posts filed under: general

September Life Update

September Life Update
Hey! It sure has been awhile. Whoops.

A lot has been going on since I last posted! I'll try to touch on a little bit of everything without making this into another six thousand word blog post.

Mental Health Stuff


I'm still keeping on with my medicine and therapy, and it's been going really great. Just as a quick recap, I was diagnosed with ADHD and started taking 10mg of Adderall once a day to counter-act it, and it's been working incredibly well. I feel like I am a whole new person and my brain actually works the way I want it to. I still also take 10mg of Lexapro for anxiety, and sometimes I consider coming off of it, but I think right now this combo is totally perfect for me.

Super Meat Boy Rival Rush


This was one of the big secrets that I was working on! A long while back Tommy and I were talking about what sort of cool thing we could do for Super Meat Boy at PAX West. He mentioned the idea of trading cards, and that seemed really cool, but why not just go the extra mile and make it into a fully fleshed out card game?

Rival Rush quickly became my focus for a few months, and we were able to actually get it all finished and printed for PAX. Then during PAX we actually ended up selling out of our entire stock of it. We didn't expect it at all. Honestly we were questioning if we would sell ten packs of cards. We grossly underestimated the demand for the game, and now we're currently working on a way to get the game reprinted on a larger scale.

This is the first non-video game I've ever successfully developed, and it was a blast. I'll try to dig into it a little more in more specific blog posts in the future. It was a crazy whirlwind of just a few months to go from the initial idea to the actual final product. I feel like I got to finally use a lot of my competitive card game experience to make a really compelling one on one game that I am really proud of.

Super Meat Boy Forever


Work continues on Forever. I'm doing all of the level design of the game, and some of the game design. It's been an absolute blast to work on this game and I'm extremely proud of all of the work that the team has put in so far. It's going to be a massive game and I think everyone is going to really love it. I really enjoy playing it, and I think a lot of the people that are questioning the auto-run direction are going to be pleasantly surprised when they pick it up. I am very particular with the games that I like, and I can honestly say that Forever is a game that I love.

I do have a lot of work ahead of me though, and again it's work that I cannot share publicly! I want to share everything I'm working on, but there are a lot of things in Forever that are best suited for being revealed as people play the game. It's going to be great.

Drawing


I've been spending a lot of time doodling and drawing with my newfound abilities to focus, but I've been totally slipping on posting anything. Sometimes a lot of what I draw feels very samey so I don't feel like posting it, or sometimes I just end up sketching a lot of stuff that feels like throw away stuff not really worth posting up here, but I suppose maybe I should. It's kinda funny how I am totally open about all of these deep personal things like my life and mental health but when it comes to drawing I still feel very cagey and protective. I want to start posting at least a drawing once a week on here again, but again who knows if that will end up happening.

PAX West 2018


This year PAX West was an amazing experience. It was also very tiring. We might have done a little bit of crazy crunch time up until the first day of PAX. Whoops.

For Super Meat Boy Forever we were able to debut one of the boss fights in the game. The boss battles in Forever are going to be one of the defining differences between the original Super Meat Boy and Forever.

We ended up announcing Rival Rush and releasing it the first day of PAX, which some might say is very weird and possibly stupid, but it was fun so whatever. I stayed up all night editing a video to launch with the Rival Rush website, and then ended up sleeping through half of the first day of PAX. Again, whoops.

After that though everything was very smooth. I spent pretty much the entire weekend showing people how to play the card game, and watching people play through levels of Forever.

It's important to note that this was my first conference or convention experience while taking Adderall. I take the instant release version so it only lasts about four to five hours when I take it, so I ended up taking my daily dose at around noon or so, so that it would hopefully last from then until when the expo hall closed.

It actually made a huge difference that I could immediately notice. Usually at conventions I'm really shy and although I don't mind talking to people, I do have a lot of anxiety surrounding it. It feels like my brain is going too fast to keep up with when I interact with people and I end up second or third guessing myself constantly whenever I have even the most basic interactions with people. I noticed that when I was under the effects of my medication though a lot of that social anxiety evaporated. My brain was remaining calm and I felt like I was in control of my thoughts, which made interacting with people much much more pleasant.

I was incredibly nervous about the card game leading up to PAX. For a lot of reasons really. It's the first non-video game project I've ever successfully completed. It's a card game so that means the only way to learn how to play is through having the rules explained to you, or reading the rules and trying to figure it out. It's pretty terrifying to think about. I was afraid that people were going to not understand the game at all, or think that certain parts of it were just terrible, or I thought that there were going to be all of these obvious things that I didn't think of... but none of that happened. People were very resceptive to the game. Almost everyone that tried it was able to pick it up after just a brief explanation. A lot of people said incredibly kind things that honestly made me want to cry!

