Thursday, February 16, 2017

Global Game Jam 2017

Global Game Jam 2017 was recently held worldwide. The event just keeps getting bigger with more cities and locations participating each successive year. NYC alone had over 500 participants hosted in the Microsoft Building in Times Square.





I showed up and collaborated with five others (four, after one had an emergency the first evening). We used the Unity engine and Discord to communicate easily and share extra files. I was really impressed by Unity's collaborate feature - built-in cloud source control.

The theme was "waves", which was open to interpretation - especially for fluent English speakers. Waves may only translate to physics based waves suggested by the keynote video, and not the additional interpretation of gestured hand waves.

This was the first game jam ever where I wrote virtually no code. I was basically an assistant artist, filling in gaps, and hunting down audio. So, needless to say, it was fairly relaxed for me, with the exception of the 36 miles I walked according to Google Fit.




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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Prototyping some interfaces

This is a stage of development where big decisions need to be made. I have to design the interface and most of the game design at the same time. I already have some idea of how this game will be played, by merging ideas from two existing games together: Clicker Heroes and Zombidle. This may be the first game I make that has the feature of guilds to offer a social aspect.

Interface sketches to elicit solid design ideas.

I have a good feeling about this project. I have gotten a better grasp on this type of genre, which is "clicker" or "idle" oriented. I actually play a few. It offers a great sense of endless progression and should be easier to balance over games that are designed to be played continuously in long sessions. For example, traditional first-person-shooters and strategy games can easily feel too easy or too hard if not balanced correctly, and is contingent on the player's skill, anyways.

It will be technically difficult to handle cheating if I make this game competitive online. Frankly, based on income from Zombie Guard, ads earn far more money than in-app purchases (thanks Google!). So, as long as people are playing the game, cheating or not, it ought to be lucrative anyways. I plan on having currency earned by watching video ads from time to time - it may sound incredibly greedy, but it simply works; as a player, I do not mind at all if it is optional.

Zombie Guard is more of an arcade game that has some freemium features tacked on. The player eventually runs out of gas to continue playing levels, unless they wait three hours in real life to earn more. Based on critical remarks, I eventually neutralized that feature so the game is more of an arcade game. Again, ads earned more, so I had less incentive to encourage players to buy gas "pay to play". Scratch Tickets on the other hand, had a similar three hour freemium feature, but it succeeded because of the limited depth of the game.

This game will have a little bit of randomness and a little bit of strategy. The various upgrades, heroes, items, and fighting locations will offer an interesting long term experience, especially as it grows with features post-release.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Heroes!

Basically all the characters for my "clicker/idle" game is finished, with various poses and animations. I've become more efficient using Clip Studio Paint, easily able to do line work and fills with shading in a simple two layer process. It's an excellent program.


I have forced myself to attempt poses that have more energy compared to characters from my previous games.

Now, I can move onto the programming, before I work on all the less important art and interfaces. First, I am making programming and design changes to Gassy Goat, which I have delayed releasing because I was not satisfied with its design.

Zombie Guard has gotten a few patches on Google Play in the past month. That app has performed quite well and income through AdMob and in-app purchases is quite nice. The game is expected to reach half a million downloads in the coming months.

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...