shawn's blog

Play This Game!

Posted in MCE by Shawn on April 25, 2011

So…’s been about a month now, and I have something that I’m actually sharing with others.

This month didn’t go a smoothly as I thought it would. I had a couple of plans, such as design a level every two days, and work ‘x’ amounts of minutes a day, but alas….those life things, expected and not, happened to take control of my life. I remember watching a video of a developer who had made a lot of progress within 8-9 days. When I think about that, I feel a bit….well, lackluster. However, There are a bunch of things that may probably contribute to my disappointingly slow production time (I think I’m being hard on myself….). I guess the biggest contributing factor would be that game development isn’t my day job.

Anyway, I have created some discs, and have uploaded some files online, and now my plan is to start asking for feedback. From who? Anyone who wants to play the game. So, if anyone reads this, and they are interesting in playing my latest work in progress which I plan to develop into something much greater than it is now, then let me know! Leave an comment, drop an email, etc etc.

And let me know what you think.

In terms of getting back to development, while I do not think I’ve been slacking, I need to pick up the pace and start working harder. Even when I’m not actually developing or designing something, I need to be planning, thinking and researching (researching = playing other games). I do not have nearly as many task as I had during this time in comparison to Winshi. A reason for that is mostly because I spent much more time off the computer and designing levels and artwork in my sketchbook. If I started logging data and time for designing levels and implementing them, I would have a much more impressive task list.

That’s it for now. I should work on some more things!

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Posted in MCE by Shawn on April 20, 2011

Well, my puzzle game project is continuing. And this means that I am going to need to deal with art. Easily my weakest area. But, I guess it doesn’t hurt to try right?

Well, I did try this past weekend, and this is what I have for the dangerous parts of the game. The spiked ball and the spiked bed:




Well….hopefully they’re not terrible? We will see. I just wanted to share some work.

That’s it for now.

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April 18th Update

Posted in MCE, Unity by Shawn on April 18, 2011

(Can’t really think of a decent title)

Well, I think that I’m making progress with my Unity Puzzle game project! Well, regardless of how much I have actually done, I am farther than where I was a couple of weeks ago. I believe that I have finished the in-game interface for the player. I say ‘believe’ because there may turn out to be bugs of some kind, but right now, things seem to be operational. If I encounter no more bugs, then I will definitely be done with the in-game GUI, and go back to designing game levels and concepts.

I have actually, and unfortunately, have no been able to keep up with my “design one level every two days”. This has been mostly because of the latest stint with the GUI. According to my project management tool, I’ve spend ~5 hours on the last part of the interface. This was spent building a class that will help display the actions that he main player has selected before the game is put into motion. In total, I’ve spent about around 11 hours on final version of the GUI. This doesn’t count the time spent on initially creating the GUI and telling everything what to do (which I didn’t log time for, so who knows how long I’ve spent on this in total). I took my time with this, because I really do not want to worry about focusing on this later on in the developmental period. I want to focus on creating coherent gameplay. But the interface is very simple.

I actually plan to let other people play the game soon! The last thing I needed was the final piece of the interface, but my last session of work fixed that. Which means that I may start forcing people I know to play this. Why force? Because then the person who plays the game will be angry that I forced them to play it, meaning that they will not be nice when giving me feedback, which means the odds of it being honest and such are greater. At least, that’s my logic behind it. Quality logic? Probably not. But if I think about this any longer, I may prove myself wrong.

So that’s it for now.

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Designs and Books

Posted in MCE by Shawn on April 14, 2011

In a past update, I talked a lot about balancing and how tedious it can be. Because Winshi was a simple fighting game, the design of levels wasn’t overly complicated. Place baddies. Place main player. Alter environment. Fight. That’s all I needed.

However, this puzzle game is a bit different. So different, that I need to do a lot of prep work before I even go to the computer screen. Right now, I carry around a sketchbook (except for right now, because I left it somewhere else). Within this sketchbook are my designs for levels that I plan to include within this puzzle game. Within the book are some elements that I haven’t designed yet, levels that are not fully complete, and random scribbles. However, everything in this book is contributing to the overall design process of each level, which is much more intricate than Winshi ever was (no offense ninjas…).

One major element within the puzzle game I’m developing is timing. Planning and timing is key. For both myself, and the potential player. I have to make sure that everything within the game is timed correctly, to allow the player to actually beat the level. However, I can’t make it too easy where the player doesn’t have to think about what they’re doing. I just realized that I haven’t even provided anyone who may possibly be reading this (heh), with any information about what the concept of the game is. Well, I will. When I have more things in production.

Anyway, back to my processes. I have a goal which I started on Monday. My plan is to design at least one level every two days, three at most, as some days are unpredictable. I’m hoping to actually stick to this goal, and fill up my first sketch book soon. I may wind up doing that sooner rather than later, as many of my drawings are large, ugly and have may different markings that turn items that should be able to fit onto one page span across 4. In terms of the actual development of these levels, I managed to put together 4! One of them, which I already mocked up, I hasn’t been implemented yet, mostly because I haven’t found the best way to do it. I may need to redesign this on paper before I try to design it again.

Speaking of design, I recently purchased a book on game design. I’ve just started, and so far….well, I don’t like a lot. I don’t know whether this is good or bad, but I am happy that at least the writers of the book initially stated that this is what they did and figure should assist people in the future. They also made it clear that there are multiple roads to actually achieving the goals of designing a good game. A lot of the details are standard, and being that the book also discusses a lot about writing a story for a game, something else that I’m extremely interested in, there are a lot of elements than can easily be transferred over to the person who wants to create a quality story. Which makes sense. However, before I reach my final verdict, I’ll have to read more. Probably on the bus ride to work tomorrow morning.

