BigBadBallGame Pt.2: BigBadBugs

A wise man once said:

‘Don’t code, it’s hard as shit, and unbelievably infuriating’

Wise words, wise man.

It’s going well, considering i’m still useless… The game is taking shape nicely, there have been a lot of changes in my mind as I’ve gone through the coding as to what I want the end product to be. This is due in part to what i’m capable of coding, and keeping my aspirations in check of what a first finished game should be able to achieve, considering the useless coder at the helm.

I’d like to upload some gifs and whatnot, but this stupid website won’t let me unless I pay.

I’m nearing what I guess I would call the mid stage of the basics of the game. The player’s paddle moves, interacts with the ball, which in turn interacts with the walls. There’s some basic AI going on, the opposition paddle will hit the ball back, and will chase powerups and all that good stuff.

Next on the agenda will be a score, menus, all the boring stuff that nobody gives a shit about but is super necessary.

And…

Oh My God the bugs. The coding part; getting the game objects to all interact and do the cool stuff, that’s fucking easy. Trying to figure out why seven paddles appear when the ball touches the wall at a funny angle, that’s shit.

I’m using a super easy game programming language, and can only imagine what hell is instore when I move on to Unity, but we all have to start somewhere, but debugging all these stupid problems is …. well, it’s super rewarding actually, when you find out what colon you’ve missed out, or what number should be a different number, or a letter, or not there at all, or in a different place, or in the same place but run at a different time, or.. yeah.

BUT soon, I will be doing the designs for all the paddles, balls, powerups, backgrounds (yay), cause I mean, how difficult can it be to design a ball, right?

In the mean time, take a look at some beautifully shit AI scripting.

 

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mmmmmmm.

BigBadBallGame Pt. 1

It’s been a long time since I last made a post on here, and it’s not because i’ve forgotten about all of this. Work got pretty hectic, but as I’m flying back to the UK pretty soon, I handed in my notice a little early, giving me time to get going on my bitchin’ game that’s going to make me famous.

For the past few weeks when i haven’t been able to do much game design stuff, my minds been crammed with ideas to put into code, except i’m pretty shit at coding, so now that i’ve got time to do the work, I struggle to make any of it a reality.

BUT, having said that, i’ve been here before… I used to want to draw things that my hands simply couldn’t do, but practice makes perfect, ‘so just keep coding’ I tell myself, and i’m sure i’ll get there.

I’m pretty confident that everything I want to get done I can get done, it’s just a matter of patience, time, and shit tonnes of googling.

So a bit about the game i’m dreaming up:

I’ve always wanted to make games that are super fast paced and super competitive, but we’re really simple at their core. So I thought, what’s the most simple game available? Pong! Handling balls with paddles, what more could we possibly want?

I’m sure it’s been done to death, remaking pong, but i’m hoping to add my own varieties to make it uber competitive and attract 12 year old salty kids who tell me they fucked my mum/dad/family pet/girlfriend/boyfriend/me, every gamer’s dream!

I’ve been working on it for only a few days so far, and there’s not too much to show yet, just a screenshot of various shitty shapes in different shitty colours, its the basics of pong, but there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes, and a whole lot more to come soon.

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Look how fucking bad that looks! incredible!

The current state of gaming part 2: Storytelling 

When I decided to write a post about storytelling within games, I tried to think of an overarching theme to go along with, such as: ‘good storytelling makes a good game’ or ‘bad story telling can ruin a game’. But the truth is, it’s really not that simple.
You see a lot of reviews or rants about how a game had a terrible story line, (think Mass Effect 3, Final Fantasy XIII-2) and also how games had fantastic stories (KOTOR, The Last Of Us). The latter has been heralded by many as the best story ever told in a game, and comparable to Hollywood movies. But this doesn’t cover the game as a whole, and some of the reviews I read of games are too focused on story, when the story shouldn’t have been the driving point of the game. 

Let me give you an example: 

No Man’s Sky wasn’t well received, and in part that was due to its lackluster ‘lore’. Some of the reviews I read focused heavily on the lack of a driving story and reading them I couldn’t help but think: ‘right, but that’s not what this game is about’ it’s like criticising a hardware store for not selling bread. 

To me what it boils down to, and some people seem to forget this, is games are designed for different purposes and it’s very difficult to try and encompass every aspect, let alone do it well.

This is why a general overarching theme regarding storytelling is so difficult, it depends on the genre of the game and whether it’s supposed to be story driven.

Rocket League, for example was obviously never meant to have a story and is incredibly successful, nobody expects it to have a story, just like nobody expects it to sell a loaf of bread. But this leaves the question as to why games get a bad rap for story telling when they should be in the same boat?

