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Showing posts from February, 2014

Testing, testing...

During the past weekend my target was to finalize "Explopool" flash game. Basically, the game mechanics was working pretty well and the content was also in good shape from my point of view. However, I found some flaws in the first tests and decided that overall gameplay was not on the satisfactory level. Therefore decided to postpone the release date and started to do some major modifications to improve gameplay and overall look&feel. 
Testing your game is extremely important, especially if you are going to make a public release of it. Although your brand new game seems to be finalized on the surface, it is very probable that there is still some polishing to do and in most cases also some bugs to be fixed. Finding those may require very intensive and creative testing. 

Common target for game design and testing is to make a game that will be a positive experience for the end user. If game designer (=you) is the only tester, then it is very probable that the testing experien…

Creativity

How do you get ideas for games? How do you further develop and grow your ideas? Do you consider yourself as a creative person?

Since I have long background on so-called non-creative sector, the concept of creativity is not too familiar for me. I have colleagues who consider themselves as hightly creative persons. But in practice most of them are rather systematic thinkers and great problem solvers, than truly creative persons. Of course there are individuals that differ from the mass, but there are not many of them. 

In my daily work (as SoC specialist), most of my ideas are born because of practical need. There might be a task that no one has done before and there is no ready-made solution for that. Also because I am bit lazy by nature (typical engineer?), I will try to find  the easiest possible way to perform the task. Therefore, I write lots of custom scripts for a wide range of applications. This is commonly called as problem solving, and in many cases it has nothing to do with the…

Learning process

After releasing my latest game-like work at Mochimedia, I decided it is time to have a small break in game development and evaluate how things have been going in last couple of months.

My goal for the overall quality of my first flash game was not pretty high, but yes: I still was able to fall below that: game idea was not earth-shaking, graphics sucked, there were performance problems, and to top of it all the game had some nasty bugs or unexpected features. But hey: I was able to get something ready and distributed! I think it was the most important thing at that point, and it encouraged me to take next steps forward.

Following game projects were bit easier to implement, and I was able to add some complexity to the game mechanics and graphics. But more complexity means also more work and to a certain extent also higher probability to errors. Couple of my projects have ended up in deadlock situation where I was unable to figure out how to fix them.

I would say fledgling game develope…

Open-source drawing tools

Since I am interested to use open-source software for game development, my drawing tools can be found from that category also. Currently, my development work is done on Linux laptop, so it also causes some restrictions for the available software.

I started sprite creation with a tool called Aseprite. It is quite simple and easy-to-use free software for creating sprite sheets. (edit: Aseprite is nowadays paid software). There are no complex drawing tools included, but with steady hand and patience you can create almost anything. In my case, the only major problem with Aseprite was the low performance on my Linux laptop if  not started at separate XServer (Run "xinit aseprite -- :1" command in tty1, or something like that). 
I have been using Gimp for simple image processing even before starting game development activities. However, I thought it was too complex and difficult to use with multiple windows and confusing menus. But then I "found" the single-window version …

Artistic skills - or the lack of them...

The visual appearance is an important part of the video game. Just take a look to the most successful games in any category, and you will notice that very few of them contains low-quality graphics. 

I am not saying that fun and interesting game (whatever is the definition for that) cannot be done with simple and even low quality graphics. But well-finished graphics makes it easier to market a game to the players. And don't forget the marketing materials, like thumbnails, screenshots and gameplay videos, just to mention some.

Unfortunately, I am not very good in creative drawing and I find that one my biggest obstacles when trying to develop better quality games. I am able to draw straight lines and geometric patterns such as engineer (which I am), and that's quite about it. But when I should draw cartoon-like characters or complex background for a game, then I'm in trouble. I just don't know where to start! And if I get started, I will soon get frustrated and do the job …

Game marketing and promoting

Since we are beginners in the field of game development, we have been learning game creation process, tools and production the hard way.

During the process, we have noticed that making any game to the public distribution requires quite much: mechanics should be well planned and implemented, gameplay should be optimized, and game itself must be fun. Also, you should not forget the importance of visual appearance. To get all of this to one package requires lot of time and effort, but it is certainly possible and, ultimately, rewarding.

But even if your upcoming game would be the first-class product, there is still one tricky question left: How you are going to get players to your glorious game? Do you just put the game to the distribution and then wait for success? I would guess this method works only for the very few games (or alternatively you are a famous game industry veteran with solid fan base).

In most cases, getting large number of players for a game will require advertising and…

Game engines/frameworks

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Many things must be taken into account when starting new game project from the scratch. First of all, you have to decide what kind of a game you are planning and what would be the feasible target platform (or platforms) for that. You must understand the limitations of each platform, e.g. available screen resolutions, computing power, input devices, etc.

When target platform is decided, it is time to think about what development tools can be used for this project. There are plenty of tools available for hobby game developer and each of them has pros and cons. So it is sometimes bit hard to make selection, and in case of hobby developer the "zero budget" drives to use free (or very cheap) software.

I have tried at least following game engines or frameworks:
- Unity3D
- Blender Game Engine (BGE)
- GameMaker
- Adobe Flash (CS6)
- Löve2D
- Stencyl

Personnally, I want to promote the usage of open-source software. So my favorites from the list above are Blender and Löve2D. Unfortun…

Serious or not?

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It's been months since my latest post to this blog, even though I have done something related to game development too. My day job related to semiconductors keeps me busy at daytime (and sometimes evenings also). I have got new responsibilities and at the moment I am very happy to my job.

However, I started semi-seriously game development activities with my brother about 5 months ago. Our target was to learn how to develop and publish games, and even make some money besides that. To date, we have published seven small and simple flash games via Mochimedia (edit: Mochimedia does not exist anymore). 
I can honestly tell you that only 2-3 of our games meet the characteristics of proper game. Rest of them are more or less stupid demos, but almost all of them work as originally planned. Every game has been better than the previous one, both from technical and visual point of view. 
There has been thousands of players for our games, but still the ad revenue from Mochimedia's advertis…