Monday, December 26, 2016

How Often Do You Game?






How often do you game?

 It's a simple question I'm sure many gamers have been asked. I was thinking of what blog entry to end the slow year of 2016 with, and I figured that this would be the right topic to discuss. Time. How much time do gamers really have to play video games? How much time do gamers prefer to have? How much time do they realistically have? How important of a topic is this? 

Well, there are reasons why we have different segments of gamers in our community. You have your Hardcore Avid Gamers who play video games for 40-50 hours a week, spending half the day on many days of the week. You have your Semi-Hardcore Gamers who play video games for 10-15 hours a week, still a good amount of time to play. Then you have your Casual Gamers who don't really have a lot of time on their hands, but when they can, they end up playing somewhere below 10 hours a week. 

It's kinda hard to pinpoint how many hours of playing games would classify one gamer as a Hardcore Avid Gamer, a Semi-Hardcore Gamer or a Casual Gamer. It really doesn't matter how many hours per week you log in to play video games. Being a gamer is a subjective topic to talk about in general. We all go on our own schedules because those schedules work for us. I also find it interesting just how knowledgeable of the Gaming Industry each type of gamer actually is. 

There is a scenario where in a single room you can have a Hardcore Avid Gamer (45 hours of playing), a Semi-Hardcore Gamer (12 hours), and a Casual Gamer (4 hours) sitting around and discussing the Gaming Industry, and then you find out that the Casual Gamer actually knows quite a bit about the Gaming Industry, though he or she doesn't play games a whole lot. Though the Hardcore Avid Gamer may compete in regularly scheduled competitions, he or she may need to do more studying on the Gaming Industry. This kind of scenario does occur.

I suppose that going by this I'd classify myself as a Casual Gamer. If I'm fortunate I will have a couple of hours to myself playing video games per week, but things have to go right with me during that week. Nevertheless I do have that passion of keeping up to date with the workings of the Gaming Industry. I am always fascinated by what I learn and read about concerning this industry. Video games in one way or another have always appealed to me. I want to stay in the gaming loop in any way that I can.

Just because a gamer doesn't spend a super duper amount of time playing video games doesn't mean that he or she doesn't like video games. I take a great chunk of my inspiration for creativity from video games. Earlier this decade in the 2010's I would write multiple custom stories that revolved around --surprise-- video games. The love for how a video game works is clearly here on the Gaming Journalist Gazette.

If I had more time, more content to choose from and more money, would I opt to play more video games? Of course. Would I like to spend more hours playing video games? Certainly. I guess that's part of the reason why blog posts have been slower to make here on the GJG in 2016. My time has become limited. The resources I have are not at an optimum level. Money? Let's not even start with that.

I would like to know out of the readers who visit this blog, which of you play video games a ton? Which of you play for some hours? Which of you are like me, Casual Gamers? On behalf of the GJG I'd like to wish you all well for the next year of 2017!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Wordsmith: My Custom Website


Steven Vitte: Wordsmith


Wordsmiths who are busy improving their work never stop being busy. A wordsmith who is dedicated to writing content for people to enjoy is one who takes his job seriously. I like to think that I am such a wordsmith. I have quietly shared this link with some of my friends, but I would like to just get this link out now for my readers here on the Gaming Journalist Gazette blog to see for themselves what I have been busy setting up lately.

The above link takes you to the temporary base of my custom website. No, I don't own the word "wordsmith" or anything, but it's a title that I would like to be officially recognized under. I am a wordsmith at heart. I am what some people call a "scribe". I specialize in writing content that can be used by readers. As you will see this blog right here is one of the links you can go to by clicking on the "Gaming Blog" tab on the main menu at the top of the main page. 

I take what I do seriously. I like to write. It's what I'm good at. Aside from the fact that I don't officially have a game project out that includes my contributions as a writer, I know that having a custom website of my own was critical, and for the longest time I haven't had one. That is a mistake on my part. Relying just on blogs and not actually developing my own custom website was something that I overlooked and should have handled earlier on. 

Now that I do have my custom website up and running, I would like to get your opinions on it. Have I developed it the right way? Is it easy enough to navigate through? Do you find anything unique about my website? What are some of the things I could do to improve my website? What features do you think I should add to my website? Is there anything about my website you don't like? Whatever your opinion is, please let me know.

It's simply long overdue for me to have my own custom website. It's something I should have done first and foremost, but because of real life issues getting in the way all the time, I felt like I didn't have the time to make a website. I put all my worries aside recently, though, and just made one. I figured "Why not?" What do I have to lose at this point? In order to get to where I want to go as a creative person in the gaming world, I gotta have something I can show other people. Well, here you go. Here's the website.

Of course I am going to make some changes here and there on this website as time goes on, and I hope that you guys will follow me on my journey in making this website as nice-looking and special as it can be, considering all the resources that I have available.

One thought I will leave before ending this blog entry is that more exposure will be given to the Gaming Journalist Gazette blog as a result of the link through my Wordsmith website. That is going to play an important role, I think. With the combination of this blog, The Autistic Help blog and the Wordsmith website I am hoping that this little network I have in front of me now will help take me to places I need to go in order to achieve my dreams.

Gaming Year In Review: 2016




It's hard for me to come up with a review of the year 2016 when it comes to gaming because, quite frankly, I have felt like more often than not I have been out of the loop. Regarding the trending news on gaming and the hot topics that drove the Gaming Industry in 2016, I felt like I got lost in the shuffle by leaps and bounds as a consumer. I didn't at all feel like I was a part of anything aside from one important project, which the above picture is a hint of. Aside from finally getting Punchy Business off the ground and swinging punches at the development stages of its demo, I don't feel like I have accomplished a lot in gaming circles.

Yes, I got to go to GDEX (formerly OGDE) in Columbus again, and that was obviously fun since it's not everyday I do something like that, but really when it comes to getting down and making something in gaming, I felt like I missed some opportunities. It wasn't until midway through 2016 when I got the help I needed. After initially writing the manuscript for Punchy Business way back in 2008, it took 8 years for me to finally see something that I had envisioned come to life. I'm hoping that this alone illustrates a problem in the Gaming Industry when it comes to folks and their willingness to reach out and help those who want to start making something in gaming circles. When people ask for help, they should receive it as soon as they can without so much hesitation.

Nintend-Ho-Hum! Blah's the Way We Go!

Now when it comes to mainstream gaming, I have to say that 2016 was a pretty "blah" year when it came to surprising developments. I mean "blah" as in it was just there, not that the developments we got were bad. Nintendo announcing that they start publishing their games on Apple devices like the iPhone? Okay. Fine. That's good, but it's nothing super groundbreaking, if you know what I mean. That kind of news isn't compelling enough for me to quickly report about.

