aware of it. Living in a house with just him would (and did) mean that I could get more and more comfortable with it.However, the more time went on in the new house, the more the feelings bubbled. And to me, the more I felt ready. My immediate company was okay with it, and I knew most if not all of my friends would be fine with it, but I had a proper first step into the true beginning of the transition that I knew I needed to take, which's outcome I had no actual idea what the result would be of.In this time, I named a lot of Chequered Ink's fonts after small subtle and not-so-subtle hints at transgenderism and my emotions:

(And a few since have been references to stuff too:)

Coming Out

Dan has been immensely supportive the entire time, and I figured he would always be accepting of me. He wasn't the one that worried me.My parents were. Not because I figured they would be against it, purely because I didn't know. Being transgender is such a foreign concept in the eyes of most still, and to them, it certainly is - nobody close to our family had gone through it, Mum only had characters in soap operas and Dad didn't even have that. But I spent years trying and failing to work out an approach to them, to no avail.September 22nd, 2018. I had no plans to come out. But I was on my second alcoholic drink of the night. Dan had gone out for a walk, and I was sitting at the dining table, my phone resting infront of me beside a copy of the i newspaper open on the weekend crossword. And I wondered. What if I just did it? Today. Right now. No script planned, no answers beyond what I'd worked out through years of research. Just good old Dutch courage. I pushed each of the eleven numbers of their landline phone in, but couldn't hit call. I just stared at it, penned in, one touch away from communication.I stared at it for a full other drink, and I poured my fourth. With a shaking hand, one finger outstretched, I switched my brain, which was generating a forcefield around the call button, off. And I pushed it.I heard the dialtone lightly as my shaking hand picked up the phone, nervously pushing it to one ear as my other hand found solace through running through my hair. Eventually, mum picked up. I was a wreck. She picked up on it fast - I could hear her getting worried. Maybe I was in jail, maybe I was in hospital, maybe something had happened to Dan - I could tell I was worrying her. It helped me say the words."Mum, I- I think I'm transgender."I had to say it twice, she couldn't hear it the first time. My voice was too stuttery and sporadic. After the second, though, she gave me an instant reply."That's fine!"I was crying. Really, really badly. But at the same time, I felt an absolutely insane feeling of relief. Over the next 25 minutes or so, me and mum talked. Not just about my gender, but my plans as well. I calmed down. I felt happy.At the end of it, she told me she'd break the news to dad as well. 15 minutes passed. Dan returned shortly before the call ended, quipped right after "Well, that sounded like it went well!" (presumably sussing what it was about, despite me not even knowing I was doing it when he left), and then went upstairs to shower and change.Then my phone rang again, it was Dad. He expressed surprise, but gave me my full support. It was a shorter phone call, but a positive one.Once that phone call ended too, I felt a catharsis stronger than any I have ever felt before. I ran around the house, happily screaming, walking with a swagger in my step, feeling like I could take on the fucking world. Allie was free. Allie became me.Over the rest of the evening and the day after, I spread the word elsewhere. First to my closest friends, then to the internet world. All I ever got was support - and the occasional "you were shit at hiding it", which made me smile. Everything made me smile.

Present & future

So now I'm here. I've spent the last couple of weeks removing my old name from everything left - I had gone exclusively by NAL for years. Now I get to go by Allison or Allie JJ - that is my name, along with my new second initials - my parents' first names, in dedication of their support of me. Not just through this; through everything.Updating 219 fonts on DaFont is a pain in the arse, but every single little change to take my dead name out felt like a fresh, tiny release of a lifetime of hiding. It was an absolute joy to do.Next steps? I'm awaiting a second witness so I can get a deed poll to officially execute my name change. I've already changed my name on most things, but when I can tell the world, with official backing, that I am Allison Janice James, I'm going to be a happy bunny. I'm also initialising contact with official specialists so I can get the actual body transition kicked off. Depending on how much spare money I accumulate, I will also likely get laser hair removal done at some point.Already wearing the clothes and the nail varnish and living female full time, though. (Fuck, why are armwarmers and leggings so comfortable?!)

To finalise...

To anyone reading this, I do not mind what your opinion of me was or is, and whether this has changed anything at all. I don't believe it should if you only know me through fonts or games - my gender bears no relevance on them. I am happy with people referring to me as NAL - NAL is a pseudonym I have used for over a decade and will likely continue to forever, and does not need to be associated with a gender. (References to me as Allie or Allison, and uses of she and her, do make me smile like a child though.)To those of you that have shown me support though - it means the fucking world to me. I'm not always articulate enough to express it, but I love you all. Every use of my soon-to-be-official name and gender fills me with glee. Every kind message gets put in a little mental vault I keep to crack open any time I need a fresh smile.I will also readily answer any questions you may have. I am not easily offended and plan to be an open book on this - if you want to know something, I will probably just tell you!I don't, however, want any special treatment or any further articles done about this, really. In my eyes, I would be a terrible role model for anyone else going through similar feelings - I'm sure there are better ways about this. (Soundproof Cell actually covered this feeling accurately.)I'm just NAL.And Allie.[There is now a Part 2 to this post with up to date information and happenings!]

