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Everything posted by rmadsen

  1. Check out our new game on the iOS App Store! All Your Rush Are Belong To Us!   https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/minecart-rush/id850876074?ls=1&mt=8       Rush through a gold mine collecting coins and avoiding obstacles that lead to certain death!   Take a wild ride through the mines as your cart speeds through tunnels, around curves, and down treacherous paths. Avoid obstacles as long as you can and loot all of the gold you can collect in this fast-paced endless runner!       Game Features Endless gameplay High speed adventure Avoid obstacles Collect gold Upgrade your cart Explore the gold mine
  2. Answer by @robertmadsen to Which topics (languages, engines and other things) are taught in top game programming ins… http://t.co/vWE5i4VIXm
  3. IndieSpective: So You Want to Go Indie? | Perspectives http://t.co/eW202GuXiJ via @igda
  4. My answer to How many hours a week do you spend watching TV, playing video/pc games, or sitting in front of your pc … http://t.co/H6V8JVdlPI
  5. Hey everyone, I just wanted to share our newly re-designed website with everyone.  Check it out at http://SynapticSwitch.com.    
  6. Check out our re-designed web site

    Thanks so much DiegoSLTS for taking the time to provide this excellent feedback. I am adding everyone of your suggestions to a list of fixes for the site.  Not sure how long it will take me, but once I implement them I will post again.   Robert
  7. Hey friends. Check out the new website for my game studio at http://t.co/u3MZmq8Mpj.
  8. So, my 5 year old grandson Xander is always making up songs. Today I'm walking past his room just after he has been put down for a nap and he's singing: "I love you, but now your gone, so I don't love you any more".
  9. Check out my article on game design in World Game Executives magazine! (page 12). http://t.co/G5ZpNVFh
  10. Check out my article on game design in World Game Executives magazine! (page 12). http://lnk.ms/cRhSh
  11. Contractor Blues!

    I haven't posted in a while. Mostly it's because I've been so busy working. Terrible problem...too much work! As an independent developer, I depend on contract work to make an income. That means that I spend a lot of time working on other people's stuff. Not that I'm complaining. I enjoy the work. It is challenging and still allows me to flex my creative muscles. I'm currently in a lull where I only have one contract project (instead of three at once!). That means I actually have time to do other things like blog and WORK ON MY OWN GAME! The Contract Trap I have read it in other people's blogs and heard it on other people's podcasts: Once you start taking on contract work then work on your own game will suffer! The truth is that you have to meet the milestones on your contracts (if you want to get paid) and you don't have to meet the milestones on your own projects. So, my own game keeps sliding while other people's games get done. Don't get me wrong...I love contract work because I love things like food and cars and having a roof over my head. Being able to do contract work means that I get to stay independent, make a living, and still do what I love which is program games. Maintaining Balance When I look back over the last several months I am struck wondering where all the time went. I think the most difficult part of being a self-funded Indie is trying to maintain the balance between making a living and working on my own game, which is the reason I decided to go Indie in the first place. So, now that I have some time, I also have some time to re-group and re-evaluate. I'm getting 'back in the game' and ramping back up on development. Keeping the Flame Burning It's easy to get discouraged. Over a year has gone by since I started my game project and I don't feel like I have enough to show for it. I remember last year thinking that I wanted a playable demo done by the end of 2010. Now that is my goal for 2011! However, I keep reminding myself that I'm in this for the long haul. Obviously, I have to survive and that means taking on contract work to have an income. So, I just remind myself that no matter how long it takes I will finish my game. Connecting with People It can be really easy to fall into the trap of never interacting with other people. After all, I work from my home and my development team is distributed and online. Weeks can go by without hearing another developer's voice! One thing that has really helped me is making it a point to regularly interact with other people involved in the project. My designer recently "forced" me to setup regular meetings so we can talk about the game. My initial choice was to work in isolation to 'get some coding done'. The truth is that talking with others about the game always gets me more motivated to actually do some more work on it. Isolation bad. People good.
  12. Indie by Default - Part III

