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 😀

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 😉

Annunci

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 😛

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 😀 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 😛 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 😉

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.

New year is near, cheers!

hey there! it’ s been a while. There’ s not much to say. Math is now more friendly, and meanwhile i am honing my drawing skills, my goal: make something that doesn’ t hurt the eyes.

And i decided that , for my first entry on the jam, i will remake Goblin rampage. this in light of some facts:

-my spendable time on game developing on january and february is very limited, due to the exams.

-i need to experiment with craftyJS , and GR seems a good model, since it needs improvements in a lot of ways.

drawings, animations, sounds and music, AI, powerups, dialogs, a silly story and definitely a better starting screen. these are the things i want, and there’ s probably more. I don’ t think i will be able to put everything, but at least the essentials will be implemented.

and for the other projects? i will not spoiler.

finally, i cheer for your life on the fast approaching 2013. good new year eve! bye!