Catch Light Interactive, LLC

Our first logo. Fancy!

Hi there!

Been a while, I know. But there’s a good reason.

A couple of years ago, I discovered an affinity for telling stories through video games. It’s a wonderful way for me to not only continue to write fiction, but to show it as well. Combining my love of fiction with my love of creating 3D art resulted in a significant career change in my life.

Hey, it’s never too late!

I’d like to introduce you to Catch Light Interactive, LLC, an indie development studio I co-founded with a business partner from Norway. We are (and have been!) extremely busy creating our debut title, Project: New Light City, and all of the to-do’s you have to check while running a successful business.

Oh, and we’re making a little noise, too.

For starters, we’ve been featured in a three part series on Gamedev.TV, the world’s most popular resource for online learning in the game development industry. The series is aimed at people who are considering a career in the industry, specifically those who want to run their own show. It was an honor to be invited to contribute, especially given my love for inspiring careers.

We also have a Steam Store page for Project: New Light City. This is a big step for any studio, and we’re proud of the accomplishment.

We’ve even made arrangements to have the company logo put on the moon. No doubt a first for an indie studio. What else would you expect from yours truly?

The site you’re on now is my personal website, created to give me a place to ramble on (mostly to myself) about…well, whatever. Since CLI was founded, every ounce of time (does time really come in ounces???) has been dedicated the studio, the amazing people we’ve brought on board, and the vision we have for Project: New Light City.

I’ll try to drop by now and again, but if you’re interested in what’s been going on, the game development industry in general, or just are into a cool psychological thriller, you can find us here:

CLI’s Twitter Page

CLI’s Instagram

CLI’s Community Discord

CLI’s YouTube Channel

CLI’s Official Website

Thanks for reading, see you there!


Artwork Updates: My Clean Desk…

I never realized this until I got into creating CGI with Blender, but there’s an entire segment of the industry dedicated to creating photo-realistic images for use in sales catalogs and websites.  If you look at some of the big names (Ikea comes to mind), chances are pretty good the vast majority of the product images you see are actually 3D renders and not photographs.

Who knew?

Not me.  Anyway, after toying around with it for a while, I’ve come to realize that as much as I enjoy sculpting, animating, and organics, hard-surface modelling is what makes me most happy.

So I modeled my desk.

You know this is CGI because my desk has never been this organized.  Ever.

Everything you see was modeled in Blender and rendered in Cycles.  It’s pretty cool what you can produce with a few simple tools and a little determination.  For perspective, this is what the final image looks like without materials (colors and textures) and lighting.

A snapshot of the modelling done in Blender.

Not much to it, right?

Well, there’s more to it than you think.  Hard-surface modeling is very technical in nature.  Your goal is to create something that looks “real”, and one of the keys to that is working out all of the math.  Everything in that image, for example, is scaled to real world size, right down to the millimeter.  Proper scaling is important otherwise the eye picks up that something is wrong, especially when you have two separate objects in the same scene.  And there isn’t a banana to use for scale anywhere in sight!

It gets you to thinking.  How tall is a tree, really?  How high up is your average doorknob?  How many degrees should the window blinds be open to let in just the right amount of light?  How many degrees of blue should I use to get the right reflections?

Fascinating stuff, right?

Well, to me it is.  Building the actual models is only about 25% of the total workload.  And modeling these objects took a couple of hours.  After that, there are materials to construct, lighting to coordinate, and post-processing to apply.  It’s a lot of work but also a lot of fun.

I wish I learned about this stuff sooner.  Might have taken me down another interesting career path.  For now, I’m enjoying the learning process and seeing what I can build.

Speaking of which, I decided to join Grant Abbitt’s Discord (Gabbitt3D).  If you don’t know who he is, Grant is an amazing CGI instructor who runs a channel on YouTube.  If you’re into creating 3D art, specifically in Blender, I highly recommend checking it out.

