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Journey from Designer to Developer Part 1

Published on August 24, 2015, by in Game Design.
Summonera Poster1

You can download the Summonera demo by  CLICKING HERE and then right click save as the .exe file

Custom Art

For the past year I’ve been working with artists to create my own custom assets to use in future games. My goal is to re-use these characters over and over in a series of games. This accomplishes several things

  • It forces some restriction (focus) to my designs. That may sound counter intuitive, but like art it’s very difficult to work with a blank canvas.
  • I can begin building a brand
  • They are unique to me and my games. There’s lots of fantastic premade 2D asset and 3D asset packages you can buy for very very cheap (3-4 models, dozen textures for $100 is very cheap in game development costs) but don’t be surprised when you see shovelware using the same assets as your cool game.
  • They are freaking cool! I mean come on those characters are so cute and cool!

The Slow Transition

One thing I have had to come to terms with over the years is that Board Game Designers make games. Video Game Designers do not. Video Game Designers influence games, they can have major or minor impacts on the overall direction, story, mechanics, systems and art of a game. At the end of the day however; it’s the Developers and Artists that make games not the Designers. I’m not trying to persuade anyone else to not be a designer or crush your dreams of being a designer. I just wish I had known a lot sooner in life that if you want to make games, you really should learn how to code. Without it you are forever dependent on others, with it you can lead a team or run solo.

So if I really want to make my ‘own games’ I’m going to have to transition from being a Designer and become a Developer/Producer. To that end I’ve decided that this year I will work with genre specific editor software instead of an open ended game engine so that I can fully focus on the task of mastering a set of tools instead of being a hub of communication. With the follow up goal being that next year I will learn to program; so that eventually I can work with more open ended game engines and create my own tools instead of relying on someone elses.

Enter RPG MAKER VX ACE

I love Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star series. I loved stories, the artwork, the fantasy world and even the turn based strategic combat. (Side note: Now that I’m older turn based combat seems slow and boring now)  My favorite JRPG of  all time was not FF7 it was Final Fantasy 4 (US2). My favorite character from FF4 was Rydia the summoner. 4 Years before Satoshi Tajiri created Pokemon we had a Final Fantasy class that could summon monsters to fight for her, after beating them in combat. Honestly I probably had a bit of a crush on her, even if she was a bunch of pixels. Plus the ‘battle cut in’ art each time she summoned monsters was so freaking cool!

So when RMVXA + Luna Engine + DLC went on sale in the HumbleBundle.com Maker Bundle  for $13 I went all in. I don’t know if there is a god but I certainly feel like fate/destiny throws clues and signs are me once and awhile. It’s worked for me so far!

RPG Maker certainly has it’s limitations but it’s a much better starting point than an open engine like Unity3D. I wish I would have started using it years ago! It comes with tons of backgrounds, tiles, items and features that you would want when making your own JRPG. It would be great if I do end up making a good game with it, but for now my main goal is just to master the tools of editor. To treat RPG Maker like an artist treats a set of brushes. Day after day I watch tutorials and follow along. Not because puzzle X or event structure Y is going to be perfect for my game, but so I can master the toolset that is RPG Maker. Create something that people can actually play, begin building up a fan base even a small one, and most of all know what kind of tools and shortcuts I will need when I make my own editor in the future.

Road Block!

BAM! It came out of no where! It is kind of funny and ironic though. Now that I am working on my own game, at my own pace and just starting to feel like a developer; I have run into a mental road block because I don’t know what to work on next. I mean I have a list of things to implement and accomplish. But I didn’t make a GDD I just dove head first into the deep end. So I don’t have a real road map just a list of destinations. Where do my players turn next, who do they talk to, what is their purpose for going into the next dungeon? I don’t know!!

My game has 3 hours of gameplay so far. A loose plot thread with missions leading to the next area of the game. So why is it that for 2 weeks I didn’t/couldn’t touch the game anymore? Where did this roadblock come from? I suddenly feel like I wish I was a full-time developer and had someone else’s design and GDD to follow along with so that I could keep up my momentum instead of slowing down to think about the big picture. Ugghhh!

Perhaps it’s time to start fishing for user feedback?

To be continued….

 

Summonera Poster3

Download my free demo game Summonera

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MAKING GREAT VIDEO GAMES IS LIKE MAKING TOAST

Published on March 1, 2015, by in Game Design.

