Results for tag "games"

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rAge 2013: 15 made in SA games showing!

rage_mgsa_2013

Every year, I think to myself I don’t need to go to rAge to gawk at the same AAA titles that you can see on Youtube and everywhere else. Every year I end up going because of one thing or another – if it wasn’t me judging the amazing Cosplay for Legion Ink for two years in a row, it was being a booth babe for Otaku Magazine, or organising booth babes for Asus, or whatever. rAge has become an ubiquitous landmark in the geek calendar, and for good reason.

This year’s rAge is gonna be a real special one! Well, every year’s rAge turns out to be special for, but this one will end up taking the proverbial cake. I just know it. I feel it in my bones. Why?

For starters, my game that I’ve been working on Bear Chuck will be playable and on display! And even better, I share the honor with 14 other made-in-SA games! 15 games!! FIFTEEN in total! Even as part of makeGamesSA for the last year, I never realised how quickly we’ve grown.

In no particular order (except of course the first one), here are the 15 made-in-SA games that you can come to check out and play at rAge 2013:

 

Bear Chuck

My page with playable build

Broforce

Offcial page with playable build

Desktop Dungeons

Official page with playable build

Viscera Cleanup Detail

Official page with playable build

zX: Hyperblast

Official page with playable build

Silhouette

Official page with playable build

Pixel Boy

Official site

A Day in the Woods

Official site

Death Laser

System Crash

Official site

Toxic Bunny

Official site

Wang Commander

MakegamesSA thread

Cadence

Official site with playable build

Blazin’ Aces

Official site

Death Smashers

Developers official site

rAge 2013 is going to be amazing! Come say hi and join us for a few games! 😀

Bear Chuck BEAR-SIZED update!

I’ve been working pretty hard on my game Bear Chuck to get it read y for rAge 2013, and I’ve got me a stable build! 😀

I’m gonna just leave this gameplay video to do the talking:

With a brief log of updates:

  • Super improved AI – it actually BEAT ME. More than once.
  • A new menu worthy of the Bear Chuck name.
  • A Brand spanking new gameplay video starring Bears!
  • Settled on the new name Bear Chuck! Just too adorable :)
  • Updated the animation and upgraded the AI a bit more
  • Added a few more effects
  • The combo system now works! Chains will add exponentially more attacks to the other side – e.g. a match of 4 will be an attack of 2, and match 5 will attack 3. Each chain adds a multiplier to your attack – so at combo 2, the attack will be multiplied by 2. E.g.: First match of 4 creates attack 2. Then another match of 4 is the result of a chain reaction – and that attach will be multiplied by the combo factor of 2 for an attack of 4 (2 x 2).

Get the playable build on the Bear Chuck page! 😀

Mechanical Proto Juice [My AMaze 2013 Short Talk]

I gave a brief Pecha Kucha (20 slides, 20 seconds each) talk at this year’s AMaze Indie Game Festival about effectively using Juice in Prototypes to communicate Mechanics, and was met with surprisingly positive response from everybody from Vlambeer‘s Rami to Nigeria’s SJ to Poland’s Sos, to our own Cape Townian heroes Danny Day and Evan, Ruan, and co of Freelives

It was a really humbling experience, even if it were only 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Here’s an even shorter Vine of it (big thanks to Simon Bachelier for making this and getting me to use Vine!):

I’ll post the full video of the talk when it’s available, depending on the AMaze organisers.

The full PDF can be downloaded here.

 

And here’s the full talk, without the 6 minutes, 40 seconds limit :)
(Kindly excuse the formatting, web code is not my strong suite and this was a wrangled template… >_<)

 

An introduction, I'm Steven Tu and I'm exactly one year into learning game dev since last year's AMaze festival. I've since then made about 6 prototypes and learned much, I hope this will help aspiring new game makers.

 

This talk is all about conveying mechanics in Prototypes by effectively using Juice.Because we're aiming to make a game (as opposed to a book or a movie or an artbook or a music album), the mechanics are the hardest part to test and refine, so we should be focusing on mechanics.

