60 FPS

Well. It looks like it’s been a year minus 13 days since I last posted to this blog. That may get an explanation blog later if necessary. In the meantime, 1 game a month long since completed (the first year), I am starting a new project! This one will take longer to complete. Significantly longer. If the pattern holds, five times longer. It’s probably going to write quite the story eventually. But, before I can tell you that story, I have to tell you this story...

A group of friends and I are hanging out after D&D. Well, half of the day was D&D, the other half is a partial conversion of the Pokemon Tabletop Adventures system into the Mystery Dungeon Universe, but it’s all dark and gritty and there are slavers and murder and surprising amounts of romance. Anyway, someone forgot their bag when they left early so we’re bringing it to them, and we end up standing around for ten minutes talking about nothing important. Halfway through a guy asks us if we know somewhere he can go to smoke pot, and we don’t know because we’re as square and clean-cut as Antichamber. Someone says something about something about First Person Shooters, and being of the videogamesman persuasion, I light up and say “Ooh, I should make an FPS!” [note: At this point it is 1:00AM, I am very tired and not thinking reasonably.] In response, someone [note to future self, if you are wondering who got you into this mire, it was Conor.] wisecracks “Wait, just one FPS? Wouldn’t that be super slow?” Ah ha ha. Very funny. First Person Shooter = Frame(s) Per Second. He knew what I meant, but just to be funny, he took a big bite out of my jugular vein! But he’s right, in a way. Making just one FPS would be super slow, because if I tell myself to make a first person shooter by ..eventually, I will probably not make a first person shooter. That is why I’m taking him up on it. Full, modern framerate (as of 2014). Sixty. I am going to make 60 First Person Shooter games. Do you doubt? Just watch me.

Just for quality of life, I’m going to say that anything I work on counts, even if I don’t make it all myself, so I don’t spend a year working on something knowing in the back of my mind that it won’t count. A lot of games are going to count, because I now have to make a lot of games. To that end, I am going to need a lot of ideas. If you have any you’re willing to share, please do so at your earliest convenience. I’ve already got ten in the list, of which six are any good, of which two are probably actually any good. I will endeavor to post them here, and probably on Itch.io or Playdot or something, or maybe I’ll get a real website one of these days, and maybe some of them will be commercial ventures. I will make them in Ludum Dares and 7DFPSes, I will make them in whatever framework seems like a good idea at the time, whether for convenience of familiarity or for personal education. I will likely Stream some of the development. Er, Stream some of the development. Er, Stream some of the development. There we go.

I wonder if I’m going to remember this moment when I’m, say, sixty. Will I have had the dedication to keep churning these out? All of these things in the same genre, even?Probably not. Here’s hoping, though. (60×10-word-post).

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Paddles and ball release!

A game made in 35 minutes during the zero hour game jam. download it here. Easy mode can be played with the mouse – hard mode is played with WASD, the arrow keys, or a controller’s left stick.

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Dear Asymmetric release!

And here’s a thing. I made this in response to Jick of Kingdom of loathing saying repeatedly on their podcast/radio show that he wished someone would implement a text-to-speech engine in Unity so that he could make a game in the vein of Dear Estaban – { a game like Dear Esther but comedic }, but randomized. This uses an implementation of the Windows Text-To-Speech engine by Unity forum member ZJP, and for which I wrote a Regular-expression-based system for “word buckets”, allowing pretty much any kind of randomized structure to be produced. The game takes the form of a letter to the Asymmetric team, navigated as an FPS character, à la Dear Est(her/aban).

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September week, uh, 4?

Oh hey guys it’s, wait, oh crap, did I seriously miss two weeks in a row? Wow. I was just worrying about last Thursday, but dang. It may have helped that there are not that many distinct events to report on, but still. I should be ashamed.

Okay, news. I ordered and had arrive some fighting sticks, and while they serve their purpose, they’re loud as heck, and the stick is rather clicky (and reports only three bits worth of data), suggesting I got what I paid for in terms of quality (2 for $55). If I can find a place to buy some buttons and a new joystick, I will finally do some controller modding.

I moved in to college, which is probably what took up the blogging time. I was packing last blogday, so I was basically busy the whole day. In the preceding days I was crushed with the terror of a huge change, which generally resulted in restless paralysis. I will say that I’m glad its over. I knew even then that it would be fine with the passage of time, I just wished time would hurry up and pass already.

Haven’t really met any game dev nerds yet. Many gamers, of both video and Pen-and-paper varieties, but not so much programmers. One guy who wants to start a video game company, but I think he’s a buisness major or something. I will have to make him expound on his interest.

I’ve picked up speed running, against my better judgement. I’m one of the few people who runs Electronic Super Joy, which is optimally a 30-or-so minute game, but which takes me that+1/2, so there is definitely still room for improvement. Upon learning that we both played the game, my roommate and I started casually racing SA2B, but that’s a two-day-old endeavor, so we’ll see if it persists.

