Friday, February 26, 2010

Bad Guys and...

I have realized that I am already using other the styles/characters of other games, so I might as well keep heading in this direction and use sprites from all my old favorites. I still want to hand design all of the bosses, but the designing every enemy in the game would be impractical due to time constraints. These sprites can always be later replaced with original artwork, but for now will be great fillers and let the game development catch up to schedule!

The Bosses of the first Area are going to be a Gargoyle, whom you will receive the Book of Power(Fire) and your first spell. He is in the bottom left of the page. The Lich is the guy on the bottom right and will serve as the head Boss of the first area: from him you will gain the Book of Wisdom(Ice) and an ice spell. On the top left and right is the Archmage, who will be the Big Boss of the entire game. He is very powerful and will almost defeat Zelda halfway through the castle.

All of the projects look great, keep up the good work!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Improving Computer Game Narrative Using Polti Ratios

The article was very interesting take on trying to build a better storyboard through the use of mathematical equations. Sadly, I had to reread parts of the paper to fully understand what the author was trying to fully understand what the author was trying to say half of the time. Unfortunately, the confusion that I was having was only increased due to some of the symbols not appearing and causing errors (i think).

As it is with most games, the story is one of the driving factors of the game (with some few exceptions such as Tetris). To be honest though, I have mixed feeling on the subject. Trying to explain the storytelling through the use of a mathematical equation might help improve the use of storytelling a little. In their example, they were able to show the specific parts of each chapter (character, plots, events) and, using the Polti Ratios, created a more interesting story for the game.

Although in some cases it might not help at all (can't seem to figure out a way to improve the story of a game like tetris). They do explain however that every game has plots to it, some items are harder to improve the plot of. Then again, I could be confusing the ratios that they presented for something else and confusing myself with its true meaning.

Working Prototype

As I have stated in class I am interested in creating a location based game with guerrilla sculptures installed in the environment in and around the city. My ultimate goal is to create smart phone applications that will allow you to track down the sculptures and than view expanded reality visuals laid over the sculptures when observed through the camera of the smart phone.
As I am working with arduino MCU's and processing programing language I have decided to utilize these skills in my game design. I plan to have three separate sculptural collages located in various places around Gainesville. These sculpture/collages can be thought of as levels in the game; they will be geolocated with google earth. Game participants will use a an MCU controlled device to locate the hidden sculpture once they are within it's vicinity.
Originally I had planned to use infrared transmitters and receivers to locate the sculpture in the area. After experimenting with this method over the last week I have decided it is undesirable adn have now decided to use a 315 mHz transmitter and receiver to home in on the geolocated sculptures.
The game focuses on the joy of discovery and allows you to become an explorer of a world you thought you already knew. The goal of the game will be to progressively uncover these hidden sculptural collages to reveal a loose visual narrative. I have included images of a working prototype of the first level, the swamp. The swamp is a zone of solidification, it is death, but even in the swamp there is hope for renewal and transcendence.

Overhead of "Swamp" level

In progress character "Kingfisher"

In progress character "Mother turtle".

Update on game

Hello everyone. Just thought I would drop in and give an update on what has been going on with my project recently.

As it is known, prototypes are used to help drive the production of the game and mold it so that it better represents what the developer wants. Last week, I created the prototype of my original idea of the game and started playing it. After a while of playing, I took an artistic turn to help make my game idea even better: I scraped the prototype of the game and began anew.

Now hold up. I know what some are you are thinking, "but aamagic2, why would you do that? That would only put you farther behind schedule!" And to that I agree that it did put me behind schedule a little bit. However, the game that the first prototype that I was working on felt more like a D&D game, which was something that I was trying to avoid when making my game. Even so, some other companies also scrapped their game ideas late in the prototype process to create a better game engine. One such example would be Resident Evil 4 (here's a video of it

**Warning:viewer descresion is advised due to matrue content (blood, animated violence, zombies,etc)




So while I did lose much of the story aspect of the game, I am trying to create something that is more pickup and playable, and is more entertaining to the player.

