New Web Address, Expired License… and Syntr-(ahem)-Cintropy

I registered http://www.ignatiusCore.com, which is currently being redirected here. Hoping to get a full web site up and running in the coming months. The sites content will include a full list of projects, personal anecdotes, and networking information. I was thinking about how excellent it would be if everyone had a personal website, not too similar to facebook/myspace but have that social networking aspect, while being able to share things the way you’d like to share them. I’d make it more about presentation and something that can uniquely represent an individual. Imagining the complexity of being able to create a full fledge site and have it hosted on one social network seems like quite the task and would need well crafted tools to make that a reality.

Note to self: iOS developer license has officially expired! So my apps are no longer on the app store. ūüė¶¬†I would renew it, but I figured I could wait until I’m done working on my next couple apps then re-release the older ones when I’m ready.

Speaking of older apps, I looked through Ultra Troopers‘ code the other night. I haven’t touched it since the competition ended. I was doing some graphic work on it, but now I feel like working on a smaller project. I’m actually revisiting an older idea for this one and with my new found OSX-cocos2d combo knowledge, I’m feelin pretty good about it.

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Ultra Troopers Postmortem

So I was going to write an incredibly long and detailed postmortem, but I figured I should only cover the stuff that was really important. (or at least try to)

The Tools:

Photoshop CS3: Pixel work, UI graphic work, pretty much all the graphics

Tiled: XML Level editing tool. I had built an XML level based editor already but this one had a pre-existing integration with cocos2d.

Cocos2d: Game library written in Obj-C. Definitely more iOS centric but I was still able to use it for MacOSX dev.

XCode: My IDE of choice when it comes to coding. Especially for OSX.

Chipmunk Physics: Awesome physics library written in C. Integrates well with Cocos2d too.

Garageband: Background music.

Audacity: Sound effects.

Hieroglyph: Forgot to put it’s icon with the others, but I used it for the in-game scores’ font.

I’ll start off from the beginning (seems logical) and work my way to the end of development.

Weeks 1-4

What went right: I quickly thought of an idea, and ran with the first thing that popped into my head. It was inspired by an old Hypercard game I played as a kid (I can’t remember the name) but it was a top-down shooter where you could select between 6-8(?) different characters each with a different weapon. You would battle waves of alien creatures and escape through a portal to the next area. When a character died you could no longer use them for the remainder of the game. The goal was to make it to the end with as many of your team members as possible. What really lured me in as a young’n was the co-op mode. My brothers and I played it several times together. A pretty simple idea that I thought it shouldn’t be too hard to execute within the time span. The idea was to create a similar game: I’d have the user able to select from 6 different characters. A Co-op mode. Characters would die and become unplayable for the remainder. In my version each character would have two weapons, primary and secondary, as well as different attributes. (speed, armor, resistances to certain effects, etc.) As soon as the competition began I got to work on an early prototype. By the end of the third week I had implemented a basic physics system, weapon system, movement, level loading, and 2-player control scheme:

as seen here:

What went wrong: I quickly realized that the game I had in mind may take longer than the time period considering I hadn’t even begun making the graphics/particle effects/user interface/sound effects/background music. So I decided to scale down a little bit. I decided I’d have 4 playable characters, and 6 different enemies + 1 final boss, 3 different level schemes and that would be it.

Weeks 5-8

What went right: To be honest, not a whole lot. In fact I didn’t get a lot done on the game during this time. I did some graphics for the trooper and backgrounds along with some sfx. After doing the first frame for the “Trooper Captain” character I sought help and advice from a wonderful website called¬†Pixelation. There my original sprite went from:

This ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† —-> ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†To This

(P.S. Curse WP for not allowing CSS in their free service)

Of course I ended up making the sprites smaller because doing animations for that big sprite was going to take too long (for all the enemies, and all the other characters too)