 

This popular talk "Juice it or Lose it" by Martin Jonasson & Petri Purho is super important for any game makers. If you haven't seen it, it's on YouTube and is basically set material for learning to make games. They defined juice and said adding juiciness makes your game better 100% of the time, guaranteed.

 

But prototypes and games are different! Prototypes are made to test concepts by rapid iterations. Thus, adding juiciness DOESN'T always make your game better 100% of the time! Repeat! Prototypes are not the same as games!

 

This notion came to me while I was making my own game Fling Fight. I had made it quite juicy - it was animated, things flashed, explosions were cool, there were awesome screenshakes, and blocks flew around spinning. It was juicy. Yet when I tested, player were constantly confused and asked "How do you win?" and "What're the scary Xs?" and other seemingly trivial questions. I had made the wrong kind of juice and did not help the players play my game, and thus had failed.

 

It might sound obvious, but we, as indie game makers, have to realise that we have chips in the denomination of time. Working on your game is betting your time on various aspects. If you bet wrong, you'll run out of chips. We can bet Time on things, we can bet More Time on things, but we should never spend More Time Than You Can Afford. So we must be careful where we bet our time and maximise their effectiveness!

 

A game progresses from its start as a bad prototype to a good prototype, then from a bad game to a good game. As you add juiciness to a game, there is a Zone Of Wasteful Juice. Adding more and more juice to your prototype is simply wasteful, as you get no real returns from adding that juice. What returns are those? The ability to test and refine your game further - mechanically!

 

The more frequent an event happens the less loud it needs to be. For example, when Mario's clock counts down, all it does is... counts down. There's no fanfare. When he gets a mushroom, the game pauses slightly, and makes the power-up sound. Notifying the player that it's happened. When Mario gets to the flagpole at the end of each stage, the music, and animation, and fireworks take up significant mind and timespace, because it's meant to be significant and rewarding.

 

In QCF Studio's Desktop Dungeons, they had this cool mechanic - the player healed from exploring undiscovered blocks. Players were having trouble understanding that concept, so eventually they made orbs fly from the dungeon to the players' health bars, and players were like "ohhhhh".

 

In my game Fling Fight, when players matched blocks to clear them, two things happened - 1, they exploded, and 2, they made blocks fall on the opponent's side. But people weren't getting that mechanic, so I added orbs that flew to the other side and turned into falling block indicators.

 

In both of the previous examples, there were mechanics that were not what players expected from other comparable games. That the players didn't understand them doesn't essentially mean that they were bad! It just meant that you need to communicate them better before you can *actually* judge if they were bad.

 

This screen came from Chris Bischoff's gorgeous game Stasis. He had used a disc with text around as his mouse pointer... But people didn't get that, and it was obscuring many things and made clicking difficult. Eventually we suggested that he stick to a more conventional pointer, and he seemed to have bought it. If the circle cursor was meant for an innovative mechanic, it wasn't supporting that by being harder to understand for the average player.

 

You (yes you) have one of the most flexible and sophisticated instruments known to man - your voice. You also have a million recording devices from your phone to your computer to everything in between. You should be making sounds! Adding sounds to your prototype is one of the most effective ways to communicate various things. Foley is the art of bashing things to make sound effects. Look it up! It doesn't have to be amazing, it just has to communicate.

 

From human experience, sounds can communicate good or bad easily. Sounds that go up are usually good sounds. Example Mario's coins, power-up, and 1-up. Also Sonic's rings. Sounds that go down are usually not good. For example, Mario dying, Mario's game over. If you were at the talk I would have voiced those effects for you :) These aren't the only conventions, but they're a good start. Think about what people know when making sounds.

 

Don't waste time crafting everything. Just steal everything from online - tilable art, backgrounds, explosions, whatever. Grab them because you're prototyping and not crafting for the next IGF. Don't steal when you're going for release!

