Top 10 of 2015

2015-04-12 17.22.06

This year I decided I wanted to write out a blog post rather than just a facebook update and a list. This way I can go into more detail on the items, as well as actually get an update on my blog for once now that I have one.

Despite years just being an arbitrary number, the new year represents the future, goals,new beginnings. This past year was a very rough year for me. The move to the West Coast was rough. I didn’t land a suitable job yet. I’ve been under a lot of stress and frustration lately. But that’s not what I do these lists for. I make them to reflect on the positive aspects of the year. Besides, complaining about my current situation and other negative experiences isn’t going to help me at all.

Onto my Top 10 of 2015. Most of them are going to be entertainment related, but the top few will definitely be things that happened to me. Additionally, I want to also state that I’m grateful for my family and close friends. They’ve been supportive with my wild journey. I’m thankful for their patience and their help. Every day I think about them, and miss the ones that I left when I moved.

10. Unreal Engine 4 Goes Free

This would be higher on my list, because it’s pretty awesome that a very powerful game development engine goes free for everyone, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to create anything this year that’s even remotely worth showing off. So with that said, I’m making it a goal to create a game this year.

9. Grow Home

I didn’t get around to playing many new games this year, but I had time to get around to this one. It was a small, simple game. You play as a robot, exploring this alien planet. You climb a giant plant, like Jack and the Bean Stock. It’s quite impressive that this game was built using the Unity Engine. I had fun with it and it’s an easy recommendation for people who like playing games with exploration.

8. Andrei Arlovski vs Travis Browne

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB5HFEpTVps

This was one wild fight. Ten years ago, Arlovski was a beast. But then for a while, everyone was able to knock him out. He’s come back and threw down with Travis Browne, who is also a big, scary dude. These guys definitely worked hard for their pay checks. One of the craziest fights of the year, especially for two big, heavyweights.

7. Inside Out

inside-out

Pixar loves toying with my emotions, and this time, it’s the plot of the movie as well. I really enjoyed this movie and felt a connection with the main character because I watched this a month after my move. So missing my friends and family was on the top of my mind at that time.

6. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-lovely-day

This movie was just crazy in the best ways possible. Lots of elements of the story makes no sense at all, but it was just a really fun and hectic action movie.

5. Daredevil/Jessica Jones

Marvel

This year, Netflix debuted two of my favorite comic inspired tv shows. I keep up with other comic-based shows like Arrow, The Flash, The Walking Dead, and even watched a little bit of Powers. I’ve been a fan of Daredevil for a while because I use to read the comics. I never heard of Jessica Jones prior to the show though because apparently she’s a newer character. The quality, the dark and gritty themes, the writing and the acting were all spot-on with both of these shows. On top of all that, I love how Marvel connects everything together and they constantly make references to the Avengers movies. I look forward to more from these shows.

4. Game Design Month

This year was the first year that I’ve done a theme for my podcast, and what better topic than “game design?” For the whole month, my friends and I talked about different game design topics. I felt that it went very successful. I wrote up lots of notes for these shows and I think they ended up being very informative in the subject of Game Design. I would definitely do this again.

3. The Revamp of my portfolio

This is something that I needed to do. My old portfolio was dark, had some errors in the information, and didn’t have much room to grow. This update is a huge improvement. It’s easier for me to add new content, such as adding the new projects that I’ll be doing in the future. It looks cleaner. On top of that, I added the blog and art sections which I didn’t have before.

2. Out of Continues 4 years/Ep 200

ep200

Back to the podcast again, I’ve reached over 200 episodes and the 4 year anniversary. I’m happy to have reached this far, and my mentor, Michelle, joined me on the 200th episode to talk about what it’s like to be a Game Designer.

1. GDC 2015

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This GDC was pretty big. While it didn’t lead to a job this year, I at least got one job interview. Michelle took me on a tour of Zynga, which was really awesome to see the inside of a large, game studio. Zeb’s friend, Frank, took us on tour of Pixar as well. It was a great trip, and hopefully this new year will lead to more and better opportunities.

