Friday, January 31, 2014

Getting Stuck In !

My, hasn't January just flown by ? It only seems like yesterday since typing up the last post ! Well, over the past few weeks I have been getting stuck into starting and prepping for some some of the goals I mentioned last year. Bugsy has now been titled as " Bugsy - Reloaded ". The mini-game has been titled as " React " and " Barriers " is still awaiting a dust off continuing from where I left off. You'll be pleased to know, that I have also played a few games this month as well. So, here's what I have been up to this month ...

Bugsy - Reloaded ::
An almost final set of sprites and object for the main character, Bugsy has been designed with a few extra interactive sprites and objects, such as a Coin and some background tiles. I have almost perfected the movement for Bugsy, even though jumping is a little tight in places. Each week, mostly during a weekend, I have tried to revamp some of the original sprites from Bugsy. This has been quite an enjoyable job and forecasting much further down the road of this project, I can see pleasing results.

As I do a task, I have been keeping a note in a mini gamedev diary. It is more like a one line entry per project and task. Over time, it should prove to be an interesting read, just to see how much much has been done and what challenges were encountered at that time. I will post this every now and then, just to give a flavour of my work pattern.

React ( mini-game ) ::
Yes ! The mini-game has a title and I have at least sourced a font for it. Previous and future fonts will be used from the Ultimate Font website. The 10,000 fonts are licensed from the font designers and can be used in free or commercial projects. I always try and credit any sourced material, as a matter of courtesy.

Barriers ::
We are still in hiatus mode with this project. I need to investigate more about using arrays, as the first sub-part of the game uses this method. It's a bit like a memory section, rather like the Simon game. Instead of having to press the buttons that light up in a certain order, you have to do a different sequenced task.

This game was initially designed for touch screen devices, but will be fully interactive via mouse and touchpad on Laptop and PC's. It will be available on Mac, Ubuntu and Windows for the moment. I really like the menu system and style, it is both clean and functional. Some features aren't working at the moment, but soon will be !

Games Played in January ...
Around gamedev time, I have been playing a few games as well. During the weekends mostly and on several platforms. The longest period of time so far, is two hours ! I really got lost in the moment, but enjoyed every moment of it. Here are the games that I have been playing in January ...

Fez ( PC ) ::
I first bought this on Xbox 360, but since parting with the console, I now play it on PC through Steam. The look and feel is just the same, you will loose many a minute or hour with this one. The last time I played it, in the first week of January 2014, it was for two hours. That's about 17% through the game.

Mutant Mudds ( PC )  ::
This game was originally released on the Nintendo 3DS and is now available on a variety of platforms, which is good for any released title. The length of time in playing this one varies, a quick burst here and there. I bought this one through, Steam. It's a great little platformer with an awesome retro feel !

Tiny Hawk ( PS Vita ) ::
This little gem popped up as a *free* bonus download on Christmas day via PlayStation Plus. It's basically a Skateboarding, platformer style game. It's simple, but very addictive ! This one also keeps the retro style feel going !

Lego Marvels ( PS4 ) ::
This is the first game on disc I own for the PS4 and it is, absolutely ... AWESOME ! Both in graphics and game play, but let us not forget about the cinematic music score throughout. I think I have played this for about 3 to 4 hours at the moment. Even though I haven't got very far, but at least I've completed the Sand Central stage !

Olli Olli ( PS Vita ) ::
Ouch ! That hurts ! In reality it would, but not with this great little game. A nice fully featured gem, carrying lots of stages and tricks to master. Even though I do tend to slam down more on the ground, over time, I should hopefully get better.


Nun Attack ( PS Vita ) ::
An obscure title and I have only played it for a few minutes to be honest. I think I need to pick this one up again and see how far I can get. It is more tap to move and shoot !

This month has been pretty active really, especially with regards to playing some games and a bit of gamedev here and there. The key thing is, to do bitesize chunks of gamedev or more if I want to. A few years ago, I spent a bit too long and got a tad stressed. When I say, " Stressed ", I mean trying to cram in too much during the day. Spacing it out over a few weeks or months etc is much better and easier to manage. This also leaves more time to do other activities and of course, rest !

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Out with the 'OLD' and in with the 'NEW' !

We could call this a six-monthly !?! But hopefully not like a Dentist or Doctor check up to see how things are going. It's been busy and more busy over the last half of 2013 ! Even though the gamedev front has ground to an almost halt, nothing has been abandoned. I just needed the rest to be honest, but there is a lot of new things to mention and I plan to set some achievable gamedev goals for 2014.

