Thursday, July 3, 2014

July post

Ok, so June passed by without a blog post by me.  I had someone hit me up on Skype to ask me about it.  Hey Nate.  Yeah, yeah, I've just been really busy.  Let’s run down some of what’s going on:

Granny Wars
It’s taking longer than I hoped.  Hand drawing every frame and holding the work to a high quality level has caused the progress to slow considerably.  It’s still moving though, but instead of showing off two characters at Sac Anime, we’ll only have one ready to go.  Showcasing a fighting game with just one character fighting the same character with a different color shirt?  Yeah, not ideal.  But there isn't much I can do about that.  I’m hoping that we’ll be able to recruit more talent, though good 2d animators have been tough so far.  I've turned down several now that weren't quite where we needed them to be, but I’m hopeful we’ll eventually find the right people.

Monster Balls
I don’t think we've officially announced this game yet, despite the fact we've had a playable version of it for over a year now.  I've hinted at our casual puzzle game that’s like Candy Crush Saga--this is the one.

The Granny wars team would like a break after Sac Anime, so it’s likely I’ll have them move to Monster Balls to finish up art work there, then go back.  Hopefully by the time they’re done with a break, we’ll be able to start letting people play test Monster Balls, and I’ll have more of the animation team I need to make good progress on Granny Wars

Raygun Rocketship
There’s been a lot of work on Raygun in terms of getting concepts for the main and secondary characters.  I've done a basic outline of some of the story lines and am pretty happy to see things coming together.

I read an article about games with the most alternative endings.  It said that Star Ocean is the current winner with 100 endings.  I don’t want to state an exact number, but the plan so far with Raygun is to completely shatter that number.  Alternative endings will all come down to how the player performs on each planet.  Do well, and good things happen.  Instead of picking options like “Rescue the Scientist?” or “Stay and Guard the base?” the player will be given the chance to either succeed at tasks that pop up during the mission or fail them.  The story line will reflect these changes based on that.  The game also gets more difficult the better you play.  This will need tons of testing, but otherwise, the game should be challenging for all skill levels.

Story can be presented well in a game so that even people that hate story won’t be annoyed by it.  No long cutscenes.  No long, annoying dialogue that interrupts game play, forcing you to hit the “OMG, I don’t care about this crap, I just want to play the damn game!” button as fast as you can until the dialogue boxes go away.  But rather story can be presented in a non obtrusive way when done correctly.  The key, in my opinion, is not to hit the player over the head with it early.  Ease it in.

Sac Anime
I’m thinking I’m just going to buy two flat screen tvs off Craigslist then sell them on Craigslist after Sac Anime is over.  Maybe I’ll break even doing that.  Aside from that, I had 2,000 flyers made for the event and have hit up nearly every Gamestop and comic book shop in the greater Sacramento area.  I’m guessing that’s about 25 places I hit last weekend to drop off some flyers to.

About 4 of them told me they’d have to ask their managers first.  Every time I talked to an actual manager, they always told me yes, saying basically, “Sure, we totally want to help support the local game dev scene.”  I talked to a lot of Gamestop employees that aspired to work in the game industry.  So it’s been a really positive experience visiting Gamestops so far.

Only 1 comic book shop gave me the “Let me check with our manager first.”  Otherwise, they were all really supportive as well.  I used to buy D&D books at comic book shops in town during the late 1980’s / early 90’s when I used to play.  We’d either play at a pizza place or someone’s house.  But now just about every comic book shop has tables--some over a dozen of them--where people can come in, free of charge, and play whatever.  The Great Escape on Howe near Hurley, has a huge warehouse of tables where people play Magic, Warhammer(figurines and everything), general board games, and other pencil and paper RPGs.  Go there on a weekend, and it’s absolutely packed.  It’s amazing how big the gamer community has grown.  

The Website
Holy crap, there’s still tons of work yet to do.  I thought I had the WYSIWUG editor working for non Admins.  That way users with Moderator status would be able to create a news story, upload pictures to the server, arrange them how they want: placement, word wrap style, size, etc, and be able to publish the story to the site.  I went to show the business team how to do it, and of course, I didn't test out how to do it before the meeting.  I've used similar WYSIWUG tools to add story content for Loki’s Planet.  I know how to use them.  I had it installed and could see I was able to bring it up.  I thought that was good enough to show to the team.  Everything with it works except you can’t upload pictures.  Just about nothing with Drupal works the way you think it would.

I was able to do the /chmod command to make the upload folder Writeable, but after that, I have to do something with configuring the Apache server to work on the same port the module is calling, or something crazy like that.  Any server engineer reading this is probably thinking, “Really?  That’s so easy to set up.  That would take me two minutes.  I set up client side content editor tools all the time.”  It’s probably easy.  Just in all the many years I've worked on websites, it’s just so easy to upload files and call them server side that I've never bothered to learn it any other way.  Building tools so I (and Moderators with login access) can add content client side is really foreign to me.

Sac Arcade
Everything was fine.  I was quoted a rental fee that was amazing, but as it turns out, it was too amazing.  As it turns out, the cost for power and internet will end up costing more than I spend on rent in a year.  Not that I’m accusing the venue of not being upfront.  It’s not like that.  It’s just that, I feel like this was an unexpected charge that I didn't see coming.  Somehow, I’d just assumed that power and internet would come with the room rentals.  But yeah, even if we sell out the event, this clobbers my projected profit margin--money I’m hoping to save up so we can expand to the Convention Center in a couple more years.  This is why you plan events at least a year in advance--to try and deal with problems like this.  I’m not entirely sure what to do.  I might be able to have someone else provide internet for a cheaper price or, if need be, we might have to change venues.

That aside, I still have a crap load of work to do with the site for Sac Arcade.  In addition to announcing all the details for the event, I was thinking about using the site as a hub for all gaming activity in the Sacramento area.

It’s pretty late (yeah, I’m still up at 4am), and I have a dentist appointment in 4 hours, so I need some sleep.

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