Monthly Archives: August 2018
Think it’s finally time I went over the road I’ve traversed thus far. As a young game developer trying to forge my own little games, I’ve had lots of different experiences trying different ideas. Seeing what works and what doesn’t. It’s taken me years to reach where I am. Some games I had fond memories making while others turned out really weird or unfinished.
I first got into programming around 2011-2012. I didn’t make anything until 2012 I’m pretty sure (a lot of stuff here is undocumented, so I’ll do my best to remember the little details). I had purchased Game Maker 8, the last one before Game Maker: Studio, which I’d purchase later that year. But before then I dabbled in programming when I could. I was still in high school so it got in the way.
I managed to make my first game… and it was as simple as simple could be! It was literally a red square you moved around to reach a goal. There were purple square enemies and walls and even a boss that were giant squares that shot squares. I dubbed it, “BloCky”. Yes, very original. There are only another million games called blocky out there! Seriously, look it up. Many other young devs have the same idea!
Don’t get me wrong though. It’s all a part of learning and I think BloCky is what your typical first game should be when you start. Unfortunately, I can’t find my game anywhere any more. Don’t know if it was erased or something else. Can’t even remember what site I put it on! But that’s okay, it was an important first step that would lead to bigger ones. Or in this case, blocky ones.
Say what you want about Minecraft and its popularity or what have you, many years ago I played it quite often. In fact it’s still a pretty good game but I’ve moved on. But I got into map building since I felt it was a good way to learn about 3D level design and an easy way to test out ideas with a large player base.
I was part of a server known as “Surthrival” back in the day. It wasn’t huge but I have so many memories from it and the crew I hung out with. If it weren’t for the folks I met there I wouldn’t be where I was today I think, cause they helped me a lot. Not just in game design but in understanding the internet and broadening my horizons. And some of them even helped test what would perhaps be one of my greatest achievements!
The Tower of Anarchy!
(Oh goodness that poster art is back before I could draw well…yuck)(PS: my MineCraft name is Drain_the_troll)
I started this map in my senior year and it was quite the undertaking. It was an Adventure Map where you had to crawl up a tower. Each level had 3 rooms you had to conquer in any order to progress. It was very…cluttered to be honest. I fit a lot of stuff into a small space. The map isn’t that wide but it’s packed with content. You can of course read over the details yourself in the thread if you wish, and even play it if you change what update you’re on!
But it was my first time experiencing true beta testing. Ah, I remember when I sent my good buddies Rob and Dan to record their series blind. They came back and yelled at me! Hahaha! One of the rooms I made was so brutally difficult they spent who knows how long to get it. There was a lot I had to fix but it was all an interesting experience. It made me feel for actual developers who made games for the first time now that I was getting the backlash.
While a bit rough I think this is one of the happiest projects I’ve made. Not only that but a decently famous YouTuber did a short series on it which helped it gain some attention. And to top it off, as of the last time I checked, the map has had over 12,000 downloads! That’s crazy! Definitely my most successful project.
But now, let’s take a step back to Game Maker. I finally graduated high school. I decide to spend my time to really see how far I can get with making a game. No more squares! An actual REAL game!
Just to warn you, this is an early game and it’s very clunky. So if you actually do want to play it, there is a possibility it’ll crash at certain points! It is beatable, though if you’ll have the patience to… that’s another story.
The next logical step was a shooter. But I decided to make a Gradius style horizontal one. And there’s a flying guy who…moves his arm weirdly? There were a lot of weird decisions in this game. Like all the keyboard controls are odd, you used HJKL to swap weapons, etc.
There are a lot of bad design choices. When you take damage, you can’t shoot! You lose all your upgrades upon death, which you only take around 4 hits and health is limited. If you die there are no checkpoints; you’ve got to redo the stage. And of course, no saving or password! Got to do everything at once.
