Thursday, May 30, 2013

Status Update

So, this has pretty much been an awful month, and had such a nice start too. Work was going better, finances getting secured, got a license for Construct 2 and was planning on rebuilding Punchy in it from the ground up. Then... well I won't go into it but a massive thing happened and it's gone and messed up our lives. We're dealing, or trying to at least, but it's had to take first priority over the #1GAM project.

Nevertheless I managed to get some headway in the project, and hopefully in the next day or two will put up the prototype here. It's basically working the way I want all the mechanics to, and all the things that aren't I know how to fix, just... like I can't fixate on repairing things at the moment. I dunno, the depression and the whole mess and everything, probably.

At any rate, next month begets Worldwide GameDev Month, an expansion of National GameDev Month last year. I'll be participating again, and hopefully will have more to show for it. I have a few things I want to do, like build on Kriswell to be able to release as a PDF or Roll20 module, flesh out Punchy some more, etc. I feel like the bulk of doing that is graphical work, though, and that might not be the most educational path to explore.

I think I want to make a sort of JRPG engine, but streamlined for touch devices so it's not just holding a directional button down to move, for instance. No idea how to do it yet, but I feel like it should be easily worked out in Construct once I have an understanding of how menus work.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

April #1GAM - Kriswell's Hall of the Five Elements

So two developments for this month. First, taking advantage of a current sale on Construct2, I now own a proper license and will be using this over Stencyl, for the reasons I listed earlier, as well as it just generally being a better deal in the long run over licensing Stencyl year-to-year or GameMaker. First thing I plan on doing with it is to remake Punchy, my January #1GAM, and make a fuller thing out of it, but that's the future.

Second, the April #1GAM I'm doing is not so much a video game as a development/adaptation of a module I ran in D&D sometime last year called Kriswell's Hall of the Five Elements. It was heavily Puzzle-centered at the time and ran as part of an exploration of the WotC Hammerfast expansion, and I was happy with the ideas involved, though the execution could, naturally, have done with some work. At any rate I'm satisfied with the idea and want to develop it further into a proper 4e module, which I hope to finish in the near future. For the moment, however, I've put together a one-page version of the module for entry into this year's One Page Dungeon Contest run by

Download the 1-Page Dungeon Here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

#1GAM, three months in.

I've noticed the habit developing of constantly putting things off until the last minute, and how it's sort of killing my projects.

With Punchy I didn't run out of time so much as not have as much I expected, and still got it finished with a few days left in the month. With the Space Shooter, it was very close to the wire, and wouldn't have happened basically if I hadn't had the day off of work, and if nothing else I taught myself the ins and outs of Construct2, which I can see being invaluable long-term. 

With the Pirate Detective game, I didn't even have a game there. It was just the conclusion of a project. One I never gave myself time to build what was happening, or to draw any assets. The walk cycle took me forever and still didn't look very good, and I only had one background painted. I sort of re-learned AGS, but I don't know how valuable that is as a skill in the short term since, owing mainly to the scope of making an effective game and how it largely involves the creation of assets, I doubt I'll be doing another during this year.

There's a Construct2 GameJam going on on Newgrounds right now, top 8 prizes are various licenses for the program. The theme is Touch, so if I can come up with something to do for that it's worth a shot. I'm seeing a sort of Atari Combat clone but with touch controls, seen from the one tank's perspective? Don't know, need to think on it more.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jack Royale, Pirate Detective

My #1GAM entry for March, which came out well enough for me to stop stressing as a little thing, I suppose. I give you Jack Royale, Pirate Detective.
I spent the whole month doing nothing, then doodling a few bits, then more nothing, then I played Spec Ops: The Line (which is, incidentally, pretentious garbage) then more nothing, then I played Bioshock Infinite (which is, incidentally, utterly amazing) then made most of this today, Easter, finishing just hours before the deadline. Not a big thing, and I had plans for a big thing, but it got me to re-learn Adventure Game Studio, which I took up fairly quickly, I think, and feel a bit comfortable with. Now, to think about April... by which I mean to put things off until the 29th again.

Click Here to Download.

Art credits:
Hotdog and Crowbar image from
Jazzy blues music from

Sunday, March 3, 2013

February #1GAM: Spacey Shooty

Yeah, I know, dumbass name, sue me. I basically just remade Galaga as a way to learn a whole new engine, and only gave myself basically a week in which to do so. Can't defend the decisions that led me here but I got it done, it's finished, and came in just under the wire at the end of February, and with essentially every feature I wanted for it. Click here to play.

