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

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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.


September is/was a busy one..!

Phfewew! That is the sound I will make come October first. The third sentence of next month’s Portland Indie Game Squad invite reads, “At this meeting, we’ll be revisiting PIGSquad’s September activities, including the OMSI Mini Maker Faire, XOXO Arcade, the recent Jane McGonigal lecture, the Mechlo/Tonight We Launch chiptune show, the September Art/Code Night, and the Portland Retro Gaming Expo!” That is a lot of stuff for one month.

S’been great, though! Many positive experiences. XOXO Arcade put me in touch with a few indies and their awesomely elusive traveling games (play Joust, BaraBariBall, or Nidhogg if you ever get the chance, as it will probably be the first/last time they’ll even be available for you to play). Disasterpeace performed that evening and we were able to hang out at the arcade afterwards.

That was the same weekend as the OMSI Mini Maker Faire, where PIGSquad had a table featuring numerous members’ projects. We were written up by Geek Dad here and were able to generate lots of interest for local games, chiptune music, games education, and Yono – a collaborative pixel art project currently in its Kickstarter phase! My personal favorite part of the exhibition was PIGSquad’s make-your-own trading cards, which ended up being hilariousss. The event as a whole also went much better than any other exhibition I’ve ever planned; it was a phenomenal experience to work with such organized, enthusiastic, and responsible members. We were pitching each others’ projects, had a great looking setup, and managed to provide something for everyone. Great experience.


And from that, we march forward to the Portland Retro Gaming Expo this coming weekend after a PIGSquad Art/Code Night, where we have more games and game-related projects to show off to a more focused crowd. Got a banner on order and contingency plans at the ready after having experienced our weekend at the OMSI Mini Maker Faire; we’re gonna fly through this one (NOTE: JOKE. WHEN PIGS FLY. Y’KNOW?).

Just uploaded some great chiptune stuff from the Chipworm Birthday House Show this past weekend onto YouTube as well. Watch the below video and click on the YouTube link for two more performances on my channel!

Soyah, damn. Lots of stuff going on; next month seems like it’ll be slow in comparison, though we’re planning a Game Jam and panel discussion that will fit into each other and launch a greater effort to support the game development movement here in Portland. Talkin’ big stuff. I’ll be glad to isolate something like that and sanction it to its own month.

Phfewew.


Working on Space Eulogy + mAnY tHiNgS

I think it’s about time to essplain via Bloggy McBloggerson what my Space Funeral-related project is.

I’m developing Space Eulogy, the JRPG prequel to Space Funeral. I received permission from thecatamites to produce the game about a year ago after having played SF, the style of which I fell in love with and the story of which inspired me to expand on the canon. If you want to read about how the story pans out and stuff (and be a super dumby boring-head), I wrote a wiki so that I wouldn’t have to explain plot elements to other people who are working on it.

I started/finished that wiki up the day of a PIGSquad Art/Code Night that I hosted last week at the NW Lucky Lab, and I’ve been trying my best to complete certain other aspects of pre-dev stuff day by day. So far, after having worked out the basic plot, central characters, and the central characters’ backstories, I have a few non-pivotal characters mapped out and some more gameplayish stuff laid down. The party members all have at least three classes to choose from (the character “Mmm” has five), there are approximately 55 enemies and 12 bosses that I’ve divided into 14 leveling tiers, and Donny and I have defined quite a few gameplay elements regarding stats/level caps/encounter frequency/etc.

Regarding the team so far, I’ll be doing the main project development, writing, art for the prologue, and art for battle scenes; Donny will be doing stats and battle design; Jamey will be coding; and Wolfgang will be doing tile and NPC art. I’m excited to start working with everyone else soon (hopefully in the beginning of March), and I’m glad that the wiki’s all laid out beforehand.

With regard to MaNy ThInGs, I’ve been busy and worried and stressed and enjoying myself and all’a that over the past few weeks. The Lucky Lab meetup was fun/relaxing/helpful after having experienced a fairly depressing PDXFC meeting, where we explored some of the more hopeless corners of short film distribution (which has become our topic of the month as a result). There’re also quite a few big events coming up, such as this month’s chiptune show, Barcamp at the end of March, our hosting the Indie Game: The Movie screening, ‘n all that. I’ve decided to make my series “So There’s This Game” a Thursday-ly thing due to these commitments and other reasons, such as the fact that I’m going to burn myself out with zero audience if I do something like that twice a week.

