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Day 1

Today is a special day for me. It is Day 1 of my Indie adventure! I’m pretty excited and a bit scared!

I’ll be blogging about my experience, and I think I’ll do some streaming as well.  I haven’t made any solid decisions at this point and this was intentional.  I’m a bit burned out from my day job and I need some time to rest and rejuvenate.  I don’t want to make any decisions until those stressors have passed because the context of these new decisions is completely different than the mental space of having an energy consuming day job at a large corporation.

I can share that the decision that’s been most on my mind lately is, “What technology to use?”  If you look at my gamejam history you’ll see I’ve tried a lot of different technologies but never settled into any one in particular.

I wish Jai, Jonathan Blow’s C-style language, was released because I’d probably just jump into that and see what it was like. I quit using C/C++ back in 1999 because I hated how insane things were getting with std, macro hell, DCOM, COM/+, Apartments, BSTR and the whole UTF-guess-the-number game etc.  Jai seems to be a solution to all that craziness and even adds some really powerful features like compile-time execution. My gut instinct is it will fit my natural workflow and how I think about problems.

I’ve been using Unity for the last 5 year professionally and so that seems like a natural choice, but I’ve never had a gamejam go well with Unity.  I think this is because of just how complex Unity has grown.  It works well for medium to large teams, but as a solo indie, I worry that complexity undermines workflow and productivity.  It also doesn’t respect Data-Oriented Design and often hides data from you.  And even though they are “cross-platform” you still run into native compiling features that aren’t supported like android’s multi-dex to get around the 64K method count limit. I love what Unity has done for the industry by opening game development to way more people but they often fall into the trap of fixing the easy problems, not the hard ones.  I’m also worried that complexity is ramping up instead of down now that the film industry has become a target.

I’m sure I’ll expand on all of this later.  Thanks for listening!

 

Ludum Dare 41

I’ll be participating in Ludum Dare 41!  Pretty excited to use Godot for the first time! I might make some posts over on ldjam.com : MrPhil’s Ludum Dare 41 DevLogs

Ludum Dare 13: Iron Roads

I went on a old hard drive adventure this evening. My quest was to recover my code and executable from Ludum Dare 13 – Roads, from way back in December of 2008! It wasn’t easy but I was successful. I’ve posted the code to github: https://github.com/MrPhil/LudumDare13_IronRoads and the executable to itch.io: https://mrphilgames.itch.io/ld13-iron-roads This entry was incomplete, but it had a lot of great comments and words of encouragement from the reviewers. You can see all the old posts and judging results on the legacy Ludum Dare site: http://ludumdare.com/compo/category/ld13/?author_name=mrphil

The art below was made by Francis Andrew Acupan a few years later.

Pixel Art: Lemon

I’m going to try my hand at pixel art.  Here’s my first piece:

Ludum Dare 40

I participated in Ludum Dare 40 this weekend!  The theme was “The more you have, the worse it is.”

I’ve spent a lot of my spare time in November learning Game Maker 2 by trying to build a Tower Defense game. So, when the theme was announced I immediately thought, that sounds like a Tower Defense game!  So, that’s what I made.  You play as a mage who’s been imprisoned in a maze built as a prison for criminals with magic abilities.   There are monsters patrolling the halls and you can cast a spell that creates a Totem (tower) that can shoot fireballs.  It’s pretty basic, but I think it works pretty well.  I think it’ll be very hard to beat.

Game Maker preformed great!  It was one of the most productive gamejams I’ve done.  Game Maker did get on my nerves in a few places but overall I was impressed how quickly I could get ideas working.  I can see using it more going forward.  But, I must admit a part of me still wants to dump it and just write something from scratch, typical programmer.

The game itself is pretty interesting and I can see a lot of ways to make it better.  It’s basically a Roguelike mashed with Tower Defense.  So, making the maze procedurally generated is the clear next step.   I’ll see how the reception goes, if is does a tiny bit okay, then I’ll probably make a post-compo version and expand on the ideas.

https://ldjam.com/events/ludum-dare/40/the-prison-maze-of-ozxu

Tower Defence: Ludum Dare 40 Warmup Game


Ludum Dare is coming soon, Dec 1 and occasionally I like to use new techs during the jam. So, I’ve decided to try Gamemaker 2 this time. And in preparation for that I’m going to make a Tower Defence game as a warm up exercise and to familiarize myself with Gamemaker 2.

