Blog Post 9: Course Reflection

Game Study
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I feel fortunate that I got to see games come from their very humble beginnings to the master pieces we have today. I got to see games like asteroids and Pacman be the very top and watch  rise to the fighting genre thanks to Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Its been remarkable how fast and how far games have come. With that the study of gaming has come a long way too.

The class touched on many subjects and had good material to back it up. The videos we watched were very informative and helped me understand what all goes into game development. To top it all off watching a episode of South Park was the cherry on top. Not only do these videos keep me engaged but they explain the subject matter quite well.

Did we cover everything in the class and “read about games, write about games, play games and design games?” Yes, we did all of that. We read interesting and sometimes boring papers about games, wrote about games, watched videos about games. Overall I think we covered everything pretty well.

Lastly I would like to say this was a very interesting class. It forced me to learn about something I would normally not spend time researching. I have been playing games my whole life but I never studied them. This class was a great opportunity to delve into the working gears of game development. It really opened my eyes into the complexity and difficulty of making a game. And for that, thanks James.

 

Blog Post 8: Final Project

My final project will be a continuation of the game I created in game maker earlier in the semester. The game is titled “Necromancer” and is right now a platformer shooter.

 

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In making this my final project I will be able to add a lot of little touches I didnt have time to do before hand. As of now I have added music and some sound effects to the game. The music is actually really good and I found it online free to use for non commercial projects. The music adds atmosphere to the game and makes it more pleasant to play. The sound effects are nice too and make the game a little more fun.

To make the sound effects I used a program called Bfxr which is free to use. They have a few template sounds you can use and tweak or you can play with all the dials and make something completely new.

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My main goal for the final project is to have about 10 levels created with a story to go along with it. In creating these extra levels I need to also create a few more types of monsters for the player to get through. I have most of the mechanics down for the player but I still have some refining to do. 10 levels may be stretching it out a bit if I want to have fair but difficult levels but I am going to try.

I am working with my partner who did the art work for the earlier project. He again is doing the artwork and I will be doing most of the coding. He also helped out with the level design so he may be able to put together a couple of levels as well which would make getting to 10 levels easier.

Making a game is a lot of work and making a decent game is even more. I hope that there is enough time for me to get this out for the due date but I look forward to having to the challenge it provides .

Blog Post 6: Video Game Prototype

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Necromancer

By Mike Bibb and Kurt Hamm

Click here for Game exe

Necromancer is a platformer action game in which you the player are the Necromancer who must get to the end of the level. As of now there is no story and no real goal except getting to the end of the level which will in turn start the next level. If you are level 1 you will go to level 2 and from there back to level 1.

To play the game currently: Move with the arrow keys. Jump with Spacebar. Shoot with the ‘A’ key. I will be changing this in future patches to the game to make the controls in line with most platformers of this type. (Space bar to shoot, up arrow to jump).

You want to kill or avoid the floating eyes and avoid the red spikes or you DIE! You only have 1 hp so hitting anything will kill you. You can also wall climb and will need to do this to get through the level.

I was the developer of the game, I did the programming, style of the game mechanics, and a bit of the first level. Kurt is the artist, he did the sprites and the overall look of the game. He also did all of level 2 (which is why it’s so hard).

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Getting from the Alpha to the prototype was not too hard. With most of the mechanics programed into the game’s objects  and with the art style down all we had to do was make the levels and tune the movement of the character. Actually, for the alpha we only had 1 level and so making the second level transition actually took a little bit of effort, the same with the splash screen.

It’s really easy to make a hard game, what we need to do now is tune it a bit to make it more rewarding for the player. We need some easier levels to start off with so that the player can get used to the flow of the game. Then we can turn up the difficulty.

Watching people play our game was fun. I was surprised on how hard it actually is. For me the game is not too bad and I didn’t think people would get stuck like they did. I did not see anyone even get passed the first level! I had to take over and complete level 1 so the players could get to level 2.

I would like to further polish the game. I am not happy with the fall speed of the character, I would like the character to fall faster. I would also like to fix the shooting aspect as I feel you can shoot too fast. I would also like to add a melee attack to get at enemies who are closer. If we continue with this project for our final we will definitely add more enemy types and maybe also implement the summoning feature that I wanted (I want to be able to summon helper undead to fight for us).