    Moving forward I am a great believer in the Bible, that is, the Game Design Document. Although the urge as a programmer is to get coding as soon as possible, I know the benefit of a good design document from experience. Without it, your ideas get fuzzy and you end up doing a lot of programming that is wasted on fleeting ideas. So, my first step was to start creating a game document. I found that completing the design document helped me turn my fuzzy ideas into a set of concrete specifications. The accomplishment of getting that first page of the game design document inspired me. Now there was something concrete to show for my game idea. The more I wrote the more progress I saw. This is another benefit of creating a design document first: instant gratification. Once I finished the game design document, I had a solid reference to use to begin programming. I'm the kind of programmer that tends to work in spurts. One weekend a spurt happened and I created the first prototype for the game. The more I accomplished, the more I was invested, the more I was motivated. Alternate reality I don't want to give you the idea that this has been easy and that I have achieved all of my goals. The reality of survival has side-tracked me several times. It's too easy to spend all of my time on projects that actually make money. Being independent is the world's most complex balancing act. If you aren't careful, you'll find yourself back in the place where you are doing everyone else's projects but not your own. Once you start down that path, it's easy to get detoured from your game. If you find yourself detoured, get back to the main road! I'm not suggesting that anyone be irresponsible. I understand that human nature (and sometimes survival) means going for the money first. However, with discipline and planning, I have always been able to get the game project back on track while I survive. Going public One final word. Just last month I had another spurt and created a web page for my new studio. I immediately sent word to all of my friends, family, and colleagues to check it out. Twitter. Facebook. The whole deal. Frankly, I was scared to death. Going public meant that this was more than just a dream or idle fancy. Now everyone that is important to me knows that I am trying to make it as an indie. Some of them probably think I'm crazy. Others will understand and respect my decision. But the fact is, the word is out and I'm really not good at failure. Now, more than ever, I am motivated to succeed because, in a way, I am accountable to those who are rooting for my success. If you're unemployed and wondering what happened to your game development career, I hope this article inspires you to do something more. Even if you already took that job programming for an accounting firm, you can still make a way to do what you love--make games. Make your own game. Independent by default. For me, it's either this or boring. I now work just as many hours as when I was employed, if not more. The sense of accomplishment and the satisfaction that I am still doing what I love more than compensates for the extra time. 3:00 A.M. Tired, crazy, happy! Robert
  13. Indie by Default - Part II

    Thanks for all the great comments. Sorry I didn't respond to you all sooner! Good points all around.
  14. Indie by Default - Part II

    The new era of indie games I remember a time about as eight years ago when I was first researching the game industry. The general consensus at that time was that the days of the small "garage" team game developer was over. Games now cost millions of dollars to produce and thousands of man hours. Furthermore, specialization was the norm. Not only were their designers, programmers and artists, but also specialists inside of each of those fields. The conclusion: making a game on your own or with a few talented friends was no longer an option. Fortunately, the indie game developers weren't listening. Now, more than ever, the environment and technology are open and supportive to small, independent games. An abundance of tools have cropped up that target the small indie studio. Torque, Unity, XNA, and PlayFirst are just a few examples of low cost or free game engines. Just as important are the avenues of distribution that have opened up. Services such as Steam, XBox Live Arcade, Kongregate, and many other services have come up that directly focus on smaller games. Finally, there are new platforms that make sense for the indie game including the PC, web, Facebook, iPhone, and Windows Mobile. The point is that the barriers of entry are now lower than ever. I'm not saying that it's easy. In fact, the competition is overwhelming on all of the promising platforms I named above. But there is one thing to keep in mind: Three years ago, few people took game development on the iPhone seriously. Now it is one of the most prolific platforms for games. The same is true of Facebook. If these examples are indicative--and they seem to be--there is a huge market for the more "casual" games that indie studios are best at. Focus testing No, I'm not talking about getting a bunch of kids in a room to play your next game. I'm talking about the need to focus or you'll never get anything done! There are so many variables to consider when first starting an independent game that it can be overwhelming. Once I had decided that I was going to get serious about making my own game, I was immediately lost in the details. What kind of game did I want to create? Which platform and language should I use? Should I use a game engine or should I just start from scratch? Decisions, decisions, decisions. Ultimately I used two criteria to make these choices: experience and resources. I asked myself, "What programming platform do you have the most experience with?" Although I am fluent in C++, I also did a great deal of development in Visual Basic and C# in my previous business. I had a lot of experience in .NET web development as well. Knowing that anything done in C++ doubled or tripled development time, I decided to use on C#. I also decided to use the web because I could leverage my existing knowledge of ASP.Net development. This would allow me to target the web as well as Facebook with my game. I realize the C# and .NET aren't the most common tools to use for game programming, but this leads to the second criteria: resources. In the beginning, I knew the only resource that I had was me, so I chose the platform that would allow me to produce meaningful results in a reasonable amount of time. I also knew that my greatest limitation was art. I am no artist! So, when it came to picking a game design, I chose a type of game that was not art intensive. I needed a game where even I could supply the art if needed, and hopefully I could get a real artist involved at some point in the future. So, there's my focus: a web based game--written in C# and ASP.Net--that doesn't need a lot of art. Having this focus is what allowed me to move forward. My advice: moving forward is always better than not moving!
  15. Wow! Working on 3 projects now! Mariner for @SynapticSwitch and 2 contract game projects! And a lot of new tech! http://4sq.com/pxKnaX
  16. RT @igda: Wht is 1 thing that u learned in skool that has had the greatest impact on ur game dev work? Discipline to finish projects on time http://4sq.com/jpuAV7
  17. RT @fiddlecub: What literary work should American McGee twist into a hallucinogenic paradise for his next game? The Wizard of Oz http://4sq.com/mHQpSJ
  18. RT @igda: Games vs reality: sometimes U cn have both. http://ow.ly/5iMJF R U a fan of sport games? Not a big sports fan so not games either. http://4sq.com/knQGzF
  19. RT @igda: the #gamenetworking hashtag continues 2 have legs :) share yr best game networking tips, & learn from others 2 :) 1 wrd: LinkedIn http://4sq.com/iHIn90
  20. Working on learning the Idea System
  21. RT @igda: my best game dev networking tip is: ____________ (follow along & post 2 #gamenetworking ) Join LinkedIn 2 link w/ all ur contacts. http://4sq.com/m1aTh5
  22. RT @e3expo: So what's your favorite announcement from today? Technically, from yesterday: HALO 4!!! http://4sq.com/jC1Lt7
  23. #E3 Day 2 Fun: Sniper: Ghost Warrior/Combat Wings/Kinect Star Wars/Power Rangers/Galactic Racer/Renegade Ops/Into The Pixel http://4sq.com/j2sn2d
  24. Going Indy