A New Beginning

First off, I want to welcome and thank everyone who’s visiting my new site. I feel that it only makes sense for me to make a new blog post since one of the new additions to my site is having a blog.

I decided to rebuild my portfolio for a few reasons. One of my online friends has criticized my old portfolio to looking like a wiki for a 90s space mmo game. I wanted to clean up my portfolio, make it look more presentable, add more personality to it, have my projects all in one unified place, and also have a place to occasionally post my art and write up some blogs.

I’m not much of a writer. I’m also not much of an artist. Although, every once in a while I’ll get the urge to do one of those. I already have posted some of my old blog posts from an old blog, as well as some old art, just to get some content in here. I likely wont write too many blog posts since I have my podcasts and usually share my opinions on those. It will likely end up that my blogs will mostly be updates on my projects.

Speaking of projects, I need to get started on one, ASAP. My last project was a Portal 2 level from Last September. I’ve been really busy searching for jobs, but I keep using that as an excuse to not work on something. Building this website as well as looking over some of my older projects, has helped given me some motivation to get started on something. Not sure what yet, but I think I’ll make it my goal to at least have something started by the end of this week.

Where it all began

So while I’m rebuilding my portfolio and setting up my blog, I was looking at my old projects, and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for this one. This is my very first game that I built on my own, Jack Attack. I used Scratch to make this game. Back when I made this, Jack Thompson was always making headlines trying to sue Rockstar and make some noise. So that’s where the theme came from. This was before I started understanding good game design. You can tell because level 3 is much more difficult than level 4. Anyways, you can play it at this url

https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/150819/

Some old flash games

Here are a couple of old flash games I made for one of my earlier game creation classes. One is a whack-a-mole style game for a midterm and the other is a shootem-up for the final. Despite the games called Jack Attack 2 and 3, they have nothing to do with Jack Attack 1.

Indie Study: Week 5 – Project 2 begins

I got project 2 started. Time time I’m working on a 2D platformer. The goal is to get a working character that can move around and jump. Have some obstacles that hurt/kill the character. Some “coins” to increase the score. Possibly some enemies. Stretch goals would be to have abilities such as wall jumping, double jumping, and something like a spring for super jumps.

So far I’m working with basic cubes for the assets. I’m not wasting time making this one look good, that can come later. It kinda looks like Thomas Was Alone because of that. I’m still using PlayMaker and I started off making the character move similar to my last project. I had an FSM that would detect for the arrow presses and then I would translate the character left or right. After doing research though, I found a better way and I scrapped that method. I’m now using a character controller and character motor. These are built into Unity and can tie into PlayMaker.

With the Character Controller imported onto the character, I can move the character left and right with the W,A,S,D keys, the arrow keys, and the left analog stick on my 360 controller. I disabled vertical movement so that it doesn’t think it’s a 3d game, and only moves left and right. My challenge now is to figure out how to get the character to jump. I found one tutorial on how to make a 3d character controller in PlayMaker here but the guy doesn’t even explain how to get the character to jump when it comes to the part of the video that he talks about jumping.

My goal over the weekend is to figure out how to jump, and then hopefully by the end of next week, I have something that can move around from platform to platform.

Indie Study: Week 4 – Project 1 wrap up

Unfortunately, this first project did not progress as well as I anticipated due to set backs, such as restarting the project in PlayMaker, troubleshooting my GPU, as well as my trip to Seattle cutting out a lot of time from my schedule. I was able to got project 1 to the point that it actually resembles a game. Not a game that I’m proud of, but at the very least it resembles a game. Here’s the link to the executable:

http://outofcontinues.com/assets/N490/project1.zip

I want to break down the good, bad, and what I would do differently if I were to do it again.

First thing is first, I got a character that the player can control. It can move, and it can shoot. It can die if it gets hit. Things I would change is the move speed, I feel like it was going a bit too slow. Not only that, but if I were to do it again, I would make the ship go in 8 directions instead of just 4. I think the 4 directions feels too restrictive and moving in 8 directions would make the game feel more smooth. As for the shooting, the bullets didn’t always destroy the enemy. I didn’t find out what was the issue. It was working fine before I implemented the score, but I had to change the FSM to get the score tracking to work. For brief moments, the bullets would not collide with the enemies. Additionally, the bullet textures will also briefly disappear, but that was a problem from the beginning. I will need to figure out what is causing this issue and prevent it from happening in my next 3 projects.

