Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Warhammer 40 Adventure #13

Time for a little self retrospection. I think overall my advanced game design class went pretty well. I got to experience Warhammer 40k a game that I had never played before and probably would have never played otherwise. I learned that google spread sheets are an excellent way to keep track of game mechanics as well as a bit about game design its self. In the end our team created an awesome lizard men codex.
Things that I think I did well were taking initiative and communicating. I think one thing that I could have been better at was memorizing a lot of the mechanics. I think if I were to take the class again I would try to get into the game outside of class. I think playing outside of class definitely helped Jason and Ryan to know the game a bit better than I did.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Warhammer 40k Adventure #12

The Large Salamander is a Unit Meant to be similar to the Carnosaur but focused around a flame template ability. My interpretation of this was to take the Carnosaur, Give it the Flame Sac weapon and then decrease some of its stats to balance it with the Regular Carnosaurs. At the time I called it the Carnamander. I thought it would be cool if the lizardmen had somehow mixed the DNA of the Salamanders and the Carnosaurs together to create a Carnosaur, Salamander hybrid but unfortunately the Leads were intent on just calling it the Large Salamander.

Warhammer 40k Adventure #11

These are the Psycic Powers for the Skink Priests. They were later named Ascended Rites. These were primarily adapted from spells from the Lizardmen Fantasy Codex. That helped with balancing them and also satisfied Garretts obsession with taking inpspiration from the fantasy book. However I thought it was strange that the spells in the fantasy codex had very little fluff associated with them. I had a little bit of diffculty adapting Fiery Convocation. The fire in WH Fantasy doesn't work exactly alike to WH 40k so I had to do a bit of research to find the proper solution.

Warhammer 40k Adventure #10

I was excited to work on the Double Sided Chainsword Weapon simply because of the name of the weapon. When I made the weapon I wanted to reflect the double sided nature of the weapon by giving it two attacks. Unfortunately the amount of attacks is determined by the character and not the weapon so I gave it a very complicated effect that boosted its A stat during the assault phase. However the wording of the effect confused many of my team mates so it was turned to the current effect listed. 

Warhammer 40k Adventure #9

The Multiple Missile Launcher is primarily an Adaptation of another Missile Launcher from WH 40k. Didn't require much creativity or balancing for this one but I did the task so I thought I would include it.

Warhammer 40k Adventure #8

This task required me to create an upgrade for the Skink Snipers that adds Rending to their rifles. Fulfilling it was fairly simple. I took the stats for the sniper rifle then added rending and an upgrade cost. I called it the thermite rifle because thermite is a compound used to breach heavy armor and I though having a rifle that shoots such a deadly concoction was a neat idea.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Warhammer 40k Adventure #7

Two special rules! The first is called Razor Scales and the idea is that some of the Lizardmen have very sharp scales that help them in combat. The Second is called Limb Regrowth and the concept is that like some lizards in real life, certain Lizardmen can regrow their limbs after the have been dismembered.

Warhammer 40k Adventure #6

Psychic Powers!
Using the Tyranid powers for balance reference, I designed theses powers. The Mechanics lead said that some of them were a little overpowered so I balanced them by increasing the warp charge for those powers.

Warhammer 40k Adventure #5

We have finally gotten to the whole point of the class which is design our own race a class team. We are doing Garret's idea for bringing the War Hammer Fantasy Race the Lizardmen to Warhammer 40k. My first task was to create special issue war gear for the Lizardmen.
Many of the initial Wargear were based off Space Marine Wargear and then were renamed and slightly modified. But later items were ideas they I came up with on my own once I became more familiar with the game.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Warhammer 40k Adventure #4

It must be said that Holy Cranola! These figures are Hecka cool. I could honestly see someone just purchasing the figures and not even playing the game.I imagine thousands of hours can be spent just building a cool army and painting it and giving each of the characters their own unique backstory. Warhammer is pretty unique in the sense that you don't even need to play the game to have fun with it. It can become a hobby similar to building a model railway. Also I just had a cool idea what if trains were incorporated into Warhammer somehow. I might return to that thought in a later blog. Trains.

