Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Check out this great blog 2D Art for programmers

Check out this blog. It explains video game in a very easy to understand way. One of the best parts is that it uses inkscape an opensource vector image editor. When you think about it video game art isn't as hard as it should be. It also has some good animation tutorials on animation. When you think about it art is the 2nd most important part of games after programming. Im glad this blog exists. So check out this blog

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Stanford offers free online computer science course

Sometimes when the big universities get it right, they really get it right.  Stanford is offering free computer science courses online. In addition they will be offering online tests so that you can quiz your knowledge. Although most of the classes won't start until 2012, that hasn't suppressed any of the excitement from people like me. Online video lectures solves so many problems with education. Here are some good reasons why offering online lectures is a fantastic idea.
  • You can watch the videos whenever you want
  • You can go back and review
  • You can ask people in the forums questions about that video
  • You can listen to the video at 1.77x the speed so that you can fit more videos in
  • You don't need to go through a pecking order to get there
One of the best things about online video tutorials is that you can watch them whenever you want and if you can watch them at 1.77x times the regular speed you can watch more of them. Going back and reviewing is essential and with video tutorials its quite easy. You can ask people on forums if you don't understand something and they would be glad to help. When you are at a higher level you can help the new people. The learning is circular.

My favorite part is that anybody can take a university course. It doesn't matter if you are in elementary school or graduated years ago. Everybody can take part in that class. The current system says that you have to go to grade 1 then 2 then so on. But what if you want to learn the course material in grade 2 today. Well with courses like this you can.

One thing I like doing is jumping into a situation that is over my head. You learn more this way. If a teacher in elementary school said to me that I was going to go to a higher grade class I would have loved it.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Introducing the Scirra HTML5 arcade -

Introducing the Scirra HTML5 arcade -

Scirra adds an arcade and all I can say is wow! Scirra's arcade is absolutely amazing. It has a lot of social networking linkes which is really important. And now it has an embed feature so you can add the games to your blog or website. This is so awesome. On top of all of this they have little game cards that you can use to promote your game. I can't wait to see what comes up next!

Again, every update Scirra gives feels like Christmas.

Why selling stuff on the app store for a dollar sucks

I don't like selling my games for a dollar. I find it hard to impossible to make money off of that dollar. Let's look at the math.

The customer pays 99 cents - 30 goes to Apple - 2 cents go to taxes = 68 cents to the developer

The reason I don't like this model is that 68 cents is not a lot of money. This is why I don't sell my apps for a dollar. The lowest amount is that I sell is 2 dollars. I couldn't imagine working on a team of 5+ people with a profit margin of 68 cents a purchase.

Then people say "Well if you sell 10 million then...."

That's a pretty large if. There is only one real way for your apps to make it big on the app store and that is to have apple feature you app. If it dosen't get featured then I would say move onto another project.

You can actually make money selling your app for more than a dollar. One idea that I would like to see more common place at least for indie games is that the cost is 1 dollar per person. So if I made a game by myself it would be 1 dollar and if I had a team of 3 people I would sell it for 3 dollars. This makes so much sense for the developer.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Why you should start making your game right now

You should start making your great game idea right now. While you are reading this other people are producing and releasing. Your great game idea is nothing if you do not release it. It is worthless if it is setting on your hard drive.

So why not start now? Most people don't know where to begin. Well I say start with A non programming engine such as scirra's construct 2. This engine is so easy to use and you can start making your game. If you do not have a PC you can use game salad for mac.

Start making as many games as you possibly can. The more games you make the better you will be at making games. You can release your awesome game idea and you develop a new skill.

Remember today is a great day to start. Not tomorrow, today.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Google's new Blogger interface

As a lot of bloggers probably know Google has updated their blogging interface. Every time a platform upgrades its interface, I go through 3 stages

  • Uncomfortable friction
  • Realization it's better than the last interface
  • Joy that the new interface is awesome
Humans can't deal with change. I suggest plowing through the uncomfortable friction as fast as possible. Stages 2 and 3 are much better anyway. 