Blog Post 5: First Playable

Our game is called “Necromancer”, but it is a working title. I originally was going to have the main character be a necromancer who summoned the dead enemies in the level to fight for the character. However, as time started to run short I did not have the time to do the whole summon undead to fight for you thing. What the alpha turned out to be was a action jumping game. The wizard (the player character) jumps from platforms while shooting fire balls at floating eye things. You character can take only 1 hit and he dies. He can also die by falling into one of the pits in the ground. and when you die the level starts over. At alpha there is really no point to the game other than trying to get to the end of the level which will start the game over again.

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The beginning of the Alpha Level

My roll in the creation of the game is Designer and Programmer. I came up with the idea of what the game could be and my partner and I refined the details. As I started to build the game however, I quickly found that doing what I wanted was not going to be super easy. I had to learn how to use game maker and how to get my ideas into the program. This was a long process and burned through most of my time. I had to make  5 versions of the game until I finally had some of the tools down to make the alpha. My first first attempt at making a level had the player sprite not be able to move at all. All that happen is that he would stretch himself out in whatever direction I wanted him to move. Not being able to fix this I had to scrap everything and start over. My first working prototype had just the player character and some walls and platforms. I used this room to play around with the controls and try to tweak his movement until I was happy with it. After I had my character not floating around like he was on the moon I made a whole new room which would be the level for the alpha play.

The alpha level was long with several platforms to jump on and pits to avoid. During the creation of this level I had to tweak the controls some more to get the jumping and movement to act right. With the physical level complete I had to work on shooting fireballs and the placement and movement of enemies. The two biggest issues I ran into was the animation and movement of shooting a fireball and the movement of the enemies. I was using Game Maker’s physics and the tutorials I was reading were not. What I was doing was trying to move my game objects in a non physics way which does not work in the physical game room. Once I figured out my problem a quick google search got everything to move and act correctly.

Overall I found that making a game is not very easy and the more polish I wanted meant a lot more time tweaking the game. However, after watching a number of tutorials I found a number of ways that I could organize the game objects and sprites to make development a lot easier and faster. I was able to take what I learned and make a game room for the alpha in relatively short time.

Because the alpha of the game is not mechanically what I want as of yet, I would ask people who test the game to focus on the movement of the character and the attack abilities. Does the character move too fast? Too slow? Does he jump high enough? not high enough? How is the shooting? Right now you can shoot your fireballs as fast as you can click the keyboard. Is that too fast? Should I slow it down?

Once I add the abilities to actually summon something and put in place puzzles in which you need to use your summoned pawns then I will start to ask questions like is this ‘fun’ and does this work for a game? But until then I just want to focus on the movement of the character as that is extremely important.

Game can be found here

Blog Post 3: Prototyping

Poker-Dice-Thingy

  1. Rules and Inventory:
    1. Inventory:
      1. 2 Dice 6 sided.
      2. Game Board – custom.
      3. Full deck of playing cards – 52 cards for poker
      4. Game pieces representing the player – can be anything
    2. Rules:
      1. The Point of the Game:
        1. The players go around the board collecting cards making a hand, like in poker.
        2. The players roll 2-6 sided dice for their movement.
        3. The player that wins is the one with the better hand.
        4. The player starts off with no cards and slowly builds up their hand.
        5. The player can have no more than 5 cards in their hand at any given time.
        6. To end the game one of the players must go around the board at least once and then enter the center from where they exited in the beginning.
        7. When players pick up a card they may also discard the same card or another in their hand – as to not go over 5 cards.
      2. Both players start in the center of the board
      3. First player rolls the dice
        1. If on the first roll they roll a 7 or 12 they go right right and get to hit the draw 2 square.
        2. For anything else they go left.
      4. For every turn after the first
        1. On the rolls the player can move up to a maximum of the dice roll. For example if they roll a 5 they can move up to 5 spaces but can move a min of 1.
        2. On any other turn (other than the first)  if the player rolls a 7 they get to draw a card. BUT they can not pick a card if they stop at a draw square.
      5. The players must go around the board at least once before entering the center.
      6. The first player that enters center can draw one more card before the game ends.
      7. While the players are drawing cards from the draw pile, if they at anytime have more than 5 cards they must drop 1 card in the discard pile face up.
      8. If the next person gets to draw a card they may pick up a card from either deck.
      9. If a player has a joker card, they can at any time in their own turn play the joker card which switches the player’s hand with one another. So player 1 will get player two’s hand and player two will get player 1. The joker card is discarded to the side (in another pile by itself, cannot be picked up again) and the player who got their hand swapped can pick a card from any pile.
      10. If you roll snake eyes you lose a card of the other players choosing.
      11. If you roll triples (5, 5, 5 or 7, 7, 7) you lose your whole hand.