Warhammer 40K Adventure #3

Third day of class. Randomness seems to be a major component of Warhammer. Even more so than D&D which is a game completely characterized by how things can go awesomely right or wrong. I wouldn't have expected their to be this much left to chance in such a competitive game. But I suppose one thing that makes this game so unique is the amount of risks that need to be weighed  when making decisions. When one decides to do something they must account if their roll will be high or low or where the scatter dice may take them. Players must have back up plans behind back up plans behind back up plans in the off chance a roll does not work in their favor.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Warhammer 40k Adventure #2

Second Day of Advanced Game Design and now we are rolling a 1000 point Tyranid Army. With Hormagaunts and a Carnifax  along with the Hive Tyrant and Gene Stealers from last time. I really like the unit buy system in this game because of its simplicity. When selecting units you are given a certain amount of points to spend on Units/Equipment. Each Unit/Equipment has a certain cost associated with it and the cost is balanced so that powerful units are more expensive and weaker units are cheaper. This simple restriction prevents any army from being absurdly more powerful than another while also allowing the player to be creative and to come up with their own strategies when selecting their army.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Warhammer 40K Adventure #1

New Semester! New Class! We are Playing and Modding Warhammer 40K this semester. First day of class we got right to it and started playing. I was on a team with a number of fellow students. That day my team played the Tyranids, a malevolent race of bug aliens that closely resemble the work of HR Geiger. Our team faced the Crimson Slaughter race. Tyranids winded up winning because of  the prior experience of Garett Poenitish. The game seemed very complicated, but after a few hours of play and some instructional YouTube videos the game was still super complicated. though now I do understand it better. One thing I was disappointed about mechanically was that almost all dice rolls are based off of d6s. Coming from D&D I was expecting Warhammer to show types of dice I had never even seen before. It did show me how Scatter Dice worked but other than that I'm a little let down. One mechanic that I do love about Warhammer though is the way you move the models around the field. Its very simple. You have an amount of inches that you can move. Then you measure out with a ruler or tape measure where you want your unit to move. I liked this mechanic so much I actually worked it into the overland movement system of my current D&D campaign.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Bizarre Beast that is Scope

In my adventures as a game developers some projects that I have been a part of have turned out fantastic. Some projects have not and most of these projects have failed because they are to large in scope. Different people have different definitions of scope but I like to define scope as the sum of all resources needed to complete a project to satisfaction. For example you can say that the scope of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is relatively low because making a Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich only requires one person and several small simple components. Whereas an FPS MMO Role Playing CCG would be relatively large in scope because it would require a large team developing many different abstract and complicated systems simultaneously.

According to this definition, Scope seems pretty easy to understand. So why do so many teams struggle with scope? The answer is because many teams fail to account for the TOTAL Sum of all resources needed for the project. For example, in our PB and J example It was listed that we needed one person and several different components. Many would list the components of a PBJ to be: Peanut Butter, Jelly, Bread and probably a knife to spread the Jelly and the Peanut Butter. One component that many don't list is the Time it takes to make the PBJ.  What about the time it takes to learn how to make a PBJ if you have never made one before? Did you account for the time it takes to gather your resources? Did you account for the time it would take to clean up any messes if any were made? Did you remember to clean the knife between using it on Peanut Butter and Jelly Jars? Did you remember to clean your knife at all to avoid consuming any harmful bacteria.

I think that many would say that a Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich takes less than 3 minutes to make. I would estimate that a Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich requires 6 - 9 minutes depending on what you have handy and maybe a lot longer if you have to go to the store.  This may not seem like a huge deal when we are talking in minutes but if a project is scheduled for a year of development time this can completely cripple a company if the project needs thrice the time that was planned for. Also Error only increases as you add more parts to the project. The seemingly quaint one year project can easily turn into 7 year one depending on feature creep, morale and other outside factors. It also gets more complicated as time goes on. Are the people working on the project are the same ones that were working on it when it started? How long will it take them to learn their way around the project?  What technical debt have you accrued through years? Is the hardware you were developing for outdated now?

