Game developer for a Year

2011 and 2012 were for me years of deep insecurity and confusion. You’d think that they would be memorable years. And instead, how numb they are on my mind. So far away. Of that time, i don’t even remember how i was.

15 minutes are left before the end of this year. 2013 ended to be sort of a fresh start to me. A year where i decided to ditch all my fears of doing new things, and take a path.

It was the year where i started healing my mind from the horrible belief of being worthless.

That’s it. This year told me that indeed , i am worthy. That i am able create , and do wonderful things , that please me and the others.

That it’s OK to be proud of your work, no matter how rough and green .

Even if it doesn’t shine, it’s a testament of your resolution to learn. A fruit full of your passion.

2013 is a year where i started my first steps on understanding the world and the peoples in it a bit more in depth .

The year where i learned to question myself and my beliefs a lot more.

A year where all the stress for the uncertain was replaced by stress for the crunch time, and discover that the latter type of stress at the end results in great satisfaction.

A year where i made a fuckton of friends. A year that made me hungry of discovery. A year that reminded me of when i was a kid, and of all the wonderful things that i forgot.

One minute before the end of the year.

2013 was amazing. Thank you . welcome 2014.

September update

good day gentlemen,

i am a long way off with the updated on this blog, but i got my reasons. every month that i spend on game developing, is a month where my procrastination powers weaken. I usually write on the blog or on twitter when i procrastinate, so this is a problem :S

Nevertheless, today i gave myself the time to update/upgrade my online presence, because well, there’s a lot to talk about. And guess what? it’s all good news :D

ok, first: how are my studies going? great! i managed to pass quite a lot of exams during the summer session.  there was a lot of stress on the air,  but i managed to accomplish all the goals that i booked this season. this is great news for me , since it meant that i have more time to allocate on game developing :3 

there’s still a long way before gaining the degree on computer engineering,  but the results of this session gave me a lot of confidence. so yeah, congratulations me :D

what about game development? well, if you follow me on twitter you will know more or less what is happening, but let’s sum it up: 

Even this time i joined the Ludum Dare event. the theme was 10 Seconds, and my game is called…well…10 Seconds xD

i must say that it was quite difficult to work on this theme! i mean sure, i could have done a normal arcade game and put a 10 seconds timer on something, but that would have been boring. but coming with something original and interesting was a hell of a brainstorming! for that reason, this time i had to spend 3 days to develop the game, where the first one was fully spent on finding some damn idea.  i actually started coding late on the first day.

that said, spending a day brainstorming was a good choice. i had the time to decide what were my goals, and build an idea around them. 

this time, i decided i wanted to make something that wasn’t fast paced. inspired by the august theme of 1GAM, i wanted a game that could make the player think on a different way from all my past works.  and well, let’s say that a certain point during development i wasn’t really trying to make a game. 

the second challenge i set was the art. this time around, since i wasn’t going for a complex game play, i decided to try myself on the animation side of the game, and the overall aspect of the game.

the end result, 10 Seconds , is a single event, with free interpretation from the players. 2 men facing each other, with a gun under the hood, and only one information: you have 10 seconds.

Image

I also was very satisfied from what i accomplished for the art. doing the animations was quite difficult. it required a lot of care and it was time consuming (that’s the reason both the men have the same set of animations :P). however all the care and time spent were really worth it. and this time, i decided to put damn audio on the game. i don’t want to overlook this anymore, from now on my games will need sound!  for me, make or find the right audio and music for my games is a hell of a challenge, but man is it worth it \:D/

so, after spending the last hours tweaking things, hunting bugs and paying attention to the experience overall, i submitted my game for the LD.

some days later, i also published it on GameJolt, because why not? they are totally more organized than me on hosting games, moreover i could track the number of peoples playing my game.

fast forward to today. a couple weeks passed, i played quite a number of LD games ( though i am not hardcore like certain developers :P), and damn my jaw fell down.

i didn’t really expect it, but my game actually had some serious success.

