Bro Dudes the most bro’est game out there!
Bro Dudes is a 2D platform shooter. Think Contra, references to Bad Dudes, mash together with large amounts of Bros and Dudes. At the time of this writing the game has been in development for about month and is still in the early stages. Although it’s running on Web, PC/Mac/Linux, and mobile (iOS & Android), it has yet to be released. The first level which is still under some development, can be played in the browser. Things to note about the demo:
Here are some of the features:
More to come!
Waiting in line to try the Oculus Rift at GDC 2013 (btw.. it took 1 hour)
Simply put it’s a virtual reality headset, called Oculus Rift. Its like a big ski mask that goes over your eyes and completely seals them in from the outside. Unlike glasses which have a space between your eyeballs and the lens, allowing you to see the real world through the sides, the headset covers your eye region, sealing your eyes in; in fact you can’t see the outside world at all. This ultimately is a big factor of making you feel like you’re in the game!
If you’re a developer you can pre-order one from Oculus for $300; the expected ship date is May 2013 (roughly a month away!). Note that the developer’s version is more of a prototype and the consumer version will be much better. However if you have to have it now and have $300 to burn, then grab the developer’s version. I asked and even prodded but wasn’t given a clear answer to when the consumer version will be released. They couldn’t even lock down a year, however they did hint and said, 2013 will probably not happen. Possibly, if everything goes without a hitch we may see a release in 2014 but 2015 is also a possibility. I suppose it means if we’re lucky maybe a year or two.
Believe the hype! At first I thought the VR system would take over the “Look” control of the game but for the demo they used Hawken which is a mechwarrior-type game and you’re in the cockpit. They handed me an Xbox controller hooked up to a PC and it had the standard FPS controls. However whether I walk forward or strafe, at any time I can look with my head behind and on the sides of me. It became really intense when I was walking straight pass a wall and caught a mech waiting on the side in my peripheral; so without having to move or change the direction of the mech I instinctively turned my head to confirm an enemy and my hands took over to control my mech so I can fire on him. It happened very quickly and without forethought. Just reflexes. At that point, I realized I was in the game. The demonstrator asked me to activate my hover so I can fly and as I did I looked down and peeked past my cockpit to see the ground getting smaller. When I did that I felt vertigo or the feeling in a rollercoaster. My body thought I was in danger and I felt a little tightness. The demonstrator then asked me to free fall from atop of a sky scrapper and again I felt the vertigo and for me I really felt like I was there. Understandably your reactions will vary and even if you have the same reaction as I did your body would eventually become used to it as you play more and more.
This is a developer’s version which in this case is more of a prototype. The takeaway here is the concept of having virtual reality which relies on head tracking. The head tracking was spot on however some people complained that it blurred a little whenever they moved their head. I saw this but I was more interested in running around in the world that It became invisible to me. Only when I stopped and looked for it, I saw it. The other complaint was the low resolution; it’s 720p which isn’t that bad since most console games are playing at 720p anyways. I get it you paid $500 for a video card blah blah blah, Oculus said they hope to fix these issues for the consumer version, however even as is I’m sold.
[Left] Raspberry Pi with case, 32GB SD Card, Wifi adapter and power [Right] Raspberry Pi Desktop
Earlier this month I decided to purchase a Raspberry Pi (RPi). Quite simply it’s a credit card sized single-board computer developed in the UK with the intention of promoting basic computer science principles in schools. There are a number of hobbyists out there doing amazing things with it; a few are listed at arstechnica. Besides using it as a computer to run a MAME cabinet or an XMBC Media Center, it can run a number of servers (VNC, SSH, LAMP, etc). Running off of 5V @ 0.7A (3.5W) the estimated cost to run this computer is about $0.24/month.
Raspberry Pi model B comes with 2 USB ports (do not run an unpowered USB hub off it!), HDMI (1080p & ouputs audio), RCA composite out, 3.5mm jack (audio out). Like a Mac Mini you’ll need to supply the monitor, keyboard, and mouse and unlike a Mac Mini you’ll need to supply an SD Card for storage (32GB max?). If you’re like me you’ll only use the keyboard, mouse, and monitor for the initial setup and then remote into later from another device. In Windows 7 (maybe earlier?) you can use “Remote Desktop Connection” and log right in. Of course you can use VNC if you prefer. For an SSH client in Windows I use the very popular putty client. On my iOS devices I use iSSH as it supports both SSH and VNC through SSH tunneling. I know 99% of you already know this, however Mac & Linux users can use their respective “Terminal” apps to SSH and VNC for remote desktop.
