Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lucidity Log 13: Giving Props to Leadership

Compared to the utter disaster of FireHelm last semester, the strong and motivating leadership of Raid Plus this semester was truly relieving. Firehelm had had so much trouble with leaders that most people cannot remember who was a leader and who was not. I remember myself being leader most of the time and then finally giving up my position willfully because of my failure to motivate any of my fellow FireHelm Members. Other old team members of mine distinctly remember Alex being the leader of FireHelm and the old members of Raid Plus claim that Kevin was the leader. The fact that nobody remembers that we all had a part in the leadership truly shows how dysfunctional FireHelm was. Raid Plus has shown me the qualities of a good leader. If I were to lead another team again I think I would do far better than last semester. I would keep track of my team members attendance and deadlines. I would apply things that I learned about Scrum and Sprint planning. I would try my hardest to get rid of people who don't deserve to be with us.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Why Pinkie Pie is the Best Pony.

Pinkie Pie is the Best pony because she is the only pony in Equestria that is completly Bat Shit Crazy!

Lucidity Log 12: Part Two, The Bitchening

Another thing I have to complain about is the scope of Lucidity. Most of my team members do recognize that our Scope became incredibly inflated near the beginning of the school semester. When the scope for Lucidity first started to get out of control I thought that we could handle it. Considering that I had just been absorbed into raid plus, I thought that the raid plussers knew what they were doing and actually had the skill and experience to pull off a project this huge. Guess not though.

Lucidity Log 11: Let the Bitching Commence

Ive run out of subjects worth talking about on my blog so I am going to list off a number of things that annoyed me this semester in an attempt to remember somthing more important.
One of my fellow team members really annoyed me this semester. Izzy as we call him, is a 2d artist. He would come into class, often late, work on mediocre textures for an hour then watch game grumps for the other three hours. When Firehelm was initially absorbed into raid plus the leads made it very clear that this kind of behavior would not be tolerated and I was very disappointed that that promise was not upheld here. Ive heard around that the reason that Izzy was not given the boot was because they believed that he may be autistic. Im not against handicapped people in the work place but he was never reprimanded in any way for his poor performance and he never winded up making any quality content.

Lucidity Log 10: Eek a Bug!

Found a bug in the upper clocktower area. Had no idea what was going on at first. I thought that the bottom of the player hit box was colliding with the whitebox and that was allowing Hugo to Jump. After a few minutes I realized that the collider for the bridge was still there and that the player was just jumping normally.

Lucidity Log 9: Throw All the Potions!

Made a script used for throwing potions. Very simple, very simple, very easy, but it fit into what my team members asked. The trajectory of the potion doesnt change at all during run time but can be adjusted in the Inpector.

Lucidity Log 8: Simple Cinematics

I made a very simple cinematic camera script. Unfortunately it wont make it into the build because Matticus winded up taking the task. The way the script works is that on scene start the parent camera object moves in one direction while the child camera stays focused on one object that can be assigned in the inspector.

Lucidity Log 7:Making a Rat a Constable

For the outside area I was approached to program the AI for the constable. After the design of the constable AI was explained to me, I realized that the constable would function very similiarly to the rat AI. With that as a starting point I implemented a node system into the code of the rat AI and Voila, Constable.

Lucidiy Log 6: Crate Dropping Extravaganza

For the outside area, one feature that was needed was an object that was blocking the entrance to a different area. Sammy(Designer) told me that this object was a crate suspended by a rope or chain and then when activated by a lever the crate was to go up and then fall. The crate breaks and the player can proceed.
The challenge with this was getting the rope to disappear one segment at a time so that there was not rope sticking out of the top of the winch that the crate was connected to. I winded up making the rope a number of different objects that self destroy when the collide with an unkown object.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Micro Dude Log: After Math

Well the time has come to reflect on how well Micro Dude was received. What I did right, what I did wrong and all that Jazz. The first thing that I would like to address is that after the first week of poor sales I decided to make Micro Dude free for download. I decided to do this because, Intial Sales had been so low.  It was highly unlikely that Micro Dude would make the minimum amount necessary for Desura to send me any of money. Realizing that I would never see a cent of the measly sum Micro Dude had garnered during the first couple weeks, I made Micro Dude free so at least I could tell people that it had had a few hundred(537 currently) installs. I also want to point out that I considered making Micro Dude free from very early in development.I didn't because I wanted to see how the whole process of submitting your game and marketing and things like that worked. If I had made Micro Dude free from the beginning I wouldn't have gotten the experience of trying to sell a product. I do regret a little that I didn't get to see how much money Micro Dude would have made if It had remained at the price it was, But I know It wouldn't have been anything spectacular. I also realize that I could have Marketed it more after it had come out but I still don't think it would have made a difference.

