Saturday, October 1, 2016

"Go Idle"

I have settled on making an "idle game" for my fifteenth project. Idle games are gaining a lot of popularity these days. They tend to be very basic and straight forward, where progress is gained over a long period of time. Generally people can play for as little as five minutes a day, checking on progress, and setting course for progress over time. Optionally, players can gain progress more quickly by doing tedious tasks like clicking an object repeatedly.

Here are some heroes that offer more dynamic animated poses, compared to my usual character design.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Adobe Animate CC and CocoonJS

Wow.. wow.. wow..! I downloaded the trial for the new Adobe Animate CC. Not only does it fully support HTML5, but it is fast. I took my HTML5 test project, uploaded it to CocoonJS and it spat out an Android APK app at full landscape resolution. It runs just fine at full frame rate.

In other words.. this is going to save me a lot of time. I can now create HTML5 web apps quickly, with the easy option to deploy to the mobile app stores.

It simply works.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Dug Up Concept

I stumbled upon some old concept ideas I had laying around. These were made a couple years ago using art mostly from Zombie Tactics.

It was a concept for a group based match-3 turn based game. It was never fully fleshed out. It may be a more decisive path over the slot machine mechanic that I blogged previously.

Zombie Guard for Android has given me a lot of confidence in the mobile market. It has earned more than all my other apps put together and the Google Play console is such a luxury compared to sponsorship licenses for web games.

I had this other design idea, a satirical one, where you control a guy grinding away to be the first to reach the maximum level in a fictional MMORPG called "The Ultimate Guild Lords of the Runic Realm World of Ever Eve". The name particularly combines words from many actual massive online games.

Gold farming, job, maintaining hygiene, hunger, comfort, money. Random events, upgrades, sleep. There are a lot of dynamics here. The leaderboard would have scores showing how little time it took to reach the goal within the fictional game.

The idea, was partly inspired by the South Park episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft", where the boys attempt to grind away in World of Warcraft, sacrificing their health and social opportunities in the real world, to advance their virtual selves to defeat the realm's greatest warrior... played as just some random guy with nothing else to do.

I believe a lot of gamers can relate to this game concept, of role playing as a gamer obsessed over a fictional one. I'll have to think more about this concept.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Slot Machine RPG

I want to share a conceptual image showing a preview of what could be my next, 15th game:

Which started as one of many crude sketches that depict a game screenshot:

I find being very sloppy with drawings can help explore ideas. There is a great sense of freedom and curiosity where a lot can be gained, without a great deal of time needing to be invested. I highly recommend people in any field, game development or not, listen to John Cleese's talk on how to be creative:

Currently I am what he describes as the "open mode" to allow ideas to come and go. I am still exploring possible ideas, before I go into the "closed mode" to produce those ideas without second guessing the foundation of my next game. Sure, little bits of details and gaps will be filled in later, but if I choose to go for a particular design then I must stick with it.

The idea shown in the first image above is a combination of slot machine mechanics in a fantasy environment, where the left side is the player's abilities and items. Single coins are used to spin the reel to gain resources (fire, water, etc), or, single coins are used with resources to use skills. There is an emphasis on luck. There will be random events and treasures to choose from, similar to actual slot machine games. The real heart of what will make it fun is the progression to strategically improve and craft your character over time with in-game currency.

This game could be incredibly fun, readily available for PC, Android, iOS, etc. I am still exploring some ideas before I fully settle on this idea...

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Ludum Dare 36

One of the most valid reasons to take a break from a big game project is to endure a game jam, ranging from a day to a week. The theme for Ludum Dare 36 was announced as "Ancient Technology", which received almost two thousand entries.

I just so happened to have this weekend available (and the house to myself). I put my unannounced project to the side and eagerly waited on Twitter for the announcement of the theme. I decided to write the game in LiveScript using the Phaser engine, and Clip Studio Paint for the art.

So, here it is! Titled Vitruvian Man Goes To Heaven. The source code is available as well. The Vitruvian Man is a concept sketched by Leonardo Da Vinci of the ideal proportions of the human figure. The proportions in my reproduction are.. a tad less ideal. I incorporated many other reproductions of his other sketched inventions, such as the catapult, wings, parachute, tank, and helicopter. Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel make an appearance as well.