One of the many cool things about his discord is that they run monthly, weekly, and even daily art competitions.  This is the result of the first one I participated in:

I don’t know what these dudes are up to, but it can’t be good can it?

The theme was “Magic Book” and it’s still going on if you happen to be into things like this.  While this isn’t exactly the style of CGI I’m interested in mastering, it was a great learning experience.  Which is the point of these competitions, so that worked out nicely.  There are also a ton of extremely talented artists there, plenty of learning opportunities and people to be inspired by.  Check it out if you’re into Discord.

That’s it for now.  Keep you posted as things come along.  As always, you can check out my latest art updates on my Art Station page, Instagram, and occasionally Twitter.  Not everything I produce ends up here, so be sure to have a look on those pages, as well.

Stay well!  And wash your hands…

New Artwork!

Gazebo Final
The Pool House at Dusk

Another weekend lost to Blender.

This is the first time I really pushed myself toward creating a more complex, photo-realistic scene, with several objects and a ton of material work.  The final image you see is the accumulation of everything I’ve learned about Blender (and 3D rendering in general) over the last two months.

Turned out pretty good, no?

I really enjoyed putting this one together.  It’s very satisfying when the final product sort of looks like it could be kinda close to almost nearly appearing to be something that vaguely but not entirely resembles a photograph.  (Or something.)  I’m sure there are plenty of tweaks and oversights to contend with, but it’s a good feeling to know I’m making progress.

I also made my first animation a couple of weeks ago.  Just never got around to posting it here.

I wanted to include a sound track, but you wouldn’t believe how many different clips of fountains I listened to when looking for a match.  Turns out that audio can actually sound “too big” or “too small” and so I never really found the Goldilocks fountain audio for this one.

Well, that’s a wrap on this one.  You can keep up to date on new projects as they get posted over on my ArtStation, Instagram, or Twitter pages.  Or subscribe to my website (for a limited time: half off the already low and somewhat reasonable price of $0.00) and keep everything in one place.  Life is all about making choices, right?  Anyway, my portfolio is growing…and hopefully improving…every week.

Thanks for stopping by!

The 2019 Recap!

Much to my surprise, 2019 turned out to be a pretty good year on the writing front.

It certainly started on the right foot, with my creepy little dark horror story, The Innocent Sink, being published by Coffin Bell Journal on January 1st.  Coffin Bell was my first choice for that piece, so seeing it in print there was a great feeling.

After a strong start out of the gate, things could have seriously gone downhill from there.

But, no, they didn’t!  With some timely encouragement by an editor over at Penguin Random House (the words “gripping” and “strong writing” came up – nice!), I finished the first draft of The Blood March.  Clocking in at just over 85,000 words, writing the last sentence really felt like an accomplishment.

The plot is strong, but what really excites me about the story is how it studies the conflict between science and religion.  There’s a saying I tell my kids all the time, “The world is black and white and grey all over.  And most of it falls in the grey.”  Meaning, of course, that the majority of the world falls in between the two extremes, and that’s usually the healthy mixture.  It’s why we don’t really mean it when we say things like “always” and “never”, and how people are not 100% “good” or “evil.”

Grey, baby.

The Blood March explores the conflicting and extreme positions between science and religion, and is a strong character study on some really cool people who are simply trying to find their purpose and the meaning of life.  (Douglas Adams did it better, famously simplifying the answer to “42“, but for my money nobody did anything as good as Douglas.)  A novel should be fun to read, the saying “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” comes to mind.  The best “ideas” in the world fall flat because nobody is having fun along the way.  Avoiding that pitfall is exactly what I’m doing with this novel.  I think people will like it when it comes out.

As for now, The Blood March is in that all-important “cooking” phase, which is the time where I find other things to do for a while so I can put some distance between us.  As with any first draft, there’s the good, bad, and ugly, and TBM is no exception.  While I already have some great ideas, especially on character development, I want to take an objective look at it when I make the first pass of edits.  I’ll keep ya posted!