 

Unite Austin 2017

 Neill Blomkamp being interviewed on stage

I attended Unity’s Conference, Unite, in Austin this year. There are a lot of interesting improvements coming down the pipeline but nothing ground shaking. I think the biggest announcement was for artists: direct integration with Autodesk’s Maya and Max. Other things I’m looking forward to are:

  • the integration of TextMesh Pro
  • the new Asset Bundle system
  • the new Entity framework
  • the 2D Tile system

The main focus of the show seemed to be film, but I think most Unity users are not that excited about those features. It’s a completely different audience, and one Unity is still trying to capture. The interview with Neill Blomkamp, the writer and director of Distrik 9, during the keynote was exciting and important feeling but at the end I felt underwhelmed by the interview. It didn’t come across as a strong endorsement of Unity specifically. It felt more like rough vision centered on how real time movie making might be important to up and coming indie film makers. The short film also was kind of confusing to me because the story didn’t fit with what I remember from the original Adam movie. The original short implied that their crimes didn’t matter, hence the screens on the chest going blank, but Blomkamp’s follow up seemed to emphasize their crimes but didn’t give you a strong sense of how the characters felts about the crimes, good or bad.

While the Unity party was high caliber and fun as always, I didn’t really meet a lot of new people. I’m not sure if that was because of the large size or because I just know so many people now that they absorbed most of my time and energy. But, it was great to see some folks I hadn’t seen in a while and catch up.

Weird Fractal Thing

It isn’t a game, but I made this interesting looking thing, a sort of moving fractal. I know my Grandpa would have thought it was cool because he loved math and fractals where one of the things that drew him to computers. The fractals he made didn’t move, but he did use color animation to give it the feeling of moving, but this kind of movement would is like a whole new world.

2016-09-18_0225

Unity Subscriptions, What You Need to Know

Update: Unity has announced some changes here: http://blogs.unity3d.com/2016/06/16/evolution-of-our-products-and-pricing/  I’ve made edits below to reflect them.

  1. There will not be a Unity 6, just continual improvements.
  2. All Platforms
  3. All Royalty Free
  4. All Engine Features
  5. Personal will remain free, limits revenue to $100,000 a year and you must show a Made With Unity splash screen.
  6. Plus is $35 a month and gives you nice to haves, like priority in the Cloud Build queue, limits revenue to $200,000 a year, the Made With Unity splash screen is optional and the dark theme is included.
  7. Pro, after 24 months of paying for a subscription you can quit paying and keep your current version (but you don’t get any more updates, support or services but you do get the next three patches.)
  8. If you have a subscription now and/or a perpetual licenses:

We will launch the new products soon, for new customers to buy. As an existing Unity 5.x perpetual license customer, you will no longer get new updates after March 2017. However, you have a few options if you want to keep getting updates:

  1. For up to five seats, you may subscribe to Unity Pro at the special price of $75 per month for a limited transition period, after which the price will revert to the normal subscription price of $125 per month:

    • If Unity 5 Pro is your first version of Unity, your transition period is one year.
    • If you owned Unity 4 Pro, your transition period is two years.
  2. If you make less than $200k per year, you may choose Unity Plus and pay $35 per month with an annual commitment.

Check out this nice graphic (Out of date):

No Unity 6

Notes on How To Design Deep Games with Jonathan Blow

I watched Jonathan Blow’s talk How To Design Deep Games with Jonathan Blow which is actually kind of a misleading title because the talk is about the concept of “Deep Work” and how to sustain work on a long project.  This is one of those talks where you need to watch it a few times, so these notes are probably not capturing the full picture.

What is “Deep Work“?

  • Changes you, you are a different person in a substantial way and a unique specialist in something at the end.
  • You are follow a Guiding Compass, a feeling, hunch or vague notion that seems like the right direction because the destination is unknown, it’s an exploration not a journey with a fix end goal.
  • The work is Deep to you, this isn’t about meeting someone else ideas or standard:

The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution. – Paul Cezanne

  • It is built on first principals, what makes it special is your technique and view of the world.
  • It is not working on fundamentals, you need to be ready and already done training to get good.
  • Avoid burn out, take care of your Human Animal (see Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.)
  • Sometimes you need to take a break, a good rule:

You’re only allowed to take a break to work on something smaller than what you have already shipped.

  • Take Showers – you have to rest, make yourself open to ideas aka invite a visit from your Muse