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Timmmmmmmmmm.. T

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  1. Timmmmmmmmmm.. T

    A Tale of Two Projects (pt. 2)

    Pt. 1: I get involved in a lot of events and organizations. Thanksgiving break and onward presented my only opportunity to catch up, so the final rush began. A ten-hour train ride brought me back to my dorm early, before Thanksgiving break was over. Out of my two big projects, the VR project didn’t need as much polish, and had an end nearer in sight. I resolved to complete the prototype of the VR project, then put every spare minute I had into the AR project. Three days of hard work, and then a hard deadline brought the VR prototype to a conclusion. Until the final day, I was doing all my testing with keyboard and mouse controls. There was no way I could adapt my non-VR test environment into an intuitive VR experience in one night, so I kneeled and prayed long and hard. God has a tendency to make impossible things happen, and in one miraculous night the VR map had more charm and intuitiveness than the non-VR test environment ever did. It was a full conversion from third-person testing to VR in one long night of hard work and prayer. The VR prototype was complete, and the AR prototype had to become a product. Due to numerous issues with Google Play,* it didn’t get published until after Christmas. Adding features would consistently break old features. The VR project had a beautiful well-planned and documented code base. The code base on this AR project was a mess of duct tape and workarounds, with some issues taking hours of focused troubleshooting to hunt down and exterminate. Yet every new feature would be such an improvement to the app that the idea of adding more features was irresistible. Presentation day was Wednesday, six days away. Two days to make presentations, one day to rest, and three to finish it all. I decided to try and publish a working build of the app, at the expense of adding more features. Building should be easy, and adding Google Play store information would be a breeze, right? Thursday: Unable to build apk file, Unknown error. Friday: Meet with faculty advisor on project, spend three hours together fixing build issues. Saturday Plan: More polishing, upload to Google Play, then get back to adding features. In reality, Saturday turned into Sunday as I went through the process of publishing on the Play Store. If I hadn’t decided to get a working build out the previous week, there wouldn’t have been a working build for the presentation, period. Finally, it was good enough for the presentation, but I would have loved to add one more feature, even though the sun was bright and shining on my planned day off. After going out for lunch, I was more alert, and able to see how flawed my methods were before taking the lunch break. I modified my approach, gave myself the illusion of progress, but was soon overcome by stress and exhaustion. Four hours later, I was stuck. I was standing and saw other people walking around, but felt unable to move my arms or legs. I struggled to escape, to at least make myself move, and woke up flailing my arms in bed. I got up, half-dazed, checked the time, and sprinted to the last church service of the day. Funny how that timing worked out. The next day came, and my brain felt as if it was sprained, my drive to accomplish was absent. That’s not a state I enjoy living in. Sleep, exercise, recreation, it all helped and I got better. Even so, I didn’t resume work until Tuesday. Day off: check. Two big projects, one day to prep. Outlining, simple slide shows, and by the time the sun set I was practicing both presentations. I was in a panicked rush, so I listened to Mega Man 2 Dr Wily Stage 1 Music on repeat for over an hour while practicing, and that brought back my confidence. Post-midnight final builds, a bit of sleep, and a journey across campus weighed down by VR equipment brought me to the presentations. They weren’t perfect, but the department head was impressed, my faculty advisors were happy with both projects, and I can say with confidence that my presentations of an AR Campus Map and a VR DAW were some of the most polished and innovative projects of the day. *Actual quote from Play Store support: “As much as I'd like to help, I’m not able to provide any more information or a better answer to your question.” To their credit, it was a tricky issue, and eventually finding the right piece of documentation did get things resolved. AR App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sonictimm.HelloARUnreal VR App: still pre-alpha Experience Points: Planning your schedule is as important as planning your architecture Don’t neglect days off, you need them Don’t neglect your own morale, you’re as important as your people (boss, coworkers, customers, etc). Hard work and prayer can solve pretty much any problem, but both require time Plan your schedule accordingly Prioritize your most important features, and get them out first. Don’t over-stress while trying to over-deliver, calm down and stress about delivering at all. It’s never too late to rewrite a schedule. Polish and prepare to publish long before the deadline, then come back and improve the project. If you should be sleeping right now, stop reading this blog and please go to sleep. ❤️ It's not about getting the most done fastest, it's about finding the right balance.
  2. Timmmmmmmmmm.. T