The overall development was approached differently compared to how I normally do things. Normally I would create a prototype with placeholder art, focusing on design and programming first. This time I did not write any code until the second day, feeling fairly confident once I had all the assets. I did the art first because I could move the pieces around the canvas to help me figure out the details of the mechanics.

Sometimes it is easier just to create all the art, and then figure out how to utilize it. This approach has not always worked out for me. This time it did.

Here is a time lapse video that shows the overall process endured in the past few days.

The Good

I got to experiment with a new art style that I had been meaning to attempt.

The programming went smoothly. The game is playable in browsers, including my Android tablet and phone! It just simply works, dammit!.. Thank goodness for Web standards like HTML5. Oh, how I would much prefer to invest half my game jam hours attempting to build and digitally sign an iOS app with X-code while iTunes crashes a dozen times and uses half my RAM. All, only to find after 10 days, the app is rejected because it does not support some insane retina resolution display for newer iPads. Meanwhile iTunes uses the half of the RAM. And crashes.

I was a bit relaxed early in the jam. I even had time to take some of my red cayennes to the Shrewsbury flower show in the morning, which evidently won first prize in its category.

The photo and news of the blue ribbon came right when I submitted my game jam entry. Frankly, I was satisfied just being done with the game jam, so this was icing on the cake.

The Bad

The game itself is not very fun and even a bit creepy. It is way too linear without any usage of my specialty in game design: upgrades and progression. There is nothing to upgrade, so it is purely skill oriented. Initially the game had currency and a shop, but I had to drop it due to time constraints.

The Ugly

Me. During the game jam. I felt terrible during the second day of the competition. I ended up opting for the extra day, which makes my entry a 72 hour "jam" entry instead. Game jams can be really taxing on a person's body and mind, even with sufficient sleep because it may not be as restful, as the mind races under the pressure. The late night gin martini and habanero burrito must have acted as the catalyst leading up to my illness. It was delicious though. Likewise with the dark coffee the following morning. Okay, so hindsight is twenty twenty...

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Art... and lots of it.

I have gone back to the study of art. My skill in human anatomy and gestures have been lacking. Also I'm looking to cease the vector art style that I have embraced for a long time. I want to do something very different that appeals to a smaller but more passionate audience.

I purchased Clip Studio Paint and I have been embracing it passionately. It is an incredibly powerful program that in some ways is better than Photoshop depending on your goals. It caters very well to comic art styles.

Animation will be carried out in the Spine program. In other words, it is likely I will put Flash on the shelf indefinitely, even as a tool for creating art assets for other engines.

Practicing in Clip Studio Paint with a semi vector-looking array of food.

Random portrait

Random pose. The arms need fixed.

Blue meth in the making.

Victorian Banshee with solid inking of shadows.

Demonic Marie Curie with similar style, but ink kept black.

Above are some random works during my recent studies. I want the art, animation, theme, and colors to convey an interesting experience in my next game. Something much darker with more substance through interesting characters and creatures.

Aside from that, I became curious to look into audio as well. I've pumped some voices through Audacity filters, changing them in eerie ways. Try this: reverse a clip, reverb it, and then reverse it back. It will sound ghastly. Just a few tips that like this can go a long way.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Gassy Goat

Introducing my 14th game! This one, titled Gassy Goat, is my first launch/distance action game..! I am fairly happy with the look of the game, and so far the feel of it is improving through each play session.

Tech rambles...

Built on HTML5 using the Phaser engine, the game is playable on virtually any device through a web browser. I started the game earlier this year, and since then, I notice a lot more sponsors and existing ones supporting HTML5.

Many sponsors were gravitating towards Unity games, but that halted when Google Chrome disabled the plugin by default, forcing users to enable it through some arcane procedure. Thankfully, Unity has been working on WebGL support, so I may switch to that engine for my next project. After all, I tend to like dabbling in different tech, to keep things interesting.

I came to really like the LiveScript language, which I used exclusively to program Gassy Goat. I love the minimal syntax of that language. At the end of the day, it compiles out to JavaScript and is easy to debug in Chrome.

Enough of tech...

The game will be released hopefully within a month.

Now I can set my attention on exploring new ideas...