I received a ridiculous amount of very positive comments on my LD page. and on my gamejolt account (that btw is not linked to my ld page), i can see that 150 peoples played my game! adding the ld peoples, we are near to the 200 peoples playing my game!! D:

that’s an awful lot. i mean, wow! that was completely unexpected! xD

this gave me even more motivation on continuing to develop games. the feeling that i have when i make a playable game is great, but knowing that peoples enjoyed your creation, is really priceless.

and well, on Game Jolt i earned 0.15$ . now i am a professional! xD

to everyone that played my game, thank you so much. you guys made my month :D

 

so, we talked about studies, we talked about ludum dare. what now? 

well, i am woking on a long term game. yep, you heard right, i am doing that fancy thing, finally. and not alone! but let’s tell things on order:

during june, i found a game contest called nofuture, held in france and with some nice prized. the rules were so hilarious and interesting that not joining it wasn’t an option. so i proposed the fact to some friends from the #1GAM irc channel , and we decided to form a team to develop a multiplayer cooperative game for the contest. a lot of things happened , but to make it short, we were not quite ready for the contest, but we decided to continue working on the game idea, we found some more peoples and day by day our idea is taking a solid form. i don’t want to spoil everything ( more like my fingers are passing out) , and also it would be quite boring to read the game idea, when instead you will be able to play it in the near future.

That said, expect more updates on twitter and on the blog with images, videos, and livesteams of the development :)

to wrap this up, i inform you guys that i finally bought and assembled my new pc. it’s quite the beast, and with it i am able to give form to more ambitious projects.  it will probably require time, but expect great things in the future. i have ideas that i want to bring to life no matter what :)=

I hope you guys enjoyed this update. till next time, cheers :D

Watacoso

 

May update

May has been an interesting month. Let’s put aside the strange weather of these days (i mean, what the hell. i wanted to go to the beach). Regarding game developing, i really had fun!

After the first days of self commiseration, due to shortage of interesting ideas on what to make, i slowly started the first attempts on another shooter like game. The day passed peacefully, coding and drawing, until i felt that i was shaping up something interesting.

Did i finish it? sadly not. I did all i could, and still i  couldn’t bring myself to wrap it up and call it a day. i did this already with my other games , and although they are playable, it would be nice if they had all the features i planned (something on which i’ll surely work on the near future).

So, this time i will extend the developing time to whatever i need to have a satisfying game.

Am i going to leave #1GAM ? no, you silly. i am still up to the challenge. in fact, this may i submitted another game, Card Match. yes, on may i did a complete re haul on it and i added game profiles and scoreboard. Hope you have fun with it :D

regarding next months, my schedule is pretty thigh, so the next games will be simple side projects that i can make in a brief time. Still, i will choose only projects that can challenge me in some aspect. One thing is for sure though: no more shooters. i overdid that sector too much on this year.

It’s a bit sad i couldn’t submit my game for the fishing jam, but this time i have something really entertaining on my hands, and i want to see how much shiny it can become. See you next time ;)

Bug Hunting: Post mortem

And finally, with more than a week of delay, i decided to write something on the blog about my last game.  I wouldn’t really call it laziness, Because than implies that i just lollygagged  instead of doing something more constructive. Truth is, between study, trying Ludum dare games, and experimenting with new engines, i easily run out of energies. And it’s almost the case even right now, but i spared some hours on these days to complete this taks.

I like to write on my Blog. It wouldn’t seem like it, but it’s true. I find that writing notes, updates and discoveries of my experience as an indie, is something of relevant importance. In first place i am writing down my story as i walk and tremble in excitement for all the new things i witness. Then there’s the fact that i can carefully collect my thoughts on my last work, To understand what i did right, what i did awfully, what i learned from these facts, and To discover what’s the next step.

So, let’s talk about Bug Hunting.

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-26/?action=preview&uid=18332

SS1

It’s a dynamic shooting game , where you need fast reflexes to destroy the black square of DOOM, while avoiding hordes of enemies. But Meh, i am not really good with descriptions, so i suggest you to try it, and it will be pretty self explanatory.

Even this time, HTML5 with the createjs library was my choice. For a 48 hours developing cycle, i didn’t want to stress myself trying to make sense of a new platform.