    A Tale of Two Projects

    It was the best of plans, it was the worst of plans. It used the latest tech, it used the old reliable tech. Yet such can be said of pretty much any plan. The grant project was to make an AR Map of my school’s main campus. I had never worked with AR, so I didn't have much insight as to what I was getting into. The capstone is a VR music-making program (DAW). I’ve worked with VR and dabbled in tone-generation before, but never gone this deep into either. Unreal Engine was the obvious choice. It’s great for VR, I have plenty of experience, and it supports ARCore, which was the target platform for the AR project. Within the first month of the semester, I could ‘Blueprint’ as quickly and efficiently as I could code in any language. Unreal’s Blueprint Visual Scripting I fully expected this AR project to be a royal pain. In reality, it was difficult and glitch-ridden from the first day. Google recommended downloading their fork of UE (Unreal Engine) in order to develop for the latest version of ARCore. It took a while to download, then it had to be built in Visual Studio. It began to build, it kept building all night, and it kept building, never fully making it to completion. After 2-3 more tries, I gave up and used the main fork of UE, even though it supposedly did not feature the absolute latest version of ARCore. The sample project from Google had to be imported to work in this different version of Unreal, but it appeared to work like a charm and I was spawning Androids within a day of switching to the main fork. It was a simple matter to replace the Android model with something a bit more relevant, and voila! Despite disobeying the documentation, it worked flawlessly. Marshall University’s Engineering Building sits in my dorm The VR Music project hinged very heavily on being able to generate tones in real-time. Some web surfing revealed that Unreal actually has a built-in audio synthesis plugin, and it did exactly what I needed! I expected programming a capable audio synthesizer to take most of the semester, so this put me ahead of schedule. With that breakthrough, the project could have gone far ahead of schedule. However, other events took priority, including running my VR booth at conventions. The conventions want me back next year, even though I’m graduating soon and going who-knows-where. 😥 After the initial success, progress on the AR project slowed. In Unreal, there is a huge library of functions available to call. However, there are only a handful of ARCore functions, and most of them are used to provide the most basic functionality to the ARCore Example project. The next step was studying. I traced each function and added comments to explain how they worked. Then came modding, to re-work these functions to give me the functionality I wanted. No need to waste time re-inventing the wheel. Several hacks later, I could spawn a campus. And that’s all! Fortunately, I planned with the expectation that AR would be hard to work with-- the project called for spawning several relatively static objects. Basic functionality and minimal interactivity meant that the project was in scope, even for a n00b like me. The VR project is something that I had been planning for over a year. I wasn’t going to let it become duct-tape and spaghetti code. After the initial experiments, I did two things. First, took out some paper, and sketched the objects that would be involved in the final product, their relationships, and their basic functions. The process was undertaken with maximum care, and the basic layout hasn’t changed since the initial planning. With a plan in place, I set out to work, and progress went well. I coded carefully rather than rapidly, fixing bugs as soon as I found them and optimizing things as soon as I found a means to do so. Fixing bugs ASAP meant that I did get stuck on one, but a great friend of mine took the time to help me debug one that had me stuck for almost a week. Never turn down the opportunity for a great aerial shot! Winter was coming! It got really cold, and I was freezing my fingers off while flying the University’s drone around campus. The imagery of buildings and landmarks was destined for the AR app, but I’d never turn down a beautiful aerial shot, even if my fingers were numb. As I reviewed the project, I realized how disappointingly far from finishing I was, and that there simply wasn’t time to put many of those images into the app. I started making the crude app more presentable by adding a menu, and then proceeded to battle the errors and UX problems that ensued. Yes, time was limited indeed, but the VR project didn’t need to be done, just good enough for a presentation. A Capstone presentation. The question wasn't how to finish, the question was: What were the features that I absolutely needed before the most important presentation of my college career? Part 2 Coming Soon! Experience Points: Plan your large projects very carefully, it will pay off in the long run. Else you’ll spend more time fixing old features than adding new ones Don’t spend time stressing about details that nobody cares about. Unknown technologies will bring unknown issues into the mix Plan more time than you think you’ll need to learn new things Prioritize and re-prioritize One core feature is worth a thousand minor sub-features Agile is awesome Seriously, fixing issues immediately and improving code as soon as you find a more efficient method results in more efficient code and more efficient coding Don’t neglect documentation! Even if it’s not proper UML, a diagram is worth a hundred code comments. Comment your code as if you’re going to have amnesia tomorrow Keep a development log for your personal use After not touching a project for weeks or months, a log allows you to jump in as if you did it yesterday Drones are cool
  3. Timmmmmmmmmm.. T

    Back on course.

