Monday, December 18, 2006

Messing Around with QuiteBASIC

So this QuiteBASIC thing is pretty cool. The nostalgia of programming BASIC hit me so hard after messing around I had to put on a Thundercats tshirt while watching Ninja Turtles, playing Pogs and listening to Run DMC. Seriously, I remember picking up a a dusty battered old book in the library circa 2nd grade ('92ish?) called How To Program Games In BASIC. Gosh I loved that book. Technically it didn't open the doors to programming for me, that honor belongs to this Batch File Programming book my dad got me. However, I really got interested after scouring that book. I wonder if I can find the code back from those days...

Anyways, I made a crappy Etch-A-Sketch clone, if you're interested click. The program's long so I don't feel spamming up my front page with 208 PRINT "blah blah" and 215 PLOT s, y, "some color or other"

I think I'll put together a few simple games or something in QuiteBASIC as I think that would be cool.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Recent Purchase

While I was at EBGames today I got Age of Empires III. You see I'm going to LAN Party called HallowLAN in a couple of weeks. In a fit of RTS hubris, I decided that I'm going to participate in the Age of Empire III tourney they are having. I don't anticipate a high level competition the majority of the focus is on FPS games for this LAN. 'Course I don't have a partner but I imagine that I'll be able to find one at the party.

It'll certainly be pretty interesting to see if I can learn this game pretty well. I'm a on-off RTS player but I'm pretty decent. I'll use a montage or something to get ready for this

I also got a used Meteos and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney for DS fun.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Musing about game structure

I was thinking about positive feedback loops that one Craig likes to write about this morning.

I mused that most good games are about optimizing a chosen positive feedback loop that is in the game. The fun part lies in the skill in avoid disruptions to that loop. It occured to me that many thoughts on game balance are misguided in that you are not trying to minimizing the positive loop found in a game system. That creates a game that is approaching a point where every move is just as valid as any other. Games of alea aren't as bad as that since the whole point is that one move is better than the others it's just you're not sure what it is.

The goal for game balance is increase the difficulties in maintaining any one positive feedback loop. Add many valid and roughly equal positive feedback loops that are mutally exclusive (i.e. you can fast or tough units). And some wonky negative loops to balance it out, that's what big N did with Super Smash Bros. and its one of the most balanced fighting games I've ever played. Make the positive feedback loops hard to learn and hard to predict. Design it so that multiple systems have to be managed in sync to maintain a positive feedback loop like 4x games do.

Oh, and this is why it's easy to design multiplayer competitive games. Each competitor is trying to maintain a positive feedback loop but they're usually mutally exclusive (you can't both be winning).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

MIA no more

Well, I got surprised by an onslaught of ton of work to do at my job as well as school. It ate up almost the entirety of time. I have since been able to balance my time better(sort of, I'm still behind on some homework) so I'll be posting more updates soon. As soon as I read up on all the things I missed. Hmmm, this might be awhile...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Ode to my DS

I have a DS. It is blue and I love it.

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I like having two screens. It's like having two windows with which to see into a world instead of one. Wow! Though sometimes it feels like one is a basement window that doesn't show much of anything. Or a skylight, I suppose.

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The stylus is cool. It came with two but I lost one on the first day. With the remaining stylus I can draw shapes, move avatars around, or maybe some other things cannot fathom as I write this. I always wanted to throw things around using the stylus. I should make a Three Stooges game where you throw pies and poke Curly in the eyes. Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk.

My blue DS matches my blue Gameboy DS. Even though I have both, I still get usage out of the both of them. Sometimes the SP is more convienant. We all still have tons of fun together. They have totally out of control drunken parties though.

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My DS has been envious ever since the DS Lite came out. I think it has self-image problems. To help I call DS Lite an anorexic snobby bitch. I told DS that I like its sexy gut. DS appreciated that compliment more than a girl when I told her the same thing. Girls are wierd. DS's are less so.

