Category Archives: News

My other blogs

If you want to see what I’ve been up to lately, here are the other sites I’m posting to:
This is where I post articles about games development and culture. I’m a university lecturer teaching games & narrative design, as well as diversity awareness, so the articles will usually be on those themes. I’m also currently collaborating with an alumni company, SassyBot Studio, to create a game called Fragments of Him, so there will be posts about that too.
Trouble Down Pit is my bi-weekly webcomic. It’s been running for many years now, so there’s a huge back catalogue to go through if you’ve not read it before.
This is the site where I post my paintings and any other art projects.


Has the LHC destroyed the world yet?

In case you’ve blanked news out for the day, the Large Hadron Collider, the LHC, was turned on today. It’s taken 30 years and some silly number of billions of pounds to make a really big ring so boffins can make streams of protons hit each other at light speed then see what happens. I did write in with a suggestion that they shine two torches at each other, but they never wrote back. I would even have supplied the batteries.

Anyway, apparently the amount of energy used is likely to create a Higgs Boson particle, which somehow gives all other particles mass (although exactly how or why I really don’t know). Then again, it might not. What this boils down to is that a load of guys underground in Europe are going to perhaps make a very small black hole. They insist that this is completely safe, which it probably is, but that doesn’t stop everyone else wondering if they are about to destroy the world, which brings me to the point of this..

In case you need to check if the LHC has destroyed the world, there is now a convenient website that is monitoring the situation and allows you to check:

It’s a good joke, but the real comedy will escape 99.9% of viewers. Check out the source code for the page:

[script type="text/javascript"]
if (!(typeof worldHasEnded == "undefined")) {
} else {

[script type="text/javascript"]
var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." :
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost +
"' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));

Comedy gold for web techy people.

[I removed the email address from the code to try and prevent him getting spammed by bots that may scan this page, but it’s there in the page’s code if you want to find it yourself.]

I’m turning 30…

Blimey. How did that happen? Suddenly I’m about to turn 30 (this Sunday, 4th Feb). It’s really quite peculiar, but things could be a lot worse.

My thesis is done – it’s been passed by the examiners, so all that remains is for the university’s review committee to approve the examiners’ decision (which should happen on 12th Feb) and I’ll be a doctor. I’ve just got that out of the way and now I’m straight into a pretty cool job doing design-y stuff for a major computer games publisher.

Apologies for not posting anything for a few weeks; we’ve been having major troubles with the internet connection at home so I’ve not been able to get online to blog, and it seemed rather cheeky to do it from work (although this is being posted during a break). (Ab)normal service should resume in about a week.

I’ve been managing to keep Trouble Down Pit (my webcomic) running while I’ve been mostly-offline, so if you’ve not read that recently then now’s a good time to go and catch up.

So… 30? How did that happen? Age must be addictive or we’d all stop doing it sooner.

More about the Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters

Long-term readers of this blog may remember that I posted about the Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters back in September. Bizarrely, my blog post must have found its way into the Google archives because I just got a comment from the creator of the ARBBH:

Hi Jeff…nice site…loved the “God Makes a Sandwich” movie. I was surfing and came across your nice words on the ARBBH, which I created back in the eighties. There are plans for them to make a comeback with Dynamite Entertainment, so please keep a eye out for the furry four!

God bless,

Don Chin

How very cool! Although I’ve no idea why he called me Jeff (I’m Mata, for anyone who doesn’t already know!) but you’ve got to love the way the web can bring people together with creators they admire. These days he’s in real estate, but if you’re interested in that sort of thing you can check out Don Chin’s site here.

I’m running a web-comic!

For those who aren’t on my mailing list, I’ve started running a web-comic, Trouble Down Pit.

The reason for this is simple: I just haven’t got enough time at the moment to produce animations on anything like the regular basis that I would like, so this way I can do a few panels in an hour or three and put something online that relieves the pressure of ideas-build-up in my head. Seriously, it can get quite painful if I don’t do anything about it. The doctor says I might explode. There’d be bits of Mata spread over a radius of precisely 1.4 miles, and you wouldn’t want that would you?

The comic will be updated every Monday and Friday, including a little bit of bloggy stuff beneath it. I’ll be keeping this blog running for ‘general cool stuff’ and the comic blog will often be more related to the comics or media.

Puns and puzzles

I’ve made another site!!

It’s like StickScene, except there puns and visual puzzles instead of films. There’s 30 to play at the moment, but more are being added every day. If you like it then please pass the link on to your friends!

