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..!


A very merry PIGSquadsmas

Just posted the events that I’ll be hosting for the Portland Indie Game Squad‘s 2012 December!

First off, there’s our open-forum general meeting, at which attendees will be having in-person discussion about upcoming events, Global Game Jam 2013, our own projects, and anything else that needs to be brought up indie-games-wise.

The next evening, we’ll be having another boardgame night! Our first one was held last Monday, and everyone had a blast – about 25 people attended and brought about eight games in addition to the selection that The Side Door had already provided, there’s a great food and drink selection at the venue, and Mondays are dead so we almost had the place to ourselves! I also brought my first-person-shooter boardgame – FiercePeg Shootout – which I’ll be testing again at this upcoming boardgame night after having fixed a few mechanics from last week!

The Monday after, we’ll be revisiting The Side Door for our first ever half-jam! I had been considering whether December should entail a PIGSquad-hosted movie night, a pitch party, or a number of other evening-long events, but I was most excited by my idea of a half-jam, which is a scaled-down game jam where participants focus on concept work to bring a game’s basic structure to fruition, exploring gameplay mechanics, concept art, story, mood, scope, and marketing in a more rudimentary brainstorming setting, aiming to come up with a design document rather than a full game. It’ll be a lot less of a time investment, a lot less trouble for me to find a venue, and a lot less technical than a full-fledged jam, so I hope a lot of people of varying skill levels can make it and come up with some awesome game ideas!

See you soon, I guess ;D


But seriously, who has Swords & Soldiers?

I got the recent Humble Android Bundle after having seen screenshots from Swords & Soldiers and Avadon: The Black Fortress; I already had the games in the main bundle, but the expansion games actually got me this time…


I’m really stoked to continue playing both S&S and Avadon. Avadon was actually more the reason why I picked up the bundle because I’ve been absolutely aaaachhiiiinnnnggg for an isometric tactics game. I played that for about 10 minutes to get a taste, and I’m pretty stoked for it. It’s a super old-school, slow, atmospheric RPG that really reminds me of Icewind Dale 2. It’s interesting how even the interface and mechanics of games like Avadon and Icewind Dale can influence how I feel about the lore of an RPG… Can’t really describe it… After I get further into Avadon, I might be able to grasp it. I’m curious as to whether or not other people have this feeling.

But man. Swords & Soldiers. At times, it can be so racist, cheesy, and obnoxious, but I dig it despite those shortcomings. I mean, it’s hard not to get a little embarrassed when you send out a Chinese swordsman and he says “I have’a da sword” or “Ooooo, chap chap!” (“Ooooo chop chop”) or when you send out a Chinese Rocketeer and he has horrible giant teeth, but you get over it. I get it, the game is exploring ancient cultures (the three races are Viking, Aztec, and Chinese), but Chinese people still exist, so… that makes it weird.


BUT, I’m a total sucker for 2D real time strategy games after having played Epic War 3 a few years ago, and Swords & Soldiers makes some pretty cool strides for the genre. There’s a little bit of a goofy story to it, the campaign is pretty extensive, the animation is smooth, the races are balanced, the units have some cool mechanics associated with them, and there’s MULTIPLAYER. I’ve been pumped full of ideas for an even more extensive real time strategy sidescroller that I’d love to make in the future, but in the meantime I’ve been learning the tricks that’ll get me with the top ten players on the leaderboards ;D For realziez, if you have this game (and you should since you should have gotten the Humble Bundle), add me so that we can play against each other. Comment on this post, add me via username “scartheatre,” e-mail me – anything. It’s fun!


FiercePeg Shootout Rulebook

I finally have the full version one of FiercePeg Shootout up on the Fuck This Jam site!

FiercePeg Shootout

After a few weeks of getting caught up on some other stuff and even getting a chance to playtest FiercePeg Shootout, version one is online in its entirety, cards and all! The last night of the jam, I only had time to type the rulebook and slap it up real quick, but I was able to get a good formatted version of a cards document done and attached today, so now people playing elsewhere have access to the full game minus an immediate board!

I hosted a playtest amongst PIGSquad members at The Side Door on the third Monday of last month, learning a lot about some balance issues including how difficult it is to kill your opponent and how hard it can be to get a flag to spawn. I’ll have version two ready to playtest (as well as online) next week! I feel that the upcoming fixes will be the only huge fundamental backpedaling I’ll be doing for awhile; additional versions of the nearer future will have a lot more to do with adding more of a variety of cards, different types of cards, and maybe implementing a bit of art and story. I’m going to make sure there’s lots of polish before crafting new gameplay modes or adding additional players!

Check to see if there’s a newer version here! Otherwise, if you want to download the rulebook and read a bit of it over, you may do so by clicking here; I’d really appreciate it! I feel that it’s a pretty unique game and that the cards can give you an even more unique way to play turn by turn. Let me know what you think, as well – I’m anxious for feedback!

——The above is an update from 11/30/12. The below is the original blog post from 11/17/12——
Heyo! Just finishing up the rulebook for my Fuck This Jam game “FiercePeg Shootout,” and I need something to link to after I’m able to typeset all of the game’s cards!

The rulebook and game cards will be available via this blog post in the future, but, for now, I’m madly trying to upload the rulebook before the game jam’s 6pm deadline (it’s 5:45pm)!

Hoo hah!


Fuck This Jam: Let’s Go!

Fuck This Jam is a jam centered around the theme of making a game in a genre you hate. Through utter ignorance for conventions and hate for the established rules of a genre, beautiful things will happen.” Been thinking about doing this for awhile. I was super busy organizing things for the Guts for Glory Game Jam and Orycon and thought I might not be able to do it, but that prompt is bitchin’ and I’m more down than ever.

