American health care is terrifying. Even with insurance I am nervous to seek treatment for things because insurance can just not cover you. (2 days ago)
2014 - 2 - 9 / 8:42 pm / games
Apparently there's a game jam going down soon about a recent mobile game sensation. I had a few hours to spare today and I wasn't being productive on my big game, so I decided to whip something up in Otter.
Download Flippy Flop 1.0 (Windows, 1.6mb)
Not really a game jam game, but more like a game doodle.
2014 - 2 - 7 / 8:34 am / general
My friends Asher, Greg, and Jimmy made an awesome game called Threes that's number 1 on the app store at the time of me writing this! Check out their awesome trailer:
Not only is it a pretty sweet game for iOS, but it also features my voice for one of the characters. I got to voice the number 48 in the game, and Corey voiced number 24!
Threes is a super clean, well designed game with amazing artwork and great music. It's insane how talented these dudes are and they've totally earned that number 1 spot on the app store. It's pretty cool just to be a tiny tiny part of it! Being a voice in a number 1 selling game is totally going on my resume. (I don't actually have a resume.)
2014 - 1 - 20 / 12:31 pm / events
Hey! I am alive and still kicking after my adventures in Disney World. I decided to take a longer break after Disney, as I only had a couple days back home before I had to fly out to Seattle for Steam Dev Days. I figured I can jump back onto the blog post train with some thoughts about the brand new conference from the folks at Valve.
* Whoa this conference was small. I heard a rumor that it was just 1,200 people. It felt quite cozy and reminded me of the Independent Games Summit. There was more than enough space for everyone.
* The free stuff was out of this world. We got a Steam controller which is awesome, but Intel also stepped in and gave everyone a free Steam Machine. Madness!
* Actually on the topic of free stuff, we also got a winter hat (toque?) and an umbrella, which are two things I totally needed for this trip to the northwest! Plus they gave us all notebooks and pens which are also awesome things that I needed for the conference and made great use of.
* Valve blew every other conference out of the water when it comes to perks for just attending. Not only with the free bag of stuff, but also a catered breakfast and a pretty solid dinner on both nights. I don't drink, but there were open bars on both nights (I think it was both nights at least.)
* The Day 1 talks were right up my alley. A lot of perspective on development and marketing, and a lot of it coming from indie developers or developers from small studios.
* Day 2 though was a little off course for me personally. It was a lot of tech talks involving virtual reality and Linux stuff, which I would be interested in but is most likely over my head at the moment.
* Looks like Linux is the future for Valve which is a little scary for me being so bound to Windows. I do everything in Windows and have no clue about anything regarding Linux, so I hope I can figure it out for my upcoming projects. Using Mono with C# should be a great start though!
* Apparently there was some baller amazing virtual reality demo but I didn't get a chance to check it out. (Only 60ish people actually saw it during the conference.)
* I got to see a lot of developer buddies at the conference which was awesome, but I still missed a lot of people which makes me sad.
* I am really bad at meeting new people and generally don't like to socialize, and I need to fix this. I met a handful of new people which was cool, but I definitely didn't put enough effort into it. I too often fall back on clinging to people I know and people that I feel comfortable with. I get really mad at myself for being so introverted.
* There was a cool after party with some kinda live band or something but I peaced out after a few minutes because loud dark spaces are not my thing. I wish there were more things to go to that weren't loud dark spaces with drinking, or maybe I am just not social enough to understand.
* Valve wanted to put on a conference that had a lot of value because they believe that most conferences aren't worth it, and I think they succeeded. However it'll be interesting to see if there's a Dev Days next year and how many people register. I have a feeling that a lot of the conference was the way it was because of how limited the attendance was.
* Am I going to develop for the Steam Machine and SteamOS? I guess I should put some effort into it sooner than later, because it seems like it'd be a sure fire way to get good support from the Steam people, which is a big component on having a successful game on Steam.