In the meantime, I’ve taken up a new hobby – 3D rendering with Blender.  It’s a graphics software package used by artists, animators, and game developers all over the world.  I’ve always had an interest in computer graphics, dating all the way back to the mid-80’s.  Back then, graphics were 8-bit (16-bit if you were fancy!) images, likely created with The Graphics Magician.  As a geeky teenager significantly lacking in the life department, I wrote a text parser and created countless images on my trusty Apple //e.  It began to look like a career in computer science was on the horizon until life took me in a different direction.

All of the years later, I got the bug again and decided to take another swing.  That’s when I found Blender and my new passion.

I had no idea what I was doing at first, of course, but two months later and I’m already creating “mostly” photo-realistic images:

Jazz Bass Final HDRI Full Shot
My first project – a 2008 Fender Jazz Bass.  Created with Blender 2.82 (this is not a photograph, btw.)

Pretty cool, and not bad for a beginner, huh?

Blender lets you sculpt, texture edit, design, and construct just about anything, but my interest is predominantly in photo-realism.  I want to create images that look like the real deal more than, say, character creation projects.  I’m building up a portfolio, mostly because I really enjoy creating art this way.  If you’re interested in keeping up with my progress, I’ll post the final renders that I feel are good enough on my ArtStation page.

Anyway, 2019 turned out pretty good.  Makes me hopeful about what’s in store for 2020.  If anything interesting comes up, I’ll post something again soon!

Fiction Update: The Innocent Sink

Just a quick reminder that The Innocent Sink is now available over at Coffin Bell Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1.  If you haven’t given it or the other fantastic works of dark fiction found in their latest issue a read yet, what are you waiting for?

Last year was a peculiar one on all fronts for me.  Sometimes it goes that way.  From the writing standpoint, however, there were an awful lot of highlights.  Near the top of that list was when I got an acceptance for The Innocent Sink.  Not just with any publication, mind you, but from Coffin Bell specifically.  Like I said, sometimes it goes that way.

Coffin Bell is a relatively new publication, but the quality of fiction is superb.  The fact that the masthead has been steadily growing should tell you something.  I am honored to have my name included on their contributor list.  Knowing your work meets a high standard is both gratifying and humbling at the same time.  If dark horror is your thing, you really need to check them out.

On another front, my new office is fantastic – exactly the kind of environment I envisioned when this year’s goals and deadlines were drawn up late last year.  A change of scenery always does wonders, doesn’t it?  I’m looking forward to another productive year and am excited to see how 2019 unfolds for us all!

Lost and Found

It’s been a whirlwind of activity here at Kardos Manor over the past few months.  If it seemed as though I’d pulled a D.B. Cooper on you, I apologize.  The good news is I was never lost and the pages keep churning out, I just haven’t had much to post here for a while.

Thing is, I’m not really a blogger.  Nor was that ever the intention for this site.  I’m a writer – one with varying degrees of aptitude perhaps, but a writer nonetheless.  Draft, revise, finalize, submit.  As long as that cycle keeps happening, all is right with the world.

Still, I do intend to keep the website current from time to time.  There are announcements to make, occasional posts to update, and I still check traffic to see how people are finding their way here.  For me, this website was a place for people to land if they get curious after reading my work elsewhere, not vice versa.  I suppose there’s more potential behind it all, but amassing thousands of followers isn’t what interests me.  I’d rather put my attention and focus on continuing to write good fiction.  (Some would argue that has yet to happen, zing!)

One exciting update to make is to remind everyone that The Innocent Sink is being published on January 1, 2019 by the Coffin Bell Journal.  I’m really excited about this one, because I think the story is a great match for that particular publication.  (It is extremely helpful that the editors at Coffin Bell agree.)

