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Chronicles of my game development journey

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Cake Nana at Anime Expo 2012 - the Experience

TLDR: One of the best way to get public exposure is through expos. Do it, it's worth it.

As part of the way to get the word out for our game and to validate it, this year we went to Anime Expo 2012.

We had 2 goals:
1) find out if our game so far is something the public would want. We need to know if this is a point where we need to pivot!
2) get the words out for our game.

The night before, Chad had setup our booth with all the items we're giving away to attendees to try our game, and we had 2 ipads ready with our game to demo on.

On the first day, there were 3 of us there. We finished setting everything up at around 9:30am, and we got ourselves ready for what's to come...

We were ill-prepared for what arrived.

Nobu and I worked nonstop from when the exhibition hall opened at 11am (it was delayed by an hour) until 5pm.

We barely had time to eat or go to the bathroom.

By the end of the day, we were exhausted, but it was an amazing experience!

Seeing the joys on all the people's faces when they played our game? Absolutely pricesless.

Also the folks over at Ktdata stopped by and interviewed us!

I had to call Chad to warn him about all the people that weren't able to play our game since we only had 2 iPads. So we got together and found 2 more iPads for Saturday.

On Saturday morning, we had 5 people at the booth, with 4 iPads. This time, we ARE ready

... or so we thought

All 4 iPads were in use nearly 100% throughout the rest of the weekend.

We were blown away by how many people loved our games.

A lot of the times, we saw people calling others to come over, and coming back over and over again with friends.

All in all, over 1,000 people had seen our games and loved it. There were a lot of constructive feedbacks that we've taken to heart, and there are even more positive feedbacks.

In Conclusion...

If you are a developer, definitely go to an expo you can. Besides the public exposure, seeing people play your game is MORE fulfilling than ANYTHING else in the world. If you work for a game development company, go to an expo yourself at LEAST once. You will see that all the time you spent in the trenches, is worth it.

Lessons learned

-Be prepared with as many demo stations as possible.
-Try to bring at least 50% more people than there are stations. People need break.
-Anime Expo isn't where you normally find games. If you can, go to a PAX, Comic Con, Game Dev Conference, or E3. There will be way more press coverages there.

Check out the Gallery for more pictures!

Also, please check out our kickstarter page to help make our dream even better!

We want to make the game even better, add more depths, more story, and bring the kind of gaming you normally see on PC or console to the mobile game environment.

Thank you everyone for reading this.





An update! First-look at all the versions of our upcoming game: Cake Nana

First of all, Trailer!
[media] [/media]

Haven't updated my dev journal in a long, LONG time! But it doesn't mean nothing's been happening!
In fact, ALOT has happened since my last update.

I'm now much more familiar with the game engine we've been working with, CoronaSDK. Thanks to all the help of the community here, I was able to learn pick up Lua than I otherwise would have on my own! (Thanks JTippetts and yckx!)

We've gone and past through our prototype phase... alpha... beta... to finally a public demo.

A lot has happened, and it's thrilling to see how the game has evolved from simply a concept 10 months ago, to where it is today.

The came is called Cakenana. It's a mix between defense and puzzle, intended to bring a fairly non-violent (at least, no blood / gore) game to our younger audiences, to challenge them in exercising their brains to solve puzzles!

Here are screenshots of the gameplay from each of the phases:

proof of concept:



Anime Expo 2012 Demo:

We are now on track for our release version that we are targeting to release in Fall 2012, I can't wait for the game to be complete!

Co-Founder of 3 1/2 Samurai
Eugene Suei




Week 4

Been working on the game design document & the technical software design document in the last 2 weeks. I haven't given up yet, just been busy!

One of the challenges I'm experiencing with the game design document is spelling out all the possible interactions between each object on the actual game. We've decided on naming the game Delicious Defense -- it'll be about a Pastry Chef who's goal is to make the world's greatest cake, and each stage of the game represents a baking competition. But along the way, there are a colony of hungry ants who wants to eat your masterpiece, and you must put together your available resources to protect your cake while you're building it!




Week 2

Since last week, I've learned a lot more about CoronaSDK, Lime, and Tiled, and our first prototype is nearly playable. The most I've learned from this so far is the animation, art, and math aspects required to develop a game - this has all been much more than what I'm used to doing for a business application.
Been chewing through Lime's tutorial here: http://www.justaddli.me/tutorials.php. It has been extremely helpful and has made me feel that Lime has been one of the best $20 I've spent!

Update: Prototype I complete.

Next step: hash out the game design document of where to go from here, and also the programming architecture document.




Day 6 & 7

I've been continuing my study of LUA & Corona SDK and got some more ideas for the game. I've decided that after this entry, I will write on a weekly basis rather than daily. Hopefully I will be done with my prototype before the next update!




