shawn's blog

About that first game….

Posted in MCE, OriGamInc by Shawn on March 23, 2012

So, about some time last year, I had an idea for a game where you choose your moves, then watch as your player either reaches death, or survives a level. That game became Mr. Condyle’s Escape. It was really my first project that I thought was worthy of continuing. However, it was also one of my first projects. As many people say, some of the first projects you start aren’t going to be super great. I didn’t think it was completely terrible. It managed to get an interview on Joystiq’s Indie Pitch, and one on True PC Gaming. Still, I’m glad what I did what I did with that game, and it definitely helped me learn a lot.

It’s been said that it’s hard for some people to move on from a type of game, and that many times, people get extremely attached to a project. It’s even worse when game development isn’t your day job (I say that too much…).  I definitely want to spend my free time working on something I truly think is good, and something other people can have fun playing. Will I ever do that? I just need to keep on going and find out.

But, I cannot forget about those other games that help me move on, such as MCE. So, I’m going to continue working on it. I don’t know when I’ll be done. But, hopefully, within the next month, I can place a version of the game online, and let people download it at their leisure. And I do plan to continue working on it after put that build online. Eventually, the game will reach a ‘finished’ state that people can download. Maybe I’ll even let others mess with some of the the game’s code.

All I know is that I want as many people to play the game, and experience some of things that I have tried to create.

That is all for now.

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Happy New Year and a change of plans

Posted in MCE, Music, OriGamInc, Tone Def by Shawn on January 3, 2012

Well, it’s the new year.

It looks like I’ve had this blog for a little under a year now. Which is surprising, at least to me. A lot has happened in a year, it seems like, and progress has been made. Do I have a game out? No. Am I closer. Well, technically closer than I was a year ago. Whether or not I’m happy with the progress I made is another story.

First off, it does not look like I’ll be able to meet my personal deadline of January 3rd for Tone Def. Which is upsetting, to  say the least. But if I take a step back and think about all that I wanted to do, it makes sense why I was not able to meet this deadline. First off, it takes a while for me to make music that I’m happy with. This version of Tone Def needed at least three pieces of music. With the amount of time I have, and the goals for this game, it was likely that January 3rd would be an incredibly hard deadline to hit. As I write this (January 3rd), I could technically still make the deadline, but the levels would not be balanced, and I’d probably hit a bug or 15.

So, I’ll need to push back the date of release to a point that I do not know. But, that doesn’t mean it’ll be put off into a nebula of some sort. I’m still aiming to push this out as soon as everything is ready/balanced/looking good.

What about those other projects? Well, Mr. Condyle’s Escape has a lot of work still to be done. I have put it on the back burner for now, but I plan to return to it as soon as I push out Tone Def. It’s difficult to work on two games independently, especially with limited time. So, instead of letting one suffer from only glances, it’s probably better to put it away for a while. If anyone  has any better suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

I’m expecting this first month to really dictate how the rest of this year will go. If there is a lot of work done all around (I finally beat Dead Space 2 last night. Turns out I was pretty much 15 mins from the ending), then it’s possible that this year could turn out productive. This is not a certainty, but I’d like to think that I’m able to get things started off on the correct foot. As of now, there is only one thing on the agenda, PAX East, which I’m excited about. I also do plan to attend any local game developmental meetups or the like in the Philadelphia area!

This has turned into a semi-rambling of what I think I may do this year.

So that’s it for now. I’ll come back when I have thoughts that I can string together. I’ll just blame it on all the partying that I forgot to do on the 1st.

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New Resolutions

Posted in MCE, OriGamInc, Other, Tone Def by Shawn on December 15, 2011

Well, the new year is coming. And with it comes more resolutions, in more ways than one.

The first way I mean resolution is that I should think of some ones for this coming year. Like what? Well, work on my game more. And stay positive. To be completely honest with myself, my work ethics have started to get on my nerves since October, and this is something that I need to change. This could be from working alone for such a long time, and finding it difficult to motivate myself, or it could be from only finding a few hours a day to work on the game, hours that I only find after I’m done taking care of everyone else non-game-dev related, and I have to spend the hours where I’m tired working on Mr. Condyle’s Escape. Working when tired isn’t good….poor decisions are made, and only realized upon the following morning’s reflection. The show must go on however! at this point, I still wonder, would any one be interested in my game when I get closer to production? Who knows!