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There is a vibrant homebrew scene for the DS and I can't wait to get involved. My extensive research shows me there are tons of apps out there, that are awesome and sweet. There is a port for my favorite language in the universe for the DS and that alone gets me excited. Also, there is a drum machine program, so that in between games I can lay down some phat beats and freestyle with my homies. My DS is gangsta.

If you have a DS, make sure to tell it, "I love you" every single day. It helps the DS's self-esteem and ensures optimal gaming experiences.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Random Pic: Dance Party!

I got a kick out of this. I don;t know, maybe you guys will. Whatever.

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

*yawn*, oh and giant robots

Goddamn have I been tired lately. Like due to having to wake up very early for work this week. Hopefully, after this weekend I can go back to sleeping in late. So this update is going to be a bit random, but I 've been wanting to update for awhile and well, I'm devoted to all 5 readers I got. (how do I know I only have 5 readers, well... I don't.)

First off, my current project involves mechas fighting. I almost typed a "mecha fighting game" but I'm hoping it's going to be more than that. My main motivation was that there is an appalling lack of good giant robots in games, and moreover, they're either ripping on the Mechwarrior series without any interesting changes or FPS with different skins.

So its a 2d side scroller at the moment. I'm trying out a new kind of interface I thought up. It involves having floating command boxes around the mecha. The choice of the commands will be based on the internal state of the pilot and the context that the mecha is in. I'll put up a prototype somewheres when I get something playable.

I'm thinking I want procedurely generated levels; i've been playing a lot of Roguelikes recently. Or I was until work sucked up my waking hours this week. And school is coming up, ready to absorb more of my time. Oh well, maybe I'll meet some fun, interesting girls. The trick, of course, is finding those interested in me. A trick I haven't learned yet, but none of that angsty bullshit here! This is a blog for chrissakes!

I've been reading Dinosaur Comics recently. It's pretty funny. It also inspires me to accomplish something similar with games. I'm thinking that I'd have 16 images or so and I'd try to make as many games with those graphics as possible. Could work.

Does everyone have a moment in there scholastic career where they have writer's block, but then write about the writer's block, and then all of a sudden everything becomes easier? Mine was in 7th grade. I think this is like the blog version of that, but I couldn't care less.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

YouTube presents: YASD, a Nethack fanfilm

While sipping on the YouTube Kool-Aid today I have found a pretty neat little fanfilm about Nethack. I find that it captures the tension of Nethack. As well as the ridiculousness of being killed in a most stupid (though admittingly fun sometimes) way that tends to happen in Nethack. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Maintaining Momentum 'n' Motivation

Because alliteration is key, anyways...

Motivation is a bastard thing and it always seems to elude me. It's pretty fucked up actually. But I do find myself needing it when I want to code up some games. Motivation being a pretty key thing I hear. I am working on a programming environment that is conducive for creating and maintaining motivation. It's rough and it's far from perfect but I am on the right track.

First off, I use Notepad++ to type up all my code. Why? One word: tabs. Yes the main reason is that I use this for the tabs. I've been considering using PsPad and I guarantee you that if I start install the thing and I don't see tabs anywhere I'm clicking the little [X] in the corner and deleting it off my hard drive immediately (read: eventually). It is a dealbreaker. What I need to be able to do is to divide my time between different projects as effortlessly as possible. The most important part of it is the ability to switch between files as easily as possible. I tend to work on a project until I reach an obstacle or problem that I cannot solve immediately, but I'll usually have an idea for another project or more likely, a different part of the project I'm on. So BOOM! I switch on over to take advantage of this bit of creativity. Now here's the cool part, even as I'm 'distracted' by this other task, my mind is still working on the former task, so that when I hit an obstacle/problem with the new task, I'm ready to switch to the first task. I find it maintains energy. Also, keeping the file in view, prevents me from feeling like I abandoned the first task and the demotivating guilt that comes with it.

Oh and multiple windows instead of tabs pisses me the fuck off.