Currently working on mechanics for a first person shooter boardgame. I don’t hate the FPS genre, but I can never get good because of the people that dump so much time into it (knowing everything about the map, about the guns, about a n00b’s typical behavior, etc.). It’s also not a genre that’s especially interesting to me, so I don’t know if I’ll ever get good. I’m realizing now that I’m actually kinda sad that it’s the predominant multiplayer genre.

SO, let’s eradicate that! The premise of this boardgame will be that one must use pure reaction and more widespread reflexes to shoot enemies. Widespread as in using their body’s reactionary abilities from their fingertips to their shoulders.


Working on a peg board (kind of like Battleship) with different colored pegs – colors for enemies, different types of supplies, random special supplies, “nothing,” etc. Player 1 arranges these pegs on the board in any fashion they please while Player 2 is not allowed to look (perhaps working on their own peg board). When Player 1 is done, they place the peg board in front of Player 2, whose eyes are still closed. When Player 2 hears “go,” they have four seconds (arbitrary number so far) to place caps on all of the enemy pegs and remove as many supply pegs as they can. At the end of the four seconds, it’s hands off; any remaining enemies deal damage to them, and any leftover supply pegs are unavailable. That’s the very general premise, at least. I still have to work out a goal/map system, I have some card ideas for random draws as the “special supplies,” and there are some numbers that need to be set.

But damn, I’m excited. This all began last night and ends on the 17th, so I have time to make a nice pegboard (and show it off at an upcoming PIGSquad boardgame night), document my process with video, and get a bit of playtesting in. If this sounds stupid, comment telling me why – otherwise, follow my immediate progress on Twitter, keep coming back to this site for more expanded documentation, and keep watch for my “making of” and “learn to play” videos on YouTube!


Kids these days.

So I’m still at Orycon 34, and hot damn lil kids are encouraging!

With regards to the Eulogy concept animation slideshow I’m running, I’ve heard “I wanna play this game,” “when will this be a game?,” and “what is this?” plus some ‘ol awe and wonder. When I was first interested in getting people to play the games I still had yet to make, I considered younger demographics paired with “daaaamn, but kids don’ have no moneys.” After those kinds of considerations, I got into actually developing games while keeping marketability in mind, but being around other developers and becoming enveloped in the indie game community has totally changed my outlook on people. I mean, I hang out with way different groups of people, carry out regular conversation differently, and have different relationships with family after having undergone a big bout of interest in the indie game community. It’s just another focus that’s changed my outlook on things.

So, with all of this consideration towards the indie game community – therefore not mainstream players and not younger children – I had kinda lost sight of kids as a demographic. Which is stupid. I mean, kids around 12 and under are easily entertained while still really smart, they’re young enough to trust the game world you’ve created without being too cynical or actively critique-oriented, and they’re willing to keep trying and keep learning. I’ve personally picked up sooooo much from having played games as a child, including vocabulary, inside jokes, ideas, and so many different intuitions and other subconscious… things… It’d be so sick to be responsible for siblings’ inside jokes by having made a game they played together as children or have a kid like your character so much that they drew fan art. And, taking it a step further, what about working other kinds of learning into a game? And what if working really hard to achieve that happy medium is the way to entertain a child, then warrant that a parent buys the game for them? This schtuff’s probably been explored and outlined countless times before, but its importance is really starting to dawn on me.


As game developers now, we could help influence a whole new generation of players if our reach becomes great enough. And if that influence can be reciprocated, developers will know their work is enjoyed. Such an exciting prospect, but damn, reachin’ that reach is a tough one. So we got 1) make game 2) make game entertaining 3) make game influential 4) make game reach other people 5) make game reach the right people 6) make game enthusiasts tell you want they want 7) make game into what enthusiasts want 8) probably some other stuff 9) repeat.

Whoof, exciting stuff.


Guts for Glorycon

THIS IS WILL LEWIS REPORTING FROM ORYCON 34 AND I’M HERE AND YEAH YEAH YEAH.


We’re at “Oregon’s Premiere Sci-Fi Convention” with PIGSquad showing off a couple’a projects and having a good ol’ time. We’ve got Eulogy, Rubicon, Mansfield’s Manor, Meta, some prototypes and info on display all weekend; things are going well. I’ve found that kids are the most encouraging at things like this, and they’re really doing well to get gamedevs in gear to consider what their projects need and to admire what they’ve done. A little 4-year-old boy stared at some Eulogy animation loops I had on display for about 5 minutes, smiling and daydreaming. SOYEAH THAT’S GOING WELL.


We also experienced success at the Guts for Glory Game Jam two weekends ago – we worked on the prototype for a resource management game that places the player in the shoes of a community organizer who must manage volunteers, money, and surrounding areas’ enthusiasm regarding the topic of organ donation (since our game is being created for Donate Life Northwest). It’s turn-based with the goal of reducing the organ recipient waiting list to zero, heavily relying on the strategy involved with managing your resources as well as educating the player about the topic from a real-world standpoint as players are exposed to information when training their in-game volunteers. We got pretty far and have some pretty good goals laid out; I was so happy to participate in a jam solely as a project manager (rather than a combination of a couple of different jobs) because I actually got something done. Now, we’re continuing work post-jam to develop a playable demo for Donate Life Northwest, and we’re aiming to have the demo completed by the end of the month!

Regarding other projects, I’ve finally developed a schedule for myself that actually encourages me to get stuff done, so I really feel like I’m on track to make some progress on numerous projects. IT’S SO EXCITING. Look out for some Mother 3 wallpapers, game news, STTG stuff, and other things. I’m, like, goin’ for it.