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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Being More Social

     Social networking involves a lot of socializing, not just throwing up links and ads. I've been more active on Twitter in the past few weeks and the results speak for themselves. I went from 150 followers  (3 months on Twitter) to over 350 in two days. Surprisingly, it wasn't from follow backs. Most of my followers reacted to my comments and discovered me that way. I'm far from famous though, so don't think of me as some Social Media Master. These are just techniques I'm trying out to see if they work in my favor.

Monday, December 30, 2013

How Much Beta Testing Will My RPG Need?

     Lately, I've been considering just how much beta testing my RPG will need. I want to have plenty of time to iron out any bugs and tweak gameplay for this thing I'm placing everything I have on. I want to do a 100 day launch countdown too, releasing more info each day and posting videos every tenth day. It seems like a good way to get the word out once I've completely finished it. Having buildup like that will also give me spare time to make minor fixes (if necessary), and reach as many press contacts as possible.

    I know that all games should be given this much attention to do well, but my RPG seems to be the one best suited for a hardcore audience wanting to check up on a game's development every day or so.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Where Did "Yotes" Come From?

      When I tell someone about Yotes Games or tell them my nickname is Yotes I'm usually asked where it came from. Yotes is an unusual word and even more unusual name so it gets people curious. That's exactly why I chose it. It's something no one has ever heard of that's easy to say, write, and recognize. When you first hear it there's nothing in your head correlating to "Yotes" and I want to occupy that space. Here's a look into the origins of the Yotes name.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Status Report #18

     So... So many bugs... The Unity update complicated things to a point where every bug is a nightmare that takes about 5 times longer to solve. Testing solutions means either building to the device or restarting Unity and reimporting 2D Toolkit. I sent some error reports and hope there is a solution on the way. It's all I can do really. Despite the major setbacks, some things got done. I'm still hoping to have DragCore done early in the month. There may not be released until February at this rate though.

Here is this week's Status Report:

Friday, December 27, 2013

Review Request Email Templates

     Getting reviews is endlessly important, but you need to contact people to get them to see your stuff. Even when you do there's only a 1% chance they'll even notice you unless you have something mind-blowing to show off. When requesting reviews it's important to provide all the info reviewers would need, along with some spare download codes if necessary. Instead of giving friends & family freebies, this is where your free copies should be given out.

     I follow a basic structure just barely under the character limit. I try to keep it polite, humble, and easy to read. I'm  no gaming giant so I assume my emails merit an eye-roll when someone first sees my request. I really am just some kid submitting one out of a thousand apps that day. Someone has to sift through all those emails and I want mine to leave a good impression. Take a look at what I send out to people. It might give you a starting point or something to compare with.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Fish Feaster Gets A Review?

     I got a confirmed review for Fish Feaster on the way from I looked them up and it seems to be one of those review sites where you have to pay to be featured and reviewed. These types of sites should be avoided because you're only paying to be shown to the thousands of other developers visiting the site to get their own apps reviewed. Sites like this help get your app out there, but the wrong people are seeing it. If your game is worth reviewing, they will come for free in time. Although, for some apps, these shady artificial reviews could lead to genuine ones once enough people see your product out there.

     What surprised me about Best10Apps though, was them coming to me with not a offer for paid promotion, but just requesting information. They just wanted the description of my app to pair with a review. The negative side of me says they probably populate their homepage with random apps and descriptions altered slightly to resemble reviews, but the positive side of me is excited to have something out there focused on Fish Feaster. Whatever goes I suppose. I could use the Google hits and as long as it's free, any review site can have my app descriptions.

Take a look for yourself.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!! (2013)

     It's Christmas Day, which is a time to relax and enjoy time with family, festivities, and feasts. I really shouldn't be the only one taking it easy today either. No go have fun today! There are families to hug, presents to open, things to watch, presents to open, games to play, and a world that is in slightly higher spirits for just one day.