Second, background noise. Usually music of some sort, but recently I've discovered movies to be excellent background as well. I had a most productive session the other night with Tank Girl playing in the background. So not only did I get tons of coding done, I realized that I had forgotten that Naomi Watts was in this movie. (as a brunette but whatever, her hair could be snot green and she'd still be hot in 9 different ways*) Productive!

Third, as here is the part I am working on, fast results. I realize that for a project to reach completion, for me, I need to have moved pixels around on the screen by the time I reach 125-150 lines. Python + Pygame has been really good to me for that purpose. However, I still have a tendancy to work on the design stuff of a game a lot, with no real good way to test it so I end up working on something not seeing a lot of results. And that equals death. I have directory full of projects that died in that fashion.

Fourth, while hanging out around downtown it occured to me how much I respect those who can freestyle rap. I attempt it a lot, and while I'm getting better, I'm not good yet. However in attempting it, I understand the skill it takes to make a good freestyle rap. I guess, I want to be able to apply that spontaneous creativity to me making games. This is really a combination of point one and three, but this is the inspiration for all this, so I guess rappers are my guides in producing art (so are film directors but that's not exactly relevant right now. They take forever.) However you feel about hip-hop, you should be able to admire the way that they can keep producing stuff. (Sure, you may say most of its crap, but I'd counter that most of ANY genre is crap and at least rap fans don't wait 3+ years for a sophomore record)

Five, I've been naming my various scripts after fruit. That is neat.

Six, I've been gathering all my commonly used functions and objects together for better reuse. Yes, yes, yes, nothing new or special, but it's something I keep forgetting. But I'm getting better. I've been starting to collect them in pineapple.py. Pineapple is delicious but not on pizza. (Hawaiian pizza? Yuck, put pepperoni, bacon, burger, chicken, meat, dead animal flesh as toppings on my pizza. Extra cheese is also acceptable)

Seven, never quiting the editor but quiting Firefox. This does wonders. Blogs are fun but it does tend to suck you in.

Eight. What eight? There is no eight. Eight is where I conclude this blog post because I'm trying to code and this has taken far too much time. I'm going to code. or bed. something

Oh and P.S. Does anyone else have a habit of pressing Ctrl+S while typing and Blogger starts publishing way before you've finished? It's so automatic for me to save randomly as precautionary measure. It feels wierd not doing that now. Like I'm unprotected.

*I don't generally prefer blondes (Mandy Moore is hotter as a brunette), but Naomi Watts is definitely much hotter as a blonde than brunette.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Break it down now

I suppose that I should give myself (and any of you who wandered on to my shadowy nook on the intarweb) a overview of what I hope to write about in this blogs as regards to game design and theory. I am an experimenter before theorist. I love reading and absorbing theory, however I do not have any of my own, really. Really what I do with games is try to break them down in my head into various pieces. Sometimes I'll call those pieces: devices, layers, patterns, metaphors, loops, or whatever. It usually depends on what I'm looking for at that moment. My goal in going through all this trouble is to eventually be able to rearrange and synthesize this game pieces into whole new games. Well, more accurately, new experiences but I'll get to that in a sec.

What I like about reading about theory is that every good post is another lens with which look at games and see how they fit together. Being able to pinpoint where, how, and why a game works or does not work in various ways is very powerful. It's probably why I like a lot of 'bad' movies, because I am able to pull out some brilliant technique or find something enjoyable about a bad movie and focus on that. Ultimately I am creating a magic bag of building blocks with which I can make various games out of. 'Course, when I gather all these pieces, what then?

I want to create fantasies. I want to make someone feel like they are somewhere else. I want to create an experience. I want to ellict specifc emotions. The way I see to do that, is that I can reach into my bag of tricks (Felix the Cat, the wonderful, wonderful cat) and pick out the ones that support the theme or idea I want to express.

