Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Website in the Works

Well it certainly has been tough setting aside enough time to blog.  It's been the farthest thing from my mind lately!  Lot's has happened over the past few months, I've traveled, I've loved, I've lived, I've climbed mountains and well... it's pretty hard to top climbing mountains while staying moderately truthful about my past few months.

Anyway, I'm working on a new website, full with registration capabilities, some fancy JQueryUI modals, and all sorts of goodies.

It's still a LONG way out, I need to link up some MYSql Databases to store users in, build in some anti-spam functions (thinking about doing this custom, captcha is ever so annoying), and then actually add in all of the CONTENT for the website.

Right now I have the bones of it up.  It's going to use JQuery to dynamically load the html into the main page, so there's really just 1 main page that will be updated.

Here's a sneak peak at what it's looking like so far:

I'm definitely going for a sleeker look but I'll add some flair to it later and spiffy it up a bit.

Once the website is finished and up, I'll probably start working on my next game.  I'll likely just release a tower defense for android/iOS in the vein of SBX: Invasion, but that's a LONG ways out and who knows what will change in the meantime.

Anyway, I've got work in the morning so I should probably get some sleep.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Vacation! Life and some loose ideas for next projects.

So first things first, I ended up canning my review of ESO.  I got partway through and lately I've stopped  playing so it hindered my research into giving a good quality review of the game.  The game is good, but I've been busy and I'm honestly just looking for a more sandbox style MMO.  We'll see if EQ:Next is ballsy enough to be a true sandbox world that gives the player unparalleled freedom to be the type of player they want to.

Anyway, at the moment I'm on vacation out in the mountains of Colorado, which is giving me some time to catch up on my blog and relax a bit.  My consulting projects at work are ramping up quickly and I have 3 development projects as well so I've been extremely busy and tanked out during the week, and thus haven't spent any time working on my own projects.

I do have a few ideas I've been knocking around, first is rebuilding my website to be a more solid website and include a database of users to register with my website.  I do need to get a better version of Visual Studio on my home machine, but likely I'll rebuild the website in C#.NET ASPX pages with a couple html pages sitting on the front end.

I want to make my website a very interactive, fun place for people to go to and check out my projects.  So that's the first task I need to start working on.  The second is my next game project, which will likely be a mobile / web project.  I'm thinking of making either a traditional Tower Defense in the SBX Universe, or possibly combining Tower Defense with an RTS/MOBA style game.  When I say MOBA I mean imagine League of Legends without any champions where you build your towers and spawners and the "minions" have automated AI based on the type of ships you build.  Just a loose idea, I'd have to iterate on it a bit to get a solid working plan, and I might release a traditional TD first and then make that style of game after.

These are just some of the ideas and plans I have at the  moment.  My programming knowledge in C# .NET has been improving quite rapidly as I have 3 projects that are entirely in C# or use C# as the web application back end language, so I've had lots of opportunities to learn in that area.  Next will be using Java and Eclipse as I'm less comfortable with those compared to VStudio  and C#.

That's it for now, I know it's been a while since I've posted.  I'll likely do a 4th of July Sale on Indie Game Stand so stay tuned for that!

Auf wiedersehen,

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May the Fourth Be With You Sale!

It's been QUITE a while since I've posted but things have been crazy busy (which is a great thing.)  My new job is going great so far and I'm learning new things about web development every day which is a lot of fun.

Today is a special day.  For me it is an especially special day as it is both Star Wars Day and my first anniversary with my wife.  So I decided to throw a special sale of SBX:Invasion at Indie Game Stand for just 99 Cents!  That's a whopping 80% off!  Nifty.

I'm also going to be writing up an extensive review of Elder Scrolls Online as I've been playing it a bit (some even with my wife!) and it's a lot of fun but there are some glaring issues I want to touch on and how they could be improved.

It has been nice to distance myself from game development for a bit to reset and not become so attached to my projects.  It's good to become more objective when viewing my own work to learn and become a better designer.  I've been staying very, very busy as well so there hasn't been much time to work on my own projects but I'm getting the itch to design something again and work on something creative.

Likely I'll start on some smaller projects (perhaps an Android App now that I have a phone!) and try to finish a few more small games.

Stay tuned for an ESO review soon, and go pick up SBX:Inv at Indie Game Stand!


Friday, March 21, 2014

New job, the end of my time as an Indie and , ESO out soon!

Things have been going well lately.  I'm stepping back from some of my projects to give myself some time and room, particularly because I got hired on as a Professional Services Consultant at Experian Data Quality.  My new job starts this Wed and I've been enjoying my last couple weeks relaxing, playing with my dog and redditting (a lot).