Storytelling games of course should be judged on.. you guessed it, their ability to tell a good story and there are some games that do this fantastically: The Last Of Us, Heavy Rain, Freelancer, to name just a few. 

But what makes a good story in a video game? The plot, right? Well yes, but also no.

Obviously a good plot is fundamental to a good story, but the two are not synonymous. A good story is immersive. 

As I studied maths university we looked at how key conditions affected results. Bare with me. A sufficient condition is one which on it’s own will provide the desired results, whereas a necessary condition is one which, without it, won’t give the desired result, but it isn’t enough on its own.

We can apply this to good story telling in games. A good plot is a necessary condition, but isn’t enough on its own. The other condition is emersion. By this I mean good voice acting, good animation, believable characters, and for many games these days; good graphics, (Amongst other things).

There are of course exceptions to this rule. Go back a few years when the technology wasn’t available to give great animations and great graphics, we still had great stories (Final fantasy VII, Planescape Torment). But this I what I’m getting at: 

In my useless opinion, now that the capabilities are there, it’s expected that good story telling should have these components… It’s tough to argue that The Last Of Us would have had the same shattering impact on your soul if it had the graphics of a potato and the animations of a….Potato.

But this is a good thing! The immersion is just going to get better as technology progresses, and this ties in to my last post about complexity.. this is where that extra computing power can rarely be overspent.

So the future is bright.. of course there will come games with fantastic graphics and awesome animation, but plots that rival ‘The Room’ in it’s uselessness, it’s inevitable. But we also have more games like the majestic ‘The Last Of Us’ (if you hadn’t noticed I’m a bit of a fangirl about this game) to look forward to. So next time your playing a game and maybe the story let’s you down, take a moment to think, ‘wait, is this what I’m supposed to be looking for?’ else you’ll end up balls deep in that hardware store with nothing to hold your bacon, lettuce and tomato between.

The current state of gaming part 1: Complexity

Note: This is just my opinion and like everyone, it might differ to you who read this, and that’s okay, there’s a game out there for  everyone.

Everyone who enjoys video games has their opinion on the must-plays and the must-nots, just depending on the genre of gaming they enjoy; fantasy lovers are more likely to favour final fantasy VII over animal crossing, and casual Wii sports players won’t often recommend dark souls 3. 

There are of course games which somewhat bridge the gap, in my opinion ‘the sims’ does this nicely, as perhaps does GTA (albeit for the little more violence inclined).

As a person who falls predominantly into the first category of the ‘more serious’ gamer, I want to throw in my useless two cents on the state of games and the direction it’s headed.

Complexity:

A bit of a cult classic in my eyes (and the eyes of many others); Unreal Tournament 2004 demonstrated how simpler isn’t always less fun.

Granted, this game was released late 2003 where some of the machine capabilities available now weren’t available then, but just because something Can be done, doesn’t mean it should. 

 This game at it’s heart was as straight forward as it got; shoot the bad guys, win the game, in various forms, there were no fancy gadgets or shops or microtransactions or bla bla, and yet to this day the servers have people.

The counter-strike series is of course another good example of this, and it proves it works!

But take a look now at the state of the CoD franchise or battlefield. CoD 4 was a good example of what was mentioned above, it was bare bones and to me was better for it. Skip forward to infinite warfare and it’s a mess. They kept trying to improve something that didn’t need improving, just because the power was there. What we’re left with is a saturated mess of elements we don’t need but have.

But what does this mean for the future in terms of game complexity?

We keep pushing what these machines are capable of, and filling that power with sometimes something great and beneficial for gaming, like map sizes, map variety, useful tools, etc. But sometimes, it feels like things that are being added are unnecessary and convoluted.

Don’t get me wrong, some games need the Complexity, and I’m not some kind of nut who thinks it’s all gone downhill since pong, but at what point will developers say ‘right, we have all this power, but maybe this mechanic isn’t beneficial to the game’

On a positive note, look at GTA 5. It oozes complexity in what it can achieve, but never in a forced way. Sure you can shoot a cat in the face, but it’s not a mechanic inbuilt telling you to do it, and this is a virtue to me, of the sandbox game. They continue to update the game and add more and more, and yet the developers have got it right. They know what’s appreciated and what’s needed, and keep the game from feeling forced.

Again this is just a view I take, and I try to refrain from mentioning Too many titles in the process so as not to offend.

My next post will look at a new aspect of the gaming world and what impact it’s had in my view on games old and new.

It begins! 

It’s time! I’ve spent the past month or so cramming my head with as much information about GameMakerStudio, and feel I’ve learned and addiquate amount to start building my own game !

Ofcourse during the building and coding of the game I’ll have to watch an infinite number of further tutorials to get GameMaker to do what I want, but that’s pretty exciting for me.

