Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The day before The Midway

Here we are in the afternoon before The Midway goes live on PS3 home. I.. scratch that. We here at Mass Media are all very excited to see our game go live. If it does well i hope to be partying through the day, if there are issues i expect to be programming through the night haha!

The excitement is from anyone who has worked on the minigames within the space, and of course we are all hoping there are no issues. It is amusing on some level to see how excited we all are even though we are mostly grizzled industry veterans. The excitement i think comes because this is not your normal boxed game, it is different in so many way. Less closed, and for a long time it has ben hard to push boundaries within the next gen computers and systems. This space gives us a way to push boundaries, even if they are imposed by Sony creating a system on top of the base PS3 layer.

Excitment is of course two fold, Epic success or Epic failure are both close brothers and are at this time very close by. We all here very excited to stare at the PS3 tomorrow morning and i usspect we will not get a lot of work done al day as we keep meandering past the Live ps3's we have here at work. BTW, i used Epic cos it annoys some people and i like it 8D

I hope if you go and look at The Midway you enjoy what is there,


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Midway to go Live

Here we are at just two days left till The Midway goes live in the PS3 Home area. It has been a much longer road than anticipated to get it finally out, but thursday will be the time to celebrate. It is hard to conatin myself as i went to visit Home today and saw for the first time the advertisements in the Plaza area.

In the plaza we have a massive poster on the front windows of the Mall. We also have a large poster on the side of the Mall. These are great advertisements and i sure hope they generate some interest. The Tele-porta-potty I wrote is going to be taking the place of the Yoda fountain. so watch out for that, as i sure hope it works :S  Not like i could really test it you see. Fingers crossed from me on that one.

In the Plaza and also inside the Mall we have somethibg else we have worked on very recently. That is the ToyStory3 home space. There ais a lot of advertising for that around in poster form. We are very excited about this space and think it could be the best personal space within home currently.

Ok, back to work for me, i need to get Darlas Den sorted out for when we start releasing The Midway2 area ;)


Self Videoing

I have to say that some times it is just not possible to avoid being on camera. Now i am not really a camera shy person per se, but i do have some reservations. One of the awkward things about being in a video is also trying to be the one actually doing the recording. Cameraman and actor do not go together well...

So tonight i finally felt like i have had enough practice (rehearsing) for my big appearance on an upcoming video i want to create. This is a special video that i am sure you will all view soon enough, or as soon as it is done hehe. I want to be engaging and joyous and magnanimous all at the same time. Things that in real life i am, but when placed in front of a camera i come off as nervous and grumpy. I know i may not be being very kind to myself with that summation, but it sure feels that way.

Now my outtakes on the other hand are quite funny. I am positive anyone that knows me and a lot of people that do not would laugh at some of the things i say in outtakes. But this video is for a serious reason, it is for my company SorceryGames and so i want it to turn out as good as possible.

So i have setup a nice placement in my spare bedroom where i work on my stuff. I brought flood lights in and have two digital cameras (not actually video cameras), and so i can video from two angles to aid in cutting it professionally. I do have a lot of experience with videoing and editing, so that part i feel great about. The setting is just what i feel is nice and so i started recording what i need to say. I have more outtakes than good footage even after all my practice :S However i think on the whole it went well. I feel like i have enough recorded to edit into something usable. Till i grab it off the SD cards and look at it.

BAH! It is too dark.. I forgot to turn on the Halogen flood lights, what an idiot! all that recording wasted. all i can really say is that i also noted that both cameras were not really close enough, so i would need to redo it all for that reason as well. If i learn't one thing tonight it is that it is hard to video oneself, especially when one is a bit self concsious being serious and not amusing.

We shall see what tomorrows attempt brings..

But if you are gonna video anything, remember to get as much light onto whatever you are recording as possible.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Pretty Instructions

Today i finally got around to upgrading my Help/Instructions page. I already think it scrolls in a nice way, and also has a nice fade out and in at the top and bottom of the screen (or near it). I think it looks very nice and professional, however i have always though that my Instructions screen was a bit bland. The main reason for that i believe is the fact that the Instructions (every line!) are all single color.

So slightly off white text is the order of the day and it looks ok i guess. Anyone that has read this blog for any time will realise i like a bit of color in my life. So today i finally got around to fixing up some color into some lines. So far the system is a bit primitive. I am able to color any single, but whole line. So this is great for headings that are already Capitalized and are now in a more stand outish color.

I may go further and make it so i can recolor in the middle of lines. This isn't really too difficult now i have the String.substring() and String.Compare() under control. It was a bit of a trial to get right at first as i am a veteran programmer that started writing in machine code. So I tend to view memory as memory, laid out in whatever fashion it is. I do not really view data as types per se. This of course means i am a pointer using Freak, that it seems is TOO dangerous for folks to program with in Xna. To be honest i am sure it has more to do with managed language control than any useful prevention. So will i recolor partial lines? I don't know, maybe if i have a good reason too.

And that brings me to why the hell did i waste time on colorizing a few lines in the Help section of my game, that hardly anyone will ever read? The reason is of course that every aspect of a game should be given attention. Why should i short change people that want to read the help section. Same goes for the Credits section. It should be as good as you can make it. It oddly enough could be the deciding factor on why peolpe buy your game. Not overly likely i know, but what if even just 0.5% of people that picked up your game saw the excellent credits, would that make a large percentage of them buy it? I'll let you decide your own course. Mine is set... I want this game to be great quality and that means everywhere.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Blogs By Shin

Shin has an excellent Blog that he updates regularly. I would recommend people read it as he keeps it simple and to the point. the point being reveiwing games mostly.