Now regarding the Nintendo Switch, formerly named the Nintendo NX, that was something VERY significant because this marks yet another change in course for the Gaming Industry. Yet again we're getting a new console that we'll have to start wondering about. Discussion about new gaming stuff is always interesting. The introduction to the Switch basically means that Nintendo has abandoned its support for the Wii U, which, let's face it folks, was a bit of a letdown in comparison to the original Wii. Was the Wii U a bad console? No. Not necessarily. However, it could have been something more and it ended up being something "blah", just there.

YouTube, We Still Don't Like You

In other news YouTube is continuing to ruin general experiences for gamers as they are putting the kibosh on monetizing methods through their established programs. Of course, gamers who post their "Let's Play" content on YouTube will still get to monetize in general (barring obvious copyright issues), but the amount of money that they make for their videos has significantly gone down. What's worse is that reports are surfacing that YouTube is intentionally finding ways to take down the view count of gaming videos so that those videos won't be recommended when you first log on to the site. What in the world is this crap about?

As I have mentioned in posts of yesteryear, I don't see the harm in gamers putting out the content they want to share with others. It's free advertising for the game dev companies whenever one of their games is featured in a Let's Play. What's it to them if a Let's Play personality makes a few bucks off video production? All this talk about gray areas and whatnot (legal mumbo jumbo) needs to stop because quite frankly the legal experts on this issue don't know what they are talking about. They don't understand the language of a gamer, and more importantly, the under-privileged poor person, so what right do they have to defend YouTube?

Ultimately if you get rid of any and all economic incentives for the Let's Players to make their video content on YouTube, then guess what? You won't be getting your free advertising for your game, which will make it HARDER (not easier) for you to sell your game in the first place. Understand now?

Virtual Reality Gaming: Neutral Stance

Again, as I've said before on this blog, virtual reality gaming is fine to implement. Nothing wrong with VR in theory. My neutral stance on VR is what it is, though. I don't believe it's wise to put all your eggs in the VR gaming basket because I don't see this type of gaming overtaking the main way we've been gaming for decades now. I just don't see that happening. Realistically speaking you have to develop the VR games in moderation, and you have to play them in moderation. I consider VR gaming to be a big fad right now, but a fad that doesn't have staying power. There have been multiple attempts at VR gaming in years past, and look how those attempts turned out.


I do believe interesting gaming concepts can be found in the way that we create VR games. I do believe you can dig up a new mechanic through VR game development, and then turn around and implement that in a typical console/mobile gaming experience. I do believe that VR gaming is a valuable learning experience in itself.

Looking Ahead: Punchy Business

I am legitimately excited for the finishing touches to be put on my custom project called Punchy Business, a game concept about a boxing kangaroo who is trying to become the World Heavyweight Champion of a fictional world, but along the way he goes on a platforming adventure to save his big brother from the snares of rotten cheetahs and their wild cat peers. If you go up on the Sketchy Games website you will see the progress we have made so far. In January 2017 we are looking to finish this demo version off and then showcase it to gaming audiences. I want to get Punchy Business out there. I want to share what I know and what I see in Punchy Business with others. I want to share my views on gaming and game development with those who want to play this demo. That is what I find very important looking ahead to 2017.


Monday, November 28, 2016

The Pedestrian: Why It Makes Sense



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyLL_FpLQNE
https://the-pedestrian.itch.io/the-pedestrian

I have mentioned this game demo the past 2 Columbus, Ohio gaming conventions I've been to, but now I think I should be a little bit more in depth when I discuss this. What is this? This is The Pedestrian, a game that originates from a very simple idea that comes across as very effective and appealing. As you can see in the GIF above, you can tell that the character you control is a street sign stick figure dude and you go through all sorts of obstacles and puzzles in order to reach your destination.

I have played this demo twice at the OGDE/GDEX in Columbus, and both times I came away very satisfied playing it. As you can tell from the YouTube video you're about to watch, a popular YouTuber named Markiplier provides his seal of approval of this game as well. At fist when you start playing The Pedestrian, you don't really have high expectations because of its simple concept, but after you dig into this for a few minutes you will realize just how brilliant this simple concept actually is.

I do somewhat echo Markiplier's comment when he says that Skookum Arts, the game dev team behind this concept, may have stumbled upon something very new and unique when it comes to game development. The platforming genre of gaming is in need of more variety, and I think adding this kind of game could be exactly what the doctor ordered.

The Pedestrian is a concept that works, and it makes sense. Why is this the case? It makes sense because you have a stick figure who is just trying to get out of a maze. You have this guy who is trying to get his way out of a busy city scene and just wants to make it back home. It's a simple concept that anyone can understand. With the resources this game has, the amount of fun you can have will be much more than what you are expecting. This is a game that makes you think, but the solutions to all the puzzles are not so super difficult that you'll wind up frustrated. You will not get a negative feeling when playing The Pedestrian.

Good news to report from this is that Kickstarter efforts by Skookum Arts have succeeded, as in this project has been greenlit, and The Pedestrian is due for a full game release sometime in the 1st Quarter of 2017. If you haven't tried the free 10 minute demo yet, you should go ahead and play the demo, and if you are thinking about getting the full game of The Pedestrian, just get it. There's no need to hesitate about this game here.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Game Development: Creating A World

Don't you just like it when you see imagination put into play when it comes to game development? Especially in the case of creating a custom world where the main characters of the video game are allowed to thrive and make themselves known to gamers, that imagination shown by game devs can play a key role in how much enjoyment gamers will get from playing a video game.

Creating a world in a video game setting isn't exactly the hardest thing in the real world to do. In fact there isn't just one formula game devs have to follow in order to create an appealing custom world for gamers to get into. Does this game world possess the rules that you would see in simulation games such as The Sims? Does this game world have customization options that are cute and playful like that of Animal Crossing? Is this game world centered around the act of combat where you have to fight for more territory? Just knowing how far a game world can branch out is satisfying enough for any game dev team.

Now the question must be posed. What exactly makes a game world iconic? What makes a game world memorable? What are the key defining traits of a custom game world that make a gamer want to come back and revisit? What's the secret?

Mushroom Kingdom (Mario)
Donkey Kong Island (Donkey Kong)
Various Zones (Sonic)
Trio Islands (Crash Bandicoot)
Bomber Star (Bomberman)

Why don't we examine the listed custom worlds above? You only need to dig through parts of these worlds to realize why these worlds stick out to gamers. They're not only fun to explore through, but they're also challenging, breath-taking in visuals, and they can relate to some real life locations. The mannerisms of Mario characters in the Mushroom Kingdom, particularly how they live in the area, often remind gamers of London, England in one sense. Donkey Kong Island and the Trio Islands remind gamers of what a cruise trip to island resorts is like. The design of Bomber Star is basically a comical take on planet Earth. The various zones that you see in Sonic games remind you of modern locations in the real world that are easily relatable in the sense of how teenagers and young adults view it.

