Simoroshka & games

Oct
30

October game!

It was a very busy month for me, with a challenging last course and exam (passed!), work still going on and thesis starting along (I will write about computational creativity and game jams!). But nevertheless I managed to make another game. It’s written in Javascript, so it should work in any browser (I haven’t tested it though. I probably should). It is a simple tennis game with a twist.

portalTennis

Play Portal Tennis in the browser!

It was a good exercise. I grew rather fond of Javascript during my summer internship, so I wanted to use it to make a game. And not having all the powers of a ready-made game engine makes you think more about small things. I didn’t particularly like this part though, I like to program things like game logic and mechanics, without worrying about asset loading, collision detection, frames and things. But again, it was a good exercise.

Speaking of collisions. There are bugs left in the game that are the result of the fact that I don’t really like trigonometry. Writing the AI for the second player was difficult enough on that part, and I didn’t have any mental power left to get those pesky collision problems resolved. Next time I would rather use an engine or a library of some sort and save my time for more fun things.

Takeaways

  • It is not that difficult to find time to make a game even in the most scrambled schedule.
  • I like programming interfaces, inputs and user interactions, but I don’t like designing graphical elements. So much time lost, such poor results…
  • I like implementing game logic, AI, and balancing things for a better experience. But I don’t like dealing with small things like asset loading, collision detection and other things that are usually automatized. They are just in the way!
  • In order to finish a game on time, you probably should kill your inner perfectionist. Or at least knock him unconscious for a while. This was the biggest struggle of them all.
Oct
10

Renaming!

It is a day of updates, it seems.

The name for this site was bugging me for quite a while. Exploring gamability is a cool name and I was very happy with it at first. The problem with it is that my initial idea for this blog was to post my thoughts on games and game design. What I find well designed and why, what are the reason why some games are so enjoyable for some people and don’t work for others. I would try to explore this topic in details. Only I didn’t. And I am not going to, because I am not very good at it. There are many blogs about game design, written by far more experienced people than myself.

But there is no blog about me and my projects. There wasn’t, until recently. Now the blog’s name reflects the content properly. This is about me and games, and me making games with my friends, and my games. Done.

Oct
10

So we decided to make another game

After the game jam three of us decided that since we had so much fun and the result happened to be great, we need to continue making games together. Well, we failed. And then we didn’t. Let me explain.

The first week

We have an awesome idea that includes time travel, surrealism, and a strong psychological element. We enthusiastically discuss it for half a day, trying to make sense of each other’s visions of the end result. It is going to be so great! We seem to lack only one thing – a solid story, without which the desired game is impossible. But we are eager to come up with one during the next week. And as soon as we have the story we will be able to start working on the game itself and test all the crazy mechanics we came up with.

The second week

We don’t have a story and it seems that none of us is able to create a good enough one for this undoubtedly awesome game idea. For some reason I almost expected this to happen. We were too ambitious, we luck certain skills, and we put ourselves into a situation where failure was most likely.
It is easy to get discouraged and drop everything when you encounter a problem like this. But we want to make games! Maybe that great idea was untimely, maybe we need to start small. We must try and make at least something.
So we decide to take a little piece of what we initially wanted to create, a tiny bit of all the complex mechanics, something very easy and well explored by other games. Like point and click puzzle games. Like room escape games.

The third week

We’ve done some research on room escape puzzles. Most of them are horrible and unplayable, but some of them are very inspirational. We concentrate on those (keeping in mind the horrible ones to avoid the mistakes), we play them, we try to understand how they work. Ir runs pen and paper game design analysis. She comes up with a story. I study a new game engine. We have drafts. And sound recording plans.

I think now we are moving somewhere. I think we are going to make it. And it makes me very happy.

I will most likely post updates every couple of weeks or so.

Shaman draft

PS The games that inspired us are made by Rusty Lake. They know how to make good room escape games (although quite creepy at times).

Oct
10

What’s going on

I was silent for a while, but it doesn’t mean that nothing is going on. On the contrary. And a lot of that has something to do with games. Here is an update on what I am doing right now, game-wise.

One game a month – October

I participate in the One Game a Month movement. The idea is to make one finished game every month (duh). Last month was the first one for me, and I logged our Quantum Cat as the game of September. This time, I am doing a small game project in javascript + canvas. I took a very simple game from an online course as a base. Well, it is a pong game. But I added a twist.
I am learning a lot about game logic, simple 2d physics and collisions, game loops, asset uploading and so on – things that you generally don’t need to know if you use an engine, but they are nice to understand if you want to be a proper game developer.

Portal Tennis

Team project – Escape Puzzle

Three of us are making a new game. It is going to be one of those room escape puzzle games, where you need to look for things and solve puzzles in point and click manner. I am studying Godot game engine for this, because it is free, it looks nice, and it almost has working exporting to HTML5 (or so they say). And I love the way the documentation is written.
I think Unity3D is an overkill for a game like this, and it is generally not a good choice for a browser game. Plus learning new tools is fun.

logo_godot_boceto1

Thesis topic wanted

I decided that for my master’s thesis I will go with computational creativity (sub-field of AI studying how we can make computer programs more creative). And, of course, games. This cross-over might include things like procedural content generation, advanced AI for games, game development smart assistant tools and so on. I am reading lots of scientific papers and trying to think of all cool things I can do during the next six months. Unfortunately I need to choose one.