So now that you have all your parts the basic setup is as follows:
Here’s the tutorial I used from engadget; it’s step-by-step, concise, and I didn’t run into any issues using it. Once you’re done I’d recommend performing an update & upgrade:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
Although it’s supposed to cost $35 it was a pretty big disappointment as a stand alone computer. Although my expectations were not high due to it’s price, having seen it play Quake 3 Arena I did make a foolish assumption and thought web browsing would be relatively fast since it’s running on a very stripped down version of Debian Linux. However, browsing the internet is unbelievable slow, like really sllllllooooooowwww. I originally planned on getting another one for my nephew so he can use it to browse the web but it was just plain awful experience. Out of the box it wasn’t able to play flash videos , even after installing Chromium. Perhaps this will be fixed later…?
Much too slow for Unity; and no the Linux export won’t work since it uses ARM architecture. However it does come with a visual game editor called Scratch as well as a growing python game development community.
Kotaku ran an article the other day called, “A Beginner’s Guide To Making Your First Video Game” and it’s very well written. One crucial piece of information that Zoe, the article’s author, shared was:
“Start small, and be ready to fail.”
This to me is absolutely essential for a beginner to learn. Having your expectations set will help you realize that your first few games will not be polished nor look like Halo. The next part of the article, “Choose Your Tools”, is what caught my eye. Here Zoe recommends a tool called, “Twine.” Twine is a free, open source, interactive story creation tool. In our August Post, I spoke very highly about Articy Draft and the importance of a story creation tool (especially when the story has choices and multiple outcomes), however Articy Draft is expensive. Recently Articy Draft was approved on Steam and the developers promised a less expensive version, which is great news for those with a small budget. However if you don’t want to spend the money then Twine is definitely something you should check out. Although Twine isn’t as polished as Articy Draft, it does have a growing community of contributors with the potential of becoming a professional grade tool.
At the end of the Kotaku article is a list of useful resources, here is a few of the ones I like
Happy Birthday, Jaden!
2012. Where do I begin? A lot has happens over the last 12 months and here were some highlights in no particular order:
This year, more than any other year, I spent most of my gaming in the past. Even as I write this I’m playing Origin’s 1988 Ultima V (PC). The more I play modern games the more I’m fascinated where their roots began. I have a tablet and 20 of the 32 GBs are dedicated to retro game magazines. Reminiscing on life before the internet and how readers would submit their questions, complaints, and retorts to the magazine for everyone to see brings back vivid, happy memories. Predicting which games systems would survive and which ones would die; ads that slung mud at competitors describing why their game was so much better.
Many of the projects I worked on focused on 2D games: Multiplayer & Multplatform 2D side scrolling games, 2D games with 3D models and 2D games with 2D sprites, just to name a few. Amongst many retro games I’ve streamed on Twitch, I replayed many Sierra games including Hero’s Quest 1 & 2 (Yea I still called it Hero’s Quest). Kickstarter has been a great proxy to talk to some of the game designer that really impacted me growing up. Being able to ask questions and hear their trials and tribulations was inspiring to say the least.
Although it’s time to leave 2012 I’ll be bringing the retro gaming with me into 2013… Happy New Year!
When I first got the original Wii I couldn’t put it down for 2 weeks. After that, however I never really picked it up again. I find it harder and harder to play cutesy games and tend to stick to slightly more mature games. Mario Galaxy looked to be an interesting platformer but again the cutesy graphics turned me off and I just couldn’t get past it.
Enter the Wii U. When it first became available for pre order I considered it would be plagued with the same type of cutesy games I’m no longer playing but since I’m a sucker for new hardware I threw down my five dollars at BestBuy for the pre order ticket. A few days before the Wii U debuted, I started having second thoughts that after a couple of weeks I might put it down and never play it again. When the day finally came I decided to go through with it and picked up my pre order, the deluxe edition, along with Super Mario U.
Setting up was easy enough and as soon as it could it wanted to update itself. I agreed and as the system was downloading the update I noticed the progress bar wasn’t really moving. My internet connection is about 20-30Mps and my initial thought was that it had froze or the servers were all busy from all the other new Wii U owners. I was trying to stop the download and I couldn’t; there was no option other than unplugging it. I was a little hungry so I went and got something to eat and returned and found the progress bar had moved a little. I decided to let it finish… and a good thing too since then I’ve read if you interrupt this process it may brick your system.
After the upgrade I was brought to the Wii U home menu screen. It was sluggish and none of the icons had any kind of “hover text’” or description telling me what they do. I played around with each icon and figured it out. No problem and like other peoples reviews this wasn’t a deal breaker for me. I launched Super Mario Wii U and played around using the Wii U tablet controller. I wanted to play two players with my wife but Super Mario Wii U won’t let you use the tablet controller while playing two players unless you want to be a “boost” player. In other words I wanted to control a player on the screen and so did my wife. Neither one of us wanted to play as a “boost” player.