What is a basic formula that you could use for creating a custom game world? I'm no expert at this, but being a passionate student of game development, I'd have to believe that personally you need elements that can propel your own custom world into being something that gamers are going to enjoy and understand. Look below.

Imagination + Innovation + Inspiration + Resourcefulness + Reconstruction + Relation + Theme =
Custom Game World

I'd like to think that you need some sort of imagination, an idea of what you really want your custom game world to be about, before you dive in. There are some rules in the real world that you just can't break whereas in your custom game world you can afford to disregard, hence there comes innovation. Inspiration comes when you focus on something or someone and you want to take bits and pieces of that source and apply that to your custom game world. 

However, don't expect every single part of your inspiration to remain in tact once it's applied in your world, so you will have to tweak and reconstruct it to fit in with everything else. When designing your world map, it has to be something that gamers can relate to, offering the chance of gamers having fun exploring through this world without getting lost in it. Lastly, the theme that you choose for your custom world, or maybe even an emphatic message you want to get across, will play a role in whether your custom game world sinks or swims.


I can only offer my opinion when it comes to creating your own custom video game world, but I hope this was helpful. Personally I'm always creating custom maps of areas that I think could be used in a video game setting. The creative juices need to keep churning, after all.

Friday, November 4, 2016

GDEX 2016: Midwest Gaming Showcase




So we meet again, Columbus, Ohio, in gaming conventions!

The weekend of October 28-30 was a special time for gamers and game developers who are based in Ohio and the Midwestern United States, but more so the renaming of the Ohio Game Developer Expo (OGDE) to GDEX signaled the invitation of other game developers who are based elsewhere in the United States and abroad. Thankfully some game devs from outside Ohio did show up for this event, which was cool to see.

I was fortunate enough to get another chance of experiencing something that I found interesting, and that was to play games and demos of games in a public environment. GDEX clearly expanded in 2016 compared to 2015, and there were some good developments to come out of this event. I ended up playing some of these games. I got in contact with Lantern Light Studios once again to get more info on what has been happening with Gloobs, a scientific bacteria wipe 'em out game. I ended up getting a poster by playing a simple Plinko mini-game. I will show that poster here on the blog so you can see for yourself. It looks cool!

The one demo I got to play again was an updated version of The Pedestrian. This game will be a surefire winner whenever the completed version comes out. It's a simple concept but it gets the job done. The concept is also very marketable since the main character of The Pedestrian is just the stick figure guy you see on street signs. It's a puzzle game where you have to connect one room to another, collect keys and puzzle pieces and advance as far as you can. I wanted to play this demo for a while, but there was a line for this demo so I had to cut it short. 

Trust me! You'll enjoy playing Tipsy Raccoons!

I also had the pleasure of playing an arcade style game that caught my interest. I was hooked when I played this because it's something that I can see myself playing at any arcades with friends. Now I am not a beer drinker by any means, nor am I a soda pop drinker since I gave that up in 2014, but this arcade style game was F-U-N! What is it called? The game is called Tipsy Raccoons, and it features a gauntlet format of gameplay between 6 players. 

A series of 13 mini-games are played and whoever does the best (score points) wins. Whoever loses a mini-game has to take a drink of his or her favorite beverage. This is a very intriguing concept that I can see gamers having fun with. This game has the variety people look for when wanting to have a fun time. Free For All, 2-on-2-on-2 and 3-on-3 are all featured in this game. When you see one of these at your bar or arcade, please play this!  The creator of this game is Adam Wray of Glitchbit. (awray@glitchbit.com)

Stupid Dot Game: Strike an awesome pose!
Now a mobile game that caught my eye features another simple concept, locate the highlighted colored dots. This game is called Stupid Dot Game, but if you were to play this game you'd realize that there is nothing stupid about this game at all. This simple concept is smart and very marketable. I can see many people, including casual gamers, getting into a game like this one. I played SDG for quite a while and I understood the concept right away. It's the kind of simple fun that can reach many people. This challenges your memorization skills and your hand-eye coordination, so the appeal is with SDG.


Next up we have Bombfest, a fun 3D party game developed by Zac Pierce, a.k.a. ZacFierce. Bombfest reminded me of games that I played before such as Bomb Squad for the Ouya and the original Bomberman games for the NES and SNES. Mix that in with Mario Party elements and you get something that's very fun here in Bombfest. In many rounds of play you just have to knock out opponents by throwing bombs at them, and whoever wins the marathon of contests will be awarded with a nice-looking golden crown! How sweet is that?

Contact Zac: @MagmaSpire (Twitter)

Looking for explosive fun? Bombfest has it!

I also had the honor of playing with Kris Jones of Play Legit, a group that features gameplay and gamers just hanging out and having a fun time. I actually got to play a game on the Sega Dreamcast with Kris, a game that I had never played before. I missed out on owning a Sega Dreamcast so the controller I played with wasn't like other controllers I had played with before. Needless to say, though, I enjoyed myself playing Power Stone 2, a party fighting game that kinda reminds gamers of Super Smash Bros. and arcade games like Street Fighter. 


 
Procore3D
I would have a "blast to the past' experience at one booth at GDEX, which would be the demo of Procore3D, a new modeling technology that makes it easier for aspiring game devs to design the levels they want. I say this was a blast to the past for me because years ago I was working on a version of 3D Studio Max, making shapes and objects with that technology, which is really outdated when compared to something like this. I was very impressed with Procore3D. It looked sharp and powerful, and it's basically what you get when you access the tools in Unity. 


Lastly I should mention that I got to chat with both Peter and Justin of Sketchy Games, two guys who have helped me bring Punchy Business, the demo that I have discussed on this blog earlier, and these guys were awesome as always. We discussed what we were going to do for Punchy Business at the end of its development (as I said it's around 90% complete right now), and we also got to chat about GDEX and what this event means to us. 

I even got to play one of their other demos that they have been working on. It was a game where you shot at enemies (not space ships) very similar to that of Galaga, Space Invaders, Asteroids, etc. I was comfortable with the controls because I knew where they were going with the development of this game. I even got a Top 5 score when I got my Game Over.   


Adding on to my chats with Sketchy Games, it has been long clear to me that being at events like GDEX is where I truly want to be going forward when it comes to game development. I want to progress as a game developer. I want to have that open platform where I can show people what I know about game development and how I can put my ideas to work through my creative input and through the written content that I provide. 