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The board 

We were quickly trying to think of a game to make and had an idea to combine some aspects of other games together to make something new. We had to use a board of some sort and I figured we would use dice to move around the board. Also, because poker is generally well known and easy to play so we decided to also include a 52 card deck as well. 

Time was against us so we quickly got the cards and dice, picked up some game pieces drew a fairly boring game board and got to playing. The first game play was more of think up the rules as you go type thing. We knew we wanted the dice roll to indicate the movement but what were we trying to do? Why move around the board?

 What we figured is this, when you roll the dice you can move that far OR you can go less if it has you go across a square with a draw card. When you stop at a draw card square you can pick up a card. Sounded  easy enough to us. If you have 5 cards and you go to pick up another card then you had to drop one like in some poker games. Max then had a good idea in drawing a card you can draw from the discarded pile or the new pile. The discarded cards had to be put facing up so the players can see them and decide to pick something they know they are going to get or something random. This would add a bit of strategy,  if you see someone picking up all hearts you know they are going for a flush. Then you don’t want to be dropping any heart cards unless you think you have something better. That was the bases of the first play through. You go around the board trying to collect the best poker hand you want. Once you got it you aim to get in the center of the board to end the game. Whoever has the best hand wins.

The Second Game play

On my second playthrough I was way more critical of the game. It sucked. In trying to salvage it we (my wife and I) came up with some new rules. When you exit the center of the board you have two ways you can go. Roll a 7 or a 12 and you go right which will allow you to draw 2 cards getting a head start right away. Roll anything else and you go left and get no bonus.

I wanted to give a small bonus for luck but nothing too big. So if you roll lucky you get  to get a small bonus of getting an extra card. That was a nice but I wanted more strategy, something more than just going around the board. What happens if you hit another player? Can you take a card from his hand? What could I add to really flip the game. As I was playing with my wife and we were going through the turns I was fighting with going with something that is small OR putting something in that could really change the game. I wanted a blue turtle shell.

A blue turtle shell comes from Mario Cart. If you are in last place you have a high chance of getting the blue turtle shell which when used it would take off and hit whoever is in first place making them stop for a few seconds. Normally this is enough so another person can take first place. For our idea we would be using the joker card to be our blue turtle shell. Since the point of the game is to collect the best 5 card hand the best  way to completely screw over the other play would be to switch hands. So if you get a the joker early you could make a really crappy hand and before the game is over you could play it and switch hands with hopefully something better. And it works beautifully.

In one of the games me and my wife played I had gotten the card on my second card pick up. We had been going around the board and I could see she was building up a nice hand (she was smiling as she was picking up cards… bad poker face…) and getting close to ending the game. Now in the rules to play the joker you had to be in you own turn. She was heading to the finish (the center of the board) and I had maybe one turn left. When playing the joker you want to make sure that the game will be over quickly. If you play it to early then they have a chance to go around again and fix their hand. I happen to play it when she was 2 squares away from entering the center and winning. I played the joker, got her hand and spent the rest of my turn heading full speed into the center myself. With nothing else she could do she entered the center of the board and lost. I got a flush from her and she got my hand of mix match cards.

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The start of a game Both players in the center.

 

The Third Game play

My third gameplay was the final refinement. I again played this with my wife. Honestly, at this point the game needed a lot of work. My wife I had played this game way too much in trying to make it better. The biggest problem I had is that you generally started to rush the game. If the game went too long then both players would have a really good hand and could end in a draw or both having full houses which wasn’t fun. I wanted it to be a bit longer and be more of a board game rather than running through the board as fast as you can.

What we ended creating was a rule in that if you rolled the same number twice or if you rolled snake eyes you lose a card. If you rolled trips that is you roll 5 then 5 then 5 you lose your whole hand. This made the game go on for a bit longer but ultimately did not make it any more fun. We toyed around with some things but nothing made it any more fun. I wanted to feel like poker but with a twist and failed miserably. In our last game play we just went through the motions, she started off strong rolled a 7 got 2 cards right away. I rolled a 3 and crept out to the left. In her next turn she rolled a 10 and moved to the next card square and picked up her third card. I rolled snake eyes but lost nothing because I had not yet been able to pick anything up.

The game went more or less like this. She had a complete hand by the time I had 3 cards. She was already setting herself up for the win and started racing towards the entrance. Because you have to go around the board at least once I had time to put together a pair of two’s but it wasn’t enough. She ended up getting a straight flush and I had my two’s so she won.