Now onto reasons that Micro Dude failed:
1. Poor Marketing.
I had pages for the standard social networking cites(FaceBook,Twitter), a youtube trailer, and a Steam Greenlight page. These were my only avenues of marketing besides being featured on Desura and they were obviously was not enough. I should have strove to increase my facebook and twitter audience as well as had a host of different videos of MicroDude. I should have been a more active member of the online indie community and posted more articles on public forums. I should have just overall talked more about my game and been more enthusiastic about my game.

2. Desura Isnt Popular.
This one surprised me for some reason even though it shouldn't have. Desura just isnt as popular as Steam and why I thought it would still make decent sales simply for being on Desura I have no idea. I submitted Micro Dude to Desura simply because it was my only option. In the future I will make certain to have a better plan than to just rely on the quality of the game to sell copies.

3.Over Saturation.
Micro Dude was just a drop in a sea of classic 8bit style indie platform games. Indie platformers are truly in no short supply. Platformers are an easy genre to make so naturally many Indie Developers are going to make them. Also, so many developers now use a simple 8bit style for their games that many players have become tired of the aesthetic. I know I have. Having a retro style doesn't set you a part any more, it has the opposite effect.

Regardless of how poorly MicroDude sold I still dont regret making it. It taught me quite a few valuable lessons that will come in handy during the rest of my career as a game Developer. Also I still think that Micro Dude is a fun little game that will look good in my portfolio. Currently Micro Dude has an average Desura Rating of 9, with 8 ratings in total. I am very glad that people enjoyed Micro Dude enough that they felt they should leave a high rating.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Lucidity Log 5: RATS!

I've been meaning to blog about this for quite a while now but somehow managed to skip over it so bare in mind that I programmed the AI for the Rat Enemy a Couple Months ago. When I first started programming the AI for the rat enemy, Raid+'s lead designer David had a rough idea of what the rat was supposed to do but most of the rats AI was not specifically written down. The way I programmed the rat was when the player would come into a certain range of the rat, the rat would become active and it would move forward while rotating towards the player.As shown by this video:
Later David told me that the rats should have a home point that they return to when they are out of range of the player. This wasn't to big a feature to add and it wasn't a problem but it would have been nice to have had that information from the beginning.

Lucidity Log 4: Now That is what I Call a Clock GUI

My most recent task for Lucidity has been to get an analog clock face and a digital clock to show up in the GUI. It was relatively easy and I had both done the day I got the task though I did still need to tweak a few things. I still needed to change the type of font,size and color of the text. Again this was pretty easy and designer probably could have figured this out but at this point in development there aren't a whole lot of tech tasks left.
Also please not that the font type is not Permanent.

Friday, November 1, 2013

MicroDude Log 4:Promoting Your Indie Game and Other Annoyances

I new going into developing a game that I would have to work with other organizations besides myself. I would have to rely on other people to distribute my game, To advertise my game, Etc. At first I was very cautious to do this, I was afraid of seeming unprofessional and being mocked, because I had never done this before, because I didn't have much promotional material, because Micro Dude is made with an engine and isn't used all that often in a professional sense. Then as I became more acquainted with self publishing I realized that the process was less involved and easier than I had imagined. I did still manage to make some mistakes.

Mistake Number One:
Be consistent with the title of your game. I know this one seems like common sense yet I still managed to make it anyway. On Desura the title is "Micro Dude". On Facebook the title is "Microdude".On twitter the title is "MicroDude". The title is all over the place. I wish I had just Picked one title and then just Stuck with it because every time I see a title that isn't "Micro Dude" I kick myself.

Mistake Number Two:
Make sure that the other organizations that you work with know when you want to release your game, also be specific I totally messed up in giving one of the developer relations guys that I work with an approximate release date even though I already had a preferred release date in mind. I made the terrible assumption that releasing Micro Dude was simply a matter of uploading a file setting a date then setting a price. When you go to release a game on any platform tell the dev relations guy what date you want and then ask him exactly how to make your game ship on that date.