Nintendo in their pathetic excuse for ingenuity decided that players can only use the Wii U tablet controller to control characters in single player mode only. I had an old Wii mote from my Nintendo Wii (only 1) so I decided to go back to the store and pick up another controller. I saw the Wii U Pro controller; it resembled something I was more used to so I decided to pick it up. Nintendo decided that their Wii U Pro controller will not work with Super Mario U at all. At this point I was tired of screwing around trying to make this poor excuse of a game console to play. I realized that in multiplayer mode, Nintendo’s launch game, Super Mario U only works with controllers made for their now obsolete system, Nintendo Wii. Why would you make a Wii U game for a Wii U system not compatible with Wii U controllers? Whatever their logic I decided to immediately returned the system, controller, and game for a refund. Sure I could have returned the Pro controller and exchanged it for an old Wii mote, which they re-boxed with a Wii U sticker but I decided against that. This is supposed to be a next gen system and as a early adopter I’ll will give it some room for bugs, etc but supporting a company with the foresight of a piece of wood that can’t even manage to get their own controllers working with their biggest launch title is an absolute deal breaker for me.
Perhaps this issue and other issues (old Wii games not upconverting, etc) will get fixed in the future, but why should I wait around for that. No I’ll return it and check in on them in the future, if the system is fixed maybe I’ll try it again.
The new animation system is quite different than the old one (it uses state machines to control the animations for starters). Unity posted a Mecanim Tutorial during the beta period; they might have updated it since the last time I used it but there were some parts that were changed in later betas which caused the tutorial project not to function (the part where the guy reaches for the wrench). However the explanation is still solid and if you haven’t seen it yet I would definitely recommend it. In addition to the tutorial, you can download their Mecanim example project from the Unity Asset Store (note this is different than the example project that comes with the tutorial).
Although they have cleaned & optimized their existing GUI system, they’re still working on the new GUI system that Nicholas Francis spoke of at Unite 2012.
If this brings back fuzzy memories there’s a good chance you were born before 1980
For those of you that were fortunate enough to be around when this genre was invented in 1980 and enjoyed playing these magnificent story-based games, you’re probably as excited as I was when I heard that Kickstarter has helped resurrected this once popular style of gaming. Although adventure games might not have disappeared forever, thanks to loyal fans in the indie game scene, the genre was considered dead commercially around the late 90’s/early 00’s.
It’s been a while since I wrote a “Soapbox” post but I thought it was time to do a little resurrecting myself for my own genre (or at least for one post :)
Since the Kickstarter revival of Leisure Suit Larry, a number of Sierra veterans have been returning to the game scene to create classic adventure games. For me as a game developer and a fan one of the most interesting parts of this revival are the interviews with the developers. Sierra games typically had one or two authors that design the game; their face(s) and bio were printed on the back of the box along with a short description of the game (similarly to a book). Using Twitch.tv, a live video streaming service with an emphasis on gaming, these authors are not only interviewed on how it was like to work at Sierra but also commenting as their games are being played. For me, this DVD-commentary-style approach is interesting, entertaining, and educational. Interviews can be found at the App Store or Twitch.tv.
Ken Williams wrote an article about the legacy of Sierra; a very interesting read and I highly recommend checking it out. Now that Ken is retired, he’s currently boating around the world with his wife Roberta, also co-founder of sierra and arguably one of the most influential game designers of all time.
Of course Sierra wasn’t the only game company making graphic adventure games, studios such as LucasFilm Games (now LucasArts), Access Software (Tex Murphy), Westwood Studios (Legend of Kyrandia), and others. However the stories, interviews, and behind the scenes info are more readily available for Sierra thus this article focusing on them.
Searching the internet resulted in many theories of why this genre died. The most popular reason was because of another genre that started to bloom called First Person Shooters. Games like Doom, Quake, Unreal, etc were all very fast paced and started to push the boundaries of multiplayer gaming. Although I think this was a factor in the death of adventure gaming, it was the main one. I recently stumbled across an article by Old Man Murray. He uses Jane Jensen’s game, Gabriel Knight 3 as the example:
Gabriel Knight must disguise himself as a man called Mosley in order to fool a French moped rental clerk into renting him the shop’s only motorcycle.
In order to construct the costume, Gabriel Knight must manufacture a fake moustache. Utilizing the style of logic adventure game creators share with morons, Knight must do this even though Moseley does not have a moustache.
