shawn's blog

Obsession

Posted in Other by Shawn on March 17, 2011

That’s what I am. Obsessed.

I want to make this game of mine, and I feel like I make progress everyday. I want everyone and anyone to play this game and let me know what they think. That’s actually much harder than one would think, as I believe that only 2 other people have played the game so far. It’s progress though, right?

Unfortunately, I reconfirmed that I have no art skill whatsoever. And if I did, I wouldn’t be able to show what I could do online. Which means that it is quite possible that my in-game characters may remain block-like characters for quite some time. If I never find anyone who is willing to assist me with art (I have no money, so I’d need to con a friend into helping me out), the characters in the game may wind up looking like worse versions of Scribblenauts characters. Those characters were appealing scribbles. Mine will most certainly not fall anywhere near the appealing category.

Programming-wise, I feel like I need to challenge myself a bit more. However, this could be a side-effect of the type of game that I have chosen to create. It’s a game with a very simple premise, and not too many intricate features. Each individual piece has proven not to be troublesome in creation, but rather, its the combination of all that may cause one to feel like things are complicated.

Oh, and PAX East just passed, and I actually attended. Games were played. panels attended and overpriced food was purchased. However, it was an enjoyable time overall. It really made me want to work on my game some more. I’ve probably said this before, but I can easily package this game right now, after making a few more levels. However, that wouldn’t be fun, and there are more levels of customization that I wish to include!

Interested? Well…..I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

That’s it for now.

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Winshi vA.1.4.5 Online (oh, and PAX East in Boston)

Posted in Unity by Shawn on March 10, 2011

So, after a few failed attempts of actually uploading the web player, I managed to successfully upload Winshi v1.4.5 online. Which means that if you follow this link right here, you can actually play the game. You’ll need to download the Unity WebPlayer, if you do not have it already  (I suspect that many people reading this do not).

Please, if you are prone to anything that may cause a seizure of some kind, you may not want to play the Endless Level, as the amount of flashing is significantly higher than in other levels. This was a warning.
(Why the warning? Well, I see it all the time, so I just wanted to fit in….)

There are a few noticeable details between the downloadable v.A.1.2 and the streamable v.A.1.4.5, such as a new enemy type, known to me as the Deadly Enemy. Almost as fast as the Yellow Fast enemy, and almost as powerful as the Purple Strong Enemy. It does not show up as frequently as other enemies, but it’s a real pain when they do :/

Also, the endless level has been updated and made a bit more dramatic! It was actually pretty fun putting this together. I do actually want to do a bit of technically blogging about some of the features within in this level, as I was surprised that I managed to put in without really sacrificing anything that was initially written down.  But that will probably have to wait until after this weekend, as I’m heading to Boston this weekend  to PAX East 2011. It’s the first time I’m actually going to any sort of event like this. I would have *loved* to go to GDC, but alas, I didn’t have the funds. Nor the time. Plus, I think I would have gotten laughed at for being such as ‘n00b’.

But PAX should be fun, and etc.

That’s it for now. I need to finish my week’s work a day early, as I leave tonight. Oh, and if you happen to play Winshi vA.1.4.5, please let me know what you think, and send feedback to winshi_feedback@origaminc.com!

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Story Mode

Posted in Writings by Shawn on March 8, 2011

In regards to Winshi’s story, they will be handled in Arcs. This is to make the development of the games levels, including what features the player will be able to access, more cohesive. I may have mentioned this before, but I rather not (too lazy) go back and check to see if I did….

Anyway, back to the Arcs. As of now, the number of arcs that will be in the game is undetermined. Right now, it’s believed to be about four or five. And guess what! The basic sketches of Arc A & B are pretty much completed.

This is where I ask for help – of course, if anyone is interested. If anyone would like to take a look at the basic Arcs, and help develop this story in anyway, let me know! I really do enjoy working with other people on random projects, and this certainly fits the bill. Leave a comment or send an email letting me know you want to be involved.

vA.2 of Winshi is actually slated for completion by April 15th. So in those days, if it comes down to delaying on my taxes and meeting my deadline, I’m pretty sure we know what will get pushed aside….