Oh, but speaking of the CHIPTUNE SHOW, it’s THIS FRIDAY and it’ll be REALLY FUN. HAGEN made a REALLY COOL POSTER for the EVENT.


I’m done.


Global Game Jam 2012

I hosted Global Game Jam 2012 this past weekend! The event entails a race against a 48-hour clock, where teams of game developers must make a game based on a universal theme by the end of the period. This one’s “global” because 11,247 people participated in 244 locations around the world on the same weekend and following the same prompt! Our local Portland event hosted 41 participants, who formed 9 teams and created 6 playable games! Everyone had a great time, as is expected (/required) of any Jam, and I’m looking forward to GGJ13 as well as a Portland Indie Game Jam I hope to host in April!

The weekend went as follows:

  • Introductions/Icebreaker Activity/Team Formation/Keynote Video
  • Prompt Delivery
  • Brainstorming/Concept
  • Design
  • Playable Version
  • Polish
  • Upload

The later steps had recommended deadlines, which all of the teams more or less followed, but everyone had to go through a similar process to be able to get a cohesive, complete, and working game by the end of these 48 hours of madness (which was honestly cut a bit short due to my being late and the IGDA’s requirement that people upload a bit earlier).

The prompt ^^^

An interpretation of the prompt ^^^ (thumbs fucking up)

My personal experience of the Jam was great. The past month or so was a little cray because I had to do my best to pump us up to our 50 person capacity, coordinate building dealz with the Art Institute and volunteers with the ACM SIGGRAPH, and sift through not-so-efficient communication methods that were provided by the International Game Developers Association, but everything worked out very well during the actual event. I guess my only huge complaint about that last ordeal was the promise that GGJ hosts would receive the keynote video as well as the prompt the Sunday before the Jam (five days), and, after frantically searching for it in the organization’s communication board, I realized it hadn’t even been sent out until 10:30pm the night before. So that was a relief.

But yeah, what a great weekend. I always get super inspired when I’m around a large group of people who pride themselves in creativity and problem solving, and I was completely immersed in these great minds’ entire weekend – a few people asked me about what I actually did, since I wasn’t allowed to make a game due to seeing the prompt ahead of time, and I had ended up just walking around and hanging out with teams the whole time (minus a few alonetimes on the intarwebs). By the time I had spent 15 minutes with each team, it had been an hour and a half since visiting the first one, so I’d start the cycle over again. It was so great to see art, gameplay, code, music, teams, and ideas grow, and knowing that at least 20 people were awake and working at any given time makes a Jam like this so communal and enveloping. I can’t wait for some of my other projects to start getting off the ground, because working with some of these people is half the fun.

So there’s having a good time with everyone, getting swarmed with ideas, and having had the honor to host the Global Gatdam Game Jam, but I honestly couldn’t really name any special milestones that happened at any specific time… I know I cheated and got six hours of sleep on the first “night” and four on the second, I beat my high score in Super Crate Box, we went out for sushi after everything was over, one team fell apart/tears fell hard/they got back together and made a game, SIGGRAPH came in for interviews and brought food, I had a great idea for a video blog, I worked on some Space Eulogy stuff, we went out for pizza at one point, a game developer from Norway stopped by, and… some other stuff. I’m not necessarily sure as to the order in which this took place, but here’s to Game Jams!


Please click on some of the image links to see what they’re all about! You can also view all of the game projects produced at the Portland site by looking under “Game Projects” on the right-hand side of our site’s page, and we’ll be hosting an official, open-to-the-public post-mortem event at the Art Institute sometime in the near future. Show these games some love!


