A little bit of this, a little bit of that

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(Image Source: OLIVER BERG/AFP/Getty Images)

Yeesh! It has been a busy few weeks for me! Moving onto new projects at work equals new challenges, so I have been arriving home feeling deader than dead. (That’s a whole lot of dead in case you did not know) As a result other, things as usual, have fallen to the wayside.

Still, I have managed to find the time to scribble down many game design ideas and additions to current projects such as CV: The Game! and I am hoping to get some serious design and development time in over the next couple of weeks. CV: The Game! is a great idea that needs to be finished and sooner rather than later will only benefit me. So that is my priority going forward.

In the meantime I have been doing the eternal task of tweaking my LinkedIn Profile and CV just in case something comes up or somebody stumbles across them.

I GOT A JOB!

Man Wearing Blank Sandwich Board

Yup things have been quite around here recently for a reason!

In a turn of good fortune and after many, many, many months of applying for various jobs in the UK games industry someone finally got back to me, got the ball rolling and it eventually lead to a shiny new job! It has been a hectic month and a bit because it was a case of having a few offers and interview chains come up at once. (I wonder what I did to suddenly make myself interesting to employers?) I won’t go into the nitty gritty but for one I was chained to my computer for several days researching and preparing. Another I was chained to my computer for several days researching and preparing…you get the picture.

So what is my new job?

Well you are looking at a newly minted Functional Games Tester at Sony Liverpool! So my job will be to test a variety of PlayStation games and products. Finding and reporting all the bugs, glitches and errors to help make the game more playable for you, the gamer to enjoy. So basically this is now my life,

test all the games

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Mixing things up a bit and getting my Unity on!

Screen Shot 2013-04-15 at 11.52.39While I’m still quietly beavering away on CV: THE GAME! it has become clear that I am really falling behind on my One Game A Month games! So I have decided to switch things up a bit. The current plan is to run through some Unity tutorials in the next week and a bit, most notably this one, to master the basics. Then make two very quick and small games to get back on track with 1GAM and to learn a bit more about how Unity works.

I’ve dabbled in Unity a few times in the past with the intention of sitting down and getting to grips with it but I have always got distracted by other things like….comic books and….video games…. but this time I am determined because well, Unity is Unity! It is something I really need to learn in order to advance my career. Also to add an extra feather to my cap I am using C# as my code base rather than JavaScript which I sort of already know. There is lots of head scratching involved at the moment but like it was with Java it will click eventually! (I hope!)

So for now there will be very little on the update front while I get back on tack but after that I should be able to get back to regular updates and more robust projects!

Woop! Woop!

 

CV: THE GAME! update.

CaptureSo getting Callum’s CV: THE GAME! finished as my #1GAM for March has failed spectacularly! I started work on it part way through the month and I could have released something to meet the deadline but it would have been half a game. A mere shell of what I have planned for it. Also it being a game of my CV demands that it has a certain level of quality and wit to it and as it currently stands it still needs a fair bit of work.

So my current plan for April is to get CV:THE GAME finished in the next couple of weeks then get onto my task for April: learning Unity. So the plan is to put together a very quick and rough game for #1GAM April as part of my learning process for it. Then hopefully May will allow me to make a more robust game with it.

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Portalus Inferis

Logo SmallWe are go! Yup the game is finished and ready to play. YAAAAAAY!!!!!

You can grab the installer by heading HERE!

System Requirements:

Operating system Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7
CPU Intel Pentium 4 2.0 GHz or faster
Memory 512MB or more RAM 

So go get it, install it and play it. Then come back here and tell me how bad it is. Due to the time limit for the One Game A Month Challenge the game is in a very rough state but you can finish it do not worry. The stuff that needs fixing is mainly balancing and the stuff that needs adding is just extra content and materials to make the game more “complete.” So I will be working on an update for the game over the next week or so to get it in a shiny, super presentable state. For now I am happy with the current version of the game it hit all the key points and areas I wanted to explore with RPG Maker VX Ace and it was a super intense learning experience.

I’m super busy at the moment but I will be coming back here to update this post with all the proper thank you’s and info about the game itself after the weekend. Also keep an eye out for info on my next game for One Game A Month!

– Callum

 

Portalus Inferis Update – Crunch Mode Activate!

Working Hard or Hardly Working

This has been my life for the past couple of days chained to my tiny computer desk (we will be using a bigger one again when we move….I hope!) with multiple screens and windows on the go. Unseen in the above photo is the laptop behind me that is running various builds of the game to check for repeatable bugs and errors to help me narrow them down. So while it is gruelling work at times it is still enjoyable the 28th Feb deadline is only a couple of days away and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know I can hit that day for launch if I just keep at it and that has me excited.

So while the rules for One Game A Month allow for a four day grace period to get your game out there and submitted to the site I am dead set on the 28th so that if the inevitable happens and I hit a set back I have plenty of time to deal with it. Part of hitting the 28th deadline is deciding on what needs to be done and dusted now and what can wait for a post launch update.

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Incentives to Design – One Game A Month

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I discovered One Game a Month randomly one night while browsing the internet. After reading through the site’s mission statement and having a good look around at the types of games being made as part of the initiative I jumped at the chance to sign up.