Forbidden Moonfruit by Allison James

As of this month, Moonfruit have stopped free accounts from being a thing. Which means that the final glimmer of pre-2009 NAL (short of delving into The Internet Archive at least) is now done and dusted - my website from between 2006 and 2008 was with Moonfruit, was free, and had been dormant and available since 2008.I still have access to the website for now, it's just not live unless I pay them. I'm not paying them.But here are some joyful, memorable quotes of a version of me perhaps less mature or perhaps just immature on a different plane."Some stuff about me...I like PS3.I don't mind Wii.I don't like Xbox 360."Aah, a more innocent time when I couldn't just buy all three of the bastards and laugh maniacally like the responsible, financially sensible adult I am now. Also a time before Yahtzee Croshaw, be it accidentally or purposefully, infected the world with "PC Master Race", a group of people that somehow managed to out-sad excessive console fanboys.I only disliked Xbox 360 at the time because my friend spent the year and a half between his getting his 360 and me getting my PS3 not shutting the fuck up about it. It's a fine console now I have one, although it's probably still my least favourite thanks to how badly it ages - mine is an original unit, and having the 20GB hard drive, the antiquated component cables for HD and the addon to enable Wi-Fi is irritating. Wii gets away with its stupid foibles because most of its content was unique to it. And MadWorld rocked."I hate using text speak.I hate seeing wronged punctuation."#teenagegrammarnazi"I think Bill Gates is a moron.I think the same of Richard Branson.I think Kate Moss is hideous."#teenageedgelord"My favourite actor is Jack Black.My least favourite is Andie MacDowell."Fair play on Jack Black, might not put him in first any more but I do still enjoy me a silly comedy film. No idea on the latter choice, I've never seen a film with her in. I think she might have been overexposed in adverts at the time, so that might have been it. Not sure who I'd pick now. Probably Jim Carrey for favourite and Adam Sandler for least."I am 50% English and 50% Scottish.I created the alias of NAL when I was six.I like amusing facts."Fair play, unlikely to change."I hate console fanboyism."A smidge hypocritical given the statement at the top. Dumbass self."I like cutesy platforming games.I'm not a fan of violent games (excluding Grand Theft Auto and Elder Scrolls games)."The former's still very much true (and 2008 me would have been disappointed by the landscape of that genre for like six solid years), but because of that bracketed disappointment, the latter changed. MadWorld, Mad Max, Fallout 4, Mortal Kombat X and many more have been games since 2008 I've fallen in love with, all of which are pretty damn violent. And that's the tip of the iceberg."I'm a flange fan."#teenagerandom"The shortest time taken to make a game is 24 minutes, with Floccinaucinihilipilification.The longest is Gamanstake: started in February 2006, ended in July 2006. (it wasn't constant working though...)"Both beaten since - 10*2 took me 20 minutes, and Innoquous 5 was on and off for three years."The game getting the best public reception is r!!!dicule.The game getting the worst is The Boy in the Plastic Bubble."I'm struggling to imagine this world. The Boy in the Plastic Bubble was shit, but it was better than r!!!dicule. And in 2008, r!!!dicule was easily surpassed by games I made after it - Elemence AuX and Rockit for two. Maybe I wrote this the day after r!!!dicule came out and never updated it - then I can pretend all this embarrassing crap was 9 years ago, not just 8!"The only games ever to have had real inspiration for their creation are Up Shint Creek and Blokkeid (which later became Elemence)."Yep nope! Ne Touchez Pas was inspired by Flywrench by Messhof, Innoquous by every GM game before it that had done gravity flipping gimmicks but all in really gammy, nasty ways, ExecutioNAL and TimeStop were PARODIES... the list continues!"I have also won the following things:- a brick game, £50, a yoyo, £1,000, £500, a £10 gift voucher. Furthermore, in a game of hoopla at a féte once, I won every prize on display in ONE GO."Sudden recall of that last one! Can still remember the pissed off look on the vendor's face when I essentially shut their stall down in one go. Hoopla champion!"Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny is an absolutely fab film, and you must watch it."My opinion on the above hasn't even remotely changed. LONG-ASS FUCKIN' TIME AGO IN A TOWN CALLED KICKAPOO, THERE LIVED A HUMBLE FAMILY RELIGIOUS THR... whelp now I have to watch it again"The worst three films I have EVER seen are:3rd worst: Kung Pow2nd worst: Dude! Where's My Car?WORST!!!: Picking Up The Pieces"Sadly no longer true. I've now seen Movie 43 and inAPPropriate Comedy.But now we're into the top 10s!"THE TOP 10 SONGS OF MINE OF CURRENT1. Dario G - Sunchyme2. Toto - Africa3. Royksopp - Remind Me4. Groove Armada - At The River5. Alannah Myles - Black Velvet6. Harvey Danger - Flagpole Sitta7. Moby - Porcelain8. Fischerspooner - Never Win9. Lo Fidelity Allstars - LoFi's In Ibiza10. Frankie Fame - See Through You"Not a vast amount of changes, and an adequate amount of appreciation for the stunning Grand Theft Auto III original soundtrack too. I now cite my absolute favourite tune as Röyksopp - Eple (if that means nothing to you, listen to it - you'll probably recognise it) because it's the rare track I find it physically impossible to get sick of. So I'd definitely swap Remind Me for Eple on that list. Fischerspooner remains a firm favourite, but I'd pick Emerge now. And I'd swap a few of the tracks for other ones - Black Velvet, Lo-Fi's In Ibiza, Africa, See Through You and Flagpole Sitta would be out and some stuff like His Majesty King Raam, Me And You, Unfinished Sympathy, Atlas and Eve of the War would be in."My Top Ten Current Favourite Films1. Sin City2. The Warriors3. Pleasantville4. Phonebooth5. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind6. The Green Mile7. Road Trip8. The Truman Show9. Robots10. Hot Fuzz"Not many changes here either! Pleasantville's jumped to #1, Phonebooth wouldn't be on the top 10 and Robots DEFINITELY wouldn't be on the top 10 (what I ever saw in that film, I don't know - it's watchable, but nothing compared to a half-decent Pixar flick). I'd also probably demote The Green Mile, and shuffle Road Trip down - it would still be in my top 10 but probably only just. I'd then let Fight Club, 21 Jump Street, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, WALL-E, Inside Out, Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, Pulp Fiction, Scott Pilgrim vs The World and The World's End duke it out for the remaining spaces (The World's End perhaps knocking Hot Fuzz off the list)."The Blackadder Order Of Brilliancy (best to worst)1. Series 32. Series 43. Blackadder's Christmas Carol4. Series 25. Back & Forth6. The Cavalier Years7. Series 1"Even something I wouldn't expect to have an opinion on, I still have! Series 2 should be above Christmas Carol, and Series 1 should be above The Cavalier Years and Back & Forth."My Top 10 Ever Albums1. Moby: Play2. Keane: Hopes And Fears3. Scissor Sisters: Scissor Sisters4. Groove Armada: Vertigo5. Moby: 186. Kaiser Chiefs: Yours Truly, Angry Mob7. Fatboy Slim: Palookaville8. MIKA: Life In Cartoon Motion9. Dido: Life For Rent10. Fischerspooner: Odyssey"Yeah, this is all wrong now. A vague mockup of my list now would be:1. Röyksopp: Melody AM2. Massive Attack: Mezzanine3. Röyksopp: The Inevitable End4. Lemon Jelly: lemonjelly.ky5. Fischerspooner: #16. Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds7. The Fratellis: Costello Music8. Battles: Mirrored9. Mike Oldfield: Tubular Bells10. Nero: Welcome RealityAnyway, it's about high time I allow that era of my past to disappear now. Bless it, it was so silly, but it was fun to reminisce....BUT YEA THERE WAS A BLACK SHEEP, AND HE KNEW JUST WHAT TO DOHIS NAME WAS YOUNG JB AND HE REFUSED TO STEP IN LINEA VISION HE DID SEE OF FUCKING ROCKING ALL THE TIMEHE WROTE A TASTY JAM AND ALL THE PLANETS DID ALIGN...dah dah dahhhhhh

