Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The mind never rests

It lives inside all of us game creators. Whether you be a Designer, Programmer or Artist. Th dreams the thoughts the desire for creation. To make things better than before. This desire is strong and allows us to finish what we start. As starting is real easy, but finishing is amazingly hard.

Just think of all the things that could stop you from creating your game. From simple stuff like lack of enthusiasm, there are greater things from outside influences. Friends and family demand time, and significant others have killed more games being created than all other distractions put together.

One such distraction is the fact i today had surgery on my body. Only outpatient surgery, but still a major distraction in my creative processes. Of course i am here writing my blog :), but anything else will be out of the question today. As sitting is rather uncomfortable for me.

But this distraction is something i can use to my benefit, as i lie bored in bed, watching TV go over and over the same boring groud. Instead i can use this or organise and design more of my game, use the boredom of TV to fuel my fire for something interactive and much more exciting. Of course i could also use some information from what i watch to help spice up my next game.

So hope you are all well and have started your next awesome game. I will be doing mine soon, and then these blog posts will take on a more personal note (gamewise).

Back to planning

So ya have a nice basic game thought out. Now is the time to start writing it, but that needs a basic plan.

What to do first ? etc...

Control. I always love to start with the control. This is after all the primary connection between the player and his Avatar, or on screen representation.

Detection. Further advancing control. Platform games really don't work without this kind of thing. Though sometimes it is player vs alien control one needs to write.

Alien Interaction. The first Alien does not have to be the best AI. Something simple will usually work. With this basic Alien and controls now written. It is possible to know if the game is fun. Fun is what we are bauot, or maybe not if you are doing a new gameplay test or idea etc.

So these important steps do not require awesome graphics. We have written many games up to this stage with colored Cubes or spheres etc.

Now go write that fun feeling demo of your game.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What to create Next ?

Well here i am about to start something new. But what should it be ? The exciting remake of my shooter Pellmell with less creativity and more back to ye olde arcade stylings which appears to be what gets XBLIG browsers excited ?

Should i finish the Dreamland Graphic novel reader first ? Or should i put pressure on my friend to make that one, and thus leave me to create something entirely new.

I do not know how to make this decision to be honest. I am not sure anyone really does. Go with some marketing idea, or go with gut feeling, or just maybe go with what is most interesting at this time.

Too many options, i have way too many ideas. Some are more experimental to be sure. Although it would be nice for my stuff to make some money, even if it is to cover just the outgoing costs like the music i buy etc.

I guess we will see in a future post what i end up doing.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Meetings are essential

But man, they can certainly feel like they get in the way of 'real work', or are just plain borrrriniingg! Meetings generally get out of hand in several ways.

So what do ya do about it. Below i List my fave things to do, to make a meeting more productive and also a lot more 'fun'.

1. Organise the eeting with notes to go over beforehand (Have a meeting plan).
2. Keep the meeting on subject. Once you diverge to talk with 2 people out of a meeting of 8, then you are most definitely doing something wrong.
3. Keep the meeting as short as it can be.
4. Wrap up with asking around the meeting group to see if they understand and also if their are any more questions. This is a great way to get everyone to leave and get started immediately, and not wander off chatting at the coffee machine.

Well, i am off to several meetings today. Wish me luck.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What should one do?

This Question is based on what you should do to create your Indie game. Or in fact create any game. There is a simple answer really...

Do what you are best at, and try hard to avoid doing the parts you are not.

Now although the answer is easy. It does have the annoying logic that you must know what you are good and bad at to actually perform in this way way. Finding out what you are good at and not so good at takes practice. this knowledge can also be obtained by asking friends or family or workmates or even superiors at work. This seems obvious, but to be honest it is really hard to believe them, or even take the criticism from them, and mark my words. It will sounds bad to your ears to learn you are not an all-star at everything you try.

It is however really important to get help on the areas you are not great at. so you now know you need to fins out your strengths, but while you are at it. Look around at your friends and workmates to see what you think their strengths and weaknesses are.

The sign of a good and experienced manager is one that can discern this information, even when you yourself might not agree... at first.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Organising a project development

Most people appear to think that organising a project starts with commenting it, and sometimes they feel that organising starts with laying out what great systems they are going to code.