This was my first attempt to a game with a moving camera. Finding and implementing a solution was a bit time consuming, but rewarding. Thinking about it right now, i am not completely satisfied by the implementation, since it was hardcoded to a relative extent, but it works well anyway, and now i pretty much know how to do it right.

While working on the approach of the ship with the game boundaries, i found out that making the player bounce around was pretty fun. I mean, it’s not something that i saw often on similar games, and it was kind of refreshing.

Then it was the turn of the enemies. As always, i was doing a mess with trigonometry , so i spend an akward interval of time to figure out how to make a seeking AI for the enemy. I also spent a bit of time on tweaking the max speed and the acceleration of the enemies. After finding a good equilibrium, i decided to polish a bit the graphics. I was working with some hand made pgn images, and at first i did not really care for symmetry. Then i thought, “Since the entities are all going to be groups of simple shapes, why don’t i draw them directly with the canvas element?”. I am really proud of this choice. The loading time was now petty, and the game was now smoother , even with a lot of entities ingame.

(Guys, bear with me if i seem excited even by the little things. At this point of my “career”  , i am ecstatic by every little thing i think i do right, and it’s such a good feeling xD)

Ok, at this point i had somewhat of a playable game prototype. There were still a lot of things to do, but i conceded myself some minutes of simply avoiding enemies, parkouring with the stage borders. I liked how things were going.

Next on the list were bullets. Not that hard to do, this time. What i found hard was (sigh) collision.

This time i had to confront a new problem.  Not to identify when a collision occurs (i went with the radius collision system, and i tweaked the collision radius of the entities until i was satisfied by the results). Rather HOW to react. i first started experimenting with single object collisions ( first the core, then the obstacles), and i had some sporadic problems of the ship being stuck. The situation worsened when i spawned multiple obstacles on the same area. Since the problem wasn’t trivial, and i didn’t have time to research or invent some algorithm tailored for my problem ( i was at the morning of the second day ), i decided to leave out collision responses from the code. I also programmed the ship in a way that it couldn’t shoot when with obstacles below, so that it could reach the core only from outside the blob.

The rest of the day was spent on making the game more appealing:

-swapping the placeholder graphics with something reasonably polished;

-UI (Ugh, i hate that thing);

-level generator and scoring system;

while doing this, i was also developing a static shooting kind of enemy. Turns out there were some strange problems that i wasn’t able to solve with the remaining time, so i trashed the work after some time.

And after doing some trivial modifications, i uploaded the game online, and there you have it, Bug Hunting is a game! the next day, after filling my health bar in bed, i tweaked  a bit the parameters of the level generators, since the game was unplayable, and i must have been on drugs ( damn you, need of sleep!!).

the game did receive some good critics, and i took note of all things that could have been done better.

Even this time, i didn’t put effort on making any sound or music. And big error again, since they would add a lot more to the game. I can’t justify myself with the lack of time. I could spare an hour or 2 making something. All i needed was planning ahead that part of development.

Players were conflicted between the ones that liked the controls and the ones that didn’t really enjoy them. I will need to form a better opinion on this, after some testing.

Player enjoyed the frenzy of the game. Meaning i somewhat hit the right ratio of completing  the goal versus staying alive. it was noted though that a more rewarding goal would have been better. In fact a lot of players told me that they didn’t really have any incentive on completing a level, since they could score big just killing the bugs.

And it’s true. The only reward you obtain clearing a level is increasing a score multiplier, and i didn’t even advertise this thing :P

What i learned here is important. An appealing game is a game where the player is rewarded for his/her accomplishments. Now that i know it in practice, i am a better game designer xD

It’s worth to note though that the players generally liked to play the game even without completing a level. And that’s something i can confirm. the fast movements of the ship, in synergy with fast reflexes to avoid and shoot down the enemies, is something that i found very entertaining. I can say that this game is so far the one that i liked to develop and to play the most. And since the game concept in in my opinion interesting enough, i decided to make a complete game out of it :D it will require some months, but i believe i can make my first commercial game out of this. I will target Desktop and Tablet market, since they are the more adapt for this kind of game-play . I still don’t know if i will work alone or with some other peoples. time will tell what is the best choice :P wish me luck guys, i will need it ;)

Meanwhile i will continue to join monthly some game jams, when time permits. This month i have my sensors toward the First Legendary fishing Jam, hosted by Sophie Houlden (WooT!). give it a look, guys. it will be epic xD

http://jam.legendaryfisher.com/forum/index.php

Finally, i want to wish good luck to all LD26 participants for the voting phase . i don’t really expect that my game will take me really far, but i don’t really care anyway. i had a lot of fun this time, and the theme was amazing xD

Stay tuned for updates, guys, and see you next time ;)

Solitude Post Mortem

Good evening. Man, what an interesting week!