Short stories are a fun way to get the little ideas that don’t have enough “umph” to find their way into a novel out of your head and make way for bigger things.  Once a draft is on the screen, I rarely find the motivation to go back and make it publishable.  It’s more of an exorcism than anything else.  Still, it is quite gratifying when one comes together and polishes up nicely.  Which is exactly what happened with The Innocent Sink.  I’ll drop another reminder here when it goes live in a few weeks.


A bit of a side hobby of mine at the moment is building my next PC from scratch.  Over the last decade, work travel necessitated purchasing laptops for the portability.  Although I typically bought top of the line models, there are some compromises that come with the territory.

Most important to me, I don’t care for the feel and layout of a laptop keyboard.  The keys don’t have “weight” and, in some cases, are actually sized down from a regular, full-sized keyboard.  You adapt, but the words per minute certainly suffers, and missed strokes make the backspace key one of the most used.  From a technical standpoint, laptops have integrated GPUs, lower overclocking space, and heat issues which throttle performance.  That significantly limits the computer’s abilities when compared to a powerful desktop.

Now that I don’t have to travel as much as I used to, I’ve decided to go back to having a desktop PC as my primary computer.  I looked into pre-built, but fairly early on it occurred to me that building my own would give me the opportunity to customize everything without compromise, while also being a fun learning experience to boot.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The last time I built a computer from the ground up was back in the early 1990’s.  The basic configurations haven’t changed – motherboard, power supply, case, memory, CPU, etc.  But the computing scene overall has changed a lot since then, and today there are so many more options and performance-related factors to consider.  Intel or AMD?  nVidia or AMD?  Asus, MSI, EVGA, or Founders Edition?  Air or liquid cooling?  Hyperthreads or more cores?  Overclocking?  Every manufacturer has multiple models, and every model has multiple subsets.

There’s a lot of research to be done for every part, right down to the case.  You could spend two days dissecting fans for a particular build.  Thermals, decibels, clock speeds…it all matters.  Pick the wrong configurations and you have a system that works, but not to optimum.  I use my computer a lot, so it’s important to me to get it right.

There’s a lot to catch up on from the past 20-30 years, but it’s every bit of fun as I’d hoped.  I’ve learned more about motherboards over the past two weeks than any one sane person should probably know (thanks, buildzoid!).  Somehow, it all continues to make sense; I suspect my fascination with technology back in the 80’s and 90’s gave me a good foundation.  There’s a lot more information out there today, but the basic fundamentals remain the same.

My goal is to finalize the part selection and begin the build sometime around the first of the new year.  I might even update this site with a build post for those who might be interested.  I doubt things will go smoothly, but that’s half the fun.  And my trustworthy five year old MSI laptop will be close by just in case I need to chat with a few experts.

As usual, thanks for stopping by.  Based on how things are progressing, I expect some big news for my latest project sometime mid-2019.  It never goes as quickly as I’d like, but somehow I always manage to cross the finish line…

I Survived!

They walked through the front door looking like Roma ultras after a beating at the hands of Lazio.  Defeated, salty, and looking for a fight.  I couldn’t blame them for that.  They’d just arrived fresh from a nine hour drive in a sexy but rather smallish Kia Soul.  That’s a hard trip for anyone.  The fact they were all teenagers did not help one bit.

They greeted me properly enough.  I hadn’t seen the step-children since their last visit during the holidays, but it didn’t take long to be brought up to speed on current events.  Girl problems, boy problems, that sort of thing.  (Although I found it quite entertaining that the girl’s problem was with her boyfriend, while the boys’ problem was that neither had a girlfriend.)

My younger, full-time children were of course delighted to see everyone.  They believe the sole purpose of their step-siblings’ visit was to entertain them twenty-four hours a day.  Well, that’s toddlers for you.  Cute, sometimes funny, often confused little narcissists.  Don’t worry, I tell myself, it’s just a phase.  An eighteen year long phase, but a phase nonetheless.