I disagree with this theory. I believe that organisation starts with knowing what kind of game you are going to write and then designing the directory structure that all the code and art and other little parts are going to live under.

This can be an invaluable time saver later on, because you know where everything is, and so does everyone else. It is basically better to have a designed place for stuff that just placing stuff where you feel it should go when you create it. That leads to a mess, just like the drawers for your clothing that mom used to yell at you about haha.

I will give one more tip here though... Never duplicate any folder name, and if possible keep all the file names for data and code etc unique as well. This was a recent pain in the butt for me working ona title that had so many sub directories all named the same, ARGH! that kind of thing makes me insane.

... and with good organisation comes time savings and a great feeling of confident knowing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To pass a Submission is a glorious thing

Today we found out we have passed PS2 SCEE certification on the latest game i have created (in this case converted from the Wii). We now just have a PSP SCEE version to go through and we have them all done, YAY!


Enjoy the brief feeling of fulfillment because it isn't going to last long. Not long enough that is for sure, till once again you are back into the fray of trying to keep your company afloat by working on the next game or content.

So i work for a small company and we have already started on our next undertaking, because money is tight and failiure is NOT an option. As one workmate and friend put it, I want to know that i did my best, and if we fail then it isn't my fault.

Not everything is under our control with our development, but some things are, like how hard we work each day. So give today a special amount of attention and get-er-dun.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Whats the most important aspect of any game

Well i have heard this discussion many many times in the past 2 dozen years. so i will not bother to consider all the possibilities like graphics and sound and atmosphere etc etc.

Instead i will put forward what i personaly regard as the most important feature of any game.

Argh i hear ya all shout. That undefined word that everyone bandies around like it was candy for the ears.

My version of playability is fairly simple... If the basic gameplay feels like fun, the rest of the game built on top has a good chance of being fun too. But in this day and age most people are building envirenments and designing levels, without even having a basic control prototype setup to play with. My example would be how would ya design marble madness levels if you had no dea how it felt. they are so integral to a level, that if you misjudged the area setup for fast turns, the level is ruined.

So i say, make ya control prototype (i do), and have some fun with it. You should know when it's ready to become a game when you want to show to everyone around you. "Come try this game out".. Not "come look at this game"

My thoughts, my opinion. But Gameplay rules games for me, i don't care how good it looks. Or what the license its. (well, not till after the playability seems alright).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Energy for getting a job done

One of the most valuable assets a developer can have is friends. Ones with a like mind are the most helpful, but any energetic and enthusiastic friend is worth all the time you have put into your friendship.

When a project is stalling for lack of energy, or maybe it's because your day job is being brutal at some points. Having a nice lunch with a friend (or friends) and discussing your goals and desires can give ya the much needed boost to get past a particularly difficult part of the dev process, or even get you across the finishing line.

I had one of those lunches today with 2 friends. Not to get me over the finishing line, but it had the effect of making me want to write more games immediately. It instilled me with so much energy i could burst soon.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

So here we are near the end of a productive day. A day where i spent all of it chatting with various team members about the possibilities laid out before us. Actually they are not laid out at all. We are in control of our destiny for the time being, in as much as any developer is. I can not say more at this time, but it is an exciting time full of ideas and dreams, and if we did not have those, why would we bother.

Now i go home to think and dream of more Sorverygames possibilities.

First Blog is always the hardest

1. This Blog will detail aspects of the creation pains and processes related to both Indie games development and original product development for Sorcerygames.
2. This will also serve as a Blog for aspects of professional games development as that is currently my day job. (Indie games do not pay at all atm)


So what should i say. Where should i start. Without a nice reference of background information it is surely not possible for anyone to relate to this blog at all.

I am not going to give my lifes story at this juncture, but i will probably try hard to point out proper references later as i begin to discuss where i am in the game and original product development cycle.

Of course, currently noone knows who i am. that is simply because i wanted to stay anonymous, and let my products and company do the talking. But this is not really possible with a blog. And as that is something i really want to do, well it might be time to come clean with some basic bio or whatever.. BAH!

Let me see what i can knock up quickly for a subsequent post.