Game Classes

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I've always wanted to learn how to design games, and around mid October 2011 I decided to just start self-directed studying. These are my journal entries for every study session I do, or what I call "class".

May 9, 2012 at 3:33pm
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New address

[New Address]
I finally switched this tumblr blog to my primary tumblr account. Only took about 3 hours of copy pasting lol.

May 6, 2012 at 2:24am
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6/5/2012 (+4 hours)

I’ll eventually find a theme to this game I’m working on, Grid Snake. Right now I’m still only implementing mechanics at random. At least with Mario Pong I had some idea of the theme, but I suppose that what I’m doing now, even though its not super productive, I will eventually stumble upon a theme and it’ll all mesh together. Anyway, programming practice is practice non the less.

Waiting for the book I ordered on Amazon by Jacob Seidelin because the digital copy is horrible difficult to follow and write code out of. In the mean time, watching google tech talks on developing games with HTML. Surprisingly there are many videos about this HTML5 and gaming. I wouldn’t be surprised if its in its early days of becoming a hot topic.

May 5, 2012 at 5:36am
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5/5/2012 (+4 hours)

I know lots of game designers that keep development blogs but I find it quite mundane reading the entries for them. What does that mean for my entries, are they mundane too? Would I really want to read them. I do try and add interesting and valuable content in them. And structure them with headings so people can skip uninteresting things. And include screenshots and images to catch peoples attention.

Although, these diary entries are more for myself, to reflect on things, and keep focus on the things I’m doing. Writing things down I’ve found so far helps so much in developing my mind. Keeps things at the forefront.

Worked a bit on Grid Snake. Still don’t have a proper plan for the game, which is super bad, but I’m not worried because its only a activity to practice my programming skills and I’ll properly learn how to plan later on.

Worked quite heavily on Duck Duck Goose essay, mapping out the content of what I wanted to discuss. Found this brilliant tool, Mindmeister that is the holy grail in mind mapping as far as I’m concerned. Usually I use pen and paper, but find to often that I don’t revisit my maps or don’t add onto them after the first brain storming session.

May 3, 2012 at 5:29am
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3/5/2012 (+3 hours)

Worked on the now officially named, Grid snake, game that I’ve been working on in previous classes. This class I just finished off a script that will control the snake on the splash screen. Getting it to circle the header title until the player takes control. I find simple things like that go a long way to improve the aesthetics of the game.

Worked on this Duck Duck Goose essay, trying to pick my mind of all the thoughts, and use what I’ve learnt from The Art of Game Design to figure out the essence of this game. The whole point of writing this essay is to provoke my mind into focusing on a game and practicing my critical thinking.

May 1, 2012 at 5:27am
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5/1/2012 (+3 hours)

Added some polish to this unnamed snake game. I’m happy I’ve got this little game under a lot more control than Mario Pong. Taking little steps at a time and not going overboard. And when I get too bored with it, I work on the more mundane tasks such as splash screens and bugs.

To some extent I really do enjoy programming a game, given that it only happens when I have the right tools and knowledge. What Bret Victor talked in his speech  about, artists need an immediate connection, has really stuck with me. In another 200 years I’m sure we will have the technology and tools to create AAA games  using just touch interfaces, its only a matter of time until we make the tools to do it.

[Art of Game Design]
Such a great book, so much so that I went and brought the deck of lenses from Amazon. Hopefully I can start using them when doing design essays and designing games.

April 28, 2012 at 3:19am
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28/4/2012 (+8 hours)

[Public Speaking]
The other day I attended a small seminar for public speaking that was very enriching, but the greatest part was meeting one of the guest speakers, Grant Meredith. A lecture in the area of IT at University of Ballarat who is also very cultured in game design.

I talked with Grant about my idea I had 2 months ago about guest speaking, and although an immature idea at the moment, I’m hoping it might lead to something that will add value to my education in some way, as well gaining experience and practice.

Design Analysis:
Worked on my design analysis of Duck Duck Goose where I came up with some very interesting ideas using the touch interface with the iPad in a Maze like game which would simulate the sub game tag . The biggest bonus here is that I could implement it with an AI which would prove to be a good testing ground, if I decide to develop this into a game. Either way it is helping me learn and develop my mind.

HTML5: Had a play with the Canvas element learning from non other than When I first started web design when I was 15 years old I swore by W3Schools as the best and most complete place to learn from. And now I’m back haha.

This book I’m reading now, HTML5 Games by Jacob Seidelin, has some good content, but the whole flow of the book is off putting. Most of it is copy the code and hope it works style, similar to Learning XNA 4.0.

[Game class]
I tried out another 8 hour day session and it seemed to work all right. Had a hard time waking up though, and nearly fell asleep at the end, but it probably doesn’t help that I’m stuck on a bit of mindless coding in this snake game and this HTML5 book is giving me a hard time.

[100th Journal Entry]
This is my 100th Journal entry today so here are some interesting statistics.

375.38 hours counted in class
18,026 word count
6 months, 12 days ago was the
first entry
1 follower :(

My very first entry.