And it was horrid on a programming level. You know what Drag-N-Drop is? Guess what?! THE WHOLE GAME IS THAT. Essentially that’s Game Makers first-timer kid-friendly simple-as-heck way of “coding”. You put in an action to do another action in place of typing… And it gets cluttered REALLY fast. Especially in GM8 and Studio (Though I hear GMS2 has a good version of it). It’s also really limited cause you can’t type or manipulate the code. So CPU consuming stuff like awful collision programming was present.
And if that weren’t enough – I didn’t know what tiles were! So all the visuals you see?(That aren’t backgrounds) Those are all objects! Each block you see…is an object! AND I didn’t know how to turn objects on or off. I could fix so many of the problems now but I was so inexperienced then.
Yet it amazes me how I was able to make this game. Not just cause of the inexperience but because I made it all in 2 months! And this isn’t that small of a game. There are tons of bosses, and over 16 stages with a wide range of visuals and enemies! There’s even a nice little story… though very cheesy at times. And I got the music from some free music site, but can’t recall the composer. I do know they’re in the credits.
Some times I wonder if I should go back and remake the game, add new stuff with a new engine. I see lots of potential, cause despite the very rough edges, there’s something about it that I enjoy. Not everything but enough that I could do more. Perhaps one day, Rai will make a return…
And now we get into one I’m not certain about. On one hand, I like it. On the other hand… Hmmm. First I should address why this… game was made. It was in response to a video by SomeCallMeJohnny called “End of Sonic 2 Month” where he plays a weird abomination of all the early Sonic games called “Sonic 3CD & Knuckles & Knuckles”. It was an amusing video and an in-joke among Johnny’s fans and his friends. And he always wanted to see a fangame of it.
Well, I answered: https://gamejolt.com/games/sonic-3cd-knuckles-knuckles/18185
Remember my points from RaiGear? Those stand here as well. Though I did learn about tiles and used invisible blocks as walls that were stretched this time. So not as bad… Except it was still awful. But the worse thing was that this was the first time I was trying to learn how to make a platformer and oh man… That was a bad idea. For one, I knew NOTHING about how to make the physics feel good. let alone like Sonic where he could move around slopes and gain momentum.
I did the best I could but it was still very iffy. I threw myself into something I didn’t fully understand. But I ended up making four stages and some funny things I guess? I don’t regret what I made but it certainly showed I needed to reevaluate my ways with programming. I needed MORE experience.
Johnny did stream the game and I even got to talk to someone I respected a lot! That was really cool, but man I was nervous. And the reason I hate that is cause… He’s just a normal dude. But I even joined the call for the Pokemon X and Y stream afterwards and barely said anything I felt so nervous. I guess I just suck at talking. But I think if I were to talk to him or anyone like that now, especially with knowing so much, I’d do just fine.
I did later on donate to a charity event with a comment for John during a stream stating I’d return to 3CD. However, I’ve changed my mind. If some fans wanted to make an actual game some day and asked, I’d be happy to help. But I think instead of making a Sonic the Hedgehog fan game with 3CD I’d rather just make my own game with Sonic-like design and make an actually good game.
Oh, and SmoshGames played it (Not crediting me). They ran into a bug but whatever. Plus they played it a long time after the game came out. Very random. But I guess I made a lot of people happy since it got over 7,000 plays! I wonder if anyone got all the Emeralds and saw the secret boss I put in?
Now the next step in my story is very weird. Cause for one, I never finished this game. Just made a demo and nothing more. That being Rollem the Golem:
(He looks like the awful coconut character from that 2000’s cartoon what was I thinkiiiiiing) (Also the art I make still sucks here… I’m happy Vivid exists)
I still think this is a cool concept that I might return to. You’re a giant asteroid. In fact there are many characters that are planets that you fight and I had so many ideas that ultimately never made it in. Mainly because it was still a very ambitious game. And I was finally learning to actually code!
I programmed it for such a short time that I don’t fully remember it. the only things I remember are the ideas I never incorporated. Not that many people tried it though since not a lot of people cared. I also tried putting it on Steam and again, not a lot of people cared if it actually became a game. So I got tired and decided to quit.