     More Game Dev tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Winter Break Routine

    I'm on a development routine now, wake up around 10, breakfast, manage web stuff (blog, emails, marketplaces, social media), eat lunch, work on DragCore and fix any web stuff problems, eat dinner (sometimes reading Gamasutra), continue working on DragCore 12AM, workout (20 mins), shower, play Zelda, sleep. That's everyday and it keeps me busy. at this rate DragCore will get finished on time. My parents are very respectful of my work now so I'm hardly ever interrupted. They even handle the chores I used to do and tell me to get back to work. What you see in the image above is where I spend my day. 

    I miss having a desk at school, but my bed will do for now. Laying down all day gets cramped so I got a folding chair so I could use my bed as a desk. I hunch a bit to reach anything, but it works. I put my laptop on interchanging books so nothing sets on fire and I put my backup harddrive next to it. It's a comfy setup but the real workstation is my laptop itself. Now, it's back to work for me. School starts January 13th.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Shooting Particles

     For shooter mode in TriGrid, bullet sprites just didn't cut it. They were boring crystal sprites that shattered on impact. I needed something with more flare. More Geometry Wars like. I started messing with Unity's particle systems and discovered how to make a little fire ball. One color change and explosion effect later I had the shooting effect I wanted. Here is how I got those "pew pew" thingies to work.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Gaming & Simulation Final Exam

     For my final exam in my  Gaming & Simulation Design Principles I course, my group had to present our game idea that we will be implementing in Design Principles II next semester. We talked about Mach-Arena and basically went over the design document to get the other groups and the teacher up to speed. My group went first, allowing us to relax and watch the other presentations for the rest of the time. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Status Report #17

     This has been one of those weeks where lots of things happen. It's that exciting part of development where all the pieces come together. I finished the sprites, I put together animations and object groups, I have the GDD ready, and a working prototype to look at. This is my favorite part of development. Actually making the game pretty and playable! Having a really nice alpha running would be a great Christmas present for myself. But for now, it's time for a weekly status report!

Friday, December 20, 2013

About The Pennsylvania College of Technology

     The Pennsylvania College of Technology is the nerdy little sister of the Penn State. This is where you'll find all sorts of IT majors, nursing degrees, baking certification, and automotive programs. I took it upon myself to add my school to Game Career Guide's school listing a while back. I want to draw more attention to the Gaming & Simulation degree that I'm in. It's a new program only two and a half years old, but has the potential to be something great. It's a quality game degree that takes the programming aspect seriously and doesn't cost $400,000 to attend.

     Although you know what complaints I have about the current curriculum this place still has something special. It's an affordable alternative for future game devs in PA. I want to make a difference here so the school and its students can thrive. The Gaming major is new and needs a voice and I spoke up first to set an example and bring change. I just want to help more game developers get off the ground because so many get discouraged or don't know where to start.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Letter to the Dean

     If nobody makes a move, nothing gets accomplished. I'm sick of the way my school handles its game development major, so I'm suggesting change to a high authority. I sent a letter to the school dean in hopes of making the curriculum suit game development more thoroughly. After I sent it, I posted it on LinkedIn to get the opinions of other students and Alumni. The responses I got were insightful and directed me to a more reasonable course of action. 

     I can't link the discussion because it's exclusive, but I can summarize that I now recognize where the line between school and self motivation is drawn. The filler classes exist so people can apply those skills if they switch careers or just know where to start when they finally come in handy. My slightly changed argument is to now put a stronger emphasis on marketing courses, portfolio building opportunities, and open electives in place of 5 particular classes that could be better spent for this particular major.

Read on to see what I sent to the dean.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Gushing About: Super Smash Bros.

     I'm not talking about any entry in particular, but the series as a whole. This is a game series that continues to have a strong impact on me with every sequel. Each game giving me something new to love, understand, and appreciate.