    RIP summer break, long live the Fall semester. And RIP me... Or long live me, depends how well this semester goes. This is undoubtedly the hardest semester of my life. I'm taking 19 hours of classes (15 is normal), involving no less than three semester-long projects. Plus running a VR booth at conventions, running a club, and running 2-3 miles per day.. Just thinking about it all is overwhelming. This last year of school feels like the end of the world. Since high school, through college, everything has been leading up to college graduation. It's been my ultimate goal, consuming my attention for over seven years. But that's backward. Undergraduate school isn't the end , it's the beginning. While cliche, what I need is a paradigm shift par·a·digm shift noun a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions. Just because I haven't the faintest idea where I'll be in a year doesn't mean I can't enjoy getting there. If you fear the uncertainty, it becomes the enemy, and you'll never want to go outside your comfort zone. Relish the uncertainty, and it becomes both a challenge and an adventure. In truth, everything since first grade has been preparing me for life, not just for college. It's not the end of the world, it's more like the final boss battle of this phase of life-- it requires the most effort, and it also has the highest payoff if you do it right (and grave consequences if done poorly.) Speaking of the final boss, it takes loads of effort to even get to the final boss. In that time, you take on all the minor challenges and grinding in order to get to the part that really matters, the climax. After years in school, I've gotten all of the "grinding" through required classes out of the way, and now I have a full year to take on the challenges that really matter. While it's a metric ton of work, this is the work that I want to be doing. This is the academic equivalent of a dream job - lots of electives, lots of projects. While that looks different to different people, reaching that "dream job" is something to be proud of, and something to be grateful for. Today, someone asked me if I know everyone on campus. While I'm terrible at names, I literally couldn't count the friends I've made through classes, clubs, shared meals, and random happenstance. Neighbors, friends, and colleagues all blend together in college. It's even helpful having a roommate who keeps me sane and prevents me from taking life too seriously. As someone who can feed off the energy of others, I thrive on social interaction, despite being an introvert. There's a lot to love about humans when you get to know them. Even still, the most baffling thing is not when people are in a place they don't like, it's when people don't do anything to get out of that place. My heart goes out to moonlighters, it's a hard life. It's truly a blessing being able to spend my days working on interactive projects like this, I'll try not to waste it. Experience Points: If you take action to get where you want to be, you're a winner. If you complain when you do get what you want, you're a whiner. To quote Dr. Eggman, "Chaos is the constant." Life is always changing. (someone else may have said it first...) Despite the change, old wisdom is still invaluable: Sleep, eat, take care of yourself But don't be self-centered, it leads to taking ones self too seriously and becoming a jerk. Through hard work and prayer, nothing is impossible. Through intense laziness, anything can be impossible.
  4. Timmmmmmmmmm.. T