What went wrong: We can start at why I decided to start building an iOS app called facepalm or how I didn’t touch the code for a couple weeks. Why did I work on facepalm???¬†I was tight on money and my friend had told me about an app he would like to see. There were other apps like it out there but I was determined to make the best one. So I tried to. In the end, about 60% of my customers actually kept the app installed, everyone else wanted a refund. After lots of negative reviews I put it up for free. I still need to fix the issues. Wait is this a facepalm postmortem? or an Ultra Troopers one? Oh yea, right…

Weeks 9-12

What went right: Well, there was definitely a lot of catch-up to be had. At this point I had to do a lot of redesigning, and down scaling, because there was no way I could have a finished product by the deadline. I pumped out the graphics for a single enemy and single trooper just rendered different colors for different types and different players. Made all the background graphics too in the same fashion. I created a basic structure for the game: Title, level cleared, game over, ending scene. Created the heads up display for player 1 and 2. Created the scoring system. Added a little flair to shooting enemies. Tweaked the game feel, so that moving felt right, shooting felt good, etc. That’s probably the most important part for me. The way a game feels.

Some of my creations during this time:

There was originally going to be a 4 player battle mode that got cut out at the last minute.

What went wrong: Once again, quite a few things. A-star pathfinding for the enemies didn’t pan out, so I had to make them dumb and difficult. Multiplayer battle mode got cut. Actually I’ll just list the things I had to cut from the beginning:

  • 4 other types of enemies (each with easy, medium, hard variants).
  • A final Boss.
  • A narrative.
  • 4 different items (medkit, cooler, shields, teleporter, scanner)
  • 7 weapons (flame thrower, gravity well, homing missile, freeze beam, x-ray cannon, force laser, disruptor blast).
  • Some gameplay mechanics: strafing, gun cool down, primary and secondary weapon, a dodge, among other things.
  • The other playable characters: Heavy, Sniper, Tech, Assassin, and Medic.

Of course I think I could have only made that game if I had been working as hard as I did those last few nights for the entire three months.

Futilely fixated on frantically finishing the final level furiously (alliteration!!!)

Conclusion:

Although I felt the game was pretty solid and had an old-school feel to it, it definitely could have used some more work. I had a lot of fun creating it and coming up with ideas for things to implement. The hard part is really implementing them. This kind of frantic game creation can took it’s toll on my health too. In those last couple days I resorted to eating foods that were quick and easy to prepare. I had some “Lean Pockets” (I found it pretty funny that in Justin Fic’s postmortem for Kung-Fu Killforce he mentions eating “Hot Pockets” too) which were terrible. Along with energy drinks and all that other garbage designed to keep you awake. Anyway that’s no way to live. I prefer devving at a comfortable but constant pace. Several hours a day would be ideal. If anything, when I enter another competition like this one, I’ll have to re-read this! Always learning from our mistakes and achievements…


Birthday Blogonia

As of today, I have travelled 25 times around the sun. A quarter of a century.
If I were a computer, and my heart were my CPU, I’d be at 946,080,000 cycles.

That’s about as much nerdom as I can muster for now. Take care reader.


uDevGames Blogathon: A Prologue

First off, I need to bring to your attention that work on Maiden Days has progressed slowly over the past couple days. This is mainly due to my entering in the uDevGames MacOS game developer competition which started about ten days ago. Why would I enter a mac game developer competition you ask? Is that a rhetorical question? In all seriousness, rediscovering this competition was too serendipitous for me to pass up. I had last entered this contest in 2008, which happened to be the last time the competition was held. Upon revisiting iDevGames.com two weeks ago- on a whim- (keep in mind I hadn’t been to the site in about two years) I discovered the contest (normally an annual ordeal) was back on. It’s destiny I tell you… DESTINY!!!

So I have until October 2nd to finish the game for the contest. What will happen to Maiden Days? I’ll still blog about it in post script form. I’m sure working on both games simultaneously will require lots of effort, blood, sweat, and tears… we’ll see what happens. After reading Justin Fic’s survival guide I’m pumped up and good to go.


