Category Archives: General

Merry Christmas and all that!

I missed it by a few days, but Merry Christmas, nonetheless.  It’s not really about the day itself, right?

Tonight is New Year’s Eve.  I guess that means there won’t be another update for either NFont or Sprig this year!  Regardless, it’s been a good 2011 around here.  Lots of changes for our family and lots of opportunities that we’re really thankful for.  Props to Samaritan’s Purse for a great way to give back and show our kids the way it’s done.

I hope you had a great Christmas and have fun in 2012.  Here’s hoping for some game releases from Blue Dinosaurs… 😀

Writing, coding, and limitations

As I’m working on GigaSun Jet’s first campaign story, I had some thoughts about writing stories that I felt like jotting down.  I’ve decided to treat my time on the story as if I’m writing a novel.  It really could end up being a real novel (I’m at about 10% of a short novel now, 6000/60000 words) and then I would have some interesting marketing options.  I wish I could start talking about my story here, but I’ve promised myself that I’d wait at least a month so I could get a solid start.

Writing a story and writing a game are fun creative tasks, but they’re also full of frustration.  One specific form of frustration that is common to both is simply getting started.  Without some sort of structure, getting started can be very tough.

This frustration is a symptom of a problem with many creative endeavors: Too much freedom.  That’s why Ludum Dare works so well.  It gives you some restrictions (time and theme, mostly) that focus you into a creative frenzy for a small product.  There are writing competitions that work in the same way, but I’m not quite part of that big community yet.

Of course, books and games have a few major differences that change how well certain limitations work.  The way that stories are communicated is simply through a collection of specially chosen words.  There are even fewer natural limitations than a game (though games can have true randomness and procedural content).  A game has to be logically consistent to some degree since the structure is based upon logic.  Words in stories, on the other hand, can easily conjure up ideas that can not exist in any reality (i.e. irrational concepts, logical fallacies).  Sometimes, the author can hide the inconsistencies well enough that they don’t interfere with the story.  I won’t get into that any further yet.  That’s a big can o’ worms.

So, my recommendation for you…  If you’re doing something creative, try to brainstorm up some fun restrictions and limitations.  That will help you focus instead of reading silly blogs like this one when you should be working.

Some fun current events + Keep updated on Blue Dino Code news!

I just wanted to point out that the 2012 IGF Pirate Kart has been released.  It’s not very piratey, but it has tons (> 300) of free (and legal) little games in it.  Beware, however, since several games are extremely inappropriate.  There’s a review at Rock, Paper, Shotgun that mentions a few of the ones to avoid.

Also, there was a humorous little Twitter meme going on earlier between some game developers, called #simplegames.  Here are some of my favorites:

@JonBaker – Farmville: troll friends with incessant updates

@S0phieH – Gran Turismo: buy fastest car, use walls to turn.

@JonBaker – Tecmo Super Bowl: Touchdown Bo Jackson

@benhowgill – Call of Duty: Point and Click before other players do the same to you.

@Freakcion -Portal 2 : put holes in white surfaces, jump through them to win

 

But I better not get carried away.  That does remind me, though, to mention the ways you can keep updated with the news here at Blue Dino Code.

My personally preferred method is RSS.  There is an RSS feed for the News page (see orange RSS icon?).  Subscribe to that in your favorite RSS reader (I use Google Reader).

You can also keep up with Twitter.  You will see links to my new posts if you keep an eye on @GrimFang4.

And the last way is Facebook.  Well, I can’t help you much here if I don’t really know you…  But if we are actually friends, then you might see my new posts there.

I’ll probably do something with Google+ eventually, but not right now.  It is better for keeping personal friends and acquaintances separate.  Anyhow, see ya around!