 

This is one of my favourite up-and-coming games, Super Time Force. They do something quite cool - all of the enemies' shots are red, and all of friendlies' shots are blue. Usually, this is important, but much more so in this game since it can get VERY chaotic with a single player controlling up to something like 5 time-warped characters. It helps simplify the player experience, and reduces potential for twitch-speed confusion, which sucks.

 

Your prototype doesn't need raycast shadows when a blurred sprite will do. Don't do full vector art when you're not even sure how your characters will need to move. In my game, I was in a big bind trying to write some full blown basic (sounds like an oxymoron but it's not!) AI for people to play against... But it was super daunting... Then Travis Bulford suggested something - just make the AI pick a few random things and pick one of them to do. Done! No more existential crisis AI to build! Fake everything you can!

 

When people play your game, STFU and watch! Don't explain! Everything you say prevents you from learning about what players don't "get" about your game. Your game must work without you, unless you're shipping a copy of your mind with each copy of your game! Don't deprive yourself! Learn by watching, take notes, and listen!

 

Thanks Evan for this great graph! The more you test and fail, the more you level up. Investing your time chips in polish just makes you take longer till that point of failure, and failing is what makes you try again, test again, and get better!

 

When you're prototyping, you spend time in 3 ways: 1. Making prototype 2. Testing prototype 3. Re-iterate prototype and return to 1. The faster you can get through stage 1 the faster you can return to stage 1. The smaller you can make the lap, the more laps you can do, and the more your prototype improves! Make faster failures!

 

MakegamesSA.com Comp B: 100% Gameplay, Keep It Simple, Stupid!

MakegamesSA.com runs these cool little competitions to encourage and kickstart interested game makers into making something cool. No prizes, no just the backing and feedback from a passionate community of cool peeps and UNTOLD GLORY on offer. The RGB paint hasn’t even dried on Comp A: Pixel Art yet (well, deadline’s over, entries are all in, but we haven’t had the feedback session yet), and Comp B has already kicked off.

 

Take it away, take it away, take it away now

[quote]A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.[/quote] – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

What a cool theme it is again! It’s all about keeping things simple, concentrate on one really really simple gameplay element, and simplify it yet some more.

 

Inspirations

This spirit has been seen in a few games, this one called Divekick was something I hadn’t seen but so Oh Em Gee:

There are other games which I know that simply defy the world with their simplicity in awesomity:

 

Super Hexagon, the most beautiful and DIFFICULTESTEST left-right game ever:

 

Canabalt, the first and still probably the best one-touch runner ever:

 

Pixel Towers, one touch tower-building at its finest:

 

Orbit1, a one-touch, four player multiplayer feast of iPad spaceship fun:

 

Passage, a game telling a story of a life in minutes (or so I’ve read, gonna give it a play now :P)

 

Do you know any inspirational minimal games? Get over to the competition thread and check it out! There’s a lot more info and inspirations to be discovered there!

Thanks to @dislekcia Danny Day for setting this up, let’s go think simple, but big!

rAge 2012 Cosplay – a judge’s eye view (part 1)

Here’s the TL;DR for those with ADD (whether you know it or not)

  • Thanks to the organisers and sponsors for being AWESOME!
  • Thanks to everyone who participated and was AWESOME!
  • A few awesome cosplayers who were late or couldn’t join in – you’re STILL AWESOME!
  • I want to offer a few humble tips for people who cosplay to become EVEN MORE AWESOME!

So, on with the show :) I had the honour and the pleasure to be part of the 2012 rAge cosplay as a judge together with three other awesome and knowledgeable people:

  • Jack aka ZeroJ my brother-with-a-different-father-and-mother Otaku Magaziniest
  • Angie Hattingh aka Electrra the Fashion Designer and Digital Director
  • Margan T Leleux who is among the top cosplayers in SA

The cosplay was organised by the good people at Legion Ink (page and group) as has become the tradition for rAge, so a massive big thank you must go out to them. Of course most of the cosplayers are part of the Cosplay South Africa group, so they all deserve one big hug!

