I am breaking my vow of blog silence for an important reflection. Kids are the future, and OGPC is part of the solution. What a great event! I had the pleasure of being a volunteer judge again this year. This was my 3rd time judging. These are some bright young kids. Its interesting to see them and their struggles. They are real struggles people in the workforce and self employment have every day. They wont know the value of this experience for time to come. Some may never, the vast majority of the kids were super engaged. This was really inspiring and if I can help one or more of them make a good decision down the road its all worth it.

The Organizers were OGPC Alumni! This is great. They went through what these kids went through a few years back. It was great to see how positively it influenced their lives. They are certainly proud of it too. So is that proof this works? Well if it inspires a handful of kids from the hundreds participating then I think so. I know it does more than that, but its a resounding success year after year. The volunteers did really well (my part is small if not trivial, but I am proud to be part of it for my little part as a game professional judge.)

The key note speaker, Daniel DiCicco, spoke from the heart and his experience. It was very inspiring to the kids (and at least this adult) is always intrigued to hear about fellow successful developers trials and tribulations!) They were riveted like they were basking in the glow of greatness. I've seen these kids not as interested in a speaker, and well, this was NOT the case. So even if Dan feels that he has or has not achieved greatness is totally unknown to me and moot since those kids he spoke too showed me he was great! ;) For many of them Dan has reached the pinnacle of what they would consider a complete success in the games industry. Thanks for that Dan! I enjoyed meeting him, his family, and seeing the joy of their togetherness. From my brief encounter I can tell he is a complete, grounded, and rounded person (and I may be *slightly* biased as he has given me and my wife so much joy as a MOO2 fan looking for the 'proper' 4x fix, but thats for another post for another time ;).

Daniel DiCicco
@zer0sumGames
http://www.stardrivegame.com/
https://twitter.com/zer0sumgames

OGPC
Volunteers are always needed please help if you can!
http://www.ogpc.info/


The "Portland Indie Game Squad" (PIGSquad) out of Portland Oregon has been around a few years before I joined up.

I can't praise this group enough. They are a very diverse community and very sensitive and diversity conscious group. The are very self-critical to the fact and as long as they continue to try to improve their inclusive nature I believe they are going to remain welcoming. It is a safe place to be yourself and every skill level and interest.

The benefits of membership is great (you just show up btw, 90% of most battles are won by just showing up [1]) You get feedback, you get to peek at the process others are going through, play ideas and participate in the most extraordinary part of game design, the part where you get to get feedback.

The chance to get feedback at Art/Code night and the monthly meeting to engage in deeper discussions about our regions and global developments in game development are splendid. Could I get all this online? Probably, but it would take 5x the effort I bet. Nothing compares to the efficiency and the diversity of the input and the opportunity to help abounds. I feel like I take more than I give, some of these guys really know what's going on under the hood. But don't let that intimidate! You have got to start somewhere and for Portland that should be PIGSquad if your serious about making games.

So yeah... I <3 the oink out of PIGSquad.

[1] completely fabricated fact.


Not of my own but memory as a game mechanic. The article is interesting, in my opinion, but I am a bias fanboy.

The article does brings up an interesting point that Adams have espoused to embrace and that is it is a game with actionable memory. Its an idea that has fascinated me and I have played around designing with as early as Ultima III and other RPGs in its style where, for example, I would pick a cabbage from a farmers field, he might yell at me then and there because he witnessed it, but he would act like he never met me a if I ran off screen and came back. that always felt 'lifeless' and 'gamey' to me. I have often dreamed of games with better memory. A simple encounter with a recounted memory could really go a long way in helping games 'breath' and feel more alive and powerful. I've even gone so far as to create schema and algorithms to simulate degradation over time and strength of an individual memories. Which would generate weighted responses from "Hi there stranger!" to "long time no see!" and "Why are you still here?" Its a set of ideas I have carried with me for a LONG time and one I will work into my work at some point. This memory feature one of the many reasons I love Dwarf Fortress. The procedurally generated history probably has more impact on gameplay than one might suspect and I am only a player of Fortress Mode. I bet the "Stone Soup" like Adventure mode is a 1000x more interesting because of that memory...

http://killscreendaily.com/articles/road-two5six-tarn-and-zach-adams/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Crash Cart has released! I am sorry I would have announced it earlier. But really it has been amazing and painful to support this product. There was so much new infrastructure we knew stuff was gonna blow up under load, but not exactly sure where, and it did. But not a complete down and out for more than an hour here and there. We did OK, not great, but OK. Crash Cart has a large server component for such a simple game. We already have gigs of player activity recorded (ghost trails) that can be watched and raced. The account system, although we botched it for 7.6% of people signing up and our auto account system forced some folks to have to create accounts (we really did not want that to happen, but its the work around.) Offline play was kinda rough despite our massive focus on making sure it was possible. And it was but in real world you had to wait for the Apple framework to timeout, which apparently behaves vastly different in the lab environment. We learned a lot there! Still learning, and we are gearing up for the multiplayer competition aspects. Should be fun! We lost many a night's productivity racing.