    So you want to go Indy? I see a lot of posts on forums that look something like this: I want to break into the game industry, but I really don't want to waste my time going to school or anything. I've got this great idea for a game and I know it will be the greatest. I'm thinking I'll just skip the whole job thing and just start my own game company. Can you give me some advice? Anyone who has followed my blog for a while knows that I am a pretty strong advocate for the more traditional route to a job in the game industry: get a degree, then get an entry level job and move on from there. The biggest problem with posts like the one above is that it looks like whoever wrote it: - Doesn't really want to work hard - Is trying to skip all the prep work - Thinks their great idea is so great that everyone else is dumb for not realizing it - ...and finally, doesn't have a clue! But let's say we're talking about someone who has really prepared and wants to seriously consider going independent rather than working for another game developer. What should such a person consider when trying to make this decision? Motivation The first question you should ask your self is why? There are many motivations people have for choosing to go independent: 1. A veteran in the industry may decide that it's time to break out of the mold and start a company that is run the way they want it to be run. 2. A student may decide that going independent is the best way to extend their project from school and turn it into a completed, marketable game. 3. In the current economy, going independent is a viable alternative to unemployment. These are all good reasons to consider going independent. If this is something you are seriously considering, then realize that you have a lot of work ahead of you. Running your own studio is much harder than just getting a job and working for someone else, so make sure you know what you are getting yourself into! Do Your Homework First, starting an independent game studio is much like starting any other business. You have to consider what form your business will take (e.g. sole proprietorship, corporation, etc.). There are licenses to get and bank accounts to create. Will you have employees? Triple all of that! If you have never run a business, then you need to do some research and find out exactly what it takes to start one. One resource I can definitely suggest is your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The SBDC is a branch of the federal Small Business Administration. They offer free information and advice and can also facilitate a small business loan. Check them out at http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/sbdc/index.html. Are You a Business Person? I have been self-employed for almost 20 years. I think the most important lesson that I have learned is that being really good at what you do (e.g. art, programming, game design) does not necessarily mean that you are good at running a business. In truth, I am really good a programming, but I suck at running a business. In order to be successful, you are going to need someone who is really good at business. If creating art or writing code is what excites you the most, then you probably are not that person! Someone who is truly good at business gets excited about things like marketing, sales, budgeting, and cold-calls...these are not things that I love to do. So, if you are seriously considering starting an independent studio, make sure that you have someone on your team who dreams of running a business more than they dream about creating a great game. So Many Hats to Wear If you truly are thinking about going solo, then remember that the full responsibility will be yours to make things work. As an independent computer programmer, I estimate that I spend only 25% of my time actually coding. The other 75% is spent finding work, getting people to pay me, and doing paperwork and other administrative chores. You may be able to run solo for a while, but eventually you will have to bring in other people who are experts at business so you can focus on your area of expertise. And so much more... Of course, there is no way I could go into all of the details of starting an independent studio in one post. Hopefully this has at least given you some food for thought. Going independent is a hard road, but it can also be rewarding. And there has never been a better time for independent studios in terms of technology and opportunity. Until next time...Good luck! Robert
  25. @swifft000 Speaking of E3....well you know what I'm going to say (lol) Anything u want me to check out? #mlg #e3 http://4sq.com/lM8eiU
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