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 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.