See I have this idea (theory even??), that each infinitesimal piece has an emotion, a feeling, and/or an idea it can convey. The sideways only movement of a Space Invaders/Galaga type game, the health bar, a d20, all of those pieces has a voice that communicates to the player. And all those voices, with the proper designer, can become a chorus.

I think I overused "I" in this post. I'll try to be less ego from now on and a little more id.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Apparantly, I'm into independant filmmaking

I've been recruited to be work on a movie called, "How Myspace Ruined My Life." Its about a guy who goes on a bunch of dates with girls he met on MySpace, hilarity ensues. So not only am I in the movie (as the guy's asshole friend) but I'm also co-writing the script (or what passes as such), assistant directing, and basically production managing (which includes making sure we have everything we need.)

I'm having a blast making this movie. Setting up scenes, doing multiple takes, rewriting the script, the whole process of moviemaking is simply amazing to me. There is something about collabratively making a work of art that keeps the energy up. I'll have to explore this for making my games. I suppose we'll see if this movie comes to fruition and if we come out with something actually watchable, hell funny even. 'Course optimism isn't my strong suit, but what the fuck, this shit is fun.

Oh, the excited director actually made a teaser for the film and put it on Youtube. I'm torn between loving the fact that some of the footage actually hit teh intarweb and the roughness of the footage grating on my nerves.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mystery Science Arcade 3000

So I had this idea for an internet show the other day, inspired by Mystery Science Theatre. Basically I plus any friends/puppets I can convince to be my sidekicks play old abandonware games and proceed to heckle them. 'Course I still I have not figured out the layout but it seems hilarious in concept. There's a lot less history to draw on, but I doubt that'll be a problem. Old games are hilarious and plentiful. Plus I get to hit the nostalgia nerve that every good gamer should have.

It's still an idea though and I have tons of questions to answer before I even consider going through with this. Should I use puppets? Do I want to put forth all the extra work of using a screen capture program (which one?? all the ones I've seen seem pay-for) and putting our silhouettes or should I just be lazy and stick a camcorder behind us as we play? What should I name it? I refuse to name it Mystery Science Arcade 3000 as I feel that just adds insult to plageristic injury. Should the play session be uncut, or should I just cut the boring bits out?

The delivery format for this nonsense would probably be a *.blogspot with videos posted to YouTube. I wonder if I should add a wacky storyline? Should I even bother? Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Digging through my memories...

When did I know that games were going to dominate my life so? Hmm, I'm going to have to memory searching...

Perhaps it was when I was in middle school, when I spent hours upon hours play MUDs. (Gemstone and DragonRealms, oh fantastic memories) I even managed to convince most my friends to play MUDs and they all enjoyed it. Organizing the group sessions, getting booted of the MUD because they thought we were Multiplaying when really were just all logging on from the school network. We were such foolish gamers. 'Twas all good times, but I think it was earlier.

Maybe was when I met my best friend due to talking about Starcraft and we realized we both played Magic: the Gathering as well. We formed a partnership of Jay and Silent Bob proportions which continues into the present day and the forseeable future. Hmm, while that was a hallmark of my life, I don't think that's when I knew games were going to important to me. I think that just when I found someone who feels the same as I do. Which, while cool, is not the topic of this Round Table and I'd be basterd to digress.

Well, it could be during the hours I spent playing X-Com: UFO Defense and X-Wing plus it's sequel Tie Fighter during my elementary days and many other games too. The fiero I felt when I beat Tie Fighter I can still feel sometimes. I couldn't beat X-Wing or X-Com, though I still had fun playing them. Somehow I think it was earlier still.

I wonder if its when I found this book at the library for kids on programming games in BASIC. I remember when I found that little gem and ran home to mess around with QBASIC. No, that's when I learned the programming was going to be important to my life (even though I at point I had been programming batch files for awhile) Goddamn, I'm starting to think I'm never going to remember the point. Maybe it was just too early for me to remember.

