Quick Update

Let’s see what’s been happening in the 2 months since my last post…

  • Moving back to Orlando
  • Buying a home (again) in Orlando.  Well, Winter Park to be specific.
  • Job things.  More details soon.
  • Unreal Engine 4 came out and blew my mind.
  • My little sister had a baby.  I haven’t met her yet, but she’s adorable.
  • Two of my friends got married…to each other.  Congrats to Kristin and Geoff Sholler!
  • I still haven’t released a project.  In fact, I haven’t even worked on a project.
  • I’ve made exactly 0 Tweets.
  • I lost weight, then gained weight, now am trying to lose weight again.
  • I picked up some C# skills, courtesy of Pluralsight.

I’m going to elaborate briefly on the last bullet point.  I was a member of Digital Tutors, which is awesome, and they recently merged with Pluralsight.  Since I have a case of tech ADD and can’t decide what I want to focus on, I now have access to some really awesome content from both providers.  Digital Tutors focuses on art, while Pluralsight has a tremendous amount of content for programming.  Subscriptions are reasonable, and you get access to both.  Check them out!

Posted in Uncategorized

A Forgotten Lesson Learned

For those of you who don’t know, I went through the University of Central Florida’s FIEA program (Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy) to get a Masters degree in video game design.  Good school, good people, good times.  Many lessons learned.  I won’t get into the details here, but as I just had a “duh” moment in the design of one of my current projects, I thought I’d take a moment to describe what just happened, and how I should have already known this.

While at FIEA, our big capstone project suffered a massive design flaw because we didn’t design the game as a whole.  Rather, we designed “things” and planned on putting “things” together in the end, hoping that if we made enough good “things” that we would have a good game.  That didn’t happen.  We actually had plenty of good “things,” but the game was pretty lame.  It had no soul, no inspiration, nothing magical.  It just wasn’t much fun.  In the current project I’m working on, I just found myself repeating the EXACT SAME MISTAKE.  Allow me to explain.

In this game, you will navigate a small character-thing through a constantly moving maze.  You move left and right, and the level scrolls to you.  My hope is that the “fun factor” will come from the finger-gymnastics of navigation combined with a collection of “holy crap I almost died” feeling you get from navigating.  So, with these two goals in mind, it’s very important to have solid, intentionally designed level segments (I may get into more of the design philosophies behind this game as I go along).  So, naturally, I should be working on designing a level segment as a whole, with the following thoughts:

  1. Is this layout fair to the player?
  2. What combination of motions are going to be required to successfully finish this level segment?
  3. What sort of “level traps” can I bake in here to provide an opportunity for a near-death?
  4. If played well, is this level going to induce the sort of “in the zone” feeling that you can get from games like Tetris or Subway Surfers?

These are the 4 rules I should be thinking of, because they define what is important to the experience of this game.  Instead, I opted to design a bunch of random level pieces with the plan of arranging them into a level layout later.  This was stupid.  Now, the design of the level layout is constrained to the “things” I made instead of the feeling I want to achieve.  “Things” were bad at FIEA, and “things” are still bad here.

The lesson to be learned is this:  Don’t let “things” dictate design.  Let your design dictate the “things.”  A “thing” is just a small part of the bigger picture.

Posted in development

Toddler Study part 1

Part of my goal this year is to grow as a game developer.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time floundering about and trying to figure out what I should do.  I’ve been working at a web company for the past two years, so I’ve spent plenty of cycles trying to get more comfortable with that world.  The problem with that is that I’m splitting myself too many directions.  I think I’m decent as a game designer, but when I start thinking about everything else I need to be able to do in order to finish a game, it becomes clear that splitting my focus across industries isn’t the smartest thing I can do.  After all, I do want to actually *finish* something at some point.

Anyway, part of my mission has been to improve my digital art skills.  Once upon a time, I used to be pretty decent at pencil and charcoal drawings.  I even have some ribbons from competitions and such!  Unfortunately, the lack of practice and dedication has resulted in some significant skill degradation.  So, I’ve subscribed to Digital Tutors to help train me up on some Photoshop (and other tools, but we’ll stick with this for now).  I’m currently going through a study on character proportions based on their age.  This was a quick sketch of a toddler, took about 6 minutes.  I’m trying to keep up with the videos, so I should be updating the sketch as my training progresses.  The teddy bear and “sippy cup” are there for size reference.  It’s important to get the proportion of the head right, or else it won’t look like a toddler.  I’m trying to limit the time I spend on it as it’s just supposed to be a quick sketch, but there are several things I’ll be changing as I go along.


Posted in learning

Hello world!

The blog-site thing is live.  I’ll put some things here occasionally, I’d really like to get in a good habit of providing a devblog for all my projects.  It’s been a wild couple of months for me, so I’m getting back into things.

In the spirit of new beginnings, here’s a piece of art for a project I’m working on.  It’s green.


Posted in Uncategorized