He points out obvious stuff about games that have been recently released. Though sometimes he will talk about older games and memories.  along the way Developers, especially new ones could learn a thing or two about making games. Making Whole games i should say. What i mean by this is actually highlighted by his most recent post... here is the link

Digital Quarters

The post i am referring to is about a recently released title into the Xblig universe 'Old School racer'. This is a pretty good game, one of the few (regretfully i cannot seem to find enough time for playtesting session, each one takes me approximately 30-45 minutes). Oops enough about my lack of time. I commented on this game quite extensively. The reason is simple. It was a nice game when first presented but was lacking a lot of touches. Touches usually come under the quality label, and I listed a whole slew of things. Then i hoped to be able to do a second pass when the frist one was addressed. .I even mentioned i hope he didn't rush the title out and finished it. Alas i agree with Shin on this one. The final touches are not there, though i have to say that a lot of extra time was spent on developing this game. When i saw it, it never had nitro boost and a set of the other features like multiple bikes.

It is aok to spend time adding more content, no, please add as much as you want. Then when you have tired of this or it has met your size criteria, go ahead and then spend as much time developing the touches on top. This is a great example of a lot of time spent on features and not enough anywhere else.

Shin told it like it is. Great job mate and keep up the blog posts, i always love to read them. Maybe when ya get ya hands on my next game you will give me some sold thoughts. Though if ya complain i'll maybe cry ;)  Nah! Honesty in reveiwing for me always. Though i do have to say that ... Well talking about reveiwers is actually another post for another day...

Now go see his blog, and maybe learn something!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Force Unleashed for Xbox

I have ben watching my son play The force Unleashed now for a few weeks, helping him when he gets stuck etc. What a wonderful game it is. so complete in so many ways. What everyone must realise is that so very few of us will ever get to work on such a great title.

I have been very lucky and worked on some big titles, but to be honest most of them have not entranced me the way this one does. It sets a bar of quality for full price titles. It has so much in it from a detail perspective and the storyline is epic. Truly a wonderful work of art (oops did i say art, lol).

What is so special?
1. The story is excellent
2. It is star wars, thru and thru
3. The controls are complictaed, but only end up that way
4. there is an excellet tutorial/training segment
5. Enemies etc move in a familiar way
6. The scene and landscapes are truly stunning (oh man i said truly again!)

I have listed on a few things, but oh man.. the number of people that must of worked on this title must be staggering.

Good job LucasArts i applaud you. now time for bed, that is enough TFU for one night haha (yeah, i am playing it now too :S)


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Scene scripting simplification

I am working in #PS3Home currently with my day job. I now have the task of unwinding a few systems that are in place in a personal space script. As scene scripts cannot talk to each other, then tasks must be handled by having minigames talking to each. Sending messages from one instance to another, like the owner sending onfo to his visitors etc.

The latest part i am doing is to remove a lot of scenery setup code from the Scene script and place it into a new minigame i have been writing. this will simplify the multi send nature of what is already working. Ok, so i am breaking it badly as i move it, but ya gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette. In this case it will allow me to simplify what is an over complicated system and also save memory in the process. I just hate seeing something that was working broken, especially when it is me that has broken it.

Still, i am making good progress so far, i sure hope it continues.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

No Avatar? But Whyyyyy?

So a few days ago on Twitter there was an intersting discussion, although it was in tweeterez so it is not fully fledged sentences or anything sensible like that. I am also not gona copy any of it here, presuming of course i could actually go back that far in twitter land and copy it out. So what am i on about eh ?

One of the Developers that i am friends with said he wasn't gonna put Avatars in his latest game, and for that matter Zombies. This drew a few comments from other Xblig friends that we connect with and from there it sort of blossomed, or mushroomed or just grew for a while. There were a few things said, and i will re-say them, but in a sort of chinese whispers sort of way.

1. No compelling design reason to use Avatars, so out they go!
2. I have seen too many Avatar games where the Avatar is just standing around on the screen
3. Avatars are being overused and there are too many Avatar games, not all of them are selling well
4. Avatars can be a crutch to weak gameplay, i wanna make my game great on it's own merit

I have to say these sentiments are a breath of fresh air. Ok so i am picky about who i follow, so maybe it is more a reflection on the kind of mates i have in twitter than what i actualy going on in the general Xblig developers heads. Now i am not saying that Avatars should be avoided or dismissed. I believe they should be used at all times, all times that they feel like they would be missing, or all times when they actually enhance gameplay or the experience of playing a game.

Lets see what Avatar games the next few months brings us eh!

Thanks go to all my twitter buddies who i would like to mention, even though i know i will miss some, sorry to those i miss.

I am sure there were more in the discussion, sorry bout that. I am sure i will mention folks in a future post or three :D



Ok, so i have to apologise first off for missing last nights post. Not sure how i missed it, maybe i should blame wow, or my lack of sleep due to being crap at sleeping (oh and some discomfort from me shoulder). Fear not i will be carying on with my posts as usual and will do a few extra to make up for this missed day.

Merchandising, and small word with massive potential and complexity built in. This we are told is where all the money is in Movies and some games franchises. In my case it means a money pit. I really want to push A Shooter out with quite a lot of back end marketing. To meet that ideal i will need real prizes, not just or only the codes that i can give away for the game. Though these are ok, they only really get a small, (VERY) small amount of attention. So it is time for bigger and more costly stuff. Oh, so the point is that tody i went to visit my printer and erm designer. He is re-designing my logo to be much bigger resolution wise.