Also, if you can think of any puns or puzzles that you can illustrate then feel free to add them to the site. If you have a StickScene login then that will work on PunScene too.

The most beautiful thing ever

My thesis

It might not look like much, but that’s my thesis. It’s done!

My thesis

I handed it in today, and I’m very pleased indeed.

Oh yes, and ‘Matazone’ is also now legally one of my middle names 🙂

Go me!

EDIT: In case you can’t read it, the title says ‘Hidden Cyberspace: Narrative and Identity in the Work of William Gibson’. That’s the final title that was settled on. I needed three copies for the examiners; it’s not in three volumes!

My new website is ready!

Hi everyone!

Yes, it’s been quiet around here lately hasn’t it? I’ve got a few things going on:

I’m finishing my thesis on Monday next week
I’ve been putting the finishing touches on
I’ve got two clients’ websites to build

Yep, I’m definitely a busy bunny!

So, about the new site, the premise is that people have to guess the film/TV series name from a simplified version of a poster, DVD box art, or a scene. Have a look on there to see what’s been made so far to get the idea.

Currrently there are a couple of bits of coding to add, but I could do with more content so I’m hoping people on here might be able to help.

Basically, you create an account using the ‘join’ menu option, then you can use the ‘submit puzzle’ menu option to create new puzzles for the site. When you’re creating a new puzzle, please check the details on !

The best system of making the pictures I’ve found so far is to put the original image on one layer and then draw lines and sample the colours on layers over it. Personally I use Flash to make the pictures, but I’ve seen ones made in Photoshop or even Micro$oft Paint!

Important bit:
ALL IMAGES CAN ONLY BE UPLOADED IN .JPG FORMAT! This is due to the code involved in the watermarking feature.

After you have had five images approved then you can add a picture to your profile, and after ten you can add a link to a website. This will appear under your puzzles, hopefully giving you exposure to thousands of people every day! Hurrah!

This is still beta-test stuff, so if you have problems please let me know. There’s a forum on there too, which is a good place to post any comments that you have, .

Have fun!

The Simpsons Will Eat Your Life

I noticed while writing this blog a few days ago that the title sequence to The Simpsons takes about a minute to run. That got me thinking: I’ve watched a lot of The Simpsons, so exactly how much of my life have I spent humming along with that tune?

… So I built a script to work it out. And then to work it out for everyone else too. And then add up the cumulative loss of time throughout our lives (based on an average age of 20). And then I decided to figure out how many years of human life have been spent watching the title sequence to The Simpsons globally. And then I stopped, because any more would have been a bit silly.

As always, if you like this then please pass it on 🙂

A quick reminder, if you’re buying anything from Amazon, please use the links on the bottom of my site pages because I really could do with the money! When you start a shopping trip to Amazon .com/ using one of my search boxes then I get 5% of whatever you buy on that journey. Thanks!

I’m still busily working away on the new game site that I’m building and it’s coming along well. I hope that a beta version will be available for trial runs inside the next couple of weeks, until then it’s still a secret what I’m up to!

What I’ve been up to lately…

It’s been a bit quiet on my site for a while now, so you may wonder what I’ve been doing with my time. This week has been a good example, and I feel I’ve been really productive.

This week I got my complete thesis over to my tutors, I’ve been learning some new PHP, I’ve got through a few lessons in Japanese, I’ve got a dull-but-harmless temp job, I feel like I’ve progressed a lot in my Wing Chun class, and I’ve even had some freelance work helping Wateraid promote the upcoming World Water Day.

In more detail:

I’ve put through most of the changes suggested by my copy-editor friend in my thesis and got that sent off to my tutors on Monday. Next up with my Ph.D. is the response from the tutors, which will hopefully be ‘this is ready’ or might ask for a few changes. Either way we’ll probably go ahead with contacting the examination committee. You need two internal examiners and one from outside the university. Once they’ve agreed to examine my thesis and they’re ready then my thesis gets sent to them and I wait for three months-or-so while they read it. I then have an interview with them where they get to ask me questions about my ideas and generally discuss what I’ve written. This usually lasts about an hour, but apparently has been known to spill over into dinner and late-night drinking! I’m guessing that any interview that ends with a slurred proclamation of eternal friendship will generally count as a ‘pass’.