Created account at 3D Buzz and started watching XNA 101 Volume #1 classes starting with the very first video, Introduction.  Very basics of OOP, game engine, design and skeleton of Hyperion. Watched videos #1 to #4. Spent some time on Tig Source posting in feedback.

April 25, 2012 at 4:00am
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25/4/2012 (+8 hour)

[Game Class]
Today is Anzac day, aka a day off work. So I’ve decided to use this day to trial out a game class schedule that I can use for when I finish work, hopefully next year when my partner finishes her University studies and I’ve finished my apprenticeship.

The schedule is 8 hours a day split into 2 four hour blocks. I’ve further split each hour into a 45 minute study session where I focus on only one thing.  And this works quite well, the 45 minute rule goes out the window sometimes and the schedule is not followed in the strictness sense, but it does keep me on my feet.

This whole day, both sessions, I never felt a tad bit bored or frustrated, which is something I’ve been trying to overcome recently. So hopefully I can try this schedule out a bit more, maybe tweak and experiment with it.

Started turning Laser bikes into more of a Snake type game. I’m taking this project slow and easy. I have no plan yet so I’m approaching each session I spend on this more thoughtfully by thinking of the most obvious thing to get implemented now like menu screens and basic mechanics, not worrying to much about the fancy things until I’ve got something polished now.

Ended up buying HTML5 Games as the epub version is difficult to read and another book to add to the shelf would be nice, especially since I am getting quite excited by developing a game using html5 technologies.

[Design Analysis]
For a while I’ve wanted to do an analysis on a game similar to the analysis on Super Metroid by Hugo Bille and so I decided I’ll do an analysis on the children’s game Duck Duck Goose. The idea is to link some of the things I’ve learnt in Art of Game Design and Chris Crawford and write an analysis to reinforce what I have been learning. Gain some experience. And it’ll get me thinking outside the box as well, because it would be nice to design a game with the essence of Duck Duck Goose but on a different medium.

April 20, 2012 at 5:59am
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20/4/2012 5:00pm to 8:00pm

Woke up this morning and checked my email to find a bug report from source forge about Mario Pong. I was in shock, not because the code didn’t compile, I expected that, but because someone took the effort to download it, extract it, open it in Visual studio and compile it. I felt so honored! I had no idea people follow my blog, unless they stumbled across it on source forge, either way it was rewarding to see that xD

Gotcha! Your mine now Houdini, I’ve caught you on camera and posted your disagreeable behaviour on SideFX. Hopefully the gentlemen can help a hopeful student out =)

Finished off the laser bikes serious of videos, now its just time to start implementing a snake type game with perhaps some sort of interesting mechanic that I’ll have to think out. But before I start I should spend some time making some sort of plan.

April 18, 2012 at 5:31am
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18/4/2012 4:30pm to 7:30pm

Finally got around to reinstalling Houdini after class yesterday, but it still keeps crashing *sigh* while I was trying to follow along with 3D Buzz Houdini Fundamentals! I’m nearly about to start posting for help on Sidefx, because I truly want to get into Houdini. Perhaps it might be a good idea to find a couple mentors to help me through some of the confusing differences that 3D Buzz have with there version. Alright, I give in. Created an account at Sidefx and next time Houdini crashes it’ll be posted.

Started reading HTML5 Games, which will be an interesting adventure xD Hopefully it turns into a good book, and perhaps instead of studying Unity I might just get into Canvas and WebGL instead.

[Game Classes]
When I first started these sessions of self-directed learning I had all the right types of attitudes..

  • One small portion at a time. One Video, one chapter or even half a chapter. Just little steps.
  • Have a basic routine. C# video, Chris Crawford, Tigsource forums.

I feel now though I’m slowly getting demotivated through low moral, most probably because its hard to see progression and I feel like I’m getting no where. But this cant possible be true. So I’ll slap myself and move on. But in all seriousness, Self-Directed learning has its issues.

April 17, 2012 at 5:32am
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17/4/2012 4:30pm to 7:30pm

I’ve held off for long enough on this one, and its about time I start learning to develop using HTML5 Canvas considering the freaking huge potential it will have to develop traditional games with a social backbone. I am excited! Looking at amazon now for reviews for HTML5 Canvas books and will probably pirate one soon. Yes, I’d much rather pirate, and then buy it, than take a risk and waste my precious class time.

Just to give an example of how big social gaming is, FV > T, or Farmville > Twitter in the number of accounts. This was taken from a talk by Jesse Schell. Hopefully I can bring some of the traditional gaming to the social platform, considering social gaming is very different as Jesse explains.

[Mario Pong]
Received the approval to use the end game art, even though I’m completely ripping off Nintendo, but I’m sure they will understand :). I also didn’t think it was necessary to credit Nintendo because I’m sure every single person knows who Mario is and who created Mario.

Watched some more talks on youtube by Jesse Schell while I consumed tea =P Followed by some searching for Canvas books and looking at facebooks developer platform. Followed further by getting into this next project in the XNA Extreme course, Laserbikes.