    Time Well-Spent

    Last summer, I worked indoors at a small amusement park. It got boring, but it wasn’t bad. It started out around 20 hours per week. It ramped up to 30 hours, and could have been 40+ hours. In theory, the extra money sounds great when I’ve got nothing else going on. At work, I had plenty of time to think about time. They say that it takes 1000 hours to become an expert. While there’s nothing magical about 60,000 minutes, there is something magical about consistent time dedicated to a craft or trade. When I first played the trombone, I wanted to win the school practice contest by practicing more than anyone else. I sometimes practiced 300 minutes per week outside of school (between school, sports, and life) and became proficient at it faster than anyone else. I stopped practicing so much, but the solid foundation never let me down, and I never regressed past a certain point, even if I neglected the instrument for years. Years later, I started running. Problem: my knees were shot, and it took 1-2 hours per day of physical therapy before I could go on a short run. It was a huge time investment—think of all the things I’d have time for if I stopped! Days made little difference. Weeks made a slight difference. After months of dedication, I only needed the PT once per week. I could finally run in outdoor track Fast forward five years of consistent running: I have no need for PT, became a cross country captain, and completed a marathon. I never trained for speed, nor did I train for distance, it was all about time. In both activities, the coach/instructor told me to record the number of minutes spent practicing. At the end of the week, they would critique my habits and push me to raise those numbers. This applies perfectly to game development, specifically because it’s hard to benchmark quantity of game developed. Counting lines of code or levels made is useless, since more of those often results in less efficiency. Instead, count minutes. If you consistently dedicate hours of your day to anything, it will stick in your mind. Your new mindset will make it easier and easier. If you can spend 1000 hours on a game for your own recreation, you can spend 10,000 hours on game development for other people’s recreation. After a few years of “eating, sleeping, and breathing” game development, it becomes second nature. You’ll make games as easily as you type on a QWERTY keyboard. Well, that’s my theory. Putting it to the test took hours… countable hours. I made a practice sheet, and kept track of the minutes spent each day on game development. Even when I was tired, I tried to spend at least an hour doing something at some pace. The following day, while I had a little less sleep, I’d be more able to develop because I was in the habit of it. When converted to hours, I got around ten on most weeks, but due to my inconsistent work schedule it was all over the place. Over fifteen hours one week, five hours the next week… I could have made a lot more money by working more, but my goal isn’t to work a low-wage job, it’s to develop games. Hence, I’ll take the smaller cash heap in exchange for invaluable practice. That said, I’m glad I had work to get me out of the house—being alone most of the day is highly demotivating. However, 6 hours of work + commute followed by three hours of game development results in great progress and a steady income. And another thing, There was one other time sponge: hanging out with friends. While it can be easy to spend inordinate amounts of time messing around, we mostly had commutes between us. That means I wasn’t at risk of spending all my time away from development, but we met up pretty often and it was always worthwhile. In fact, the best game I developed all summer was a party for those friends. (Warning: long description that doesn’t do it justice) So ended the last of six epic summer parties (2013-2018), and it was the best one yet. It may be the best experience I have ever crafted, but it’s not replayable. RIP summer, it was a good one. Now begins the hardest semester of my life. Experience Points: Money is helpful Working on something you love is worth a financial hit (but not financial ruin) In the end, it’s always about balance. Too much development will kill you, too little development leaves you with nothing. Humans are social, devote time to take care of that need. More man-hours on a project is superior to more weeks on a project. Life isn’t about money, but it’s not about work either. There’s no game gods that reward you for doing good work. If you’re a game developer, you are ultimately working for your players. Treat them with love and respect.
  5. Timmmmmmmmmm.. T

    Raph Koster's Postmortems: Una Carrera

    This love story about games is downright poetic. It's not just an info dump, it is paced like a poem to have spots of high intensity and slower moments. It's cool to read a summary of someone's career in game development that's so dense but also so non-technical and down-to-earth.
  6. Timmmmmmmmmm.. T

    Double Fine Quest

    I'll take this to heart as I continue developing (and applying for jobs). Sometimes it's difficult to get earnest feedback, so I really appreciate this. I did not neglect copyright, although it does sound genuine, doesn't it? The song was not actually ripped from FFVII, even though it is the same melody. It was made by recording a midi that some third party made of that song. Legally, I used a recording of a cover of a song from Final Fantasy. While I still don't own the melody, it falls within fair use since I'll never make any money from this game, nor am I claiming credit for the melody. Before recording it, I experimented with different sound fonts, which allow your computer to interpret a midi differently, and chose the one I liked best (in this case, it was most similar to the original). The rest of the soundtrack was made the same way. Anyway, thanks for playing! Edit: That second video is definitely a keeper
  7. Timmmmmmmmmm.. T

    Double Fine Quest

    Thank you! If you have a chance to play the game, I'd love to hear your opinion on it
  8. Timmmmmmmmmm.. T

    Should I use an engine or learn a programming language?

