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Go to a Concert: Achievement Unlocked

Somehow I managed to reach the age of 26 and had never seen a real concert. The big reason was because there were so few bands I felt passionately enough to want to see.

Well last year, with my love of Green Day, a band I loved as a kid, revitalized by a good friend and fellow fan, I decided to remedy than and snatched up tickets to see them play in Brooklyn in January—and convinced this friend to go!

But it wasn’t quite meant to be. I had the amazing “luck” of finding out the tour was postponed through an article in the paper the day after hurricane Sandy. (I rarely read the physical paper, never the entertainment section)

Hung on my fridge since October

It was rough going, wondering when it would be rescheduled (“what if it’s during GDC?!”) but finally I had a new date. Which was tangled up with my friend’s schedule for moving away from the east coast. (“You better be here for the concert bro!”). On the plus side this new date was during the week of my birthday! Then, we managed to arrange everything but I spent the week sick and terrified of how my ailing body might fail to keep me pumped during the show.

We made it anyway. Perfect timing and dedication to a friendship lead to two long-time fans who had never seen their favorite band live to show up at the Barclay’s Center last night and see MAGIC happen. I forgot about being sick and was able to sing, dance, jump, scream, and go appropriately nuts all night long!

This is how excited I was

Plenty of professional reviewers have already recounted the evening. With Billie Joe’s return from rehab, there is lot’s to comment on. But here are my thoughts…

  • Definitely glad I picked a band of whose catalog I’m very familiar with. Even so, they managed to play some very old songs even I hadn’t heard before!
  • I actually wish I’d taken more pictures and videos. Even though at the time I was thinking it was lame and I should watch the show with my eyes. Since the show I’ve been bummed I don’t have more to help me relive the awesome time I had.
  • Wish I had more pics!

  • I’m glad I bought the tickets on stubhub instead of ticket master because the seats were great
  • I’m curious about energy in the general admission standing room but overall I’m glad I had a seat to sit my purse and coat on and a view with minimal amounts of jostling to see the stage
  • The band did a great job playing new, old, and middle years music to keep the diverse crowd happy
  • It’s very cool how you can hear everything when you get up to go to the bathroom!
  • I’m so glad of the company I was with. There is no one I’d have rather been there with!
  • Omg they played “Hey Jude”!!

  • In retrospect, it was odd they ended with Brutal Love instead of Time of Your Life. But at the time, it felt fitting.

Global Game Jam – Thirst

I’m so glad I was convinced to do Global Game Jam this year by a former coworker! In 48 hours, we produced a genuinely fun game that nailed the secret theme (sound of a heartbeat) and had people lining up to play!

The game is called Thirst. In it, you become a traveler across a desert who must run as far as you can, alternating between running through shadows or naked sun, before you run out of water. But your speed has to be tempered by your own heart beat which speeds up the faster you go. Keep going too fast and your heart will fail leaving you dead. However, if you died before you ran out of water, your body will be there for subsequent plays and the water can be used.

We eagerly jumped on board with four of the optional “diversifiers”: 16 color palette, a browser-based game, a persistent game world where subsequent plays are affected by earlier plays, and touching on a global issue, in this case the issue of water shortage. (Did you know that over 780 million people lack access to clean drinking water?)

As an added bonus, the game, normally playable by alternating taps on the [Z] and [/] keys, can also be played on an alternative controller. I brought in my DDR pad and we hooked it up using JoyToKey. Our players put on headphones to hear the heartbeat and hopped on the pad to run. The faster they ran, the faster the character ran. This really helped people get into the game and everyone at our jam site was clamoring to play!

We jammed at Games for Change @ DSI. There we saw some great other games but we were very proud to be voted “Best Gameplay” by our peers.

I am very proud of the idea to use the dance pad as well as the recycling remains of previous players mechanic. I am also very pleased with the number of ways the game embraced the theme. I had a great time and can’t wait to jam again next year!

Myself, Rick Felice, Ryan Giglio, Corey Jeffers

Play the game: planetidiot.com/games/thirst

See it on the Global Game Jam site: globalgamejam.org/2013/thirst

Learn more about the global water shortage: www.water.org

Games for Change: www.gamesforchange.org

Get JoyToKey to play on your own alternative controller: www-en.jtksoft.net

Coming soon: gameplay video and expanded game site.

Flash Game

This is the last installment of my MiniTD for a while because my trial for Flash ran out.

  • Enemies that all look different and have names
    • XML specifies which enemies appear in which wave
    • Names are on GUI (just for fun)
    • Some enemies have shields which must be disabled before the enemies can take damage.
      • Shields and health show up on the GUI
      • Shields are part of XML data
      • Gui shows how many waves left  and which wave you are up to
      • Working loading screen
      • Balance improvements including more, shorter waves
      • Functional upgrades for all towers.
        • Price for upgrades shown on GUI
        • Slow tower has upgrade that will let it disable shields

I am aware there are still bugs (I know!). But I’m pleased with how much I got done since I didn’t know flash when I started and it was such a short period of time.