But before I get myself in anymore trouble, that’s it for now.

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Winshi vA.1

Posted in Writings by Shawn on March 7, 2011

Turns out that I actually met my own deadline, and finished Winshi’s vA.1!

Truth be told, if I wanted to package this up and call it a finished product, I could; the end result could be called something along the lines of “Skyblocks”, where you fight as a sky block against other sky blocks. While that’s nice, it’s not the main goal.

More importantly, this is something that I can possibly get actual feedback on. On the disc versions of vA.1 that I may possibly distribute, I’ve included the music from the game, just in case anyone thinks that it’s worthy of being listened to outside of the game. Later on today, both the Mac & Windows versions will be available for download, if anyone wants to take a crack at it. If you want a physical version of the game instead, email winshi_feedback@origaminc.com. If anyone decides to play it, I would greatly appreciate as much feedback as possible. Feedback anywhere, such as this blog would be great, but it would be much appreciated if all feedback could be directed to wishi_feedback@origaminc.com. I do plan to take all feedback very seriously, and already have pages dedicated to where feedback can go. I will try my best to include all reasonable ideas and suggestions.

Also, there is some more information regarding Winshi and the types of levels that a player will encounter if they decide to boot up vA.1. If there is anything missing, or if anyone needs anything answered, emails/comments are the way to go.

Right now, I plan to take a short break from programming and developing, and plan to work on other elements of Winshi. In the final package of Winshi,there will be story included, hopefully one that doesnt…well…..stink. Version A.2 of Winshi will not have story elements included however. I’ll probably wait until vB.1 to start including pieces of the story. In terms of current progress, the back story is currently being worked on. Why are these ninja’s fighting in the sky? Well, hopefully the answer to that makes sense. And if it doesn’t, then that’s probably better.

I also plan to do away with those funky block looking characters and include actual artwork. I have been delaying on drawing characters, but have decided to actually go ahead and see what I can pull off. I have a certain type of style in mind, but they may be beyond my art skills. However, it still would be nice to see more than just floating blocks. It would make the game seem more like a game!

That’s it for now. If you plan on playing Winshi, thanks!

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More Progress

Posted in Other by Shawn on March 4, 2011

The main goal of Version A.1 of Winshi is to gather as much feedback as possible, whether that would be in person or though email. I’m guessing that I will receive mostly the latter, as the time I have to spend with actual people (other than my daily bus mates who I never talk to) has become very limited. I plan to take this feedback very seriously, unless someone claims that I should change the game into something involving rocks that evolve into other rocks. It’d maybe make a good educational game, but it’s not what I’m going for at the moment.

Then, if I actually receive feedback, I’m then presented with a more difficult task. What is good feedback and what can be discarded? The problem is, while I am still making something that I want everyone to enjoy, the product still is my own. Eventually, I will probably have to make something that does not sit right with what I want, but I do not think that day is today. I do feel a bit bad saying this, but it would be really disappointing if one of the first actual projects that I can complete does not turn out to be some crazy idea that was dreamed up while messing around.

Version A.1 is pretty much finished. This last weekend will be spent going through code, cleaning up issues, and making sure that no one has a game crashing first experience. I actually just added a pause screen and a way to quit the game. Why’d it took so long? Well, I didn’t really think about it.

If anyone would like to do me the honor of play testing this first build, there should hopefully be 4 different types of levels:

  • 2 Combat Levels – Defeat a certain number of enemies
  • 2 Survival Levels – Survive for a certain amount of time
  • 1 Target Level – Fight(Or survive) until you see the target (which you’ll have to eliminate)
  • 1 Endless Level – Fight for as long as you can!

There are more level ideas in the works, but these are the ones playable in the first build. You’ll be able to play these levels over and over, and you’ll actually be able to gain points to raise your stats, such as attack strength, attack speed, and overall defense. I would have loved to include many more levels/stats etc, but I did want to have something playable as soon as possible.