Three YoYo Years by Allison James

My mind is blown. As of today, I have been employed by YoYo Games as a junior developer for three years. The time has flown - it genuinely doesn't feel that long ago I was creating and releasing stuff like Remaddening independently. Yet, when I look back at it, the amount that has happened has been astonishing. This will be a little bit biography, a little bit reminiscing.I still remember, clear as day, my visit to Dundee in May 2010 to meet with the YoYo folk - at the time, Sandy Duncan, Mike Dailly and Russell Kay. The location of the original YoYo HQ hadn't been finalised, I'd never set foot in Scotland before (despite my nationality being 50% Scottish)... it was a great experience. We had breakfast in Costa, lunch in The Pancake Place and dinner in Dil'Se. Me and my dad stayed in Holiday Inn and had a further lunch in a Bangladeshi restaurant that sadly no longer exists.Roll forward a month and a half, and on July 5th 2010 I did my first official YoYo Games work - porting greenTech+ to PSP. The first week of work I had to work from home due to accommodation issues, but the following Monday I had a room on Bank Street ready, so on Sunday 11th July we spent eight hours travelling and stayed in a bar slash hotel in Perth for the night.I remember this place clear as day too. Dogs roamed around inside the pub. I remember looking out of our room's window, seeing my parents' car full of all my belongings and coming to the sudden realisation that fuck, my life was now going to be massively different. And perhaps most memorable to me, I remember watching the World Cup final on the shitty CRT television in our room. Holland got their asses kicked that day. Infact, this is another thing that makes time seem so much shorter - that the next World Cup is only a year off, so the one I saw that day was three years ago!So the day after, I began in-office work at the original YoYo HQ, an office above the I.C. Cave in the University of Abertay. Four of us were the entire in-office workforce for a few months - me, Mike, Russell, and Kirsty - with Sandy flying over every week or two. Soon after Realtime Worlds went bust (in August 2010), the workforce grew with an artist, Geoff; a producer, Stuart; and a web developer, Lee, all within the space of a few weeks. Our first game, a port of Chad Chisholm's "Skydiver Mach II", was released in October. Shortly after came Maddening, a quasi-sequel to my self published series madnessMADNESSmadness/Remaddening (Maddening was released exactly one year to the day after madnessMADNESSmadness, purely by coincidence). In 2010 we released several ports of existing games under the original YYG business model, including Teka Teki and Sync Simple. We also released an original solitaire game, Simply Solitaire, coded from scratch by me and then fixed laboriously by Mike (at the time I was still very poor at programming, achieving what I needed but doing it messily and without much optimisation). 2010 was also the year in which I met Mark Overmars, the original GameMaker creator, and Jesse Venbrux of Karoshi fame, who stayed for a month to create games in-house including an upgraded port of They Need To Be Fed and a new Karoshi game, Mr Karoshi.2010 Christmas party: A burger in the student café opposite University of AbertayThroughout 2011, the growth began. Several new people joined. Multiple more games were released. New teams emerged, with Jack Oatley and Darrell Flood, the two people I still live with in "YoYo House", spending a year creating YoYo Games' first social game outing "Grave Maker". The office, once four of us in a pretty empty room, began to fill out. The year began with the release of GameMaker 8.1, and ended with the release of GameMaker HTML5. I still remember having to pull 11 straight days of work with overtime to help get the new manual (now the old new manual) for the latter ready for its release, but a posh celebratory meal in Playhouse made it all worth it! I also met Kjell t'Hoen towards the end of this year - great guy who I would've kept forever had it been up to me, but sadly he was only here for six weeks!2011 Christmas party: Posh dinner in Duke's Corner2012 was when the growth properly began, though the big first change was outside the office. Me, Darrell, Jack, and then also Mark and Piotr moved house! From Bank Street, a small (but adequate) five-room compact cheap flat share where the stairwell leading up to it was frequently home to heroin addicts with no bowel control, we moved to a beautiful house on Adelaide Place with big rooms, a fantastic kitchen, a massive living area, and most importantly a specific room containing a full size snooker table and dartboard! 