I might consider making this a basic snake type game. I’ll try and draw a plan out before I start working on it, with all the requirements so I don’t go overboard. Shouldn’t be too difficult to implement and it’ll be a nice little project to work on.

April 16, 2012 at 5:28am
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16/4/2012 4:30pm to 7:30pm

Alright, for Mario Pong I added description for source forge page and uploaded game and source code. And moved the project folder from “Work in progress” to “My games”. So, now the game is finished. Lets move on finally!

I’m so glad to be back on schedule with this C# course, and a bit worried about the next project that they want me to do. It’ll definitely be excellent to do another project for practice but its very time consuming and tedious, and becoming boring after a while. It would be really great if I had much better project management knowledge, but its something I have yet to study.

[Video Recording]
Did a little bit of recording, actually quite a lot to be honest. I found that if I just read the same thing over and over, retrying, and doing little different things each time, I might find something that works. I’ll just brute force my way into quality. Because I really, really! Don’t want to post something that is bad quality. Really don’t want to leave a bad impression :’(

April 15, 2012 at 5:28am
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15/4/2012 4:30pm to 7:30pm (Sunday)

Worked on Mario pong, mostly packaging it up, taking screenshots and contacting the author of the end art for permission. I honestly cant wait to just get this out of the way and move on. It still needs polish, but anymore will just make a mess of the code.

Earlier today I organized the Tumblr page for my Readings. Took a lot of inspiration from Jeff Atwoods Recommended readings page from his blog. Took me a good couple hours considering I had to go back and forth pasteing the html code into Tumblr because there is no neat way to edit pages, damn you tumblr! But its all done now and that’ll add a bit more quality to the place xD

[Game Classes]
Mario pong and Houdini are both screwing me over. One has taken way to long to finish and one I cant even get started. At the moment my classes are, working on Mario pong for 1.5 hours, reading Art of Game Design and some other random things.

This is one of the down sides to Self-Directed learning, in that its very easy to spend too much time on something that’s not all that constructive. In traditional school at least its broken up into gradual stages with a well planned curriculum.

April 12, 2012 at 5:24am
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12/4/2012 4:30pm to 7:30pm

Added the credits and the game is practically finished. Just need to do some play testing, get permission for the end art work and   create a source forge project page for it. I might get to start the next project in the XNA Extreme series lmao XD

Continued watching youtube videos of talks by Jesse Schell.  Despite not doing any set course work, I do enjoy these deviations from usual class work, especially since these are reinforcing what I’m already learning in regards to game design, which is in a way more important than just learning directly about something. 

Although I don’t have much choice since Mario pong is holding up XNA Extreme series and I keep forgetting to install Houdini. God damn you Houdini *sigh*

[Video recording]
Got my Logitech HD Pro webcam which, I’m hoping, will help me a bit better when recording these videos since I can actually see myself. I was originally using my Canon IXUS 115HS “happy snaps” camera.

April 11, 2012 at 5:29am
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11/4/2012 4:30pm to 7:30pm

Worked more on Mario pong, fixing up the scrolling background to work for all the states. (menu screen, game play and game over). I also was thinking quite a lot about what Jesse Schell, author of The Art of Game Design, says about themes, and how you have to find every way possible to theme your game better. So I looked at the scores and thought, how could I do these better. And this is what I came up with xDYes, the bot is beating me. His actually quite hard and even more surprising, the code for him was purely my own implementation as I couldn’t find any decent articles for a pong Ai.

All I need to do is add the end credits and perhaps fix up the time count down to be better themed.

[Video Recording]
Had another crack at recording some stuff for the About this video. I’m guessing the more I practice the better I’ll become, and I suppose of I do one of these videos nearly every day, even if its about the same thing, I’ll hopefully get better. Although I cant imagine breaking some of the habits I have, such as my retarded facial expression, and the stupid thing I do with my mouth occasionally lol.

April 8, 2012 at 3:37am
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8/4/2012 2:30pm to 5:30pm (Sunday)

Spent about 2 hours working on Mario pong, adding more sounds and pulling together the ending. Though after 2 hours I started to crash and get tired. I don’t know how anyone can do an 8 hour day sitting at a computer working on the same type of things. Its definitely important to mix it up with variety in a class. Looking back on high school, we very rarely had any class that was just doing one single thing. Mostly it was half lecture at the start, and then working through a problem for the rest of the class. And those classes only went for roughly 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.

I definitely need a stop watch to make sure I don’t spend to long doing something. Or else I’ll just wear myself out.

[Bret Victor]
Spent some time watching Bret Victor - Inventing Principles which is an amazing lecture based on a primary discussion of Principles and a passive discussion of Immediate Connection to Creativity. This is the second time I’ve watched this lecture, and its most probably going to inspire me for the rest of my life.

The biggest problem I have when creating something is the tools I use. Hopefully after the XNA C# video course from 3D Buzz I can start using Unity, which will be a much better engine for game design, and even better, I can plug into it with C#.