Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Defend Your Nuts 2 is sponsored

Defend Your Nuts 2 has been exclusively sponsored and released to the web by Nickelodeon -! Play it here!

AddictingGames is a great sponsor and I have worked with them a few times in the past. They assisted me in the final stages of the production process to ensure the game is fully playable without any major issues. Go play the game on their site, and then discover many others that they have!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I will be participating in for all of 2013! It is a year-long event to encourage rapid and consistent creation of games basically with no rules. Currently my games consist of two-month development cycles followed downtime to test new ideas and technologies. I'd like to change all that and force myself to succeed in one game a month, potentially licensed out in Flash format, or put up in the app store.

The previous game jam taught me how to properly use placeholder art while adding and revising features at a rapid pace. Otherwise with no time pressure, I tend to conservatively revert to my traditional methods when it comes to design. Hmmm, probably this is why already I have a sequel for some of my most successful Flash games? I may resort to previous Ludum Dare themes for each month; somehow being limited by a particular theme makes me more creative.

On a related note, I am absolutely overwhelmed by the number of indie game developers that I have discovered in the midst of the recent Ludum Dare, and now this OneGameAMonth year-long event. I must have added at least a hundred developers to my Twitter, and about a dozen blogs to my Google Reader. I am so thankful to be part of this community.

Here is a clip from a documentary recently made on indie game developers. I got to watch an early showing in Asheville, North Carolina earlier this year. The DVD is available so go buy it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Goat Mechanic

At the last minute I decided to participate in Ludum Dare 25 (Twitter #LD48 for 48 hour entries). If you are unfamiliar, it is a world-wide game jam - a contiguous chunk of time allocated to developers to create a game given a particular theme. In this case, it was "You are the Villain" and sub-themed with "Goat". Errhh.. probably my least favorite pick from the voting pool.

That's right.. 48 hours.. two days from start to finish. This was my second game jam and just as exhausting as my first experience. It's like if you allocate eight hours to sleep, and five hours for eating and relaxing, you are down to 35 actual hours for development. Let's see.. 35 hours.. In other words, it's equivalent to a full 40 hour work week with one hour lunch breaks on each day, all condensed down into a weekend.

..Ouch is right.

Currently over a thousand entries were submitted, so here is the strange contraption I managed to come up with called Goat Mechanic:

When presented with the theme of "You are the Villain". The kid from the movie The Good Son popped in my head. As we know, that character is almost as villainous as it gets. There was a scene of him throwing something off a bridge into traffic, so that's pretty much the idea I went with. The twist is you work for a mechanic who earns money by accidents that you cause on the roadways.

Friday was spent on the art and getting cars to move around. I resorted to Box2D and it worked out really well. I tried all this complicated math to get the cars to swerve around, but after several iterations the best solution turned out to be the easiest.. Every frame just readjust velocity to be about 90% of the car's facing direction to restrict sideways motion, and get cars to swerve by adjusting angular velocity.

On Saturday I worked on the results and shop clipboards. At this point everything was coming together, so I spent time finishing the art and functionality of the shop items. Oil spills cause cars to lose traction, beach balls bounce around, anvils are very heavy so they stop cars instantly. Basically everything can cause an accident.

On Sunday I realized there was a goat sub-theme, so I shoehorned it in with some narrative, along with an ending and preloader screen. It was submitted with a couple hours on the clock remaining.

Overall, a grand experience and I definitely forward to the next game jam!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Back to multiplayer

Thanks to Player.IO, I have been able to get a basic prototype of my next project underway. Player.IO is a multiplayer API for Flash and other engines like Unity. I dabbled with some of the tutorials back in June of this year, fascinated, but I did not go very far with it until now.

It can be a bit cumbersome to get started, and understanding the theory of server and client communication is not immediately obvious, as I have come to learn, but some articles greatly help. In a nutshell, I write all the server code in C# that receives and broadcasts packets of information, while the clients receive and send updates back to the server within the Flash application.

The server code can be compiled into a DLL, so it can be uploaded online to test on multiple computers. Otherwise, the server can be run locally for testing on the same machine.

In this prototype I borrowed art assets from Zombie Situation, and hooked up basic WASD movement with mouse controlled shooting. This screenshot was taken with me connected to the game on three computers simultaneously. It basically has the framework I want, where players send and receive updates at 10hz while interpolating frames in between. Best of all, it works!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012


The auction for the primary/exclusive license of Defend Your Nuts 2 will begin in the near future! In the meantime I have been doing a lot of prototyping with my new "game jam" Flash project that contains all the bare minimum systems, and utility functions that can be sprinkled here and there.

Here are some of the prototypes that I came up with...

Stage Crew
In Stage Crew you manage the sound effects and spotlights of a live play. The audience can react depending on your timing and accuracy! For example, randomly playing a gunshot sound effect will confuse the audience and reduces their reviews of the show.

I have moderate experiences working on sound and light back in high-school for plays. The real thrill was manipulating what hundreds of people were looking at, so of course it is hard to capture in a virtual setting.

Epic Gymnastics

At first I wanted to control a ragdoll-physics character on a balance beam, but it was too difficult to get him to balance and do tricks of any kind. Normally games simplify something from the real world. Here I took something that already is hard for the average person, and made it impossible!

The high-bar showed a bit more promise, because the hands are attached which removes the need to maintain any kind of balance. I played around with a lot of different controls that manipulate torque or applied force on different parts of the body. The keyboard as a primary controller does not suffice, so fake analog sticks on an iPad would have been better.

Unnamed Robot Prototype

I did not go too far with this one. It involved building a robot with different materials, including green and blue circles that rotate with the arrow keys. The gray circle represents a circular saw.

Back to the drawing board...

On a related note, I have decided to participate in Global Game Jam 2013 at NYU, located in Manhattan!

The closest site from me would be Baltimore, but that would be too much commuting for three days back to back. Actually I visit NYC many times a year, so this time I am making an "extended vacation" out of it by getting a nearby hotel room. Depending on how it goes, I may participate every year in a different city. I live way out in farm country, in a small town in Pennsylvania so it is easy to get restless at times.