I plan to come back to my projects on the weekends eventually, but I think a good break will give me some space to think about where I want each project to go and what I want to do with them in the end.  Being an indie has been a TON of fun and opened me up to a world I'd never experienced before, but for now it's time to get a stable job and start planning for the future.

So, things have been going great and I've got an exciting career ahead of me in systems development and consulting and it's pretty exciting.  PAX East is also in a few weeks and The Elder Scrolls Online Launches next weekend.

I convinced my wife that we should play ESO (Elder Scrolls Online) together when it launches and gave her a friend key to try the beta out.  She's not much of a gamer, and has only dabbled in making characters on some other games, but she really liked ESO so we'll be playing together on the weekends as an extra hobby to do together.

I'm actually surprised at how much I've enjoyed ESO so far, I went into the beta weekends thinking:  "Eh, maybe this might be good but we'll see." and didn't have high hopes for it, but the immersion factor has really drawn me into the game as well as the freedom to create neat builds and customize your character to how I want to play.  It's kind of a breath of fresh air.

Anyway, the updates to the blog will likely be slower as I'll be working full time, but I'll keep things updated about when I continue working on my projects and other things that come up as well.


Jason C.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Homepage with a Minigame - Interview!

Lately things have been coming together.  The past few days have been hell getting Git integrated on our server for Tzarr but it's finally working and we can start making progress on getting an online multiplayer version up and running.

Also, I've been teaching myself JQuery and JavaScript integration into HTML/CSS this week so I reworked the homepage on my website to include a minigame.  It uses the sprites from SBX: Invasion to create VERY basic galaga style minigame.  I'll expand on it later, but for now it has simple functionality.  Working on getting the minigame running today has been a royal pain, but I worked out all the bugs.

I probably spent a good half the day today staring at my screen thinking:  "WHY AREN'T YOU WORKING?"  and then realizing I was missing a colon or a comma or something stupid.  Half the time I had the syntax completely wrong too and spent a lot of time looking at the API.  BUT... I completely custom made a little game entirely in JQuery and custom JavaScript.  It  may not be super special, but I think it makes the home page just a little more fun.

Check out the new homepage here:  My Website Home

I also have an interview this coming up week in the Software Development Industry so that's exciting.  Having a stable job is something that seems more and more appealing as my wife and I get closer to having kids.  Not that I don't love being an indie mind you... it's just not the stablest of jobs.

I'll still continue on my projects of course, I still have a lot of ideas for EvoDash and Tzarr that I want to do.  And of course the 'next' project after Tzarr.  Hopefully there will be enough time for that one :).

Everything said and done, the past week has been pretty eventful and I've enjoyed myself.  I'm looking forward to more opportunities to learn and grow in the future as well.



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mid February Update - Life and Work

Well it's been a few weeks since I've posted but things have been going along well.  Business has been as usual lately.  I'm still working on Tzarr and EvoDash and working on getting some new builds out.  Also I've been learning a bit of JQuery to integrate into my website as well and build a stronger skill set for myself.

So as far as projects go, EvoDash has been coming along nicely.  Our Global Game Jam group decided we would all build our own versions of the game and then get together in the future and merge them into one combined game and take all the best ideas.

I've been reworking the way Procedural Generation works in the game and updated the UI a bit.  The movement system still needs some fine tuning as well but here's a sneak peak at the new UI and the basic Level Generation:

Also I've reorganized the way unit commands are issued in Tzarr which is getting us ready to start working on an online multiplayer build.

Things are going alright, but I've been looking for some work lately as well to supplement income while being an indie.  It's a hard balance to strike between doing what I love and planning for the future.

Also, our young dog, Max, is learning how to behave indoors and is finally becoming trustworthy unattended.  Here's a little picture of him playing in the snow (we've gotten too much of it.)  

Other than that, things keep moving on.  SBX: Invasion just had a sale on IndieGameStand for Valentine's day and we sold a few more copies there as well.

All in all things are going well lately.  Hopefully I'll have some more exciting news in the future and I should have a new build up for EvoDash in the next week or two.

That's it for now, auf Wiedersehen!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Global Game Jam 2014 - EvoDash - Postmortem

Well it has certainly been a busy week.  This past weekend was the Global Game Jam and what a time that was!  It was a wonderful time creating games alongside a bunch of other talented people.  Fire Hose Games also just did a live stream play through of SBX: Invasion as well today at noon.

So let's start with the Global Game Jam.  It was exciting, it was exhausting, it was all around a good time.  I left for the Jam on Friday and took the Commuter Rail into the city.  The Jam location was at Northeastern University in the Digital Commons (which is quite an impressive area) in the Library.  The site was open for 24 hours a day so I planned to stay for the entire duration and brought a blanket and neck pillow accordingly.

