December 30, 2010

Thoughts On LEGO Technic Sets

The beta reviews are coming in. Thank you everybody. Instead of rushing in to fix all the problems I decided to wait a few days to see which are the issues most people comment on. I use the time to clean up desk an generally take care of some things I have been neglecting. One of them [...]

December 29, 2010

OMG¿!! gifani2.0 worldhackerz overwhelm wikileak$!!!11!!!!

December 28, 2010

TRAUMA Beta is out

It is done. The beta is out. I have sent out a batch of invitations to various people. If I promised you a beta invite and haven’t send you anything yet, please contact me! Sadly, the beta is not public. So I can’t post any public links just yet. The good news is that I will accept [...]

December 24, 2010

Monster Hunter Podcast Episode 19

On the this episode of the Monster Hunter Podcast: Christmas Freedom Unite. As a Christmas surpise we deicded to record a play session with the three of us on Monster Hunter Freedom Unite. This is the video version of this episode. The video starts 10 minutes in. Get the mp3 of the episode here. Get the iPod mp4 [...]

December 22, 2010

TRAUMA – Heisenberg Boss Bug

It seems like this project has a life of it’s own. It stubbornly refuses to get finished. It resists with all it’s might. And it delivered an overwhelming last blow today. I started work on the image loading system. The system I was about to replace was one of the oldest bits of code in the project. [...]

TRAUMA – Heisenberg Boss Bug

It seems like this project has a life of it’s own. It stubbornly refuses to get finished. It resists with all it’s might. And it delivered an overwhelming last blow today. I started work on the image loading system. The system I was about to replace was one of the oldest bits of code in the project. [...]

Boring Music 5 back online

In 2008 I made the artwork for the Volume 5 of the “Boring Music” series. Today Sven Swift uploaded the material to mixcloud, after the release was offline for several months.

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TRAUMA – Are We There Yet?

Short update on the beta crunch. I think I have the video loading system down. It needs to be quite robust if you consider that the game has 80MB of videos. At this point it’s loading videos just fine. It even has it’s own progress bar in case a cut-scene can’t be delivered in time. I spend [...]

December 21, 2010

TRAUMA – Entangled in API

Sometimes I want to strangle the people, who made the Flash API. I’m imagining a long conveyor belt with all the Adobe employees on it waiting for their turn to receive their deserved treatment. Loading sounds and images is relatively easy and carefree. Here, let me prove it. Here is what you need to write [...]

December 20, 2010

TRAUMA – Beta Crunch Continues

Quick update on how TRAUMA is coming along. It now loads sounds. Ok, it kinda was loading sounds before but now it also keeps track of them. Warning! Technical explanation: As you might remember, the game really just loads 4 different kinds of files: XMLs, images, sounds and videos. I already had taken care of XMLs. Today [...]

December 18, 2010

TRAUMA – Go Go Beta Crunch

The last week was a bit crazy. But now I have the rest of the year free to work 100% on TRAUMA. Except for that Christmas things everybody seems to make such a fuzz about. I’m powering trough. Today, I was finally able to check the subtitles I have gathered. They look great and I have implemented [...]

December 17, 2010

Monster Hunter Podcast Episode 18

On the this episode of the Monster Hunter Podcast: Legal and on the Internet. We turn 18 and spend the entire show discussing Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite and all sorts of other topics. Get the Episode here. The RSS Feed is here. Get us in iTunes here. The Tumblr Blog here. Enjoy!

December 15, 2010

Humble Indie Bundle 2

No real updates from me as the last 3 days, I have been working 12 hours a day or more. More on that later. Until then, here is some important Indie News: The Humble Indie Bundle 2 is out! You might remember the original Humble Indie Bundle on from earlier this year. If you missed it – it’s back. [...]

Indie Game Development: Getting the Most Out of Your Dev Time

This is a guest-post by Brice Morrison from The Game Prodigy.