I've made many more mistakes than just those two but these two seemed probably the dumbest. Micro Dude hasn't actually been released yet so I'm sure there are plenty of other mistakes I made that I just don't realize yet but I will be sure to never make them again.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lucidity Log 3: The Annoying Pendulum

Since my last Lucidity related post Raid+ has moved on to sprint 2 for Lucidity and I have since joined a feature team working on the third and second floor clock tower puzzle. I am responsible for programming the puzzle though surprisingly the hardest part so far hasn't been the puzzle itself but has animating the pendulum part of the puzzle of unity. At first I thought that this was going to be something that the animators would take care of but I quickly realized that this was something that was probably going to need to be programmed since the player needed to be able to interact with the pendulum dynamically. It seemed simple but getting the pendulum to swing smoothly was quite a beast to conquer. At first I got the pendulum to swing but at the apex of the swing it would sharply start swinging the other way. To fix this I tried adding decay. It worked smoothing out before getting to the apex but for some reason it didn't want to work coming back down and would sharply go the other way. I tinkered at this for longer than it probably should have taken but eventually I had a pendulum that swung smoothly back and forth.

Friday, October 11, 2013

MicroDude Log 3: Sound Design

I never really realized the importance of sound design until working on MicoDude. I previously thought that it wasn't necessary because most games can be played with the sound being turned off. I typically like to play certain games without the sound, games like pokemon or minecraft and put a podcast on in the background to catch up on news. I never realized that sound gives the player instant feedback like no visual cue can give. The player can only look at one small location on the screen at a time. If the player needs to be alerted that somthing is happening in a space they arent looking at, sound effects really come in handy. The player is able to focus on events in a certain area while being reminded of events in a different area. I just recently had a friend test out MicroDude and what I found was that he didnt know how certain objects behaved. I had taken for granted all that I knew from designing, programming and countless hours of testing. One of the ways that I combated this was to use sound effects. If my friend is playing and he triggers a trap he wouldnt know how long it takes for the bullets to be shot and then reach him. With sound effects he would have been more accurate in estimating the time because he knows that the shooting sound effect comes after the alert sound effect. The sounds mark at what time he should start evading the oncoming bullet rather than possibly just seeing a sprite moving once out of the corner of his eye.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

MicroDude Log 2: AI Challenges

One of the first big hurdles I had to overcome when I was programming MicroDude was the main stealth mechanic. How were enemies going to sense that the player was near? I ended up going with a system that would spew sensor objects from the enemy npc in a different direction depending on where the enemy was facing. When the sensor objects would collide with the player, it would set the enemy into an alert state where it would stop in its current position then fire a projectile toward the player. The flaws of this method were that since the sensor objects would spawn on a timer, the player could jump through gaps in the sensors and avoiding detection in plain sight. One I made the sensors invisible though it became much more difficult to do. Another flaw was that the sensors move at a certain speed and it is actually possible for the player to out run the sensor before the sensor deletes itself. The advantage to this method of stealth system was that enemies could not detect the player through walls which was the reason that I chose this system. I originally though that a system that checked the relative position of the player would suffice but there was no way to not detect the player through walls.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Microdude Log 1: Should Have Blogged Sooner

Im going to start this blog post by saying that I regret not blogging about Microdude sooner. For those who don't know Microdude is a indie game pet project that I had been working on in my plentiful spare time. It has now become a fully fledged release title that I will eventually release on gog.com and Desura. I kept Microdude on the down low for quite some time because I was still unsure if I wanted to release it or not. Now about 5 months after I first concieved the idea for Microdude, I am uploading the first trailer for the game and creating the facebook page for it. That being said I will start writing about the Intitial design and development of Microdude.

Microdude had a very unconventional inital design period where I wasnt designing the game on paper first. I figured that I would start off with a rough idea of what i wanted to make and then program and design the rest at the same time. This eventually came back and bit me in the ass but at the time everything seemed to move smoothly. The general idea that I had for the game was that I wanted to make a platform game that had elements of stealth. Initally I wanted to make the game very slow paced with a lot of waiting and puzzle elements. I eventually dropped that concept and went for a more fast paced stealth approach. I programmed the player to have fast and fluid movement. The player could Move left/right, Jump, Cling to walls and ceilings and I eventually made a grappling hook that the player could fire upward and then go up and down when the hook attached to a ceiling. All of these features have made it into the current build today.  

Monday, September 30, 2013

Lucidity Log 2: God Save the Queen

Save functionality was another feature that I was excited to work on, though I became way less enthusiastic as time went on. I already knew about player prefs in unity but I wanted to experiment with different methods of saving data. One of the first methods I tried was an XML Serializer script which I found on the unity wiki. It worked but took a while to figure out. Eventually it proved too unreliabe and my tech lead Justin recommended a unity plugin. I took a look at it but it didn't allow for specific data saving. It only allowed for saving a whole state of the game. Eventually I decided to stop making things hard for myself and just use player prefs, a decision that I am very glad that I made.

