Game jams are fun now. Looks like we’re cancelling a few things! #gamedev

Participating in the Guts for Glory Game Jam taught me a lot about small team game development, especially with regard to dedicating a lot of time to planning (though it saves time to multitask via simultaneously planning and working) as well as sticking to one development role if you can. These two things finally taught me why I haven’t had a lot of fun attending game jams in the past – I not only used to spend insufficient amounts of time being clear about communication and plans with team members, but also overloaded myself as an event planner responsible for the 15-45 jammers present, as an artist/musician/designer on a team, and as a project manager for a team. And when I did that, I had an experience worse than an uninspired 48 hours: I would constantly worry about finishing the project post-jam, expecting my teammates and I to bring something with a bad base to fruition.

I’ve lately been working on being a bit more realistic about projects and how to manage my time in their midst, including the task of officially dropping stagnant projects that were always on the back of my mind. “The Hallway Is Dark, And I Am Afraid” and “Crooked Missile” are two such projects.

The Hallway Is Dark, And I Am Afraid was fun and I’m proud of how much work I put towards it in such a small amount of time, but the project was super discouraging. There were so many things that Yori and I assumed were apparent when we first began to make it, but attempting to explain and show the project became so difficult; it was so hard to help people understand what was going on and why each thing happened the way it did. In addition to the straight up learning curve, there were so many fine-tuning issues with regard to gameplay and art knickknacks that would have taken so much work (and even more work after having implemented fixes for our communication flaws).

After Guts for Glory, I was inspired and came up with some fundamental gameplay fixes that would have allowed easier fixes to follow suit. I made two little slideshows to solve our “in between hallways” interface problem as well as the “this game is really hard because my memory isn’t THAT good” problem. Hard to explain, but click those links and know that the zoomy map in the first and the scrolling pseudo-item-collection mechanic in the second did not exist in our original build of the game. I knew that these fixes were big and that both Yori and I had kinda run out of steam just before our first falling out with the project, but I was also inspired by having come up with what I thought would fix the game. I was fine with either continuing or scrapping the project, and we ended up with the latter.

Then, there’s Crooked Missile, which goes off of a game idea that I’ve had for a little while. It’s a straight up shoot ’em up with one little twist – you are controlling a missile with a knocked-out targeting system, so you must play an ascending “ship” always traveling at a ≈15˚angle. Your movement controls are just right and left, as you’re forced to switch from a right-bearing course to a left-bearing course if the missile drifts too far and becomes threatened with collision.

There was a lot that I wanted to do with weird angular thinking and super thought-out enemies/bosses, but that was the problem: before approaching the team with the project, it wasn’t thought-out enough. To accent that disparity, we started in the midst of a game jam (which I was also busy hosting), which added a rushed “don’t plan, just make it in time!” feel even though we had no time limit. My lack of planning got us a few bare prototypes in, the project stagnated, and it’s been on the back of my mind until now, which marks its move to a cozy, out-of-the-way shelf space. I made some music and learned a lot from the experience at least, so I’m glad it happened.

Since learning a good amount about jams from Guts for Glory, I’ve been pursuing FiercePeg Shootout as a solo project via Fuck This Jam and have been actually making some progress, so I’m on another track to discovering myself as a game jam enthusiast. We’ll see where that ends up..!


Happy Fingers + PAX Prime

Pfwhoaman, I was working on this animation called “Happy Fingers” like two or three years ago. I just rediscovered it and the assets actually look really good. It was a funny project, too, but I was a dumbass and wanted to do a 20 second rotoscoped easter egg and the whole thing just kinda fell apart. I should finish what I had started… I think I have every single thing ready (even sound), but none of it’s assembled.

I AM going to PAX Prime this weekend, though. Gotta finish the PIGSquad @ PAX shirts, hopefully finish the fear-prompted game (working title is now “The Hallway Is Dark, And I Am Afraid”) that Yori and I are coming so close to completing, and get a little bit of promo stuff for Space Eulogy done so that I can refer people back here if they’re interested in what I’m working on. Looootsa stuff to do beforehand, but this weekend will be so fun (and I haven’t even had a chance to get stoked about what panels there are and such!).