Speaking of my roommate, he also plays LoL, as a support, so he wants to train me to be a decent ADC. We’ll see where that goes as well.

You’ll note I haven’t mentioned much actual programming happening. That floundered along with the rest of me in the days leading up to the move, but I have something to publish this month. I should be settled in enough by next month to be able to give you something new.

Oh yeah, I said last post I would update you on the quality of Electronic Super Joy, right? Well, I have explored the game rather thoroughly and am pleased to report that it is GOOD. Seriously, go buy it. It is very difficult (occasionally in the style of SMB, occasionally in the style of Super Crate Box, and occasionally in its own special terrible way), so be warned, but very good. I speedrun this game I like it so much. Go buy it. Get the soundtrack, too.

Anything else? If you make games and go to the University of Washington, we should hang out. See y’all.

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The PAX 2013 blog

Hello all. PAX just happened, which was eventful. I’ll get straight to it:

I saw and played the demo of Life Goes On, a game that, as a designer, inspired the “why didn’t I think of that?” reflex because of its seeming elementality. If the process of idea creation is compared to archaeology – that these things are unearthed rather than constructed, then this game is the result of digging about a foot down in the right spot and pulling out a buried city from which dirt rolls like water. It is surprising to me that it has not been done before, but I’m glad that it is now. To those who don’t want to click links: it is a puzzle-platformer in which respawning is instant but corpses are persistent and interact with the level’s physics – you solve puzzles by dying in the right places and ways.

Crypt of the Necrodancer: the idea smells familiar, somehow. I wonder why. Huh. I’m completely certain that they conceived of their game without my influence, but it is a funny coincidence. They executed it much better then we did, though, and I’m mostly just glad their game exists, because it is fun. You should all play it and buy it when it comes out.

Electronic Super Joy looked cool enough (and was buyable enough) to buy. More analysis in the future once I play it.

Wildstar: Not an indie Megabooth game! weird. Spent saturday hanging out with a guy already excited about this game, and ended up going to a panel about it. Western in space plus skill-based combat and customizability with a really interesting funding system – probably. From what I understand, one month of paid subscription will be able to be crystallized into a single “cred” which can be bought and sold in the player economy. The way in which it is similar to the monetization of KOL is exciting, because KOL’s pay/free economy is far more appealing than that of any other MMO that I have seen thus far, If I could ask the devs two questions, one would be for curiosity and the other could make the deal on me playing their game. The first is whether KOL influenced their decision-making process at all, and the second is whether they made an intentional choice to try to stay off of Repair Her Armor. You can guess which is which.

I attended all four days of PAX, which was thoroughly tiring. I would have been fine, and was ready to account for at least one concert’s loss of sleep (we went to the Hideo/Doubleclicks/MC Frontalot concert. For most of it I was up front in the mosh pit, standing next to the guy who yelled “Freebird”. MC Frontalot is much better when you can actually hear his lyrics, which is completely possible on album versions, but the music was funky enough and the performers were enthusiastic enough that we didn’t really care.) Wow, am I at this point still gramatically allowed to start with “but then on sunday…”? Weird. So but then on sunday night, instead of going home in time to sleep, we went to the Late Night Dub Fight, which was fun, and would have been tolerable, but then on the way out of that building we were called over to play Johann Sebastian Joust, which was the kind of fun that still rings through at 23:00 and six hours of sleep. Anyways, we got out at midnight again, and I went to sleep at two for the second night in a row, so monday was spent far more tired than would have been ideal. I had fun anyway, but probably won’t go a fourth day next year. Actually, I may go far fewer days next year, because I feel like I might rather go to PAX DEV or UNITE instead. I would probably still choose to go at least one day, to see internet celebrities (who were plentiful) and to carry on newly born traditions with friends. I can take comfort, though, in the fact that I am changing schools (and moving to Seattle!), and will thus no longer be the route through which slightly less than a dozen friends get to the event, both ticket-wise and physically. (seriously. I provided tickets for ten people and myself to get there, and drove eight of them in carpools.) Given that we no longer share a school, it cannot be my responsibility to get people there, so I will not take that burden on again.

Anyways, so it was suggested that I make it my goal to make enough money to go to PAX DEV next year, the silent part of which is “after paying tuition”, but I like the idea. I will hopefully get a job of some kind at or near UW, preferably in the (as I recently discovered, higher-paying) tech field. If anyone is in Seattle and looking for a computer-savvy college student to employ, here’s my number. You may not wish to have a phone call in the next few days, however, because I find myself under the spell of the not-swine-flu-this-time-but-something-always-goes-around PAX Pox, so my voice box and brain are not operating at full capacity (they graciously donated their resources to my nose, which is acting like some kind of simile that I can’t formulate right now but is on overdrive and unpleasant to those around it. A lawn-mower with exposed blades? A hummer with a brick on the gas pedal? The American economy circa 1880? Something like that. My nose is making my life unpleasant.

I was going to write other stuff here, probably touching on gender politics and something else that I can’t remember right now, but the fact that I can’t remember it suggests I should let it be until I am better rested and less infected, and therefore more coherent. G’night.