Picture of player placeholder and a red placeholder save point.

Lucidity Log 1: Getting Things to Move

My first Task for Lucidity was to make the player controller script. I was glad and also slightly surprised that I received such an important task. I started off by giving the capsule that was my place holder for the player model a character controller component. This was important because the player needed to be able to move smoothly on a surface but also need gravity so I didn't use a collider or rigidbody. At the time we were using Trello to handle tasks. Functionality that had to be included with this script was:
  • Forward and Backward Movement.
  • Strafing.
  • Rotating.
  • Jumping. 
I only had a few problems with rotation but otherwise all the other features came pretty easily. The problems with rotation came from a miscommunication about how the player was going to be controlled.I thought the player rotation was to be controlled with keys when it was supposed to be controlled with the mouse. Thankfully that eventually got worked out.

Picture of the player place holder in the basement level.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What is an RPG anyways?

When I was young I had never played a western role playing game. I had never played an Elder Scrolls game or Fable or Fallout. The RPGs that I grew up with were Pokemon and Mario RPGs. At the time I didn't know them as RPGs I just knew that I liked them. I first became aware of the term RPG after playing Fallout 3. It was a game the likes I had never played before. Fallout 3 had an open world that allowed your character to do whatever you wanted them to. You could do quests, you could explore, customize your character or murder everyone on sight. The Fallout 3 world was your oyster. I bring all of this up because I think the term RPG describes something that the majority of  video game "RPG"s don't actually have, and that is Role Playing. The game that was inspiration for all modern RPGs is a Pen and Paper RPG called Dungeons and Dragons. Dungeons and Dragons was the very first RPG and the reason that we call RPGs, "RPG"s today. In Dungeons and Dragons you play a custom made character. The player defines their story, stats, race and abilities and then during the game the player plays the Role of that character acting and speaking as if they were that character. That is the reason that D&D was called a Role Playing game. Not because of the mechanics of the game but because players would act out their own characters. I doesn't make sense to me why we would call Pokemon an RPG when the player doesn't act out or give their character their own story. I think that what happened in the gaming industry is that when developers were making their games based off pen and paper games they categorized their games under the RPG genre even though the only thing they had in common were the mechanics and not actually the reason for which RPGs were named. Games that can actually be called true RPGs are games like Fallout or Skyrim where you can give your character back story and choose their race and class. I propose that we need to rename the RPG genre. The term RPG is misleading and Inaccurate.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Language Superiority? ...Why?

As a young video game developer and programmer, I've been able to get my hands on a few programming languages throughout my developer career. I've tried Java, JavaScript, C++, C# and Game Maker Language. I am not sure why but there seems to be a lot of hostility between people who use more "Difficult" languages and people who prefer "Easier Languages".

 I often hear people bragging about how C# is superior to JavaScript or GML but I don't understand where all that pride comes from. I've recently realized that almost all programming languages I've used  with the exceptions of file format and syntax is written and works almost the exact same way. Declaring a variable in C++ is just like declaring a variable in JavaScript if you know the Syntax. So is calling a function or writing a condition. It is because so many programming languages share the same constitutions that after you learn your first language all the others come so naturally to you. I am glad that this is true because it makes learning and translating languages that much easier. I will admit that that some languages may have more applications than others but that does not mean that the others don't have valid uses also. I've heard a bunch of team members of mine talk about how Java Script is useless when programming in unity 3d but the majority of tutorials that exist online are JavaScript tutorials. The project that we are working on is using majorly C# because of the games overall complexity but that does not mean that JavaScript should be forever ignored. If we ever worked on a simpler project, using JavaScript could most likely benefit us, because it would increase the speed at which we worked. I don't think that certain languages should be considered unusable all together because if they are used properly they can be far superior to the more advanced languages.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Ideal Length of a Game

I came to a strange realization just recently.  I've noticed lately that games that tell a precise narrative are too long. Games like Mass Effect, Batman: Arkham Asylum and the Metal Gear Games are awesome however they are very lengthy games that were only able to hold my interest for about two hours. The strangest part of this though was that the two hours that I played them, they were great. Why would I want to stop playing a game that i thought was fun and had a great narrative? The only answer that I can really think of was that my attention span was too small.

