Thursday, 29 September 2011

Improving my skills and revisiting writing

It's been a while since I posted so I'll catch you up.  I have been working on my mobile game idea, which again has gone through another change and been looking at the skills I currently possess and the ones that I need to improve.

After thinking about the skills that I need to develop to become a better designer I have realised that I need to work on improving my communication skills, particularly when I am trying to describe an idea or give my opinion on anything.

So I've decided that I am going to use this blog to help me improve this skill.  By analysing games that I have played I believe that this will help me to learn what I think makes a good game, will help me understand why a game fails and the design issues I need to consider when designing my own games.  So from now on when I finish a game I be posting a piece analysing the game or an aspect of the game.

I have also been recently writing a story for a new UDK level that a few friends and I are planning to create.  I'd obviously like to be involved in the design of the level but at the moment I have taken the role of game writer.  I have forgotten how inspiring it is to imagine a new world with new rules, characters and possibilities and being able to put this idea into a game that I'll have a hand in creating is very exciting.  I have gotten so into this new idea that I'm thinking of turning it into a short story but I guess after the level is created I'll have to see whether it is a good idea or not.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Where I am with this year's targets?

This is a good question and this year by far has been the most interrupted so far in my life. But, however depressing looking back on this and knowing that I haven't yet achieved much is, I still have to do it so that I know where I'm heading towards by the end of this year.

So my targets this year was to:

  • Get through a good number of my 25 games that are catching dust.
  • Create 6 games, levels or maps using either UDK, Gears' Editor or UT3's Editor. 

Towards the first half of the year I did manage to get through a few games, however I still have a mountain to get through (it doesn't help that I keep buying more and the bargains/new releases this year have been unavoidable).   I'm thinking of dedicating one day a week to gaming in a hope to seriously reduce this game pile before christmas hits.

The second target has been slowing drifting away.  In total I have started or had the intention of completing 5 projects this year - Prison Break, a Gears of War level, a mobile game (working title MMH),Tiny Adventures and The Epidemic.

Prison Break was completed a while back but I am sad to admit that it is the only project that has been completed :(  I didn't want to show this video earlier in the year as some people didn't give me very constructive feedback on the level, but it's all a learning experience so i'll share it.

There are a lot of issues with this level so I think more time spent constructing levels in UDK is definitely needed to help me practice better lighting, layout and gameplay, level flow.

I have been thinking a lot about reworking The Epidemic with better graphics however, this does not seem to be a worthwhile cause.  The gameplay is all there however I won't be developing this into a full title.  So for now, the ground work is done for any future platformer that I want to make in Game Maker (as most of the gameplay features that I created are quite typical of platformers) but I'm finally going to put this one to rest.

I did begin a Gears project however it occurred to me quite early on that what I had planned was a lot bigger than I had intended.  So instead of continuing on it fizzled out.  I think the skills that I learned should be used to create a small level in Gears in the future but at the moment it as well is on hold.

My mobile game got some feedback from a couple of designers.  Sadly this was not positive either.  So for a while I felt a bit low, but I re-worked on the gameplay and have planned out a shed load of levels.  I've estimated that I could get the game prototyped within 24 hours.  And now I have sorted my licence for Game Maker 8.1 I'm good to go  again :)  So, yeah this game isn't in UDK or any form of Unreal engine like my targets indicated but it will help me to create a game quickly to assess how well it will actually do should I choose to release it in the future.

Lastly we have my latest project Tiny Adventures.  After working out how to reposition the camera and change the controls using Kismet and a bit of the code, UDN released a platformer prototype with all of these functions present and better than what I had.  So I have migrated to cannibalising this version to develop my own prototype.  I have planned out a few basic levels which should show the basic features of the game.  The only challenge in my way now is to learn how to swap out the default character for my own.  This is going to be a major project as I'll have to not only code the behaviours but model the props too.  So far building the test levels are my priority and at the end of September I'll assess my progress once more.

So I started with 5 projects.  One complete, one cancelled, one deferred, one nearly there and one in the intial phases still.  I'm not going to reach my target of 6 projects this year sadly.  I have to accept this.  But at the very least, I'm going to aim to get this mobile project done and then continue with one project at a time from now on.