Note to everyone!!
 Make your Logos have at the very least 300 dpi. Not like mine which was 72dpi. It pays to know.

Ok, back to my visit with Dave the designer and T-Shirt printing guy. He is a wonderful chap (as i have mentioned before), but i was getting concerned as it was about 3 weeks ago i sent them an email asking for some pricing information. I never got a reply, so each week i sent a follow up email. This is where it got silly, as i had decided this monday to call Dave directly and ask what was going on. By this time i am a bit frustrated and not sure what is going on. Well monday came along and i got a call from Dave, so he beat me to it. It seems that his office controller and secretary (the one i had been emailing) had not worked out at all. I know this first hand of course, as she had not bothered to reply to me at all. I feel sorry she did not work out, but this will have cost Dave and his business quite a lot of money i am sure.

The good news is i got to spend about an hour of quality time with a very interesting and talented guy over my lunch hour. I know i will get prices done very soon, and then i can try and see just how much this pursuit is going to cost. I know it will be too much, but one has to try.

Once i get some samples i will post up some pictures of the items.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Such an Initial Expense

My daughter is 11 years old and about to turn 12. She is a wonderful child in so many ways, and one of her wys is to be artistic. She loves drawing and modelling and just about anything i would term as artistic. She is also excited when i get art into my games. Or anything for that matter haha!

Ok, back to the point. As she observes what i do when making games, she has gotten quite knowledgable in certain aspects of game creation. One of those aspects is the use of pictures. Hence i have my daughters apple rendition in my upcoming game. Thank goodness she is more talented than me. However she now understands such things as stop motion from the movie industry and of course frame or cell animations for use in games. This has gotten her quite excited and now her skills with are really starting to shine, she wants to have a go at animating some of the creatures she has created and drawn.

So here i am trying hard to satisfy my daughters creative longing. Heck i would love her to learn to animate stuff on the computer. Who knows what could happen with her doing artwork for my designs and programming. But.. and this is the the reason for the title of the piece. The expense of buying something like TVPaint is pretty horrendous for just playing with. Professional tools just cost so much (300 bucks for that one). however i do not feel like i have so much choice, except maybe for Pro Motion at 98 dollars. My current artist loves this package, but i feel it is a bit antiquated for what she will want, compared to even.

So what to do? How should i help her realise her dreams of animating her Dracow or Biger ?

I know it is hard for the software tools people to really make money with so much piracy going on, but i do love it when there are learning versions of software. I wonder if these learning versions actually work to get people to buy them? don't get me wrong, i will pay whatever i have to for software for my home (i hate piracy), but it can so ridiculously expensive. With my daughter only being 11, she does not have college identification, and i do not either. Could this be an issue for obtaining a student version? Maybe schools should buy special version to lease or sell to their students?

As you can tell i have not got an answer to all this. I just know i don't wanna spend 300 bucks. Then omeone mentioned flash.. This sounds great, but it is really hard to know where to start. Even what software i should be downloading to get her going is real tough. Maybe i need to keep searching and reading for another couple of hours, maybe then i will have the answer.

G'night and don't spend all your hard earned cash!

Quality level pt2

So i figured I should go into some of the things that make a game seem higher quality to me. Now of course this is my personal list, and everyone elses will be different. I aim to do 10 examples, but as i am writing this off the cuff, who knows what will be typed below...

So on with the list,
1. Nice splash screen. Not complex, but suitable for the game. First impressions count of course. Nowadays i would have to upgrade this to a nice Video splash screen showing your company name/logo and the name of the game perhaps.
2. Thumbnail, ok maybe this should have been number 1. All i need from this is to be able to read the games name. Honestly the ones i see that i have no idea what they are for. such a waste of possible recognition.
3. Main menu should come on after the splash screen and be somewhat entertaining. Now i know that sounds like a lot, but it just means... Don't be a static main menu. animate something, and you had better be playing music!
4. A player should KNOW which menu item he has selected, if they have to think twice (is it the highlight or lowlighted item), then you have done bad!
5. Moving through menus should work with both joystick and buttons.
6. Moving through menus should have a sfx or even a ditty. confirmation of feedback is very important to new players. One could also animate the transitions too.
7. 'B' or 'Back' button should always allow me to get back from any menu level i am in. Though i do have to say design parameters can outweigh this one. If there are no good design considerations, then do em both.
8.  Fade in and out, or at least transition in some way. Hard cuts time after time is harsh. Though once again can be used if designed properly.
9. Graphical glitches should not be apparent. I know this sounds obvious. But i have tested a number of games with graphical glitchs in them in peer review, and it is not a failable issue.
10. Reactions to gameplay. All things should react in some way to gameplay happening. For example a blood splat when a flesh character is hit, or bolts fly off when a robot is damaged. Dust can come up from landing from a jump etc. every one that is put in makes a product feel so much more than it's parts.
11. A game should have animation. This is not a comic, so animate something. My 3rd title was a comic and quiz and while the comic was on the screen there were scaling and alphaing stars in the background. If you have a game that has trees, have leaves fall. It does not take much to add those niceties that make people wanna stay. The more you add, the better your initial impressions will be of your game.
12. Balance the music with the sfx. It takes so long to get this part done i dislike it. However the time spent makes the game so much better for everyone.

Ok, so i am guilty of course for not doing all these all the time. Though i do most of them and more most of the time. I know you are maybe reading this and thinking that most are stupidly obvious, so why then are they not being done in so many games on Xblig? Laziness or just not knowing? I think it is mostly the latter. When it is your own baby and you are so close to it every day, it is hard not to just ignore the shortcomings.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

What Quality Level?