Monday, February 22, 2010

little game made in processing

Hey guys! Since I've also been doing a lot of work in Processing I came across this game that was designed to work with a touch pad and was made by college students. I think we have some kindred spirits at the University of Illinois at Chicago!

The Physics of Space Gardens

Check out this actual NASA photo of a plant growing in 3-D found at:


Another link explains the bio-sustainment that I'm using in Green Gardens in Space; Future Cities

Where you'll get an explaination for this diagram:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Accidental Carjack: Ethnography, Gameworld Tourism, and Grand Theft Auto

Reading this article this week made me think about concepts that I have come across some psychology courses and educational technology courses. I could even think about qualitative research and the difficulty that the ethnographer usually faces.

First, I thought about Marc Prensky's concept of digital natives. Well the natives as Prensky suggested were the young people growing up with the technology whereas the older generations are immigrants. However in this article Miller suggested that game designers were also natives. I find that really interesting as before reading this piece I had never thought of the designers. Well are they natives or did they acquire the citizenship? I still can't decide particularly while I am thinking about one of Anton's post about each player being able to change the gaming experience.Besides one can also refer to open source game that have deviated from the original purpose or design because a native has played and enhanced it. Well for the designers, I will retain the term naturalized citizens.

The second part of my comment establishes a relationship between ethnography and metacognition. Metacognition is the process of thinking about how one thinks. As an ethnographer one is submerged in an experiment to fully understand the underlying process. Miller showed that the experiences of the ethnographer in a gamin environment isn't really easy to seize. I found it particularly difficult to play and to be able to think about the reason or how the play is going on without the thinking process causing interference with the strategy that are being used to succeed in the game. In qualitative research, ethnographers usually have access to tools (video, tape recorder etc.) to keep track of what is happening in the environment they are observing. As a gamer the process appears to be very complex. Well if goal is to only seize a glimpse of the whole experiences it might be feasible. I think that even if the ethnographer uses all the sources mentioned by Miller, there will always be the risk of losing a lot of information (or part of the experience) because gaming is so complex that it requires most of our attention and leave only a little space to metacognition while playing.

P.S. I discovered bejeweled 2 and is addicted to it. It is a basic game and while playing it I realized as simple it might be it requires a lot of concentration. Don't even want to think about other things while playing it. Best scores 35000. If you want to try

G-zero rules

I have been playing my own game and was excited to come to class and see what happens . For now I am still exploring the non-zero game and how to incorporate that in my game. I try in the rules to suggest that players could play other players' block in order to avoid the jenga collapsing. I try to prevent abuse by suggesting a fee if one only use one block. However the fee is waived (but the house not yours) if you use blocks of the same color to build your house.

My puzzling situation is to decide how one wins the game as I don't really want to go for the person that have more assets (money, hospital and saves more lives). Really need to find a way ASAP so any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I will update soon.

Set up the jenga
Each person writes down a letter. The person with the highest letter starts then turns are taken clockwise.

Give each person two firefighters (red minitiatures)
Other rescuers come while playing from buying or exchanging (free of cost at the discretion of each player)
Extra firefighters 2$
Engineers 3$
Doctors = 5$
Cook = 1$

To be allowed to play the jenga at any given moment a person needs to have two firefighters by the jenga tower For each block taken successfully there is the right to pick a card that will determine the amount of money raised, the number of people rescued and the number of casualties. . A player can decide to either play own block or other people’s block depending on position in order to keep the tower safe.
If you take another’s player block you obtain the extra block; however you need to pay a fee of 1$ to use it for a house or 2$ for a hospital to the owner of the block. The only time that one doesn’t pay that fee is if all the block used are from the same color thus allowing someone to build a house or an hospital on his own field with someone else’s block. The only drawback is that at the end of the game such a house is considered the original owner’s property. If the jenga tower collapses all players will lose one firefighter but the one responsible for the collapse loses all his firefighters regarding of the number of firefighters in his team. If the tower collapsed while a player was attempting removing another players’ block, as a penalty he needs to give one of his house to the owner of that block.