Update

Well, that does it.  I’m done teaching, which means I’ll be focusing on game development for a good while.  The Riot Digital compo deadline is right around the corner (two weeks).  GigaSun Jet is flying along now, with the main gameplay just a couple of edits away from being finished.  Now I’ll have to get the story, missions, ship component list, sound, and finalized menus in there.  Can I do it before the deadline?  Of course.  Can I make it good enough to submit?  We shall see.  I’m not going to be upset if I miss out on the competition, because this game has been a long time in coming and I’m proud to see it to the end.

Update

Ah, lots has happened since the last update.  There was Ludum Dare #20, for which I made a pretty fun little puzzle platformer.  I ended up not submitting it because I didn’t have any real levels created.  I worked on it for a little while longer, but it’s on the back burner for now.  I’ll release some small version of it soon because it really is fun.  The best part of making it is that I got to get used to the new Box2D API.  It’s really very nice!  With a good feel for Box2D, a lot of game possibilities open up.

The biggest thing I’ve been working on is GigaSun Jet.  I’ve stripped down the design so that it will actually get done.  The basic component and upgrade mechanics are finally somewhat settled, which is a huge deal for getting the shop screen made.  A possible story has been written and other important design decisions were made.  Notably, I’m going to try to get something ready for the Riot Digital competition, which means building this game for the Pandora!

There are some other big real life changes occuring, too, but I’ll wait on discussing those…  See ya!

Update

Whew!  Lots going on lately, but not much on the programming side.  My new teaching career is going well.  It’s tough making all of my curriculum, but I’m past the halfway point for the physics class I teach.  One of the small games I was working on at Muzzy Lane was released.  I would have liked to polish it up more, but you can find it at the ClearLab Project page.  Ahh!  It’s turkey time!!

Fire, Fire, Where You Are

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There goes Ludum Dare #18.  That was fun!  In all, it was another good experience and I got another good game out of it.

The theme was “Enemies As Weapons”, which, incidentally, I suggested!  It’s like I’m a winner before the compo is even over (or something pointlessly motivational like that).  But…  It still took me as long as usual to choose a game concept.

I actually got to help organize and attend an LD Meetup.  We dubbed it the New England Ludum Dare Meetup.  I even took a video!  It was great to get to meet guys on the same wavelength.  We’re already expecting a few more people next time.

Anyhow, on to my game…  I wrote a game called “Fire, fire, where you are, I’m going to fight you with a fire department” (name given by my 4 year old daughter).  The shortest I dare make it without losing the preschool flavor is “Fire, Fire, Where You Are”.  You play as a firefighter burning away grass (fire fuel) before a wildfire comes.  I really think this game is up there near the top of my list.  I’m surprised by how well the fire turned out and that it doesn’t slow down my computer.  The patterns in the burnt terrain are often very convincing.  I can’t wait to see the voting results!

In other news, today is my last day at my summer job.  Perhaps I didn’t tell you, O Internet, that I got a Master’s degree and fled the graduate student scene right quick.  I’ve been at a nearby indie game company, making a couple of science games.  It has been pretty good and I truly got my foot into the game industry’s door.  However, I was offered a job to teach physics at a local high school, so that’s where I’m heading tomorrow!  I’m really excited about it for several reasons, not the least of which is that the standards-free curriculum is almost entirely up to me!  I hope to really get them ready for college-level science and help them understand how a knowledge of physics can help them in any career.

Wish me luck in LD and real life!  See ya around.

Ludum Dare and a secret project

MiniLD 14 is just around the corner (Nov. 13-15), and it has been announced that it’ll be all about teamwork!  If you’re ready to push creative limits and get something awesome accomplished, send me an email to join my team!  As should be obvious from this site, my thing is C++ and SDL.  I have been working on a secret side project lately to brush up on OpenGL a bit, so that’s an option too.  It has also been good teamwork practice, since I have very little to do with the game design.  See you there!

SDL platformer example

Here’s a complete example of how to write a platformer video game like Super Mario Bros.  It covers the basics:  A character under the influence of gravity and flat platforms to jump on.  If you’ve always wanted to make a game like this but you don’t know where to start, then this is your chance!