The most likely result of this will be a request for minor changes to be made. This is usually stuff to do with formatting and an occasional paragraph here and there. This is a common request these days because it’s so much easier to ask for changes in the computer age than it was when everything was hand-written and typed. Typically I will have six months to make these changes, but usually they can be done a lot faster and the thesis resubmitted. Assuming the thesis has been changed to the satisfaction of the committee I then pass and do a little dance. And then dance a bit more. I plan to graduate in October at the latest.

The PHP stuff is for a new website I’m working on (hence the haitus in animations recently). PHP is like html except that it allows webpages to talk to a database and create ‘dynamic’ content, which is just a fancy way of saying that it responds to what you do. I’m at the point now where I believe I can put together the basic structures of the site so I’m hoping to get that going in the next couple of weeks.

I’m learning to speak Japanese from audio-lessons on my MP3 player. It’s interesting, but the style of presentation could be done in a more structured way to help learning. Mostly it’s repeating stuff parrot-fashion, so you have to work out the grammar of what’s going on for yourself. Still, it’s a good start.

I’m not selling enough stuff in my shop to afford to live even on a very low wage, so I’ve started temping part-time to pay the bills. This is another reason for the lack of animating recently. Real jobs suck, but the one I’m doing at the moment is nice enough and quite easy. At least it gives me time to doodle!

Wing Chun is a type of kung fu, and the only major martial art system in the world that was invented by a woman. It relies on angles and sensitivity rather than strength so can help small people beat much stronger opponents. I studied it when I was first at university and I started again last year when a new class opened in my area. A lot of the form is based on the idea of flowing around and through your opponents defences, creating a system that becomes incredibly effective even when applying only the basic techniques.

Lastly, Wateraid are a great charity that I’ve worked with a few times before and I’m really happy to be helping them produce presentation for their build up to World Water Day on the 22nd March.

I feel like I’ve been really productive this week and I’m feeling generally very happy with life. As usual, and as you can probably tell, I’m ridiculously busy, but I’m getting results which makes me feel good. I’m sure you can see why my work on this site has been slower than usual!

The Giraffe-Milking Game

Okay, once again, this wasn’t what I’ve been working on making for ages. This is also not the other thing that I’ve had in the planning stages for about six months. This is instead the best giraffe-milking game that you’ll play all year:

As usual, please pass the link on to friends if you like it!

The thing that I find really annoying about making games is all the fiddly presentation stuff. I programmed this game in about three hours. It has then taken me most of my (admittedly rather slim) freetime over the past two weeks to add in all the graphics and sound effects. Maybe I’m just really inefficient at that aspect of things, but I suspect that it’s simply that it’s easier to get a prototype game working than it is to polish the prototype. You’d think that it should be the other way around really, but apparently not.

In other news, I’ve added Google Adwords onto my main site pages now, and my revenue from that is in relation to the number of clicks I get, so if there’s something that you’re interested in then please click them. Bear in mind that other businesses do pay money for those clicks, so if you’re going to click for the sake of it then please do it to a company that can afford it. Thanks!

That’s it from me. I’m getting stuck into PHP now to build a whole new game site… WoooOOOoooo! Mysterious, isn’t it? Well, it should be great when it’s done. Stay on this list for a possible beta trial when the site is beginning to function. As with most things though, don’t hold your breath; I’ve not even started coding it yet so there’s a huge amount of work to come yet.

A watering can for a mere £9,000

International readers might not have heard about it, but at the end of last week an eighteen tonne whale swam into London. Literally, it swam up the river Thames and past the Houses of Parliment. It failed to produce a valid form of ID on demand and, as an illegal immigrant, was immediately under suspicion of being a terrorist whale. The immigration authorities immediately attempted to eject it from British waters but were slightly perplexed by the issue of how to tell such a large animal to go away.

Well… It was something like that anyway. A whale swam up the Thames, sometimes as close as a few feet from the banks of the river, and British Divers Marine Life Rescue teams tried to get it to turn back before it beached itself or injured itself in the shallow water and on the debris of the ancient city’s riverbed. Sadly, and desipte their best efforts, while moving the whale back towards deep waters (its natural environment) the whale died.

The effort cost the charity £5,000 in expenses and they also got £300 of parking fines (now lifted after public anger), so they needed to recoup their money… which leads us to what will probably be the most expensive watering can sold on eBay this decade.

Source, and more about the BDMLR.

War On Error – new animation

I really should have been doing something else with the last eleven hours, but instead I made this:


I decided that I’d have a go at classic animation for a change, i.e. animation where you draw many of the frames by hand. Last time I did this it took me ages, but with the stripped down character design here I got it done in under a day. I think I should probably go and eat now though…