Also just hosted a Game Jam and co-hosted a game tournament, proceeds of which go to OHSU cancer research. Had a great weekend, but it was supremely busy and this whole week will end up being the same way.

To arms!

We didn’t finish our Fear game on time, but we’re workin’ on it! #GJContest8

Turns out we weren’t able to finish our “Fear” prompted game in time for Game Jolt’s week-long game jam, but ah well! We got pretty far through and we’ll be finishing up, and this’ll give me the opportunity to give the game more monsters and stuff!

Not sure I’ve explained the entire premise yet, so hereitis: You’re a little boy who leaves his room in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. You take a flashlight with you because it’s all scary in the dark and your hallway is like a maze. You begin your turn by picking which hallway you wish to go through. After that, you walk through the hallway until approaching a household object’s silhouette. You have three seconds to decide whether it’s actually a household object (a potted plant in the above example) or if there’s enough of a variant to the silhouette to warrant your imagination running wild, causing the object to become a monster! If you decide that the silhouette looks warped enough to become a monster, you can flash your flashlight and reveal that it’s simply a household furnishing (using a bit of battery life). If you decide that the silhouette looks nonthreatening, you can choose to walk past it without revealing it. Depending on how the silhouette’s graphic varies from the silhouette of the plain, unmodified object, you have a greater or lesser chance of becoming scared and projecting a monster onto the object. If you don’t see a monster in the silhouette, you pass by unharmed; if you do imagine a monster from the silhouette, you must button-mash your way out of it or else lose more battery life and get sent back to your room. If you run out of battery life, you pee your pants and lose. If you make it to the bathroom, you win!

And thas that!

I’m happy that extending our project deadline (hopefully having it done by PAX) will give Yori the chance to really refine the code and myself the chance to really focus on music and add more monsters/silhouette variants for fun content variety and replay value. I’ve learned a lot about workflow having had the week-long deadline, though, and I really appreciate having had the opportunity to experience that. A few days ago, I worked on sprites all day, the day after I worked about half a day and then really felt like working on anything but the project, and then the day after that, we figured we wouldn’t be done in time for the contest deadline (yesterday at 9pm) and I took a step back in the middle of the above title screen. I don’t know if I need to pace myself by working day on/day off, or if it was Skyping with Yori that really helped me focus and get a lot done on that first all-day work day, but I have some ideas on how to better spend my time that I can explore as we finish up!

Hooray for smallish projects!

Moving along with our “Fear” videogame #GJContest8

As I mentioned earlier, a friend and I are working on a game for a gamedev competition.

I’ve been working all day on monsters, animations, and other important things (like the above superdope floral wallpaper that I’m so proud of). I’m excited because this will be the first videogame I will have actually finished – I’ve started a bunch and even have complete sprite sheets for some, but they’ve unfortunately never come to fruition. The above screenshot is especially cool because it looks so different from what each of these sprite elements look like on their own. Looking at a game in its entirety is so cool – the visual/auditory coordination seems impossible to pull off when you’re first starting to work.

Of course everything seems so doable when you’re conceptualizing and coming up with all of these great ideas. And said great ideas are totally doable if they’re worth pursuing, but once I draw a sprite with no shading in the midst of no background and without animation/audio context, everything looks dull and doodley (which is cool if that’s what you’re going for, but we’re going for “fear!”). I’m glad this week-long deadline is forcing me to work really hard and long at some of these things, because putting them all together in a tiny little sprite assembly like the one above is so worth it. When I’m animating the boy, I can get a great sense of who he is via how he moves, how he holds his flashlight, what he’s wearing (those lil floppy socks), etc. But when I see a screenshot like the one above, I get the big-picture interactive sensory overload that games are all about. And look at that; all of a sudden, we’re telling a story!

Here’re some little update screenshots I took periodically before completing what was necessary for the above picture. You see what I mean when I say that you’re just getting a one-sided story without much wholesome immersion.

…back to work! I might update one more time before we finish on Sunday evening!