Yay buses. I think I spend ~11hrs M-F in transit. Typing on this bus ride, which is extremely bumpy, is annoying, and the potholes along the route turn my drawings in to blogs, smears and tears. I can always watch a move! Reading is productive too. But enough rambling. I should get back to doing something. So that’s it for now.

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Puzzle Roadmap

Posted in MCE by Shawn on April 12, 2011

Well, now that I have the plan to work on this game and actually submit it to the IGF, let’s start thinking about what needs to be done. I’ll probably also need to make a document within Redmine as well, so I have something to look at, but here I can be a bit more casual, and share this with the world.

First off, if I cannot find anyone who would want to try and work with me on this project, which I am not waiting for, I will have to do everything. This isn’t me trying to be dramatic and whatnot. This is me being realistic. The world is a big place, and it would take a lot for someone to devote their free time to assisting me with my personal endeavors. Furthermore, there is no point in waiting around for other people to assist me, or for something to happen. If there is a place where I can receive help, or if I see an opportunity where I can get any sort of assistance, then I will take it. My impatience helps me move forward, although it can wind up hurting me.

The first thing I will need to focus on will have to be programming. The core elements of the game need to be assembled. Luckily, I managed to put together a few levels that are actually playable. Which means now I need to build upon this core. I’m currently working on the movement of the character that the player controls, which is more of a headache than it should be.  However, I shouldn’t expect things to be super easy, right?

In terms of music, I feel as if I want to go with a semi-retro style with an infusion of jazz. Sounds crazy right? Well, to me, it sounds excellent. I’ve been wanted to make a jazz song for a while, but just haven’t given myself the chance to work on music. It’s slightly sad, but that will need to change. I’ve been listening to a lot of older generational music, namely Sonic the hedgehog. Hopefully this provide me with a great foundation of music to model mine after.

In terms of art, I semi-know what I want to try and pull off. But because this is my weakest area by far, I think that I will not worry about this too much. I could always make it very retro, and make everything blocky. We’ll see though.

These are the major areas that I will focus on first! But that’s it for now. I need to get back to working on this game.

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Future Plans

Posted in Other by Shawn on April 11, 2011

I haven’t had too much time this past week to do much of anything in terms of game development, which is very depressing. However, this just means that I need to “step up my game” in terms of development this week. Especially because I have decided to shoot for submitting a work of mine to the IGF, the Independent Game Festival. What does this mean for me? More work and a goal of some kind.

The next submission for the IGF may not be until the summer hours grace us with their abundance of sunshine and tremendous heat. But until then, I will constantly click away at my mouse and keyboard until I can manage to put something that I feel is presentable together. As of this point in time, I think that I may actually work on developing my puzzle game enough to submit to the festival. I could also submit Winshi, but that is more of a fun learning experience project, rather than a “Hey, I’ll show this off” project. And I already got potential good feedback about the puzzle game before I even starting to program any code. Hey, at least the concept sounds like it’s good/unique. If things actually go much better for this, I may actually need to put Winshi on a serious back burner….although it does break my heart to do such.

I did hear that you’re not supposed to be scared to move on to a different project and leave one behind. The terminology for such I rather not repeat here, for fear of getting in trouble, but it’s actually not as bad as I thought it would be. I figured that it would be very painful to stop one project and move on to another, but because I think this next idea is much more original (at least, I hope it is) and can potentially be much more user friendly – in the beginning at least – moving on isn’t so bad. And all that prior experience with Winshi has taught me a lot of good tricks. Enough that I actually put together a playable level of the game in a much faster period of time than it took me to develop a level for Winshi.

As I’m typing this, I feel more and more compelled to work on the puzzle game as opposed to Winshi. And by the time this post is over, I think I will get to that point. I do feel bad for my skydiving ninjas. If anyone in the future would like me to continue work on this game, then I will. Actually, I think I may just whip up an online, “free to play” build of the game online. But that’s unimportant right now. Right now, I look towards the future. Well, tomorrow morning I’ll do that. Right now, it’s 12:39 am, and I feel like watching Dead Space: Downfall right now. I haven’t seen it. Hopefully it is good!

So, that’s it for now.

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Split Time

Posted in Other by Shawn on April 4, 2011

Lately, I have been spending a lot of time working on the new game idea that I have. Things are much easier to get into initially, as coding for Winshi has helped. I think I may have learned something, and have figured out how to think a bit better when developing  game. Progress? Possibly……

This new game is also being developed in Unity, as I don’t want to spend too much time bouncing around from different developmental tools. Managing multiple games at once is one story, but multiple games in multiple tools may get a bit too hectic. I still do not know everything that Unity can do, and before I venture off to a brand new tool, I want to learn more about what I’m currently using. There’s still a lot I don’t know, which I learn every time I hop onto #unity3d.

I’m still working on Winshi though! I’m splitting my time, and hopefully, I’m doing it well. Only time will tell. But it actually helps keep me sane. When I feel as if one project is bugging me too much, or that my progress is slowing down, I switch to a different one, which helps in regards to both projects. I should also probably start taking time off completely, and step away from video gaming. Which is actually do when I ‘research’. My research is playing games. Right now, I’m actually playing a few platformer games, which is actually the other part of the game that I am currently working on. So a puzzle platfomer? The concept is somewhat different, and still needs to be refined.

In regards to Winshi, I still need to work on finishing the levels for Winshi’s vA.2. Things aren’t difficult. Most of it is basically balancing levels so a player doesn’t feel overwhelmed. One combat level is (almost) finished, and 4 other levels need to be completed. The most tedious thing will be the development and balancing of the experience points page. My plan is to take my time in regards to this so numbers do not clog my brain.

I actually hope to record game footage soon, with something like FRAPS. Then I can advertise some of the things that I’m actually working on.

But off to do more research! So that’s it for now.

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