Each player can only take 2 blocks at a time (per turn). However a player can decide to only try to replace one block. Nevertheless, a player with four firefighters is allowed to try to replace a maximum of 4 blocks. Likewise a player with 6 firefighters is allowed to remove a maximum of 6 blocks etc. There is no limit of the amount of firefighter as soon as one has the money to hire them.

2 blocks is needed to build a house and 3 blocks allow to build a hospital. (Use the dough)
To be allowed to build a house one must at least have a hospital.
To be allowed to build a hospital or a house one must have two engineers available.

People needs food and care or they die.
o 1 cook can provide food for up to 5 people at once. The cook should be used wisely as while he can feed 5 people at once. His stock is gone if used for only one person. If the cook has been used he goes to sleep (lay down) until he is hired by someone else or refueled by paying one dollar.
o Likewise a doctor can only attend 5 patients. Doctor can only begin to provide services if there is a hospital available.


If anyone actually knows me, I am a big fighting game fan (street fighter, king of fighters, darkstalkers, etc.). So imagine my surprise when I discovered that someone created a copy-paste fighting game engine online called mugen.
The game is pretty much that, a copy-paste system. Users online would either create their own game character by hand/computer and create a fighting game character for only that engine, or they can "rip" the sprites of a character from the cd of the game that they love to play and edit/code so that they become playable for the game.
There are many good things and bad things about the game. For example, for the good side:
1) it allows users to create their own fighting characters and share it with the world.
2) it allows players to create the dream fighting game that they only wanted (either with one companies fighting game characters or a crossover fighting game)

However, there are bad sides to this argument as well:
1) The character is based upon the game he is from and the creator (editor) of the character, so there is a very large balancing issue with the game.
2) Licensing infringement. Some of these characters are major licensing materials for companies, and using them without their permission creates major disputes on distributing the character.
3) the game at times can get offensive (racial impressed characters, porn characters, evil figures from the past)

But you have to marvel the style of the engine. All that is really needed to import anything onto the engine is to drag a file with the music/background/character into their respected folders, and then change a txt file to include it. Then presto, the object is added the next time you load the program. It is easy and simple to load and play, thus allowing a creation of a fighting game based upon the characters that you want.

Overall though, it is a fun game, as long as you know which characters you want for it.

In progress pics forthcoming

My projects are all well underway. I was looking forward to bringing my prototypes in today for class to explain a lot of what I am doing visually. As we are pseudo class meeting through the blog I will get some more pictures, and this time with explanations, up to the blog throughout the day as I am too tired to upload them tonight . Look forward to reading about what you guys are doing as well as receiving feedback of my in progress work.s

Sunday, February 14, 2010

aesthetics of Daisy Chain

Hi everyone. Here is where I am going with some of the iconography and overall look of my game. These are my original artworks and I just drew them by hand. I'm having them printed using this cool company that does small batch custom fabric. Next up is making the actual game board!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Freedom for software owners

    Recently I saw Steve Jobs presenting the iPad on youtube. One of the first key features that he noticed was ability to "change backgrounds" on an iPad. Really? Backgrounds? no way ...
    The other day I was really surprised by the fact that Window$ 7 Starter Edition does not allow you to change a wallpaper.. You just cannot do this. (I had to try it to let this information go through my mind and be comprehended).
    Considering this and the article that Abhishek gave link to (about EA failing to compete with free and/or online games), I believe that a game (or other software) should give a user as much freedom to change it as possible. This is the only way you can compete with free/opensource software. Scripting support should be a must for any type of a game.

Reading Review: "The Problem of Other Players"

The self-explanatory title of the article indicates the balancing act that multiplayer games have to contend with. It proposes economic game theory matrices to categorize multiple players' gaming decisions into 'Cooperative', 'Semi-cooperative' or 'Competitive' choices.

The article fails to cover complex present day gaming environments, such as MMORPGs. 'World of Warcraft' for example, allows players to simultaneously indulge in all 3 forms of play - where they 'cooperate' or 'semi-cooperate' with their guild members and 'semicooperate' and 'compete' in dungeon raids. The dynamic between players can alternate between multiple forms in strategy games like 'Age of Empires', where one player may exist 'cooperatively' as an ally, but may switch allegiances to enter into 'competitive' modes. These dynamic relations between players are not examined.