    Welcome to the forums! The short answer is: Both. It's becoming more and more common to use a pre-made engine instead of making your own. The simple reason for that is because you can make a better game faster using a pre-made engine. The only thing I'd add to the above is to consider finding a game that you can mod. By modding a game you'll get some crazy insight into how it works, and you'll also get your feet wet in all sorts of things (art, sound, level design) that you might not touch for months if you make your own game from the ground up. It's always good to know where your strengths are. That said, don't let me stop you from jumping into a language or engine. The best way to learn is to jump in and do it!
  9. Timmmmmmmmmm.. T

    Double Fine Quest

    MY QUEST: I found out about Double Fine through your a podcast in 2012. Fast forward six years, I’m a student game developer giving it all I have for a job there. So, I checked their “Action Jobs” page to see what I could find. Under "We are always recruiting everybody, all the time" there is a short story about what happens when you get a job there. http://www.doublefine.com/jobs Also featured on this fabulous brochure. Last summer, I decided I wanted a job there, but they must have interns banging on their windows, so how could I stand out? I decided to make a game that would have several sections to demonstrate my ability and show that I would work hard. Last Fall, I learned Unity through my University. Every single project I made was either a part of my Double Fine game, or specifically designed so that I could reuse code for my Double Fine game. Around December I realized it would be awesome to go to GDC. The main reason being that I could speak to people from Double Fine and make an impression. It was too late to sign up as a GDC volunteer, passes were over $1k, but someone told me about the Unity Student Scholarship. I didn't have a proper portfolio, but I uploaded my work from my Unity class and any other Unity projects I had. Even without a portfolio, I tried to make it look good. I spent so long on the application process that I was late to a New Years Eve party. The new year came, and my game that would get me into Double Fine, codenamed "Project Sourdough," was not on schedule. It would never be completed on time, although parts of it were a complete mess. Since Sourdough didn't have time to rise properly, I needed to make a more concise experience very rapidly. I reused as much code as I could to make "Project Unleavened," a game that follows the story on Double Fine's “Action Jobs” page. Time passed. I really wanted to go to GDC. One night, I prayed that I would go, even though it was unlikely. I also prayed that if I didn't go, they would at least tell me soon, so I could stop thinking about it. The very next moment, I pulled out my phone to call someone, and an e-mail popped up on the lock screen from Unity folks. "Thank you for submitting... We received a lot of high quality applications ... Unfortunately, you were not chosen as a recipient ... But we were impressed with your application" and they gave me a limited access pass. I was completely in awe. SO I WAS GOING TO GDC! The next thing I needed was a way to give them the game. I designed a one-sided business card reminiscent of an atari cartridge, and had it printed onto two USB Business cards from VistaPrint. I had a lot of work to do on Unleavened. I put in some crazy hours in the weeks leading up to GDC, and had to either solve or work around countless issues. Unfortunately, due to a quirk in my dialogue system, I could only build for Windows at the time. Fortunately, I did get some help from my friends. I found out one of them is a QA guru. Another one could make great drawings, and it was amazing seeing him bring a piece of the game to life. But their time was limited by their own schoolwork, so I did all the coding and most of the art myself. That said, I can’t understate the importance of my friends and family during development. The final week of crunch on Monday, my phone died. It got hot, the battery drained quickly, and then it would not boot up. I've had it for years, so it was at end-of-life, but the week before flying across the country was a bad time to bite the dust. If nothing else, Verizon knows how to sell phones. I got my hands on a Pixel 2 before the week was out. Crisis averted, but it took the entire day to resolve that one. Tuesday, I referenced DF’s Jobs page. It had changed. I had been planning to apply for an internship, but