The Xbox 360 that graced my HQ just over a year ago, has now been given away to someone in the family. I didn't exactly play it to death either, just a few modest hours here and there. I kept everything boxed as new, so it should at least be good for few more years. This only happened a couple of weeks ago, as I was very lucky to get hold of another console. It is one of the two, next generation consoles that are still as am I aware, head to head in competitive sales and what they have to offer in hardware specs ! It is ...
PS4, Vita and PS4 Controller
You would not believe how lucky I was, in getting hold of a PS4 ! Yes ! A PS4 ! I had originally missed the pre-order opportunity and after watching hours of YouTube videos of unboxing and first impressions, I decided to pre-order via Amazon UK. Now, I had also watched videos and read about various stories about both Xbox One and PS4 failings. Bad media drives, dodgy HDMI ports and Blue Lights of Death was amongst the most ! After finding out that some retailers weren't stocking PS4's until February 2014, it made me realise that I had better be patient and wait. Although, I decided to keep checking and see how things progressed. Then on Friday 20th December, I checked Asda ( Walmart ) website and found out that they had both PS4 and Xbox one in stock. So, I proceeded with my order and got a confirmation e-mail. I checked my e-mails again for some reason at 5am on Saturday morning only to find out the order had been shipped and was being delivered to the local Asda Living Store for the same day ! Wow ! From 5pm I would have a PS4 ! No, but wait ... I got a text and e-mail from Asda stating it was ready to collect before midday on that Saturday. A friend that was visiting me on that day, said that we had better collect it, even if it was pouring with rain outside. So, we did and even had time to visit Poundland ( Dollar Store ) and pick up a couple of things. Thankfully, touching wood and all, the PS4 has been fine with no problems to report so far. I have had two crashes, once with LoveFilm and once with Lego Marvel Super Heroes. These weren't fatal, probably glitches and I was able to return to the previous positions without further problems. My overall opinion of the PS4 is quite favorable and I did own a PS3 a couple of years ago. I did also buy a PS Vita in the summer of 2013 and play it a fair bit, so I guess I do like Sony products.

PS Vita
Of course I like Microsoft, I have a HP Pavilion PC ( more on that later ) with Windows 8 on it, even if it doesn't quite resemble an Xbox One. When I think about it, I have used PC's with Windows on way back to Windows 95 up to the present Windows 8. Although, this year did bring an experience in using Apple Mac OS X and Ubuntu for the first time. All for the love of gamedev eh ?
HP Pavilion 500
Although, I have replaced a few bits of tech and purchased some new. It has been a busy and tiring year, more so on a personal level. I am expecting that by the end of Q1-2014, all of the estate related bits of bobs of my late sister, Sam will be completed. However, I should allow for a few delays, here and there. This is one of the understandable reasons why I haven't been as active as I would normally be, the tired feeling is more so. That coupled with the under active thyroid condition, diagnosed last year, hasn't helped that much.

I decided to replace the Dell Studio PC, as it seemed to be under powered for my needs and it went to a good home. The HP Pavilion is quiet, fast, has plenty of disk space and memory to keep me busy for the time being.  Here is a quick specification run down : Intel® Core™ i5 processor, 6 GB RAM and 2TB Hard Drive, Intel HD Graphics, 2x USB 3.0 and 4x USB 2.0. Quite surprisingly, the hard drive isn't full up yet, 1.5 TB remain, although a chunk of that will be for Windows 8. Which, I might add, isn't as bad as it seems. I got a nearly ten year old Logitech Webcam working and most, if not all of my software from Windows 7 works fine. I think the Tiled mode scares people a lot with Windows 8, the simple thing is, don't use Tiled mode if you hate it. Adapting to change can be scary, give it time. It will all turn out okay !
The summer time of 2013 brought a trip to a usual haunt, Stratford-upon-Avon. Where I purchased an Ouya for a different gaming perspective from Game. The device isn't that bad and I am having a lot of fun with it. I can also side-load some of my Android creations designed in the forever loving GameMaker:Studio. Dead Pixel Invaders works and I even worked on a menu system for it, however this still needs some further testing. This is more to do with a timing issue in a step event, but as a whole, I am happy with the port and perhaps it might make an all *free* appearance on the Ouya store at some point in the future.

For 2014, I thought I would try and set myself some gamedev goals. Some of the goals maybe ongoing into another year, but at least I will give myself an easier time in the process. In no particular order ...

Play more games ::
Setting aside a couple of hours a week, perhaps on a Friday night or Saturday morning afternoon. The Ouya, PS4 and PC needs more gaming from me. I could even use part of the fun time gaining inspiration from other developers.

Mini-Game(s) ::
I have got an idea to design at least one game, a reaction style. Not as complicated as Shapes Mindorama was or in the sense of the amount of variables involved with that project.

Barriers ::
Some time ago, I started designing Barriers, which was a three part level game. The concept and design is there, I just need to back into this and I would like to see it going somewhere by the end of 2014.

Bugsy ::
In 2005, I designed my first game in Game Maker, Bugsy. I am hoping on making a return to this one. Keeping the retro style of graphics, which I hope to improve on with added game play in certain areas. I also have a plan for something else connected with this, but we'll see how it goes. This project would be a long one with the hope doing a little bit of work per week, if only an hour or two. If the passion takes me during the time, I might turn out spending more time one session. So, perhaps by the end of 2014 into 2015.

The goals are mainly about trying to manage my free time, which I am sure will work out for the better. Less pressure and more creativity !

I have tweaked my YouTube channel a little and it now has a proper intro. Not only do I do gamedev, but poetry as well, another hidden talent you could say ...

All of my past and more recent games on platforms from Android, Mac, PC and Ubuntu are all *free* to download. From either of my websites : Alex Aris Games or Aris Family. You can get all of my available Android games from Google PlayStore and Ubuntu App Store.

Over the coming months, I hope to, at the very least, be able to post more about the gamedev progress with some of my mentioned projects and more. So, with fingers crossed, we should see at least one game out of the stable this year !