December 09, 2008
Craftsman Club Calendar
This is my latest project I've been working on. I'm actually just posting this here to test.
March 01, 2007
Putting the money where the mouth is
I talk about games a lot. I talk about playing games; I talk about building games. However it's usually just talk. I recently got into using XNA to develop games that I can actually play on my Xbox 360. Microsoft wants the "homebrew" community to start using the system, so they created the XNA Creators Club (which costs money, BTW) to help foster development by amateurs. They've likened this to "YouTube for games". Whether their idea actually pans out remains to be seen, but the community is already forming. To give incentive, they've started a content, called dream.build.play. The final phase of this contest gives the winner the ability to put their game on Xbox LIve Arcade, which in turn affords them the opportunity to maybe break out as an independent developer.
I'm no stranger to development contests, and this one caught my attention. I've already drunk the Kool-Aid when it comes to Microsoft's console, and the chance at giving my studio life was something that I had to take a shot at. The first phase of their contest was a Warm-Up, letting people take the XNA example project "SpaceWar" and using it to base a game on. I assumed most would just tweak SpaceWar slightly or just change gameplay. I of course always bite off more than I can chew, and I decided I would totally change it: content, gameplay, everything. The result has been submitted: PEX. It's a mixture of Pong and Breakout, with two players and two pucks. In between them is a wall of hexagons, each one taking a few hits to destroy. What results is a chaotic game where you're trying to score on your opponent while defending against both their puck and the rebounds of your own. Here's some shots:
What Went Right:
- I like the look I settled on. It came almost by accident as I had modeled the game board in 3ds max to get a feel of how it would look. I rendered it out using max's light tracer which adds global illumination, and this nice gray, shadowed look inspired me to make the whole game look similar. I think it's unique enough to garner attention
- XNA. It's very easy to use, and C# is really a decent language. You don't have to worry about the low level stuff and it's C-like structure is familiar to me.
What Went Wrong:
- Not enough time. I wanted to include powerups, which would have made the game more interesting. Also, the collision is spotty at best. I needed at least another day to tweak, if not completely rewrite it. I flirted briefly with bounding boxes and spheres, but my bad implementation was too cumbersome to get right in the amount of time I had.
Overall, this was a good experience, and I'm anxious to see if I win and then what the next challenge will be.
October 03, 2006
The Agony and the Ecstasy
I hate to be cliched and say that 'it's been a long time', but sadly it has. So, here's the rundown:
I quit MyTriggers, went back to Integrate, the kids started school (all of them), Beth got a job, and I've been very busy with freelance work and side projects. To say that life has been hectic would be somewhat of an understatement. I know that's also cliched, but I'm feeling lazy. And yes I'm aware I'm leaving the accent out of cliched, but I'm not in Windows and I don't know what the key combo is.
Which brings up another topic: I've become a full-fledged Linux convert. I have dabbled with it in the past, but being immersed in the Unix-only environment at MyTriggers compelled me to see if I could function without Microsoft. In the end, I still need Windows for Photoshop, Flash, and 3ds max, but I can run them within a virtual machine thanks to VMWare. Gone are the days of a clunky, inflexible interface and the shackles of overpriced, buggy software. In it's place I have free, somewhat bug-ridden, but frequently updated open-source software, and I like it better. For the record, my distro of choice is Ubuntu, which is easy to install and has a great community.
On the game front, I still want to work on something, but my ever shrinking schedule is tempering my ambition. I played around with writing a game framework based on the the Enginuity articles on GameDev, but I haven't been able to get it to fully compile yet on my system, and finding time to go back to it has been hard. It's not that I'm lazy, far from it. I just have too many other things on my plate that actually bring income.
April 12, 2006
Don't Call It A Comeback
Much like LL Cool J, I've been here for years... Just not blogging. Let me catch you up on what's been happening in Mix's world:
Work, work and more work. I finished up a very busy period at Integrate and decided to take a chance on another opportunity. Before I left, I had the pleasure of working on some big projects, namely the COSI redesign and the upcoming WOSU redesign. My content management system was used for both sites, and I have to say that it's performed rather well for being developed by one semi-competent PHP programmer.
I hated to leave Integrate in a tough position, but my new gig at MyTriggers was something I had to jump on. It's an e-commerce search engine, with a focus on alerts. Right now we have email and RSS alerting, but we'll soon have IM, SMS, and Voice. I'm currently reworking the entire user account management scheme to make it more robust and easy to use. Hopefully I'll succeed.
Even though I've been slammed with day job and freelance work, I've been making time to play Elder Scroll IV: Oblivion. It's quite addictive, since it takes the 'sandbox' notion to extremes. You can do or be just about anything in the context of the game world. I'm currently playing a virtuous knight character, but I think next time through I'll be some kind of rogue assassin/thief... see how many times I can break out of jail, and how high I can get my bounty. Yee haw!
November 29, 2005
Where Art Thou?
Between watching the Kroger's being built next door to work and trying to decide if I really want an Xbox 360, it's been very busy around the Casa del Mix. Seriously, I have been up to my ears in distractions.
I'm a big fan of the WWII games, even though there's a ton. Call of Duty was one of the better games in the genre, and the sequel is just more/bigger/better. It doesn't really innovate, but the new health system that everyone is stealing from Halo lets you stay in the action without worrying about where your next magical health pack is going to come from. Helps the flow. Graphically it's great, with the fancy bump-mapping and great smoke effects. Game of the Year? Probably not but any FPS fan should check it out.
The Movies started strong, but I've lost my interest a bit. It's fun to build your studio, but I've reached a point in the game where I'm just basically 'maintaining' my studio, which turns out to be not much fun. Keeping stars happy isn't my idea of a good time. I haven't sat down and just played with the Sandbox mode, where I assume you can use everything the game has to offer to make a movie. That might be fun, but at the moment I have no clue as to what I would make.
My wife might like it though.
October 04, 2005
Just thought I'd update you on a few things happening around. Firstly, kudos to Greg Costikyan for taking a big risk and starting his own indie game label. I've actually decided to get involved in this, lending my web development experience to the cause. I'll also be submitting a logo to the contest he's started, since I know something about those...
That wacky Unreal site BeyondUnreal has just launched a PSP version. I had actually been hoping for this, since I regularly check BU with my PSP browser. I wish more sites would follow suit, especially Blue's News, which frequently maxes out my PSP's memory.
The big news of the day is that Halo 3 probably won't make the PS3 launch. Shocking. Really.
If anyone took Bill Gates' comment about people 'going to the store for the PS3 launch and walking into Halo 3' seriously, they don't know the games business. It's a nice thought, but a flagship title like Halo 3 does not get a solid release date this far out. It's just not feasible. Reason being, what if the schedule slips, that means breaking 'the promise', or sacrificing quality, and neither are good ways to win over the buying public.
Anyway, GameHarvest is doing well, but we still aren't even on the radar of the big search engines. Time will tell I guess.