This is an old blog post that didn’t get published back when.

Flash Game Update

It’s been about four days of development time since I last posted. In that time, I added:

  • Laser tower (fires in a straight line and does damage along that line)
  • Ability to select and place towers on the field.
    • Had to redo a few things to make sure I was able to select things properly
    • Tower upgrades which improve damage, range, etc.
      • Not all the upgrades have been implemented.
      • Upgrades include adding visual parts to the towers.
      • All upgrades cost nothing at the moment.
      • Upgrades have their own build time
      • Towers can also be destroyed which will return half their value.
      • Ability to select enemies and see their health and name
      • Improved GUI featuring radio buttons
      • Enlarged the GUI to add room for info on the selected item
      • Corrected several bugs

Mini TD Update

Updated controls. See below or in-game help.
  • Expanded menu system including pause screen (press ESC)
    • Although I don’t like how I originally implemented it. As I worked with Flash more, I observed more efficient ways to handle screen transitions.
  • Ability to restart the level or go back to the main menu and restart the whole game
  • Help screen with instructions
  • Second level (although it’s not much of a level)
  • Ability to select towers by clicking on them
    • This does nothing yet
    • Eventually, it will allow you to destroy or upgrade towers
  • Changed tower placement to use CTRL+CLICK
  • Added build times to towers
  • Improved balance slightly
  • Each successive wave has increased health

Flash Continues

Day 5-ish. About two days of work since my last post. The game is rather buggy on reset and its been causing issues for a while. Instead of fixing it fully now, I took out the ability to reset. The reason for that is because I am redoing various game state features which will change what gets reset when.

The version features improved artwork, somewhat better balance, and a grid-based map preventing tower placement on paths or on top of each other. Additionally, the map is loaded from XML. There is also a second wave which is no different from the first. The map system was the first day and the XML was the second day while improved art and functionality was done throughout. I also improved the gui so that it is drawn on top.

This version also has a menu that you start from. I am currently reorganizing the game so that there will be more menus.  The Help button doesn’t do anything. I wanted to get a version up here today however so I could show the new look and the improved functionality regardless of the bugs.

Day 3 of Flash

After about 3 days of work, my mini TD is a game, albeit a simple one.

  • There are 3 towers:
    • Pellet: basic tower fires pellets
    • Siege: Fires little bombs. They explode. Things at the center of the blast take more damage
    • Slow: Slows any enemies in its range. No damage
    • You get 1 “bonus” gold every 5 seconds you are alive
    • You get 1 gold for every enemy you kill

Obviously, there are a lot of things to fix/complete….

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My first flash “game”

ActionScript isn’t really complicated seeing as most programming languages are the same. The syntax is a bit odd but nothing that takes too long to get used to. The main problem I had at first was figuring out where to PUT my code and how to start. Once I figured out how to have a “main” class and get stuff on the screen, it wasn’t too bad.

The main issue was finding web resources that were written for someone who already knows how to program but doesn’t know how to use Flash. Anyway, here is “MiniTD 1″. It’s a very rudimentry TD where a single wave will go from waypoint to waypoint and then walk off the screen. You can use the mouse to place more towers. There is no win and no lose and it could explode but there we have it.

I programmed this in about six hours starting from nothing. I used the AS3 documentation and used this tutorial for reference.

Doing, playing, and writing

I’ve been working on applying for jobs and working on my portfolio a lot lately. However, I do have some other stuff going on.

I liked Assassin’s Creed 2 so I’m playing the first one. I’m also planning to play through Bioshock. I played it a bit years ago and was impressed by the visual style and intrigued by the mechanics so I’m looking forward to playing more.

I’m also working on a “treatise” on game genres which is exploring how different genres can be more accurately defined. Terms like “casual games” and “action-adventure” are wholly inaccurate and those are the main areas I’ll be exploring.

I expect the casual games to be the most enlightening. I consider myself something of a “hardcore casual gamer”. I was inspired largely by the mysterious game of Tetris which was described by www.ripten.com as:

“Simpler than any so-called “casual” game, yet more addictive than perhaps any other title to carry the “hardcore” label, Tetris has been a tested, tried and true phenomenon for decades. No story, no flashy cutscenes, not even any real characters to speak of.” (source)

So stay tuned for more about game genres in future posts.

Brenda Brathwaite’s Train

A few weeks ago, I, as well as several fellow classmates and professors, enjoyed a short brunch with industry legends John Romero and Brenda Brathwaite. I had met the genial Romero at prior GDCs but had never met Brathwaite. The “pair with the hair” was exciting to see but what was more exciting was what happened later that day at the Rochester Strong Museum of Play were Brenda was giving a talk on the game Train.

Train after a gameplay session at Strong Museum of Play in Rochester
Train after a gameplay session at Strong Museum of Play in Rochester

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