To top it all off, so many people wanted me to sign their cards! What an incredibly humbling experience. Is humbling the right word there? I don't know. It's a very strange feeling. I signed so many cards that I felt like most of my PAX was spent signing autographs. It's totally surreal. Again I'm just incredibly happy and proud of how everything turned out with Rival Rush, and PAX, and Forever, and all of it. It's just great.

Onward


My priorities are very different now than they were this time last year. Unfortunately, Sky Sisters still is on the wayside. I don't have any time to actively develop it. Along with that, Otter is in a bit of stasis. It's a usable framework, but I wont be adding any features to it for the forseeable future. I wanted to get a new version of it up and running with a new renderer, but that is also something I do not have time for.

Once Super Meat Boy Forever is done and out the door then I'll be able to reevaluate what the future holds for me, but for now I'm keeping my focus on that first and foremost.

That's it for now!

Kyle vs. ADHD

Kyle vs. ADHD
This past year I’ve been trying to address some of the issues I’ve been facing with my mental health. Mostly the stuff I’ve been used to dealing with, but some things really hit the fan last summer, and I had to face my issues head on. I’ve been used to dealing with a constant background hum of depression and anxiety, but the anxiety really kicked it up a notch and I quickly found my back up against the wall. I had to take steps to address this because it became very apparent that how I was living was just not sustainable.

This is going to be a long one, so buckle up.

I'm Back, Kinda!

I'm Back, Kinda!
Hey!

It seems that I vanished for a good while here. Sorry about that. To make a long story short, I had a bunch of stuff happen in my life that just took priority over my typical update schedule. I had to cut certain aspects of my life to give myself enough time to breathe, and my blog was one of them.

I will probably end up elaborating on a bunch of what happened, but for now just know that I’m doing fine, and things are currently pretty swell. Can’t ask for much more. I moved to Seattle not too long ago and have been settling in pretty well.

As far as work related things go I’m currently working on Super Meat Boy Forever! I think I mentioned this before, but I can’t exactly remember what I was talking about on my blog a year ago. As far as Super Sky Sisters goes, unfortunately right now I have to put that project on the back burner in order for me to fully focus on my role on Meat Boy. I was brought on to Team Meat for Level Design and some Game Design stuff, and it’s been an absolute blast so far. With working on a big project with a team though, I can’t share as much stuff as I usually do with my personal projects. Just know that the project is going really well and it’s a game that I really like to play and work on, which is always the game development dream.

Thanks to everyone that has been so supportive to me since I began my game development career, and to those that helped me even beyond that. The support of family and friends that I have is second to none and I live every day with a deep gratitude that I get to live the life that I live.

As far as future blog posts go probably don’t expect anything as rapid paced as I was posting before. I was thinking of maybe doing some sort of weekly or bi-weekly post schedule in the future with just whatever thoughts were on my mind, game development or otherwise. As far as doodle posts go I still plan on getting back into those, and those should be relatively easy to fall back into.

That’s all for now. Thanks for listening!

Break Time

Break Time
Hey anyone still reading this,

Unfortunately I wont be able to keep up with the pace with my blog posts anymore due to various circumstances in my life right now. I'm still doing stuff behind the scenes, but right now there are a lot of other things I need to focus on and my blog sadly has to take a back seat.

I had a really good streak of posts going, but really I didn't imagine that I could keep it up forever.

I'll be back at some point! Thanks for tuning in.

Kyle vs Keto Part I

Kyle vs Keto Part I
A very very long time ago I tried out the "paleo diet." It ended up having a huge positive effect for a number of reasons that you can find out more about here if you so choose. It's been a long time since then, and over time my diet sort of drifted back into what it was before paleo.

About a year and a half ago I moved to Denver, and ended up in a spot that is pretty much in the heart of the city. It was definitely a culture shock to me as now I'm living in a place where I can walk everywhere, there's always stuff going on, I hardly ever drive my car, and there are amazing places to get food on every corner. This is great! But also dangerous in terms of dieting.

