Saturday, August 24, 2013

Recommendation: Ultra Business Tycoon III

     Porpentine's has recently become one of my game dev heroes - she's more aware of everything that's fucked up about the medium more than any other public figure that I know - but this had only been because of her incredibly insightful writing about games. Ironically, I had actually never played one of her interactive fiction games until this evening: Ultra Business Tycoon III, a (semi-autobiographical, I assume) text adventure in which you're in the role of a young girl in a dysfunctional household playing a game. I really don't want to spoil any more of it, but it really struck an emotional chord with me, and you should really do yourself a favor and play it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Recommendations: Various 7DFPS games by other people.

     I've spent a few days now playing through as many of the hundreds of 7DFPS entries released last weekend as I could stand before growing sick of the FPS genre altogether. Here's some pretty cool games from the jam.

There's a bunch of planets with turrets on them and you jump from planet to planet and there's PLASMA FREAKING EVERYWHERE and it's kind of epic.

Tunnel Revision
Not much of an FPS, but you race through a tunnel in first person view. Kind of like those helicopter flash games everybody played as a kid except it doesn't suck.

Terror From Another Dimension
Roguelike-ish shooter where you blast cute aliens, but after a certain amount of time the level's ceiling flies away and aliens come down from space and it's really awesome.

Boarding Party
Procedurally generated shooter in which you blast through hordes of aliens with what precious ammunition you can scavenge. One of the most polished entries by far, and a load of fun. Borrows some of the best elements from Doom, and then adds some of its own flair.

Notch, the guy who made Minecraft (dur), made a game, and it's kind of been hogging up all of the 7DFPS press from those of us who don't have name recognition, which kind of pisses me off, but the game's really, really good. It's the zombie apocalypse, and life is hard.

Ned Kelly's Last Stand
In which you play as Australian folk hero Ned Kelly during his final moments. There's a couple of really great moments in this game, but I don't want to spoil them. Pretty neat.

A game by Vlambeer, those guys who made Super Crate Box, in which you blast bacteria with guns using guns. Very solid gameplay.

Anything you've played from the game jam you've enjoyed? Please lemme know!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

"Empty Chambers" now on Game Jolt!

You can now download "Empty Chambers" from Game Jolt and apparently give me ad revenue or something/whatever. There's also more screenshots and shit. It's nice.
Check it out here.

Friday, August 16, 2013

7DFPS Challenge: Day 7

     "Empty Chambers" was completed at 3:00 AM this morning. You can read the pitch about it and download it on the games page. It's entry on the 7DFPS site is here.

     Before I talk about the game itself, I want to mention that the 7 Day FPS Challenge was a wonderful experience. I really enjoyed reading up on everybody's progress at the end of each day. Even though each team used a different development tools, were of varying sizes, and had wildly different end goals, I felt a lot of solidarity with the whole community. To each of you who completed a game this week, congratulations! Also thanks to those of you who helped organize it.

     Also, this is the first damn videogame that I finished making in three years. This is a really big milestone for me. Most of the time, I don't even get far enough to begin implementing sound. It was a good experience to have gone through the entire development cycle for once. Not only is it good practice, but it's a good reminder to myself that I am actually capable of making and releasing a full game.

     Now, I'm still damn tired from working lasting night and won't write too much else. I have a lot of things I want to say about game violence, shooters and storytelling, and this game in particular, but that discussion will be much more fruitful as I receive feedback on the game. This is in a few ways an experimental game - I made some creative decisions without knowing what the effect would be, and from the little feedback I have received I don't think that the effect was at all what I had intended. So give me feedback. Pretty please? Thanks!

EDIT: Oh, and as far as the last 36 hours of development went, it was pretty hellish. I spent 4-5 hours working out the gunfight at the end, another hour adding the zeppelins and bombs, another hour making and figuring out sound effects for the first time in forever, and still another hour doing boring mundane shit. Totally worth it, though.