     When asked "What's your favorite game?" my go-to answer is the latest Smash Bros. game. There is something magical about getting all your favorite characters and cool ones you never heard of to run around and fight. This series means the world to me and I'm going to gush about why.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

DragCore Unity Setup

     Feels so very good being here again. I'm back into Unity making all the little game pieces work together. It's really my favorite part. Having a playable prototype and beautiful art assets just beats everything. My parents are also giving me newfound respect for development. That basically amounts to less chores and interruptions while they let me do my thing. I love that. I get to just focus all month and finish this game. Now that we're on the last mile of the race, I'd like to explain how I set up Unity to make things easy and efficient.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Amazon App Submissions

     Amazon is really easy to upload to. I thought there was a development fee, but it's actually free. There's a simple and colorful interface that let's you put android, computer, or web apps on the Amazon market. Yesterday, I submitted my Android apps to the Amazon market so I could be more available during the holiday season. My android games were made with Unity and making them Amazon friendly was just a matter of changing the app store links in the main menus. I just hope my apps get up on time and don't get tossed back with errors. I don't have any Amazon devices to test on or money to get any so it's just wishful thinking for now.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

TriGrid's Lost Features

     A few features got cut from TriGrid during development. There were going to be 100 challenges instead of 60, but I made the level select sprites 3x4 instead of 5x4 and didn't want to change them all. The purple triangles would originally cling to walls but that behavior led to constant errors so I reverted them to behaving like yellows that turn more frequently and never changed them back.

     Every time the player moved, the blue arrows where going to move one space in the opposite direction. That led to problems in the level design though. Sometimes it was just impossible to catch one from behind and it basically destroyed all hope of beating a level within a time limit.

     When I came up with shooter mode I debated making that the primary game and having Challenge mode be a bonus, but I decided that Shooter was simpler and felt like a worthy award for mastering all the challenges (it also made a compelling in-app purchase). I also had multiple pages of text in the tutorial menu but shortened them to one sentence when I noticed most test players skipping the instructions completely.

     Things don't always go as planned and problems arise during development sometimes. It's up to you as a developer to adapt and evolve the game to overcome these obstacles. I'm happy with the way TriGrid turned out.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Status Report #16

     Finals week is behind me at last. My third semester of college is complete! I now have a full month to myself for game development and things will get done. While my brain recovers from a semester of college I'll be playing the new Zelda and watching some 3D modelling tutorials to get ahead since I have a 3D class next semester. DAZ 3D is free now and it'd be a good idea to master it someday.

     I intend to finish DragCore before January and get started with prototypes for my next game. August is approaching and I still have 3 games to push out. Not to mention summer school. Here's what I accomplished during finals week.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Samsung Seller Office Problems

      I'm getting all kinds of errors when trying to put my games on the Samsung Seller Office. My 100% Indie Account sends me broken emails and app submissions are closing in a week. It's way too close to the holiday rush to even bother with this stuff. I'm just going to wait for my new 100% Indie Account to go through and try again when DragCore is done.

      Sure, I'll miss the holiday rush but Samsung devices can still get to Google Play. The only advantage I'm missing is exposure on the Samsung marketplace and I'm pretty sure TriGrid and Candy Shop Catch won't be on the top of the "holiday must have" list.

      I'll be on top of things later, I'll be trying crazy hard to get my platformer (coming after the board game) featured during the holiday rush just to know what it's like. If anyone else is on Samsung's 100% Indie campaign, I could totally use some insider tips on how this all works. All I know so far is what I could find when looking around on their website.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

TriGrid Collision

     Getting triangles to crash into each other was a bit trickier than I thought. I tried polygon collision boxes, turn-based movement, raycasts, and vision cones. In the end, simple boxes worked best but there was still the problem of objects colliding while facing certain directions. Here's how I used Unity's 2D Toolkit plugin to make sprites collide in my first Unity game: TriGrid.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gushing About: Pokemon Snap