This is just my experience but I love to customize my character in game I love Minecraft, Skyrim and Saints Row the Third. All games where I can make my character whatever I want and make the character that I want to play.  Thats not to say that I don't enjoy all games like this. I loved Red Dead Redemption and Bioshock Infinite, both games where you play a well developed character. Though I did feel like those game were too long and werent paced appropriately. Bioshock Infinite is close to a 10 hour game but I feel like this game could have been seperated  into two or three hour increments that leave good starting up and leaving off points. I think that games should be paced more like movies or tv shows then the current 9 hour gaming epics we have now. Some games already follow the pattern that describe. If you look at the The Walking Dead game series they have been very successful making games that last around 2 to 3 hours. Also the walking dead is very story driven. If the entire walking dead series had been released in one package it would not have been as effective as it had been.

 The pacing would have had been ridiculous and players would put the game down before the end and possibly forgetting details in between the time that they pick it up again. Also this deal would also be more appealing to the player because instead of having to buy full price game they can buy the first episode for 10 dollars and then addictively buy the other 5 episodes as they are released. More episodical game releases would definetly improves the quality of game that the player is having as well as be benifical for the developer.

~ Jon

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Reflection on CSG 110

After being thoroughly reemed out by my professor during my CSG 110 class I decided that i needed to reflect on all of the things that went wrong this semester. One of the biggest fuckups that happened this semester was that our group did not kick people out who were dragging down the motivation of the rest of the group. This was definetly the root of all the problems in the group. Most of my team wasnt motivated to make cuddle bloodies. and that consequently brought down the moral of the people who had been keeping moral. People wouldnt do the things they were told to do and many people stopped showing all together. I learned that i need learn how to let people know they suck because im awful at that. If a person is sucking ass they deserve to know it. I learned this semester that the buisness end of game development is by far the most important because at the end of the day the guy with the most money will be able to do more cooler stuff than anyone else. Even if i am not going to be working with the buisness side very often i still need to learn all the buisness stuff because I need to know how and why the industry runs. It is also very important for me to learn agile which i felt that i should have taken it more seriously. If i could redo this semester I would definetly start out more enthusiastic than i did  this semester. I would do this in the hopes that it would inspire other to work hard and care more about what we were working on. Also I think that if more people cared they wouldnt be so layed back about people not working and they would work harder to get rid of them. I look forward to working with Raid+ on Lucidity this summer and next semester. It appears that their team functions much better than Firehelm did.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wow! Leadership Is Important

Walking into matc as a noob to video game development I thought that much of my education would be focused on actually making the games but as it turns out the most difficult part of making games isnt actually building the games. One of the harshest lessons I learned was that in game development leadership is key. Right from the start I realized that we didnt have any born leaders on team firehelm. At first an awkward lad named Kevin took up the lead position just because he thought it would be funny, but he was dreadful. I decided to take up Kevins position and pretty much became leader. I was the CEO of my csg 110 group. I was team lead of my 115 group. At first I started off strong. I researched a few things about being a good leader and i was enthusiastic to start creating new ideas for games we could make. About half way through semester I saw that moral was dropping fast. This was where I made a fatal mistake. I lost moral too. I was only going to class for the grade and so were my classmates. If I could go back and do things differently i would definetly be more enthusiastic. Another way that I failed as a leader was that nobody feared me which ment that nobody respected me either. I wish that I had fired all the people that fucked up and didnt deliver work consistently I wish that as a leader I had been more organized and kept track of peoples absences. At the time though I didnt realize that things were so bad. It was only after seeing how our opposing team Raid+ functions did i see how screwed up my team was. Raid+ had been structured just like an actual company. And they got rid of people that didnt work. I am disapointed that my team fell apart but im excited to work with all these hardworking people next semester.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Evolution of Cuddle Bloodies

My group project for my Vicom 110 class is that me and my group have to design a game that will make more money than the opposing team that shares the class with me. Our Idea  was that we could market a free to play first person shooter where you play cute cuddly teddy bears. The characters you were playing were really cute but did terribly violent things. This idea was sort of inspired by the show happy tree friends because we needed a theme that was likable but memorable. The gameplay hook of the game would be a destructible limb system where a players would be penalized if if they lost a limb. For example if one of the bears lost his arm the players accuracy would decrease. The way that this game was to generate revenue was that we would charge for cosmetic upgrades similar to League of Legends. Me and our one artist did some concept work for  what a bears would look like and the rest of the group discussed what classes we would have in the game.