The older children were agreeable enough at first.  Painting nails, braiding hair, playing with toys, and listening to stories with wide-eyed fascination.  But by the 7,000th viewing of another scribble drawing (“it’s not a house, it’s a pony!”), the fascination began to wear off.  As an outsider you can see things happening.  Headphones become a regular accessory, people start making frequent trips to the bathroom for asylum, snack foods begin to disappear at an alarming rate, and the adults have to intervene in the occasional toddler dust-up.

Somehow we all made it through two weeks of that.

It did scramble up my routine a little.  You try working in the center ring of a three ring circus.  But now I’m back, as motivated and inspired as ever.  I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me this month, and then it’ll be time to switch gears to handle the business end of the business.  When summer vacations are over, people start scrambling to tie up loose ends before the holidays.  Strange to think of that in July, but it’ll be here before we know it.

I’ve got a couple of book reviews to tell you about, but we’ll save that for later.  In the meantime, let me know how your summer is getting along…

Finally! An Update That Works…

A few Wednesday afternoon tidbits to snack on:

I’ve been tinkering around with the website a little.  Most of it is behind the scenes work primarily related to SEO.  Turns out this little site has a very high ranking in Bing and Yahoo, and rising fast in Google.  Pretty cool considering the whole idea behind this website was just to give some side-projects and general thoughts about writing a place to live.  I never expected to create such a connection with the community – a pleasant surprise!

The most prominent and obvious change you will notice is the installation of the Disqus Commenting system.  For those that have Disqus, the interface will be quite familiar.  For those that haven’t, you can still comment without a Disqus account but you ought to think about signing up for one.  Plenty of websites use Disqus, and there are some really great resources to be found on their channel search.  If you’re curious, click here to check out their page.

For those that missed it, my short story The Innocent Sink just got picked up by Coffin Bell.  I’m pretty excited about it!  Coffin Bell is a relatively new publisher but they are rising fast and the masthead is growing.  From an author’s perspective, it’s very gratifying to have your work included in the early days of a quality magazine.  If dark fiction is your thing, I highly recommend checking them out.  It’s not a genre I typically play around with, but when I finished The Innocent Sink, I thought of them first.

A few online writers groups linked my article “The Rule of 33%” to their resource pages.  I’m honored.  If you know of any writer resource pages that would be interested, shoot me a message.  I’ve been doing this a long time, so if there are little tips and tricks that help anyone else, I’m happy to share the experience.

I’ve been watching the World Cup, only this go-around as an impartial fan of the sport as my beloved Azzurri didn’t qualify for the first time in 2,317 years.  As hard as that one was to swallow, it’s been rather fun watching games without the emotional investment.  It’s hard to predict a winner so early on, but a few teams have really stood out.  I’ll wait until the next round before deciding who to pull for but Croatia, England, Brazil, France, Uruguay, and Argentina have been fun to watch.  And you certainly cannot count out Spain.  Should be an interesting next round.  How’s your country doing?

Try out the new commenting system below!  And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @paulkardos

The Innocent Sink

Sometimes things work out just as you planned.  I found out today that The Innocent Sink is going to be published by Coffin Bell Journal, issue 2.1, on January 1, 2019.  I am extremely excited to have my work represented in such a wonderful publication.  If you love dark fiction, do yourself a solid and go check them out.  There are some pretty amazing works by very accomplished authors featured in every issue.  I consider it an honor to be associated with that group.

The Innocent Sink is one of those stories where everything went right.  I wrote the first draft in one day, 5,200 words that just flew off my fingertips.  It needed edits – oh boy, did it ever – but the characters and plot were there from the get go.  By the end of the week and after four major edit runs, I knew it was ready.

Getting published isn’t a numbers game.  When you finish a story and are ready to submit for publication, it is really important to do your homework to find the best possible match.  That means reading and adhering to submission guidelines, but also getting a good feel of the other pieces each publisher puts into print, as well.  For The Innocent Sink, I had a list of five places I thought would be a good match.  Just so happens, Coffin Bell Journal was the top choice on my list.