there was a brand new note. “Alas, we are unable to offer internships pretty much ever, sorry!” That could be the end of the story. But it’s not. If I couldn't be an intern, I’d apply for a full position as a Gameplay Programmer. I programmed, built, tested, rinsed, repeated until it was error-free. After all that testing I copied those files onto the two business cards. I took a few hours off Sunday night before GDC to hang out with friends. Unfortunately, I needed more than two business cards for GDC, so I got back to work around eleven to design some normal ones. I lied down for a moment and fell asleep for three hours, woke up at 5 AM and then sent my design to the local Minuteman Press. The next morning, there was no next morning, I woke up at noon. I ran about a mile to the printer to get those business cards, and began to pack ASAP. (Disclaimer: That's not San Francisco ) I had a friend who was on-time to bring me to the airport, but I was too far behind packing, and missed the flight Monday. They rescheduled me for free since the next flights had open seats. I was stuck at the airport for hours, exhausted, but Tuesday afternoon I finally made it to San Francisco. Double Fine runs a booth called "Day of the Devs" which showcases a few selected indie games. I hung out there for hours trying to find one of them. I met plenty of good people, but I missed their main producer (Greg Rice) by literally a minute. Wednesday night was an awards ceremony, and the Tim Schafer got a big one. I waited twenty minutes after the show until the people from that company started walking out, and caught up to Greg Rice when he separated from the rest of them. "Mister Rice, can I talk to you for a minute?" "I'm really really late, I can't talk now." "Can you at least take this?" And I handed him one of the USB Business cards with my resume and the game on it. He ran away screaming. Well, not really, he just walked away quickly. THE HUNT CONTINUED, Thursday, I finally got lucky at Double Fine's booth. While scanning badges, I saw some tiny print. It said "Double Fine Productions." Whoah. I looked up, and saw he was wearing a shiny Double Fine pin. It was beautiful. I looked at his face, and he was talking to someone else. I awkwardly stood by until he was free, and then told him my story before relinquishing the second USB Business card. Package 2 delivered! Delivered to a Communications Manager, no less! Friday I walked out of a building and saw some people in Double Fine branded clothes ==> I orbited around in front of them, and introduced myself to two more DF people (programmers). They really liked the idea of my game, so I gave them my card and told then where to find it online. Saturday I applied to Double Fine thru their web site, the normal way, except that I included a link to the game. Monday, the Communications Manager sent me an e-mail that the game didn't work. I know exactly the issue and exactly why. I sent both the fix and a working version. Which brings us to today. Here is the game I made: https://sonictimm.itch.io/action-resume Playtime is usually less than ten minutes. I did modify my dialogue system for web, so you can play it in your browser. Experience Points: (AKA fancier way to say TL;DR) I'd love to say that you can work hard for your dream job, but at this point I have no idea if I'll get the job. What if I don't get the job. I poured my life into a project for a [possibly] failed endeavor. I still gained: -A portfolio. -A trip to GDC -Lots of contacts from said trip -Some free time in San Francisco -TONS of Unity Experience -Practice writing. I love writing, but it's hard to sit down and do it. -Practice Art-ing. I love UI, but spritework is not my calling. -A chance to collab with some friends -A game that may or may not be fun, I'll let you guys decide -This crazy story. Honestly, the University feels mundane after all this... This list is getting crazy long.. But seriously, if your project fails, you'll probably learn more than if it succeeds. That said, don't ever strive for failure. Study Failure. Look at why things don't work, learn from other people's mistakes. Everyone learns from success, myself included. (I'm not the first person to try and get into a company by making a game...) Anyway, I'd love to get your feedback. If you can spare ten minutes, I'd love to hear what you think of my game. Also, if you have any tips for getting noticed by a game company / making yourself more employable, I'd love to hear those as well. Cheers!
  10. Timmmmmmmmmm.. T

