Friday, August 28, 2015

Zombie Guard

My latest project tentatively titled "Zombie Guard" at last nearly is completely finished!

Yes, there were delays to reach this point. It happens. There are many reasons, but importantly I made it to the end, so I am relieved! I'll write more info in the next post.. in the meantime, here are some screenshots:

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Clown speedpaint

There was a day I was absolutely disgusted by Adobe Flash for drawing and animation purposes. I found the timeline to be cumbersome, zoom and brush size options to be perplexing, and the line tool to be finicky. Well, I still find the line tool to be finicky... I choose not to use it. Nonetheless, the program is something I have come to embrace.

I like to rapidly swap between the brush tool and eraser tool. I like to "sculpt" objects and characters by constantly erasing and redrawing pieces, then duplicating and iterating until I find a sketch worth inking and shading.

Basically I always sketch before inking. It makes the whole process much easier. It is appropriate to rush each sketch, being very sloppy, as the entire purpose is to see a preview of what could be finalized. For this style, shapes are more important than lines.

In the coming weeks I would like to explore new mediums, such as water colors and oil paints. Every now and then I emphasize a particular branch that game development offers, from art, programming, design, to audio. Trying new things is the only way to grow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How I Escaped the Dungeon of Torment

This past weekend was Ludum Dare #32! This is my "compo" entry, where the rules were to make a game in 48 hours, including all art, audio, and virtually all the code, centered around the top-voted theme: "Unconventional Weapon".

I make a strong attempt to participate in every game jam that comes along. It's a refreshing experience. This one, titled "How I Escaped the Dungeon of Torment" takes place inside a dungeon with treasure chests scattered, filled with marvelous weapon attachments such as jagged swords and druid vases. When the hero attaches each piece to his whip, the stats of the weapon are modified; the goal is to escape the dungeon by forcing open the door.

Oh wait. The dungeon actually is a storage shed. Those treasure chests are just boxes filled with random hardware tools and accessories. The hero attempting to escape, is just a child with an expansive imagination, writing in a diary as if being an epic fantasy tale.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The rise of roguelikes

Roguelike is a game genre featuring semi random procedural level generation, permanent death, events, often turn based gameplay, and sometimes progression between each session. They have become substantially popular in the past few years.

Some of my favorites include these:

Faster Than Light

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

Dungelot 2

Don't Starve

Cardinal Quest 2

Play sessions for these tend to average about an hour. There is a strong incentive to return and play again, since doing well in a session can lead to bonuses and permanently unlocked features.

I have really gravitated towards games like these. The incredible balance of the difficulty curves, the randomness, the thrill of progress.

Come to think about it, this style of game has been around for a while, perhaps just labeled as action or adventure rather than something more specific. For example, my first exposure to roguelikes was this classic gem for Sega Genesis called ToeJam & Earl:

ToeJam & Earl (image from

Albeit, features lives instead of strict permanent death.

My attempts to pursue this kind of direction as a designer have only moderately succeeded at best. For example, Demons Down Under was intended to be a challenging and unforgiving roguelike; eventually it was reduced to a more casual design to conserve time and widen the appeal to the larger casual gaming crowd on the web. It was still successful, just not what I had in mind. I notice my current zombie defense project following a similar direction towards casual design.

It can be easy to neglect some aspect of game development in promotion of another. Design, tech, art. I recall a decade ago, only stressing tech and programming. My games were more tech demos than anything. Afterwards came traditional and digital art, which led me to Flash game development. Now I want to stress design later this year, prioritizing it before the other two. I picked up this book by Jesse Schell on the Art of Game Design which covers a lot of excellent material. I call it the bible of game design.

I'm going to heavily stress usage of the book for the upcoming Ludum Dare game jam in April.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Corona SDK is now FREE!

The engine I use for mobile apps just became free! At least for all the essential features, such as in-app purchases, that used to cost an annual subscription in the hundreds of dollars.

As announced at GDC, Corona Labs is planning to expand its engine by building executables for the PC and Mac desktop gaming space. Well.. it's about time..?! The simulator already runs on both operating systems, so I can't imagine it being that much of an effort to build executables for these two. If additionally it could build for HTML5, then it would be very difficult for me to justify using anything else.

This is a very competitive year for mobile engine technology. Epic recently announced that Unreal Engine 4 is now "free" for 5% gross revenues. Meanwhile the personal edition of the recently announced Unity 5 is free with fair limitations.

Most likely I will opt for Unity this year, seeing that more and more web gaming portals are supporting it. Flash will continue to be the more popular option for the web, at least for the next five years. I will continue using it for game jams and art assets.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Closer to the finish line

My latest mobile game "Zombie Situation 2" is coming along nicely! I am eagerly finishing up the last pieces, finalizing each system, and churning out all the remaining content.

It turned out to be a lot of content, from weapons, enemies, allies, equipment, etc. I am satisfied with the art and the game itself plays very smoothly.

Meanwhile Defend Your Nuts 2 will be coming to mobile as well. The game originally sponsored by Nickelodeon-Addicting Games is being transferred to Defy Media (remaining under Viacom). It will be relaunched with additional features and ported in the coming weeks.

It's going to be a busy month!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Punk Bitches vs the Army of the Undead

"What do we do now?" Those words appeared ever so slowly on the Global Game Jam theme announcement video. A group of about 40 of us at Philly Game Forge stood there eagerly absorbing each passing word that showed up on the giant projector screen. Tens of thousands around the world read it too. What do we really do now?

Well, it helped to work with someone with a similar interest in character driven games and Flash animation. One of my teammates @NG_Tyler and I agreed to borrow most of the mechanics from a particular game, adding our own touch. The characters are band members of a punk rock band battling the undead.. because why the f not?

We agreed not to use a common theme for the main characters (obviously). This kind of sub theme is what helps us to stand out. While brainstorming, I recalled scenes of the L7 female punk rock band featured in the movie Serial Mom.

@dlootie supplied audio which breathed a lot of life into the game.

Basically you control up to four characters. The singer heals, the guitarist and keyboardist fight close ranged, and the tuba player bellows notes from a distance.

@NG_Tyler did all the art, and I wrote all the code. I gain a lot of enjoyment programming small games like these. In a matter of minutes, a feature can be added and tested. My fingers flew on my keyboard as Pandora blasted through my earphones.

The actual site in downtown Philly felt very welcoming and comfortable, like a giant loft apartment decorated with modern art and relics from the gaming world. The nearby European Republic has wraps from out of this world and the best fries ever.

The experience I got out of this is the greater realization that in large projects I tend to be too focused on getting everything correct, clean, and well thought out; it leads to conservative design and less spontaneity. I need be a bit more reckless and daring.

Source code and game page.