Design is Design.

I’m discouraged whenever someone asks me “what kind of design do you excel at/focus on/enjoy most?” because it tears apart at my belief that design should be all encompassing, contextual and interconnected. When something doesn’t work right, it sits in the wrong place or could be drastically improved we often say “That’s a design flaw”. Well who’s job is it to decide where each cup-holder goes in a Ford van? Is there some guy with the eccentric job title of “Beverage Augmentation Location Designer”?

Do people/HR/Companies really need to create labels for different designers? How often have you applied for “X Designer” and end up being asked only questions that relate to “Y Design”?

With that in mind check out this Design video that on the surface has “nothing to do with game design” and just soak it all in. :) #tedtalks #gamedesign

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Beginners: Reduce Scope!

Published on January 14, 2015, by in Game Design.

When making their first game, 100% of people who have never a made a game will make the same mistake.

Ok that is obviously hyperbolic, but I have yet to bump into someone working on their first game who hasn’t made this same mistake: They want their first game to be the big perfect game they imagine and want to play.

Solution: Reduce your scope!

 

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Candy Crush is Still Relevant!!!

Published on July 25, 2014, by in Game Design.

It’s amazing that Candy Crush is still relevant. Estimated to be grossing almost $1M every day!

source: ThinkGaming

I recently attended Casual Connect and people were asking how does this game continue to make money? Of course I taught a workshop on this months ago. I’ve skipped to part 4 where I begin to discuss the importance of your layout. It’s importance can’t be understated and for some reason I still see good developers give it the once over. Don’t wait for your analytics  to tell you players aren’t even looking at your store, design your layout correctly before launch!

Remember:

HOURS OF DESIGN, SAVE DAYS OF DEVELOPMENT

Check it out:

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Make free game sound effects!

Published on June 4, 2014, by in Game Assets & Tools.

http://www.bfxr.net/

Make 8 bit style sound effects for your games. Super easy with sliders and stuff. (FREE!)

No need to download you can play with it right in your browser. Check it out.

bfxr

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Slideshow of Pro Game Design Workshop 3

Published on February 16, 2014, by in Game Design.

I teach Game Design each week. People come out to learn professional skills they can take back to their studio or improve their hire-ability. Each class is designed to have a 1 hour lecture on an important design topic and then follow it up with 2 hours of hands on design and team building workshops. As you can see Game Design classes are a ton of fun.

This weeks topic was Diagrams and Communication tools. Students learned how to use Lucid Chart and Machinations to create powerful Flow Charts, Venn Diagrams, SWOT tests and Interactive Resource Flow Diagrams.

San Francisco Class Schedule CLICK HERE

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January 26th San Francisco – 3 Hour Game Design Workshop & Lecture

Published on January 20, 2014, by in Game Design.

FREE ($50 Value) Game Design Class that includes a 1 hour lecture and 2 hour hands on workshop. All classes and workshops are lead by a professional game designer. Classes are open to people of all skill levels but is intended for those who are serious about games as a professional career.

Maximum class size is 30 and there are only 12 tickets left. For more information, to sign up for the Game Design Workshop or keep up to date on future events visit

http://www.meetup.com/Professional-Game-Design-Workshops/

 

Event Brite TIcket

 

 

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Prototype – Uboat Wargames

Published on January 17, 2014, by in Game Design.

Without any prodding from me (the host) everyone played this game multiple times and hacked it with their own idea of rule tweaks to try and improve on gameplay. The pictures below show them playing with their entire Deck drawn; not the suggested way of playing . Notice the layout of tiles between each player, a key part of the setup of Uboat Wargames.

photo 1

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Game Design Workshop – Post Mortem

Published on January 9, 2014, by in Game Design, Personal.

 

Capture

As the host I think it went fantastic. I covered a ton of content during the Lecture part of things and had to save some material for next time because I ran out of time. The crowd laughed at the right times almost every time, they asked very insightful questions so I know they paid attention and had a great time. But ya know, I’m a little biased in thinking that.

  • Dana eckhoff “Really great meetup, informative and fun, I am excited about the next one!”
  • Sorov “Good presentation and awesome workshop”

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Wallpaper – Game Studio Flow Chart

Published on December 25, 2013, by in Uncategorized.

Game Studio Flowchart

Click on image to view full size. Then right click “Save As” to download. 

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

 

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