I have a direction now. I know what needs to be done when 2017 begins. I want to be a part of a booth at GDEX in the future, and I want to be available for interviews if that's possible. I want to make games. I want to write stuff for games. I want to help game development in Ohio and in general. That's my main mission.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mentioning Games and Supporting Games

On the Gaming Journalist Gazette blog you may have noticed plenty of mentions that I make toward video games that are very popular to the masses. There are actually plenty of video games that I mention that I not only don't own but also don't 100% approve of. What do I mean by that? I mean that with the games I mention, such as Ace Attorney in the last post, I am not trying to encourage readers to just get up and buy such games.

When I talk about the Ace Attorney games I happen to point out that there are some interesting game mechanics in these games. However, there are a few issues I take with these games that have nothing to do with the theme of being in a courtroom. Some of the things that make up the Ace Attorney games come across to me as being completely unnecessary, and for the life of me I don't know why such jarring decisions that are made by Capcom are not noticed right away by gamers.

It's one thing for me to mention the good points of a video game, but it's another thing for me to actually whole-heartedly support a video game. This is how I can break down this post into a TL;DR format.

I generally like the idea of a chubby Italian plumber jumping on platforms and achieving his goal of protecting or saving the princess. I just don't always like how that goal is achieved. Nintendo doesn't always execute ideas the way that I kinda view them, but hey, that's just me thinking as a scriptwriter. A blue hedgehog running through loops and stopping a fat scientist from taking over the world sells itself in many ways. It's just that I don't always approve of how Sonic the Hedgehog gets the upper hand on Dr. Eggman.

There are some Mario games and Sonic games that I simply don't own because I don't (and won't) have the desire to buy them. There are some key factors of games that are deal-breakers to me, and no matter how cool I find the lead character to be in these games, if I don't like the core content of the game, I'm not going to invest in it. It's just that simple.

Some of the reasons for me not owning certain games just can't be explained on platforms like this blog. Those reasons extend far past the realm of just being a gamer, and I think I should just leave it at that.

I can take inspiration from any video game and pinpoint the best qualities of that game so that when I start developing my own custom game, I can reference the game I got my inspiration from. No harm in that. I just can't completely duplicate the feeling of said inspiring game, because otherwise I'd fall into that same trap of being like everyone else. As a content creator you have to find your own way. You have to find your own voice. You have to make something that stands out and says that "Hey! My dev team and I did that! That thing represents us!"

Now with all that talk out of the way, I will let you guys know that I am planning on taking some pictures of another gaming event that I'm going to very soon. Keep your eyes out for those pictures because it may just be the kind of interesting thing gamers are looking for!  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Who Done It?: The Creativity of Mystery Games

The iconic courtroom index finger point
Raise your hand if you are familiar with old classic mystery story characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Dick Tracy and Tin Tin. Raise your hand if you're at least familiar with crime drama TV shows like NCIS, CSI, Law & Order, JAG, etc. Raise your hand if you have played mystery-themed video games.

I'd probably get a ton of hands raised for the last part.

It's easy to figure out one core reason why mystery-themed video games resonate with gamers. Even to this day and age, in 2016, mysteries still remain as an interesting form of entertainment for people. It's just that in recent years it has become apparent that game devs can pull off making fun video games based on mechanics that allow players to search for clues and find out who did what to the victim.

There are the usual suspects of mystery-themed video games such as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and to a lesser degree Professor Layton. Solving a mystery is generally very rewarding to the player who manages to figure out who committed the outrageous murder. The emotional investment is there as well as the emotional payoff, to know that you have seen an entire case through and that you found out what the end result to a certain situation was.

One great ingredient to this recipe is that as the player who has the tools of a case laid out in front of you, you are basically put on the spot. You are given the task to think all parts of the crime out, play them out in your head and then draw the conclusion that you think will be right. Even if you're not right, the learning experience of practicing your detective skills remains.

I admit that I once had the desire to create a video game based on the mystery theme. However, I've always made it a point to never let these kinds of game ideas to wander off into dark horror themes. I have always liked the "Who done it?" style of storytelling, no matter what kind of theme is being used in a video game. Even if you're progressing through a platforming game, if I can see mystery theme elements in that game it will raise my curiosity.

Consider the element of interacting with other characters besides the character you control, and you can tell right away that you're in for a unique experience solving a mystery because you know there's the chance that a character you're getting to know could very well be the killer. That abrupt sense of dread that you get when you put 2 and 2 together and realize that the character you kinda felt sorry for was actually the one who did it. Now you have to backtrack, get serious again and take down the suspect once and for all. Stuff like that in storytelling can be simply amazing if done right.

For the record I don't like all of the gameplay elements that are involved in games like Ace Attorney and Professor Layton. However, the few gameplay elements I do like are certainly those that I would like to build on for inspiration if I were to dig into making my own mystery game. In fact I have one angle I would like to take the mystery game genre to because I feel like this angle hasn't really been dissected enough. You have your courtroom dynamics and your roundtable discussions, but there's something else I would like to expand on.

Some of the strongest forms of character development in video games can come from the mystery genre. Once you complete cases you realize the growth of the character you control. You get that feeling that your favorite character is progressing as a detective or lawyer (or general crime-fighter), and that he or she is working toward a climatic payoff down the road where he or she will just settle down at some point.

Yeah, I'd have to say that solving mysteries can still be rewarding even today. The twists and turns alone should be enough to not only get people thinking, but to also make them come back wanting more suspense.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Opinion: Becoming A Game Creator

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/JeffVogel/20160923/281981/A_Very_Long_Post_About_How_to_Become_a_Creator.php

A board game idea I played around with
It's funny sometimes. Many people can come up with ideas on how to give aspiring game developers advice on how to become a game creator. Jeff Vogel is just another guy who simply presents his own list of suggestions for people who want to know how to get into game development. Creating games is not an easy process to take on, but it is doable. It's not rocket science but it does take time getting used to.

My eyes can't help but light when I generally read articles like the one in the above link because I have been one of these people who have asked this question. How do I become a game creator? Most of the points made by Vogel here are pretty legitimate. First off, yes, you have to start trying to make games. It doesn't matter what kind of game you make, you just have to make it. You have to be able to show off your idea in a way that people can visualize it and ponder. Otherwise you're already in trouble.

Secondly, playing games with an open mind is always the right thing to do. You can't just sit back and play a video game and not think about how you would change some things about said game. Being an aspiring game creator myself, I have to be able to visualize what changes I would make to my favorite video games, step back and then ask myself if those changes would make the gameplay experience better for the average gamer. 

What I can say about thoughtfully playing video games is this; pick apart the video games you play, and pick them apart often. Don't pick them apart in poor taste, but just keep it in perspective. The only way you learn how to make your own video game is if you detect what made some games great or not so great.

Pick and choose what kind of media you want to absorb. I personally don't absorb all media. I'm just not a fan of all kinds of media. It's impossible to love every different kind of media out there. For instance I have never been a horror fan, so don't expect me to hop on the horror movie style video game bandwagon anytime soon... or ever for that matter.