We eventually realized that this game was best played in a third person perspective so that the player can see their character constantly and be more encouraged to upgrade their characters appearance. We eventually decided on 6 classes. The soldier( basic class), the cyborg(The heavy), The sniper, The ninja(stealthclass), The seamstress(medic class), The scientist(the engineer class). Each of these classes has a differing play and visual style.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

WID Journal 4

Its been a few weeks since my last blog post and the deadline for Wait Im Dead? is drawing closer. The 16th of may is portfolio night and the night that we will be showcasing WID. I feel that in terms of art we are still very much behind. I havnt seen any models for ground or flying enemies and there is still no background image just a solid blue color. There is also no model for the skeletons boomerang attack and I hope that the designers will come up with much of this stuff when i go to class today.
I myself have been working on the ground enemies because it seemed that the previous enemy scripts had been lost somwhere or had been deemed unacceptable for some reason. I based the scripts of the normal enemies on the timer type scripts of the main boss. The designers will place enemies down in an area and then adjust the timer so that the enemy wont ever move out of bounds. If this game were larger I would have written a script that detects if there is an object in front of the enemy and that will turn it around but seeing as this game is so small i figured that manually setting each enemies timer wouldnt be such a hassle.
I also finished the boss about a week ago i couldnt get him to ever jump so the designers said it was ok to just have the boss move back and forth in the arena and then damage the player on contact. I really wish i could have gotten the boss to jump but we are running out of time.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

WID Journal 3

Ive completed the the projectile script that I talked about in journal 2. I changed it however so that the projectile works like a boomerang to be more consistent with the weapon that the designers had in mind. The way that the boomerang works is that when the boomerang is instantiated a timer is set and when that timer hits zero the direction reverses. My new task is to program the boss for level 1. Like the projectile the boss is also going to be timer based. At this rate however this is going to be the only boss in the game. I've worked on  programming bosses before in works that I've made in game maker and even with a drag and drop interface it still takes some time to program. Right now ive got the boss to walk left and right on a timer, ive programmed the game object that triggers the battle, and ive added the colliders to the boss as shone below.
I still have to add the beserk mode where the boss follows the player. Im not sure how well this is going to work with the timer system or if i have time to even add beserk mode at all. After having a meeting with the designers i realize that many of them are working very hard actually. Though i still wish they knew the difficulty to code some of the things they design.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Wait I'm Dead? Journal 2

I am just getting done with my spring break and it was nice to finally have a little time to relax and reflect on progress for Wait I'm Dead? Over the Break I completed work on the script that allows the skeleton to  launch projectiles. At first the skeletons attack looked like he would toss crazy ass boomerang pancakes all around the world. however after a little tweaking i was able to get him to throw pancakes like a normal human being.
I also begun thinking about the script for the AOE attack and I realized it would be very similiar to the melee system that I have already written.
With only six weeks left in the semester I am a little concerned that the groups designers have just sort been relaxing when the build is no where near being completed. It would be nice to see them actually paying attention to whats currently in the build and managing the trello board. I also feel that we should have more than one level model created. I also think that a lot of them dont take into account the fact that we need to be testing this game long before the semesters end.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wait Im Dead? Journal 1

Wait Im Dead is the game that me and my team are currently working on in CSG Production. It is a 2D platformer about a skeleton who seeks to avenge his own death.

 I am a programmer on the project one of the things that I have been working on recently was programming the melee combat. The way that Ive been implementing the combat is that i create a hit box on one side of the skeleton and then upon hitting the melee button if an enemy is in the hit box they are killed or they take damage. I made it this way because  if i just did a check to see if an enemy is at a certain point and if there was some sort of bug i would be able to see if the hit box is making contact with somhting or not. The below picture shows the skeletons hit box and the attack hit boxes. For right now there are two attack boxes because we are still working on getting the player to turn.
Together they form together to create a penis looking hitbox.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Thoughts on Free to Play

In recent years the free to play business model has amassed popularity between devs and players. Popular to players because it is a free game, Developers like it because it opens your game up to a larger audience so that you can hit the smaller audience that you are trying to sell in game items to. In theory this seems like an ingenious concept however I worry about the kinds of experiences both players have. I worry that the players who dont like to spend any money are turned off by the unfairness of being able to buy overpowered items that are never available to you unless you pay. I worry that players that like  to pay for items simply buy all the cool weapons and armor and then the game is too easy for them and they lose interest. As a player that doesnt like to spend money on these sort of things I typically will play a free to play game for a couple of days before i quit and never pick it up again. Games like this that ive played include Vindictus and Microvolts. I enjoyed these games for the two days i played them but i quit because i knew that there was no  way i could be as cool as somebody who had spent loads of money. There are a few exceptions to this. One game that i enjoy once in a while is called Realm of the Mad God. it is a MMO bullet hell shooter with a fantasy theme. I like this game because you dont need to spend loads of money to build your character when it is fun and addiction just to level up. the option to buy weapons and armor are not even available. Instead you can buy encounters with high level bosses that will gain you lots of xp and some rare loot. you are not garunteed the loot though and it is not garunteed what the loot will be. I like this model because although it is technically unfair the player must still work and have fun defeating the boss to get the awesome loot. I think in order to create a successful free to play game, you have to essentially design two different games. one game that is fun for the player that isnt paying, and a game that is fun for the player that is paying. I also think that if players knew that they would be playing for a long. the will be more likely to invest in micro transactions.
these have been my thoughts on free to play.
Jon out.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Why DRMs are BS.