     This game is just unconventional fun. Only Pokemon can make a safari photography game interesting for kids. This game had secrets, this game had uniqueness, but most importantly, this game had Pokemon. All of them... I made it my mission to find them all and document them for science!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gathering Crazy Ideas

     A few friends and I often have conversations about nonsense. Thoughts of having hair replaced with hundreds of fingers and deciding if a gorilla tossing sewer lids was more dangerous than a gorilla with a sock full of batteries occupies our imaginations during these talks. Yesterday's talk was extra special though. We discussed obscure superpowers and somehow that led to an unrelated idea for my next game...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Using AdMob

     Releasing apps for free would be very painful if it weren't for ads. Considering how the app store pricing is a race to the bottom, if I want to stand a chance my games should be free. But how do you get ads in your game? There's all kinds of services out there. I needed one that worked on all platforms. Something easy to keep track of. I settled on AdMob, an ad service by Google. I already use AdSense by Google so why not keep things in one place?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Other Indies

     I've been listening to indie game dev podcasts for years now but thee topics feel more relatable than ever. Once you get a grasp on Unity and releasing projects the things that once seemed out of your league are not so mysterious and unattainable anymore. While I haven't been able to get much work done lately, I have been listening to the words of wisdom from others to get me through the mountains of schoolwork.

     There is something really reassuring about hearing people doing the same thing as you fighting just as hard. Plenty of people are working jobs they hate for little money and taking whatever hours are left in the day to work on game projects they love. That story never gets old. I just really wish I knew people like that in person. Pretty ironic since I attend a school with a game development major. I'd like to do something to meet developers and talk face-to-face.

     I'd like to attend PAX East next year or the year after, just to get a feel for it. I think I'd be good to go as a guest before attending with my own panel. I'd see cool things, meet people, and just open up some good opportunities. Especially if I let people know what I'm all about.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Status Report #15

     Time for another status report and almost nothing got done. School has reached a climax in terms of workload and there is no way DragCore is coming out by Christmas. In fact, I'm thinking mid-January at the earliest. Maybe then I'll get people looking to play new free games on their shiny new smartphones and tablets.

     I'm going to start posting revenue and download data on these status Reports from now on too, straight from App Annie. It should help show you what to expect if you go about selling games the way I do. I can tell you now that I'm making nothing, but one day that'll change and you'll be able to see the revenue spike along with me. Take a look at a weeks worth of work.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Walking Around (Yotes RPG and Interface)

     Even though I'm not seriously starting my action RPG until about a year from now, I keep updating my notes for the idea and occasionally making mock-ups. It helps me with the waiting period where I sit on idea until I know it works. So far I've done character bios, snippets of the script, some character dialogue, arranged almost all the game mechanics, listed game elements, and drafted some GUI styles.

     Today I feel like peeking into the future and sharing what I have in mind for making a character walk around in an RPG.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

TriGrid's Original Concept

     Back in May I was doodling in MS Paint and trying to think up a game that would be easier to make than Fish Feaster which proved to be too much for me. I needed an idea for a game that took place in single location with some sort of randomized layout. After considering multiple themes like spiders and zombies in the spirit of Halloween (the expected release date) I decided on making a game where you played as a ghost and went around spooking trespassers in your garden by avoiding their flashlight beams and touching them. After making placeholders, I forgot the idea and just went with neon shapes...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Gushing About: Diddy Kong Racing

     Who didn't like this game? It was the only racing game that really kept a place with Mario Kart. And it did so by expanding what a racing game could be. It had exploration, secrets, challenges, mini-games, all wrapped up in a pretty layer of polish.

      Let's revisit one of Nintendo 64's greatest racers, Diddy Kong Racing.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy Schedule

     I'm dead-set on finishing my next three games by next August. I am dying to get started on the Yotes RPG but also refuse to touch the darn thing until I know I can make it perfectly. I cram in at least one hour of progress on my current project each day. And that's during school, where final exams and group projects are looming. I am spending every minute I can on making progress. Let's see what I can do before the next Status Report.