Media isn't limited to video games. Watch some of your favorite movies, TV shows and cartoons. Read some of your favorite novels and comic books. Listen to podcasts on the internet and see if you can get inspiration from the voices that run those podcasts. Get your mind working however you need to. In fact maybe a newspaper article that sticks out in your mind be the thing that motivates you. Who knows?

Lastly I think Vogel hit the nail on the head with his #5 point of advice. Find your own voice. In other words, find your way onto the game development stage. There is no clear cut one way for you to start making games. All of us take on different paths to get to where we want to go in life. Your path will obviously be different compared to my path, and that's cool. Some of the video game pioneers I read about have taken much different paths to long-lasting success in game development compared to my path.

Making a video game is an art form of sorts. I envision my own custom video games one way while you will envision something completely different with your games. Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh painted different kinds of artwork, but they are both still considered to be great artists.

In my opinion, you gotta be creative. You gotta have the heart to be a game developer. You gotta have the mind to discern what makes sense in a game and what doesn't, no matter how much you like certain gameplay features. You have to make the tough decisions and live with them. You can't overlook the easy decisions you make. You have to be bold sometimes in order to make your game stand out, but with every move you make there has to be a valid reason behind those moves.

In closing, if you want to be a game dev, love the development process. It will reward you in the end if you stick with it.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Gamers Can Be Anyone!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIr1YTkEHdJFtqHvR7Rwttg/featured

Simply put, gamers can be anyone! Okay, that's the shortest article ever written by me! A job well done!

In all seriousness let's talk discuss this topic. What do we mean when we say that gamers can be anyone? I am highlighting the link above for a reason. The link will send you to a YouTube channel that is run by a passionate gamer, but he isn't just any ordinary gamer. In fact this guy happens to have a great well-paying job in one of the most recognizable companies in the world.

Austin Creed, or you can call him by his ring name Xavier Woods,  happens to be a professional wrestler, or technically a "sports entertainment superstar". Creed works for the WWE by night grappling and striking with the best in the wrestling business while he entertains the crowds that attend the shows and those that watch on TV or via the WWE Network app. What becomes obvious when you watch his content on YouTube, however, is that he loves to play video games and he certainly loves to talk about video games.

UpUpDownDown provides a unique look into the WWE Superstars you normally see in the ring either playing their favorite video games or playing video games just for the sake of taking on a challenge. The fun and friendly gaming competitions held on UpUpDownDown give viewers a different entertainment outlet while they will learn something new and interesting about their favorite wrestlers.

Even if you're not on the UpUpDownDown channel, you will inevitably come across Creed playing video games in other gaming competitions, such as ones held at gaming conventions. The fact is that Creed is a gamer and he loves spending time playing video games. While we may not exactly understand how his traveling lifestyle in the WWE works (WWE Superstars travel all the time, by the way), we are able to understand his enthusiasm for video games, and that's what makes UpUpDownDown click with many viewers.

What do we mean when we say gamers can be anyone? We mean that gamers can be pro wrestlers like Austin Creed, but we also mean that gamers can be movie and TV show celebrities, painters, comic book artists, bestselling novelists, singers..... and the list goes on. Perhaps some of your local firefighters and police officers love to play vintage video games and you may not know it yet? That is a possibility.

Mainstream video games have existed since the start of the 1980's, so it should come as no surprise that many people would grow up with video games and hang around video games even after they obtain a profession that they really want to do. If you need a list of the wide variety of people who play video games, then here's a short list.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSi5T6T7XgnxhkG7N3jmH1A
^ Stephen Georg - Daily Vlogger and popular YouTuber who loves video games
Vin Diesel - Actor
Olivia Munn - Actress
Michael Phelps - Pro Swimmer
John Cena, Allen Neal Jones (AJ Styles) - Pro Wrestlers

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Desire to Innovate

http://www.themetropreneur.com/columbus/an-open-letter-to-columbus-creatives-techies-and-entrepreneurs-that-is-to-columbus-makers/

Just me again at OGDE 2015, highlighting my backstory
 Depending on where you live opportunities to show what you can do as a creative person can either come very easy or very difficult. If you happen to live in an area where many things are happening, then there's a chance that you will find yourself being involved in projects that you can get behind. The purpose of this post I'm making here is for me to describe the differences between a "Have" and a "Have Not" in the gaming world.

In a nutshell anyone who has a genuine passion to make video games and has the desire to innovate should and will find a place in game development.

I firmly believe that. I also firmly believe that if a game developer's passion is genuine it will be seen and felt at some point in time, and it will grow to a point where it can't be ignored anymore. Whether you live in a big mecha like New York City or if you live in a rather quiet place like Davenport, Iowa, as long as you put the work in to prove that you love playing video games and making them, then there's no reason why you shouldn't be given a look to be included in a game-making project of any sort, big or small.

I point out the link above because a building like the Idea Foundry presents a viable option for people who specialize in making things. Creative people need somewhere to hang their hats on, and the Idea Foundry is certainly a good start for creative people inside and outside Columbus, Ohio.

Now you may not believe this, and don't just take my word for it, but Columbus is emerging as a serious player in the game development scene. I am bold enough to say that Columbus is on the verge of legitimately challenging Midwest regional markets like Chicago, Illinois for the top spot in game development in said region. Thankfully some of the efforts being made by passionate game designers in Columbus are being recognized across the United States, and well known names in the Gaming Industry are showing the willingness to show up at conventions like GDEX (formerly the Ohio Game Developers Expo), which wasn't really the case even 5 years ago in 2011.

For someone like me, who lives out in the middle of nowhere, being able to have such a platform where the opportunity to have individual growth as a creative input guy exists makes a big difference. I rely on Columbus to get my contacts. I rely on Columbus to branch out and extend my services, offering to help out on a game development project that anyone might be working on.

It does make me sad, however, to know that the small community I live in has the extreme unwillingness to ever make any platform that is even a small fraction of what the Idea Foundry presents itself. That also makes a big difference because from where I live the desire to create things simply isn't there. Bright ideas don't really come from my neck of the woods these days. That in itself is a different story altogether. Society, in that sense, is imbalanced and unfair because you will see the biggest differences in mentality and attitude between Columbus and "Bumpkinville". I won't justify calling Bumpkinville by its real name.

Whenever I attend game dev meetup sessions in Columbus, I absolutely feel at home. I feel comfortable and happy because I'm speaking the same language as other people in the meetup. I get what they're talking about, and they get what I'm talking about. When the meetup session ends and I go back home to Bumpkinville, the disconnect people have in understanding game dev lingo becomes blatantly obvious.

