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!


PAX Prime 2012

Man, PAX was a blast this year. I met so many great people, there were about 25 PIGSquad members present, I was actually super excited for some upcoming games thanks to the Megabooth, and I’m just all-around so encouraged by the international indie community and its patrons.

Now that I’m back in Portland, I’m having a hard time emulating that enthusiasm because this area has its work cut out for it. I don’t know what it’s like in Austin, Seattle, San Fran, New York, or other gamedev communities in the states or worldwide because I haven’t spent a worthy amount of time in those environments, but man, it’s been so weird to completely immerse myself in the thing I love most and then go back to a place where people couldn’t care less about game development, aren’t as enthusiastic about the medium but still name it their primary interest, or try to humor me without realizing the massive amounts of enthusiasm that keep people going in the scene. I felt so at home this past weekend, and I really want to create a similarly welcoming environment in Portland so that home isn’t impossible to achieve. And I feel that people with similar amounts of enthusiasm experience what I do upon returning to their more developed game communities even, which I guess is the long way of saying that moving is dumb and that I’m not going to do it.

ThAt BeInG sAiD/lOnG sToRy ShOrT, it’s weird to come home to worrisome things happening with regard to events like XOXO Arcade, the OMSI Mini Maker Faire (which you should go to), and a general PIGSquad meeting after having had a perfectly executed – and in some cases, serendipitous – weekend in the midst of so many awesome people and projects. That just sets a standard, though, and I’m in it for the long haul!

So dang, lots of cool stuff happened. The above is a group photo which a surprising amount of people made it to despite so many panels, tournaments, and dinner timez taking place then; you can see that a whole bunch of people wore the PIGSquad @ PAX 2012 shirt, which is awesome! I think everyone had a great time, and there were many reports of people asking about the group. I spoke with numerous developers and community organizers in Seattle who were interested in collaborating on “local” northwest events, which is great because I want to hop in at every turn! Also got to talk to some people about the details involved in volunteering/attending GDC and other conventions of a similar PAX-ilk, so I’ll be capitalizing on those opportunities when they arise, too!

Also finally got to meet Ashley Zeldin and John Nesky in person! I had been speaking with John for awhile regarding a Beep Box-related project and met Ashley through him, following their Game Jam games and IGDA endeavors since on Twitter and via other means. They’re so so great, and Ashley helped inspire me to look into the idea of hosting a panel on community organizing next year at PAX (which I believe the convention sorely needs)! Can’t wait until we can hang out next, and we’re already talking about ways to help each other promote projects like PIGSquad, Beep Box, games, and more..!

Had the pleasure of meeting developers from Octodad, Spry fox, Bootsnake, Mojang, and Vlambeer as well! Most everyone was super nice and wanted to talk about their games, which is great, because I had a lot to tell them! I’d have to say that I’m most excited for LUFTRAUSER and Leap Day; two beautiful (and totally different) games that are right up my alley. Look into them when you get the chance; they’re the first games that’ve gotten me excited to sit down and play something in awhile!

So yeah, that’s a sum up of my PAX. A super great time leaving me lusting for more upon returning home. But that’s good; I’m stoked to play the networking game (hate that word, though), am realizing lots about how to best help local devs and support our own community, have lots of people to call on for advice/help/collaboration, witnessed a huge boost in motivation to continue work on my own games, and gained a more positive outlook on the future of my personal interactions with game developers, game communities, and even non-game entities.

Here’s to friends, storytelling, and feeling at home!

Off to PAX

I’m off to PAX Prime for the weekend! Super excited!

If you come here to scartheatre.com after having met me at Prime, thanks so much for visiting my site! I’ve got three fun upcoming projects, so please subscribe and/or check back to receive updates! They are:

  • September 2012 – The Hallway Is Dark, And I Am Afraid; a Flash matching-esque game about a boy projecting monsters onto the silhouettes of common household furnishings on his way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
  • December 2012 – DanceNES; an application made for the purpose of live visuals at shows, including videogamey sprites/ references and other animations.
  • January 2013 – Space Eulogy; the prequel to the strange JRPG “Space Funeral.”

Updates when I get back! See you at PAX!

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!