Interestingly, there has been a shift away from the mass popularity of 'competitive' games to 'cooperative' and 'semi-cooperative' forms. While 'Street Fighter' and 'Mortal Kombat' dominated gaming preferences in the 90s, 'Call of Duty' is distinctly 'Semi-cooperative', while popular multiplayer games of other genres like 'Rock Band' are definitely 'Cooperative'.

TV tropes

With most games, the major factor that can sell a game would be the story. However, most stories share a same themes with other stories (characters, plots, locations, etc.). One great database that I have found a while ago is TVtropes. Hopefully, this may help people with their story ideas/gameplay aspects.

Here are a few good ones that may interest people:

Have fun and good luck with all your games.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Story boards Etc..

Here are some scans and images of some of the things I am working on.


You have though looong and hard about the idea and started to shape it somehow.
Have you checked your methodology lately?
That's right! over a third of the available time has gone by (like when you are playing a good game:-) and it is time for a cup of Java. What is next?

At this point a document with your findings should be ready to serve as a field guide and a basic prototype is in order so you can test to make sure this is the best solution to your project.

Is it?

Troubled times for gaming

It is a known fact that the $20 bn + gaming industry is going through a downturn. Some facts about the business troubles of EA.

Rock Legend - Game Synopsis

Live your fantasy and blaze your way into the Valhalla of rock in the Legend of Rock. This is the story of Adrian Seltzer, lead guitarist and band leader of Aural Epiphany. The Epiphany, an energetic talented bunch who just graduated from college had been playing together for 7 years, were big on the local music scene in Austin. Opportunity came knocking 6 months ago when Dan Whisterwood, the local talent scout for Monumental Records, sought to sign the band up for a 3 year recording deal. The band worked hard, recorded tracks, spent countless hours and auditions, but when the signing date neared, along came the Gaudy Hillbillies, a rival band from Dallas. The Hillbillies, albeit with a large fan following, were notoriously factious, largely due to the egomaniac frontman Gareth Underspike. With Underspike’s tantrums, the band had been broken and reformed thrice over 5 years. Talented but sycophantic, the ‘Billies are insatiable in their quest for fame and glory. Underspike has used his rich father’s political connections to pressure Monument’s top management into diverting the contract his way. Now, Adrian and the band have one way to wrest the contract back – by squaring off against the ‘Billies in the annual Rock Carnival in New York. But first, the Epiphany must qualify for the competition by winning gigs and ratching up respect. This is where you come in – the fate of the Epiphany now rests in your hands. Would the Epiphany win the contract? Will they outshine the Hillbillies? Will they master the odds and rock the world? Play “Rock Legend” and shape their destiny.

I wish to model this game after JamLegend, an online social musical game, which is the PC equivalent of Guitar Hero. In case you do not mind losing your sleep and potentially suffering in your academic performance in the pursuit of pure musical gaming joy, here is the link.

I am working on creating a scene by scene screenplay presently. I have decided to use flash or 2d graphics. I could think of the following tracks (I could groove to these anytime :)):

  • Walk this way - Aerosmith
  • The Anthem – Good Charlotte
  • Punk rock/Nirvana - The Ramones
  • Bad Boy for Loving You – Top Johnny
  • We Will Rock You – Queen
  • Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden

Suggestions on plot twists/gaming technology/plot twists are greatly appreciated, and possibly rewarded with a starbucks brownie J

Oh Yes, please recommend any rocking tunes you guys like as well ! Thanks

Monday, February 8, 2010

Introduction to my game, Daisy Chain

I think we are too quick to think that current aesthetics in computing are the way we should make things look. To me, so much of it looks too sleek, too metallic, too sterile. I believe that good design is critical to any project's success. But I think we need to start reconsidering just what is "good design". Also, I have also noticed that their aren't that many good games or toys that teach electricity or circuits, especially to young girls.