So in order to even begin formulating your strategy, you have to follow daredevil of logic Jane Jensen as she pilots Gabriel Knight 3 right over common sense, like Evel Knievel jumping Snake River Canyon. Maybe Jane Jensen was too busy reading difficult books by Pär Lagerkvist to catch what stupid Quake players learned from watching the A-Team: The first step in making a costume to fool people into thinking you’re a man without a moustache, is not to construct a fake moustache.
Still, you might think that you could yank some hair from one of the many places it grows out of your own body and attach it to your lip with the masking tape in your inventory. But obviously, Ms. Jensen felt that an insane puzzle deserved a genuinely deranged solution. In order to manufacture the moustache, you must attach the masking tape to a hole at the base of a toolshed then chase a cat through the hole. In the real world, such as the one that stupid people like me and Adrian Carmack use to store our televisions, this would result in a piece of masking tape with a few cat hairs stuck to it, or a cat running around with tape on its back. Apparently, in Jane Jensen’s exciting, imaginative world of books, masking tape is some kind of powerful neodymium supermagnet for cat hair.
Remember how shocked you were at the end of the Sixth Sense when it turned out Bruce Willis was a robot? Well, check this out: At the end of this puzzle, you have to affix the improbable cat hair moustache to your lip with maple syrup! Someone ought to give Jane Jensen a motion picture deal and also someone should CAT scan her brain.
Old Man Murray then closes with, “Who killed Adventure Games? I think it should be pretty clear at this point that Adventure Games committed suicide.” This guy totally nailed it! Most of the adventure games back then had these ridiculous puzzles. These overly obfuscated puzzles caused players to get stuck more often than they should have, resulting in frustration; even more so after finding out the solution was something stupid like the example above. This frustration caused people to hunt through hint books one too many times and finally quitting.
One of my biggest concerns with this revival is that these veterans will use the same techniques without realizing Game Design has made huge advancements since 1990’s. This can cause the genre to fail again before it has a chance to grow.
Design complex story lines with ease using Nevigo’s Articy Draft!
Not since I used Video Game Design Pro 2006, a program that helps game designers create their design/technical documents, have I been so excited to write/design game stories. Unfortunately soon after discovering Video Game Design Pro they went out of business leaving a huge whole in the game design process. Colleagues of mine tend to use a combination of Microsoft Word, Excel, and mind mapping software; some only use notepad. For me none of these solutions are very good. In fact, they tend to get really sloppy with larger projects.
This software is
expensive (a special edition is now available on Steam for $99) so I’m very cautious investing the money to get a license since I got burned from Gamr7’s UrbanPad. You can try it for free for 30 days but if you’re like me you’ll be hooked in minutes. Just using the software is a motivating experience and encourages you to write some really cool stories with twists and turns. Articy Draft gamifys game design! Currently, I’m still in my 30 days and have sent an email to Nevigo with my concerns and suggestions (cutting the price down by 50% and hitting up all the game developer software forums to spread the word of this amazing tool) so hopefully they’ll remove the online validation because I really want this!
I received a reply regarding my concerns from Nevigo today:
“About the online registration: It is illegal to sell software which can not be installed. So normally Gamr7 had to have to release a last version/update which removes the online validation before they have filed for bankruptcy.
We are a start-up and partially held by a government institution, which would never allow that we would do anything illegal, because they would be liable for it. So you can be sure that at least, if we have to file for bankruptcy some days, we have to release a last update which removes the online validation.”
I’m very happy to hear the online validation will not be a problem. Hopefully they’ll someday release a tablet version!
I’ve been using articy draft for a while now and I really love it. Many things have changed and questions have been answered so I’ll be making some changes with the original post.
A special edition version was also recently green lit on Steam ($99). I got a chance to stop their booth at GDC 13 for a chat and their presence is beginning to grow. One of the things mentioned at the booth that they were surprised at the number of different ways people were using articy draft. It’s been really popular among the Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder players; allowing them to create complex and compelling campaigns. In the upcoming version 2.0, AD will include a game design document exporter.
Until July 9, 2012 they’re offering a $200
asset store credit towards the upgrade price ($1500) for all Pro pre-orders. During the pre-order for Unity 3.0 Pro you were able to upgrade for a little less than half ($500) the released price ($1500). When I tried to upgrade to Unity 4.0 it was $1500; the same as the pre-order non-upgrade purchase price. I wonder if the price will increase when it’s released. I’ll update here when I find out more!
The $200 credit is towards the upgrade purchase of $1500 and not an asset store credit.
Unity 4.0 FAQ