Archive for January, 2009
The 48 hour game jam is winding down to a close (at least in my timezone)
I’m tired, dispite having slept 8 hours each night – I guess the floor wasn’t that comfortable after all?
The restrictions for the game where pretty hard to fit into the design, they were:
- Game session has to last 5 minutes
- “As long as we have each other, we’ll never run out of problems”
- Choose one: Blank, Cold, Modern
I’ve finished my entry (A maze based retro shooter) and uploaded it to the global game jam website
You can download my game and all the other entries from that site. I’ll put it up for download on this blog sometime over the next few days. My entry requires .net 3.5 and XNA 3.0 – So I’ll include some more specific details to download those frameworks considering most people probably don’t have them installed.
But for now, here is a screenshot
Now that we are full tilt into 2009 I’ve managed to find some spare time to work on the still badly named rQuest project.
I’m developing the map editor, which will over time evolve into the game’s complete authoring kit – With tools for dialog trees, weapon/monster database editing, import/export tools, all that fancy stuff.
I’ve started writing the application in C# with .net 3.5 and the GDI – If anyone has experience with the GDI you will know that it’s dog slow. I coded my own blit routine using unsafe pointers, and its about 10x faster than the .drawImage() routine, but its still pretty slow. Thankfully I’m only making the editor not the game with the GDI.
But its funny just how long a process it takes to get the software to ‘feel’ right. Simply creating software that works is easy by comparison – when I was testing out the map editor, it quickly occured to me that I really needed an undo. Which is a pretty non-trivial feature to add (especially for unlimited undo) Other things that we’ve come to expect in modern software also need to be implemented such as copy and paste. (Both in and out of the application.)
Another change I’m going to add is that instead of thinking in layers, which in some other RPG map editing programs cause me to get confused as to which layer I’m currently trying to edit. Each tile is going to be a stack – Left click adds a tile to the stack and Right click removes the tile from the top of the stack. Where the stack is capped at some height n. This should give appropriate visual feedback to the user as to what part of the map they can edit at any given time.
So work on rQuest continues, but at a slow and steady pace.
So in about two weeks time is a 48hour game programming event held at Waikato University. Which is about 2 hours drive south of my current residence. I’ll be attending along with a couple others I know from AGW.
It looks like the two primary tools being used are Game Maker and XNA – I might just have to have a play around with XNA before I go, just so I don’t spend the first 4 hours working out how to go into full screen mode and get a sprite moving on the screen.
48 hours is a ridiculously short time frame to make a game. Usually I take 48 hours just to decide what resolution to use, but now I’m going to have to do all that and thensome along with sleeping, eating and showering – I have a feeling its going to be a very, very unhygenic event as one or two social decencies may fall by the wayside as the deadline looms.
Java applets have almost completely disappeared where as Flash has become so synonymous with in-browser games that a few people who have tagged my games on StumbleUpon as a ‘Cool Flash Game’
At first I chose java because – Well, I already knew it and I wasn’t that concerned with making money by putting my games on the various Flash aggregate portals, I just wanted to draw some traffic to my own site with some fun free games.
The unfortunate thing is that it is very, very hard to draw traffic to your site, just by having a couple of free games to play.
And for a while I didn’t actually mind that I didn’t make much money through google adsense, because I made some pretty cool games that I was proud of and I thought where quite fun.
But now I’m thinking about a couple of small game ideas that I wouldn’t mind persuing and I think the best platform for delivering small freeware games is in the browser on the web. Leave the downloadable delivery mechanism for more ambitious titles.
So here I am wondering if I should learn Flash?
A couple of years ago I didn’t like Flash one bit – But that was when I had a p4 with 256mb of ram and a geforce2. On a modern PC it actually has good performance and over the last year or two there have been a number of flash games that have actually impressed me.
Also I have heard that Actionscript 3.0 is a much improved programming language with all the OO features you can shake a stick at. And many of the Flash tools are now more focused at developers, rather than only at our right-brained brethren.
So, maybe I should learn Flash? Stay tuned for updates.
Over the holiday period I’ve managed to sink many many hours into the cult Japanese RPG Persona 3 which has simultaneously delighted me because it’s so different and also reminded me of why I don’t really play jRPGs.
I was really enjoying myself until about 30 hours in where I encountered one of the monthly boss battles and found myself way, way underskilled to win the battle. One walkthrough that I looked at recommended that I have a character at level 45 – A full 8 levels higher than I was, which means about 4 hours of just pure grinding, running around and getting into fights.
I usually play through games quite quickly and don’t bother to grind my character, because I like to see new things and progress the story – and besides, I’ve got a whole lot of other games sitting on my shelf unopened. But now I have to grind if I want to get on with the game.
Theres just a little too much grinding going on for an otherwise excellent game. Many have reported that it takes around 80 hours to finish. Which is a pretty large time investment – Heck, I think I wrote Attack of the Meeplings in round 80 hours.
I think for the RPG I’m developing I’m going to target around 20 hours of gameplay, which is about how long Eschalon Book 1 lasted for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed that. I’d rather have a shorter experience, but one that isn’t feel a bit drawn out.
But if you do have a spare 80 hours, Persona 3 is a really excellent game.
I would like to pick up Persona 4 which was recently released, but I might have to wait until retirement before I playing it.