If you are a game developer then you know this question... Or do you?

'The question is 'what quality level should i make this game' It can also be followed by extra questions like 'What can I afford' or 'how much time do i wanna spend on this game'.

I do believe though on Xblig that most of the developers do not actually ever ask this question of themselves or their game. I think they just work on a game with some basic ideas of what they want to put together and when they get bored of it they just put it out there for peer review. now i won't judge all of my fellow devs, as that would be wrong. In fact i know quite a lot of them trying hard every day they work on their game to answer the quality level question. the question has gotten a lot more difficult to answer lately with the power that 1 dollar games appear to have. so many good games have come out at this price point that i really think this is not the first evaluating criteria for answering the question. So what is ?

Well I think the first one is of Design, or more importantly labelled as vision. Some devs do not appear to have much of a vision for their game apart from taking one of the sample apps and making something that was their own. Or a way for them to learn Xna. I believe the quality of thos eproducts tends to speak for itself, though i know several games done in this way that have a nice feel and quality. Back to Design, just how much design work are devs actually doing before writing code? Any.. Some.. or Most? I would love to know the answer, but only so i can se how they all turned out compared to how they went about the design. Of course i also feel that people who design on the fly tend to stray a long way from their time and feature budgets.. but that is another topic for another post.

Another criteria for what quality level should your game be has to do with how you view yourself, or your company. What is acceptible to put out under your name? This is a tough one has has so many factors put in it. Take one of the devs i respect Kris Steele He started Abduction Action and the main game he appeared to have made rather quickly (so his blog and comments seem to read). then he found ways to up his quality level o what is a fairly simple game. Even simple games can speak quality to players who demo them. He added quality because he felt like it should be there. I love this kind of thing, i feel it is about pride and confidence in your product. If you don't have these then qhy the heck are ya publishing your code?

Tere is always more that can be added to up the quality of a game. This makes it very difficult to know when to stop. A lot of Xblig games do not have SFX when the selctors or menu highlights are moved around. this is a pet peave of mine as it is so easy to do, but so many games don't do it? Why.. I am not sure. One theory i have is that these devs do not know that this is something that adds quality to a game. And with so many brand spanking noob devs in the Xblig marketplace there will be a lot that do not notice these kind of things... yet! I say yet, because i have a lot of confidence that these things will be changed. These simplistic yet noticable items will slowly be commonplace (tbh, they are already).

Has anyone else noticed the amazing amount of quality games that have come out this year? The number is much higher than last year and this gets me very excited as i buy more and more Xblig games. I wish the world would take more note and see what Xblig games are doing and how far they have come. And for shocking basement prices too!

I never got to cover all the things i want to talk about for quality, Maybe my next post talking about this subject will label a bunch more, and compare good with bad decisions.

If anyone readin this has any comments on how they decide the quality of their games, please post away. I would love some feedback.

For Sorcery games Xblig games the decision of quality is one of pride. I have a list of things that i have to do on my games, but i also have a list of things i do not care about. I value the opinion of my peers in playtest and review and try my hardest to accomodate what i am told isn't good enough in their eyes. currently this is the best way to view the quality of your game for Xblig. Sales will not do that for you and are not very related to the quality of a game at the moment. I wish that was different of course. I have reports from my fellow peers that make me very happy. They tell me they think the game is a worthy addition to the Xblig catalogue, and that makes me profoundly happy. Some devs however, couldn't care less and just want to get it out... Is this the quality level you want to be known for ?

Thanks for reading

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Few mods and possibilities

Today was an interesting day. I rotated the Tele-porta-potties in the minigame i have for the Plaza for PS3Home. I had to rotate them because the minigame i was going to be taking up in the Plaza scene was exaclty 180 degress opposite from what i had written. This where things can get sketchy as far as which way around something is in an editor. If the location arrow is pointing towards you, is that correct? Or should it be facing away to show that is it's forward facing. This means for me that the porta potties could be eitehr way around to be honest.

I guess i made them the wrong way around as far as Sony and their Plaza location is concerned. Not really an issue. Though i thought it was interesting that i could not decide which way is forward. In fact we internally have had several discussion about it and come to no conclusions apart from lets leave it as we have it atm, which was probably an accident of facing. haha

I also got to discuss more stuff with the boss as far as other things that we could do for PS3Home. With the advent of the HDK 1.36 we can now do a bunch of more interesting things. such as scripted furniture and stand alone arcade games. Woohoo am i excited about what we can come up with. I'll post more as we decide what kinda things we will do.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Bugs to Fix and Tennis

I had an interesting day fixing bugs and getting bugs fixed by artists and another programmer. It all went very well and i managed to get it al put togetehr and sorted out and uploaded to Sony by the end of the regular day. That kind of thing hardly ever happens. I know i took a few short cuts by declaring C class bugs as not important.  Well not important enough to have to create new models for as exporting the original ones seems to be broken.

Then i went and supported my tennis team. I would have ben in this playoff match tonight, but with my arm still in a bad way. That just wasn't possible. So i did what i could and cheered on the rest of my team in a very tough playoff meetup. We eventually prevailed 3-2 (in courts) after losing the 2 singles courts but eventualy winning the three doubles courts. thye final match was being played with it all tied at 2-2, and in the background we could hear a bar nearby cheering as the Lakers took the win. It was all real exciting and the second set tie-breaker eventually went our way from 1-4 down to 7-5 for the win! Woohoo, Go team!

