09 Apr

NewbQuest Ep. 6: Steve Swink, Game Designer of Scale

In this episode I interviewed Steve Swink who is currently working on a game called Scale. Steve is a game designer, author and teacher whose thinking I respect very much. Having taught, written and made games Steve offers a unique perspective which encompasses both the academic and applied views of game design and combines formal rigor with practical, down to earth application. His book Game Feel provides an excellent examination of this often casually applied term including breaking down elements of interactive experience like frame rate and it’s relationship to how responsive a game feels in granular detail.

Steve’s current project is called Scale and it’s a game in which the player can make objects in the world larger and smaller to solve puzzles. Imagine scaling up a vending machine so you could crawl inside it and pull out what you need and you’ll get a bit of an idea of some of the experiences possible. It was a great pleasure to speak with Steve and I hope that you enjoy listening in.

You can subscribe and download the show via iTunes, and if you do I’d love it if you had time to leave an honest review.

You can also check out the show via the NewbQuest YouTube channel, if you prefer that format. If you do I’d appreciate if you’d subscribe or leave a comment over there.

08 Aug

NewbQuest Ep. 5: Kellee Santiago of OUYA, thatgamecompany

In this episode I interviewed Kellee Santiago, now of micro-console OUYA, formerly of thatgamecompany.  Kellee’s work with thatgamecompany along with her public thought has been a real inspiration to me in thinking about the potential of games as a medium. Her emphasis on creating aesthetically beautiful, welcoming and generous experiences at thatgamecompany with Jenova Chen really felt like something fresh and unique in the field of gaming and make a powerful concrete case for an inclusive and broad vision of what games can be and who they can appeal to.  The fact that her most well known titles Fl0w, Flower and Journey broke out of the indie / art game ghetto and were made in partnership with Sony for the consumer oriented Playstation and the broad audience that represents still amazes me.

Today Kellee has joined the team at OUYA, the company behind the Kickstarter funded living room console with an overtly democratic and indie friendly message. This seems a natural fit considering her emphasis on broadening the scope of the video game medium and her work producing, leading and organizing at thatgamecompany.  She’s been involved in bringing some very intriguing titles to the OUYA platform, including That Dragon Cancer a game which portrays a family in their fight with their child’s cancer diagnosis. I really enjoyed speaking with her and I hope you enjoy listening in.

You can subscribe and download the show via iTunes, and if you do I’d love it if you had time to leave an honest review.

You can also check out the show via the NewbQuest YouTube channel, if you prefer that format. If you do I’d appreciate if you’d subscribe or leave a comment over there.

You can find Kellee Santiago at her website, on Twitter at @kelleesan and follow her work at OUYA at the OUYA developers portal.

 

 

13 Jun

NewbQuest Ep.4: Richard Flanagan, Game Designer of Fract OSC

In this episode we interview game designer Richard Flanagan who is a member of the team who created FRACT OSC.  FRACT is a musical puzzle exploration game for Mac and PC. FRACT is best imagined by asking: what if Myst and Tron had a baby that was a giant synthesizer you could wander around in? If that sounds awesome to you, you’ll really enjoy it.

For those interested in music and sound technology, particularly real time synthesis, the project is very interesting.  The musical puzzles in the game combine pre-recorded music tracks with real time subtractive synthesizer sounds powered by Miller S. Puckette’s Pure Data (or PD) sound generation environment.  This is an area of real time sound and music generation that I’ve been very interested to see pursued further in games and so was delighted to talk to Richard about it, along with the larger process of developing FRACT OSC.


You can subscribe and download the show via iTunes, and if you do I’d love it if you had time to leave an honest review.

You can also check out the show via the NewbQuest YouTube channel, if you prefer that format. If you do I’d appreciate if you’d subscribe or leave a comment over there.

 

To learn more about Richard Flanagan and FRACT OSC head over to FractGame.com.  If you enjoyed the interview the best way to support him and his team is to buy the game on steam.

05 Jun

Pollen DevLog 2: Clouds, New Enemy Spawning, Sounds

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Pollen is a game project I’m working on in Unity, it’s basically my first game and I’ve been working on it part time since October 2013 while teaching myself programming and game design fundamentals.  I’m calling it a low poly butterfly action rogue-like like.  It’s probably more ambitious of a project than I should have attempted as a first real thing but I am nothing if not ambitious.  It’s been slow but I’ve also been teaching myself a lot of stuff in the process. It’s been deliciously fun.  In this devblog I demonstrated my new sound effects, new clouds and new dragonfly enemy type.  This is a short devblog where I show some gameplay and explain the latest stuff I’ve done.

05 Jun

NewbQuest Ep.2: Shawn Allen, Game Designer and Artist for Treachery in BeatDown City

 

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In this episode we interview indie game developer Shawn Allen who is working on Treachery in Beatdown City, a side scrolling beat ’em up with RPG elements  which just successfully funded on Kickstarter. We talk about being an indie developer, the Kickstarter process and making art for games.