Overall the Idea Foundry and buildings like it serve as a meaningful goal for me to have. What's that goal? To one day have a stable job where you get to have your own office in such a building where you are allowed to create interesting things, video games and otherwise, and have people recognize the fruits of your hard labor. I don't think many people are aware of how big a victory it would be for someone like me to achieve such a goal.

Nintendo: Draconian Business Methods?

http://thenextweb.com/gaming/2016/09/06/nintendo-dissapoints-500-fan-games/

 http://thenextweb.com/gaming/2016/09/12/sega-flips-nintendo-the-bird-tells-fans-keep-making-great-stuff/

Tatsumi Kimishima
The above 2 links address a topic that is basically an extension of a story that we gamers already know. Remember when Nintendo was heavily going after the Let's Play community and aimed to take down numerous LP videos? Remember when Nintendo hated the idea of LP'ers making money off Nintendo LP's? While this isn't exactly that issue again, it does involve the use of intellectual properties which are owned by Nintendo.

The issue this time around happens to be that fans of classic Mario games, such as Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64, have made their own custom games using the Super Mario 64 engine, but of course making many tweaks to level designs and animations. Videos have been posted about these special fan games..... only for them to be taken down by Nintendo via copyright claims.

I have said it before and I will say it again. These attempts of trying to censor a Nintendo fan from showcasing his or her creativity are incredibly petty on the part of Nintendo. This is just another example of a company being socially out of touch with its fan community. These fan made games are nothing to be worried about. Creativity at its core is never supposed to be censored. If I were to make my own custom game of my favorite video game character, whether it be Mario, Mega-Man, Kirby, etc., I shouldn't feel like I have to look over my shoulder and worry about what Nintendo thinks of my creation.

I fittingly chose the title of this blog post for a reason. Are Nintendo's business methods draconian? I hate to say this, but some of this company's methods are indeed draconian, as in they're simply too overprotective of their properties. I understand that you don't want people claiming custom creations to be their property because that's not the truth. Nintendo created the Super Mario 64 engine to begin with. I highly doubt that's what fan game makers want to claim as what they own anyway.

Thankfully, though, it seems like Sega understands the concept and intent of fan generated content. Well, at least they have a better understanding of it than Nintendo if the 2nd link is any indication. Sega has gone up front and said that they encourage their fans to keep making custom games featuring the Blue Blur, Sonic the Hedgehog. For all the grief they get when it comes to certain Sonic issues (and I have raised one Sonic issue in particular before), Sega appears to have handled this issue correctly. Good for them.

YouTube and video uploading websites are made to exist for a reason, and putting up videos of Super Mario 64: Chaos Edition, for example, is not wrong. It's not a crime to showcase videos of someone playing through that custom game, even if it is ridiculously hard. I wish Nintendo would wake up and lighten up when it comes to transparent aspects like this.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mighty No. 9 Game Review

Cool heroics shown by Beck... in an otherwise mismanaged environment...

Let me start off by saying that I am far from being a hardcore Mega-Man fan. In fact I have barely played any of the Mega-Man games, and clearly I am not that good at playing Mega-Man style games, so forgive me if I sound too "green" when discussing the gameplay functions of this game I'm going to review. I am aware of how unfavorable this game is to many gamers and critics alike, and I take all of their criticisms under consideration. However, like with any video game review, I have to judge a game on how I, Steven Vitte, view it. I can't be influenced by what I read and hear on the internet. What matters to me is how I enjoy myself by playing a video game.

Now let's get down to the muddy terrain of this game called Mighty No. 9. It is supposed to be a successor to the Mega-Man series as it involves one man who once made the creative decisions for the Mega-Man games in Keiji Inafune. Now Inafune served as the writer behind the story of this game, but he also had a hand in operating the Kickstarter campaign for Mighty No. 9, a game that promised Mega-Man fans an experience that would sharply remind them of the Blue Bomber himself. Inafune requested $900,000 in funding for this project, and he ended up getting an amazing response from gamers, so much so that the project for Mighty No. 9 received $4,000,000 by the end of the campaign. That's simply staggering.

So, did $4 Million do enough to make Mighty No. 9 a successful project? Well, not exactly. Accusations of mismanagement on the part of the game dev team quickly emerged when people realized that Inafune and company were trying to find ways to develop merchandise for Mighty No. 9, an unproven game at the time, while also funding another game project called Red Ash: The Indellible Legend. All these decisions lead gamers to wonder just how much work was spent in getting the Mighty No. 9 game itself to work properly.

Controls - 15 out of 20 Points

The controls of Mighty No. 9 are not perfect by any means. The game's controls respond just fine, so it isn't a matter of pressing a button and nothing works. I believe it has more to do with the fact that I went into the Main Mode of the game blind, as in I didn't know all of the moves that Beck, Might No. 9's name, could actually do. I had to look up some moves after pausing the game. Not good. I should at least get some sort of hint as to what to do before I lose all my lives failing to get past a certain obstacle.


The score of 15 for the controls mainly reflects on the fact that when you press a button, you will get a response, which does help. Other than that, if you can stomach a learning experience as a gamer, I suggest that you tread lightly. There will be guaranteed frustration if you are not used to Mega-Man style platforming games.

Story - 12 out of 20 Points

An above average score for the story of Mighty No. 9, but nothing to write home about. I believe the concept that was made for this game is okay for what it is. I don't see anything too blatantly horrid or out of place. This does stay true to the Mega-Man theme. I do like the fact that when you play through the Main Mode you do have the choice of running the gauntlet in any way you like. For example, you can start your journey by picking a fight against Mighty No. 5 and his turf, but then you can switch to Mighty No. 8 and do battle against him and his minions. I definitely prefer that gamers have the choice of experiencing a story the way that they want to experience it.


What brings the score down for me, though, is a case of "I've kinda seen this before, and it was in Mega-Man." It's one thing to pay homage to Mega-Man, but it's another thing when you're almost copy and pasting Mega-Man themes all over the place. Mighty No. 9 didn't do enough to separate itself from being called a "Mega-Man Knock-Off". The bosses blend in too much with the environment, the side characters that are helping Beck are for the most part forgettable, and while not sounding bad, the voice actors and actresses here didn't sound all that motivated. This combination of issues puzzles me.

Music - 17 out of 20 Points

This is definitely a strong point of the game. Mighty No. 9 can lay claim to having a pretty good soundtrack list. The music isn't anything extraordinary or relatively new, but the beats are catchy and they don't do anything to distract the player from playing the game, which is important.  Now some of the tracks will remind you of Mega-Man tunes, which shouldn't come as a shock, but I wouldn't consider that to be a bad thing. I can probably re-listen to these tracks online if I wanted to.