    An interest for Unity Engine

    There are an amazing amount of resources for indie devs these days, mostly because there are so many! For instance, both of these services are being targeted at Indie Devs as well as medium companies: SpatialOS - a Unity/Unreal MO Plugin that allows easy level streaming. They pretty much handle your servers, so you don't need to invest thousands to buy/rent your own servers. Plus, they have a free dev kit, so even if you don't use it it could be fun to experiment with online play: https://improbable.io/games SpawnPoint - Backend Services - There are probably a lot of others, but a stable MO needs a lot of components. If you can save up some cash, you could probably outsource a LOT of the backend stuff to a company like this one: http://spawnpoint.com There are even companies who specifically deal with update services. DISCLAIMER: Do your research, I have never used either of these companies. I don't know how they compare to their competition.
  11. Timmmmmmmmmm.. T

    Grassroots Game Jam

    Last weekend was the first ever Game Jam at Marshall University. The Game Design Guild (club) has been planning to have one for months, but we're a new organization, still trying to get our feet on the ground. Lucky for us, and awesome doctor at our University had recently started a Digital Humanities program. She also wanted to hold a game jam, so we teamed up. 2 Game Developers + 2 English Professors = 1 Game Jam Admin Team! I also asked a guy from Dakota State how they run game jams, since he has run far bigger ones than this. He had a lot of good advice We advertised as best we could, and had no clue how many people would show up. It could have been five, it could have been thirty... Fortunately, we got a sweet number: 12 participants. Surprisingly, none were above college age, and many were high school, or even younger. There was an 8-year old in attendance. However, most of them weren't too social. I followed some advice I had received, and mixed the people around with each other while they came up with ideas. I'm not sure if it backfired or not: Everyone amalgamed into one GIANT group. They also decided to use Unity. So it began. Thanks to Piskel, everyone could easily make pixel art. One person found SFX, and a couple guys made music. It's amazing how many web-based tools there are. We showed these to our participants before getting started: https://soundation.com - Make music http://piskelapp.com - Make pixel art http://twinery.org - Make text and HTML adventure games https://ledoux.itch.io/bitsy - Make games where you walk around, talk to people https://freesound.org - Search THOUSANDS of free SFX However, programmers were short. One was experienced, and could only stay for half the project. Another 2 were low experience. In the end, one of them took on a team management role. With 12 people, team management is a full-time role! To pull it all together, I ended up programming about half of the game. We had more art than we could use, and it all came together in 18 hours. The final product is playable in-browser: https://mugameguild.itch.io/60-second-hero Before getting sucked into the main jam team, I also pitched to our admins that the four of us make a simple game. I tapped them for art and writing, and them implemented it in ~3-4 hours with a dialogue system I had already made: https://mugameguild.itch.io/game-jam-admin-2018 One weekend, two games. Monday was a showcase day, so that anyone interested could see the final product. There are five endings depending on what items you collect in the game, and people enjoyed trying to find all five Overall: SUCCESS. (Not how I expected, but it worked) Experience Points: Never underestimate the time overhead when you coordinate multiple people. Working in a team is not like working alone, and it's easy to end up with duplicate work and "idle villagers." ALWAYS have a sign-up or registration, even if it's not required. It takes a LOT of guesswork out of planning. You can never have too much non-perishable food. Or pizza. Instead of reinventing the wheel, talk to people who have done it before. Pizza Be flexible and run your event based on who comes. Having 3-person teams working in Unity when nobody has used Unity makes no sense. ANY GAME JAM: Only try to make a game that you know you can pull off. If you don't know how to do it, you probably can't do it well in a day. Choose your team wisely, LIMIT THAT SCOPE If you have two days, get a working prototype after ONE day. That way, you have a whole day to make it fun. This is just a game. Seriously, take care of yourself, exercise, go to church, etc., no game jam is worth your health. Peace!
  12. Timmmmmmmmmm.. T

    Don't be a hermit

    Ramblings: Recently, I found out that my school is getting a minor in "Digital Humanities" Digital Humanities - (n) a buzzword that shows you have a solid background in both liberal arts and technical literacy. Normally, I don't care much about buzzwords, but for one, I've already taken a diverse array of classes, so it's a cinch for me to pick up that minor and show my potential employers that "I'm not a code monkee!" More importantly, the person in charge of the program is doing a lot to both ensure that the minor is beneficial to students, and to arrange other opportunities for students to experience the intersection of art and technology. Normally, the intersection of art and technology refers to video games, but if you look more broadly you'll see it in all kinds of places. For instance, an English professor who uses code to express a deeper meaning (Gaffe/Stutter), or a programmer who makes something truly beautiful (Macintosh). A good GUI is just as much a work of art as a game. Oh, and our club got into the school newspaper: https://marshallparthenon.com/16407/news/game-design-guild-aims-to-further-students-tech-abilities/ As a game developer, you have more work to do than you have time in a day. But even so, don't isolate yourself to get it done. Trying to make a game alone is like making a movie alone-- you can do some impressive things, but you'll never be able to compete with a functional team. So stay social (or become social), talk to people, and keep growing. If you're not growing, you're probably stagnating. Either way, it will reflect in your games. If nothing else, talking to other people will help prevent burnout by taking your mind off your game. Even though I'm an introvert, I absolutely cannot function without occasional conversation. (Okay, I might survive, but my motivation will tank.) I noticed that after programming for many hours a day over a period of time, my programming skills got stronger. Even if I take a long break, I'll jump back in easily. The same thing happens with other skills, i.e. sports, playing an instrument, public speaking... So why wouldn't it apply to social skills? My new years resolution is to be more social. Yes, it's a time sponge, but it's also allowing me to work with people I would have never otherwise met. I'm making friends who I'll remember forever, which is impossible to put a price on. Perhaps most importantly, if this works, I will practice my social skills enough that even after spending 6 hours alone in a room, I'll still be socially fluent. I'll be able to jump back into it as quickly as I can jump back into an old video game, or a practiced sport. So far, I have noticeably improved from last year. Here's hoping I'll be able to keep it up while simultaneously moonlighting on game dev. Experience Points: Network! Don't be naive enough to follow every trend, but Be open-minded enough to accept new trends. Talk to a wide variety of people, it's amazing what stones you'll turn over along the way. Some of my best days have been spent doing more talking than developing. Don't be antisocial, it will reflect in your games. Practice your social skills at least half as much as you practice your trade. Nobody wants to hire someone who can't communicate. Great artists don't just steal from artists, they also steal from life. Never stop growing and learning. Whether you talk to Miyamoto or Meiers, you'll hear that they want people with experience and interests outside of gaming. If you're not growing, you're stagnating. Keep networking. If your network isn't growing, it's stagnating.
  13. Timmmmmmmmmm.. T