Expected: 30. Registration: 79

As you can see from the little statistic right there, we had a hectic time. And cosplay seems to have taken wings (at least for a few) and went bigger year-on-year. I want to stop writing and start offering up some photos of some awesome cosplay. Disclaimer – I didn’t take any of these photos – all I could do during the cosplay was take crappy photos from my iPad to try and keep a record of who was officially entered, since the entries expanded so much at the last second, and mr iPad has never been known for its quality or grace. Full photo credits to come at the end of the post :)

Criteria

The judging fell into 3 criteria this year, and we thought they were really appropriate. They were:

  • Impression: how impressive was it without going into the nitty gritty?
  • Quality: Quality of the build? was it made or was it bought?
  • Performance: Not necessarily a song and dance like Idols, but whether you’re in-character.

While each cosplayer excels on one part, they often stumble at the other. I’ll try to explain why and how as we go through the cosplayers.

Performance

This one’s so important I thought it deserved its own heading. The majority of cosplayers are running onto the stage and dashing off. I hadn’t even had a chance to take a snap for record-keeping yet, nevermind getting a good look and studying the cosplay. So, there are a few things that I wish all cosplayers would take into heart:

  • Get on, strike your poses, HOLD THEM FOR A WHILE. A good guideline is to see/hear the cameras go off, and when they calm down a bit, do the next one. 5-10 seconds per pose is good. 3 to 5 poses is also good.
  • Check out the judges – by this I mean make eye contact, and hold it, and see if they want anything – like turning around, etc.
  • Engage the people too – they are who you’re doing this for after all!
  • Be in-character. Don’t know your character? You should. Research! The top cosplayers ALWAYS do this, and it’s FREE :)
  • Don’t be shy! You’ve already spent so much time and effort on your cos, make the most of it! Enjoy it! Enjoy the hell out of it!

First, the NOT winners (who were awesome)

There were really so many great cosplayers that we were all very sad that we didn’t have more prizes – something that’s already been much better than the past (this time we actually had 13 prizes!), but still there were people who really should have been recognised but hadn’t, officially anyway. Here they are in all their awesomesauce (in order of their appearance on-stage):

Remember to click on images to enlarge :)

 

First off was Ray, and his picture-perfect Vash of Trigun fame. It was simply great! The details were wonderful, that stuff on his left arm, the knee-pad, the perfect hair, everything. GREAT impression, great quality, even the performance was great, as you can see in the cool poses struck. He does the team organising the whole shebang great justice :)

 

Natsu from Fairytale! (Thanks KomboKittenThen this guy… I think he’s from Bleach. Do correct me if I’m off the mark! Apologies for not being able to hear the announcer at the time, as well as not really following Bleach after chapter 4577421 😛 IT was pretty good, the hair is a great effort, and it was overall pretty clean. Decent performance, but not awesome.

 

Ah Chainsaw Lollipop girl. Check this direct comparison out – the accuracy in her cosplay is stunning – pretty much every detail had been covered, and if she had a head dangling from her belt I’d have totally bought it (not the head, the cosplay).  The performance could have been a bit more dramatic and true to the source though.

 

Izumi from Full Metal Alchemist. She was actually pretty fantastic, everything from the braid in the hair to the stellar no-smile performance to the presentation. Aced quality and performance, but the nature of the cosplay was that it was less impressive than elaborate ones.

 

The Kingdom Hearts cosplay was pretty damn good, nice details, cool keyblade. It was a shame that we only saw it for like 5 seconds because she dashed on and off the stage as quickly as Kingdom Hearts gameplay.

 

The pixel-perfect Grim Fandango cosplay was really cool, but just not quite impressive :) Nice little jig and jive on the stage too. Don’t know if Grim did that in the game 😛

 

Two My Little Pony cosplays, which was very difficult for me to comment on as I had no idea how olden equestrian children’s cartoons had become a 2012 sex icon. Really nice outfit, cool interpretation of errrr, THOSE (above). Stunning. Kim did do that stunning Portal Chell last year, so the pedigree is there :), and the Rainbow Dash (I think that’s her name) also had a nice vibe with the rainbow hair.

