Okay everybody, today I put together a new gameplay video, featuring levels 20-25, and some awesome music by Alec Holowka
Game development is awesome, we can all agree with that. Sitting down, and thinking up amazing ideas to tell stories, in a visually interactive way is fun. It’s creative, it’s enjoyable, and it’s awesome to get feedback from people who play your work, whether they say it’s “awesome”, it “sucks”, or “wtf was that?”.
However, for me, personally, I find it hard to keep focus on a game for a long period of time, even if the game is small. I’ve been making games since I was 11, so that’s what? Almost 7 years of game making. And what do I have to show, after spending endless hours programming, making graphics, the occasional song, level design, artwork, and discussing design? 8 finished games, and in the hundreds of unfinished (literally). Now, take a look at those finished games. Are they very big? No. They’re almost all short games, with few levels, or automatically generated levels (Pixel Runner, Pixel Runner 2, The Plunge, AGOSS).
Why is this so? I’ve started many projects that have “potential”, look “cool”, are “fun to play”. Yet, after a few weeks of working on them, I (and I know many of my fellow indie game develoeprs) stop working on them. I stop working on a game when things begin to get even a little bit repetitive. Oh, it’s time to make the 10th level? I’ll work on this game instead. Coding the 8th enemy? I’ll work on this game instead. Making the 5th tileset? I’ll work on this game instead. The game I work on instead is something new, where I get to experiment with different coding, graphics, or level design, and as soon as any one of these becomes repetitive it essentially becomes boring, uninteresting. I can’t keep my focus. Oh, I can make another level like this, or make another level that’s entirely different!
I don’t know if this is the same for all developers. I know some people who can settle down and finish a game no matter if it takes a week, a month, a year, or several years, without getting distracted by other possible ideas or experiments. I wish I could do this. I can’t. I’m finding it extremely hard to finish up the last few levels of Leap 4 Blue. The game is incredibly close to the finish line, but it’s taking me longer and longer to finish levels!
For the time being I’ve basically decided that I’m going to force myself to sit down and finish up my game… so far it’s not working. I say, “I’m going to work on the game for the next hour”, and find myself at the end of that hour having been working on a website, experimenting with code, or reading interesting blogs on the internets. And sure, every few days I do sit down and add a few more levels, but it’s not at the pace I want.
Anybody else find this problem?
I decided to update my portfolio today. I thought it was in need of a change. So, I recreated it from scratch. Also note that the entire website now uses WordPress 3.0 (where as before only the blog and contact page(s) used wordpress). I’ve recently been working with WordPress a fair amount due to my job, and have learned quite a bit about it, so was able to (relatively easily) make the entire site, including the game, art, and website portfolio pages run under wordpress.
Pixel Runner 2 is a remake of one of my older games, Pixel Runner (which you can see on the games page). Pixel Runner 2 is being created in Flash using the Flash Punk Library, Flash Develop, and AS3. The general idea of the game is stay alive for as long as you can without being hit by all of the enemies and objects that fly/move around you.
The Plunge is a small arcade game I made in a few days. The goal of the game is to go as deep into an endless tunnel, collecting as many gold stones as you can, while avoiding rocks and the tunnel walls. The game is currently functional with the Pointed System (created by Dangerous Dave), and the highscores are hosted there. How deep can you go?
Pixel Switch is a small game with 12 levels I created in 2 days. The thing about the game is that you can’t jump. Instead you are able to flip the gravity 180 degrees at any time by pressing X. This leads to some interesting and challenging gameplay.
Red ‘N Blue is a platform puzzle game, where you control two players, but only one at a time. You must get both Red and Blue to the Green exit door, avoiding traps, hazards, etc. The game has a bit of a twist, to make the game a little more challenging. Red cannot touch anything Blue, other than Blue himself, and Blue cannot touch anything Red, other than Red herself.
Agoss is a simplistic abstract shooter in which you control a little ball, out to shoot all the crazy shapes that are flying towards it. The game contains 4 different types of enemies (although they all basically look the same), online highscores, and interesting abstract graphics.
ChimpVenture is a game for the fourth YYG competition. We have been working on it for about 3 months. In ChimpVenture, you play as a Chimpanzee through 20 levels, filled with platform puzzle and challenges, as well as a few enemies. The game contains 4 bosses, 3 different items, and lots more. Your goal in ChimpVenture is to stop the humans from polluting the world more than they already have.