Friday, 25 November 2011

Construct 2 vs GameMaker vs GameSalad vs Stencyl

I like to work with 2D engines that take a lot of the legwork out for me. I don't like having to code stuff from scratch all of the time. The more time you will spend on design and QA the better the game will be. The more time you spend on technical garbage, the less time you have to work on making the game good. I have noticed this with my projects. All of the games that I have used a non coding language game are way better than the games that I had to program from scratch.

If you haven't seen this already this was posted on the Scirra site.

I have used all of these engines extensively and my favorite by far is Scirra's Construct 2. It is by far the best engine for several reasons. I am going to start of with my least favorite and work my way to my favorite

Stencyl is a non programming engines that makes flash games. It is very easy to use and you can make games fairly quickly. It recently added iOS support. If you like to make games in a hurry you can use stencyl. On top of this, Stencyl is was essentially made by one person. As a person who knows how hard it is to code things, my hat is off to the creator.

Since flash is not being supported any more it will be hard to use stencyl as a commercial platform. If it can export to HTML 5 then this engine will be a strong contender against the other ones. They are planning to be able to export to HTML 5 in early 2012. Once that happens it will be on par if not better than Game Salad.

Use it

Game Salad
I think game salad is a great engine and just because it's here on my list doesn't make it a bad engine. Game salad is awesome. It is a very streamline engine that makes game development extremely easy. I highly recommend checking it out. In fact, I use game salad to make most of iOS games and if this is your main goal I would suggest using it.

Game salad has a ton of features that you can use to make your game and the development team is constantly adding more. I have to stress that it is very easy to make a game and if you want to start making games, the free version has a lot of features to it. If you own a mac download it and start producing some games it is really easy and you will have a lot of fun making the games.

While Game Salad is awesome there are a few problems with the software and the amount of cons I have with the software puts it here on the list.  I should also point out that I am a professional game developer and I am viewing how these engines work through this lens. But even as an amateur these issues pop up and can be annoying.

The biggest issue with game salad is the lack of updates and features. I say this because I have been using game salad since February and the roadmap that they have set out to achieve has not even been met. There are tons of features like arrays, in app purchases, joints and a whole list of others that have not been added to the engine. Also, when they update the engine the performance can be worse than the previous version. When I am working on a huge project I hesitate to upgrade my software because it could be broken.

Whenever you use an engine you will see a performance drop in your game. While game salad can be sluggish at times it still isn't that bad. People complain about it on the forums, but personally it isn't that bad. It could be better and once they get the engine to run smoother Game Salad will be a better engine.

Also, to be a pro member you have to pay 500 dollars a year. This may seem high but it used to be 2000 dollars. This is way too high. There are other engines that can do what game salad does for less money. If they don't change the price they might lose a lot of customers.

Lastly, their arcade is very inflexible. Game Salad has a feature where you can export your game to their arcade which is HTML 5. However, you have to export it to the arcade you can't export it to your site. I would like this to be more flexible in the future. The arcade is a good idea but it needs improvement.

Im not sure Game Salad was ever designed to be a commercial engine. Personally, the engine looks like it is made for hobbyists instead of professionals. Having said that, I don't think game salad is a bad engine, in fact it is a great engine and I will still make commercial games in it. While the engine has a ton of features and they are constantly adding new ones, Game Salad is lacking a few key features such as arrays and in app purchases. Once it gets those features then Game Salad will be even better than it is

Use it

Game Maker
Game make has been around for a long time. When it first came out nobody wanted to use it because the engine couldn't make AAA titles. Now that everybody wants to play casual and simple games, Game Maker has entered the spotlight as an engine that can do this. If I had wrote this article a few months ago Game Maker would be lower on the list. But recently it added a lot of new features that make the engine very attractive.

The engine has been around for a long time and therefore it has a lot of QA behind it and it works really well. For the most part you can make a really good game without coding. One of the main features that Game Maker has is that it does have an interface where you can program. This is great for professional users who know how to code. Even with out the code there are a lot of features that you can use. Game Maker is a very well thought out and tested engine and if you want to make a good game then go ahead and use it.