2012 also saw the release of GameMaker: Studio, the tool allowing anyone to publish their games cross-platform. We celebrated with a good old fashioned burger and beer in Ketchup.  Other games were released this year, including probably my personal favourite game I've worked on yet, "BASE Jumper".2012 Christmas party: Posh dinner, long part-ay and large amounts of free champagne in Queen's HotelAnd then began this year, 2013! The big story so far was the office move at the end of May. By the move, YoYo Games was on around 25 members of in-office staff, almost a 700% increase from when I started, and with more people still outside of it. We filled the University of Abertay office, which was adequate. And now we are in the top floor of River Court, an air-purified monster office with ping-pong and foosball tables, stunning views in all directions, a balcony, a massively expensive coffee machine and a drinks fridge (along with the rest of a gorgeous kitchen)... everything about it is breathtaking.So the three years feel like they've gone quick as a flash, but when I compare then to now, it's been a stunning change:ACCOMMODATION2010: Small room in a compact flat with a stairwell commonly housing junkie turds and a window view overlooking a graveyard2013: Large house, big rooms, a garden, a dedicated games room with full size snooker tableWORK HQ2010: Converted segment of an IT area of a university, makeshift kitchen area, no plumbing - just a "slop bucket", view featured a car park2013: Massive modern office, ultra-expensive kitchen area, ping-pong, foosball, air purifying, beach huts, Chupa Chups carousel, 360 degree view of Dundee featuring miles of River Tay and thousands of square feet of views of Dundee, and a balcony if the fact 90% of the walls are windows isn't enoughIN-OFFICE WORKFORCE2010: Two core tech, one game developer, one customer support (count: 4)2013: Around 8 core tech, three game dev teams of artist + programmer, three producers, QA teams, customer support teams and more (count: around 25, with space, and plans, for many more)GAMEMAKER2010: Standard 8.0, play games on Windows2013: Studio 1.1 + 1.2 Beta, play games on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, HTML5, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, with a plethora of options for them all and moreLOGO2010: Gradiented Ambex Heavy Oblique wordmark2013: Recognisable modern "YO/YO" ambigram logoMY CODING2010: Shit2013: Not so shitIt's been a hell of a ride, and a ride I want to keep on riding! Looking back at all the differences of the company in such a tiny timespan is awe inspiring. May YoYo Games live forever!

Me In Numbers by Allison James

A "point of interest" blog entry, methinks! These are some numbers related to me.20.4: My current age in years1991: My year of birth1: My address's current number3: The number of residences I've lived in2: The number of countries I've lived in14: The number of years of my life spent in school2: The number of schools I've been to1.3: The number of years I've worked for YoYo Games52: The number of games I currently have on YoYo Games45: The number of games I currently have on Game Jolt1,208: The number of editables I've started in GameMaker (excluding any I no longer have - I have most of them though)8.7: The number of years I've used GameMaker for4.3: The version number of GameMaker I began with47,660: The current play count of my most played game on YoYo Games, madnessMADNESSmadness84: The current play count of my least played game, 1n23g4r2003: The year of creation of my first GameMaker game, Gemocide2011: The year of creation of my latest, The Inverse Man-9,999,996: My current reputation on GameMaker Community (thanks Mr Dailly...!)5: The number of fonts I've created2: The number of fonts I've created that aren't "lost"11: The number of music tracks I've created (estimation)4: The number of issues of RekameMag I've created10: The number of issues of GMTech I contributed to (initially spellchecking, later reviewing)3: The number of issues of OverByte I contributed to95%: The likelihood of me subscribing to someone on YouTube if I find their videos consistently entertaining15%: The likelihood of me subscribing to someone on YouTube if I find their videos consistently entertaining and if they hassle me to subscribe73: The number of videos I have on YouTube4: The average IQ of someone who starts a comment on any YouTube video with: "First", "Thumbs up if...", "[dislike count] people..."2: The average IQ of someone who reposts threatening chain mail actually thinking it's true176: My current friend count on FacebookA lot less than 176: The number of Facebook friends I could truly consider friends!1:6: My current Twitter Following:Followers ratio (49 following, 298 followers)2,207: My current tweet count34: The number of numbers listed. So meta!