I was able to get the enemies to spawn in a random position. What I had it do is that I would transform the position on the Y axis up or down a random distance. The issue with this is that it would eventually push the spawn point off the screen. I need to get the spawn point to randomly move to a spot within a certain range on the Y axis rather than pushing it up or down. I also think that random speeds for the enemies, within a certain range, would make the gameplay more interesting.

As for the bullets and enemies, one thing I’m happy about, that I figured out on my own, is to destroy the bullets and enemies after they have left the screen. I originally was trying to get an object to catch the bullet and enemy prefabs and destroy them as they collide. This didn’t work. So what I did instead was had each prefab on a timer so that they would destroy once they have left the screen. The bullets would destroy in 2 seconds and the enemies would destroy in 5 seconds, giving them both enough time to travel across the screen and completely leave the screen. I will try to fix the issue with the bullet and enemy catchers though because future projects might need these methods rather than timing the objects off the screen.

I never got around to implement health or lives. When the player dies, nothing happens. I should have a game over screen if the player reaches zero lives. Also I could have the player earn extra lives if they reach a certain score. A high score tracker would have been cool too, but that would be a stretch goal, as well as getting separate levels and getting the animations to work.

So that’s my run-down for the first project. I’m certain not thrilled with the result, it’s definitely not portfolio-material, but at the same time, I feel like I learned a little about PlayMaker and Unity, and have confidence that Project 2 will turn out better. I will get that started on Monday and have an update this coming Friday.

One other thing, I got an EVGA nVidia GTX 770 after replacing that Gigabyte gpu. I had such a bad experience with them that I decided to sell the replacement card they sent me, and put that money toward a new card. I got the card on Friday and it’s been running smoothly so far. So it looks like I will not be having anymore graphical issues with my home pc.

Indie Study: Week 2 – PlayMakeeerrrrrrrrrrr!!!! shakes fist

This week I’m posting an early blog entry since I will be out in Seattle for PAX Prime. So best time to do this is before I leave tomorrow morning.

First off, since my last blog entry I was shown a plug-in called PlayMaker for Unity. This is a visual scripting plug-in, which is great for someone like me who’s not exactly a programmer and wants to put together some gameplay. So I started the project all over from scratch so that I can use PlayMaker rather than using some one else’s ActionScript code that I will somewhat understand but would have no clue how to do on my own.

The problem with PlayMaker right now is that since I’m new to it, I don’t know if I problem that occurs in my game is due to me messing up in Unity or me messing up in PlayMaker. So that resulted to Travis shaking his fist while angerly saying “PLAYMAKEEERRRRRR!!!!” while he’s helping me figure out what’s wrong.

The problem I had was pretty funny. I was able to get a ship moving with the keyboard and shooting with the mouse. I got boundaries so that the ship doesn’t go off the screen. I made an enemy ship, and when it was just sitting there, not moving on the screen, I was able to have it trigger correctly to the bullets and to my ship. If a bullet hit it, it’s destroyed. If my ship hits it, we’re both destroyed. But once I made it a prefab, created a spawn point, and tried getting the ships to spawn in, collision was gone. They would hit the boundary at the left of the screen and start collecting on the left side of the screen. Ended up, I had a rigid body on the enemy and I did’t have the collision box set to trigger.

Another issue I got right now is that the bullets aren’t fully visible at all times, but I’m not going to worry about that too much right now since I can still tell where it’s at when I have PlayMaker labels turned on, and the collision of the bullets work. So that’s all that matters right now, that it works.

Once I get back from PAX next week, I’m going to make sure that my enemies are getting destroyed when they go so far off the left of the screen. I don’t want the game to create so many that it kills the game. Then I want to work on randomizing the spawn. Adding a score is next, alone with having a life system and game over if the player is out of health. The week after that, I will have to wrap things up.

Anyways, I’ll keep this week short and sweet since I need to get ready to leave for the morning.