Another reason to use game maker is their sandbox arcade. Lots of people play the arcade and you can upload your game so that other people can play it. It's a good way to get your game out there

Although it hasn't been released yet, they will have a feature where you can export your game to iOS and android. This is amazing because the engine is so robust, you can make an awesome game and then possibly make some money on the app store. The best engine will be one where you can push a button and release it to several different platforms. Game maker is almost there and when it gets there it will be an even better engine.

There are few things that I can say about Game Maker that are bad. One thing that they do is advertise that the engine has it's own image editor so you don't need to buy software. This would be awesome if the editor was good but it is a pixel editor. If it had a vector editor like adobe illustrator then that would be amazing. The problem is that game art has to be much better thank pixel art in order to sell it (for the most part).

Other than that the only issues I have with Game Maker are personal. For example, a feature might not work exactly the way I want it to or the interface is a little odd. But that is all personal preference and I can't say that it is necessarily bad.

Game Maker is awesome and I suggest using it. Once it has iOS and android support I would suggest using it to make your games.

Use it

Scirra's Construct 2

This is my favorite engine to use. Out of all of these engines it is the best for so many reasons. What is mind boggling is that it has only been around since July and there are only 2 people working on it.

Here are the features I like best about construct 2

  • Engine features
  • Performance
  • Export control
  • Updates

The engine features are amazing. You can create almost any game you want with them. They are also really easy to use. I run a course on construct 2 because I believe that it is the easiest way to get your ideas from idea to realization. The features are set up in a wonderful fashion.

The performance of the HTML 5 game is amazing. They recently upgrade to WebGL and the performance is out of this world. You can have some very computing intensive games and they work. I use a 3 year old PC to develop my games and it works well.

The export control is awesome. You get 100% of the control. You can export it to HMTL 5, Chrome Store, PhoneGap (experimental) and the Scirra arcade. And it is easy! The developers took time to make this process incredibly easy.

The best part about the updates is that they happen on average once a week and usually they have a cool new feature. Every update feels like Christmas as a kid. The developers have done such a good job.

There are few negative points I can say about the engine. Sometimes there are bugs and sometimes a feature doesn't work exactly the way you want it to. But this is to be expected with any software. There is one major suggestion I have that for me and other professional developers have.

It would be amazing if it had chrome store in game purchases and facebook credits functionality.

HTML 5 + in game purchases = money for the developer

The main reason why they are not putting this in is because they advertise themselves as a no coding game engine and to make in game purchases work you need to have server side scripting which essentially means some code on a server. Personally, I don't really care if the process isn't pretty. I just need it to be able to happen. I would love to make games with in game purchases. I would also love to make some tutorials on the subject in my course.

This engine is amazing. It is by far the best. Go download it and use it to make games. You will not be disappointed.

Use it

Final thoughts

While all of these engines are awesome. Scirra's Construct 2 is the best by far. One thing that I would love to see from any engine is in game purchases. I constantly crave this feature. I will give a gold medal to the first engine that allows me to do this.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Using your own creations to inspire you

The first time you release something it feels great. You have all of these prospects for the future. But sometimes this first product has high expectations and doesn't live up to them. This project isn't junk it is a learning experience. Years down the road you can look at this project and you can say "I worked hard and released".

When I look back at my projects I usually get inspired by them. For me it's a milestone along a journey.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Mammoth Academy released: Learn how to make and HTML 5, Chrome store, Facebook games and more!

It is my great pleasure to release the Mammoth Academy. This is a course that you get to take on the video course training site Udemy.  There are over 200 lectures on how to make HTML 5, Facebook, and google chrome store games.

I wanted to give this an edge over every other class there is both on the internet and off. We all know how awesome internet tutorials are. All you have to do search for anything you want and there will be ten thousand tutorials waiting for you to read and learn from them. While these internet tutorials are great I find that most of them deal with how to get from A to B. These tutorials only deal with the technical and how to  portion of the learning process. Essentially it tells you how to get from A to B.

These tutorials don't really tell you why you should go from A to B. Usually the deeper understanding of a subject is reserved for college and university level courses.