Most resources were taken from Spaceship sprites by Blarget2, Boss sprite by Scrittl, Music by FoxSynergy, and Scrolling background from Michael James Williams off

This while scrambling to ad-lib a D&D session immediately after finishing, and then immediately contracting a severe stomach bug that, quite conveniently, only hit me after both of those were finished. As I say

Anyway, I think I'm falling for Construct2 as a platform. It's not more comprehensible than Stencyl exactly, but even though I was learning it all afresh I managed to work through it better. Stencyl seems to be trying to be cute, or maybe too kid friendly with the "snappable code block" thing they have, which I sort of get the utility of but the way it was presented just cluttered the visual UI of everything. Construct2 has a great many benefits, but the free version has this limit of 100 events that can be built in. The game above had something like 75, and that's only after having to pay special attention to how many I was using to keep it low, which, being as I'm not a programmer professionally and don't know how to optimize code (nor, after looking at it in the editor again, how to comment worth a damn, apparently) became not-so-much difficult as a source of stress when it came to completing the project. Long term I'd like to get the full version, but can't really justify throwing $100+ at a hobby at the moment, which likely means my use of the program might remain limited for a while.

Post-mortem on the game/month, something I wanted to do was to make the game musical. That is to say, the pitch of the player laser and the sound of the enemy ships would change depending on where they are in the map, so it would operate like a piano roll you'd be doing a sort of Gitaroo-man thing during, but I ended up scrapping this when I realized doing so would be A: fairly impractical; B: in excess of the 100-event limit; and C: not particularly fun. Also, there was another game I was planning on working on with another #1GAM-er, but due to a lack of communication which I wholly own responsibility for, it ended up falling through without much forward momentum being built. Moving forward I need to keep focus on an idea and be sure to keep working on it at all times. More important to finish a simple concept than to completely abandon a complicated one.

So, 2 months down. Gotta get an early start on March and keep it going so it's not a last-minute rush like this time. I keep feeling like a point and click adventure but not knowing what to do with one. Possibly I'll try an RPG but that's an even bigger/weirder hassle, so I dunno. Gave myself a bit of a breather here, what with finishing the one project and being ill over the weekend, but gotta get back on that horse.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I guess I'm in a mood

So, new Playstation coming out...

Big takeaways are that it will do things soon that OnLive can do now, like streaming video feed of your game, uploading to youtube, posting on facebook... you know, stuff that could easily be handled with a firmware update, but yeah, totally worth $599... probably. They didn't have a physical box to show, a date, a price point, or anything that made a single case for why you should want this product.

I feel like this is happening too damn much in gaming now, I'm just expected to know why I want a game while the Dev makes no effort to tell me why I should. "Hey, new Dead Space, and this one has In The Air Tonight playing in the commercials! While a guy walks through the snow! That's sort of like a feature, innit?" "Hey, you know Bungie? They make all those Space-Marine FPSs with big multiplayer? Well they're doing another one, and keep saying it's Amazing! Won't clarify why exactly but... but Bungie! Amazing! Amazing Bungie!" "Hey! New Playstation! It plays all the games you were already expecting, and we're selling it exactly the way we did the last one, which turned out to be a disaster... so yeah... but Hey! Impractical Killzone Trailer! Another Racing Game! New installments of non-risky IPs! Something-something Fantasy and Dragons! Stuff you saw two E3s ago! And OMGTECHDEMOZ!!"

This... I dunno, could be interesting, but it more announces they're killing the old console (that I kinda quite like) to just replace it with the same one. If they gave me a single thing that justified it's existence this would be such a different blog post. If they came out at a competitive price point, or features that change the consumer experience, or fscking ANYTHING...

I need to calm down, I feel like I've just been having a crummy week. So hey, Myst-by-way-of-Braid looks... interesting?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Punchy Update

Latest version has been released on the Stencyl Arcade

I'm happy with how this is coming out generally, but may have to stop work on this where it is currently, only so many more days in the month and I feel as a proof-of-concept and a learning exercise it's come as far as it can for now. I'll likely want to make a more complete version later on, have ideas for projectile effects and destructable terrain I think could be implemented without too much hassle, but honestly I'm fairly happy I was able to build a platforming control behavior from essentially scratch.

That said, I'm giving serious thought to abandoning Stencyl. Coding issues aside, it's just been problem after problem with little to none feedback explaining why. The most recent days-long issue was with a music file that could compile to the testable version, but not to the exported SWF, and there was nothing explaining as much. Converting the bitrate was a doddle, but if there is absolutely nothing suggesting this is the massive, crippling problem other than "Error, check internet connection", the hell am I supposed to do? Now that Construct 2 is available on Steam I think I'm going to give that a shot for the next project I think, most of the logic should translate without incident. I'll give Stencyl another look when it finally gets to version 3, which they've been teasing for the past year.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

So here's Stencyl for you

I present a screen from the first Prototype of Punchy!, a run-n-punch-em-up I'm putting together as my January project for One Game a Month, and while it's just past in my time zone, it still qualifies as my first proper Screenshot Saturday. I've also got a Link to the prototype such as it is, not very much at the moment (he can't even Punch fer crissake) but he's got Running and Jumping down... sort of.