I have always liked things that look homemade. My game will be tactile and colorful. I decided to use felt, thread, and soft components that are not intimidating to work with. I want this game to be able to be played on the floor, by younger children. This will be a unique game, but maybe closer to being a toy. The structure of the game will be modeled after teaching different types of circuits. The goal will be to get them to work.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Story board ready

Our guests speakers opened a great door for me. It was also interesting to see some of us playing the settlers of catlan. For 2 or 3 weeks, I had an idea of a game but couldn't create the mechanics because I basically never played any game. My story board is now ready. Can you imagine a game that is a combination of jenga, monopoly and the settlers? That will be G-zero! I can't even wait to play it myself. I am playing it through my mind and hoping it make sense.

I'll try to summarize it here:
a) Players roll a die to see which reverse jenga (unstable) they have to begin the game with.
b) they build their jenga
c) they receive two figurines of firefighters
Under each block their is a random number and a dollar sign. Let's say that one block that is moved have a 5 and $. THat means that you get 50$ and 5 people to take care of. I am still trying to figure out a way to decide if the people are healthy or hurt.
With the money one will be able to hire staff (medical, handy men, engineers). If you don't have the type of human ressources require for a task you can't conduct it. For instance if you don't have engineers you can't rebuild anything...

Does it make sense up to now?
I think I am going for a physical game. I am working on the maquette now and have decide on the representation of my characters and necessities.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Writing Stories for Video Games

Here is a simple set of guidelines by ezinearticles to make a video game script. It offers a helpful structure to crystallize ideas into a storyboard.

The process comprises of the following steps:
1. Write an executive story of the game
2. Create the history and background of the game
3. Create a flowchart for the game
4. Create the sub-quests and prose review of the sub-quests.
5. Create character descriptions and bios
6. Write interactions with Non Playing Characters
7. Write Cut Scenes
8. Write the actual storyboard script.

For details on the steps, please click the link provided above.

I also read a bit about some of the most loved video game plots/stories, and found this interesting link which proposes its version of the 15 greatest video game stories of all time. It included the likes of Metal Gear Solid and Grim Fandango - a noir-comic game from Lucas Arts where the lead character is a salesman for death. Both the games have extensive character bios and long cutscenes and stories. Grim Fandango's dialogues are very sharp and a sample of what is possible. Here is the opening act.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Iterative and incremental development

"Iterative and incremental development" is another way to develop a project. It is considered more efficient comparing to the old "waterfall" model. Here is the link.

Reading Response: Quests in context: A comparative analysis of Discworld and World of Warcraft

I found this reading to be incredibly one dimensional. The author analyzes the quest structures of World of Warcraft and a MUD called Discworld. She looks at the quest structures of each game and how they fit into previously defined "quest" analysis. She comes to the conclusion that quests are easier to complete in WoW and harder to complete in Discworld because in WoW quests are easier to find and more clearly directed than in discworld. Well, no duh. WoW is a BILLION dollar game with top talent developers working endlessly to ensure a seamless and rewarding experience where as Discworld is a free (i think) text based MUD that has been cobbled together over the course of 17 years. The reading really failed to answer deeper questions like WHY are quests important to games? or why does the idea of taking up some epic quest appeal so deeply to players of games and people in general? What is it about the mythic structure that makes it so enduring?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Meet Our Guest Gamers!

Pat Taylor

An old gamer with a young heart and more hit points than you can possibly imagine. Played Seekrieg with the Navy boys and watched D&D being born. She's been a General, and an Admiral, and a Fighter-Thief with delusions of grandeur.
Play with her.!

Ed Birnbryer

Dungeon Master, known as Troll. An inveterate gamer with packrat tendencies, he probably owns more games than most people even know existed. He'll be bringing the show and tell stuff.

They watched this form of entertainment being created, and in some cases, helped it along.

Sharing this will be great fun!

U.S. Air Force building supercomputer from PS3s

Nope, you did not read that wrong.

Hopefully, this experiment will be able to tell more about our ability to think and process information. If we are able to succeed in this, this could open up a new field of AI.

Though it is also impressive that they are using the PS3 to program the computer (I would think that more modern computers would be used for the supercomputer). That's probably saying a lot about the processing power of the PS3.