What I am trying to do in these courses is give you that deeper and more creative understanding of the subject matter. This isn't isn't usually done in online courses and that is why I am doing this. I am happy to mention that I am first to market for a number of reasons:

  • Putting college and university level concepts into an online tutorial course about gaming
  • The first to make a game from scratch and cover all the other production issues from programming to art to music
  • The first real course on how to make HTML 5, Facebook and chrome store games
  • The first do do this with Scirra's amazing construct 2 engine
There is another big reason why this course is so different from the others. Game production is very departmentalized. But I see that there is little or no reason for it. The current mentality is that an artist could never be a programmer and vise versa. Personally those are just mental blocks that are set up and have no reason to be there. In this course you learn how to do everything and I mean everything about game design. I tear down that mental block and show you how to do everything yourself. 

On another note, when I hire somebody to work with me I would like them to use this production style. Personally I love to see when an artist has in game examples of their art. Games production is so fragile things can fall apart quite easily if you are not too careful. I generally like to work with people who are very skilled at one thing and know a lot about other things. The more somebody knows about the entire game development process the better.

I am very excited to have completed this course. I am continuing to make more tutorials. If you have ever wanted to learn game design this is your chance. Take the course you won't regret it. 

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Coffee and why I love it

I actually hated coffee for most of my life. Even my friends and family would joke on how much I disliked it. I was teaching 53 students a week and almost all of them gave me Starbucks or gift cards to other coffee shops. At the time I gave them to my friends. Then in second year of college I had an unusually large amount of work to do that week and I found myself unusually tired. So I went to the campus coffee shop and I tried a super sugary iced coffee drink.

From that moment forward, my life changed.

I started drinking coffee everyday and all areas of my life improved. I started getting better marks on tests and my music and game design was getting better. On top of that I started to have bigger and better ideas.

Coffee is easily the catalyst to my success

I owe a lot of my successes to the drink. I suggest drinking a cup every morning. It helped me become the person I am today.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts (sometimes)

The main reason you work with other people is to achieve something greater than what you can do by yourself. If you can't achieve something greater than working with others then you should work alone.

When you are looking for people to work with you need to find people that can make the product better and not worse. This seems like common sense but just because you are working with other people doesn't mean that you will produce something better.  Some people think that just by working with other people that will instantly make your product better. But for a number of different reasons it working with other people can be completely destructive.

You need to practice working with others. You need to find out what what works and what doesn't work. Find that right person who will help your projects shine will take time. So start working with other people as soon as possible.

You work alone to practice your skills. You work with others to synergise your skills.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Fabricated mental blocks

Often times I hear people say something like " I  can't do this because it is too hard and it will take too long to learn" or " you need to be an expert at that in order to succede".  On top of that you can hear people say to you " You can't do this because it is too hard and it will take too long for you to learn" or " you need to be an expert at that in order to succede" 

What these phrases do is put up mental barriers. Be careful when you say this to yourself and other people. It's amazing what this negativity can do the creative process. If anything you should try and do things that are hard and you should try to be in over your head. When you put yourself in a situation where you know very little, this is the situation where you learn the most. 

When things are too easy you are not learning anything. Also when you put up these barriers you forget to experiment and try new things. When you mix different disciplines together magical things can happen. Don't setup unnecessary mental barriers. 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

My Advice for young people 2011

Being young can be tough for many different reasons. Lots of people ask me for advice and here is what I say to them.

Start a blog
Starting a blog is the best way to start producing and achieving right away. It is also a great way to improve your writing skills. A lot of people can not get anything done. If there is one way to stand out it is to produce results. Writing to a blog once a day will get you in the habit of producing and releasing. It doesn't have to be attached to your name. The blog posts can be about anything. The blog dosen't have to be serious it can be fun. You can even make some money with adsense. Wouldn't it be great to make money with your writing?

Find somebody who is older than you and would love to coach you
Going through school you will find that some teachers are amazing and others are there just for the summer vacations. If you are young there are lots of older people who would love to help you and mentor you. Find these people and listen to what they have to say. Don't find just one either. Find a few and really pay attention to what they say. Finding an older friend to help you will be beneficial for you and them.