Wait, I got it. Silly me. It was when I was watching my dad play Wing Commander I or II, I was too young to know the difference. Probably I though. It was such a cool bonding activity for me. Watching my dad fly through space, taking down the Kilrathi (except for Hobbes, who was your boy) well that was just inspiring. I wanted to fly through space and shoot down baddies too! Yeah, that was it. I think I knew then that games was what I wanted to do. So I can blame my dad for all of this. Naturally, he was also the one who introduced to Warhammer 40k, which continues to dominate my life.

What a life decision to make, and I was like maybe 4 years old?


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Warhammer 40k

So right now, I have once again been immersed into the wonderful world of Warhammer 40k. For those who don't know it's a tabletop miniature wargame. Which essientally means that there is two hobbies going on at once, the actual playing of the game and the building of the models that you play with. I am really into both sides of the game, I love 'converting' models for instance, but really it is the exercise in strategy and tactics that I love about this game. There is a feeling of uniqueness that each unit and army has on the battlefield. It's something that seems a bit lost in most computer games (less so in most turn based combat games, more so in RTS games). I've always felt that most 'tactical' games weren't really all that much tactical. There are of course exceptions,, X-Com, for instance but for most games I always get the feeling that they can be play algorithimically without much hard decision making. The *craft games are good of this. I love Starcraft, but really those and most RTS are about choosing the most efficient 'path' of generating units and seeing whose mob of units can win. There's not a lot of room for cleverness (notice I don't say no room) in these games. I've got Dawn of War chilling on my computer and I've played it maybe once, but it might be a little different, but I doubt it.

Perhaps I'm just bitching because I think I good at tactics but I suck at Warcraft III. But I feel that for a game to be tactical, position of units should make just as much of a difference as which unit is tougher or bigger. At least for strategy games where you are controlling an army. RPGs and Fighting games are a whole different beast all together. Something I may get into later.

Basically, all that rumbling in my brainpan has led to idea of game I want make which sofar as been call 'Position' but the name is crap and I'll change it as soon as I come up with something better. What I want to create is a tactics game in the vein of Final Fantasy Tactics, X-Com, and Tactics Ogre, but I want to remove the health bar. I want that grid to mean more than as a way of calculating line of sight.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Making My Own Damn Game

So I just finished reading Make Your Own Damn Movie by Lloyd Kaufman of Troma fame. It's pretty interesting guide in a making low budget independant movies. Though not directly applicable to me, the making of games and films are quite so I hear, I still feel that it is useful to me. In general, the mindset of an independant artist-rebel doing what he can to create and get an audience is something I need to get into and collecting wisdom from successful auteurs seems prudent. Personally the thing that I need to learn the most is:

It's okay to make crap. As long as I can make something brilliant, enjoyable, and fun, it can certainly be crap. Artists have made careers out of making great crap. Toxic Avenger, Evil Dead, Dead Alive(Braindead) are all low budget crap but it's magnificant crap.

I have this impulse to hold myself back from making stuff, games included, because I feel that what I'll produce will be a pile of steaming shit but I have to tell myself that it's okay if its crap. And of course, I shall be inflicting my crap on the internet because the Lord knows that there is always more room of the internet for mediocrity.

Maybe I should have called this blog Crapgames. :D

Sunday, June 25, 2006

First steps are always the hardest

I'm not exactly sure what the first post of a blog is supposed to be like. Should be a pretentious annoucement of a new blog, should be a simple bland introduction, or should I simply get into whatever it is I'm talking about? Perhaps D) All of the above?

The way I figure it really is that the first post shouldn't really mean all the much. I'll write about what I want to write about (probably game design and whatever reading/watching/playing at the time) so there is no real point to telling people what I'm going tell them and who I am will be revealed as I go along. But at the same it does seem a bit rude to ignore doing an introduction, a bit like starting a conversation without a greeting.

So as an introduction the only thing I'll do is explain the name. I asked my dad to describe my humor and he came up with those three adjectives. That's it. Seeya later.