I don't feel like going back to work tomorrow, it feels like the weekend has already started for me, but work is work and pay is pay. I also heva  few things to mod for The Midway release next week, yeah next week is now what i am being told. bah! One day i promise it will be released...


Thursday, June 17, 2010

E3 Wednesday was my day

I got to go visit my mates workplace today. I was looking forward to it and it was very nice. Disney Online offices in North Hollywood where he now works. I met some of his workmates and they were all really nice. The offices had lots of cubicles but also lots of nice artwork along the walls, giving it a more relaxed look. Very nice. Then a quick walk and hop on a Metro train to the Staples Center.

We got to walk around the show and see a heckuva lot of people, though most seemed to be standing in some endless line at the Nintendo booth, i think maybe for the 3ds experience. I am not much of a queuer myself, so i skipped all lines. This mean't my swag haul was low this year, but tbh, i am just not that bothered. I got to see Move in Action, i got to witness Kinect in action... I also of course got to see a lot of Wii games. Here are a few thoughts about what i witnessed today, though it is biased by what i think i saw and sometimes experienced.

1. Kinect seemeed to work well with a random background of people behind it. I hope this is true.
2. Eyetoy for PS3 is as bad as seeing you as the old Eyetoy was for PS2.
3. Some games just will not feel right with Kinect (Think tenis etc). Ya gotta have something in your hand.
4. Playing golf with a Wiimote or Move controller is exactly the same. And will not help your golf game.
5. Epic mickey looked... dated. So many polygons, oops, so few i mean't. Gameplay looked great.
6. 3D games are cool. Pity it loked like it could make you very tired very quickly. We shall see.
7. Not much use of 3d, except to show depth is fps games for the most part. Was ok for sure.
8. I never got to see a 3ds... bah! Fang queues.
9. Kinect seems to be ground breaking in some ways, though held back in others.
10. Move is a couple of Wiimotes and an eyetoy.
11. The eyetoy Move games look like games Massmedia did about 5 years ago for THQ
12. I visited Indiecade, and got some info, also a publisher, though only for PC titles.

Man that was a lot of notes eh! You may not agree with some of them, or in fact any of them. They are my thoughts atm, but i hope some can be shaped to be different with experience. I certainly feel let down for some reason on the whole move thing. Feels like i did that before. Kinect, well we shall see just how it works out. I do want Harmonixs Dance though 8D

For  alate lunch i met some workmates and some ex-workmates at the yardhouse and had a hald yard of Firestone pale ale, then followed that up with a turkey melt and pint of Newcastle Brown ale. So yummy. I don't usually drink so much beer in one sitting. But it was ace. The conversation was lively and i love these guys. They Rock!!

When i got home i got the awful news of a bug report about The Midway from Sony. No idea why it has taken this long to get to me, and it's full of bullshit too. I am not happy. We were told we would be going live tomorrow. Was that a freakin Lie?

Oh and one last thought... Sony has Home, a wonderful place filled with so many possibilities, but so far unrealized. MS and Nintendo have nothing close to it.. Yet, in the presentation and in their area, it was hard to find that it existed... Why so short sighted?


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

E3 for me tomorrow

Yep, i am going to e3. I am very excited. I am also gonna meet a bunch of ex-workmates for lunch, that will be the best part i am sure.

not sure what i am gonna look at this year, prolly as much as i can haha! But i do wanna see Kinect, cos i hope to use that in the future.

I got my stuff done for tomorrow E3 wednesday deadline, so that is good. I had no doubts of course ;)

watched the Sony presentation and thought it was a bit long. But mostly i don't understand how they can be shouting about how good their Move controllers are, when they look like the Wiimotes which we have had for a few years now. I must be missing something.

Of course i am really looking forward to seeing PS3Home and more importantly The Midway.. YAY!

Monday, June 14, 2010

E3 and work to be done

If you are one of those lucky people that is preparing something for E3, then ya might wanna look at the clock. It officialy starts tomorrow or in about 11 hours from now, and you should be done already.

Unlike me, as i am not yet done. Due to some unforseen issues and a deadline that was tonight of all things, it now falls into the late category. I hate being late with anything, even if it is not my fault. I am fortunate however that what i am working on is for a private showing and not a public one, so i can get away with it this year.

That has not always been the case. Usually ridiculous requests come in for demos at a late date, and somehow you are being asked to produce a showable demo or level of your epic game. I do not like this kind of thing. I am always that type that says look ahead, is there something that you might want, like a demo for any of the gaming cons around the globe etc. Somehow producers do not seem to think this sort of thing is too important till it means you are gonna have your team there crunching for a freaking demo, Grrr.

Magazine demos also fall into this category. Organised it isn't hard, late request it is a royal pain in the rear.

Here's hoping you are all adequatly prepared.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

New car, who needs one?

Well I do, or more accurately my family do. The minivan we have is going strong it seems, but that dash warning light has ben flashing at us now for many miles and a lot of months. It is only time till it breaks down completely i am sure. The new wrinkle in buying a new car though is the fact that my daughter is about to be 12, and that would mean that in 4-5 years time she will most likely be driving.

Yeah, a tough thing to think about, but one that is on the horizon for sure. So our choice of next vehicle has to be tempered with the knowledge that she will inherit this particular vehicle.

So my short list atm is..
Ford  Fiesta (great milage, though i have yet to see one in the flesh)
Nissan  Rogue (love crossovers, but what troubles does it hide , my current vehicle is a nissan)
Mazda cx5 (minivan, and also a lot of seats for her to fill up with too many distracting friends.. argh!)