Sonnet for My Laziness by Allison James

Each month I used to make games, two or threeExperimental nature were their themeBut now burnout has come and tackled meThat frequency is merely now a dreamIn part it’s since I now make games full timeThough no control I earn a salaryI’ve no complaint, the feeling’s quite sublimeThat Lemmings guys could think something of meIt isn’t like my idea pool is dryI’ve got enough for three lifetimes or moreYet I can’t seem to even try to tryTo make a game to pass Innoquous 4So here’s a final note, it’s to my brainEngage yourself or I will go insane! :|

The Long Road Home Pt 3 & RekameMag Update by Allison James

I'm typing this on an iPad, as a train takes me from Edinburgh to York. It's sixteen minutes late from Edinburgh - I have eight minutes between the original York arrival time and the York departure of the third of four trains which are to take me from Dundee to Redgrave, home. Bloody delays.And yes, as much as being stranded in a city of bizarre accents for about an hour longer than I wanted is on my mind, I'm mainly thinking about how £10 for 24 hours of only-decent internet accent is shocking, and how using the iPad keyboard to type is like using a worn ball mouse to point and click. It fundamentally works, but it sucks.But I'm happy! I'm going home, where parents, pets and friends reside, and morning wake ups and having to prepare my own meals don't. Where my bed is more comfortable (put a single, sharp spike on my Dundee flat's bed and it'd be an improvement) and my room is... well, more compact, so that doesn't count as a plus.There's also events and places I'll get to go again. Car boot sales - got an original Game Boy and copy of Tetris for 50p at the last one I went to. Summer fetes, the nature reserve, Norwich... Er, ew.It'll be a good couple of weeks though, definitely.-----Other subject time! I'm slowly but surely working on a new issue of RekameMag (search it on GMC if you're interested, iPad's copy and pasting is diabolical). Got three articles and two reviews so far; Darrell "Dadio" Flood may be working on another article.Anyways, to cut a long story short, I'm open to any and all decent Rekame-page-long articles and reviews to put into it. I figure having a variety of people doing content would be cooler than all just me jabbering on. Of course, I CAN do it all by myself, but yeah. Thought I'd quickly mention that since it may not be a huge amount of time until I throw it out.If you are interested, comment here, email me or add me on MSN at nal(at)nalgames(dot)com, or add my Skype account, nal-games. As long as the quality is decent enough I'll slap it right in.Last topic is naturally game making. I've not done anything for over two months, mainly because Innoquous 4 blew my load. Though it's not done quite as well as I'd hoped, it's respectable enough, and those that played it did enjoy it. It second placed in one of the last Bytejacker Free Indie Rapid Fires, sandwiching itself between two excellent-looking games.I'd rather like to enter the GMC Jam, but that comes entirely down to self-motivation and whether I'll have time, given it's over two of the first three days I'm home. If that doesn't happen, I'm sure I'll be able to conjure up some sort of quick inspiration burst at some point in the near future. I don't like game making droughts!Anyway, that's all for the day. I'm either going to enjoy the countryside or watch a filthy comedy film now. Guess which one.