* I'm nervous for when the time Steam is going to be totally open and the question will be not how to get your game on Steam but how to get your game on the front page (which might already be the case with Greenlight accepting so many games lately.) Successful games are featured time and time again, but getting a niche little known title to the front page is nearly impossible.
* Unfortunately Valve didn't actually give Tyler and I brand new Tesla Roadsters.
Overall I had a really great time at Dev Days, and I hope they put on another one next year! It was an awesome excuse to get out of my room and travel more and meet up with rad people that I only get to see a few times per year.
2014 - 1 - 3 / 11:14 am / general
I'm starting off the new year with a lot of traveling, so I'm trying to figure out how I can possibly keep up posting stuff on my blog in the next few weeks.
Today's adventure is going to bring me down to Long Island in New York, where I'll be departing on an airplane to Orlando to eventually get to Disney World. I'll be there for a few days, and then I'm going back home to the desert where I'll then be leaving for Seattle for two weeks. Some of those two weeks will also be spent visiting the Indie House in Vancouver.
I think this Disney World trip is going to be my first ever proper "vacation" in a long time. I won't really be on my laptop at all, or on the internet, or working on anything for 5 or 6 days. I'm wondering if it's going to be relaxing, or terrifying. Hopefully I'll be distracted by enough roller coasters.
Once I get home, and into Seattle, I'll be getting right back into working on my new game which doesn't have a good name yet...
2013 - 12 - 31 / 8:17 pm / general
Continued from Part 4
Now it's time for some reflection, and time to think about what my goals are coming into the new year.
I feel like I leveled up significantly in 2013 as a developer. At the same point last year I was still just using FlashPunk and AS3 to create games, and I didn't really have an understanding as to how all the internals of FlashPunk worked. A few months after that, my understanding of the core of the engine went way up as I was tinkering around with the internals, and then somehow over the course of the year I was able to create my own engine from (almost) scratch using SFML and C#.
I think back to almost 5 years ago in 2008. I had just released Bonesaw: The Game, and I had just made the transition to Game Maker from Multimedia Fusion shortly after. Scripting in Game Maker instead of using the check boxes of Multimedia Fusion opened up a whole new work flow for me. I hadn't programmed a game with actual code since my days of scripting enemies and items for Graal Online... but that step to Game Maker set me on the path that got me where I am today.
It's hard to believe that in just a few years I'm now making my own game engine using a programming language that "real" programmers use. I'm really proud of all of the progress that I've made, especially because I would've never believed I would make it this far. I remember back in 2008 I also tried doing my own engine using SDL and C++ (before I tried Game Maker) and it was an absolute disaster. I looked at the project recently and had a pretty good laugh at how I thought game loops were supposed to work.
When it comes to programming I think I'm shaping up fairly well, but as a game designer I don't really know if I made any progress at all. I feel like I'm pretty much a complete novice when it comes to design still. Whenever people start talking about game design I don't really feel like I can keep up with the conversation. The only way I know how to make games is to kinda just fumble around until I get something that I think feels pretty good. When it comes to complicated systems and interactions and all that kinda stuff I get pretty lost, and I'm not sure how I can go about fixing that other than just trying to study games.
Even though my programming ability has somewhat increased, my ability to just make stuff hasn't really improved. When I find myself in a game jam I somehow conjure up this insane creative energy where I'm just in the zone for 48 hours straight and I'm just making stuff. I don't have any huge expectations or plans for whatever game jam game I'm making, so it all just comes from whatever feels right. A lot of times the details of any given game jam game shift every hour, and it all just depends on what my current trajectory is. I just go with the flow.