My taxes are now coming together, hopefully i shall have them done soon.

However i am not sure how much i should put down as my paid wages per hour, i know i didn;t get paid for sorcerygames work, but i should claim the loss it seems.


Pax 10 submission is gone

Yup, i finally got it done.

The final surprise from the entry form was. when ya go to pay for the submission, you have to answer several questions. This tells them about your game etc. I found this quite hilarious, but as i had created  anice document for them, i barley filled in the essentials. then i emailed the rest of the info.

No idea if this method will work, but what ya gonna do? I also could have messed up, i am not sure. I read that i could email them the executable game, but when i reread it, i noticed it said supply a url for them to download it from, or mail it to them. Did that mean email counted?

Sure hope so :O


Friday, June 11, 2010

Copy and Split

In Darlas Den personal space we have a minigame called Big Bang. This game does not just do the minigame control and gameplay. It is also a way to control the space itself. Needless to say this minigame has gotten a little large and out of control. so it now falls to me to sort it out.

So to start with i need to separate out the two main functions it has. So i copied the minigame to another minigame called DarlasDen. Then started to strip out the game and gameplay and assets from this new copy. this has been a pain in the butt and for several reasons. The first one was that i could not just add the new minigame to the scene. Oh no, we were packing it too tightly. oh wait, i mentioned that before in a previous post haha! Well today i got to work heavily on this removal and let me tell ya it was a pain. Last night i left it broken, and today it took me all day to fix it. some of the issues were my own. One thing stands out however. I always tell myself that if i cannot find the problem where i am looking, then it is porbably elsewhere.. Yeah they were, several of them.. Hours of time taken on some simple things. The good news is that i do appear to have gotten this stripped out game to control the scene functionality!

Next comes part two, stripping down the Big Bang minigame to only have the gameplay and assets, and remove all scene control. This is one i hope to find easier.

After that comes the rewrite of the scene assets and control. Mainly because i need to save a lot of memory to get the expansion in there... Wish me luck, i'll need it.


PS3Home update and Printing

I spent a lot of my day today working on the Darlas Den personal space. I branched the P4 repository for this part of our Midway development so i could work on it with abandon. So far it has worked out quite well, though i did spend most of the day copying a minigame we have and thentrying hard to start stripping it down. You see i need to take the now two identical minigames and strip them into two halves, opposite halves i think ya could say. Though this should be easy enough, nothing is ever easy.

With no precompile to tell me of some impending problems i am left to run the ting, and we are out of memory. We really know how to pack stuff at Massmedia and Darlas Den is no exception. Then i had an epiphany... I could just change the scene to a public scene and give myself a load more memory to work with, YAY! Now i could at least run without running out of memory before anything could happen. The rest of the day i stripped one of the games down.

Then just before i left work i realised that i missed something inmportant. So with the removal of a few more lines of code... Everything broke.. ARGH! and then i have my wife call me on the phone at this exact time asking me to grab food on the way home and the family is starving.. DOH! Always at the awkward times eh :S so i have left the issues to be resolved tomorrow :[]

I had printing issues tonight. I have no idea why the printer decided to print over the edges of the page. I wonder if it was a word issue, as it kept complaining about my margins, though my printer will print marginless. Either way i now have a bunch of glossy printouts that are useless. Grrr

to add to that i am still not able to get a hold of Blizzard to sort out my now Banned account. Yeah on monday they banned me. Not sure why atm, as i have no email.

Well, tomorrow is another day, and i am sure it will be chock full of surprises.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pax10 submission, done yours yet?

Ok, so i have also been procrastinating over this :(

But the submission stuff is awkward at best. Not sure who worded it all, but maybe a proof reader would have been nice :|

for example...
 B. Submit the $50 submission fee via Credit Card at the end of this form.
This seems easy enough, but in actuality the card processing button is at the top of the form.. so i guess it was at least at one end of it :O

Then there is...
B. You cannot be funded by an outside party.

Does this mean if Mum and Dad have paid for your music etc you are big fat Fail entry Whale?

A. Submit the official entry form (the thing you are reading right now).

The Form they speak of is a list of rules. There is No form.. No place for me to type anything into at all.

So i have written a nice email i will send along with my Zip files of my PC version of A Shooter. I will have to see how i will connect the fact that i paid the 50 bucks to submission email tomorrow when i hope to send this thing out. I am really surprised at how unclear a lot of this competition is. Then again, it could look like the activision one... Them thar rulez is large!


Wednesday, June 9, 2010


It should be no secret by now. But i am looking for sponsors. I am looking for people to sponsor the creation of my game to help me make it a reality. I know i have a game already. Though i want to make it a lot more than it is now. I want to put more production value into this little project of mine. However it has cost me a lot of money so far and yet i want to put even more into it.

Hence the Sponsor page i have in 'A Shooter'. This page will be dedicated to people who give me money to get this game done. The more money they give me the bigger the display of their name in the credits. I am sure some people will look at this as not Indie, or financed by a group etc. I don't really care what people think. I just want to show my awesome gameplayability to the best that i am able. At this time i am able is below where i want it to be.

Anyone intersted in sponsoring 'A Shooter' please drop me a line at Da Voodoochief email addy.

Here is a picture of the sponsor scredits screen.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Not on the Sony stand at E3

Yup, ya heard that right. I got told officially today that i wasn't needed fro the Sony stand. I had hoped i could be there showing off my stuff in PS3 Home. That nice personal touch, it would also have mean't that people who i don't really know, but i chat with on twitter and in the XNA forums would know where i was to meet up for an intorductory HI!