A few years back I had learned about this "keto" diet that people were doing to destroy all of the excess fat on their bodies. I decided to get into paleo since that's what everyone around me was doing, but still I had always been curious about keto since I knew a few people that used it to lose a lot of weight. Right before I moved to Denver I was curious, but with the move, and ending up in an area with amazing places to eat everywhere, my experiment got severely delayed. On top of all that it seems like I am constantly traveling for games or family related stuff, and everyone knows that dieting while traveling is absolute nightmare difficulty.

So after all of that I finally had a huge stretch of time without major travel events, and this was a huge opportunity to finally give it a go. I eased myself into the diet over a few weeks, and I'm now in the middle of a strict keto streak of 3 weeks with plans to continue it indefinitely (until my next trip essentially.)

(Note: I actually wrote this initially about a month ago but forgot to post it. I'll be writing up an update on my current progress as Part II soon.)

Web Work Flow

Web Work Flow
My web work flow is constantly changing as the crazy world of web design is always on the move. Everything changes every day and what a website needs to do and look like is always moving with the technology that lets people view websites.

Coding



For writing actual web code stuff (javascript, html, css, php, etc) I've switched to Atom Editor. I have a bunch of packages that help smooth things out:

Atom Beautify
File Icons
Minimap
Project Manager

I was on a big Sublime Text kick but for some reason Atom Editor just works a little bit better for me. I was able to figure out project views in Atom Editor, and the Project List plugin lets me easily save projects and go back to them later. Atom Editor seems to have slightly worse performance than Sublime though, but that probably has a lot to do with installing way too many plugins.

Server



By far the easiest way to get something up and running quickly is running a local web server. I develop on Windows so I find a lot of success with Wamp. Wamp runs an apache web server locally so everything like php and mysql is running right from the start. I can screw around as much as I want locally before worrying about uploading it to any web server.

One thing to keep in mind though is that often my remote server is going to differ from my local server. My username and passwords might be different on my remote server than on my local server where I usually just use root for everything. To get around this easily I do a quick check of the server's IP address when running certain chunks of php code. Basically if my php method that checks the server IP address comes back with "127.0.0.1" which is localhost then I can run some things a little differently. Change usernames and passwords, and other stuff like change error reporting levels and whatever else is useful. This is a handy thing to know if you're developing locally and then moving to remote!

Php & mySql



I still stick with the tried and true combo of php and mysql. Some things have changed over the years with updated versions of php. Some of the mysql syntax has changed into this "mysqli" business that is supposed to be more secure, but basically I am still running on the same blog platform I wrote about 7 years ago now. It is a totally custom made set up that isn't too complicated, but making it completely custom and closed source means I'm not subject to mass vulnerabilities from stuff like WordPress.

Smarty



Using Smarty for my template system has paid off in a huge way with this redesign. A long, long time ago I used to just mash all of my html and php together into a horrible Frankenstein's monster mess of a website, but I was turned onto Smarty a while back and I've never looked back since.

If you're using php using a template system like Smarty is an absolute must in my opinion. Basically you can tuck all of your php away into some core php files, and then have your website use smarty template files that can easily insert data from your php sources. Basically the php's job at that point is to create Smarty template objects and then feed those objects the data they need. Smarty is not really mean to be a logic or programming type solution, but it does have some basic things that are more than enough to get by.

Essentially this made it so for this redesign I didn't have to touch any of my php. I did have to adjust a few lines in my php code because of how the layout changed. For example in my php core codebase I get all of the data from my Twitter feed. Originally my twitter feed was in my header template that appeared on all of my pages, but now it only appears on the sidebar of my blog. All this meant was that I had to feed the twitter data to my blog template instead of the header template. Beyond that all the changes were just done on my Smarty template.

Smarty creates a safe layer that I can screw around on knowing that I'm not going to destroy anything on the php side accidentally. When I finished the mock up of this redesign all I had to do was reference my old design to see what smarty tags I had to include for things like the sidebar entries, blog posts, and the data for the stuff on the games, draws, webs, and miscs pages. So with the same underbelly I have a completely new looking website. Neat!

Other Cool Stuff



For the front end side I made use of a lot of handy things from the web. jQuery for some fancy animation and ajax stuff. Lity for light boxing images. Google Fonts for the handwritten looking fonts, and animate.css for reference on creating the animations for hovering over certain things.

One of the things I love about web development is how open the entire world of it is. There are so many solutions for common problems that thousands or maybe millions of developers have hit, so it never feels like I'm working alone. The game dev scene has been approaching that steadily, but there is a level of openness and togetherness that the web community has right now that seems totally unmatched.

Web dev is also a good break for my brain which can be utterly destroyed by the near infinite complexity of video game programming.