I struggle finding this flow when I'm not in a game jam. When it comes to my current project, Gaiaden (still searching for a new name), I easily get overwhelmed thinking about all the details involved in the grand vision I have for the game. I have pages and pages of drawings and notes and I think that stuff is going to help me... but I don't know if it does. I get a bunch of pages of ideas and I start to think about how I could possibly implement them all in an amazingly perfect system and I get stuck in a phase where I'm just fantasizing about this perfect game that doesn't exist, and when I open the code window I can barely move. I'm paralyzed by the huge amount of tasks and I feel like if I make one wrong step now it's going to mean a huge headache down the road, so I think about how I can possibly avoid that wrong step. I end up analyzing every possible thing, or worse not even knowing anything close to what the right step is, and I lock up. A classic case of analysis paralysis!
Perfection is dumb and unobtainable, and I need to keep that in mind... but it's very tough when I'm surrounded by so many amazing games and developers that seem to achieve perfection all the time. So many super smash hit indie games coming out that people love, and I feel like they must just be so much better at this than I am that they can think of all the right moves, and I just get stuck because I don't know what the right moves are.
With my recent restart of Gaiaden, I feel like I'm making more progress. I'm ignoring any potential issues and I'm trying very hard to treat it as a game jam scenario. I'm trying to be less afraid of just barreling down a path that seems right, even if it means I end up being wrong and I have to back out and try a different one. I'm getting more used to writing a bunch of code, playing around with stuff, and just deleting it all. It doesn't feel as bad as I thought it would. I've written the code and learned from it, and I don't need to keep it around if I'm not going to use it, or if I'm not going to go down that specific direction.
This could all just be a load of crap though. I don't know! I've never really felt like I've known what I'm doing, and I feel super jealous of the people that seem to have it all together, but I'm sure I'm making unfair comparisons with what goes on in the deepest parts of my mind with just the surface of my idols. I don't know if jealous is the right word now that I think about it... I look up to a lot of people in the game development world, and I hope that I can be as successful and cool as them some day, and I try really hard to just get anywhere close to their level. I'm incredibly fortunate to be close to so many amazingly talented people in the game dev world, and they are all sweethearts.
Although I need to be careful with that ideology though... If I'm constantly comparing myself to others who are way more successful to me, then I'll never be happy. That's another thing that I need to work on in this new year. I've accomplished a lot of things, and I try to keep that in mind, but I always catch myself comparing myself to other super successful or popular indie developers and of course I'm going to fall short in that comparison. This can go two ways though. Sometimes it's motivating to see what is possible and what others have accomplished, and I think "If they did it, then I can do it too!" But other times it can be a mood killer. It can be very easy to slip into the mind set of "I'll never be as cool as that person, I'm doomed to obscurity," which ultimately can lead to depression and totally kill productivity for awhile.
In order to fix this I feel like I need to be more heads down, and not pay attention too much to the outside of world, but I also need to be aware of the current climate of video games, and what the current trends are and all that kinda stuff. I don't want to fall behind by not knowing what the latest and greatest innovations are in the various categories of making games, but I also don't want to feel like I can't keep up. I don't really know what the solution here is other than trying to not compare myself to others, and keeping a positive attitude about everything, and never slipping into the poisonous realm of actual jealousy.
Every year though I continue to realize that the indie game community is one of the greatest groups of people I've ever encountered. I wouldn't be anywhere close to where I am today if it weren't for the support of some of my closest indie dev buddies. I owe a lot to all of those around me that have helped me get here, and I can only hope that I can help others out the same way that they helped me.
That's actually a big reason that I opened up more about myself and what I'm doing. Over this past year I studied a lot of different technologies and programming languages and all that kinda stuff, and every time I did something new I would try to document it and report about it with a step by step guide. I want to share the knowledge that I'm gaining with others in the hopes that it makes us all smarter and better, and that's the main attitude I see in the community. Everyone is usually very open, and is more than willing to share their knowledge and expertise with others, and its incredibly inspiring to see. During the whole development process of Offspring Fling I had a lot of help from other developers, and I can't imagine what I'd do without that help.