The first day was a lot of fun, and right at the start I knew I wanted to get our team together and start work asap.  After all, 48 hours is not a lot of time to finish a game.  So during the mingling a group of people kind of came together, and I asked if anyone knew C# and wanted to work in Unity and two of them said they were fine so we set out a group quickly.  The theme was "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." and we grouped in a corner of the library with a white board and started hashing out ideas.

Our final idea that we decided would come to be known as 'EvoDash'.  The concept was that the game was essentially an infinite runner / survival game, that evolves based on the player's actions.  The player also changes based on the way they play as well.

For instance, the player can move through the world by sprinting, jumping and dashing in addition to the normal run.  These actions require endurance, which is a limited, regenerating resource.  As the player jumps during the game, their jump becomes stronger, as the player sprints, their speed increases, and as the player dashes, their dash becomes longer and on a shorter cool down.  However, if they don't use these skills, they will decay down to a minimum over time.

In addition, the world will generate obstacles based on the current stats of the player, so if you jump often, there will be jump obstacles, if you dash often, there will be dashing challenges.  All of this being procedurally generated.  That's the high goal at least.  We accomplished this to a degree for the Jam, but it will certainly take some refinement to fully realize this.

Then we set out to create the game.  We located a table with some screens set up and assembled our workplace.  Our team was comprised of 6 people:

  • Lead Designer & Gameplay Programmer...............................Jason (Me)
  • Lead & PCG Programmer.....................................................Kevin Cavanaugh
  • 2D & UI Artist......................................................................Christian DeSilva
  • Musician & SFX Artist..........................................................Harry Lodes
  • Programmer & Git Specialist.................................................Jeffrey Robbins
  • Programming Assistant..........................................................Jacob Ginsparg
The screens at the tables were extremely nice with adjustable mounts, so we set them up to the side as our script screens.

Kevin and Jacob Programming (note the awesome screen)

My Side of the Table (And Jeff's Foot)

A Selfie of Jeff:

Unfortunately we don't have any pictures of Harry or Christian as they were off by themselves grinding away for most of the weekend.  We didn't really focus on taking pictures or making the video.  We were fairly engrossed in creating the game.

There were a lot of challenges as well.  The first night we had some massive problems with Git integration with Unity.  I'd say over the whole weekend, trying to get Git to work properly with Unity cost us around 5 hours.  And when you only have 42 hours or so after all of the announcements and what not, that's a lot of time.  So, GIT was our number 1 challenge.

Sleep was also tough, the first night I passed out around 6 a.m and slept until 9 a.m and then Sunday Morning I finally let myself sleep from 9 a.m until noon once we at least had a solid build out.  I don't think I've ever stared at scripts for so many consecutive hours, but it was fun (as a rare event!).  Also, on Sunday Night through Monday Morning I slept 14 hours to recuperate.

The experience was amazing and we actually finished a game!  A fellow jammer actually lent us a SNES USB controller to use for testing and EvoDash is a lot of fun on a SNES Controller, by the way.  You can play the game as well on my website.  The controls are there, you just need to have Unity player installed.  I also got used to the 2D Workflow in Unity which is actually very nice!  I'm ten times more comfortable with 2D in Unity now.

For now, we all agreed to evolve the game in our own ways and the idea is that we can take our versions of the game in the future and make a new version that's much better and takes from all our ideas.  So I'll be working on my own version of EvoDash alongside Tzarr.

So THAT was the Global Game Jam, if you like making games and haven't done it yet, set aside the time next year!  I highly recommend it, even if you are new to game development.

In other news, Fire Hose Games, creators of Go Home Dinosaurs and Slam Bolt Scrappers, and recently in the news for their Indie Incubator announcement on Joystiq and the Boston Globe, did a live stream of SBX: Invasion today at noon.  You can check out the video on Twitch.TV.  

It's been a CRAZY weekend, and a lot of fun!  Some friends of mine, Ben Taylor and Dawn Rivers were in the GGJ as well and created Snub Titles, a neat meta game that challenges people to think critically when they review games.  It's pretty interesting so far, I look forward to seeing how it develops.

I should also have a playable build of Tzarr by Friday for Feedback Friday and our goal in February is to have an online multi-player matchmaking system in place.

That's about it for now, but I'm sure you're tired of reading words by now.  Subscribe to the blog to stay in the loop!  Lots of neat stuff is in the works so you won't wanna miss out!


Jason Carter / WakeskaterX