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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.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

TriGrid Available on iOS!

     Well this came as a surprise. After a bundle of patches and rejections, TriGrid was finally accepted and put on the app store. I had to strip out ads and in-app purchases to make it work, but it's out now for all to see. It's good to have an extra something alongside Fish Feaster in the market for people to play. Check it out here to see for yourself!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Status Report #12

   My next game is underway, and I've been chipping away on progress. I also discovered that HyperCam 2 is freeware now. I'll be making trailers for my Unity games soon and see if reception improves with gameplay demonstrations.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mach-Arena: Game Elements


     The game elements document basically elaborates on things I put in the mechanics  one. It goes into detail for each power-up and also explains the new concept my group came up with for customizable ships. Take a look at it below the break.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Need For Community

     Game development should definitely not be a lonely process. Encouragement from others gives devs the morale boost that's needed to overcome roadblocks in development. Listening to other devs' advice and stories is one of the most educational things I do in my free time. Having others to work with can allow you to see flaws in your ideas and implementations. Locking yourself in a garage and working on a game for years with little to no outside interaction just doesn't sound like a good idea.

     Even indie devs should not be alone throughout development. The outside world is a helpful tool for development. I'm still waiting for the day where I can go to Game Developers Conference and meet countless other developers in person to just talk about game development. I'm even trying to find other indie devs at my school just to connect with someone doing the same stuff I'm doing now. Until then, websites like Gamasutra can fill in my need for a sense of community.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mach-Arena: Artificial Intelligence

     One of the trickiest things we'll have to do for Mach-Arena is the pathfinding and other AI behavior. We are torn between making the AI adaptable and have set difficulties and have decided to create a system that allows us to easily change our minds later when we find out which one is more fun. Take a peek at my group project's brains by clicking on "More"!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Android Semi-Exclusive

     With TriGrid, it's ads, with Candy Shop Catch it's iPad game loop breaks from random resolution errors. The big picture here is iOS giving me trouble after trouble and Android being smooth sailing start to finish. From here on out, Android is my main priority. If I find decent success, I'll spend however long I need to in order to get an iOS port working. That mostly applies to my two latest games. With the ones I'm making next, I have a new strategy in mind...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Current Plans: Juggling College, Money, and Game Development

     Money is getting tight and my apps are not bringing in much income. Likely because they were made by an amateur and lack the polish of elite games. My very next goal is to change that. Another problem is school tuition becoming unbearable. I have to find a way to open up some breathing room so I can graduate sometime (no way my parents are gonna let me out into the world without job security). 

     Take a look at the survival plan I've been thinking about beyond the break.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Counting Losses

     That's it. I can't fight this bug. Getting IAP and ads to work in TriGrid for iOS is just beyond my ability. I've encountered the most powerful kind bug there is. A holographic one. Tap it all you want, but it's not getting squashed. What works on all other games simply does not for this. Two lines of code that work in every circumstance I put them through over the past few weeks just won't work or TriGrid. The game either ignores a command or crashes.

     There is a HideAds() command that simply won't do just that, and a RestoreTransactions() function that crashes the game. I've tried countless possibilities, even started from scratch a few different ways. This is the part where I count my losses and move on.

     I have to accept releasing it and making no profit. I recently uploaded TriGrid with both monetizing features removed. It'll at least boost my reputation in the app store. I just need to code cleanly with my future games.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Status Report #11

   Three games down and three more to go before I execute operation "Execute the Biggest and Best Game I Physically Can". I'm also looking into ways to get all my boring classes, that have nothing to do with game design (but are "required" for some reason), out of the way so I can start my RPG in the fall and have time to focus on it.

     Read more to see what I accomplished this week.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Questions An Indie Should Consider

     Yesterday, I was doing some deep thinking about what it takes to survive as an indie developer. Especially as once with little experience and money. I kept coming across the same responses from professionals in the business and indie developers in general. It basically comes down to practicing your skill until you make a breakthrough. You need to know what you're doing and be able to improve yourself.

     If you're going to be an indie, you should be able to answer these questions easily right? So I answered them just to see if I could. See if you can do the same below the break.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mach-Arena: Game Mechanics

      After loads of arguing and a pile of note cards, my group settled on game mechanics and a control scheme for Mach-Arena. We figured two control options and a radio button would be best. Check out what the game will be like after the break.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mach-Arena Introduction

     In case you're wondering if my college project Mach-Arena is dead, it's not. We just aren't starting class projects until next semester after we finish our Unity lessons. This semester is about building all the components of a Game Design Document (GDD) and putting them together. You can see the Concept Document here.

     So far 4 papers have been written for this game and submitted for a grade. My personal hopes are to finish it in time to be able to show it off at the upcoming BYOC at my college in May. Today I'm going to start posting the documents my group has made so far. 

    Check out the Introduction page for Mach-Arena below the break.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A College Student's Game Development Process

     My way of doing things is certainly evolving over time. I often try to find new ways to do things more efficiently and it's starting to pay off. I was able to make Candy Shop Catch in 5 weeks as opposed to my other mobile games which took multiple months each.

    I think of it as another aspect of game development I'm practicing: production. I'm improving my art, programming, and design skills, so my production skills should be no different. Check out how I get things done by tapping that "More" button below!

Monday, November 4, 2013

A 10th Grader's Game Development Process

     I find myself getting more efficient with this whole game making thing over time. Back in 10th grade I had no idea what I was doing, but was happy to finally have a general direction to run in. I found out games were made through programming, took a few Java classes, and went to Google for the rest.

     I figured out lots of things on my own, like object oriented structures and game specific things like animations, health bars, menu flow, music playback, and collision detection. What never crossed my mind back then was listening to how others created games. If I did, I'd know about certain things that just don't work and could have side-stepped a lot of problems. Also, my code would be legible.

Take a peek into the mind of a 10th grade developer in training after the break.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

First XCode Experience

     When toying around with Xcode for the first time, I finally got to see what something I produced would look like on an actual gaming device. I made a simple app with a button that changed an image and text on screen, linked to a charity website, and was based on my favorite show. It felt great making it and I learned a lot about iPhone game development.

     There was something simply magical about seeing something I made working on the device I wanted to develop for. It was exciting. I showed everyone. And I fantasized about just how much magic I could fit into the little box in my hands. Just seeing my app icon among the others I was so familiar with, it's just something that's too surreal to explain.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Status Report #10

   Huh. It's funny to think about how I've been doing this blog for about 10 weeks now. It feels a lot longer. I think I've grown a lot since last summer and I feel like the transition of who I was to who I want to be is happening.

     Anyway, this week was about finishing Candy Shop Catch and letting people know it exists. Take a look at what I'm up to after the break.

Friday, November 1, 2013

PC Master Race Everywhere

     I'm liking all the custom machinery ideas going around lately. I'd like to be in a world where upgrading aspects of your devices becomes the norm. Things like Phonebloks and Steam Machines seem like the perfect solution to the annoyance of new and improved technology releasing every six months. Just swap out a component whenever you want to instead of spending hundreds to get the shiny new toy that's basically the same as the one you have.

     It's interesting to think about how they will affect how games are made though. Will developers come up with quality settings and minimum specs like for PC games? Maybe I should experiment with developing games that way...