I'm pretty proud of myself for being able to keep up the pace of posting almost 15 times every month on my blog. Anything from just doodles or quick thoughts, to full step by step tutorials or guides on how to set up Adobe AIR for iOS. Although not all of my posts are probably worth reading, it feels good to be able to look back at all the posts through the year and see what I was doing, and how far I've progressed since then. For 2014 I'm going to try and keep up the pace of posting 3 or 4 things a week, and hopefully between updates to Otter, and progress on Gaiaden, I'll have enough stuff to keep talking about somewhat interesting things.
Going into the next year I also want to push myself out of my comfort zone more when it comes to a lot of things, but one thing I want to focus on is my art and drawing. I know that I need to do more studies, and branch out way more, and not focus so much on my "style" that I revert to every time I'm feeling out of my element. I don't know if this means actually going to some kind of drawing class, or maybe just working really hard at it with online resources, but it's something I definitely want to improve upon during the next year.
My comfort zone also includes not leaving my bedroom a lot, so I want to try traveling more next year. I'm starting out by going to Seattle and Vancouver for awhile in January, and of course after that San Francisco for GDC, and then after that I want to hit up PAX East in April and also visit some places in the northeast when it's not -15 degrees outside. I'm getting better at not freaking out while flying, but it's an on going battle and I'm making progress little by little. I want to get more comfortable working on just my laptop, and not my huge desktop at home with 4 monitors, so that I can remain productive as I buzz around the country. Making some kind of over seas trip would be fun as well, but we'll see if I dare venture into that territory in 2014.
I should also quickly mention the usual stuff: diet and exercise. I've been doing really well with this since around 2010 when I decided to take the paleo diet for a spin. Long story short through changing my diet and adding cardio to my daily life I was able to drop 50 lbs, and I went from wearing large shirts to small shirts. It feels pretty awesome, but I need to make sure I'm still on top of my diet and doing some kind of exercise almost every day to keep it up.
It looks like I have my work cut out for me in 2014. I have a lot of improvements to make, and I also want to make a decently sized complete video game. I'm confident that I'll make a lot of progress over the next year, but how much progress I make depends on how disciplined I can be, and how far I can push myself.
I think that about wraps it up. Thanks for sticking around for all of this! I hope that 2014 brings a new year of new opportunities, leveling up, and good times for everyone out there. See you next year!
2013 - 12 - 31 / 9:32 am / general
Continued from Part 3.
Still working a lot on Otter, I started this month by jumping head first into the world of shaders. I had to do a lot of work on Otter's rendering system in order to account for shaders, and I also tried learning as much as I could about them. Also as a test I tried to see how long it would take me to get the basic platforming engine from Offspring Fling running in Otter, and it actually only took me a few hours to get the whole thing up and running with graphics and everything.
I played with shaders and rendering for a lot of this month and I actually was able to focus on it pretty well. Although after awhile I had to end my travels in shader town because I wanted to start focusing on releasing Otter to the public, and trying to learn how GLSL works and how to write distortion shaders didn't really contribute to that goal.
One of the super neato things that I did in October for Otter was the whole debugging console which I'm still very proud of. I had no idea how to implement something like this, and one caffeine fueled day I was able to sit down and crank it out. It took a lot of tweaking after that, but now it's a pretty capable debugging tool.
By now I was itching to actually get working on a proper game though. I was working on the example game for Otter, as well as experimenting with making a small UI Framework within Otter, but my biggest obstacle was artwork, and it still is. I wanted to make this simple platforming game with Otter, but I also wanted to make the game in HD. The big problem with this is that I have no idea how to produce high resolution assets. I can do pixel art because there are so many useful tools for pixel art, but when it comes to high resolution graphics I am totally lost.
Also I am still looking for a level editor that allows free form image placement on top of tile editing, and something that performs well with high resolution graphics. This seems to be the magical unicorn of level editors, and the only thing I can think of that resembles this are built in editors for games like Aquaria and Snapshot, but there doesn't exist any sort of generic one.
So knowing this I decided to put the Otter example game on hold. I couldn't figure out the art pipe line which made me less motivated to work on it. I moved forward with the decision to produce tiny example games with minimum art instead of trying to make a big example game with high resolution artwork.