It’s fun to think that a week ago i decided to join the GPC (Game Prototype Challenge) in a whim, and now i got a brand new video game!

icon

Solitude is a game based on the themes “Island” and “Entangled”. The goal of the game is to get all the floating crystals on a level and take them to the teleporting device. To do that, you “tie” the floating crystals to your ship, and you pull them. It’s some sort of puzzle driven snake.

completeGame

 

This time, i was especially amazed by my speed. The experience on making Goblin Rampage (both versions) were priceless. In fact, this time i completed the core mechanics of the game a lot in advance ( Yes, i learned my lesson ^_^;) .

The problems started when i had to do level design. This will probably sound dumb, but i thought that i just needed simple game mechanics to make a good puzzle game, and that the ideas to make challenging levels would swiftly come.

So, this time i learned this : Never, Ever, assume that level design is something that comes natural. Even when the game was made you yourself!

You can’t just take a random game mechanic and assume that you will instantly know how to design good levels out of it. Heck, It’s even plausible that you can’t pull anything interesting, no matter how skilled you are.

I must say that this did not leave after burns on me. After all, having problems on making levels was expected, since i never did it before ( And it was my first shot at tiling, so positioning tiles with Tiled was very time consuming :S). Also, what matters is that the game is complete, no matter what. The things that i set out to complete first were done on a wink of an eye!

This is without a doubt really satisfying , but it made me wonder.

All this speed, was due to the fact that i knew how things were done. Now, A Shmup and a puzzle game are of course really different. At coding level, and on spriting too, i had to do things in a different way, and i also had a more efficient approach on how to structure my work.

Still, i don’t think I felt a challenge strong enough. I made something new, but it wasn’t enough.

I merged this thought with some discussions with fellow developers of 1GAM and other game jams, and with this article i read today , http://indiestatik.com/2013/04/15/why-freeware/ , pondering the cause behind the will of posting your game as a free one.

You can take a lot of things from that article, but staying inherent to my thoughts, it reminded me an important concept.

As a game dev, i join game jams for 2 main goals, that is,

Learning new things in a very effective way , and posing a challenge to yourself.

Of course i join game jams also because i enjoy making games, but usually this enjoyment is tied with the challenge.

Thus, the fact that i succeeded  on making this game without commendable difficulty ,

is of course something to joy about, cause it means you are in the right way and you are learning good practices. But you also need to consider it an orange light. It means that you probably will have to higher the ambition and difficulty for your next project. Don’t stick to something that you probably know how to do, and remember that the Failing at making a too difficult game is never a fail. In fact, you will probably learn a lot more trying to make something new, and studying what made you fail, than succeeding in doing something more feasible on your standards.

Truth is, by no means you should always start with this philosophy, unless you are masochist. And you probably don’t want to use it when doing a commercial work.

What we need is middle point , and moving from that depending from the situation.

This is, on my opinion, the best way to take all you can from every game jam you will ever join.

Ok, guess this is all i wanted to say. I will be back for Ludum Dare, Folks. Have a nice day!