I Would Drive 500 Miles (Nearly) by Allison James

As many/all of you may well know, from last Monday I have been working for YoYo Games in Dundee. As less of you may know, this involved moving out of the East Anglian countryside village I've lived in all my life and taking a 450 mile journey to a room in the middle of the noisy city. As I've said before, it's a huge system shock. But here's a little bit of information on the journey - I'm on limited bandwidth so I can't upload the large number of photos I took during yet but I'll add them later.I went to bed at 11pm on Saturday 10th with an odd, and unpleasant, feeling. I was laying in a room that, for sixteen years, had been my room. Bar a few vague memories, it was basically where I'd slept, every night excluding sleepovers/holidays/whatever, for as long as I remembered. But, in eight hours, it would effectively be gone from my life. I'm not ashamed to admit I didn't sleep very well/much that night. As my dad was looking to set off early, we left the house at 6am, leaving a sad mother, and, to my complete disdain, three cats that were nowhere to be seen. No goodbye hugs or anything.After a short while of not doing much, and realising I'd left my phone in my red holdall (buried under all the "cargo") instead of in my to-hand satchel, with a loud, non-automatically-stopping alarm set to go off at 8am, I just thought "meh", took out my iPod, put on the Ochre playlist and fell kinda-asleep.At 8:20, I woke up to realise we were in a layby - dad had to stretch his legs. I seized the opportunity to get my phone out - despite his not hearing it, it was blaring away. It's only past this point that I was able to take photos (my phone's my camera). A largely uneventful "middle leg" of the journey followed - a second leg-stretch stop, a playlist switch to Owl City, and a level created in Innoquous 4 (for future me's sake, the level I made is called "Navarone").At this point I really wasn't feeling great. The mixture of the length of the journey (I'm not travel sick but I get really tetchy), and continued thoughts of how this was basically crossing that line where the latest stage in my life is over, made me nearly want to vomit. I drank some water and laid back, though never actually fell asleep again - though I did miss our crossing the England-Scotland border because of it.The shot of relief came from seeing the first road sign with "Perth" on it. Thanks to the golfing tournament, most inns were filled up so instead of getting one in Dundee, we went to the nearest town or whatever it is, Perth. Wasn't a big fan of the inn though. The room was nice, but the bar was really depressing. To my surprise there were dogs running about in it though (I have pictures of one of them, will upload when possible).So, the Monday morning saw us heading to Dundee. Without much time to find what is now my room of residence, we headed straight to the University of Abertay. My dad came up too to see the office (which would've been hell to find if it had not been for Mike Dailly coming down to lead the way!), and I set up the computer at my station. At 10am, we left to view the room. I accepted it immediately, which I assumed I would, and I headed back to the uni to complete the day of work.Upon returning, I realised I would be put into physical exercise jeopardy - all of my belongings (of which there's a LOT) had to move from the car to the room. That's seven flights of stairs, and repeated journeys both up and down them to move everything. I'll happily admit I'm big and unfit. So it was murder! It was a relief to get it done though, and an unorthodox way of meeting one of my flatmates (*pant* *pant* "hi..." *pant*).And that's pretty much it. My dad slept on the floor that night, then left early Tuesday morning. As we both somewhat lack outside emotion, and as I was still asleep, this consisted of the word "bye".Despite the aforementioned system shock that is beginning to fade but still is there, and the odd pang of sadness (which is nothing more than a pang. Don't get me wrong, I'm not depressed or anything), I don't regret any of it in the slightest. The job itself is huge fun (getting paid to do something I've pretty much been doing for free for seven years? Yes, thanks!), I'm all set up in the room now (having today bought mobile broadband from the 0.04-miles-away Orange store, and a TV licence because I don't watch broadcasts, just play games on it, but whoever conjured up the TV licence concept is a bitch), and things just feel damn good. I'm in regular contact with my parents and friends, and the sheer amount of appreciation I've seen from the Game Maker universe regarding my position with the company is absolutely gratifying. If you're one of those that has commented positively on the Glog entry, Game Maker Blog entry or anywhere else, thank you.Here's looking forward to life.

Welcome by Allison James

For those of you familiar with NALGames Blog, I've been using it to cover everything - my game releases, my life, my opinions etc. Well, I've decided to split that idea into two blogs. NALGames Blog will remain where it is now and look at development of games, but this will focus on the life, the opinions, and as the title suggests, the musings.

FKR4, Points of Interest etc by Allison James

The first bit is, incase you're unaware, FKR's yearly update for 2010 has arrived. FKR4, made for the Game Jolt Rogue contest under the idea that the game itself is the rogue, is a bizarre, bizarre game. Many people don't seem to be able to understand it. Here's a quick explanation:

The room will fill, initially, with red and aqua, with a small amount of green. The colour coding is the same as the other FKRs - red = you, green = your "trojans" (what you hit enemies with), and aqua and other colours are enemies. You'll notice that these colours, bar green, comprise of a number of "stars". The central point is where the actual enemy/you resides, so you must target there. With that in mind, the rest of the game is FKR at heart. Different points are awarded for different enemies, with more for higher-up ones (order: aqua, yellow, magenta, orange, blue, green). So yeah.
I thought I'd add a little point of interest to this: a list of games that started off with different names, either as codenames or genuine names I later decided to change.

F**kfreak ==> Back in Time to Annihilate People of Past TimesOriginally named as the game is pretty f**king freaky, changed because I couldn't be arsed with bleeping it out and inevitably suffering a slew of YoYo Games reports.
 