Zymo is a small arcade-like retro game where you control a little character who must make it to the flag at the end of each level, however there’s a twist… To make the character preform actions (jump, duck, run, switch direction) you must actually type the commands into a command prompt. This creates a really interesting form of gameplay that I haven’t actually seen in many games before. Though the game is quite fun, it isn’t very well polished as, to be honest, I wasn’t all that great at making games when I made this particular one.
Pixel Runner was originally created for a 3 hour competition, meaning the game was created in just 3 hours. You basically run around and try to dodge the different objects and hazards that come running at you. I got some great responses to this simplistic game, and I was quite proud of it when I first created it in 2008.
A little while ago I got a job doing some web development for a history website, that was basically going to be listing a bunch of different historically significant news articles, publications, pictures, letters, etc, according to the Canadian standard for.. documenting this stuff, I guess. Anyways, it was decided that WordPress would be the best approach, since it already contains many things the people wanted for this website, such as searching, posting individual items (posts), commenting/addition of notes to items, and the handy dandy admin panel.
So, it was my job to go searching around figuring out how we were going to be able to “attach” about 25 extra columns of data to these entries. Each item (post, entry, w/e) was going to have all the same fields in them. I searched around for quite a while for a plugin that could do something like this, but didn’t find anything suitable.
I mean, sure, there were plugins that added extra fields to the posting page, but the problem was they just added the data to the metadata table. And have you seen that table? It’s not suitable at ALL for storing 1000+ posts containing the same 25 different fields of data. It’s laid out somewhat like this:
OK, so, now make each post actually have 25 different things (not just two like in the example above) and repeat 1000 times (literally). That’s not going to look very nice at the end of all that, is it, especially if they ever want to export that data from the mysql table. For normal uses, like the every day average blog, where it doesn’t really matter how the data is stored, that’s A-OK. But in this case, it definitely wasn’t what I needed. I needed a seperate table that contained columns of whatever the hell I wanted
I needed something more like this:
Which, as you can hopefully see, is far cleaner.
But, no one seemed to have made anything like this (Well, I’m sure somewhere out there someone has, but I couldn’t find one that was suitable). So, I decided to dive into the unexplored depths (unexplored for me) of wordpress plugins, excepting some kind of monster to appear and slap me a few times before I finally figured it out and strung together some half working thing that could be called a plugin if you only used it in a very specific way.
I’ve had this grudge against wordpress for a while, and I don’t really know why. Actually, I’ve had a grudge against any software on the web that does stuff for me. I used to make my own blog “software” (one actually turning out OK), and my own forum software, because I couldn’t stand using someone else’s. I think it’s kind of like I wanted to be cool, you know, making my own stuff, feeling that these engines were too full of extra crap to make their functionality and ease useful.
The last little while though, as I’ve dived into wordpress more and more, that’s definitely changed. From the admin panel alone, it feels like something that’s over complicated and full of junk I don’t need. This, is false. As I was reading page after page on their wonderful codex, ripping apart their source code and going through parts I probably don’t even need to explore, I realized that the software was built quite well. The organization seemed really great, and I loved how the plugins worked. The Actions/Hook idea is brilliant, high-five with whoever came up with that. It’s something I hadn’t considered before, but once I figured it out, I had my plugin done in a mere 2-4 hours.
The actions/hooks allow you to, essentially, stick your code in wherever you like, without actually modifying any of the original code. You can say “when someone saves a post, run my function”, or “when the admin logs in, run this function”, or “when the admin page loads, also load my plugin settings navigation”. It’s so smooth and easy to use.
So, my expectations with Word Press were low, not going to lie. I knew it had a lot of awesome functionality, but I thought it was a beast that had been worked on to the point where stuff was overflowing. And yes, it does have a lot of functionality, but nothing’s overflowing, it’s kept organized, clean, and everything is just right. It’s not too built up to make it hard for plugins/themes to work, and also not empty enough to make plugins have to do all the work.
So, that’s my adventures with wordpress, for the moment. I’m actually not totally done my plugin yet, I have to make a full “preview” of it in action for next Monday, so that’s going to take a bit more work (on the theme + plugin), but I think it will be a pretty smooth ride.
I’ve posted this everywhere else (Twitter, Facebook, TIGsource) but I thought I would post it on my personal site as well (since one of the reasons for a portfolio is to… well, show off your work).
So, this some concept art I did in a bit over an hour last night for my game, Leap 4 Blue.