     Today is about getting stuff done. And that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Monday, December 2, 2013

New Device Resolution Strategy

     I admit to being a complete dunderhead when it comes to making a game fit all resolutions. I found it hard to wrap my head around making a game that fits all the resolution combinations out there. I tried making TriGrid fit everything by upscaling the smallest resolution. With Fish Feaster I did the same but stretched the background to compensate for iPhone 5's longer screen. When I made Candy Shop Catch I had HD and SD resolutions programmed in, which doubled the amount of assets in the game (a colossal waste of space).

     With my newest creation, I'm trying a new method that will hopefully be kind to memory and easy to code. I thought of it when I finished up Candy Shop Catch and face-palmed at how obvious the solution really is...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Learning Animations

     One of the things I'm planning to learn from making DragCore is Unity Animations. I'm using 2D Toolkit animated sprites to make animations. Mastering this is key to my future games where smooth animations will make all the difference graphically. I also need to figure out how to make animations efficiently so I can make large games that load quickly and don't lag when multiple objects or moving on screen.

     I also found another indie game development documentary yesterday. Inspirational stuff, but it's also a bit vulgar. I'd swear a lot too if I had to work two min-wage jobs and live alone for 5 years while trying to get a game off the ground. It shows just how stressful life can be when you're just starting out as an indie. Lot's of people really do have it worse than me and I'm very lucky that my parents are giving me a head start.

   Check it out if you're interested in that stuff. I'd also recommend seeing the extended interviews on his channel to hear from the other members of the indie team. Now that all my assets are ready, I'm going to finish my design document and start putting my own game together.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Status Report #14

     Thanksgiving turned out well. I saw Times Square at night, demonstrated my work to my family, fixed bugs in my Android titles, nearly completed all the sprites for DragCore, confirmed my summer plans with my parents, and watched BBC's Sherlock for the first time. Take a look at all the stuff that got done this week. Because a lot got done this week.

Friday, November 29, 2013

What's Next? (Road to RPG)

     I've tweaked this list a few times but now I'm settled. I'm going to make DragCore, next I'm going to make a digital board game based on a class project from last year, then I'm going to pull out all the stops and make the best 2D platformer I possibly can. After all that dust settles and I'm making a comfortable income, I'll finally begin my action RPG.

     I should be done with DragCore and the board game before the college semester ends in May. I'll spend all summer working on my platformer while spending the first half of this summer taking online classes to hopefully skip out the upcoming fall semester. If I don't go to school next fall I can save up some tuition money for the following spring and have dedicated time for making my games profitable and focusing on prototyping my RPG.

     This whole plan is a work in progress and we'll see what happens. Everything else has fallen into place so far, but things are getting shaky as the stakes are being increased. Tuition is going up and my family's money isn't. I admit I'm feeling pretty alone on this. It feels like every force known to man wants to keep me from reaching my dream and I am truly the only one who sees my potential and recognizes my evolving ability.
     I need some proof that my plan is working and I need proof that I can make great games. DragCore needs to come out ASAP so I can just get a glimpse of success in the world's most crowded gaming market. Not just to prove to others but also to myself. I need to step up the quality of my works and start making a name for myself in the app store.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Game Trailers: Candy Shop Catch & TriGrid

     I finally got around to finishing those trailers for my Android games. I can't do one for Fish Feaster just yet, but I'm looking into it. See TriGrid and Candy Shop Catch in action beyond the break.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gushing About: Golden Sun

     I've decided to start doing weekly posts about cool stuff that inspires me and makes up who I am. A lot of stuff we thought was awesome as kids shape our creative minds as adults. It's good to look back and think hard about why you thought certain things were so cool.