Replayability Factor: 10 out of 20 Points

Truth be told I struggled giving this a proper score. I kept going back and forth between a low score and a high score. I suppose it's only fitting I settled on an average 10 out of 20 points when it comes to whether or not I believe gamers should replay this game over and over again. After you give Mighty No. 9 one play, unless you are either a hardcore Mega-Man platforming game fan or if you're the type of gamer who only gets casually involved with platforming games, then you may just want to keep this game a rental only. If you don't fall into either one of the categories I just mentioned you probably won't enjoy this game after playing it around 5 times.

Bonus Points - 5

Really? This game actually gets bonus points? For what? I know it's hard to believe that Mighty No. 9, a game project mishandled greatly by Inafune and company, would actually get a boost in review points, but just hear me out. Whether you end up liking this game or not, the fact of the matter is if you know where to look in this game, there were points where Comcept and Deep Silver actually tried. They tried to make this game interesting in some aspects. They tried to make levels challenging, and yes, probably too much so, but they tried. They tried to make some interesting characters, even if they were based on Mega-Man characters. They tried to make an interesting concept, which along with the finished product felt toned down for whatever reason.

I do see where effort was actually made to give this game a lift, but these attempts of making Mighty No. 9 interesting clearly didn't resonate with many gamers.

Overall Score: 59 out of 100 Points (5 Bonus Points)

At the end of the day Mighty No. 9 still gets a low score from the Gaming Journalist Gazette. However, I honestly don't have a whole bunch of bad things to say about this game. The overall score of 59 is kinda misleading in a way. For the record I currently own a PS4 copy of Mighty No. 9, but I don't intend on returning it to my local GameStop store. I plan on keeping my copy, for better or worse. My overall score mainly reflects on how a typical gamer is going to view this game, as in I myself am generally okay playing a game like Mighty No. 9, whereas I know other gamers probably won't be nearly as kind to this game.

What I do find to be sad and in poor taste is how Keiji Inafune and his game dev team handled this project from start to finish. When they initially launched their Kickstarter campaign to get funds for Mighty No. 9 they had an obligation to focus on making this game a good game, something that fans would be talking about for years to come. Inafune and company had to know what they were getting themselves into when the money came rolling in. They had to know that enough time had to be put into developing the game itself, and not any of the side projects including promotional branches for Mighty No. 9 or for Red Ash: The Indellible Legend.

I guess this is just one broad lesson in Crowdfunding 101, ladies and gentlemen. Trust is a valuable thing. NEVER abuse the trust that crowdfunding supporters give you for a project.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Intrigued by Yooka-Laylee

I will be keeping an eye on this game...

Footage of the Toy Box Demo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfAJbc8VwhE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVvccZ384hI

Remember when there was a time you can reflect back on the simpler aspects of being a gamer? Remember when you were a young kid and you were just getting introduced to video games? Remember when your imagination took off because you played a game like Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot and other games of the sort?

It makes you wonder why in this day and age it's been harder and harder for gamers to remember of such a time.

Never mind the fact that shooting games and RPGs flood the Gaming Industry today, and that's the only real impression you're left with when you go to a big store like GameStop or Wal-Mart and you venture in to see what new games they have. What do you see when you get there? Shoot 'em up games, war-themed games, massively popular spin-offs of Final Fantasy, which has been done to death. I could go on...

I suppose that's why it's refreshing to know that a new platforming adventure game is finally being released sometime in the First Quarter of 2017, and it's called Yooka-Laylee. For those of you who are unaware of what kind of game this is, you might want to study a bit on the history pf the Banjo-Kazooie series to understand what the hype is all about. The makers of the Banjo-Kazooie games on the Nintendo 64 are basically the same guys who are the masterminds behind the development of Yooka-Laylee, which is a positive sign if you are a platforming game fan and you're begging for a new challenge.

Many gamers voiced their opinions and pleaded for there to be new installments to the Banjo-Kazooie series, but unfortunately, because of the fact that Rare, deeply associated with Microsoft and Xbox, has made it well known that all they care about is making money off nostalgia and remakes with fresh coats of paint, those requests will never be heard.

That's where Yooka-Laylee's game dev team arrives on the scene. They have formed a new company called Playtonic Games and they're basically doing the same things that got them noticed in the first place with Banjo-Kazooie, which is making an enjoyable platforming game experience. Gee, what a novel idea!

Check out the gameplay footage by clicking on the links above. These videos will give you the reactions and opinions to the demo of what we're going to see in Yooka-Laylee. Personally from what I gather, I believe that we're in for something unique in some aspects. This is something creative from a gameplay standpoint as well as stylistically. The graphics are colorful and amazing, and you can tell that the vision for a game like this was put in place well in advance.

I also seem to like the main characters themselves, Yooka and Laylee. They seem like characters that can relate with the platforming gaming audience. I think Playtonic chose the right kind of animals to represent these characters. An iguana (I think that's what Yooka is), and a bat make sense.

Something like Yooka-Laylee's arrival on the scene is something that has been sorely missed by gaming communities and by the Gaming Industry in a practical aspect. Why hasn't more of these types of games been made in recent years? Why do we have to leave it up to just Mario and Sonic to give us platforming adventures? I thought our industry had more creative freedom than that. Well, at least with this we'll get a glimpse of what games we could be getting in the future if this starts a healthy trend.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Punchy Business: Meetup Presentation


Saturday August 6, 2016 was a pretty important date for me as I, along with good friends Peter Kirk and Justin Yeagler of indy dev team Sketchy Games, presented what turned out to be a good chunk of our mobile game project Punchy Business. Most of what was presented was finished aside from finishing touches. It was quite an experience for me to put on a presentation because previously I had never done it with a team, and I gotta say that it felt great to finally present something that I know I worked on.

I think for the most part our presentation resonated well with folks who attended The Idea Foundry in Columbus, Ohio, although it was pretty hot on this day. The summer weather hasn't been so cooperative many times this year, but that's another story. Anyway I believe Punchy Business was received well and I think people really liked the concept of what we were attempting to achieve. One of the organizers of the meetup group told me that we did a phenomenal job showing the features of our demo.

It would have been nice to complete the demo, but from what we achieved I came away feeling very encouraged about the entire process, and knowing that we all gained a learning experience from this 2 month trial, we are aiming at finishing what we started. I believe in finishing what I start, and come 2017 (sometime) I promise you, the readers of the Gaming Journalist Gazette blog, that you will get to view and play the finished product, depending on if you're in the Columbus, Ohio area to start.

I've made it known on this blog that it has been a looooong journey for me as a writer to get my foot in the door and work on a game development project of any sort, and yeah, my eyes lit up once I got the green light to finally work on something like Punchy Business.

Platforming/Fighting merged together to make a unique gaming genre... That's basically the gist of Punchy Business. You start out platforming, and then you work your way to the fight. You collect cherries for health, a boomerang as a weapon, ring bells to help fill your Momentum Meter, my little invented feature, and you punch your way to victory. It's really a simple concept, but implemented in a way different than what gamers are accustomed to seeing.