 

Death Note is always easy and fun to cos, and this one had plenty of personality. He was going around writing down people’s names on it, and he had an apple, and he threw it into the crowd. Hope noone got hurt :)

 

Team Gintama’s support had a quality outfit and a stellar performance, too. If you’ve watched the anime/read the manga, this would have brought a smile to your face.

 

Kooh, from an Online game called Pangya (Thanks LeLani Kate) I cannot for the life of me remember who this was supposed to be, (I’m guessing someone from Sucker Punch) and this demonstrates one of the pitfalls of cossing someone who lacks distinguishing elements plus coming from a very obscure reference. Looked nice, and she seemed to have had fun. BUT staying on the stage for a bit longer would have been good!

 

Sherlock Holmes. Or Watson. I enjoyed it, including his limp, and he reminded me more of House than Holmes, but it was pretty fun, but he was running on and off stage pretty fast with that limp (MORE PERFORMANCE PLEASE!).

 

Final Fantasy 9 pair: They worked great as a duo, and individually the detail holds up. The performance was ok, and kudos for trying to cosplay chibi-lised characters whose heads are supposed to be bigger than all the rest of them.

 

Queen of Hearts: She had a fantastic costume, which looked to be hand made. If she made it herself then +20 points. However, the Queen of Hearts really shouldn’t be dishing out cupcakes. So even though Morgane took one and enjoyed it thoroughly, we were in two minds over that bit of performance. Plus point for crowd pleasing, or minus points for off-character? Hmmmm?

 

Ezio of Assassin’s Creed: MAN this was actually pretty impressive. Obviously lots of love and attention went into it, and we could see the shoulder-cape could conceal the weapon hand, and the harness for the hidden blade. It was good… Except for the better Ezio that had appeared too. Kid, you did great :)

 

Scout – part of the Team Fortress trinity of Pyro, Scout and Medic present, he was actually pretty cool. Scout by himself, details were almost all there, and if he had a metal bat and bashed it till it bent it would have been super bonus points. Otherwise it was an accurate and fun cos.

His brethren (sister) was even more awesome though, they’re still coming up, but if the trio did some kind of interaction that would have been awe-waitforit-some :)

 

 

The League of Legends duo had great impressive silhouettes, and we were plenty “ooooh”ing “ahhhh”ing at simply that despite detailing falling just short (for example, why not make the dual-blades come to a point instead of squared?). On that though, the LED lit bow was a GREAT piece.

 

Bane was actually one of my favourites. The head piece was spot on, and the posing was perfect. The only thing that prevented it from taking ace was the lack of a muscle shot – that was what Bane was known for (and that was what made the Borderlands guy’s cosplay – will be discussed in a later post – really stand out for me). And if he could have spoken with Bane’s accent. Whew, then I would have fought for his win :)

 

Leia. Oh Leia. Oh my golly Leia. This classic, timeless and legendary character and cosplay was done pretty well as all the pieces (the few that there are) are in the right places doing the right things. It was thoroughly impressive. But there was a sliiiightly bit too much public nakedness for my personal taste – not to detract from it at all – I think it’s fucking awesome that she’s so comfortable with it – and I encourage it 100%, without sounding like a creepy guy. Let me stop trying to dig myself out.

 

Diablo 3 monk was pretty fun, with the right facial hair to match perfectly. The costume was well made and his performance (“RAAAWWRR!!!”) was pretty much on the money.

 

 

This is turning out to be a lot more work than anticipated, first photo hunting, then writing, then fighting this WordPress thing. I’ll continue later. Hope you enjoyed it so far :)

 

Photo credits:

NAG’s rAge 2012 album

Jan-Hendrik Hofmeyr’s photos

Morgane T Leleux’s photos

Legion Ink’s rage 2012 album

IT News Africa’s article: Cosplayer Characters at RAge

Chanel Rossouw’s rAge 2012 album

Chanel Rossouw Photography page’s rAge 2012 Cosplay prizegiving album

Ruth Shand’s rAge 2012 album

 

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