The second, and not so obvious resolution is directly to MCE. I made a mistake. The game’s resolution is semi-locked. Rather, playing the game on a computer without a 16:9 display will leave your play session handicapped. This is my fault, but something I’m glad I found out with only 40 levels instead of 100, especially with the changes being made. At this point in time, I’ve fixed one part for 30 different levels. Now, I have to fix a number of finer details. This means going through each level, and making sure that the GUI details are intact. My global changes should be able to fix the bigger problems, but there are some minor tweaking that needs…..well, tweaking.

When this is finished, the game should be playable from multiple resolutions without losing important on-screen data. For example, there was one level where a spiked ball shooter lies on the left side of the screen. with a 16:10 resolution, the spiked ball shooter would be just out of sight. However, it’s clearly visible with a 16:9 display. The shooter will definitely wind up destroying the player the first time around, but it’s nicer to know exactly why your player died, rather than having something completely off screen do you in.

On final resolution that I should probably have is to actually get one of these game ideas out there. It’s not like I’m all talk. At least, I do not think I am. I’m working on projects that are progressing at some sort of pace. However, two projects, MCE and MossHawk, are bigger than another project, Tone Def (formerly known as Music Defense). Because of this, I’ve decided to put MossHawk on the back burner for now, while focusing on MCE and Tone Def. Of course, there’s always the problem of more time. And, yes, I could be working instead of blogging and wishing for more time. But then how would I know at what point my mind started to melt? I could keep a personal & private journal, but…..well, I have no good reason.

That’s it for now. At this moment in time, I’m deciding between sleeping and working some more. I think I may fall asleep at the keyboard just trying to make that decision.

(I write these blog post in advance, so at this point in time, the back of my eyelids look very appealing).

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An Indie Pitch & being Tone Def

Posted in MCE, Music, OriGamInc, Tone Def by Shawn on December 12, 2011

So hey! There’s this thing that Joystiq does called the Indie Pitch where they interview indie devs trying to make games. And I was just interviewed. Makes me feel….somewhat special.

Read the interview!
So how about that Mr. Condyle? I’m still working on that game, of course. But I’ve also been working on that Music Defense game quite frequently. And thanks to a friend (thanks Tim), I have  a better name than Music Defense. Right now, the pending name is Tone Def. I think it’s pretty clever. I’m working hard to put together a prototype that I can upload online for others to try, so please forgive me if art is a bit crude, and if something doesn’t work properly, as they have done for me with my test builds.

So, to stay in line with the musical theme of this post, here’s one of the latest tracks for Mr. Condyle’s Escape. Right now, it’s called World ?, mostly because I’m not sure what world this song will be placed in. You can listen below:

World ? Music

Anyway, that’s it for now. There’s a lot of work to be done in many different places, and it’s exciting just thinking about everything!

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We’re timing you…

Posted in MCE by Shawn on November 29, 2011

There really isn’t a “We” as this is just me. But “I’m timing you” sounds a bit creepier than “We’re timing you”. At least, it makes me feel less creepy. And that’s what’s important.

Of course, I’m really talking about Mr. Condyle’s Escape. Right now, for the demo, there are two level types. Goal levels, where you must reach the goal, and Survival levels, where you must survive until time runs out. So, it seems like it makes sense to add in a third level, which is a combination of the two. A Timed Goal Level.

A flag and a stopwatch? Clever! (not really)

The level type is simple. Reach the goal before time runs out. At first, this may seem weird, especially in such a fixed game. It may make more sense if you had direct control over the main character, where your direct move allows you to increase/lower your chances of success. This was the main factor to why I kept it out of the game for so long. I actually included this type of level within my code, but never implemented it in design until recently. But after thinking about it, and just mocking up levels, I decided to take the leap. Whether this is a good decision or not is not known.