      To start things off, I'm doing Golden Sun. These gush posts are not by any means a review. It's just me remembering things that I liked as a kid. Having only played Pokemon and Paper Mario before this, I had no idea that RPG games were a thing. I just knew I liked games like those and as soon as I experienced my first battle in Golden Sun, a game I expected to be like Zelda, I was hooked.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mach-Arena: Menu Systems

     We got around to making our menu layouts the other day. We needed to accommodate our new currency/leveling up mechanic and ship editor. Here's what we came up with.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mach-Arena: Game Progression

       Today in gaming class, we needed to make a document about story and character progression. Being that my group's game didn't necessarily have those things in a traditional sense, I came up with the four components of our game that had sense of progression. The fourth component was just added in today because it seemed so obvious and simple.

     Want progression in a deathmatch game? Let players level up. People go nuts for filling up bars and unlocking things (I know I do). So take a look at how our game flows.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Other Developers Out There

     I took a lot of time out yesterday to look around Google Play and various indie sites to see what other people like me are up to. I get intense feelings looking at indie games, trailers, blogs, and reviews. I'm looking toward where I want to be about a year from now. An inspirational story, a game enjoyed by thousands, and enough money to comfortably make another title.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Status Report #13

   Take a look at all the stuff that got done this week.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Getting iOS Reviews

     I've been tossing TriGrid around lately to get reviews and maintain it's featured status. Much like the post from before, I felt like giving a nice little list of sites to visit if you ever wanted to request reviews for iOS games instead of Android ones. This should save some newbies the trouble of finding them like I had to.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Your Game's Evolution

     Often times you'll see your project turning into something you never imagined before. You start with a base idea and start developing it. Every now and again you'll add a little touch of polish. You'll remove an unnecessary feature. You'll revamp an existing feature. Over time you'll see the game changing into something even better than you expected.

     I get warm fuzzies every time I notice this happening. I find myself rewriting game design documents with a racing heart as I rush to get new ideas out of my head and see how it makes the game feel more complete and awesome. Don't be afraid to change your idea once it's set. As you're making it, experience may bring new insights to what could make it even better.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

App Icon Improvement

     It's a work in progress but I'm working on making a prettier app icon. I searched for software and found something good that didn't actually work out for me. I already invested $5 into it though, so there's no going back now. Like always, I worked optimistically and managed to make some good out of a bad turn of events.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Next Game Project: DragCore

     Today, I'm excited to announce DragCore! An arcade style game where you trap and destroy space-faring enemies in an electric field by dragging your finger across the screen! You control four voltaic drones in space to coordinate attacks on threats from space. Tap on enemies or drag a box over a group and watch them all explode into space-bits!

     This little guy is the game I initially planned to be my first iOS app. I had to get a new Mac and all my data for it didn't survive the transfer. Luckily I still have the SDL version I made with Code::Blocks and C++ back in 11th grade.

     Obviously that header app icon is a place holder and I'll be posting a video of the SDL version soon. The final product will be very different and with multi-touch the gameplay will be a lot more fluid. This game project is going to teach me about polish and making stable, easy-to-navigate code. Most of all, I hope people find this game fun, addictive, and worth showing to friends. Let's see if I live up to that a couple months from now.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Game Design Document in Progress

     I'm wrapping up the game design document for my next game today. I'll announce the game here tomorrow and I'll post the design doc soon after. School seems to be dedicated to cutting of my development time because homework is stacking up as we approach Thanksgiving break. I've gotta keep chanting my short term goals to get through this.
  • Finish tedious classes ASAP
  • Make a game that looks great and plays great
  • Earn a decent amount of money

     I've also seen an interesting trend with TriGrid on iOS, seeing that it's my first featured game. Seeing it bloom with so much potential really makes me wish I had the ads working properly. However, it also gives me hope for my next game's success.

     So today is about getting iOS reviews and getting the word out. In addition to that I'm working on trailers for my existing games today and hope to have those on YouTube soon.