If you want to read about my personal experience with stupid DRMs see my Freaking Spore. blog post. Digital Rights Management has been in the spotlight recently because of EA and their DRM system for Sim City 4. This system is used to confirm that the game was purchased legitimately. The save system also depends on the servers because it is entirely cloud based. In order to play Sim City 4 you need to connect to the EA servers. this is immediately a turn off for me because sometimes I dont have access to the internet and like to be able to play them without internet access. It is also inconvevient that you can only save using the cloud system. I prefer to have local saves because i hate the idea that my saves are being managed by somone else. On top of that when the game was released the game had server problems out the shizzle wizzle resulting in crashes and saves being wiped. These are all examples of why DRMs are not going to be popular in the future because they make the game to inconvenient to play. I know that because of this system i am probaly never going to buy Sim city 4. I think that preventing privacy is a matter of making the product or service better than the free illegal alternative. I dont pirate those games for that exact reason.

Jon out.

Freaking Spore.

Digital rights management is BS. Before I delve into why DRM doesnt work and only encourages pirating. Im going to tell you the tale of my experience with the EA  game Spore. When I was around 13 years old I received the game Spore for christmas. I was really excited to play it. The idea of being able to create your own microscopic creature and evolve it to a galactic superpower was an awesome concept. I recieved the galactic edition(essentially the special edition) which included an art book and a behind the scenes dvd.
I looked through the little white book as the game installed on my computer. Before the game installed i was prompted to type in the key code located on the back of the instruction manual  This was the first time i had seen a game with this system. I typed in the code unbeknownst to me that five years later that prompt would be the bane of my existence. In 2013 I found my game of spore in my basement and decided to pop the disc into my laptop to relive the nostalgia of my younger years. Just like before I recieved the prompt to enter the security code. I looked through the cool white  galactic edition box to discover that i no longer had the code. I turned my whole basement upside down looking for the manual. I tried using keygens to no avail. I wanted to avoid downloading a cracked copy since the install alone had taken 2 hours. In a state of rage I drove to walmart and purchased a new copy of the game for 20 dollars . I used the code from that game to unlock my installed game. I played for 2 hours. Anger had sullied any hopes i had of feeling nostalgia. It just blew my mind that i couldnt use somthing that i had owned for years because i didnt have some stupid code that supposedly prevents piracy. Looking online i could see that that other people have had this problem and that the DRM does not work. In fact spore is actually the most pirated game ever made because the DRM is so flawed. From then on I swore a hiatus from EA games until further notice.

Jon out.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why the Steam Box is going to be Awesome

Steam Box is the new "Console" being developed by Valve and from what i hear it sounds like Its going to be awesome.The steam box is going to be open to third party customization. Im not exactly sure why but that just sounds awesome to me. The idea that somone can have just a really pimped out version of somthing that everyone has is cool. I also think it is awesome that the standard box is going to come with 8 hdmi ports allowing for up to 8 player local play. Also Gabe Newell is discarding their current method of selecting indie games for market and he is opening it up entirely to indie developers. Meaning that there are going to be cheap indie games galore. It also means more opportunity for me. The only concern i have is that valves version of steam box is only going to run linux. I'm not exactly sure what that entails for developers. But Yeah that is why the steam box is going to be Epic.
Jon out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Things That Surprised Me About the Gaming Industry

I have learned a lot since I started the gaming program at Matc but many of the things that I learned about the  gaming industry in general really surprised me when I first learned about them. In high school I was very enthusiastic about films and film production and lately I've been thinking and comparing the two industries in my head vigorously. I feel like coming from a school of thought that searches for a deeper meaning and looks for ways to express the feelings of one person is what causes this confusion.

In my film classes and in all other school experiences in general using other peoples work and using it to supplement your own work was a very touchy matter. Teachers encouraged students to quote external sources. How ever they must give credit to the person even if they are long dead. Teachers wanted you to come up with your own ideas entirely on your own. The way of thinking seemed to be that you should come up with all your ideas on your own and in return you will receive 100% of the credit for your ideas.