     There was a lot I had hoped to get done that I didn't get to: there was supposed to be a section with turrets, and the last level was supposed to be a war zone with civilians under attack from the zeppelins and stuff, and I wanted to add more banter between the player and the fugitive, but it was all low-priority stuff. Perhaps I'll add it later.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

7DFPS Challenge: Day 5

     Today is the day that "Empty Chambers" actually became a game (by a more conservative definition of the word, anyway). There is now a mini-dungeon with falling ceilings that will result in your untimely bloody death! It's really amazing how much variety there is in falling ceiling trap configurations: one could easily make an entire game out of such a concept.

     Also added player death and made the other character run away from you. Tomorrow is pretty much the last day of development: the challenge ends Friday at 8:00, and I have dinner plans with coworkers. All I have left to do is an optional boss fight, level transitions, bombs, zeppelins, and sound effects. There was originally going to be a section with turrets, and I was hoping to be able to do music, but there will be absolutely no time for those things.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

7DFPS Challenge: Day 4

     Crap, it's day 4 already? I'm so far behind schedule it's not even funny. I predict that Friday night will be a coffee-filled all-night extravaganza.

     It's not as though I haven't been productive. It's just that I've been working altogether on the wrong things. I spent too much time making fancy health/stamina/ammo bars that disappear at full health/stamina/ammo (because I hate HUDs with a passion and just want them to go away), and I spent way too much time working on the sprite for the game's other character (I had to make sure that she was perfectly anatomically correct. Bah. Actually animating her is going to be such a pain.) I'm proud of my work and all, but pretty much all that I got done today on my to-do list was the title screen.

     Oh, and speaking of title screens, the game has a title now. I'm calling it "Empty Chambers".

Monday, August 12, 2013

7DFPS Challenge: Day 3

     Pretty much done with the levels. Running a little behind schedule - starting off working on a game during the weekend and finishing it during the workweek is really misleading in terms of what you think you can accomplish during a given day. I didn't get much sleep last night, and the game's suffering a little because of it- the level I made today doesn't look as good as the three made yesterday, and I can't find the willpower to populate the levels with the hazards and the game's other character - so I'm going to try to go to bed early tonight. Writing the AI for the game's "enemy" will be interesting - I haven't gotten far enough in an action game's development cycle to needed to have written combat AI in a loooong time.

     The look of the abandoned city that the game takes place in is probably subconsciously inspired by the poorest areas of Baltimore city - rows and rows of boarded up and decaying buildings. A lot of cities I make in games end up turning out that way.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

7DFPS Challenge: Day 2

     I can't begin to tell you how satisfied I am with how the levels are starting to turn out. I hope to be finished with the levels tomorrow, hopefully I'll have enough time to actually start implementing the gameplay by then.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

7DFPS Challenge: Day 1

     So today was the first day of the 7 Day First Person Shooter Challenge: an initiative for game developers to breath new life into the oversaturated, overdone, ever violent, and ever popular first person shooter challenge. Here's a screenshot of what I have to show for the first day of work. I'm working on the game's engine right now, trying to get as much coding out of the way as possible before I work on art and level design. I've mostly been recycling old code and graphics from old, unfinished 3D projects.

Fun Fact: The game on the left is the spiritual predecessor to Waker (see the aesthetic similarities?). I even ripped the text box scripts from it. Mostly ripping code from the unfinished FPS on the right, though.
      One of the keynote speakers for the events, Bradon Chung (creator of Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of Loving) encouraged developers to questions the fundamentals of the genre. I've been thinking a lot lately about game violence, morality in games, the stories that violent games tell through gameplay, and how the stories told through the violent gameplay synthesize or conflict with the story that the game is trying to tell. In most first person shooters, the player's violent actions are "justified" in that the player character almost always acts in self defense. Whenever you encounter an enemy in an FPS, the enemy will fire first if the player does not. One of the premises of the game I intend to make is that the player is forced to be the aggressor and remove the moral crutch given to most shooter players, making things suuuuper aaaaawkward for them. What will follow the initial act of aggression is essentially a long, glorified chase scene and boss fight - I want to make the entire game focus on the relationship between the player and his victim with as little filler as possible. What I intend to do with this game is explore a new sort of story that can be told through shooter mechanics - hard to do since there are really so few stories that can be told primarily through shooting.
Game Maker really isn't great for 3D. Should have learned Unity... wish me luck!