At the end of the month I officially released Otter version 0.9, along with a few example videos. Not too bad of a turn around considering that I wrote the first bit of Otter code in May!
This month also marks the debut of the Offspring Fling plushies by Frank n Stitch! These things are awesome and I believe that this is the first merchandise of any of my games. (We had Snapshot shirts, but that was just a small limited run, mostly for conventions.)
Otter is finally out in the wild and I am feeling pretty good about it at this point. It basically shaped up to be a personalized version of Flashpunk, so I finally achieved my goal of finding something familiar to Flashpunk that has the potential to perform way better.
There was a local Pheonix game jam this month, and I decided to use that jam as a test drive for Otter. I ended up making All the King's Men, and grabbing first place at the game jam (and the prize was $120!) I recorded my desktop for the entirety of the jam and condensed it all into a cool time lapse.
The rest of this month was spent tweaking All the King's Men, and tackling some more collision detection issues in the engine. I was still missing pixel perfect colliders, so I implemented some functionality for those, but it's still not totally done.
We also celebrated Misfits Thanksgiving at the Indie Game House AZ where a lot of our closest friends joined us for a day of food consuming and TowerFalling. By the way, I haven't mentioned this yet, but TowerFall is possibly the greatest game ever, and a lot of this past year has been spent playing that with all of the coolest people in the Phoenix area. I wasn't able to win the PAX tournament, but I think after many months of training I have a shot at winning the GDC tournament.
Dang, am I already at the current month? This has been a pretty crazy year now that I look back on it.
At the beginning of December I decided to restart my big game project. Over the summer I had announced that I was working on a follow up to my Ludum Dare 17 game from many many years ago, and so I started working on it as sort of the flagship title of Otter.
However after many months of learning more C#, and improving Otter, I decided that what I currently had written for the game wasn't good enough and trashed it. I didn't feel too bad about this since I actually hadn't made that much progress on it.
So this month I've been working on a new base for the game. I still don't have a name for this game yet. The original prototype for Ludum Dare was called Gaiadi, which I liked, but most people can't read it or pronounce it or remember it, so I have to change it. I thought maybe Gaiaden would be a cool name for it, since it feels like it could be a fuller version of the word Gaiadi, but it has the same problems. Many people see the word and can't say it right, and as a result can't remember it correctly. I think I need a more simple English name instead of making up a word...
I did as much work as I could on Otter and the tentatively titled Gaiaden in the beginning of the month, because on December 15th I flew back to Upstate New York for my Christmas 2013 tour. I'm still in New York until January 4th when I fly down to Orlando for a week in Disney World (yay!) and then I finally return to Arizona for just a few days before I'm off to Seattle for the Steam Dev Days conference, and potentially another visit to Indie House Vancouver.
While here in New York though I've been able to get some stuff done for Gaiaden. Right now I am trying to focus on a very very small vertical slice, but I want the feel of that slice to be as awesome as possible. I want to really nail down the moment to moment game play before I continue on with producing a bunch of content for the game.
And now today is the final day of 2013... it's been a pretty incredible year for me in a lot of ways, but I don't know if I feel totally satisfied with it.
Stay tuned for Part 5!
Hi there, my name is Kyle, and I'm a 27 year old kid with adult powers. I'm making video games and living the indie game developer life in Tempe, Arizona. Here you will find my thoughts, games, websites, doodles, and other stuff like that. I worked on Snapshot, Offspring Fling, and a whole bunch of other games. I also created and maintain Otter, a 2d game making framework. If you want to get a hold of me use the form on the bottom of the page, leave a comment, or just tweet at me. I try to post three times a week. Thanks for stoppin' by! You're the coolest.
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Do you want to make a Let's Play of one of my games, or a just a video featuring footage of my games? You have my full permission to do so! Even if you are monetizing your videos, you still have my full permission to use any footage from any of my games. Go for it!