Day 5

I finally started taking a crack at implementing the lua module I had started coding, and found the task a lot more challenging than I originally anticipated. The primary challenges are learning the Corona API & their libraries to handle animation, collision detection, object states, global game state / scoreboard etc. Rather than attempting to tackling everything at the same time, I'm taking a step (or several steps) back and reviewing the Corona samples available on their web page. Their director class, ui class, and movieclip class all look promising to use.

I've also been learning more about Lua in general! I've got at least 2 weeks of learning / work ahead of me right now! gogogo




Day 4

Today I've worked on learning Lua some more, from playing around with middleclass by kikito, to reading about all the OOP implementation research others have put in on Corona's forum. There's a lot of data and implementation methods to sort through, some talking about the differences between using metatables vs. not, and others talking about using modules and not. Since it's really only my second day to really study lua, I'm still fuzzy on a lot of these concepts.

My goal with using OOP in Lua with the Corona API is this: I want us to be able to create new weapons / enemies / maps as easily as possible and with as little additional coding as possible. This way once we've gotten our framework set, we'll be able to roll out new content at a much faster cycle, ideally with as little repeated code as possible.

To this end, we're using the Lime library with Tiled map maker - which imports a Tiled map file into Corona's physics engine. I want to be able to achieve similiar ease of content creation with new enemies and weapons.

Right now I have a very basic first draft of the framework for my game. Basically I created 4 module files: player, enemy, weapon, and map. They are all created in a format similar to this:

local function new()
local player = display.newRect (0, 0, 30, 30) --represents a new player
player.weapon = require("cakenana.weapon").new()
player.hp = 20
player.speed = 5

function player:move(x, y)
self.x = x
self.y = y

function player:changeweapon(weaponname)


return selfend

Since this is going to end up being a game running on mobile devices (both android and iOS), I want to take memory usage as well as performance into account as well. I've read that metatables uses less memory, but could have a hit on performance. I'm also concerned how the Corona API will convert the LUA code, especially something like using metatables, into objective-c and java code.

This is my very first attempt in Lua to create a class. Fortunately some friendly readers have suggested that I look at the book "Programming in Lua", which has its first edition for free online. I intend to start tackling this book tonight and read / process / apply the concepts as fast as I can before the end of this weekend.




Day 3

I've dived into Lua tutorials here and learning what I can & cannot do with this language. Like javascript, it's a high-level scripting language. Coming from a web-development background, this will be relatively easy for me to pick up.




Day 2

I've learned more and more about programming in Lua, Tiled, and playing with the Corona game engine. I'm pretty amazed at how easy everything has been SO FAR. The physics engine works pretty well with a map created in Tiled, and now we just need to figure out how to spawn some AI units to walk around and interact with the physical limitations of the map.

I've also started reading "The Art of Game Design: a book of lenses", and one of the quotes I read last night is really motivating me to work hard to continue my work: "Your first 10 games will suck, so get them out of the way, fast!"

Game Design, like everything else, improves with experience. And that right now is what I need the most before I can expect myself to make a blockbuster hit - to just DO DO DO and LEARN LEARN LEARN.

Coming from a OOP background, one of the first things I've started looking for is to be able to define reusable classes in our project. I've just started reading about frameworks like this:


and it looks rather promising.

Organizationally, I want to be able to minimize hard-coded objects in our games. This means that I want for our classes to be able to read data and generate instances of that data. For example, I want to be able to create a base Enemy class, and give it attributes such as HP, speed, size, weight, and make it easy to be able to define and change in the future by changing a separate data file (instead of going back to change the code). And I'd like to be able to do this as much as possible with all our objects (weapons, enemies, map).

As many ideas as I have, I plan on sitting down to write a more complete game design document with more details after our proof-of-concept prototype is done!




The journey begins!

I've been a .NET programmer for several years now, and I've been doing mainly business applications and completely new to the world of game development. But it is never too late to learn something new! I've been a long time gamer, and love blizzard's game design philosophy - "Easy to Learn, Difficult to Master" - this will be one of the core philosophies I will keep in mind in my process.

I've started working on a mobile game app with several friends, and we've found Corona game engine SDK and Tiled (with Lime) to develop a game as soon as possible. This will be the first project we'll be working on together, and we will all learn the process of creating a game.

Today I've played around with Tiled, Lime, and Corona, and we've gotten a ball to bounce on a map I coded! I'm looking forward to do more with this all these fun new toys tomorrow!

Besides coding, I'll need to learn the process of writing a game design document, making code architecture decisions, creating and assigning tasks, and learning how to make a fun, addictive game!



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