From Flash to Atari 2600

For more almost 2 months now, I’ve been trying to learn making games on this:

Fun fact: I have never played on the actual machine

Why (normal answer)?

I didn’t have real assembly programming experience so I have no idea how hard the ‘good old days’ actually were. (Blame my college instructor who only met us thrice, gave us passing grades and disappeared).

I want to make a video game under serious constraints as a tribute to the pioneers of the medium (see A Slow Year, Halo 2600).

Most of my games are made in Flash and even if I worked for the industry I still get weird looks when I introduce myself as game developer. “Flash? Real game developers use C++.. nay, REAL developers use assembly!”

Why (artistic/pretentious babble)?

Most of my video game stuff is a cultural commentary. My imaginary critics may claim that my games are commentary first before game, that they would be more fun if I lose all my baggage. They’d be imaginarily right, except I’m not really interested in making the next Angry Birds. The continued interest that I have for game dev, despite my bad experience professionally working in it, stems from my frustration from developers trying to make a Filipino video game. Anito was awesome and all but why did we stop there, you guys? (There are a lot of factors inhibiting us from expressing our culture genuinely. I hope I’m able to address them in this other game I’m working on.)

Also, sometime last September, I was able to play this:

You might need a translator to play Spanish games

Prior to playing them, I had no idea Spanish video game culture was THIS old. Then again, my knowledge of European video game history is very limited.

The design and narratives of the old games reflected the culture of their creators. They might have been trying to compete with the global market, but they worked with a very Spanish taste. Game creation then didn’t have the rigid commercial rules we have now and in effect forced their creators be very personal in their approach. This ‘authenticity’ is what I find most interesting.

Wouldn’t it be cool to see how in the middle of Martial Law and the EDSA revolution and the aswangs and manananggal some guy rage quit his Pong game and decided to make his own? How will Marcos and Communism and Eat Bulaga play into the creation of 4kb worth of digital entertainment?

Making a game in one of the earliest gaming platforms now won’t change how history was written, but I want to see how a Filipino programmer in the 80’s would have made his own video game.

Self Assuring Status Update

A month ago, some business guy offered me a job — a senior game development position for their startup. Which I accepted. Given my anti game development company stance, some people might think that I’m selling out. Which I’m totally not. Here are my excuses justifications:

  1. It’s a startup. At my age, it’s the best time to join one. I learned applied software design, marketing and game industry in my previous companies. Startup 101 will be the last course and I will have finished a more practical Master’s degree in Software Making.
  2. I’m not making video games for kids. I don’t think my bosses even play Starcraft.

Also I’m broke. I tried the indie route for a while, but it was harder than I imagined. Games always take longer to develop. And elitist and artsy games don’t sell. (Note to self: I’ll make a full post about this if I find time)

People I previously worked with have seen the kind of dedication I can give given the right kind of project. I already sacrificed part of my personal life for this so this is totally hardcore.

With that I will be postponing further development of my current indie projects:

  • RPGEngine — last update was a cutscene parser. Was supposed to work on a quest parser next. Will opensource this after it gets stable.
  • BiomoddPlant — an update on the Biomodd-Makiling game I made a year ago. Last update is on simulating plant growth.
  • Jollibug, Love/Hate — games I already put on limbo. Might still work on it, if only for the awesome game titles.
  • Project GPAD (Game the Philippines of Association Development) — working title of a site I’m making about video game makings. Halted because I ran out of money.

There, I’m on full work mode the whole October. People I previously worked with also know that the only way to stop me is to mess with my salary, my work hours, or my girl.

To my team, if you read this, October is gameface on!

Love/Hate 1st draft

I had this idea about a 3d game where the player tries to rescue a girl confined in a box. Did my initial sketches in Flash and all of it were crap. I couldn’t imagine good enough gameplay or athmosphere for it to be compelling.

So I scrapped the idea and worked on something a little mainstream: a generic platform game with a twist (like all of them do). The twist is that the player doesn’t directly control the avatar. Throughout the game you or the avatar will converse and “understand” each other.

I’m not exactly sure where this is headed but I am going to stick to a few guidelines:

1. Stay away from puzzles. The game shouldn’t be something you have to solve.

2. Control the scope. I have limited resources so I have to keep things manageable.

3. No pixel art. Not this time. 🙂

Hmm, this looks familiar

From screenies

After taking a crack at it I created my heroine. A little girl wearing a big red shirt. The red and black reminds me of the girls from  Abandon and The Path, haven’t played both of them though.

Jollibug now with parallax

My friend is making a game called Jollibug. He made it during the Global Game Jam. It isn’t about a certain fastfood mascot — although I personally believe otherwise. He forced me at gunpoint to upload some updates of his game in my blog.

Any resemblance is coincidental

He said he put some parallaxing on the layered backgrounds now. He also made  a totally original menu screen because his game didn’t have any!!! WTF!

Things that are on the works:

  • Animate menuscreen
  • Add warnings or signals on where the enemies come from
  • Sound (sounds halfass right now)
  • Add more corporate advertising
  • Game over screen looks like it was made by a jologs
  • Audience animation states

I think making parody games is for those who don’t have creativity but have an immature sense of humor.