Another busy PIGSquad month..!

Things will be ever so crazy these next two months. And they were crazy this past month! Our Skull Girls/Super Smash Bros. tournament at the 1.337 Geek Out @ Space Room anniversary party went super well, there was a really constructive Games for Change meeting and man, idk what else even happened.

But man, this month.

Started preproduciton on a collaborative animation project the other day (working with Matt Dan, the creator of Chef Antonio) – made an 8bit song and Matt made an animatic for us to start working with after I refine the song. We plan on using a bunch of different animation techniques in conjunction with a really crazy nonsensical series of events, and it’s gonna be fun. Betcha can’t guess what the below animatic screenshot is of.

In addition to THAT (aka animation [aka the most time consuming thing in the eververse]), there are wayyy too many cool PIGSquad things going on this month. There’s an Art/Code Night tonight, a general meeting on Sunday, a private screening of Indie Game: The Movie next Saturday, a Game Jam on the 25th and 26th at a venue I’ve never hosted at before, the Pwning Cancer videogame tournament/free play session in conjunction with the Hawthorne Street Fair RIGHT after the Jam at the same location, and then PAX the weekend after (which means I have to make shirts and business cards soooper soon). We’ve also gotta coordinate with the Portland Retro Gaming Expo for volunteers and the OMSI Mini Maker Faire for September. Probably doing most of that tonight. Shi’cray.

So yeah, lots of awesome stuff going on and I’m so glad to be a part of it, but MAN I’m gonna be stressed about not wanting to mess up any of this stuff. Y’know, just because the sheer number of things that I have the opportunity to mess up on. Ooo, I beat VVVVVV recently and messed up on getting 2 of the shinies. Don’t even know where they are. Gatdam.

In other news, the above picture expresses my current mood.

its my birthday animations

I can see what search terms people use before clicking on my blog, and an astounding amount are “its my birthday animations,” “Facebook birthday flash animation,” “flash animation for my birthday,” and the like. I thought, “hell naw, I’ll jist give ’em what dey wann!”

So here is what you want, searchers of Google:

So there you go, you birthday blog-clickers; no more looking at the post about my birthday that just HAPPENED to have animation in it. And the snowman one has nothing to do with birthdays. I was just thinking it’d be cool to animate a snowman sweating in the midst of a campfire.

Lots of PIGSquad news as of yesterday! GeekOutTourney/GGJ2013/Orycon/DK

Pfwhewph, a bunch of stuff is going on!

First off, I’ve been having some very interesting talks with people who are pursuing the prospect of hosting community art centers focusing on “younger” art (AKA all of the things that I do/love), including electronic music, videogame education, indie film stuff, zines/comics, etcetcetc. Met with a current leader of a Clackamas County arts organization to speak about some ideas, and I’m just finding that more and more people are in support (especially in light of Clackamas County budget cuts regarding art in schools paired with its lack of art/community centers in comparison to Multnomah County, the lack of leadership accountability in sooo many networking organizations that I’ve participated in and researched, and the time and place that we’re experiencing economy/technology/demographic-wise). I’m really excited to see where this talk goes when someone is ready to make a move – this idea has only been around in my head for the past two weeks, so I’m taking it slow and considering everything before jumping into anything.

In other news, I interacted with a whole bunch’a PIGSquad stuff yesterday. We connected with the founder of ChickTech to see how PIGSquad could help with regard to their women in technology workshop in January, spoke with DJ Switch of the Dangerous Kids Podcast to get in on hosting a videogame tournament at the 1.337 year anniversary of Geek Out @ The Space Room on July 27th, started talking about hosting Global Game Jam 2013 next year, and reserved a table at Oregon’s science fiction convention “Orycon” for November. tHaT iS a LoT oF sTuFf.

And speaking of Dangerous Kids, our member Rob was on their podcast the other night after speaking with them about his current podcast beta testing for a PIGSquad podcast! You can listen to the Dangerous Kids PIGSquad Cast here, and Rob’s PIGSquad PIGCast will be leaving beta in the coming months!

I also made these special little animations just for you. They love you so much!