January 2012 PIGSquad Meeting

Quick post before bed. The PIGSquad meeting to precede the fast upcoming Global Game Jam 2012 had much to do with this weekend – we had quite a few new people show up to the meeting to ask about some Jam logistics, and I got some great feedback. Members are very interested in having suggested deadlines for the event, I was told to look out for data loss issues on the Art Institute’s computers, and there was a good point brought up about the resources necessary for the brainstorming portion of the first night (I’m not sure there’s as much whiteboard space as there was at the Halloween PIGJam). As of RIGHT NOW, there are 51 Jammers registered, and I have yet to make the suggested schedule for the weekend, solidify ideas for icebreaker activities at the beginning of the night, coordinate food help, figure out the keynote video, and figure out the upload process. Oof.

In other news, I’ve been making great progress on the Space Funeral project, and I still need to report in on how the Failsafe Moving Party went, which was held the same night as THIS VERY PIGSQUAD MEETING (dun dun DUN). More to come lata, I g2g2sleep.


I had an argument with myself.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m pursuing a project revolving around thecatamites’s Space Funeral, and I’m getting closer and closer to making some significant moves on it. Recently, I’ve been having conversations with my friend about what the game will mean in relation to Funeral and how the gameplay will affect that meaning. Here’s an unedited e-mail I sent to him in which I argue with myself over how we should handle the game’s difficulty. I dunno. I thought it might be significant or something.

——————————

Yeah, it seems that the big conversation is whether or not the game should be as easy as Funeral… Here’s my story, at least:
When I first played Funeral, I was enthralled just in general and personally wanted it to be “my kind of RPG,” which is something a little more extensive in its difficulty among other things. That’s why I wanted the game to be a little more difficult. But, at the same time, I’ve done soooo much research on thecatamites (the original developer) and his fans, and there are quite a few mentions of the ease of the game being a part of its charm. SO, the crappiness of some aspects of the game both contributes to its fan base as well as to its lack of an audience in some cases. I was personally intellectually provoked by the game, which is why I’m interested in recreating it for the purpose of expanding on a great series of themes introduced in the original. I haven’t seen this perspective much in my research of fans – the City of Forms and its story wasn’t a dealbreaker for most people, though it was for me. For most fans (and anti-fans, if that’s even a word), the game was either great because it was so horrible (the art, the gameplay, the cohesiveness of the story), or horrible because people weren’t looking for horrible.

I guess, then, my main focus in bringing Eulogy to life is capitalizing on an explanation behind the City of Forms, retaining Funeral’s crazy/bizarre environment and sense of humor (in the art, music, dialogue/text), and asserting “my kind of RPG.” Does gameplay necessarily have to be considered in regards to “charm” if those are my goals? In other words, would it be appropriate for Space Eulogy as a prequel to explain the City of Forms, be crazy, and be semi-traditional in it’s gameplay?

At the moment, I say yes. Regardless of Eulogy’s demographic, the game could still present a very similar atmosphere to Funeral, even if it were moderately difficult, more (but not fully) explanatory, and organized by me. I mean, one of the entire points of Space Eulogy itself is that it’s full of similarities and differences. I feel that that’s the thematic purpose of the game. It’s Stephen and Shultz and you and I and and Phillip and Ruth White and Firth and a Mome Beast.

And it’s a passion project, as well. No money will be made, and we’re doing it because we love it. I want you to have as much fun designing your side as I do mine. It’ll be “marketed,” because I’m not a believer in making things just for myself to look at, and I’d hope that people would enjoy it, but I wouldn’t be upset if it was a “failure” because it was too different from the original. That’s how Stephen did it. Future, more commercially-oriented stuff will be showcased to a different crowd anyways; I can’t see rep destruction coming out of a passion project created with inspiration from a passion project.

Whew. That being said, what do YOU want the battle system to be like? I’m leaning towards something not as easy as the original Pokemons, but not as difficult as DWIII – I personally want the difficulty very accessible and familiar, but I also want people to get pissed off at boss fights at times (which is something people are familiar with, actually) and see some things that they’ve never seen before (such as the Mystery command, the class choices, and having trouble deciphering some items’ functions via MYSTERY). It’s honestly much more about the atmosphere and the ideas, but mixing familiarity and uniqueness together in the battle system will encourage people to want to know where this atmosphere is leading them.

WHAT SAY YOU?