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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Recap of Utah Indie Games Night 9/25

Tonight, I had the wonderful opportunity to do the formal presentation! I love indie game night, but this night was something on the special side for me. I feel like I was able to share some great information with some great people, and that is extremely gratifying. I spoke on HTML5 Game Development and Monetization. Here's the link to it, but you can also view it inline below!

Anyways, after my presentation, there were some fantastic games demoed. The brilliant artwork by the students at UVU working on Cape Chronicles, the simple and beautiful gameplay by Trent at Thunderhead Interactive in his game Lightfloor (?), and impressive gameplay/tech demo from Mike Daly in his game Mayflower: The Seeker, and numerous others were there to capture the imagination and attention of the community.

It's always great to see such a wonderful community, and we had an amazing turnout! It seemed to me like we tripled the attendance of the last meeting! Best wishes to all of you game devs out there.

Friday, August 24, 2012

BIG list of LD48 Streams!

If you've ever wanted to find or watch a stream, you may have noticed that the list made by comments in WP isn't very conducive to that. So I made a list that is much easier to browse, and figured I'd share it here. I also wanted to be able to search by language, so I found who was using what language where I could. Enjoy this little list, and have fun with the competition!

If I missed anything, let me know.

Bloodyaugust - http://www.twitch.tv/bloodyaugust93 - HTML/JS (me)
Felipe Budinich - http://www.justin.tv/syrenaica - HTML/JS (of the Evilot Kickstarter)
bigbass1997 - http://twitch.tv/bigbass1997 - Java
thatshelby - http://www.twitch.tv/thatshelby - AS3
quill18 - http://www.twitch.tv/quill18 - C#
Nick Cash - http://www.twitch.tv/syncarn - Python
Raptor85 - http://www.twitch.tv/raptor851 - C++
Folis -  http://www.twitch.tv/BlechiRC - HTML/JS
Anon - http://www.youtube.com/user/CreamerLad
Fififox - http://www.twitch.tv/fififox
cniangel - http://twitch.tv/cniangel - Java
andrew845 - http://www.livestream.com/ld24andrew845 - Processing
TehSkull - http://www.twitch.tv/tehskull - Corona
JaydenB - http://www.twitch.tv/atomicmonkeypro - AS3
Jeremy Stark - http://www.twitch.tv/thejeremystark - AS3
galman - http://www.twitch.tv/galman33 - AS3
danlthemanl - http://twitch.tv/danlthemanl- HTML/JS
nidjo123 - http://www.twitch.tv/nidjo123
Lucariatias - http://www.youtube.com/user/Lucariatias
hoggydoggy - http://www.justin.tv/hoggydoggy
BenW - http://www.twitch.tv/garagecoder - AS3
TestSubject06 - http://www.twitch.tv/TestSubject06 - AS3
chrizc - http://www.livestream.com/chrizc
vircung - http://twitch.tv/vircung - Unity
fritzendugan - http://www.twitch.tv/fritzendugan
grimpunch - http://www.justin.tv/grimpunch
michax  - http://www.twitch.tv/anidev/
90sml - http://www.livestream.com/90sml - Python
sgehlich - http://de.twitch.tv/lesoosh
dhasenan - http://twitch.tv/dhasenan
NedortGames - http://www.livestream.com/NedortGaming
kiwi - http://www.livestream.com/random_and_shit - Java
pragmascript - http://de.twitch.tv/pragmascript
zeh -http://www.twitch.tv/zehfernando - AS3
mappum - http://twitch.tv/mappum
Milligan - http://twitch.tv/Milligan_
skyllartor - http://www.twitch.tv/skyllartor - Java
jayitinc - http://twitch.tv/jayitinc
NateAGeek - http://www.twitch.tv/nateageek
JaydenB - http://twitch.tv/atomicmonkey
Windryu121 - http://www.twitch.tv/windryu121
MattySVN - http://www.twitch.tv/SirMattyHD
laubori - http://twitch.tv/lauboman
cafaxo - http://www.twitch.tv/cafaxo
myachin - http://ru.twitch.tv/myachinsa
bablo - http://www.twitch.tv/baburo
KEFIR - http://twitch.tv/kefir_msk
panuo - http://twitch.tv/oks4
Demurgos, MrHalfman, Scipion - http://fr.twitch.tv/demurgos
MrHalfman - http://fr.twitch.tv/halfmans - HTML/JS
ScreamRawr - http://www.livestream.com/screamrawr - Art
Stoogebag - http://twitch.tv/stoogebag - C#, Lua
Ryan G - http://twitch.tv/irishwilly - AS3
Cedric Baudry - http://twitch.tv/cedric_fr - C++

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ludum Dare and Kongregate: The Controversy

Let me say this at the outset: I am in favor of the Kongregate move. Now let me clarify some points:

