Spark The Imagination

‘Spark’, that a fire metaphor. Fire metaphors are common for a reason. Perhaps, there’s something primitive burning inside us that is sparked by the flicker or a fire simile, or perhaps it is just similar exemplifies many concepts without rival.

Whatever the reason, let us think of the three things that fire requires: fuel, oxygen, and heat.

Is there anyway that one can fuel an imagination? I say that we can, by giving the player something they can think bout. To think about something requires at least some understanding of at least some of the concepts. I’ve sometimes named a game with random character strokes, but there’s absolutely no fuel there. This might actually be a weakness of the abstract square-based graphics style that I adore too.

Can the imagination use oxygen? Can the brain have some breathing space? Absolutely. It just needs to avoid being spoonfed everything. Spit balling here, but with those uncanny valley animations you can see everything there is to see, while with live-action there are beating hearts and lungs, not to mention, that they’re naked under those clothes.

Is this the elusive explanation for that phenomenon? Ultimately, graphics-wise most games are not going to extinguish the imagination through lack of breathing space. Even with names, it would be near impossible to explain everything in just one title. Examples such as Cut the Rope actually prove that.

Heat, fire gives off heat and fire needs heat. Is that what they call multiple equilibrium? Probably. Once sparked, the imagination should be able to survive on its own roaring and consuming all the fuel in its path to hit a crescendo of all-consuming burning passion.

Yes, this article has been composed entirely out of cliches. But we have to assume, don’t we, that they cliches for a reason.


My Trials with YouTube

The game I had in mind for the <5mins Jam, I decided wasn’t the right fit quite late in the day.

I decided that I was going to make a new game, and I was even going to livestream the creation of it (using Google since Twitch requires the downloading of stuff, and YouTube on chrome doesn’t – I think Firefox does require downloading a thing for it, however.

First, I had an issue with trying to remember how to screenshare my live videos. Since, I couldn’t work out how to do it, and google was no use, I wrote a short blog about it in my non-game dev blog:

That exploded in my face something huge, and I’ve set it to private in my account for deleting it after analysing it to see what went wrong and obvious areas where I could improve. In some ways, I’m glad it went so poorly, because I was streaming coding and the code on my video are far to blurry to read. It would have been a pity if it went great, just with that crucial flaw.

I’m still going to try to use YouTube, however I think I’ll do rehearsals and write a script rather than trying to wing it.

My Current Projects

I’m currently working on four projects, which I’ll describe here:

Pirates VS Several Ninjas: This I’m determined to be full of bells and whistles, it’ll have pixel art, it’ll have music and those are all the bells and whistles. The concept is that you are a futuristic pirate who must traverse several biomes in order to get revenge by killing the Ninjas who killed your partner. The DevLog is here.

Attrition; A Game: This is an abstract turn-based game, where you can do two lots of three types of things: Research a Technology, Spawn a Unit, or Move a Unit. Its really hard to explain, despite the fact that I fully understand the rules of my game, and the only difficult part I imagine in its construction is balance, and AI. Victory wins from either learning all the technologies, or reaching your opponent’s base.

Unnamed 5minJam Game: I’m going to finish this game over the weekend since the 5minjam has a deadline, which is quite close. The game is about being victorious in as many RPG-Style battles as you can in 5 minutes, after each battle you can chose or improve an ability. Having to choose between strength, security and speed ought to put a lot of depth in the game.

Unconcepted 3D Engined Game: Essentially as a hobby when not doing things of import, I’ll be trying to use Blender and probably Unity in order to make a 3D game. I prefer 2D, but I ought to prove to myself that I can work in 3D, to make sure I’m not lying to myself. [I’m pretty sure I’m not though since my favourite games are 2D.]

So, I’m having to be a busy bee along with this blog, and everything else.

I Know Even Less About Music

After talking about pictures and art, it seems only logical that I shall now go on to talk about music. Most of my games don’t include music, in fact only only one has – and even that one hasn’t been released from this – and that followed an incredible simple base.

This might change however as I focus on ever larger ideas. I’m forcing myself to work on assets for my newest idea (A Pirate Versus Several Ninjas) at least as quickly as quick as I create the gameplay, in order to prove that I’m able to create something suitably big looking.

This means that I now want to create proper tunes for my game. Fortunately, I can use Audacity which is likely going to be my main music editor. I’ve had it for a while, but it has only been recently that I’ve stopped drawing a blank on how it works. The catalyst for this being working out what the ‘Open’ button does.  With my previous game, I strung separate notes -in seperate files -in  engine, which meant I was awfully limited. The simple structure was almost by necessity.

I say almost because I was also following the instructions on this – a ‘cheat sheet’ for writing music. Now, the Reddit post it links to says an awful lot of negatives about the cheatsheet, but it seems like the upvoted criticisms are about following slavishly; about people creating a Motown tune and still place it in a sad creepy place. So, I’ll still use it as a start although with a pinch of salt.

With my previous non-commercial game, I used the Piano Chords that can be found here. Now, I guess I’ll have to find something new, or record my own keyboard notes.

So yeah, those are three music resources, I’ve used.

Creating Pictures in Your Head

Or to give it its full name: Creating Pictures in Your Head That Can Then Be Accurately Placed on The Screen

Or to give it its accurate name: Fing I can’t do.

