Friday, February 28, 2014

Read all about it !

You honestly can't beat books, real books, not e-books ! Okay, they are difficult to carry around if you have a lot. But to be honest, referring to a paperback or hardback book is the real deal. Technology has changed so much over the last few years, so much so, that even I have trouble catching up with it.
Game Makers Apprentice and Companion
Basic Projects - Game Maker and Getting Started with Game Maker
HTML5 Game Development with Game Maker
Over the last few years, I have bought a number of books relating to GameMaker. Each one gives step-by-step instructions on how to put a project together and provide a useful insight into routines. This then allows you to understand what is going on and encourages you through experimentation to change numbers here and there. Like a variable or a lesser or greater than number ! This is how I learned and if you can find a tutorial on a certain way of doing a routine, that's even better ! You can apply all of this methodology with any desired type of programming, whether it be GameMaker, Unity, C++, Python or other favored languages. All of the books pictured above can be purchased via any good bookstore or online from Amazon.

Bugsy - Reloaded ::
I have been pretty pleased with the progress this month, nearly all of the objects and sprites are in a working state, although no collision detection routines are active. I will probably see myself going over, the game in repeated phases searching for bugs and additional tweaks. I'm also excited about adding some nice touches, which I wasn't able to do in the original Bugsy, due to lack of knowledge. To be fair though, it was my first *ever* game in GameMaker and to see how far I have come since then, is quite an achievement.



One routine I decided to use, is a Cloudline effect. The code for this comes from a Zool tutorial in the paperback version of The Game Maker's Companion, which is available from all good bookstores like Amazon. I own both, this and the first book The Game Maker's Apprentice. The Cloudline consists of a multi-framed sprite which is cleverly used as a parallax routine in the Draw command. I will of course change the example sprites and maybe have less Cloudlines, plus modify the routine to suit the level of clouds. I added a nice semi-transparent Cloud object sprite, which is less harsh from the original pixel draw one from Bugsy. Some of the Clouds can be jumped upon, whilst others can't be.

I am now trying to design as may levels as I can during a little bit of gamedev each weekend. By the end of march, I hope to see all 16 levels completed with all tile and objects implemented. At the last time check, each level is taking 30-60 minutes to complete. A number of tiles are copied and revamped on the hoof. Once all of the levels are designed or redesigned in some cases, it will leave me time to test each level.

No title screen has been added yet, but I have a theory of what it should look like. Any additional graphics, cut scenes, high score functions and variable checking will be done last. I can't foresee this being problematic or too time consuming. I was even thinking the whole project not taking that long, but I should at least give myself the space and time to stretch it out. So, the end of 2014 ? Maybe ! Smiles all around !

Games Played in February ...

Flappy Bird ( Android ) ::
This game has seemingly come from nowhere and has suddenly caused a tidal wave of interest with varied stories of the author. Using gravity, you must keep up the momentum of the Flappy Bird and fly through a series of pipes without crashing into them. I think the creator, Dong Nguyen has done remarkably well, considering most developers crave popularity into getting themselves known. Considering the homage, yes homage of clones, both good and bad based on Flappy Bird, I think I would be happy to see everyone talking about my work. It's when no one is talking about your work, is more difficult, in the terms of craving to see your name in lights or at least to be known.

From the moment a creative person releases their work into the public eye, they can never tell how things will go for them. The pressure of success could be light or heavy ! I sincerely hope that, Dong Nguyen hasn't truly given up with game design. If he loves game design like myself, he should just continue to work on projects. Everyone is a critic out there and not everyone will like whatever you create. But there will also be those that will love what you produce as well.

TxK ( PS Vita ) ::
This is a long awaited title from Jeff Minter for the PS Vita, which I guess gains some inspiration from Tempest. The style and flavour is what you would expect from our beloved, Jeff. In my books, he is a true legend and favourite game designer of mine. So far, on my first go, I haven't beaten the high score of 50,000. But give me time !


One to look out for ...

I like old school computing and video games. I was particularly excited about a recent find via eBay, but found out it was available from Amazon instead ...

If you were a fan of Ocean Software on 8-Bit and 16-Bit computers and consoles in the 1980's to 1990's, then this book is for you. It is jammed packed with stories and facts covering the history of the software house. A well written journey by Chris Wilkins and Roger M. Kean.

This month has been a little slow in some respects. Poor Mrs. A was admitted to hospital for an urgent operation to remove an umbilical hernia. She tolerated this for nearly two years, until after falling ill and a home visit by a doctor suggested an admission to the Oxford John Radcliffe - Emergency Surgery Unit for an assessment. So, within 24 hours, the necessary operation was done and my beloved Mrs. A is back on her feet again. I was both concerned and scared, but very thankful she is back to her ol' self ! The care and attention by Oxford University Hospitals, John Radcliffe was amazing.

As we head into march, I wonder what games I will play ? Perhaps it is time to play some Ouya and PS4 !