That’s it for now. I’ll be back Monday with information on how to play the build.

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Musical Composition

Posted in Music by Shawn on March 2, 2011

Yesterday, I posted a new piece of music for Winshi, tentatively titled “Less”.  It’s only the third completed piece of music that I have for Winshi, but, so far, I actually think it’s the best. Well, I thought that that ‘Title’ was pretty cool too.

Anyway, today, I wanted to talk a bit about my personal processes when making music. It’s what I do, and of course, that won’t be best for everyone. Still, it helps me create pieces of music that I enjoy.

Thinking Away From the Computer
All of the music for Winshi is being created on the computer using different types of software. Which means that I’m constantly looking at a computer screen in between work, Winshi programming, and more (even on the bus that I ride daily, which is where I’m typing this right now). However, whenever I begin working on a piece of music, I make myself step away from the computer, and take time to play with sounds in my head. What do I want to be this? What type of sound do I want? How long should this be? Blah blah blah. A bunch of questions are asked, and a lot of sounds are played within my mind (or brain…bleh). This allows me to have something to go to the computer with. Now, I don’t expect myself to actually reproduce the same thing that was working internally on screen. If I did that, well, it’d be a surprise, to say the least.

Playing With Sounds
When it is time to step up to the screen, things get a bit more interesting. It’s hard to determine what I want to start with (percussion, strings, brass), but that is something that is never consistent. Basically, I start with whatever I feel like starting with. Well, this is for when I’m working on a piece that can include any type of instrument or sound. If I had a percussion piece in mind, then I’d probably start with some sort of drum.

Then sounds and notes start going up on the screen. I like to try and emulate the sound that I have in my head, but rarely get the same thing out. Mostly because what I’m thinking of transforms as I’m working. Which brings me to my next point.

Garbage
Well, I guess it would somewhat mean to call everything that I don’t use garbage, as everything that I didn’t use helped bring me closer to something that I actually want to keep. One of the hardest things to do in life for some is to throw things away. I know I have a hard time, whether it’s tangible or not. In terms of making pieces of music, there are many times that I make something I like (or at least I think I like it). Actually, before I finished ‘Less’, I had a different, full minute of music that I had completed. And I threw it away. Completely scrapped. It wasn’t even a ‘maybe I’ll come back to this’ or ‘maybe I’ll use this again’. It was just gone. I didn’t even save it once, which is probably bad practice. But I just didn’t want it.

For some reason, I’ve become pretty emotionally tied to the things that I create, and if it doesn’t sit right with me, then I shouldn’t have to force myself to use it, just because time was put into it. I’m actually very fortunate that I can say that about this in particular. I do understand that there are many people who need to work on a project for a job and may not necessarily agree/enjoy with everything that they need to do to reach completion.

Turning Away
It’s easy to become engrossed with a project. There are times when I’m working on music, and I feel like what I have is so ‘super awesome and cool’ and I can’t wait to use it. At this point, I stop working on it. And I take a break. The hardest part begins. When I go back to a piece of music and listen to it, is it something that I want to keep?  There have been countless times where I’m working on music, and after returning, I don’t like it as much initially. In fact, sometimes, things just sound terrible. Then I wonder, “What was I thinking? What was I working on?! Garbage!” It’s usually not that intense; I’m not really a loud person. But internally, embarrassment fills my mind Things are then scrapped. Maybe something similar will be included, maybe not. But at least I know that I’m closer to what I want.

Enjoying  It
This is probably the most stereotypical thing, but it often is underrated, and is an underlying theme all throughout each and every step. Enjoying something with each step you take. Some days, it’s easier than others. Some days are off days, others even worse. It’d be great if everyday was excellent, but that can’t always be the case unfortunately. But when I find something that I enjoy, I stick with it, and become slightly obsessed. In this case, with ‘Less’, slightly obsessed means that I’ve been listening to this nonstop for a few hours. It’s a 4:14 piece, and my morning bus ride is about an hour…..

