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 !  

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