Cumulative Update

•February 28, 2009 • 3 Comments

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here. There’s a slew of updates on both the editor and the game, but first, a new piece of art – in fact, the cover art of the game.

karma_phala_dev

I know what you’re thinking – wayyy too colorful. I know,  it’s unfortunate. But this is what’ll show up should this game ever be released on Community Games, should Community Games even exist at that point.

Besides that, I’ve posted a new snake game update, the second in a series of three (hopefully). This one includes commentary detailing the menu, gameplay changes, tutorial and multiplayer modes.

The next video will most likely be recorded using an actual video camera, seeing the final build of the game on 360 and multiplayer lan.

Lastly, I was hoping to upload a video on the progression of my tile engine, as it kinda has taken a backseat to this bullshit snake game over the past two months, but the video was too long and boring, so I decided to just be long and boring right now and type all the features in a long sentence of boringness; there are two major updates, the addition of a party following system ala Chrono Trigger and the addition of basic dialog support to the editor and engine, allowing textual information to be displayed via overlay in the game, w/o any interactive “conversational” elements, and finally, the progression of a new separate NPC movement program I’m in the planning stages of developing, which really means I haven’t started it at all yet, but will contribute to fully-functional NPCs after a conversational xml tree has been developed, leading up to the creation of the first few levels in the game.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been in contact with Nathan over the past few months, so I’m supposing he’s too busy to work on the project atm, and Ryan has proved useless, so he’s off the project. There have been changes outside the scope of this blog, however. My friend Daigo, who I’ve been contacting over the past half year, has moved on to work at Vicarious Visions, who develop Guitar Hero. His friend, who works at Square Enix (I know, connections, right?) has asked me through Daigo if he could have the source code to my rpg engine in XNA (either it’s hobby or Square is experimenting in XNA as a possible outlet for their infinite rpg projects and mooching off of me, I’m flattered anyway), and I have sent the code to him. I don’t know if he’ll get it to work or what, but I’m glad I could be part of it.

And finally, in addition to Daigo, I have been contacted by an undisclosed company to join their development team in XNA. Unfortunately, due to high school, I couldn’t take the job. It’s strange; I’m only 16, and I’ve been offered a job at a company, when people I correspond with are on the way to finishing college, and haven’t ever been given the opportunity to work in the business. There’s a moral here, that school can only take you so far – most of success in life has to be done separate from the educational system. It’s not about grades, it’s not about talent; it’s about persistence and individuality.

And that’s all for now.

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XNA Arcade Remix: Snake

•December 30, 2008 • 7 Comments

  EDIT: The published game can be found here. I don’t think that the crappy youtube video gives this game justice.

   Over the past few days I’ve been working on a small side-project hoping to help me learn A* and other pathfinding algorithms. It’s a remix of the classic game Snake; where the snake must eat the “apple” to increase his light supply, which eventually diminishes and the game ends. There is also two different “apples”: a blue light and red light (or “Firefly”). The blue light allows the play to generate a path to the green light by pressing X, once collected. The Firefly must be contained before it spawns. The video below will demonstrate this better than I can explain it:

(sorry if you don’t like the music, I just got the Mongol Movie Soundtrack 😛

   I just made this for fun. Hopefully, in the future, I will become a member of the XNA Creators Club and will be able to play this on Xbox 360; it is that addicting.

New Team Member and Weapon Submenu

•November 22, 2008 • 1 Comment

   Hello! I’ve actually been working on the game for a while now, and I’ve released a video on the Weapon submenu:

   It’s not much, but I wanted to release SOME progress just to give you guys an idea of what to expect. Plus, I’ll be In Bruges (great movie btw), Belgium the next week, so I won’t be able to work on the game.  

   Consequently, I’m proud to announce the addition of our newest team member, Ryan Appel! He’s going to help out by cleaning up my mess of code and making sure it works on other PCs. Eventually we hope to be able to release a standalone of the editor as well (assuming all goes well). Ryan is an accomplished XNA programmer, having worked on his own XNA RPG called “Silver Star Chronicles,” which he has not publicized. He is also finishing his associates degree in programming and web design/dev. With his contribution, we should be able to complete the game muuch faster. I’m also anxious to see his skill in action.

   Over the past few months, it has just been Nathan and I corresponding about art for the game. But with Nathan’s schedule tightening up, he’s told me it’s getting tougher and tougher each day to find time to work on the art. He’s a great guy and an amazing sprite artist, and he’s definitely still on the project, but he just has a lot less time than he ever did. So because of this, I’ve got his permission to hire another artist. This new artist will focus solely on making new tilesets; Nathan’s already got the characters covered. If you think you’re up for the job, send me a message at fatso784@aol.com. I’m going to post on Help Wanted forums as well to get the word out.

Back on Track

•November 8, 2008 • Leave a Comment

   I’m starting the project back up. It’s been lay-low for the past few months, but now that Nathan has completed (and by completed I mean brilliantly) the weapon icons, I can get back to finishing the menu system. The clothing submenu will follow suite by utilizing the same system coded into the weapon submenu. Obviously, after months of pretty much doing nothing in XNA except for the random splurge here and there, I’m going to need to refamiliarize myself with the interface. Shouldn’t take too long, but don’t expect any major updates until about a week nonetheless.