The level in its most basic form has the player choosing moves they feel would be the best, as most levels do. However, in these levels, players must pick the most optimal solution, as opposed to the other level types. During any given Goal level, you could pause for a number of times, and still complete the level. Of course, your move count will increase dramatically, but that doesn’t negate the fact that you don’t really need to be move conscious. That changes a bit more with a Survival level, and even more so with a Timed Goal level.  It’s pretty much “Choose the best path, or lose”. And think of the stressful interesting situations you can be placed into. Let’s say the level you are in happens to contain Active Bombs (bombs that start ticking as soon as you enter the level regardless of whether you press play or not), then you’ll need to make the best decision quickly/right on time, depending on where the bomb is.

Quick note about Active Bombs. Just because they go off right away doesn’t mean one has to rush. Rather, they’re more about timing rather than rushing. You know this bomb will go off after ‘x’ seconds. However, when do you press the play button? Do you press play as soon as you can, or do you press play when the bomb is about to explode? Questions!

To bring that back into the whole Timed Goal aspect, this game actually gets a bit more complicated than I thought it would. You may have a timed goal level, where you need to make the right choices quickly, before that bomb blows up and destroys your path. Or, you may need to wait 5 seconds before you set out on your goal in a Goal Level with an Active Bomb. (Active Bombs add a whole new element).

Oh, and finally, there’s a new simple object, which I’ve neglected for some reason. It’s a simple switch. And it has the power to activate/deactivate certain objects, pieces of the level. There are a few level mockups for this switch, which should make the game a bit more difficult than it already is.

But that’s it for now.

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MCE – End of Iteration 10

Posted in MCE, Music, Unity by Shawn on November 28, 2011

So what happened this iteration?

Well, unfortunately, not as much as I would have liked. This past Thursday was Thanksgiving Day, so I do understand why some things may have slowed down. But, while I did not do as much as I would have like to, (I don’t have as many assorted tasks as usual since it’s mostly grinding out levels),  the work that was completed will make future work much easier.

I spent a lot of time messing with the Custom Editor API that Unity provides, and wrote a few things to help me out. My last Redmine instance crashed, and my data with it. On that machine, I had the solutions for the games levels. For play testing, I need the solutions, and rather not spend most of my time trying to beat levels over again, as I forget solutions all the time. So, having easy access to the solutions is key. They are written down in two notebooks, but the notes are very sloppy, and the levels are not in the right order. Sometimes, when searching through the book for a level’s solution, it felt like it’d be easier to just try and solve the level rather than search through the scribbles in my notes.

Anyway, in regards to the custom editor scripts, aside from making an easy list to spawn tools I need, I’m not documenting my solutions on an external file. Very simple, but still very cool. Basically, every time I beat a level, I save the solution to the level. Easier than writing them down, not as messy, and allows me to save time when play testing consecutive levels.

I also have a new song for MCE! I’m not sure where this song will go though. I was thinking this would be set for world 3, but I’m not fully sure what world 3 will be yet. World One is ‘TheCity’ and world two is ‘TheForest’, and I have a slight idea of where I should go next.

Speaking of more musical things, I set up a SoundCloud profile, featuring ‘Less’ and another piece that I worked on some time last year. I do plan to upload more MCE work on SoundCloud for easier sharing/access etc, but two for now will suffice.

But that’s it for now. I have to seriously think of what I’m doing for the next world. And make some more music.

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MossHawk: End of Iteration 1

Posted in MCE, MossHawk by Shawn on November 20, 2011

The first iteration for project MossHawk is finished. What did I do?

Well, since MossHawk is technically a somewhat ‘secret’ project, I cannot really give out too many details.

Although I already have in person to many people.

A few details about MossHawk:

  • It’s going to be another PC project
  • It’s another single player game
  • It’s mostly in 2D, although there will be some elements where you can change perspectice
  • When the main player dies, it’s not the end. Actually, in many situations, death is encouraged.
  • You can help yourself. A lot.

Good details, right? Well, because I’m also working on MCE, I can’t work as fast with this as I can with MCE….albeit, that wasn’t that fast to begin with. However, I’m back to my initial goal of trying to sketch out a level in MCE a day, or at least every two days. Of course, these levels will still need art & music, and will need to progress accordingly in difficultly, but before I can do that, I still need the levels.

That’s it for now, as I do not have much to discuss. Right now, I’m looking at a lot of development that needs to be done, and not as much time as I would like. Despite that, I still need to make due with what I have for now.

…..inspiring, right?

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