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August week 4

So, Ludum Dare happened. That was cool again, I’m just remembering that I need to play some other people’s games to make sure ours gets rated. Short version blog today because I’m in a mood that does not lend itself well to yammering about yourself, but I should probably give you guys the news.

So Ludum Dare happened. On the third day, at times, I found myself not knowing what to do with my time – this is due to a number of factors, I think. In previous years the process of game creation has gone less efficiently. More smoothly, or so it seemed, but problems took longer to be worked out. A recurring event when working in unity is that the solution to a problem will be the removal or simplification of code, rather than the creation of new code, so it’s more of a surprise when problems evaporate. Fearing scope creep, we came up with our scope-unspecific idea at first, and then boiled almost all of the complexity out of it. When it went better than expected, the functional version of that game was done the second day, and given that my partner had religion and work going on, he wasn’t nearby for us to come up with a further direction to take it, so I felt like I could only polish the already sufficiently-shiny product. I’m an extrovert. Maybe at college a friend that I can end up being roommates with will be a working partner so that I don’t get the whole lonely-directionless thing going on.

So my interest in Ogmo returned for long enough to look into .net’s System.IO namespace enough to figure out that File.ReadAllLines() is pretty much exactly what I need to parse Ogmo in Unity. Unfortunately I am not right now producing anything that would be particularly Ogmo-friendly, so the only direction I could take this would be a generalized Unity Ogmo interpreter, which would probably be pretty useful for not just me, so I should probably just make it, but I don’t necessarily have the right amount of enthusiasm right now to do that work for no forseen benefit. If anyone would be interested in that thing being made, you should tell me somehow, so I know that the work will be worth doing. Until then, I will just be aware that should I ever find the need to make levels for a 2D grid-based game, that’s within my repertoire. Basically, I think, the one thing I am strongly aware of and really don’t have a handle on yet in Unity is Networking. I need to figure that out someday.

Also, I had another pretty good idea for a game the other day – an RPG with a distinctive experience system that seems like it would be pretty fun to play with, but whose broad-story-meaning ramifications are super depressing. Experience is earned as experiences – moments of time that fill up an hourglass that is the person’s history. You have more hourglasses than characters to manage, so if you want to you can pour the sand from one glass into another, super-powering a single character, but all progress is modular and transferrable, a la Dark Cloud’s weapons. Interesting story possibilities come out of the fact that character’s ages would change based on how filled their hourglass is at the moment, so the wizard would have to be old to be respected in the small village, the princess would be romantically interested in the rogue only if he was around her age, people would get weirded out if you aged abnormally in their presence. The depressing implications would come from the fact that those hourglasses would eventually inevitably fill up, e.g. characters would grow old and die, unless there were an infinite number of empty vessels to be found in the world, in which case they would remain immortal at the cost of losing memories, experiences, development. Basically time and mortality would be a looming, depressing factor. So we’ll see where that goes.

I finally got the chance to play TowerFall, which was awesome. Seriously that is a good game. The fact that it is in the PAX 10 means that Matt Thorson might could be hanging around, and he is a dude I would like to meet, although I still haven’t figured out how to present as a normal human to people I haven’t met but admire. Oh well. I think I talked to Kyle Pulver last year before I really knew who he was, so probably just disassociating with the idea of “fan”, -boy or otherwise, is the way to go.

Speaking of which, I’m going to PAX! Which is, like, tomorrow, so that’s cool. This year’s schedule and the trajectory of the expo hall the last few years has made me slightly less optimistic about the experience, but I will A. probably enjoy myself anyway and B. rant about it next week or something. It kinda makes me unhappy, actually, that PAX DEV, Unite, and GDC are all at least ten times the ticket price of PAX or Comicon. I guess the deal is that people are at consumer conferences to advertise, so are willing to fund it themselves, but cons actually designed to aid the people going have to be supported in full by the people going? That sucks. Basically, it sucks having income an order of magnitude lower than that of your oncoming cost. College is going to cost at least forty times the amount of money I have now, so I can’t very well go around blowing what I do have on two or three days of hopefully-relevant experience.

I’ve been archive bingeing on Sinfest, which is a worthwhile endeavor for anybody. Including you. You there, reading this blog post, go read Sinfest. The reason for the mood at the beginning of this post was because of that binge, and noticing that the dude on the cloud seems to be the only one who can unconditionally enjoy stuff. Also, as I get closer to modern day, the political commentary hits home quite a bit harder than the decade-old stuff.

Oh, and I got new glasses. I’m not used to them yet, so I still have unfamiliarity to gripe about, but I can see in more detail at distances, which is nice. Now I’ma go gas up my car to drive to Seattle and back four times. See y’all.

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To War! release

Skirmish strategy game that rewards quick decision-making, made in less than 72 hours for the Ludum Dare 27 Jam, in which the theme was “ten seconds”. Downloadable through its Ludum Dare entry page.

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