A Stupid Attempt to Win $1000 ==> Zyousbox
With the name change came an orientation change. The game that became Zyousbox was originally to be an old-Celtic-themed exploration game for the second YYG competition. It didn't go well but I didn't want to ditch the engine. Zyousbox was born
Wolley ==> La Rolloux
Originally Wolley because a) the player was called Wolley and b) it's "yellow" backwards, which is the colour of 70% of the game. Altered it when I gave Wolley a wacky hairstyle which reminded me of Ellie Jackson from La Roux (a band I like, and a band name I like too). Inserted "roll" into it and huzzah - a game pronounced "La Roll-oo" but frequently mistaken as a number of daft, Englicised alternatives (one of which rhymes with "bollocks").
Partly a codename (I was expecting to change it), partly an ongoing desire to create an eponymously-named game. Changed because, having mentioned "madnessMADNESSmadness" in the Game Jolt chatroom as what a mad person might describe their predicament, and consequently being recommended to give a game that name. Turns out it was a wise decision, though I still catch a few too many people calling it "madnessMadnessmadness", "Madnessmadnessmadness" or, worse, "Madness Madness Madness".
Elemence Passion Matrix ==> Elemence Switch
Mildly irrelevant, changed just before I canned the game. Changed because, as was informed to me, "Elemence Passion Matrix" sounds like something out of the Kamasutra.
Lite Town Wars ==> The Hilarity of Murder
Originally "Lite" was included to make "lite" of the fact (sorry) that the game was made in the unpaid version of Game Maker 7, changed when I decided to stick it in the Game Jolt Axioms contest by bolting a gimmick onto its arse and wanted to reflect the new gameplay element in its title.
L'oiseau ==> Ne Touchez Pas 2
"L'oiseau" being French for "The bird", "Ne Touchez Pas 2" being French for "Mooching off the plays the first one got and being a far more obvious sequel. Oh, and not pronouncing the 2 as "deux" but as "two"".
Puzzle Valley ==> Welcome to Puzzle Valley ==> Puzzle Valley
...Yeah. Puzzle Valley initially held the same name as it does now. Upon upgrading it, adding several features and removing a few bugs, I added "Welcome to" to its name. Finally, seeing that it was a stupid name and preferring the old one, I changed it back.
Infidel ==> Infidels
Initially, you were the infidel. When deciding to switch the roles round and subsequently realising more than one infidel existed from then on, I pluralised the title.

I'm edging towards ditching The Flip Side. My main reason for wanting to enter the fifth YoYo Games competition was for the sake of publicity. However, if I ditch TFS, when I'm more in the mood focus on making Innoquous 4 a smashing game, then advertise the crap out of it, I could hopefully achieve it by myself.

Lifewise, I'm doing okay. Still thinking about the aforementioned job offer (am seriously leaning towards wanting it), waiting for a little more information which I was told would be given to me at the end of this month. I think, pending the answers, I'll know near enough 100% if I'm going to take it or not.
There would be other advantages to doing so. For starters, it'd help my confidence and independence out. I'm too clingy, really - being by myself would hopefully get my head straight and help nail the reality of life into my brain. It would also probably help with friendships and (dare I say it?) relationships. Where I currently live, chavs have basically overtaken. In a 20 mile radius there are about ten people I would be friend and about zero girls I would be even remotely interested in. With a move I would (possibly) refresh that, and meet new people. I could make at least two/three met-in-real-life friends if I stopped by in Yorkshire on the route from Redgrave to Dundee (and vice versa). I plan to do that at some point, I've known all three of the people there for more than a year. It'd be odd, but definitely fun and well worth doing.

Anyway, I think that's enough for one blog entry. I'd quite like to start doing these weekly again instead of fortnightly, as I have a lot I could say but don't, and as I've learnt from a friend over the past couple of weeks, it seems to be beneficial in letting out all these little tidbits of information instead of bottling them up.
Until next time!