But that’s not strictly accurate since it used to be a hobby of mine to look at a scene or consider a subject and using exclusively rectangles, and the primary colors [ Red (, Blue, and Yellow] construct an image either replicating that scene or composing that image.

One of the reasons that I think I could do this was that I really knew those colors. Now I would say that the colours I know well are Red, Yellow, Black, White, Cream and Saffron. [No blue since there’s a fight in my mind between (0,0,256) and (0,128,256) for what is the true blue, which means that my mind will choose the best shade for comparing against different things, while still supposed to be the same shade. If that sound like nonsense then that’s because the brain acts nonsensically.] I’m really hoping to add a pink skin colour to those examples, because then at least I’d be able to design a certain small range of human sprites.

One point that I’d say goes with  colours is shading and gradients, with the point that I’d find that such an impossible bag of worms that I wouldn’t even attempt it. But perhaps actual artists are able to do it?

I think the second uniquity of my three-colour-rectangles were that they were a challenge. One had to be aware of all the immediate elements – and I don’t have enough taste to look finely at an entire composition – since otherwise you run the unambiguous risk of using the same colours for neighbours and forcing them to be indistinct from them.

I think it is the unambigious danger that makes it work, allowing one to get over the slight pain that comes with showing and altering the pixels in one’s mind.

[Note, there are no metaphors in this post. I think some people lack any actual ability to see pictures in one’s mind. I can see simple things, before lapsing into verbal tags on relative spaces.]

Does The Sand Get Up Here?

This is a game created by me, that is playable in your browser and is based on using your keyboard. One big question I had when writing this blog post is whether I should use a question mark in the title, I have decided – as you’ve no doubt realised – that I shall.

The second question in my mind was what to write about it: I’ll tell you the story from the start -all that week ago – to the now.

The essential gameplay mechanics are unchanged from then to now. On the gameplay side, the core thing to have changed was that the enemies were to follow set pre-determined paths and now they spawn at random locations to follow an attraction based path. This gives a greater degree of replayability, in my humble opinion. This is definitely what I felt while testing it.

The second thing that was in my original envisioning was customised dialogue at the start of each mission. This was changed in favour of the standardised new mission start screens. These I feel create a more focused ascetic. Also, as an instinctual postmodernist -although, post-modernism – meant in the marketing style – sucks, but as an attempted surrealist, I must be true to my subconscious – the lack of a pretense of a story feels more honest.

I can’t end this blog giving the impression that I originally had it all planned out but have made all those changes. My original envisioning had the speed you moved at be the ‘correct speed’, sadly JavaScript didn’t recognise that – although I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a framework that does – and through trial and error, I had to come up with something to remove frustration while not making the game trivial.

The original designs for the bad guys were a bunch of contradictory vagueness. One thing I dislike when it comes to making art is that what exists could never be as good as what is in my minds eye since that isn’t bond by the laws of physics or reality. In my mind’s eye things can be two different colours as the situation demands. Red to complement green hair, while yellow to complement blue eyes. I expect this is something that could be conquered by practice :Note to self, subject for tomorrow’s post?:

The same is also true for the bad guy designs mechanically as well. It is only when it comes to coding the game, that I realise that although I had vague ideas I didn’t truly have it all mapped out. This was one problem I had with giving presentations as well, being sure I can wing it before trying and failing. Also, with writing blog posts.

Stuff like the – very simple , really not graphic, blood – were introduced entirely during the making the game in order to solve the problem, of it not being clear what is occurring – particularly with the Bombers – and with wanting to busy up the background without adding irrelevancies to it. It really worked, and although I’ve no doubt its not original, I really like it as an emergent thing.

Also, I think this my 100th blog post, which is pretty cool. I feel like I should do something celebrating the milestone. Perhaps, the release of anew game. Like a top-down shooter where you have to keep from too many innocents dying from the forces of evil. A game called: Does the Sand Get Up Here!

Wow, that was easy. Happy, milestone me.

Also, this appears to be a super mega-long blog post, I’ll pretend that was a deliberate part of the celebration.

A Timeless Carol – Done

You always miss something don’t you? Well, for A Timeless Carol -the latest version to be found on the top link – I included two errors. Both in the two places I forgot to look, but isn’t that always the way.

The first was that I forgot the ‘http’ thing in my URLs for the first page. Honestly, it was a stupid error that totally destroyed my attempt to plug this blog, but not something that actually hurts the game itself, and isn’t that the most important thing.

The thing that I am genuinely miserable about is that making a mistake in the first real puzzle gets the game out of sync, and makes it impossible to complete, since it requires you to perform an action at a point that is impossible to reach when it is out of sync like that. To an extent it doesn’t even work as a learning experience, because I can see a bunch of ways I could have written my code to keep that from coming up.

I suppose the lesson I’m going to take from it is that even in a game jam, write what all the moving parts are and what all the possible states are and then systematically fix it, because once the person commented on it, I was able to find and fix it pretty easily. So that’s the lesson I’m taking from it, and that’s a pretty good one: Testing, testing, and testing.

On a more positive note, I got useful comments – I almost said good, that’d be a mistake – on the first third of the game that the person could play. I’ve included a link to the jam above, so I’d recommend you play them, I’ll be doing that through lunch.