The Kickstarter video for the recently funded campaign is a great intro to Shawn and his world:

 

 

In our interview we had a great conversation about his choices for an 8-bit, retro art style along with ways he was trying to work within that convention to create something new, the challenges of the indie lifestyle, creating a game targeting Playstation and working with Sony, collaborating with artists, musicians and coders and much more.

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You can subscribe and download the show via iTunes, and if you do I’d love it if you had time to leave an honest review. Note: right now the show hasn’t appeared in the iTunes directory, for now use this link to subscribe.

 

You can also check out the show via the NewbQuest YouTube channel, if you prefer that format. If you do I’d appreciate if you’d subscribe or leave a comment over there.

To learn more about Shawn Allen and his game Treachery in Beatdown City you can head over to www.beatdowncity.com and you can follow Shawn on Twitter at @anuchallenger

Thanks again to Shawn for taking the time to come on and talk, and to you for checking out the blog and the show!

05 Jun

NewbQuest Ep. 1: Interview with Noel Berry, Game Designer and Developer of Skytorn

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In this first episode of the brand new NewbQuest podcast I sat down with Noel Berry, who is the game designer and lead programmer on Skytorn.

Skytorn is a procedurally generated action adventure game, set in the ruins of a fallen world.

“Centuries after a mysterious cataclysm tore the world apart, humans have taken to the skies – ferrying their kin in airships, searching the remains for artifacts and survivors. Explorer Aiva ventures out on her first dive, landing on an uncharted island. Alone and armed only with a shovel, she is determined to carve her own path.”

  • Plummet through the clouds towards unique unexplored islands.
  • Observe, hunt or protect strange wildlife.
  • Converse with cryptic strangers.
  • Fend off predatory creatures with your trusty shovel.
  • Uncover ancient structures filled with secrets.
  • Challenge towering monsters to deadly combat.
  • Use the dynamic environment in creative ways to survive.

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We had a great conversation about Skytorn, game development in general and Noel offered some really helpful advice for those of us who are starting out in the process.  A few topics we discussed include:

  • Are Flash games still a useful place to enter game development and try to monetize?
  • What tools should you use if you’re new to game development?
  • Is participating in game jams a good way to get started as an indie developer?

You can subscribe to the show via iTunes as a podcast, and if you choose to do so we’d love it if you’d subscribe and leave us a review.

You can also watch the video of the interview via our YouTube page and if that’s your preferred format we’d appreciate if you could like, subscribe or comment over there.  Somehow I only recorded Noel’s camera for the video, which is a little weird. Whoops! Still working out the bugs, but the show must go on.

I’d just like to offer a big thanks to Noel for taking some time to come on the show and to you for checking it out!

To learn more about Noel you can check him out at his website, for more on Skytorn you can head to it’s official site and to follow Noel on twitter you can head here.

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11 Mar

Obsessive Compulsive Development Talk

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Just watched a really good talk from Matt Gilgenbach of 24 Caret games about the struggles and mistakes he made during the development of his game Retro/Grade.  It’s a really emotionally raw and honest talk about a series of bad decisions he and his partner made in terms of investing way too much time in things that didn’t ultimately result in the success of his game.

I think there are some really useful lessons for new developers here even if his is not a new developer story. Here are a few takeaways I got from it:

1) Play Where You Can Win: as a small indie studio trying to compete on things like 3D rendering quality against AAA studios is a losing battle. Choose an art style where you can do something expressive and polished within your resources.

2) Set a Deadline: Gilgenbach describes a circular loop they fell into of being afraid to ship since they’d spent so much time, which caused them to invest more time (and money). Choose a date or other trigger that will force you to call the product good enough, not keep tweaking and adding endlessly.

3) Focus on Saleable Features: This is a bit of a hard one but important I think.  Technical features like frame rate and resolution help sell games but they are secondary. It’s more important to invest energy into features that are easy to communicate to the player like: “You can turn into a badass dragon and fly around burning stuff!” Not: “We created a modular re-usable game engine for all our future games!”

I highly recommend this talk and want to offer my thanks to Matt Gilgenbach for being so open, honest and vulnerable in sharing this valuable information. Talking about painful experiences like this takes courage, especially in such a public platform.

Check out the talk here for free from GDC Vault, and check out Retro/Grade on steam here.

26 Oct

Butterfly Dev Blog 4: Shields and Ammo

In this update I added a shield system where you press and hold a key to spawn a shield around you which blocks projectiles.  The shield has a ‘capacity’ resource which runs down the longer you hold it. When it runs out the shield stops working. When you release the key, the shield will recharge and fill back up in between engagements. I also added an ammo function which tracks how many missiles you are allowed to fire and disables the firing capability when you run out.  For me both of these tweaks are an attempt to add more frequent and relevant decision making to the game. I want the player to be having to make as many decisions as possible over the course of the game and so am trying to add mechanics which force them to consider their next action, even if they are doing so very quickly.  The balance between something fast paced and strategic is interesting to me and something I’m hoping to explore further as I go.