Monthly Archives: August 2008

PAX Over

Actual discussion of how it went down to come soon. For now, it was pretty awesome! Also, I am a rock star. Continue reading

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Adandonned House | Realtime remixed

At long last, I finally managed to get something with this scene. After having almost re-modeled everything, and UV-unfolded the meshes properly, I found how much it was easy to paint the textures in Modo. Here is it, realtime screenshot, directly from Barr’s nEngine :
Thanks to Jibifaak for the helping hand [...] Continue reading

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There is a popular saying among small business people, which is "Keep it Simple, Stupid!" The simplest option is often the best, but the human mind often overcomplicates things. This is certainly true in game design, and when faced with several options it’s often best to just take whatever one is simplest.

But: Simplest for Who?

I would suggest that BSW is a nice answer to KISS. Certainly, at times you need it to be simplest for yourself, the game designer. There are a million possible ways to implement things, and some of them are vastly more work-intensive and complex than others. So you need to always be thinking in terms of what something costs, though for the indie developer this is measured in blood, sweat and tears rather than $$$.

I made a mistake with VtV, which I’ve heard from a lot of folks. The interface is confusing. I think what happened is, I made the simplest decision from the standpoint of a developer, not the standpoint of the player. When it comes to player interaction, it needs to be simplest for them, not for you the developer. So when you’re developing a user interface, make it obvious and intuitive, don’t just make it easy to code. So the mistake I made with VtV (although it also shaped the game quite uniquely) was to have a lot of interactions in "text mode", i.e., you just read and click options.

If I had designed better user interfaces, I think players would have found their way around a lot better.

I was faced with this question last night, how to lock/unlock doors. Soon, and this is not obviously related, I realized that there was going to be a certain amount of looking inside of things, e.g., to see the contents of a drawer. When you know that item X is under flowerpot Y, you have a choice. You could type "search" at flowerpot Y, and have the game give you a text that you found such-and-such an item, or you could have a dialog come up that shows the contents of it. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but the second option is simpler for the player. The first option is a "step removed", that is, it takes place on the language plane which is a step up from the object plane (think: in real life, it’s infinitely more intuitive to pick something up than to describe picking it up).

The question then was, is it really necessary to look "inside" of things. For instance, when you look at a bookshelf, it could just give you words to click on that are the books on the shelf. Likewise, if you come to a door and want to unlock it, there could be a word "unlock" that you click on and it takes the item out of your pack. With a few decisions like this, I could eliminate the need to go "inside" of objects altogether. This was attractive, but then I realized: what’s more fun?

There is a theory of fun that says it relates to hunter-gatherer instinct practicing, or something along those lines. I don’t know if that’s accurate, but it does just seem more fun to me that all the objects in the game could contain things. Maybe this is because "gathering" items is good practice for real life, I don’t know. But it does seem quite a bit more fun, than to have a blank interaction.

Decision: to make the UI work so that you have drag-and-drop interface between your inventory and the "contents" of whatever object you care to look at.

How does it work with doors? Well, the idea is the "contents" of a door would be like, the keyhole, and when you click "unlock" it shows you the door, a picture of the keyhole (labelled as such) and your inventory. It’s the same dialog, actually, and when you drag and drop your key into the keyhole, the door unlocks.

I think this is actually pretty intuitive. Continue reading

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Repeat: I am going to be at PAX!

Yeah, this is basically a repeat of last week’s message.  But I am going to be at PAX.  I am going to be wearing Galcon t-shirts the whole time.  I will be there Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  I will be helping out at the Brawndo booth from time to time.  I will probably be hanging [...] Continue reading

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Coin Locker Babies

“Coin Locker Babies” contains some of the strongest visual evocations I came to read in a novel. Probably because I’m from that generation who experience a morbid fascination for urban ruins and waste lands. Is it the Island where Kiku and Hashi are raised, its abandoned mine and deserted town ? [...] Continue reading

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Busy Week

Well, it’s all about preparing for the monolithic event that is PAX! I have finally developed the free games disc. Check out the menu it pops up when you put it in:

Let your eyes adjust to that mess! It really struck me that I have made a whole lot of games. And quite a variety too. Of course, two of those I didn’t make, but it’s still a lot. I go for quantity, not quality. It also makes me want to be full of yet more variety. I need to make more games that are really different from my existing ones. I don’t know why, I just think that would be cool.

I’m working on the face of the CD right now, printed a sample but it has some issues I need to fix, then tomorrow I can produce, produce, produce. And that’s my last day. Thursday is travel day! Gulp. Continue reading

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iGalcon 1.2 – Multi-Player Fun Fun FUN!!