There are a few practices I use to help manage the scope of my projects. One practice that I get into the habit of doing is letting Practicality inform my design. I will often get really awesome exciting ideas that I think will impress a lot of people and I will happily cut them or write them down for later if I think it is going to be to difficult or time consuming for the value that they bring to the project. Some might say that that stifles creativity. And yes it does but that is the point of the practice. I also am very aware of how long something is taking. If a project is just taking to long to get to a professional level of Quality or Quantity I will scrap the project and start looking for a new one. Some will say that this is a waste of work and you should just finish it but often times you can finish several properly scoped projects in the time it takes to finish one out scoped one. And chances are if it was out scoped in the first place, the Quality or Quantity may be lacking. In general to avoid out scoping a project you should keep it simple. You should not worry about making the next big thing. You should not even worry about improving over your last project. Just worry about making something Fun, Cool and finishing it in an amount of time that you feel comfortable with.

More Pokemanz.

Getting Better.

Friday, May 15, 2015


Bought A Drawing Tablet!

Bought A Wacom Tablet. Gonna take a while to get used to it. I think my Demon Heart Turned out alright though. I blew up the original Demon Heart sprite and then traced over it using a brush in gimp. I think I'm going to practice drawing Pokemon next.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Don't Break The Chain: Double Follow Up All The Way!

The Don't Break the Chain system that I stole from Jerry Seinfeld seems to be working incredibly well at this point. I have ceased using it to keep track of how long I work on Demon Hearts everyday and have started using it to motivate me to make a singular level every day. I currently have 40 levels in Demon Hearts. I am super satisfied at how many levels I have made using this system. I made a level just about every day(Some days I redid levels I wasn't happy with.). 
 As you can see I started on March 4th and have been doing it to now April 19. You will notice that some of the dates are Xed out with yellow instead of pink. These are days a specifically designated not to make a level. I designated those days because I was very busy preparing for and going to the Midwest Gaming Classic. Overall I am super happy with this system. Thanks Jerry.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mid West Gaming Classic! Awesome Time! Awesome Exposure!

This weekend I had the fortune of showing off Demon Hearts at the Midwest Gaming Classic. It was an excellent time I got to hangout and network with a lot of different Game Developers, Journalists, Cos players and Game Enthusiasts. I also believe my attendance of the event to be one of the core reasons that Demon Hearts got greenlit. I cannot thank the Wisconsin Chapter of the IGDA enough for the chance to attend.

Demon Hearts is Greenlit!

I am proud to announce that Demon Hearts has officially been Greenlit by the community!
It was greenlit after being on Green Light for 14 days. It was at 72% when it happened. I will release more greenlight data soon. Thank you everyone for all your support! I love you all. <3

Monday, March 30, 2015

Support Demon Hearts on Steam Greenlight!

I am super excited to announce that Demon Hearts is Officially on Steam green light. Thanks so much to all of you for your support.

Help Demon Hearts get on Steam!: Demon Hearts

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Demon Hearts: a new New Project has Begun

I've started a new project! Demon Hearts is an Action Platformer game with fast demon slicing action and a dark but colorful art style. If you are a fan of my other game Micro Dude you will not be disappointed. Will make more posts in future but for now enjoy these Screen Shots!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dont Break the Chain: A Follow Up

A few posts ago I discussed a performance tracking system called Don't Break the Chain. This is a follow up of its progress and results. You can find the original post here. Don't Break the Chain involves getting or making a physical calender and then every day that you make progress towards your goal you put a big X through that day. The idea is that it will make a large and difficult goal seem more like a number of small and easy tasks.
The goal that I was trying to reach using this system was to work on my projects every day. What I found was that while it did a good job at motivating me to work on my projects every day, The problem that I was having was the length at which I worked on my projects every day, not the frequency. When I realized this I thought that I would just have my daily goal be to work a certain amount of hours every day. The problem with this was if I chose the amount of hours in the daily goal to be 3 hours, I would only work 3 hours every day even when I could work longer. When I found this out I realized that maybe this system only really works with things that only last a few minutes.
Now I have found a goal that I think will work really well with this system. One of the things that I find most tedious about making video games is designing levels. And so for the project that I am currently working on, I am going to design a level every day and keep track of it on my new Store Bought Calender. Wish Me Luck.

Thanks For The System Jerry. <3

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Raid+ Paper Prototyping: Paper Strikes Back!