I am a bit bummed about this to be honest.

Still, the new release date for The Midway is still at June 17th... So i hope this doesn't change this time. If by friday it is still this date, then i wil have to contact our agent in charge of checking out and reporting on The Midway.

As for my XNA stuff. The stand is looking good, i'll grab a picture tomorrow and show ya what it looks like once i actually get the Xbox into it. Though the stand is not actually attached to the base yet.

Still, i have to go and meet someone about my late taxes tomorrow, so that will be a really fun lunchtime... NOT!

Have a great night,


Monday, June 7, 2010

Been playing Games all day

It is amazing. The day seems to have gone too fast. It is not very often i play games for too long nowadays. so much to write and design and market etc. Anyone readin this blog will know i am busy on all these fronts. However today i got my wow account restored. so i spent a good while dealing with that. Then moaning about how they did not sort out my sons linked account. To be done i am sure.

So anyway, i sort that for a bit, and try to play some wow with me friend Jeff. We just got into an instance when he was cut off. Then he was unable to sign back in. This bummed me out for a bit, but figured his internet will be sorted once more this coming weekend. We can have soem happy trails then i am sure.

Well i was also playing my new Indie games, apple jack, and Murphid. Both very nice games. Both well put together with nary a hint of being rushed to market (my usual complaint of course for Xblig games!). These are both great games. One is more up my alley than the other and that would be Apple Jack, right from the first jump ya know this game is aok. Murphid is good but not being a match 3 puzzle kinda guy i bought it for the wife and then proceeded to play for like 30 minutes myself, haha! I had to kill myself so i could go fetch my son.

Then.. it was the good stuff..
Me and Lucas went off to one of the Gamestops near where i collected him, well we went after getting some Taco Bell grub. This was my first foray into the Tapo Rd Gamestop. They had 3 staff and no customers. i was in there browsing for 10 minutes and only 1 lady came in to collect Bioshock for her son. I never found the game i was after for me Xbox and so left. Intrigued. .. Is it usually that dead on a Sunday at 12:30pm.
Then me and Lucas headed off to the other Gamestop in Simi valley. This one is in the Simi mall, and i like the manager there. He has helped me market my game Pellmell in the past. This place was quite busy, in about a 10 minute span they must have had a dozen customers and i also found the game i was looking for 'Sonic's Ultmiate Genesis Collection'. As a bonus i also found that Lego 'Indiana Jones 2' was only 20 bicks. SCORE!! So of course i bought them both.
This journey was of course to scout out Sundays as possible days for me to Demo my game. Get feedback and the works. Talking to the managers will be happening very soon i think.

The only issue was.. when i got home, i got to enjoy a bunch of the game from the Genesis and also i started playing with both my children on Lego Indiana 2.. ARGH! then the day was gone...

Finally ended the night watching the last episode of 'Spartacus of Blood and Sand' on netflix on me Xbox. This has been one epic series. One of the most enjoyable mature level series i have ever witnessed.  the story was fabulous, and there was lots of nudity and violence for anyone to be sated. Mind it is very graphic, and i am sure some will not get past the boobs to appreciate the story that unfolds.

Tha last thing i can say tonight is that the base to my stand is not ready. Hopefully a picture tomorrow will prove this.. It is BIG, about 4 inches higher than i expected, as i had forgotten to add in the size of the monitor stand, bah!


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Always more is needed

So i am brain dead toady. I need to write up this this document for a surprise hopefully ready in less than a week, if i can get on with it. Only i am unable to write anything today. so i played a little wow, now one of my accounts is restored, sorting out all that inventory is a pain in the buttocks i can tell ya.

I did get my base (box finished for my demo stand. So next up is fastening the stand to the base. Then onto curtaining it and fitting in the xbox etc, quite exciting for me. As i get closer to finishing this i get more excited about being closer to demoing my game.

I also worked a bit on the side panles for the monitor, but now i need new black ink cartridge, bah!

Not sure what tomorrow will bring, hopefully some less brain dead brainwaves...


Friday, June 4, 2010

Dang Bugs

It's funny how ya can get those bugs in your game to show up at the worst possible times. Not that it was the worst time today when it happened to me, but it wasn't pleasant...

Picture this...
There i am in my office working on some PS3Home stuff, when in pops my boss bringing along with him someone who he wants to impress. I get asked to boot up The Midway for PS3Home and away my boss goes showing off what we have and what it does to Larry. I am interjecting remarks occasionally and it is going well. then my boss asks if we can show off Darlas Den, the free personal space we have created for The Midway.
It boots up fine and the boss starts showing it off no problem. Then we wants to show off more of the space. Well i am a bright spark and i say that i can open up the space with a little addition of some of the many rewards from The Midway placed into our inventory. This should have worked. In fact it sort of did, but also sort of didn't ARGH!
The boards updated.. the meta board updated.. the score updated. But the collision barriers were still in place. Even though they should have been removed. It was quite embarassing for this to happen. After they left I spent about 1.5hours coming up with a solution. This scene is quite complicated and this close to release i am loathe to alter too much code. then it hit me, i could add just one line of code and voila.. it worked a treat. Phew.. that could have been an annoying weekend in work :O

Monday i'll reupload the darned thing. BAH! and double BAH!

this goes to show, it does not matter how much you test a thing, bugs can still reside in the most obvious of places.