Hey, just a short while ago Galcon 1.2 was released on the iTunes store! It’s a very exciting update, not only because it allows you to toggle the sound effects and select all the planets via a double-press … but it also includes the addition of multi-player Galcon! So now’s the time to [...] Continue reading

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The Lonesome West

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Ludum Dare 12 Results

The results for Ludum Dare #12, which I participated in a couple of weeks ago, are now available. You can view them here. My entry was Tower Infinite, a procedurally generated vertical platformer. I didn’t win anything, but I got in the top 5 for food entries, and 7th for … Continue reading

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Getting Close

Still doin’ the perpetual “one more week”, but I’m close. Very close.
If things go according to plan, we’ll be beta next Monday (September 1st). I want to sit on it a couple days and test the crap out of it, just to be sure it’s all good. Then off [...] Continue reading

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Square Planet

Today in IRC, people were discussing what a game might be like if you ran around a small square planet (Mario Galaxy in 2D was the concept, I think). So I whipped up a thing to try it out.

Click in the window, then use left & right to move left and right, and up to jump. It’s very wacky and very buggy, it’s about an hour’s work in a language I am very unfamiliar with. But it was a great exercise in learning flash! I picked up a bunch of new tricks. Interesting things to note include that you can fly and orbit the planet (in a wacky looping sort of orbit) very easily, and that the view rotating doesn’t always work right (sometimes the planet gets scared), and that’s generally it’s very buggy. But it’s interesting to check out. Enjoy some square gravity. Continue reading

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Ow my knees!

Wii Fit arrived today! We tried it out just for 10 minutes each, and my knees are shot. I so need knee exercise. Wow. I’m really looking forward to the changing of my life that wii fit is required to provide. I might be wobbly tomorrow, though. Continue reading

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Laid Back Gaming

WoW is a really laid-back game (most of the time). It doesn’t demand a lot of mental effort, so I sit back on cruise control, clawing elementals in the face, and think about other things. I used to do the same thing while walking laps in elementary school. That was a much healthier way to get my think on.

So today, when I should’ve been working on Happyponygate, I played some WoW, clawed some elementals (which refuse to drop a dew gland!), and thought about Rise Of Owls. I have to be quite honest and confess that working on HPG is very difficult of late. I’m at a spot where I need to be working on how the monsters function, and it’s just one of those things that I’ll have to eventually settle down and just try something, but for now I mostly stare at the screen and hope it will write itself. Owls is fun to work on, though, I’m learning a lot and struggling to deal with classes and objects.

So here are the heroes I came up with today. Understand that most of the heroes (at least 2/3 of them) will just be ordinary – they do damage in some way, at some pace, and cost some money. But that’s boring to think about. So I’m thinking about the more interesting ones! Here are some ideas (may or may not ever be in the game, but probably, why not?):

- An archer who fires golden arrows. He’s way cheaper than he should be, considering how much damage he does (quite high, but not crazy), and his fire rate is rather slow, like 2 seconds. The problem is, golden arrows are expensive! It costs $1 every time he fires. So you don’t pay much up front, but you keep on paying as long as he’s around.

- An alchemist. He turns owls to gold. That’s both good and bad news. He has a very low rate of fire, so he won’t get every owl, in fact only a few in each level. Once an owl is gold, it is worth triple money (or more?). The problem is, it takes half damage per hit. So putting one of these guys in makes the game harder in exchange for raising your income.

- a knight on horseback. When he sees an enemy in his range (about half the screen), he charges at it, running right through it to the other end of the screen, hurting all the owls along the way. Then his new position is that end of the screen, where he sits for a few seconds before being able to charge again.

- a wizard with relatively short range. As long as he’s not shooting, his power builds up. Then when he shoots, it drains away and does that much damage. So you’d probably put this guy up high in your tower, so the enemies gradually inch along and when they finally get up that high, he’s had a long time to charge. Of course, only his first shot is any good (but it’s a whopper!) – the ones he fires after that are all 1 damage until he’s had some time to charge up again. I’m not sure of the real merit of a guy like this, but that’s for the players to decide. I just want to give you a huge toolbox of random things (that eventually end up balanced to some degree), and then you play with the tools.

Them’s some random thoughts. Continue reading

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Say Cheese!

I posted in the forum a request for pictures. I am linking to it here, so nobody misses it! Click here to learn about how you can be immortalized in Hamumudom. It’s all part of this big drive towards making the site famous! The more people who send in pictures, the better, and I’m accepting them anytime, now or later.
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Lamp work – Phil makes a marble!

Around a month ago I was in Lake City and I got to do some lamp work at Dave Jordan’s studio, and make my first marble!  And then I made a few more

I had a great time!  Next time I’m out there I will be doing it again

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Struck A Nerve!