As for the rules during this game play, we couldn’t really come up with anything to make it better. We were thinking of refining movement or have more traps for players to fall for.  But at this point I was really sick of the game and didn’t want to think of it any more. It was trash and that’s where it ended up.

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Alex hiding her cards during a gameplay

 

Blog Post 2: Boardgame Lab

During our lab in class we played 2 games. The first was called “Liar’s Dice” (found here: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/45/liars-dice) which I fondly remember from a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. This game is a lot like poker in which you try to bluff the other players in what you have in your “hand”. It’s quite enjoyable, fast, and simple to play.

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One of my hands in Liar’s Dice

The second game that we played and the one that I will be writing my session report on is called “Monopoly Deal” (found here:  https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/40398/monopoly-deal-card-game). It is basically Monopoly without the board, dice, little game pieces, and going to jail. It was quite fun and leaves the same hate for your friends after they steal a win from you (I’m looking at you Alex).

 

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My hand right before I thought I was going to win

 

 

“Monopoly Deal” Session Report: The game started out slowly as none of us save for Max knew how to play. He did his best to describe the game but it is hard to understand without actually seeing the cards and getting a feel for the rhythm of a turn. To start we all got five cards. I tried to read them but I had no idea what any did at this point, just that I had 2 cards worth 500 dollars and 3 others which I now know are properties.

The turn order went: Thomas, Alex, myself and Max. The first turns were nothing special as we were grasping to understand what a good move was. Each  turn you draw 2 cards and can place up to 3. Usually we first laid out any cash we had then started to set out our properties. Why cash first? Well if you don’t have any cash out on the table and someone charges you rent (a special card you can play) then they can take your properties as payment. The turns went on as we laid out cash then properties and Max offered us advice on what is a good strategy.

After a slow start I started to get the hang of the game and had 2 full sets of properties out and close to finishing my third (You need 3 full sets of properties to win the game). If everything played right I would most likely win on my next turn. However, the other players were not about to let that happen. Max played a card to take some property from Thomas and finished his turn. Come Thomas’s turn and I knew full well I wasn’t going to win. He laid out a few rent cards which depleted my cash flow. He finished up his turn and I was left exposed for Alex to finish me off. Now I do not remember how much she ended up taking from me cash wise but it was enough to kill off 2 whole property sets and half of my other cards. Without cash on the table to back me up I had nothing to stop her from bringing me back to where I was when I started.

Now the funny thing is when she did this she didn’t know that not only did she kill me off from wining but she had actually won herself. No matter what cards I would give her to pay I would have to give her a winning hand. None of us knew that she won actually except for Max. We looked over the cards, saw that she had 3 full sets and called it. Monopoly Deal is definitely a game you need to play once or twice to get a feel for it but once you do it can be real fun.

 

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A friendship breaking card: steal a complete set of properties form another player.

Blog Post 1: Internet Arcade

 

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Altered Beast

Altered Beast is a special favorite of mine. I don’t remember the story or anything too well just that it is two players and that you collect powerups to turn your character into a super strong beast like thing (hence the title). What I do remember fondly is me and my brother playing this arcade game at a grocery store named “Pack in Save” while our mothered shopped for groceries. Nostalgia is a powerful thing and because of that I choose “Altered Beast” as my game to play today.

The first thing you have to do when playing an old game in a emulator format is find out what the controls are and if possible try to change them. The first issue I ran into was that the control key is used for punch. When playing this on a mac this is a huge problem because when pressing control and hitting an arrow key the screen would jump to another window. As far as I could tell I can not change the controls. Enter frustration and lame deaths.

The coolest mechanic about Altered Beast is that you collect powerups and grow stronger eventually turning into a beast like thing. As a beast you can take more hits and your attacks do more damage. That’s about it for the game. The combat is 80’s arcade side scroller beat em up, you can Punch, kick, jump and duck. The game is also short with only 5 levels.

Emulator play can be vastly superior to playing a game on its original hardware. They only downside is when you are playing a game that requires a lot in the graphics department. Those games tend to be a mess on emulators as they slow down and have FPS problems. For older games though, emulators can be much better especially when you can change the controls and settings of the game. My favorite example of this is playing classic SNES RPGS on an emulator. On its original system you are stuck using their save system and game speed. On an emulator you can do such things as “save state” which basically allows you to save and load a game from anywhere you want. You can also speed up the game making a RPG grind much faster. Games also usually play much better on a emulator, as long as they are older. Load times can be much faster than when the game is being played on its original hardware.

The End

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