Now that the new school semester has started back it is time to dive deep back into blogging about Raid + stuff. Without giving too much away about the game we are pretty much starting over from square one as far as design goes this semester. Luckily for me the majority of the Tech gets to stay in place but this time through the design process the leads are really pushing to find the fun before we get back into developing. I find this to be a terrific idea. I was incredibly worried that the slow and tedious nature of the old version of the game would go unrecognized. I was so relieved when I found out that we were overhauling it but now as Tech guy I don't really have a whole lot of tech tasks to work on since development ceased. Meaning that I have been spending a lot of my time in paper prototyping sessions. After playing the game a number of times I voiced my opinion on what I thought about the new game. I thought it was more fun and faster than the old version but I thought that a number of the systems in place were over complicated. I also thought that the systems provided very little depth in contrast with large complexity which is never a good thing. In a similar fashion to all my other criticisms I've made in the past, they were largely ignored and I was branded not the target demographic for the game. I suppose there is some validity to that since many of the other Raid Members were having fun. Maybe I am just weird. But still I wonder if the fun in the sessions was more coming from the teams personalities rather than the game itself....Or maybe I am just Weird. Time Will Tell.

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Journey Of Pixels

Ive been making games for probably around 7 years now and it was only recently that I started doing my own art for my games. In the early days I would just steal sprites from other games but now that I make games professionally I cant really get away with that any more. So for a couple of years now I have been doing my own pixel sprite art, an art style where the images are meant to be simple pixelized and resemble classic games. Sit back and experience a journey of three years.

One of the Earliest Spritings I have. This was meant to the Icon for a game that I stopped working on called block heavy. It was meant to be a very blocky bullet hell/runner type game. As you can see, Icon has very basic shading and a simple font.

A few months after I canceled Block Heavy I started working on another game called the Scryer. I eventually ditched that name but I liked the idea of a crystal ball being my logo. These are my attempts at that. I remember liking the dithering on the second one but I still couldn't get the outline quite the way I wanted it. At the time I was using Graphics Gale for making sprites as apposed to gimp like I do now.
The renamed project Styx was a platformer that used a number of different kinds of bricks. At this point I decided to ditch the black outlines that I would later start using again. Fez influenced my art style for these bricks heavily though these ones do have dithered shading. 
Styx was the first game that I tried to sprite and animate a Humanoid. These were the final results. Not to shabby but the walk animation does look a little funky.
Initial designs and female sprites.


Chest Then.

Chest Now.

My Favorite Sprite from back Then :3

My Favorite Background of Styx. 
But as what typically happened to games I made back then. I stopped working on it.
And once again a started a new project. Jericho or as it would later be called, MicroDude.

For MicroDude I decide to go for a simple focused Tron type theme rather than a General Retro Theme. While at the time of Micro Dudes release I thought that the art style was to the games detriment I now realize that the art for the game was fine and that MicroDude sold poorly because of lack of any proper marketing.

Final Boss. Super Original Right?

No Dithering No Black Outline.
And For the First Time Jon Harwood Ships a Game!!
After the stress and Exhaustion of creating MicroDude I decided that I wanted my next game to be much simpler but have a more colorful art style. That wound up being Combo Princess.

My inspiration for the Combo Princess art style came from the work of Paul Robertson on Scott Pilgrim vs The World. This was the first time that animated sprites in unity's Mecanim animation tool which is why some of the pixels look slanted. I also switched over from graphics gale to gimp at this time. While the shading on Princess Ofelia here looks nice, I still didn't quite nail the shape of a human. 
The Ducks on the other hand Look FANTASTIC.
Post Apocalyptic Earth. 3033 AD...

Twas around this time that I created my current logo. 

After Combo Princess came out (Once again not financially successful) and I took a few months to work for some other companies I decided to get working another game Dusk Runner.
Finally starting to look like a real human.
Portal To the Final Boss?
Pretty sexy looking Orb and Gem.
General Stage Dressings
I animate my sprites in Mecanim by seperating my sprites into cells and then tweening the cells modularly.
Terrain Tiles.

What a Journey! 
That Ramona Flowers Took 8 hours to make by the way.