Well, I just sort of threw in an off-hand remark about marketing (and making you people do it), and I can’t believe the response! I didn’t intend for that post to be a discussion of marketing at all, but it seems to have exploded. I’ve got people asking what they can do for me, and suggesting things, in my email, my PMs, and on the forums. Maybe some in chat, too, I don’t recall! So there is definitely a market for marketing for me.

I definitely appreciate any (legal) efforts made to get the word out. That is awesome. The tricky thing is I want to develop a program by which you could be rewarded for such efforts. I can’t come up with anything which really encompasses all the elements such a thing would need, though. Here are 2 ideas I have:

1. Allow people to type a username into the coupon field when ordering. Then I can reward anybody who gets such a referral (say 30% of the purchase price, in yerfbucks). I’ve already got a program rewarding you for bringing new people to Dumb Accounts, but it’s the sales that matter – if you got me a sale, I have a tangible result, and I’m more than happy to pay back.

2. Develop a mini-game that is not for sale. Nobody gets a copy but me. You can see screenshots, maybe video. You want a copy? All you have to do is email me a true story of how you spread the word of Hamumu. The game’s page on the site could contain summaries of each story, too. As long as your action is remotely worthwhile (and not illegal or harmful), you get the game! It’s up to you whether you want to do something fairly significant like spray painting the moon to look like Yerfdog, or a smaller thing like getting five friends together for a Hamumu party to show them the games. The only rejections would be lies and things like “I invited my friend Bob over to play Kid Mystic.” Of course, if you really did that, you could still parlay it into something worthwhile by getting Bob to make a Dumb Account, thus earning you a trophy!

Both of these plans are probably good ideas (though #2 will require developing the game first!), and address different needs. But neither really goes anywhere near far enough. Ideally, it would be great to provide a way for people to get very real benefits by promoting Hamumu – AKA cash moneyz! That’s much trickier to do, what with tax implications and all. Affiliate programs do that sort of thing (and have the same problem, tax implications), but in the end, I would like people to be promoting my site, not their site that sells my games. It’s sad because I’d have no problem giving up 30 or 40% of every sale that someone brings in. The problems are the tax forms and properly crediting the salesperson.

So what I’d like to do is get you people all as one giant international Street Team, spreading the word everywhere. The tricky bit is I don’t know how to provide rewards on a level that would inspire that kind of behavior. It would be great if I had something in place significant enough that people would actually go out and spend money, in the hopes of getting a real return.

Feel free to keep the ideas and suggestions coming, whether they are for ways I can market things, or ways I can get you to market things. It’s all good food for thought at any rate!

And in the meantime, just put it all out there – let people know what Hamumu games you like, tell them to just compare the clocks, tell people to have a Dumb afternoon, everything. If you cast a wide enough net, you’re bound to catch something. Continue reading

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My car is upgraded

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Progress, Releases, And Nike

Well, the plan was to spend the last week learning flash and seeing what position Rise 2 was in to decide what I should be spending my time on. Of course, the reality was that for the last week I’ve been doing all kinds of other things, because it was Summer. School starts this week, so that’s in for a change! At least until next week, when I lose the end of the week to PAX.

So, decisions must me made, and success must be had. The issue is this: I can’t succeed, and in fact am gradually losing ground and income, by releasing huge games once a year (or slower!). I need to be on the radar more often. Of course, a much bigger improvement would be had simply by doing marketing, but since I don’t know how to do that, I’ll settle for an increased rate of releases. So the gist is that I need to get a game out soon, which Happyponygate cannot achieve.

On the flipside, I can’t let that game molder and fade away, or I will lose track and never be able to finish it. This puts me in a pickle. A sour green pickle of pain. The answer that I see, at least the best one I can come up with, is to work on both at different times. And when Rise 2 is done (let’s hope that’s soon), replacing its timeslots with another mini-project. Hopefully a faster one as I become more skilled. So I have a reasonably fast flow of lesser games while we await the big hits. Of course, it makes the big hits slower, and for the matter, the lesser games slower as well! But there’s just one me, and time is fixed, so something’s gotta give.

I don’t know, I need to figure out how to do some marketing… you guys do that. Go tell everyone to come to Hamumu! Continue reading

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So I accomplished the below feat of wonder! It has no loading thing, so the actual graphics take a minute to show up. Hopefully they will load before the owl escapes the screen.

That’s obviously at half size, don’t fear that it’s just a teeny tiny game. Flash is pretty nifty. And the black circle is a thing from testing, not an evil moon.

Anyway, boy have I seriously ruined my blog-a-day plan. Let me try to get back on that. See you tomorrow! Continue reading

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Say Something Insigtful

Yikes, it’s a weekend again already! Sunday too! Ack!
Rule of thumb. When Mike says game will be out in a week or two, assume month. Then assume longer.
There’s always the change that this mysterious iPhone game may destroy my ‘cred’ as a physics guy. Though, I’ve been doing some fun [...] Continue reading

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