Get a job
Having employment on your resume is essential. While your few few jobs might not be that good it will be better for your career than sitting around. If you can get into a vertically integrated company, find out how the corporate structure works. Some companies will pay for things such as training. Imagine getting paid to go to school. On top of all of this you will be making money. 

Try to skip the pecking order
School gives you an impression that you have to though life in order. You have to pass grade 2 before you go to grade 3. But what if you like the courses in grade 3 better than 2. Why do you have to go through that? If you are in high school try going to a university lecture. When you apply to a company try applying to a higher up position than the bottom. 

My first real job was a guitar teacher I was 17 at the time with little experience. All I did was apply. I had practiced my guitar a lot and I got the job. I was getting paid a lot of money and the experience was invaluable. On top of that I taught 53 students a week. Nobody at that age gets that kind of experience.

If you go into the situation with confidence then you have a higher chance of succeeded. Try to skip the pecking order whenever you can. 

Try to get as many scholarships as possible
School is expensive in most countries. In the United States, student debt is now in the trillions. Going for a college degree is non negotiable. You have to at least get one. But what you don't have to do is pay for it. Try and get as many scholarships as you possibly can. The less you have to pay for education the better. Everything that you cannot pay with scholarships you have to pay by yourself and that would most likely have to go into debt. Remember if you go into debt the items you bought are more expensive than the purchase price.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Writers block in an invention not a condition

I rarely have writers block. For me I don't have enough time to realize all of my ideas. The reason I don't have writers block is because I am constantly writing and constantly thinking up ideas. The more you brainstorm and blog the better you will get at talking about your ideas. Even if nobody reads your blog the act of blogging will help you flush out your ideas. 

By practicing and perfecting your ideas you will start to get better. Don't sit around theorizing and contemplating. At the end of the day you will have nothing but grandios theories on any given topic. Instead start blogging, connecting and  collaborating with people. If you start creating today you will be farther ahead then theorizing today. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Gravity in games: Why the less obvious can be cool

We all know about gravity in games. We all know about gravity in real life.  Gravity keeps things on the ground and it doesn't move. However, when you start making a game you have to program the gravity in.

So naturally you can play around with the gravity. You can make the gravity go in any direction and you can even make the gravity towards certain objects.

When you play around with any game mechanic you want to push that mechanic to the max. Gravity is something we always take for granted in a game. Why not play around with it and push the idea to the max. Next time you make a game add in some cool gravity mechanics.

Monday, 14 November 2011

The tutorial sphere

I love online tutorials. You can start learning whatever it is you want right away. We have all heard of the blogosphere, the interconnected networks of blogs. Should we think of a name for all of the online tutorials. Perhaps we should call it the tutorial sphere.

The tutorial sphere: Imagine learning whatever you want right away. You can learn as much or as little as you want and it can fit your schedule. The tutorial sphere awaits. What are you learning today?

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Tips on how to be a great game designer. Look at the foreground and background

In most games there is a foreground and a background. The foreground is the game objects that we are focused on. The background are the game objects that compliment the foreground. When you are designing games look at the difference between the two and look at how they compliment each other.

There are several different ways the foreground and background can compliment each other. 
  • Detail
  • Color
  • Style
  • Intensity
  • Amount of lines
  • Object differences

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Tips on how to be a great game designer. Learn to take things away

Often times when game designers, programmers and artists want to make a game better they add something. They add more code, more detail and more features. The game gets bigger and 'better' with ever feature they add.

While the instinct is to add more features you can actually increase the creativity of your game by subtracting items. By limiting and taking away items or features you can increase the creativity of your game. For instance, if you have heard of the novel Gadsby, that entire novel was written without the letter E. That is a tough challenge especially because 'e' is a vowel. When you limit yourself you open your mind to creativity. You have to find creative ways to overcome this challenge.

So when you are designing your next game try and find something that is in every game and then take it away.

First post

Welcome to my blog everybody. As usual I have lots of interesting events planned for this blog. Stay tuned.