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vazor222
01 September 2016 @ 12:54 am
This past month I tried another crazy diet experiment. For this one the idea was to keep my blood sugar high while still losing weight. To accomplish this I had donuts and candy throughout the day but limited myself to about 500 calories a day (a ~1500 calorie deficit). This is certainly not recommended by any health people I know. More details after the cut.



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vazor222
21 July 2016 @ 01:13 pm
Here is the result of Austin West's casual 24hour indie game jam in Utah. There were 3-4 of us +2 offsite so we just made one team and they all decided they wanted something creepy so here is a creepy prototype game.



APK file for android phones for use with Google Cardboard: The Boy and the Father



I mostly sat on the sidelines while they worked out designs, then tutored Austin on scripting. I did do a simple "turn" script for the doors and the cross. Austin and the others took care of all the visuals and everything.






 
 
vazor222
31 December 2015 @ 10:36 pm
CentralAI is the 12th and final entry in the SOWN2014 prototype series. I hope with these I've given back in some small part to the experimental gameplay community and my supporters in the indie scene here in Utah.



CentralAI is inspired from that moment on the SOWN2014 stage when famous designer Takeshi talks about how DubWars makes the music the main player of the game and he ponders what it would be like for other elements to take the main player role of the game. This prototype explores the idea of a game AI taking that role.



In CentralAI, we all help create decisions for the CentralAI to help it defeat dragons. The game plays itself, and you can pause to give your input on what you think the AI should do next. Over time, as we all play this game, the AI will get smarter and smarter and eventually we'll see multiple dragons slain. Or, the players might just give random commands and the AI will endlessly attack the air.



I've found that this type of game (once more polished than this prototype) still provides enjoyment, but it is the kind of enjoyment we are all already familiar with as far as puzzle solving and tactics games. The shared responsibility is sort of new, but has been explored sufficiently in other games with success (e.g. Infinity Blade).



Press buttons to give your input to the AI. (Alt-F4 quits the windows build.)

Play here (download link is at the bottom there too): http://vazor222.com/CentralAI/WebBuild.html






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vazor222
20 December 2015 @ 09:20 pm
I just realized I never posted about this article I wrote last year.

http://raptorcircus.blogspot.com/2014/09/art-of-restraint.html





 
 
vazor222
29 November 2015 @ 04:02 pm
DodgeClouds is the 11th SOWN2014 prototype for the month of November.

The core idea was a simple whimsical idea I had while flying, and observing how the airplane just went right through clouds, and how the clouds create an interesting pattern. The idea is not really experimental this time, but more of an exploration into cloud and flight physics and creating a game experience based on those things.

The object of the game is to find your way to certain "target" locations while avoiding clouds. Use the A and D keys to bank left or right. Your position is indicated on the top left, and if you stray off the field you will wrap around to the other side. Note that the game takes a few minutes to load.

http://vazor222.com/DodgeClouds/DodgeClouds.html


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vazor222
01 November 2015 @ 01:59 am
Here is my zero-hour game this year.

It is simple and mostly just extends the previous game prototype a bit to explore invoking feelings of rebelliousness.

Some clarifications:

"key" means physical keyboard key. You're supposed to find out you can press down to jump. and doing so is supposed to feel rebellious, since it's not part of the main instructions or necessary for the main goal. As it says in the intro text, there are a couple other motivators to feel rebellious.

Also the circle in the top right is the secondary goal. Once you find out you can jump, that may be more obvious.


But initial testing shows no sign of the rebellious emotion being invoked. Perhaps this prototype is more of a proof that the internal narrative of the player is required to be "just so" before they can feel this class of emotions.


http://vazor222.com/MushroomLeap/ (requires flash)


 
 
vazor222
27 October 2015 @ 12:15 am
Here is the post for my monthly game for October. I am very happy with this one as I felt like I really learned a lot about game mechanics and emotion, and through this, game design. I was also happy because I was worried that when I tried to answer the original question that brought this up, that I would find that ludologists would be wrong in this area. (As you may know, I'm a hardcore ludologist in most things.) Happily, I feel like I was able to show that game mechanics certainly can evoke emotion, but also I feel that some emotions really might need narrative. There is also the argument that the player creates narrative as they experience the game mechanics, which I agree with, and to some extent that narrative is more the thing that evokes emotions. But I think this game can point to a few emotions that are purely evoked by game mechanics alone.


Continue on for my rough notes and the link.





 
 
vazor222
25 October 2015 @ 12:16 am
This is a quick post detailing my thoughts on the game "The Beginner's Guide" which you can see here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/303210/

The game is unusual, even "artsy" perhaps, and very narrative-driven. But it features some experimental gameplay and so I am glad I played it.

SPOILERS AHEAD




 
 
vazor222
15 October 2015 @ 11:53 am
Like lonecoder posted you couldn't see anything when they put the helmet on, until they started it. Having the 3D gun tracking nearly 1:1 and having the firing be so responsive was the thing that impressed me the most.

I disliked that the walls weren't 1:1 (this usually broke the immersion for me) and unlike the above post I appreciated touching- I had my hand on the wall a lot, and I wanted to physically interact with more things. I was disappointed they didn't have the touch panel working yet (like they show in the video), but they have done a great job.