Coder’s Block

Haven’t even touched Maiden Days or Digisync in over a week. I was too busy watching a collection of T.V. shows on DVD which included: The Office, Parks and Rec, Eastbound and Down, Community, Arrested Development, 30 Rock, Bored to Death, Real Time With Bill Maher, Lie To Me, True Blood, and anything else that seemed somewhat interesting. Conclusion: I need to get my ass back to work. Big time.

I started rethinking Maiden Days a bit. After some online inspiration courtesy of the following videos:

Edit– I’m just going to put the link to the “Everything is a Remix” videos because I can’t display them in my blog:

http://www.everythingisaremix.info/

I’m changing some of the fundamental dynamics to make it a bit more interesting. Even changing the genre slightly. It may take a few more weeks to finish but I think it’ll be worth it. Small projects never seem to keep me motivated so I’m going to try this out. Right now the design is as follows:

Genre: Casual (TB/RT)S RPG

Yes, you read that correctly.¬†I’m going to mix elements of turn based style play with real time elements. The Role playing elements are to a lesser extent in that you will have a selection of characters to choose from and each will have specific role advantages/disadvantages. Coupled with the ability to upgrade attributes for the character you’ve chosen based on experience¬†points¬†and your actions.

(Preview of the character select)

select your character

Users: 1 Player vs CPU or 1v1 Networked

I’ll be using game center to create a network for players to compete with one another on.

Theme: Nonsense.

There really is no theme to the game, nor do I plan there being a theme. It’s ‘Maiden Days‘, the title has nothing to do with the game and is as non-sensical as the game itself.

Controls: Touch, Swipe

Interface is standard for games on iOS (touch based). Swiping for movement, touching for attacking, defending. No use of the accelerometer or gyroscope.

Release Date: Aiming for mid next month, but we shall see. I’ll try to stay on track, and this will hopefully be updated as I go. At any rate, this will definitely be an exercise in my ability to design and code within a short period of time.

Off to it.


A Lent Miracle

This post is going to be a bit off topic, but I had to write it down if only for my record of bizarre things…

During this time of year, between Ash Wednesday and Easter, most forms of christians (I think) forego a bad habit or adopt a good one. I, not being very religious to begin with, decided I should stop purchasing alcohol. I realize this is a bit of a cop out, and there are plenty work-a-rounds for me to get alcohol. A popular one is where I buy a friend food and they buy me a drink. The trouble comes into play when there is no one around but myself.

This is where, I dare say, a lent miracle occurred. One faithful Wednesday night the room mates were out of town, and I really felt like grabbing a drink. (I’m not an alcoholic, I have Thursdays off) I started to pre-game or as we now call it “getting drip” at my place. Taking shots of some gin my friend had left in the freezer. I was kinda bored though drinking alone, so I decided “screw it, I’m going to the bar, I’m going to break lent!!”. Note: I really didn’t care about breaking lent, but spending money on alcohol at a bar is not something I need to do either.

So I arrive at the Ruby Room, a fine establishment in downtown Oakland. Nice atmosphere, great drinks, I heartily recommend going there. Anyway, I take a seat at the bar and order a drink called the “Ruby”. I figured I’d splurge a little, after all I am breaking a rule I set for myself. The bartender goes upstairs to get some pint glasses, and fixes me my drink. I pull out my credit card and just as I’m about to hand it to her, she says “this ones on me.” WHAT!? you gotta be joking! Her reasoning was that she took a while to make my drink but I’ve waited much longer, I’ve had bartenders mess up and remake my drink, and it’s not on the house. Also, that has yet to happen to me- bartenders never buy me a drink. Sure maybe after a couple rounds I might get a free shot, usually when I’m with a group of people, but never the first drink, and an expensive mixed drink at that. Thus, say what you will, I say miracle… I was so pleased and sufficiently drunk that I didn’t bother purchasing a drink for the remainder of the night. Seriously though, what are the odds?