   Another note: The story has drastically changed since I started this project. Drastically changed. I’ve filled plot holes, changed some key concepts, rearranged some history, and even edited some of the character design. I’ve also started working on a cover page for the story, which I’ve been told is good enough to get me a job – which I took literally, since it came from someone who worked at Marvel. I guess I’ll use it for marketing the game or something.

The National High School Game Academy

•September 29, 2008 • Leave a Comment

   I’ve been browsing the net for colleges lately and I’ve stumbled upon a lofty program held by one of my favorite colleges, Carnegie Mellon. Turns out the hold Pre-College programs all July in the fields of Art, Music, Architecture, Design, Drama, and most importantly, Gaming. I know, seems like that last one shouldn’t be there. Needless to say, the video gaming industry has worked its way up from 8-bit to a more than $8 billion dollar industry, and needs creative, young employees to fill the spots of older retirees.

   So the program’s called “the National High School Game Academy,” and I believe it was just recently opened. It’s a 6-week course stretching all of July and some of August, and covering broad topics like art, design and programming and their implementation into game development. The course also holds lectures every weekday for about an hour and a half on the game development process in general, often having guest-speakers come in and tell their stories. The lectures along with the broad coursework convinced me this is the most serious, albeit the only, gaming camp on the East Coast.

   If any of you are looking for a way to get into – or even just learn more about – the gaming industry, then I highly suggest you check this out. It’s got a price tag of almost $6,000, but it’d be worth it.

XNA RPG Starter Kit

•September 17, 2008 • 5 Comments

   MAJOR EDIT: I decided to delete the original post, because it was getting a lot of views because XNA RPG was in the title (and its the first post to come up when you search XNA RPG), and I was heavily dissatisfied with the article. It was unclear and disorganized. I’ve re-written this post so that it now harbors my original intention in writing the article.

   I have noticed, quite recently, that a lot of novice programmers are joining XNA to use it as their starting platform for game development. This is great for the community, but like all good drugs, it has side-effects. These XNA “noobs” more than often try to find a way around learning through experience, and instead turn to other mediums in an attempt to minimilize the time it takes them to get their game off the ground. I know this is what they do because I, like all of us at some point in our lives, was a noob, and during this time, I scoured the internet in search of various tutorials and projects that I hoped would teach me faster than if I’d have taken the “hard route” and tried to come up with answers through MSDN, books, and pure experience.

   The first project I downloaded while I wanted to remake the arcade game “Snake” in VB ended up a total waste of time. Initially, I was stuck at a point in the code where the snake tails would spawn, and couldn’t get it to work, so I hope this new project would show me what I was doing wrong. It didn’t. The code was not familiar, and since I lacked experience to begin with, it was as if I was trying to read German without any prior experience in the language. XNA is a “coding language,” much like German or French: if you haven’t studied the language, don’t expect to be able to read a book written in that language. In XNA terms, this means: if you can’t tell me what a Vector2 is, then don’t expect to be able to download an XNA Starter Kit and learn from it without any experience in the basics.

   This is where the XNA RPG Starter Kit, specifically, comes into play. A while back I noticed a lot of XNA “noobs” where coming into forums, talking about how they wanted to make their dream-RPG and “hopefully” (meaning this was their intent) put it on XNA Community Games in the future. A lot of these noobs have used alternative game creating mediums (mostly easier, engine-based software like Source SDK, RMXP or GameMaker, among others) in their past, and are now deciding they should move on to bigger and more proffesional game-creating mediums. This is all well and good, up until the point where one says they should look into the XNA RPG Starter Kit, or another tutorial-type project, for advice. You do not learn anything from scanning lines of code you yourself did not write, and no one is explaining to you. It is a waste of time unless you have the necessary foundation in XNA to understand and translate what the hell is going on. You must learn through explanations, books and video tutorials, where you are FORCED to type the code yourself, and where someone explains what each line of code means.

   I recommend (as always) Nick’s Tile Tutorial Series. He provides clear insight on just what the hell is going on in the code you write, and why. While this is not the only video tutorial series on the net, it has the most relevance here and is a tried-and-tested formula for success. In simple terms, Nick’s tutorials are one of the few true XNA starter kits, and a great place for any XNA “starter” to begin their endeavors.

Character Artist *FOUND*

•September 8, 2008 • Leave a Comment

   Four days ago I recieved an email from Nathan O, a guy in Scotland that is up to the task of creating character sprites based on my specifications. Surprisingly, and unlike previous character artists that wanted to work on the game, his work is quite good and I’m sure he’s proud of it as well.

   Furthermore, I’ve updated the contact page and site in accordance with his arrival. Feel free to view his deviantart page here. Also, the site will be updated every time he completes something (as an art update, of course). For copyright reasons I’m not showing the complete charset here, for I know Nathan’s worked on it hard and I don’t want someone stealing his work. I will however, give an ingame preview of each character he creates, which can be seen below:

  

   I’m proud to have Nathan on the team; he’s a great addition (and only addition thusfar) and his work will allow me to push forward on the game’s development code-wise.

   Once again, if you want to join the team, feel free to send me a message at fatso784@aol.com . You can now view team openings in the Team page at the top.