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BlackDeath

 

It has been some time since my last post. Short story is I have been working my industry job and been consumed with the current project I am working on. Right now I wanted to focus on a Game Jam from the end of last year, that was extremely productive but in the end turned out to be more destructive to moral.

 

The Start

 

The goal was to make a game for the Walking Dead Jam, an event put on by Skybound Entertainment the people behind the comic book and not the t.v. show. One of the most enticing elements of the event was creating a game inspired by some of the elements of the Walking Dead universe. It is an amazing universe and spun off other great titles like the Tell Tale Adventure game. We needed to make something over the weekend and we had our sights high on the production quality. So my friend Brenton Sewell and I enlisted some of our friends to help. Our goal was to make a First Person Arena Survival game, set in a medieval world where the black plague turned people into zombies. Ben Braman and Nicklaus West helped us with music tracks and sound fx, something we would barely tackle in a normal Game Jam but wanted to have a complete experience. Dan Williams created the excellent zombie model and rig for the game, to give us a fresh take on zombies inspired by the comic series. They were all a huge help for the game and pushed the quality of the experience much further than a normal weekend project. We were very happy with what we were able to contribute to the event.

 

 

The Verdict

 

We did not place in the competition. We did not place because of the design of the game, controls, art, and anything included in the game. We did not place because the game could barely run on their test machines… what were they using … Macintosh laptops. We were aiming to create an awesome game that was on par with high quality PC game specs, so it was a huge shock to hear the people that were running the event and including rewards like Steam green light access, were using computers that could not run 90% of the games that are currently on Steam. Contacting the event organizer, I tried to see if there was any other way they could test our game and the only response was to “magically” optimize the game to run on this much lower spec, something that would take as long as the creation of the game. I was pissed and even more in outrage with amateur at best games they chose for the finalists.

 

–Post Mortem-

 

The Good

For 48 hours I am incredibly happy with how the mood was captured in the game. It has bits of creepy horror, spooky, and ominous. It was a great practice for fast level creation and one of the first tries with fps controls. The art that was contributed was fantastic, and couldn’t ask for better music.

 

The Bad

The A.I. of the enemies needed to be more interesting and versatile. For an action game, the game is only as good as the challenges you put forth and if it is something you are battling every couple of seconds, it needs to be interesting. For this game I only had the time for a simple follow A.I. behavior that didn’t even do a great job. The enemies don’t have to be super clever, but adding attacks, jumps, or other interesting behaviors would go a long way. If I would ever do a game like this again, I would look for an A.I. package to have as a building block.

 

Final Word

I would like to thank Brenton Sewell, Ben Braman, Dan Williams, and Nicklaus West to contributing this project. Lessons learned, be aware of what the motives of the judges are and build accordingly. Also look for a jam that has a large contribution and feedback community like the Ludum Dare Jams. They are a much more constructive environment and a huge boost to your skills even if they don’t have physical prizes.
BlackDeath_Banner

Returning from the Philippines, I have been staying in Phoenix Arizona for a week. It’s been great to catch up with old friends and enjoying local spots. Looking forward to getting into a regular schedule soon and keep up with doing daily doodles plus more. In the meantime I have started a new routine of doing daily brainstorms for 15 mins a day, aiming to come up with new ideas each day. Some will be real projects, some will go into archives, others a waste bin but I think it will be fun way to evolve my idea process. This was inspired by reading Today Matters by John C Maxwell. Good read so far and look forward to finishing it soon.

While here I have been able to catch up with some other brilliant indie game developers who I have grown and been inspired by. Play tested their latest games and very excited to see what they come up with next. Be sure to check out their games and send some kudos their way.

Steve Swink – Scale – Greatest game design teacher around, its always inspiring to talk to and see what Steve comes up with. Scale introduces a whole new mechanic to games, where the players can manipulate the size of any object in the world. It takes big ol balls to run with a concept like this.

Erin Robinson – Gravity Ghost – Erin recently made some tweaks to the art of her game Gravity Ghost and I can easily see being in trance of this orbital based plat-former.  A game that will take time and skill to master with low penalties for failure, will let tons of people get into Erin’s world and enjoy their time with this game.

Aldo Jeffrey – Unannounced Project – Going to college with Aldo and staying in touch with him through the years, I can definitely say Aldo is one of the hardest working people in the arts industry. No matter which project he goes after he aims above and beyond expectations. From what I have seen so far of his latest project, he is a very epic game that I am sure will be great / unique when it comes out.