32 Things You May Not Have Known About Me by Allison James

I don't have a vast amount to write about, so I thought I'd stray from the norm a little. In this blog, I'll share some stuff about me that you may or may not know. Hopefully it'll be interesting to y'all.1. My nationality consists of around 48% Scottish, 48% English and 4% Irish. My surname is Irish.2. I consider myself agnostic (I do not stick by a religion and am not entirely convinced on the whole "God" thing), though was baptised, so am listed as Christian.3. One of my bigger traits is curiosity. I've frequently found myself in a disadvantaged state because I had to go out of my way to find something out.4. I'm not afraid of death. This ties in with #3. What happens when you die is of huge interest to me, so to me death will be just another question answered. Having said that, I'm unlikely to go out of my way to find the answer out.5. I was born (well, once I'd grown hair) with a "dirty blonde" hair colour. This has slowly changed to brunette. I've never dyed my hair and have no plans to do so.6. Having spent three years single, I miss relationships. However, I do enjoy certain aspects of single life, and try not to dwell on it.7. I'd consider myself pessimistic/realistic. Despite trying to look on the bright side of things I always convince myself that in the end they won't work. Which leads into:8. I lack self-confidence. Although I eventually grow into the feeling and loosen up, if I walk into a crowd I will suddenly become very shy and try to find somewhere to hide. My quietness in these situations is a contrast from...9. In familiar company, I'm loud and talkative. I often try to crack jokes, with varying success.10. I find life, specifically other people, interesting. I will frequently see strangers and wonder what their life is like.11. I'm a daydreamer. I must spend at least an hour each day thinking about certain people, places and things. I also like thinking about what my life would be like if I were an [insert career].12. My brain is bursting with ideas that I know will never come to fruition. These aren't just for games - I have a plethora of ideas for movies, concept albums, and books (though most of these transform into movies as my mind likes to picture everything).13. I have a tendency to be able to remember things of no importance, while useful knowledge is quickly forgotten. In particular, I'm good with remembering numbers (I was once able to tell a friend his mobile number, having only seen it once about a month beforehand) and pictures/scenes. I actually have a memory of a discussion between my parents from when I was one.14. I began school life excelling, I ended it failing badly. Before I was two I could spell my full name unattended. Before I was three I could look at signs and read their text. I hit the 15.6-year-old maximum level in a continuous spelling test when I was 11. I also, on several occasions, corrected teachers in primary school. However, though I passed all 10 GCSEs, some of which were scraped passes, A-level went downhill. In Year 12 I got a C and three Us, in Year 13 I got a D and two Us. After the A-levels were finished (last May) I left education for good.15. One day I want to see the world. Particularly - Tokyo in Japan, Machu Picchu, Coober Pedy in Australia, and Easter Island. I would love to film these adventures too.16. I had wanted to become a video game creator since I was five, though back then wasn't aware I would be able to do so by myself. I had many drawn pictures of mock screenshots of games. So far, I've only actually gone on to make one of these - 2004/5's "Fight of the Height".17. Although I discourage the use of "Nal", it's how it began. I made it up at the age of six as my fictional development company. Aged 12, I decided to use it for old time's sake on the back of a geography essay, though decided I should make it stand for something. "Notalot" became that something.18. I dropped usage of "Notalot" in favour of "NAL" toward the end of 2006 when I decided it looked better on a DVD cover. It came into use as the insignia for a printed-out cover I made for a game dedicated to my then-girlfriend. The game is called "Rabbit Escapade".19. I consider 2006 to have been my favourite year so far. Not only because of the aforementioned relationship (though it played a big part in it), but also because in August I went on holiday with a friend called Tyrone McKenzie. This holiday holds many memories for me (including one of walking five miles back to our resort from an amusement park because we spent the bus fare on the rides without thinking). Shortly after the holiday he moved away with his dad and we lost contact - avid attempts at finding him have proven moot.20. I'm accident prone. I've fallen for plenty of stupid things in my time - slipping on banana skins, walking into French windows, hitting my head on the car door frame as I enter it, stubbing my toes more times than countable, etc. Some of these have resulted from my daydreaming - in Year 13, I caused a horrific, three-day headache when I lost attention to where I was walking and took a metal pole to the side of my skull.21. I consider my two favourite videogames of all time to be Psychonauts and Canis Canem Edit/Bully. The former was simply stunning (particularly a level called the Milkman Conspiracy), the latter was one of the most refreshing experiences I've ever had. This one, in a broken-record-like turn of events, was acquired at my time of being in a relationship. The game deals with high-school relationships so it was incredibly relatable. The game I've probably clocked up the most hours on, though, is Mashed: Fully Loaded, purely for the fact it's the best party game in the world (bollocks to Guitar Hero, Singstar, EyeToy, and anything with a motion-sensing controller).22. My first ever relationship lasted around seven years (though they were young years). I decided to call it a long day when she refused an invitation to my 12th birthday party on account of it clashing with trampoline class. Charming!23. I have been accused of robbery and arson in the past. I committed neither, and luckily neither saw me in any lasting trouble.24. I've been grounded for a total of one day in my entire lifetime - it was for telling somebody to "f**k off" and attempting (but failing) to get a branch into their spokes as they were riding their bicycle. My motivation - the person in question was, at the time, incredibly annoying.25. I've been in love with two people in my life so far - one became a failed relationship, the other never got that far.26. I've been in hate with absolutely nobody so far. Though I've disliked hundreds of people, I've not ever absolutely hated them. Leads onto:27. I cannot hold a grudge. If somebody's rattled my cage, I will want to be pissed off with them for life. It just won't happen. And this, in turn, leads onto:28. I like being at peace with people. I've been into plenty of arguments in my time, some major, some minor. But my reason for calling the argument off is almost always that I simply don't want it. I respect others' opinions; I'd rather shake their hand and make up with them.29. I've never been in hospital for my own medical needs. Doctor's clinic - many times. But never a hospital. I've never broken a bone in my body (at least not to my knowledge, I was once told your little toes break five times a year without you ever knowing - I don't believe it).30. As much as I try to hide it, I'm a very emotional person. Though only two films have actually had me in tears (The Green Mile, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), there are plenty of others that have me fighting it back. I also tend to share other people's emotions, particularly pain. If I see someone upset, even if I dislike them, I instinctively want to help them as I feel bad for them. Connected to:31. Of all the things that make me happy, making someone else smile, laugh or even just smirk, will make my day. In a world where "life is meaningless" (a philosophy I personally find bullshit) and sadness is abundant, making people happy, even if just for a few seconds, is immensely satisfying.32. I deal with stress and sadness badly. I've, in the past, used the metaphor of storing stress and sadness in a tanker inside me. When the tanker overflows, I generally break down uncontrollably.I've tried to cover a piece of everything in writing this. I also thought it would be nice to out a side of me you wouldn't normally see, as my games generally tend not to cover any kind of emotion.I'd also like to take this opportunity to offer an ending to any curiosity about me. If there's something you'd like to know, leave your question in the comments. I will likely answer them all, unless they're serious or they hit a genuinely massive nerve (which is unlikely, I'm open about myself). They can be about anything you like, personal, game-wise, whatever.So, yeah. Thank-you for reading, both this blog entry and my blog as a whole. I appreciate it!