This is exactly the kind of thing I have been looking for recently to help keep my game design juices flowing. The task is both a simple but an almost herculean one at the same time; make and release at least one game a month for a year. As regular readers of this blog will know I have been having trouble keeping focused on one specific game and just simply sitting down and actually making something until recently. So I am not going into One Game A Month willy nilly here I am doing it for the best of intentions:

  1. To boost my currently lacking portfolio.
  2. To keep my skills fresh and learn lots of new ones along the way.
  3. To make games!

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Simple RPG Intro Video

Just to show that I am making progress teaching myself how to use RPG Maker VX Ace here is a video of the intro for short game I am making as part of the learning process. I’ve been working on it solidly for the past week and I’m starting to put it all together. The latest complete section is this short opening that gets the ball rolling.

Like I said it is meant to be a short and simple RPG, so the story isn’t up to much!

…..and neither are the characters……

Still I am loving it and it is great to be working on an actual game with actual development tools.

I’ll be putting up more videos soon and eventually releasing the full game for download. So keep your eyes peeled!

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Anyone want to help? – XDev PlayStation Pioneers

Link: Anyone want to help? – XDev PlayStation Pioneers

So Sony have announced a new competition/initiative for game developers looking to work on Sony platforms. In this case the PlayStation Mobile platform that covers all portable Sony products including the PS Vita. See the link for more details.

If anyone is interested in working on a pitch for the deadline please get in contact with me ASAP! The first stage is to come up with a detailed concept with a plan of a prototype. I’m looking for an artist and a programmer. Also another budding game designer willing to share ideas and work with me would be awesome too!

You have to be a UK resident and preferably live in or near the London area so we can meet up. If you’re interested please feel free to send me a message.

Websites For Budding Game Designers

Now that the major parts of my degree are over and done with it is time to step things up a notch on here!

Let’s start things off with a list of awesome game design, game design theory and smart game journalism websites that every would be game designer needs to check and use regularly.

These are some of the sites I use regularly and if you have any more suggestions please feel free to mention them in a comment or note on this post or by dropping them in my Ask Box. I’ll have a look at them and then add them to the list. The plan is that I’ll repost the list every couple of months with new additions and updates.

So let’s begin!

The Game Design Tag on Tumblr

Our quite little corner of Tumblr is slowly growing and every day I am impressed by the ideas and quality of work on display. From people showcasing their work, to people posting links and production images from games both old and new. The game design tag is always an interesting place to check out. Hats off to you guys! Seriously, I mean it.

Game Pitches

A website my tutor shared with us all. It may not be updated regularly but when updates do come they are usually really good. Pitch documents, presentations and game design documents from some of the industry’s most well known games and franchises. Go check it out and loose a day or two reading all the documents and presentations!

Game Development StackExchange 

It may mainly be a haven for games programmers and the more technically minded among us but game designers need to have at least a passing knowledge of programming and how it works to get by. Just spend an hour or so every week exploring the StackExchange and you’ll be surprised how much you’ll pick up.

The Psychology of Video Games

Not a website I check regularly but when I do they always have some interesting articles on how games and certain game systems effect the player and their engagement with a game. It will give you some major food for thought both on mechanics and the morals of them and game systems in general. Well worth checking out.

Gamasutra

This is one that everyone should have bookmarked already. The key here though is not just to check out the Design section. Explore the whole site; Programming, Art, Audio, Production and Biz/Marketing all impact on game design. Keeping up your knowledge of these areas even on a basic level is a must.

The Brainy Gamer

Michael Abbott’s blog is always a good place to go for higher level discussion and discourse about the games we play. Some great recommendations on books to read and other places to visit. It is also now home to The Smart Game Catalogue which you need to check out.

The Escapist

It may be a big news site but The Escapist’s contributors constantly throw out interesting points of discussion. If you just go their to check out the videos you are missing out on loads of interesting articles and content relating to game analysis.

Game Informer

If you live outside of the USA like I do the Game Informer website is a godsend. In the past year or so they have started putting up more and more content from and related to the monthly magazine. (WHY NO INTERNATIONAL SUBSCRIPTIONS?!) The area of the site that has the greatest interest is the Monthly HUB pages that tie in with the big focus, Cover Stories, of the latest issue. These are more than just slowly teased out previews. There is always a lot of content related to the game’s production and design process. Game Informer is also home to this wonderful piece of inspiration by Ken Levine from 2010.

Edge Online

The online arm of the UK’s game industry focused magazine. Lots of content from the magazine, lots of links and news articles that are actually relavent and lots and lots of job listings!

Penny Arcade

I cannot stress the growing importance of Penny Arcade as a hub for all things gaming enough. The team that run the various elements of the business know what they are doing and do it extremely well. It is not just because you have video series like Checkpoint and ExtraCredits finding their home on PATV. Or the brilliant webcomic that started it all. You also have things like the slowly growing PA Report which is quickly becoming my new favourite gaming news and discussion site.

So that’s it from me, for now. So do you guys have any suggestions that I can add to the list?