In the Matc program it would seem that team work is a huge focus. Any ideas that you come up with are free to use by anyone else and any they come up with you are free to use or modify in any way. For example if you need a script  that applies jumping to a character I would be entirely acceptable to go online and copy and paste a script without giving any credit to the original creator.

The mentality  of  film makers seems to be that only one person is responsible for the success of the movie: The director. The director is made out to be the only person that makes the movie even though he really isnt because there must have been at least a few other people involved. Yet the Director gets all the credit and all the blame if something goes wrong. The mentality of game devs is that everyone is in a project together and credit is split equally among everyone who worked on the project. When some body is talking about who created a movie its always a single person that is referenced. For example somone would say "James Cameron made Avatar." even though plenty of people worked to make Avatar what it is. When somone is talking about games It is always the studio that is referenced. If the studio cannot be remembered the creator is still referenced as they. For Example nobody would say "Gabe Newell made Portal 2" even though Gabe Newell might have lead the making of the game he is not credited as the sole creator.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Experience at the Global Game Jam 2013

For those of you who are not aware of the Global Game Jam, The GGJ is a global event where small teams assemble across the planet with the goal to create a video game within 48 hours. This was an event that I, Jon Harwood participated in, in the year 2013. With only minimal knowledge of the unity engine and no experiences in C# I walked into MATC Main building. I was paired with 8 other people who had same knowlege as me. I learned a lot during this event i learned how invaluable it was to learn how to code. I learned that copying and pasting scripts that others had written does not count as plagerism. I learned what a good team lead should be like because my team's lead, Dane was fantastic at leading us and with out him I don't think our game would have been nearly as good. I think the most important thing that I learned was how a team should behave. Constant communication is a necessity. Establishing a proper vocabulary is also incredibly important. For example in the game that we made for GGJ we established differences between different visual assets. Instead of someone saying "I am sending the pictures over to you." they would say "I 
am sending the Icons over to you" It was also important to specify which means they would send the file. I also learned that the unity 3d engine is terrible for trying to make 2d sprite based games. At the end of the 48 days we stunk to high heaven but we had modified and existing tower defense with its own paths textures and models. I was hardly competition for any of the other groups but I felt good about it and it received high praise since we essentially had no prior experience. A few days later I was checked in on a let's play channel that I fancy called the Yogscast. There most recent lets play featured a game called Surgeon Simulator. This game was made at the 2013 game jam and it was a strange experience to watch a bunch of internet celebrities that ive had no contact with, reference and event that I participated in.

Jon out   

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Video games have been a big part of my life ever since i was a small boy growing up on the north side of Milwaukee Wisconsin. My father was a custodian at a nearby elementary school. One day he was emptying the trash from one the offices, when he saw two rectangles lying at the bottom of the bin. He thought that i might like them so he brought them home for me to play with. What he brought home was a n old game boy and a green game boy color with copy of Mortal Kombat lodged in the cartridge slot. This was my first introduction to video games. I kicked and punched characters like like scorpion and sub-zero on a microscopic colorless screen and for a time, it was pretty rad. Eventually though i grew tired of  Mortal Kombat. I was tired of being confined to the similar looking arenas in the game. I wanted to explore. One day my father returned home from visiting my grandmother he snuck down to the basement. after a while he called me down stairs sitting in front of the television was a gray box That read Nintendo Entertainment System The television displayed duck hunt  my father handed me the gray light gun and i shot ducks down all day long. Just like mortal combat however it soon became tedious and i longed to explore more areas then duck hunt could provide. after playing with the buttons of the front of the NES i notice that the duck hunt cartidge contained another game. A game called Super Mario Bros. I loaded this game up and I was perplexed. I didn't even realize that you had to try to avoid the goombas by jumping over them. I thought you had to punch them like in mortal kombat or try to shoot the with the light gun. I figured it out eventually and after that I was hooked. It blew my mind that there was a world that had its own physics, logic and environment that was entirely different from reality. Every day from then on after school i went down to my basement and stomped goombas, collected coins, defeated bowser, and rage quit because the princess was in another castle. I navigated pits, found secret areas, broke bricks and powered up until I couldn't feel my thumbs. And to this day Super Mario Bros. is still one of my favorite games. I am 18 now . Since my first step into the virtual world I have amassed tons of knowledge regarding video games.So much that i think i can make them myself. This blog will document my journey to becoming a video game developer. I look forward to the future anxiously.
~Jon Harwood