The moment that really sold me was when I went out on the balcony and it really felt like I was looking down and had gone outside. It was so immersive- up until that point it felt like a cool video game experience. At that point, I forgot I was in a warehouse, and achieved a real feeling of virtual reality.

Overall I would definitely pay to attend more than once a year (assuming they have a good content flow in place), and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who doesn't get motion sick by VR. It was super cool seeing your friends turn into virtual avatars and going on an adventure together, and I can't wait to go again and try the other experiences.


 
 
vazor222
14 October 2015 @ 11:51 am
Last weekend was Utah Indie Game Jam 2015, which you can read more about at www.utahindiegamejam.com and see posts about on the mailing list at www.utahindiegames.org. I arrived early, ready to volunteer and help organize. The space was very nice, plenty of tables and chairs and outlets, but not many extra rooms. UVU graciously hosted and even provided some snacks and judging partway through.

We had quite a scramble as things got started, since I was on the fence about joining a team or going solo again. I ended up joining Jed's team, Katamari II, with another programmer, sirbrialliance, and Kenneth who would handle audio. We had the theme "Secrets" and the element "Hole". (An element, for Indie Speed Run, is something that has to appear in the game, while the theme is what the game is about.)

The design phase went through a typical brainstorm and headbutt phase common to teams with newer developers, but I think I managed to help keep the scope tiny while providing something that each team member felt some ownership of. The mashed-together idea left a lot to be desired in many ways, but I felt like I could make it work, and eventually we got to work.

Many hours of heads-down jamming ensued, with sirbrialliance quickly helping me get re-immersed in Unity, and even though he was only there the first day or so, he hammered together a lot of great work in a short time. We had the core loop done in the first 24 hours, and spent a bit of time fine-tuning it. I spent most of the rest of the time polishing the audio experience, which I felt would be critical, given that we didn't have a visual artist (the star scapes are procedurally generated).

The wonderful sponsors brought treats and one of the nights I went home for a full night's sleep. After this jam, I'm even more convinced that an all-nighter is counter-productive. One of the nights you can go ahead and cram a few extra hours, but you should still sleep at least one cycle during the night. I consumed Soylent during the jam, which may have helped keep my brain functioning towards the end.

I only had a couple frustrating points, and luckily sirbrialliance was able to deal with most of the bugs quickly and effectively. I'd recommend him for most any programming team. The most time-consuming points for me were getting the video and audio in and playing right, but it was rewarding learning some things about audio and video playing that I hadn't known how to do before. sirbrialliance did most of the portal work, and I handled game control and progress.

You can play the result here: http://vazor.itch.io/the-wishing-well (firefox or opera or another browser may be needed)
Other games from the jam: http://itch.io/jam/utah-indie-game-jam-2015/results

The controls are explained in game, but if you want to beat it: after you have granted two wishes, look for your lover's wish (you'll see a note about it being familiar), and grant that to win. Kenneth did an amazing job getting six full tracks of audio and sound effects done all in the weekend for the game.

We presented with the other teams, with the judges sitting in the front row and everyone else attending in the audience. Kenneth cut the deadline pretty close and I barely got the audio and last few bug fixes in before we were up to present. Jed did the talking and our presentation showed very well. I felt like the audio and sirbrialliance's visuals and the easy-to-understand story and our gameplay loop all came together and formed an emotional experience that really impacted the judges. I shared a grin with the others on my team as we wrapped up our presentation. I knew I had helped make a polished and worthwhile experience, and it was enjoyable being able to show that we had realized our original vision and have people "get it". Say what you will about art games, they are a joy to make- it seems easier to push the boundaries of your art form if you aren't worrying about making it a typical button masher/shoot everything/be the hero game, or worrying about conversion metrics/price points/revenue models.

So how did it turn out? We won!!!
https://groups.google.com/d/msg/utah-indie-games/6RdPg2c44t0/IUhFZqwGCgAJ

There were so many great games, I was surprised when we walked away with 3 prizes and the Grand Prize!! It was a great moment for me, and I was very happy to get recognition for our efforts. I felt like the above-mentioned emotional connection, plus sirbrialliance's epic portal technology, really sealed the deal for us. I like to thing I put my 8+ years of jamming experience to good use as well, guiding/trimming the design, and devoting nearly half my weekend hours on creating and polishing the start and end game logic and getting the whole experience packaged and uploaded.

Personally I would have given us Best Audio and given Narrative to Bag of Secrets, and probably Lumosity grand prize, but I trust the judge's decision and thought they did a good job overall.

I'd like to give Puddin' Paws a shout-out since it really was pretty marketable (for that niche audience that likes to mix bathroom humor with cute cartoon characters) and had a solid monetization design.

I'd also like to give Clan Destiny a shout out since it looked like the most fun to play with friends. I'd like to see that as a category next year, along with the judge's suggested "Technical Achievement Award".

Finally a big thank you to Nightghost49 for coming out and doing videos. We'll have them posted on the mailing list in the next few weeks. We learned a lot about mobile streaming challenges, including ensuring internet connectivity, time constraints, challenges of award ceremony lighting, event participant tiredness levels, and interview seating/camera arrangements.

Here's to another great jam and thank you to everyone who tested and had nice feedback for us!