Haven’t been able to post new art updates. Some new shifting and movements in the works but I just wanted to highlight an upcoming trip this weekend to Thailand. Been looking forward to seeing this place for very long time. Enjoy the sights, sounds, and especially food.

(Street Fighter 2 Stages – Thailand) 6 / 9 Street Fighter 2 Locations Checked off

Today I am heading back to Manila, Philippines after a 3 week stay in Phoenix, USA. Currently in a rainy Seattle airport waiting for my connecting flight to Japan then onto my final destination. Traveling to the other side of the planet can be long endeavor but compared to Columbus my 20 hour sleepy flight route is not that bad. Needless to stay I will have some down time and take time to re adjust to time. But looking forward to getting back to my productive nature next week and starting the year strong.

O and I just hit 10,000 views to this blog! Thanks anyone who has visited and liked my entries.

Phoenix to Manila

 

Last week I virtually sat down with Jonathan Rebert and Ben Tieni to discuss important topics like video games, pooping, and living on the other side of the planet. Imagine fine gentlemen wearing smoking jackets, a glass a wine in one hand, and academic verbal exchange overlooking a roaring fireplace. If you are just as sophisticated as us, then give a listen here  ->

Itunes link 

Online learning has been a big kick for me in the last couple of months. From typical video tutorials and online reference, but what has motivated the most are dedicated sites with guided lessons plans. They are great to log in whenever you have free time, direct to what you are learning, and track your progress to give a sense of mastery.

The first site that I focused my time was TypingClub.com. I didn’t know touch typing before; only a weird a hand eye coordination routine that got me through most of my life. Knowing that I wanted to go on and learn more programming. Touch typing seemed like a necessary skill to develop. So a couple months later of doing a practice module now and then. I have learned to touch type and have an average word per minute to around 50. Over time I will look to develop these skills more and push into the 70 – 80 range. This will make life easier / faster, from emails, chatting, and programming. Stats here

The next site I focused on was CodeAcademy.com; a site dedicated to teaching a tracking people learning various programming languages. The language I have been focused on is Javascript because of the use of it in the Unity Game Engine. The courses are great starting point and the Xbox live like achievement system is a great motivator to push through. After 4 months I have been able to go through 300 lessons and 64% through their Java course. This is a site I see using well into the future to keep my programming skills sharp and learning other languages.

I will keep up with both of these sites, advancing my skills. What I am eager to get into next is Ctrl+Paint, a site dedicated to teaching techniques and skills for digital painting. Digital painting is a great skill for expressing ideas or texturing painting. This can cover many things in game development, so I look forward to developing these skills as well, and I am glad to find an online tool that can help make it happen.

This year I was invited by Paul Gadi to speak at this years Y4IT event here in the Philippines. When I initially volunteered I didn’t realize how big this event was and how many participants it brings in. After saying yes and doing a little internet research I found out I would be speaking in front of a couple hundred people to 1,000+ !  The Philippines Youth Congress in Information Technology puts this event on once a year, for a week long event including multiple talks on the different emerging digital fields. Held at the University of Philippines, the event buses in students from all different schools.According to the wiki last year brought in 25,000 participants! Crazy.

Luckily my monthly talks and presentations for the Student Game Developers’ Association while attending college, has helped me prepare for talks like this and not completely terrified for an event like this.

Saturday, the day of the talk, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to attend the event with the off and on flooding in the area. The flooding managed to subdue enough hours before I was scheduled to go on and I ended up just putting my presentation on a flash drive, put on some flip flops, roll up my pants up, and managed to catch a cab in time.

The event is a terrific production and all the coordinators where very helpful with  guiding me through the event and setting everything up for me. Getting there the auditorium was just gigantic and the size of 3 typical movie theaters put together. My talk was on Getting into Game Development: Paths for Artists and Designers. My main focus on the talk was to show how important tools are to getting an idea from your head to an actual game or piece of art. Something that I have been really studying and playing around with in the last 6 months. Hopefully I inspired some students that attended and can play one of their games down the line or work together  with.

University of Philippines Auditorium

Yours Truly

So after accomplishing speaking in front of more people than I could imagine, whats next? One of my goals is to have a talk at the main Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Seeing so many inspiring developers talk here from Jonathan Mak, Hideo Kojima, Jonathan Blow, David Jaffe, Alexey Pazhitnov, Kellee Santiagoand, so many others; I hope I can contribute and bring something new to the overall game development community.

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