But, for me, I need to be enjoying compositions nonstop. And the way I work would probably leave someone to get sick of the music 5 mins in. I’ll have pieces loop over and over for quite some time, until I finally figure out what I want to do. If I don’t get sick of the music, then that’s a good sign. If I cannot stand it after a few repetitions, then I don’t feel as good about what is currently playing.

There are probably many other tidbits that I can include, but these are the major points. I’m pretty sure that this type of though process could be carried over to other forms of art as well, but that’s another blog post for probably another person.

And that’s it for now.

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Balancing

Posted in Other by Shawn on March 1, 2011

I’ve had to balance a game. Well, not seriously.

When the original Starcraft came out, I played a good deal of it. I wasn’t that good (I still pretty much stink). Nevertheless, I enjoyed myself most of the time.

I was always annoyed when I saw patches and read what was being upgraded. I never was annoyed by the bugs that needed to be fixed. What bugged me were the balancing changes that needed to be made. For example, maybe a Zergling attack rate decreased by 0.1 seconds, or maybe a Marines range was slightly decreased.

“What are these changes? Who cares! I’m so cool!”

Yeah, that’s what I was like. Probably.

Anyway, they never really made a difference to me. Because I wasn’t that good, micromanaging never really was something that I cared too much about. More minerals! More Hydralisk! (I was a zerg lover….I still am) Even with recent updates to Starcraft II, fixes such as defense points and the like didn’t resonate with me. I’m still not that good, even though I’m much better than I was was years back.

Currently, I’m working on the points system for raising the stats of the main player in Winshi. And I have a greater appreciation for the people who take the time to play test and balance a game. The people who spend hours finally deciding that you should increase the speed of this character by .1 instead of .125. It takes time. It takes a lot of math. It’s not that complicated. It’s mostly tedious, and requires a great amount of attention to detail. You need to take into consideration everything. Especially when you have multiple stats that effect each other in such a delicate way.

In the Version A build of Winshi that I’m working on, there is a very simple experience system. There are 5 stats that you can level up:

  • Arm Strength
  • Leg Strength
  • Arm Speed
  • Leg Speed
  • Defense
    • Which affects overall defense and defense while blocking

Meh, not that much, right? Well, yeah, it’s not that much for now. I don’t know how many more stats I will include, but that is besides the point. I only have a few things interacting with each other; arm speed & arm strength need to be managed together more tediously as opposed to Defense & Leg Speed.

Furthermore, these upgrades are not free. Each upgrade will need to cost a certain amount. Free upgrades would be nice….but not fair. And I guess not realistic in real life either. Each upgrade provides more points than the last. Which means that they all can’t cost the same amount of points. But how many points is a .5 upgrade to Arm Speed worth? Do you really want someone playing for hours and hours and hours just to achieve a .125 upgrade in leg speed? This isn’t a MMORPG akin to World of Warcraft, so I wouldn’t expect anyone to play this game thinking “I know I’m going to need to put in 200 hours to make sure that I can do this particular action a tiny bit faster!”.

Now, you get these points by defeating the enemies on screen, each brand providing a different amount of experience points to the player. This needs to be managed fairly as well. Defeating 2,000 enemies shouldn’t only provide a player with enough points to to upgrade one stat; destroying one enemy shouldn’t allow a player to max out everything….well, again, not in this game.

This is only for a small project of mine. And while it’s not complicated, imagine how difficult it would be for a game such as a Starcraft or any other game where stats are ‘uber’ important. Games such as these still have a multi-million dollar budget, as well as people who would play test the game for free (me included), but that still does not negate the fact that balancing takes time and work.

I better understand/appreciate/empathize with the individuals/teams that need to work on such a large number of dynamic situations.  However, I still do hope to work on a project that would cause such headaches one day. If I ever get my other project off the ground (Project K.A.), then I’ll need to deal with horrific, yet wonderful, statistics that will leave me hating numbers, math, etc.

Well, maybe not hating. Math will need to sleep on the couch for a few nights. Or maybe otherwise, if I’m the one acting dumb….

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