Sneak peek

here is some chat text brainstorming a story:

 

the setting is on the sky between floating islands

[10:11:37] Kannas Tack: the player (the thing that should seem a zepelin) is an operator with the job to take the crystals floating around these islands , and send them back to his corporation
[10:12:19] Kannas Tack: we don’t know if this player is human, how long was he here, or if there are other entities on the place
[10:12:29] Kannas Tack: thus i used the title solitude
[10:13:36] Kannas Tack: the player ( be it human or robot) will ask himself, during the game, will ponder about his situation,even asking himself if his corporation still exists
[10:13:40] Kannas Tack: hmmm
[10:13:56] Kannas Tack: at this point the player could be an intelligent bot
[10:14:08] Kannas Tack: and it could be working for hundreds of years
[10:14:27] Kannas Tack: thus not knowing really anything about his creators situation
[10:15:37] Kannas Tack: for all we know, the humans that made him could be even extinct, leaving the player entangled :D on the role of one of the last relics of human world
[10:16:08] Kannas Tack: wow, this gives me the idea for the last level

[10:16:58] Kannas Tack: on the last level, the drone has a malfunction. He is able to make only n more movements before shutting down forever
[10:17:06] Kannas Tack: yes? xD
[10:17:36] Kannas Tack: damn, i tend to make books on chat : S

 

stay tuned for the real game :D

 

fears and dreams

A long time passed since my last article. Truth is, i wanted to write this at the start of the month, but as i sadly am a lazy person, a week elapsed. So, let’s start with a briefing of what happened during this time.

Do you remember the prototype images of the game i wanted to complete on january? well, now is out! i postponed it for the march submission, and yet i still missed to do a lot of things. Nevertheless, i decided it was time to wrap up things and start something new. I decided it considering that anyway i had a working game prototype, with the main things a game needs. Furthermore, i was tired of beign stuck on an idea that with time became less entertaining. I had the desire to work on something new. I am still not sure of what to do next, but it will probably be fun, and surely i have learned a lot about how to manage my work time :3

A brief post mortem is also necessary here, since i learned some interesting things this time:

the first thing i regret, is doing a remake of my first game (the LD25 Goblin Rampage). There are no valid reasons to decide to do something like this. No, wait . There is one. I didn’t know it was a so boring decision!

Instead of using a similar plot, i could have worked on something more interesting. Instead i did something that i need to avoid: stick to what i already know. And this is useless in many ways. The main point beign , doing something that i already knew killed half of the fun of learning how to make games.

Also, i really spent too much time on the development. I waited 3 months to publish something that had to be finished in 10 days! and as time passed between personal life and actual development, the interest was fading away. Luckily, i was determined enough to get the game to the finish line, but i don’t want to experience the same thing in future. That is, feeling to be forced on working on a project that i am not enjoying anymore.

That said, there are times when i enjoyed this project. When i finally had a working level, i was really happy. I was moved by the fact that what i was playing was done by the ground up by me. It proved again that i really like making games. It’s something really exciting, and very rewarding.

Now i could talk about the mechanic aspect of the game ( isometric collisions beign the main topic) , but i think i would miss the point. It surely important what i learned in terms of tech or programming, but i think that a developer, especially during the development of the first games,  should focus more about what he learned about himself and his feelings while drawing, writing, or programming. When do i have fun developing a game? when do i feel frustrated, and why? what should i do to be more productive, while fueling the creativity light? when do i need to persist, or when do i need to scrap everything and start new?

It’s the philosophy of the developer, i’d say, that needs the most caring attention, because it rules how your approach on making games will work, and whether or not you will pose limits to how much creativity you infuse to your games. Everyone lusts for the genial ingenuity of the kids, but getting rid of adulthood, countless layers of dogmas, preconceptions and bad habits , is pretty hard.

This is a difficult time of my life. During this months i mainly studied for some university exams, and sadly my results weren’t what i hoped for. Not too bad, but neither good enough.

I am seriously considering what to do with university. While what i am learning is certainly useful and gives really good work opportunities, and i also had the chance to grow some maturity in my bones, I also feel that that world is taking me away from what i really want to do.

The fear brought by others and by myself on this uncertain path is hard to deal with. I constantly ask myself what to do. Should i focus only on one thing? go to compromises?

One day i will have to state a clear decision. What i wish is to not make a half assed one.

I want to put my hearth in what i will do. this way, either way my life will go, i will have no regrets on this decision.

 

Plans for the immediate future? well, this month 1GAM theme is “spring”. Today started the GPC game jam, and at the end of the month LD26 will start. Lots of acronyms, and lots of fun too. I will apply what i learned from my past experiences and make something that me, the writer, and you, the reader, will hopefully enjoy. Till the next update, Good day.