The next patch fixing auto accounts and some issues in the game is waiting for approval at Apple.

Cheers! And let us know what you think too!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/crash-cart/id665173771?mt=8


All right! I figured it was about time to update the world... (that and I fixed the broken user account database on the site... no account, no log in... not a bad security policy, but it meant I just couldn't post the simplest of updates. It took me several months to get the task prioritized enough to fix it! But here we are. I'm back... Did you miss me?

I have been very busy with my partners at Appsomniacs creating Crash Cart! A new physics based racing action puzzle game... What is that you say? Puzzle racing? for the latest explanation head on over to appsomniacs.com and check it out for the latest and greatest (caveat: there is little more than "Coming soon!" atm of penning.) The app is in review at Apple. Assuming we don't have to fix something major we are going launch it soon!

In general Crash Cart is inspired by the likes of various bike/hill climb games but littered with contraptions inspired by puzzle games like Incredible Machine (think Rube Goldberg machines that you drive/race through) and the along with crazy physics based crash antics very much inspired by Happy Wheels (the free version can be handed to to anyone in the family btw) should be a hoot to play. And as a bonus the game comes with a full featured track creator built in. We used the same creator to create the levels in the game and its open to verified users (via email) to post their creations to share and challenge others. It's the same tools we use to build tracks. I don't think we will ever make another game where the user can't influence content. If there is a way we will make it happen.

The first version is free to play, you can play community unrated tracks for free or support the game by buying in app purchases to speed up coin acquisition. There are ads in the initial version and we will offer some alternative ways to tailor the ad experience and earn free coins. We have a lot of plans for this game if it takes off. Consider them stretch goals. What started out as an exploration of infrastructure to advance our Doodle Army series has turned into a very special game to us and we hope everyone finds something about it to love, whether it's the rag doll crash antics, racing friends, or making new tracks to challenge the community. We can't wait to see what the Crash Cart Nation comes up with!


The official site:

http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/ (it is free btw, they lives off donations)

 

Best outsider article I have read to date:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/magazine/the-brilliance-of-dwarf-fortress.html?_r=2&ref=magazine&

 

A good game developer-centric article:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/131954/interview_the_making_of_dwarf_.php

 

There is no manual really... just a lot of discovery... however you choose in game or out.

http://dwarffortresswiki.org/index.php/Main_Page

 

Here is the bit about inclusion in MOMA

http://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2012/11/29/video-games-14-in-the-collection-for-starters/

 

http://www.packtpub.com/cocos2d-x-by-example/book

Where to start... "Cocos2d-x by Example Beginners Guide" is a good great book! Turns out one of my Appsomniacs partners has bought this book and also enjoyed its knowledge (votes+=2). Even have cut my teeth and shipped on iOS, Android and Windows 8. The Windows 8 was such a hack job I could never get it cleaned up to do a push request (I think, I should just try, at least put it in my branch. Please nag at me if I don't... It may be a bridge too many not subtle changes. Anyway, I digress, the rest of this about this great book that might help a lot of people on their Cocos2d-x journeys.

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1) The first thing that popped out at me when I cracked the spine on this book was the large quantity of and the technical diversity of the contributors. I was impressed with their bio/resumes and the book certainly was better for it.

2) Hang on tight. The gas pedal is binary. The book gets you up and running rather quickly. Almost too quick in some respects, but later chapters make up for that hand holding fast start in ten fold. I was worried at first a lot of bits were glossed over. Do not worry about this stuff. Great details will be given in droves, and when not a good entry point to references often sufficed.

3) I actually appreciated the section (within chapter 2) that was a primer on as well as described why the C++ was arranged the way it was (e.g., what conventions were from the Objective C world and reminders of things you need to remember to do when in C++ (i.e., proper memory management because ARC is not available.)) My favorite quote so far "... relax, and let the framework work for you."

4) The learn by example part struck me as well done. It could always cover more. I was wanton for more after 6 games. Maybe combining this and the ideas found in the iPhone Cookbook you could get even more mileage. Frankly, after you tackle this books examples. I did one a weekend (~4 hours in 1-2 sessions usually) you will be pretty well versed. The games are varied enough and the topics within cover a lot of ground. I will always want more!