As a game developer, which of these sounds more desirable to you?

  1. A really fun 5 minute game that took ten hours to make
  2. A really fun 5 minute game that took one hour to make

Assuming that they are equally enjoyable to the same group of people, most of us would go with the one hour version. Sure, in nine more hours there is a lot that can be done. You can add more artwork, add social aspects, add multiplayer or extra modes. But if we are just focusing on fun, which I believe tends to max out on a relatively small scale, then time of of the essence, and if you only have an hour or so, you want to put it in the right place. As game developers, our time is very valuable.

Screenshot: Momiga

Momiga is a great little Flash game that has been making the rounds online. Standing for “Most Minimalist Game”, Momiga features only one graphic (a small white dot), one button, and one sound effect. Truly, it is about as minimalist as you can get. Each “level” consists of moving a dot to the other side of the screen by pressing the space bar in a variety of ways. Each method is different: sometimes it slides across, other times it floats or bounces. The trick is to understand what’s going on and get it to the right.

I love to analyze games like this, because they provide such clear examples of simple but profound concepts in game development. Momiga is perfect example of being lean and economical. Student and indie developers often don’t give much thought to the concept of “bang for their buck”. That is, how much “game” they are going to get for the amount of effort that they put in. This can lead to effort being put in the wrong areas, which leads to wasted energy and exhaustion, which can lead to promising titles that are never finished.

Get the Most “Game”

I don’t actually know how long Momiga took to complete, but for an experienced Flash developer, it looks like it would take no more than a few hours to go from start to finish. And yet it has provided several minutes of enjoyment for tens of thousands of players.

To do this, the developer had to decide what he was going to focus on and what he wasn’t going to focus on. Clearly, with the title, he decided from the beginning that he was not going to focus on good graphics, sounds, backgrounds, or anything like that. He was also not going to focus on complex controls, UI, or menus, constrained by the rule to use only one button.

Thus, whether on purpose or not, the developer forced himself to focus on making what little he had fun. Since there are no graphics or colors to make the different levels feel different, the only way to make them interesting was to force the player to do something different at each turn. “I had to bounce across at the last one, and this one looks like some sort of jetpack…oh ok….I get it it now…”. That process is inherently enjoyable, because the player is being presented with new ideas at each turn.

In a previous video on The Game Prodigy (From Seconds to Hours of Gameplay (shown above)), we discussed ways that players can extend the life of their game time-wise, without watering down the fun and enjoyability. Some of the one of the ways you can do this is to build layers on top of your original Base Mechanic. Momiga takes a different approach. Instead of building up, per say, and making the single button clicking compound into points or higher levels of the same activity, the actual Base Mechanic changes each time. What the button press actually does is new and interesting.

To see how impactful this different focus of effort can be, contrast Momiga with another of the developer’s titles, Nano Ninja, a game which had much higher production values.

Screenshot: Nano Ninja

Nano Ninja’s gameplay is essentially identical to Momiga – single mouse clicks do different actions across different stages, and the player needs to find out how to press the button in the right way to complete the small stage. Yet it is clear that Nano Ninja took much longer than one sitting to complete. All the graphics, animations, music, and sounds took time to create. In the end, it boils down to a very similar amount of “game”, that is, about five minutes of fun. But in terms of the amount of “game” that the developer got for how much effort he put in, the ratio is much lower.

One hour for five minutes of fun, or ten hours for five minutes of fun?

Put Your Game Where Your Mouth Is

By being aware of what is and isn’t important for your game, you can make sure you are making the best use of your time.

Now this isn’t universal – every game developer needs to decide for themselves how much time to put into what aspects of their game. Some types of games will flop and completely fail with their target players if great time isn’t invested into the Aesthetic Layout (AAA titles like Super Mario Galaxy come to mind). The point is that your time as a developer is valuable — make sure you’re spending it where it will count the most.

This was a guest-post by Brice Morrison from The Game Prodigy.

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