I'm having a bunch of trouble with Stencyl, trying to get it to do what I want it to do. In my head I have the logic set out all basic: Press right, go right. Press Jump, and Jump. Press Punch, and Punch. and then I get into Stencyl and try to use the basic sets of code for the simple things and run right into problems. The basic "Run and Jump" behavior block, for instance, gave him squat for friction so he slides around everywhere. Trying to do the "On Punch-Keypress, play punch animation for 0.3 seconds, then return to idle stance" thing  gets overridden by built in thingies as well, and it's frustrating because I'm trying to use the stuff that makes this convenient, but that will just give me the game I don't want to make.

The way I'm looking at it presently I have one of two things to do: A, resign myself to having to learn all of this from the bottom up, not using any of the convenient behavior code-packets built into Stencyl (and if that's what I'm doing, I may as well just learn ActionScript for a year, which I sort of don't want to do) and try to re-learn Game Loops and all sorts of stuff I never properly learned in the first place, or B, try to make either a much simpler game (one without physics at all) or C, bugger around with GameMaker or Torque or something in the hopes that it gets easier. Either this just isn't... it just isn't doing what I want it to at the moment.

Once I get him moving around and behaving the way I want, though, I think the rest should come easy enough. The idea through the game is power-ups will give you bigger and bigger fists, you can beat down enemies, and with enough force, you'd knock them back hard enough to hit other enemies and stuff. Just a crazy, messy, carnage-fest of a thing by the end that's all sort of procedurally generated by the built in physics.

I have better ideas put together for later months as well, after this I want to try an Idea I had for a JRPG based loosely on the Power Rangers, go from Human to Warrior to Robot to Enormous Mecha. But the twist would be maintaining character dynamics between otherwise clashing personalities, without which the Mecha can't achieve certain forms. To my knowledge (which is, I'll be the first to admit, limited) I don't think there is a JRPG like that, and I don't know why.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Does this count as a Screenshot Saturday?

So first, I decided to update my sprite-avatar. I know, big news like this and I'm not making a full press release, what's wrong with me, but I figured it was time for a semi-fresh start to it. The old one was too much of just a Megaman Recolor, and honestly I didn't see myself in him. The current one is essentially similar in design, but more reflects my build and haircut I think, been a little while since I've done sprite-work, but I think it came out alright as a base.

The other thing I wanted to do was a quick character sketch, based roughly on the bodily proportions of the sprite character, and try and do a bit of work with a walk-cycle. Been a while since I drew, too, but I think it looks alright for a quick 'n dirty thing. Drawn in dry erase marker on a foldable noteboard my brother got me for christmas. Not sure if I'll do anything with him yet, could work for a point and click adventure I think, which I can do easily enough, but don't really know what I want to do with if I did. Have an idea I've been kicking around for something in a comic book-ish sort of world, but I feel that to do that properly would require better art than I'm capable of, and last time I tried I ended up sort of hung up on an interface trick I couldn't get to work properly. I do feel like doing one, though, could start off with a simple one with ol' simple sketch Stan over here maybe. Have to think about it.

Stencyl droppings from the past few months

Mainly been doing two things, first is hemi-finishing the RoboFarmer prototype from before, which I shall link to here. This version has the ability to pick things up and place them anywhere, including on top of other objects, which causes errors but enough of that. The central problem I think was that I had designed what I wanted to do from the presumption that collision zones and sensor zones worked in a completely different way than they turn out to work, turns out they don't really play nice when they overlap, and when I tried to account for that, things didn't really improve, and by that time the month was running out and... excuses excuses, I just stopped working on it.

The second thing I did was to participate in one of reddit's own BaconGameJams. The theme was "Reversed Perspective" and from that I decided to make a game of Arkanoid played from the perspective of the Blocks, called Dio-Nakra because that's exactly how clever I am. The general idea is laying them down, some of them will earn "money" you can use to buy other blocks that will have different effects. I had ideas for power-up blocks and power-down blocks that would make the paddle's AI (which presently just follows the ball around) try to move more erratically which helps the block-laying player, as well as blocks that generate the income and having to valuate planting those over simple barriers, and honestly I think long term there's a bit of possibility there, but I finished the prototype after less than 24 hours, and collision started causing problems I couldn't work out how to either work around or rectify, so I just left it at the semi-functional state it was in.

I think I've come to the point where Stencyl might either be insufficient for the things I want to do with it, or I need to learn much more about it and the Actionscript it's based on, which is just a whole nother... thing... like why wouldn't I just learn Actionscript instead of Stencyl then and would it even be the best thing for it.

Either way I'm not planning on abandoning Stencyl, I just need to re-think the kind of games I want to make that make the simplest use of the features it provides... until it goes to the next version and completely buggerates my intentions. That you can lay out simple interfaces and such with it is great, and the built in physics works, but it just doesn't do either what I want, or the way I want it, and I need to work through that in the future.