It’s 2015? What happened to 2013? And 2014?

Being busy makes time fly! And shipping a bunch of games makes you learn a lot!

I read over some older posts, and it almost seems like a different me. Not that I was stupid, just that my experience has expanded so much. I don’t think I could have had better things happen than what I’ve done in the past few years.

Times change faster than ever, though. Becoming a mobile gamer (and developer) has expanded my game design sensibilities dramatically, and for the better, I think. So many lessons about simplicity and elegance are strewn among the many, many, MANY (!) mobile games out there. PC and console developers should be paying attention.

There is a pile of new game prototypes on my harddrive, and I don’t have any new screenshots right now, but maybe soon.

Toodles,
Jason

Add a comment. Posted in Catching My Breath.  

Creative play by the divine absolute.

Hmm.
lila-unity-login

Ok, ok. This image implies a bit more than is currently happening, but I have to have aspirations, right?!

2 Comments. Posted in Lila Dreams.  

It’s a new year, indeed.

Development prototypeOne person’s crisis is another person’s opportunity. Now I want to dip my toe into something different. Stay tuned!

Add a comment. Posted in Prototyping.  

Walking on the Wild Side (or just from a side view, maybe)

In between making games at my day job, I’ve done quite a bit of prototyping and learning. Here are some things.

I generally grab art from the interwebs, so thank you to those artists who put up their work for non-commercial use. :)

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This new, cool thing: NoSQL!

(Geek talk warning!)

So I’m exploring some new technologies, and I think I found a great solution for horizontal scaling databases. I’ve known about NoSQL for a long time, but never actually worked with it until this year. Turns out, it is awesome!

There are a few flavors, but they are all pretty good. I’m playing with MongoDB right now, but also going to experiment with Couchbase.

Since life has settled down a bit (shipped a new game at work, etc), I have been working on a new personal project. So, for that, I’m using NoSQL on the backend, and it’s been great so far. No MySQL sharding! No schema maintenance! No data parity issues between shards! No shards! (Well, not from the game’s perspective.)

Anyway, I’m back on the saddle, fired up about this little game, and using a chunk of spare time to get it running. Turn-based, multiplayer steampunk airship battles! With 3d graphics! (Unity, of course.) Huzzah!

(If you remember my old Facebook game, Merchant Commander, this is kind of just the combat lifted out and made into a game by itself. I wanted to keep the focus tight and the scope small so I have a better chance of finishing it before I die of old age. This is also a significant step toward a more expansive MMO-lite project.)

Add a comment. Posted in Code Talk.  

How to wreck a game without really trying

Excerpt from The Game Archaeologist answers Asheron’s Call 2: The former dev:

The techies at Turbine felt this was their last chance to create a new, better game engine. They had visions of their engine powering hundreds of different games and Turbine getting residuals forever.

So AC2 ended up using very little of AC1’s code. Because of all the low-level changes, it was impossible to reuse any of AC1’s game logic. Every game mechanic had to be written from scratch, even the parts that we wanted to be exactly the same. That made it impossible to create “AC1 with more stuff.” There just wasn’t time.

So it stopped being a sequel and started being a different game set in the same world. This one was a Kingdom-vs.-Kingdom war-fest with tons of character options. It was a good design and a fun PvP game. Unfortunately, it was not a sequel in any way, and that’s not what Microsoft wanted to hear: It had been promised a sequel.

So relations got strained between Turbine and Microsoft. Microsoft continued to promote the game as a sequel whenever its reps talked about it. The result? AC1 players came over, spit on it, and left.

If you’re ever stuck on the treadmill of going from language to language or from engine to engine or from shiny thing to shiny thing and you never seem to get a game finished, this is a powerful lesson on the value of reusing existing code. It’s a scary lesson on how far chasing butterflies can lead you away from your goals–to the detriment of your project.

Indies, beware! This siren is dangerous.

Add a comment. Posted in Code Talk.  

A game developer’s work is never done–and always changing

With Oil Spill Hero under my belt, this looks like the next thing on the list:

Dragoneer logo first draft

I have discovered and (so far) completely adore Player.IO. I was gobsmacked when I researched it and realized what they’re offering. Naturally, I had to make something with it! And that’s just what I’m going to do.

I had previously been really loving RedDwarf Server, and I still do, but the amount of effort to complete, launch, and operate a game with Player.IO is dramatically less. It’s got some quirks, but they’re quite minor in the scheme of things.

As much as I want to support and use RedDwarf (which I still think is a top-notch server tech–it just needs polished support services and libraries to make it the ultimate one!), I have to pay the bills. That means I can’t always use the technologies I want to. I said goodbye to Python and hello to ActionScript for the same reasons. It’s just not a feasible thing to do in terms of business.

There’s my geek banter for now. See you soon!

–Jason

Add a comment. Posted in Dragoneer.  

Oil Spill Hero features dolphin technology and one-button fun

Oil Spill Hero is the next game I will release. It’s decidedly simple, and requires only one button. I could probably make a few games based on this central mechanic of “rise, descend over a scrolling level.” There’s a surprising number of ways to make it interesting, and Oil Spill Hero only scratches the surface.

Oil Spill Hero screenshot
I will be attempting to get the game sponsored, so I expect that will mean the game won’t be online until April. This is my first time getting a game sponsored, so I’m not sure how long the process will take. In the mean time, I’ll be cranking away on another small game (or two).

If you want more news about the game and a way to find other games I make, you might want to “like” Oil Spill Hero on Facebook.

Thanks for reading,
Jason

Add a comment. Posted in Announcements, Oil Spill Hero.  

There’s a whole Galaxy of Swine out there, you know.

Yeah, so, I’ve got something brewing here. It’s a small project, but it’s a lot of fun, and it’s coming to a web browser near you pretty soon.

Galaxy of Swine preview logo

That is all.

Add a comment. Posted in Announcements, Galaxy of Swine, Production.  

And now for something not so completely different

I’ve decided to take a hiatus from Merchant Commander development for a couple of weeks (looks more like a couple of months now).

For one, I’m researching some new Flash game engine libraries. I currently use PushButton Engine, but I’m finding it to be kind of long-winded and not clear about certain things such as what component controls which values. Well, that’s a geek rant I won’t make you suffer. :)

FlashPunk game engine logo I came across something called FlashPunk, and I like it. It’s not as formally engineered as PBE, but that’s actually why I like it. In terms of sitting down and just getting something done, this game engine rocks. Yes, parts of the code make me cringe (just my taste, nothing wrong with how it’s made), but when I realized how fast I was getting a little game on the screen, that won me over.

Well, that and the fact that it has basic features for everything you need in a game. No hunting down and learning yet another 3rd party library for particles, tilemaps, tweening, etc. Just hack it up, and go! Add the fabulous DAME map editing tool, and you’ve basically got everything you need to make single player games.

It’s likely that Merchant Commander will get a FlashPunk overhaul. I have some big plans for how the interface is presented. It will become much more “game like” and animated, but that would be after the official alpha launch, when the game is online all the time instead of me taking it down to work on it most of the time. That’s coming soon.

But I will need more art, and that costs plenty of money.

So, I also want to experiment and see if I can make any money on single player games, and hopefully come out the other side with some more funding for Merchant Commander. We shall see!

As always, thanks for reading.

–Jason

Add a comment. Posted in Production.