  1. Kongregate is not offering monies based on how well you do in the Ludum Dare ratings. Instead, they use the popularity rating system of their own site. This means that those who do not choose to submit to Kongregate are not in any way forced to participate. If you are for whatever reason steadily opposed to the idea of being involved with Kongregate, go nuts. Block all the entries hosted there. Really show 'em who's boss.
  2. Kongregate is not paying the hosts of the competition for the opportunity to conduct this separate competition. They are choosing to spend their money in a way they feel will be beneficial, to who or for what reason is outside my knowledge and the scope of this writing. They are not "paying off" McFunkypants or Kasperzak to take the jewels of our fine competition. They are simply offering another opportunity.
  3. Kongregate is well within their rights to do what they are doing. They have in no way broken any law, written, assumed, or otherwise. What they do with their money and site is their business. If they want to have an incentive for great coders to host their game on Kongregate, good for them. 
  4. This does not go against the spirit of the competition. The idea of this competition is to make games, and have fun while doing so. It is beyond me how someone could feel that money somehow removes the fun-factor. Money is used to motivate fun in *every* competitive sport! If you ask an average athlete why they play their game, they'll tell you it's because they love what they do. Same goes for us game developers.
  5. A chance to win a prize will indeed increase the popularity of the competition, but not necessarily the quality or focus of the games. Fun games get played. Crappy games get tossed. If your game is a fantastic one (and web-based), it will probably win both competitions. If it sucks, you're not going to do well in either. 
  6. This is great for publicity of the competition. Duh.
  7. This provides another way for coders to gauge the quality of their game. More feedback in the form of their rating and comments system is just another way to improve our processes.
  8. Making money for an indie dev is a good thing. Some people take issue with involving money in the competition. WHY?! If a person who is new to the competition x-posts to Kong, and realizes they can make money off of their talents, the industry and their lives are bettered. Of course, this creates more competition, so there will obviously be resistance to this idea.
So why are we fighting this? Why not embrace the next stage of this wonderful competition? Lets all accept that this is happening, and figure out how to best utilize it for our industry, and the fun it involves.

tl,dr: Make games. Have fun. Good luck this weekend!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Making The Experience a Competition

So far, our games have been lacking a major feature: interaction with other players. This kind of thing is extremely important, especially the kind of player to player interaction that creates competition. An experience where you are isolated can be nice, but even a crappy game can do well if it correctly utilizes a competitive player base! Thus, Pongfinity shall have high scores.

Kongregate provides a nice little API that can be used to update statistics that they track for you. It is relatively easy to implement, although somewhat restricted in what you can do with it. However, all we need is some simple high score tracking, and this does the trick quite nicely. A little Javascript, and suddenly our game becomes much more enjoyable, because you get the opportunity to compete with other people.

In the finished game, the goal is to have high scores for each difficulty level, and then an overall high score. We may also keep track of "low scores", or the worst scores that occur as a sort of fun-factor. We'll also be implementing achievements into the game that correlate with completion of milestone scores and defeating difficult challenges.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Weekly Update 1: 2/26/12 - 3/3/12

These weekly updates are going to be a regular thing from now on, so hopefully you can look forward to some more regular updating from us!
Yes, the use of the word "us" is important: it is now officially two of us here at Syntactic Sugar Studio! Brenner Remund is the current business manager (who may also do some minor code, and participate in design). We're very excited about our new partnership, and to be at the head of something that will hopefully come to fruition.

The first big item of news is that we are currently working on incorporating. We want to be a true blue LLC, and that is Brenner's first big project. Turns out that even though there is quite a bit involved in creating a company, it can be done without legal counsel relatively easily. We hope to have finished the incorporation process by the end of March, at which point we'll have some sort of celebration to mark the event.

The second big news item is that Pongfinity, our first major production, is coming pretty close to completion. I've been re-working a lot of the code, and tweaking a lot of the balance. So far, Unity and Kongregate have been playing well together in a way that is extremely pleasing. We're beyond excited to see that finished product up on a public website where people that we didn't refer can play it, and it can then spread by word of mouth. In all, it's a very energetic time for us, and mostly because the labor we've put in is finally showing us some real results.

The last item of news is that we are looking for artists. We need some professional looking logo art, something that will help to set us apart from everyone else. If you know or are someone who might be interested in this, please let us know either here in the comments, or email us at the email provided in our about section. Just know that we are pretty poor at this point, so it won't pay well (if at all), but we'd love to credit you in game and spread around your work.

Thank you to everyone who reads this, and have a fantastic week!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Sprint Day

I wanted to see what I could accomplish in a short period of time with Unity3D. So I did.
First, let me say that Unity is not my favorite way to program. However, it is absolutely fantastic for creating games. We've had a real love/hate relationship, but we're working things out. The more I practice with it, and the more I get used to its way of doing things, the more I like it. I'm especially ecstatic about the speed with which I can get things working, and how fast I can see results.
So today, I decided to make a pong clone. I've tried this before with Unity, but I went about it in such a way that made it very difficult. Now, especially with all the practice I got from the GGJ, I had a better idea of how to do it. The major problem I had before was with controlling the pong ball itself. I ended up settling on a kinematic rigidbody, and manipulating the ball movement using only vectors. For those of you interested, the formula for a reflection is: r = i - (2 * n * Dot(i, n)), where i is the incident vector, and n is the normal of the vector being reflected off of.
Without further ado, play the result here: http://www.kongregate.com/games/Bloodyaugust/pongfinity
Note: that this was posted on 2/16/12, so things may have changed by the time you read this. Heck, the link may not even work.
Happy gaming all! :D

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Global Game Jam Post-Jam Write Up!

Fun. It's all about fun. In the end, fun is what was had, and fun is what I looked forward to. I met people, I learned new things, and above all, I had FUN!!!
This has been a fantastic experience over all! It differs from LudumDare, in that I was able to really expllore the social aspect of a game jam. Indeed, it brought the entire dev experience to an entirely new level for me. This has been my first major experience with a team that included non-programmers, and was larger than two people. Overall, just a great experience!
AS far as takeaway goes, PLEASE UNITY FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY LET SUBVERSION DO ITS JOB!!!!!!! In other news, a great team lead really makes things come together, and we certainly had one. The only major screw-up we had was to do with Unity, so not really our fault.
I'll post a link to the game soon...