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Fun design work April 13, 2007

Posted by Jesse in : Uncategorized , 1 comment so far

Game design was never more fun for me than when I was in elementary school. My friends and I would constantly pass back and forth our level designs for Ghosts ‘N Goblins and Castlevania. (I’m sure our teachers found it quite annoying.) It’s hard for me to imagine the huge number of hours we spent on those drawings. My friend’s mom even helped us find mailing addresses for Capcom and Konami in our Nintendo game manuals, and we mailed our levels off to the companies. It seems most likely to me that they were just quickly discarded, but it’s nice to think that they might have been forwarded on to the original Japanese developers along with other fan mail. Those were fun times.

And I got a small taste of that feeling again a few days ago. I’ve been mulling ideas for what kind of game I could write to enter the MyDreamRPG contest and I think I’ve come up with something pretty neat. It’s a platformer with lots of rpg elements. And just like twenty years ago, I’ve gotten swept away doodling up maps, writing stories, and coming up with special powers for my imaginary heroes.


One Year Dream Game Contest + TorqueX experimentation April 3, 2007

Posted by Jesse in : Game Development , add a comment

Jay Barnson over at Rampant Games (See footnote 1) posted today about a contest that was announced on MyDreamRpg.com. (Most of the info seems to be written in forum posts. Take a look here.) The gist is, you’ve got one year to write a game (possibly restricted to an rpg, though the rules don’t seem to indicate that), and you could win $10,000. There are a couple of catches. You must use a GarageGames engine (TGB, TGE, TGEA, or TorqueX). Also, the winner isn’t necessarily decided by who made the best game, but instead by a point based system, where points are scored by categories like the following: (copy/pasted from the forum I linked to above)

Points awarded for monthly status updates
Points awarded for game update blogs on GG site
Points awarded for creation of game associated website
Points awarded for GUI design
Points awarded for concept art
Points awarded for cross-site promotion and hype-building (fanbase/community)
Points awarded for adherance to design in final result
Points awarded for launch process and response to player feedback from alpha phase
Points awarded for community response to the final result
Points awarded for game documentation
Points awarded for originality
Points awarded for sound design
Points awarded for backing up smacktalk

It seems pretty interesting to me, and I intend to keep an eye on things as they develop. It looks like there’s already twelve games signed up.

Tonight I spent some more time playing around with TorqueX. It seems the bugs I was running into have already been taken care of. A GarageGames employee posted a rather simple change to a text file they overlooked, and the tile system is working again in the editor. A second similar change and I got particle effects working too. I also learned that I was only looking at a small part of the documention. It turns out there’s one file on TGBX documentation, which covers the editors, and another, much larger file on TorqueX, which is more about code. I haven’t gone too deep, but the docs seem solid, and it was enough that I was able to slap out a TorqueX version of my Pong clone pretty quickly. I can easily see how using TorqueX will save me alot of time over starting from scratch with XNA alone. There’s gonna be alot to learn, but I’m having fun so far.

1) – Jay’s blog is my favorite blog to read. He has all sort of wacky stories about his experience playing and developing games. I get excited every time my RSS feed client notifies me that he’s written a new post. I highly recommend going through his archives if you have some spare time. It’s good stuff.

The Return April 2, 2007

Posted by Jesse in : Game Development , add a comment

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m back.

It’s a shame things worked out quite the way they did. Right after writing the reviews for Mr. Robot and Kingdom Elemental, my number of readers shot way, way up. And then the crazy overtime at work kicked in, and I haven’t written anything since. So the readers went away.

Similarly, the amount of comment spam on the site has gone up, but it doesn’t appear to be slowing down. For the first few weeks I was deleting it manually, but it became too much for me, and I installed a WordPress plug-in to handle it for me. It claims to have caught 580 spam comments since turning it on. Wow! I can’t even imagine how much spam big sites get. Anyway, if you try to post a comment, and it doesn’t show up, it was probably flagged as spam by the system. I got the contact form working again, so feel free to shoot me a message if that seems to be happening to you.

Unfortunately, all of my game development projects were forced to be put on hold during the day job overtime period. This includes the work I was doing with Froghaus on their title Asparagus. It looks like they’re making excellent progress, though, and I look forward to the release sometime later this year.

I did finally get to do a bit of coding for myself, though. I spent some time this weekend researching Microsoft’s XNA. (XNA is a framework for writing games that will run both on Windows and on the Xbox 360 console.) Microsoft has put out some video tutorials for getting started, and they’re quite nice. I recommend checking out the Creators Club site for more info on XNA. (The video tutorials can be found under Education | Tutorials.)

It seems like pretty cool stuff. For my first attempt at learning the framework, I wrote a Pong clone, complete with a very simple AI, Xbox 360 controller support, and some sound effects. Next up, I checked out TorqueX which seems fantastic, but there’s a couple of show stopping bugs that prevent me from using it much. (It’s still in beta, though, so I’m not really complaining. The bugs had already been reported in the forums by other users, so hopefully they’ll be fixed, and I can play with it some more.)

I’ve got a couple of indie games I’d like to write about, and I intend to keep toying with XNA, and writing about that. Hopefully I won’t go three months without writing a real post again. Thanks for sticking with me during the downtime.