    Lore & Mythology to RPG SIM:

    Looks like a good example of "overscoped" unless you're a AAA company. It's way too vague to say much about, but I can say that it doesn't seem very well-thought out IMHO. For instance, if there are a set number of gods, and they stop playing, the entire game world has changed. If gods are supposed to be important, they need a good way to affect a LOT of players, not just the ones they pick on. Plus, no one will want to pay a lot of money unless the game is successful. That's just a few points. I'm not trying to be mean, but whoever wrote that didn't put nearly enough thought or research into it.
  14. This coming week, my game design club will (finally) start working on Digital Games. Last week we made paper concepts. Most of us have ZERO Game engine experience, this is going to be thrilling!!! I've decided to bring everyone into a 2D engine called Defold, which outputs Cross-platform (Mostly HTML5) games with LUA Scripting and joint animations. That's great Timm, but who's going to answer their questions? They are, of course! I have never used Defold, but in the Game Dev industry, they will routinely have to self-teach to keep up Rely on teammates to solve problems that nobody really knows the answer to Rarely if ever start a game from square zero, they'll always build on others' work. To that end, rather than making a game from zero (/*programmers NEVER start at square one*/), we are going to mod a public platformer template. Hopefully, we can divide into some kind of logical teams based on specialty and ability. Good groups are small enough to enable everyone's input, but big enough to explode productivity. My Experience: Modding is better than square zero for learning game development: THOUGHT PROCESS: Since every large company has their own proprietary engine, learning how to learn an unfamiliar engine is invaluable WORKFLOW: Game Companies will teach you by letting you dive into existing code, which is exactly what modders do SPECIALIZATION: You can focus on your specialty (programming, art, music, level design) instead of trying to juggle ALL OF THEM so that you can get a job in ONE OF THEM. SCALE: You get experience in a HUGE PROJECT that you may never fully understand rather than a tiny demo RESULTS: You can make something awesome (though not quite as accessible) in a shorter time since most of the heavy lifting is done PLAYERS: You already have a huge player base and a known target audience if you mod a popular game. this looks great on a resume FEEDBACK: If you do have lots of players, you have lots of complaints. Learn to deal with it, noobs. Today, I got to see an eight-year old open his VERY FIRST Raspberry Pi. I taught him to install NOOBS and use it, and he's really excited to change the world (For one, he won't be bored at home anymore). I showed him the built-in python games and how to edit their code (to make yourself faster, bigger, etc.). Even though I can code faster than I can make bad jokes, I would never have been able to make a game with him... but just editing a couple lines of code in an existing game brought about some super-fun results. So basically, I showed him how to mod as a gateway* into programming *Not a Gateway 2000, he's too young for those
  15. Timmmmmmmmmm.. T

    MMO Design Theory

    The main draw of an MMORPG is what differentiates it from other genres: The content is dynamic, constantly changing and "alive." By contrast, most single-player games feel frozen in time except when you get involved. Unlike in Single-Player RPG's, you can interact with other humans. Humans are social, so this is huge. Ideally, there is enough content that people who start playing on day 1 will never run out of fun and interesting things to do. Plus, it's an RPG. Ideally, it stands on its own against Single-Player RPG's as far as story, character progression, world design, open-endedness, etc.. That said, as a video game, it might also have other selling points not specific to MMORPG's. (I have a friend who loves GW2 and the visuals are one of the biggest selling points for her. )
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