5) Chapter 10 is gold for anyone coming from iOS and wanting to break into Android and really use the greatness of what Cocos2d-x brings to the table (IMO anyway.) You are presented a nice 'uncluttered' step by step walk through (albeit the compile sections was 20 steps, but they were important 'no fluff' steps! I am pleased they linked their sources on this one too. Our team put this stuff together by piecing together Android NDK posts and trial and error last year (of course we never thought to share because we never thought we did it right to begin with... it compiled... and ran, so we shipped it anyway...) I think the chapter here would have saved us much time and pain. Luckily you now have this resource to leverage. My only wish was that a little more time was spent on the tricks you have to go through to get as clean as code as possible (not special casing every piece of logic with pre-compiler directives, etc. for each platform.) Maybe a little treatise on design patterns would have been helpful here too. But I guess all of that is really beyond the scope of the book (i.e., a lifetime could be spent learning how to write well designed cross platform C++ code. If anyone knows of a good book let me know!

6) I want to mention the index. It was a basic run of the mill index. Don't get me wrong it was a good and proper index. But I can not help but note this book chapters were laid out similarly to the iPhone book "Creating Games with Cocos2d for iPhone 2", which had a brilliant index (I bet someone hated it... those darn trolls convinced them not to do it this way!) In the iPhone book most chapters covered an entire game by example much as this book did too. The iPhone version's index had a breakdown of a game chapter by game name as a sub index of concepts within it. I absolutely loved that and I dearly missed it in this one. The index is fine as it is, but having tasted the other books additional index by chapter concepts I found myself longing for it as this new book was also a perfect candidate for that format as well. But it is no reason to not get this book if the subject interests you. File this under 'I have to find something to complain about in a review' comments.

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I do think beginning, but versed, C++ developers could pick this up and succeed if they try. If you have Objective C down C++ is not really that hard to grok also (and the parts you don't use won't likely come into play as nearly as often as you might think.) Advanced users probably won't get a lot out of it, but if you are street learned on Cocos2d like I have been (and still am learning in many respects) it wouldn't hurt to have gone over this material once.

http://www.packtpub.com/cocos2d-x-by-example/book 

Thank for sticking out my wall of text this far. I am pretty sure there is an achievement for having made it this far. ;) 


I was reminded the other day of "where to start" with an idea regarding game design and conceptualizing out your game. I was remembering a great bit of information on the topic that was instrumental to me at the time I was getting my feet off the ground...

Ian Schreiber, besides being a pretty nice guy in general, shared some pretty deep thoughts and analysis on game design in a very grand 'global' experiment a while ago in which I only partially participated in. I always regretted having to choose the path I did that took me away from it at the time, but revisiting the material has been invaluable over the years.

http://gamedesignconcepts.wordpress.com/

 

I really like this book co-authored by Ian Schreiber and Brenda Brathwaite (soon after Garner, now Romero):

http://www.amazon.com/Challenges-Game-Designers-Brenda-Brathwaite/dp/158450580X 

It all takes a step back from the computer a bit (and that is a good thing sometimes!), but I haven't found a single thing that didn't translate in some fashion. And the techniques on troubleshooting and verifying mechanic, although laborious, I have found worth it.

There are certainly a lot out there. But these two sources have a common voice by Ian and I like his attitude (and Brathwaite has pretty epic contributions to the industry as well and deserves more than a foot note here, but this about Ian.) Someone who manages a production schedule might go insane, but you end with a quality product given the emphasis on testing and evaluation.

Here is your entry point that is as good as any of the best entry points I have stumbled across in my searches yet.

You are welcome.


Well the news is local if you live in Kitsap County in Washington State, in ye olde United States of America (no to be confused with DC!)

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2013/apr/06/kitsap-creators-of-dwarf-fortress-make-losing/

 

As a stalker of me you should know I love me some Dwarf Fortress! I envy Bay 12 in many ways. Being able to work on your life's work is pretty darn cool. I always fear that some day something awful requiring a lot of resources from Tarn and Zach Adams will cause them to be pressured to 'sell out'. I don't think I would mind. Actually all they have to do is ask and I bet thousands upon thousands of us would simply open our hearted wallets and help them through the dilemma.

Nuf said on that.

 

 

 

 


I just upgraded Xcode to v4.6 (yah yah it took me long enough, we have been VERY busy all over the place.) BUT I am not ready to update all my devices to the latest iOS version (6.1 at the time of this entry) I always forget that I need to go get the previous SDK's. By far the easiest method is to simply use xcode to install them.

 

From the menu choose Xcode->Preferences and the Downloads tab. I just installed everything since we support all the way back to v4.3, actually we have v3.2 support in most of our games. I think that will change this time around. With Apple's mandate to support, among many things, iOS 6 and the new iPhone screen size (to include updates...) we can't update our older titles with adverts for our new stuff... its a 1st world dev problem... The writing was on the wall last year for a lot of this. We really slacked off on updating. I promise you we will get to it! According to analytics this will screw a couple people who play with older devices... Typically less than three in a month... I hope they forgive us! (I am sorry!!! I really am!!! Apple made me do it! Tongue out )

 

For now I wait to test the Doodle Army client against my recent server changes...


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