This being the first game I’ve ever made, its pretty daunting thinking about where I should start. Do I jump right in and code, do I sort out artwork first? Gameplay mechanics? I guess the logical conclusion would be to start with the gameplay mechanics, difficult to code if you don’t know what it is your coding?

I don’t want to give too much away about the game, but think Tekken crossed with league of legends, and it’s nothing like that. But it’s as descriptive as I wish to be for the time being.

Again, as this is my first game, time frames are something I’m not as yet familiar with. I’ve seen indie game developers twtich stream a game build in 48 hours in GMS, but I’m under no illusions it’ll take me less than 100 times that amount of time.

I’m also under no illusions that the game will suck. Nobody gets it right on their first try, but that’s fine by me. If I know it’s gonna suck It takes the pressure off me a little, although of course, I will pour my heart into it over the coming months to try and make it at least semi playable.

It’s the artwork I’m most looking forward to. As it will be a fighting game(for simplicity’s sake) there won’t be much by way of story and such, so art work will take center stage and I’m super keen to learn as much about pixel art and the like as I build the game.

Exciting times ahead I hope and coming shortly will be some artwork hopefully, and my inevitable complaining about how dificult it is to make a game, yeah!

2 Week update

So it’s been around 2 weeks since I’ve started all this, and I’d like to share some of my initial thoughts…

  1. C++ is both beautiful and frustrating… I’d like to say this is because I’m new to it, but I’ve read a lot about experienced coders pulling their hair out over the most minor things. Yet at the same time, it seems to have such a rythym and flow.. again this perception might fade as I become more familiar with it.. time will tell I guess.
  2. I have a new and immense respect for indie game developers… When I was younger I might have looked at the lesser known games and thought they looked rubbish and put together badly. Now however, I’m on the other side of the fence and I can see just how much effort and time it takes to put together, and it makes me very excited to get going.
  3. I’ve found some incredibly helpful guides online, by people who obviously spend their life doing this, and I admire those those that take their own time to help other people get learning.
  4. I’ve got heaps of ideas rushing through my head about game ideas, I just want to get them all into code, and it’s infuriating not knowing how to do that yet, but also is a fantastic motivator to keep me learning.
  5. I’ve started looking into internships; as I’m out here in New Zealand it’d be fantastic to look at getting some experience before I head back home to give me some hope of getting some work! 
  6. Progress is horribly stifled by my job… Working 45 hours a week gives me precious little time, and with my girlfriend working 50 hours a week, any spare time it’s nice to see her, but then I feel guilty that I’m not getting the work done! That’s just life though, I shalnt complain, and I’ll simply do what I can.
  7. Having a Twitter feed full of indie game devs is a huge boost of inspiration, seeing what can be achieved makes me want even more to have that for myself.

I’ve started work on a text based game in c++, to help me understand fundamentals. It’s a great way to learn, whilst still heading in the right direction of game design.

All in all, spirits are high. Motivation is strong and I’ve working my way through multiple tutorials, keeping my drawing up, and writing music, all of which should get me closer to a game design job In the distant future! 

In my next post I’ll have some concrete game development stuff to show, hopefully on my way to my first game!

My Progress So Far

So its been around a week, and I’ve tried to get the ball rolling as fast as I can; build up some momentum for getting a portfolio together for jobs further down the road.

Having done a fair amount of research into the gaming industry already, it seems clear there are a million ways to land yourself a career, so i’m trying to cover as many bases as possible to make myself more employable.

As it’s design i’m mostly looking to, i’ve taken up drawing again. I used to do it quite a bit in school and at the start of university, but it kind of fell by the wayside when my university workload got heavy.

I have always been a big fan of Game of Thrones, so thought i’d start by sketching a couple of the characters to get a feel for it again before I move into game character sketching and working with photoshop.

I also thought it would be a good idea to start building some audio works to add to my portfolio. While not necessarily the work of the designer, it can’t hurt to show prospective employers that I can do extra things.

I used to write a lot of music when I was a little younger, using Cubase mostly. I’ve played instruments for most of my life and writing music comes pretty naturally to me, and soon i’ll try my hand at writing some game themed music for certain scenarios/atmospheres.

Finally, and most importantly, is the coding. No self respecting game designer can get by without knowing how to code. Although it’s not strictly the GD’s jobs to do the coding, knowing whats going on behind the scenes is vital, and being able to communicate with the coders in the language they use can help everything run smoothly. So I’ve been learning c++, and its going great. Of course, it’s difficult and time consuming, and with a full time job, progress is limited but definitely there. I’ve began writing a small text based game just to get a feel for how c++ works, and soon, i’ll begin adding some visuals and hopefully my first (definitely rubbish) video game!

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