But like Rai, Rollem (Who I’ve changed to Rock’em) may return one day in a much cooler look instead of a stupid big smile.
After feeling down I decided to try map making again in MineCraft. This time it was a CTM (Complete the Monument), where you collected 16+ special items in an open map. This was called “Diamond Destiny”.
Rob and Dan and many others helped again. While not as successful as the Tower (only around 1,000 downloads) this might be the biggest push to becoming a better designer. Cause the focus of the map was to make it very tolerable. See, many people at the time made these maps really hard. And many of the games I had tried to create people had a hard time with. Why not aim for an easier map?
And I think I was very successful at making a relatively beginner friendly map, many of the testers died only a handful of times and had a nice time. It opened my mind to easier level designs and challenges that could be fun. So I’ve since then always tried to balance my levels. Funny thing is, if you aim to be easy, you’ll still often get people who find it difficult, so you have to make it EVEN easier.
The map I don’t believe is truly finished. I mean, it’s definitely possible to complete, but I never finished ironing it out. And not long after, I fell out of MineCraft.
Now on to the last game. This one comes before Vivid and began in Spring of 2014. Before Vivid, it was my longest project. I have so many feelings for it because it was the closest I ever got to being serious about a game I was making. I entered a whole new world with it and was the final step before I’d go on to better things.
Oh look, a pony! Yes, Quad Knight (actually name is Domino) is a horse. Not a pony… but I did watch My Little Pony for a bit back then. Specifically, I was interested in how the creators managed a show for a young audience to see what they could get away with. While not my favorite show, I was pleased with what I learned.
And since there were many artists who loved the show, I thought about contacting some. And holy crap! I got quite a few who actually wanted to help with music. I met PhonicBoom and Oliver Lacota, who’d help a bit with Vivid after the project got canceled. So I was really pleased with the music in the game.
Quad Knight is weird in that fact that it’s sort of the Vivid before Vivid. I was really trying my hardest to get better at art but still not that good. Like I tried using a crayon filter for everything which looked ugly but had a unique style I guess.
There was also a lot to the game… which was its downfall I think. Besides being a platformer, you could actually aim with the Mouse (Or Analog Stick) and shoot different powerups. And there were so many powerups I made and so many ways to get them. Kinda confusing. Cool if you knew, but doubt you’d care enough to reach that point.
Still, there were many clunky things to it that I’d never do. The enemies AI wasn’t the best, though interesting. Art was still a miss. Actually, I think the best way to phrase a lot of these projects is a severe lack of polish. Perhaps if I worked on QK for a few years it would play and look really nice, but that didn’t happen.
I also tried to get it Greenlit and eventually cancelled it since no one really cared. I just didn’t have a following of any kind or a platform to call home. No Blog, didn’t use Twitter often, let alone post gifs or images of the game in other forums much. I was really bad about that.
So it silently went away as I felt the game wasn’t going anywhere.
Will QK return? Well… Not sure. I do like a lot of the ideas, but it might be better off as a different game. A lot of the things I wanted from QK ended up in Vivid. The overall feel, cuteness, and unique game play. So after I ended the development in November, I would eventually start Vivid in late December of 2014.
Vivid would also go through many changes, starting as Vivid Radiance, then Vivid Wolf and now “Vivid!”. But you can read all of that in older posts.
I guess thinking back on it, I don’t really have any game I regret or dislike. I’d just change how I’d go about a lot of the choices and fix many mistakes. Perhaps some of these games will return in some form. BlocKy, Tower of Anarchy, RaiGear, Sonic 3CD, Rollem the Golem, Diamond Destiny, and Quad Knight.
Quite a few projects. Some being more successful than others. Some just not being finished. Don’t think they’re anything resume appliaction worthy but I wouldn’t say I lack experience anymore! Though I do feel like a novice when it comes to programming still. But I hope my future games will be a little better.