Like I said, sometimes it works out that way.

There is more good news on the horizon, but today is all about how excited I am that The Innocent Sink has found the perfect place to call home.  It’s a great feeling and a good reminder of why I do what I do.

Got a success story you want to share?  I’d love to hear about it, comment away!



There Is Always a Way

One of the best habits I picked up was to write 600 words in a journal first thing every morning.  It frees my mind, gets the clutter organized, and puts everything in the proper places.  The key is to not put much thought into what you’re going to write about each morning.  Just pick up the pen and write whatever comes to mind, no editing allowed.

I can’t tell you how many problems I’ve solved, how many decisions in life I’ve made, by working things out while writing these pages.  There is more to it than that, but the thoughts that come out first thing in the morning are a great place to start.  Collectively, it is by far the longest piece I’ve ever written and also the most important.

Morning pages aren’t my idea, rather one I learned about when my wife picked up a copy of The Artist’s Way.  To be honest, I’ve never made it past the bit about writing these pages first thing every morning.  They had such an impact on my life that I felt I had already gotten my money’s worth.  I’m probably missing out, so if you pick it up please be smarter than me and read past the first chapter, will you?

Against the advice of the book, I write my morning pages on the laptop and not by hand.  Because I work on the laptop all day and I want to stay in the practice of transmitting thoughts to the screen through the keyboard.  I suppose if I were a writer who still does everything by pen and paper, it would make more sense to do it the other way.  Whatever works – the key is to do them daily.

This morning, I got off on a real tangent while working on the pages.  I began writing some thoughts about various things going on in life, and a couple of notes about a documentary I watched the other night.  The documentary is called One Day in Auschwitz and tells the story of an amazing woman named Kitty Hart-Moxon.  She was brought to Auschwitz as a seventeen year old girl and survived for years in Nazi concentration camps before being liberated in 1945.  I am an avid documentary watcher – history, science, human events, you name it – and this was one of the best.  If you have a spare 50 minutes, I highly recommend watching this one.

There were many things to take away from her story, but the one that stuck with me was the resiliency of the people who lived in that hell.  They knew survival was out of their hands – a hopeless situation if there ever was one – and yet some still did everything they could to increase their chances.  The Nazi’s selected people to die, seemingly at random.  There was nothing any of them could have done about that.  The ones with a strong will to live, however, did anything and everything they could to make it another day.  In Kitty’s case, that meant making sure she had shoes, didn’t lose her bowl, and made connections with other captives.  Instead of focusing on what was beyond her control, she concentrated on what little she could control.

It would be vulgar to compare situations, but as I listened to this amazing woman it dawned on me that whenever you are feeling hopeless about something, the best thing to do is take whatever actions are necessary to increase the chances of a positive outcome.  You may not make it, but at least you know you did everything you could to save yourself from disaster.

While training for a pilot’s license, for example, my CFI made a point to instruct very early on that when something goes wrong – engine failure for example – the worst thing you can do is nothing.  The engine failed, you can’t change that.  But what you can do is work the problem.  Go through the checklists, look for an open field or sparsely populated highway, no matter how dire the situation may be, do something.  You may not make it, but the ones who do survive because they did everything they could to put the odds in their favor right up to the very end.  Never give up.

Well, here I went on another tangent again.  I originally wanted to tell you about the thoughts I had on evolution, the Big Bang, and creationism.  For the record, I am a huge fan of science.  I am fascinated by the enormity and age of the universe, physics, and the miracle of life.  I see the logic behind the advances humanity has made in science and think society is better for it.  At the same time, I am a believer who applies that same logic to say there must be something more than just happenstance and time.

Ah, that will be for another day.  For now, relaying the wisdom of morning pages and the story of the amazing Ms. Hart-Moxon was the priority.  To quote my old, dearly-departed friend, ““I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”