The Demo Stand Base

I have done some work on the base for the stand. It is essentially a box. Of course it has to be strong enough to hold the rest of the stand on top of it, also it will need to hold the weight of the xbox and monitor. so it should be strong. I of course used plywood in it's construction. It was tough to cut cos of my shoulder, but with my daughters help i got it done. Here it is so far.
The box.. Plain and simple. It will also be great for carrying my stuff to the demo spot as well :)

This is the top.. erm, bottom of the box. But the stand will rest on this bit. I made a boo boo in my design, and so did not add another 1/2 inch to the width. So i will fix this next time i work on it. The long sides need to be able to take more weight.

So here is a look at the inside. You can see the corner blocks that i screwed into. This is also very strong. You can see in the bottom the extra side pieces i have to put in (they are not done yet).

Next time you see this it will hopefully be painted black as well. I sure hope this turns out alright, otherwise i will have to pay someone to make me a demo stand. Or i can just forget about the idea. Which i don't want to.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Helping Xblig

I have spent a lot of time trying hard to figure out the best way to get the word that there is god stuff on Xblig out there. Heck, i am busy right now working on as many avenues as i can, as many leads as i can... following them hoping that one of these methods i come up with might just possibly lead to people visiting Xblig, and of course my games.

Everyone stands to benefit from more people going to the Xblig tab though on their Xbox. I am sure you have some doubts. I do not and here is why:-
1. There are some great games on Xblig
2. Players can come look and get a game they will enjoy for a rock bottom price
3. The developers will make more sales and more money, so are likely to stay around and do  another great game.
4. MS makes money from the sales too, therefore solidifying Xbligs place in the grand scheme of MS and Xbox things.

It is ALL win. I do not se a particularly bad situation. So what do we need? We need more people/players visiting the Indie games section of their dashboard. This is of course the part i have struggled with. spending way too much brain power on this problem. I am one of those developers that actually spends money on advertising. I also spend money on other types of promotions. I have some of my original ways of advertising listed somewhere in this blog. However none have so far proved useful. So how do i get more people to lok at my games. I have a great conversion rate, but i need more downloads.

Here is the latest idea i have. It does fall onto MS shoulders, and not developers. so far to be a dev and get the word out for Xblig is virtually impossible. so it must logically fall to whoever can make a difference. MS can do this. Though people have realised this and i have read numerous posts how MS should do this or that to save Xblig. I do not really agree with them. Or at least not whole heartedly. Mainly as they are all asking for too much. We need Leaderboards.. well with leaderboards come great responsibility. No way can peer reveiwers check to see if the game is pinging the servers too often etc. So that is out. Next up is the give us Achievements crowd. This is also not gonna happen. There is back end that would need to be done, and peer reveiwers again would have to check that it all worked as designed. This is a very tall order.

So what do i suggest that MS do i hear ya moan?
They give us some tiny Gamerscore. We do not hand it out. We do not control it. Therefore there is no XNA or C# changes required. So what is it exactly ?
Whenever anyone buys an Xblig game, they some small amount of gamerpoints.
1 dollar games get 5 points
3 dollar games get 10 points
5 dollar games get 15 points.

This could all be controlled by MS, behind the scenes for the most part. the values i choose are low compared to what you can get out of a full priced game for example. 1000 points in a 60 dollar game is good value. 200 points form an XBLA 15 dollar game is great too.

Yes people could look at this as buying points, but what are they doing when they buy 60 dollar games? Those first few points are always giveaways (10G you finished your first level etc).

I am sure some people will think this bad. But it is a relatively easy thing for MS to create. It should lead to a lot more interest in the Xblig area. Just look at all those sites that tell you the easiest games to garner gamerpoints from. I think the interest level for Xblig would go up. I think coverage on these sites would happen. who would really lose out? MS would get their 30% and Xblig devs would get their 70%.

Seems to me like a possible Win-Win situation. Now all i need to know is how to ask MS about it :O

Let me know what y'all think.

theBigDaddio showed me this Link talking about exactly this kind of thing and all the noise that surrounds it. Thanks mate!
Achievements for Xblig

A planned day

I had my day all planned out. I needed to get to work and then start on the The Midway2. I have some basic setup to work on and then some more interesting stuff. If i can get all me stuff done in the next few days. I will maybe be able to get on with writing a minigame.

Some days you can plan all you want, but they don't work out like that. Today was one of those days. With other members of the company needing help with Perforce (i am an admin). then i had some extra work we had been asked to do by an outside website (i have to remain nameless i think on this). Then it was discussions with various people about their tasks and what is expected of them etc. Of course i did manage to talk to one of my teammates about A Shooter, as he is helping me test it and he is rather good. I love his suggestions.. so far ;)

I don't know, the day managed to pass so fast, it was amazing. I never did get much done really. I even managed to forget to send out an email i had prepared on friday.

Still i can look forward to getting going at 9:30am tomorrow with a good solid minigame meeting.

Hope your day worked out better than mine, though mine was not a waste. Just not quite what i expected. Hard to be down about such a thing.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What else can i sell?

I am working very hard on selling stuff to make it more ad more possible for me to be able to work on more Indie games. This is a tiring road and somedays i really wonder if it is worth it. Well going to be worth it i guess, as i hope for a payoff much later.

Check out my new company web page for instance... Will this get me any sponsorship? I don't know. But relationships i get now could be very very valuable later, especially if i get to work on an XBLA game for example.

Here is a quick link to my site

One never really knows what will work, but i am Sure gonna try very hard anything that seems reasonable. Next up will be to try and engage some of the local companies to maybe sponsor my game. Time will tell how successful this might be.