This is only the beginning, fellow gamers. I've never been closer to realizing my dream of releasing a mobile game, and my creative juices are flowing again at a time when I really need those juices to flow. Exciting times are just around the corner, and I hope that you guys will join me on this interesting wild ride.

Until next time, mate, keep them punches flyin'! [/Australian accent]

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Business Side of Game Development: Part 1



A subject like this one can take years to discuss since it's so broad, but to break it down as much as I can, I will discuss what I believe to be the most important parts of the business side of game development. Some of what I will touch on will not be surprising to you while other things might. Especially with the way the Gaming Industry changes so fast, it's hard to keep a finger on what parts of the gaming business truly are important.

1) Money: You Need It
Let's start off with a no-brainer answer. Money. You need it. Most of the time lots of it. Sometimes you can get away with making an interesting game on a low budget, but it will be more challenging with less resources to turn to. In my candid opinion it amazes me just how much money certain game dev teams actually have at their disposal in a time when the economy is hurting, especially in the United States. If you have nowhere near the amount of money you need to pull off a multiple level experience of a game, then chances are you'll be in an uphill battle from Day 1.


I wish money didn't speak as loudly as it has in recent years regarding game development, but this is a fact I'm sure many of us have accepted. It's this resource that prevents many aspiring game developers from even participating in the game dev arena. You don't need to have a King's Ransom of a budget to make a great game because even high budget games are vulnerable to flopping if they're not executed well, but it would help your cause if you at least had a decent amount of money to work with.

2) Connections (Economic and Otherwise)
Point 1 dovetails into Point 2. One way to get the money you need to develop games is to have the right connections. Do you have any sponsorship deals? Do you know a person who can provide you some dev tools? Do you know a person who works or has worked for a game dev company? Any valuable goods that you can get from resources like these should never be taken for granted. Any experience that you can add to your new game dev team is a plus. Any unique game dev tool that you can use for a project should be welcomed with an open mind. Do you have legitimate work space for your team to just sit down and socialize with? Don't forget about this as well.


Any advice that you can receive from other devs who have more experience than you should be taken in. Why? It's because they know what to expect when going into a project, and they know what's important and what isn't in the dev process. It all begins with you approaching these connections and asking for help. If you don't ask for help you won't get the help you seek. It's as simple as that.

3) Business Plan (Written or Concrete; Doesn't Matter)
If your game dev team is clearly on its way to doing something cool in the future and you have the seeds planted for setting up your official studios somewhere as a company, then you absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt, must have a business plan of some sort mapped out already. If you don't have any clue as to what your company is going to achieve nor where it will be 5 years or so down the road, then you'll quickly get into deep trouble. If you don't get educated on the general swing of business topics, such as how to sort out expenses, savings, negotiations, etc., then you simply won't go far in the Gaming Industry. You have to have your ducks correctly lined up in a row.


Personally I wouldn't think it would matter so much if initially your business plan is either written out or put down in fine concrete, but what ultimately matters is that you have a business plan to turn to. You must have some idea of what kind of revenue your dev team and company are going to generate if you're going to safely navigate yourselves through the gaming wilderness. Like with any business out there, though this business is about having fun, the gaming business can sometimes be cutthroat. If you are not careful with your business plan --whatever it is-- then don't be surprised if your competition jumps through the doors that you leave open, and shut you out from making that next great game dev discovery in the process. It can and will happen at some point.

4) Gaming Industry Knowledge
Know what you're getting into when you declare that you're going to be a part of the Gaming Industry. Know your territory. Know your target customers. Know your capabilities as a company. Know the existing trends that are popping in the industry. Know what possible future trends could break out if you work on addressing them through a new project. Know what is currently "cool" with gamers and figure out what you can do to present your games and content as being cool in their own way.

While I don't agree with all of their business decisions, one tactic that Nintendo uses that should be celebrated just a little bit more should be their implementation of the Blue Ocean Strategy. Being in the Gaming Industry for decades, I'm sure that Nintendo knows what they can and can't do as a company in most aspects, and one thing I think they do know is that they can't blend in and be just like Sony or Microsoft. They can't copy those business strategies because what's the point of doing that? Sony and Microsoft are already finding success doing what they do with their consoles, so Nintendo tries to do something different.

Does this strategy always work? No because the execution isn't always there. However, the idea is brilliant on paper. If I had a game dev company and I wanted to make fresh new games that people haven't seen before, I need to be different than other companies. I can't copy what other companies do. This is what Nintendo does get in the business world.

To be continued...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Punchy Business Update: Close But Not Quite

 
Contact me at stevenvitte12@yahoo.com if you're interested in helping me finish this demo!
 
Update: Here is the anticipated (depending on how my readers will follow this) update on my custom game project titled "Punchy Business". I am very pleased to report that a ton of progress has been made on this demo, bringing to life many of the aspects that I had envisioned this custom game idea to have. In just 1 tutorial style level Punchy Business proposed to have this boxing kangaroo character be the main protagonist and go through a platforming style level. Once he completed this platforming part he'd go straight into the fight, a setup similar to that of Mike Tyson's Punch Out but with a few obvious differences, against a protagonist, an intimidating tiger. 

The email update sent to me by Peter Kirk below basically highlights the entire development process of this demo in just the short 6 weeks it took. As you know game development is a learning process that takes time to get fully acquainted with, and throughout this development process we all had the opportunity to work out the things that made sense to implement, and what features really weren't necessary to implement. As a game dev you will face this often. What can you do? What can't you do? What fits with the proposed deadline? What doesn't fit? 

In summary the demo for Punchy Business is essentially around 90% finished, with the artwork and animation not completely implemented. The game mechanics are in place and the sound is where it should be, but the art is the only missing piece from making this 100% complete. 

After reading the below email and taking the entire experience in, how do I feel about how I handled this project? I believe that for the most part I did everything I could to help the game dev team out. I felt like when I needed to provide my creative input fon pressing issues, I did just that. I wasn't super hands on as a creative lead, but that has never been in my game dev structure. I'm more of a guy who relies on teamwork and lets the team do their thing. I'm more like a "player's coach" if I can use a sports analogy. 

As for the future of Punchy Business, I have absolutely NO plans of canceling this project. I have made it too far with the development of this demo to just pull the plug on it. Ideally I'm not one to quit so easily. Like a boxer I like to get back up and go back to punching away. I believe in finishing what I start, and this project will be no different. I want to see to it that this Punchy Business demo gets 100% finished and then released out to gaming communities. 

If you are a game dev and you're interested in helping me finish this demo, please contact me at stevenvitte12@yahoo.com and we'll have conversations at any time. Thank you!

Hey Steven,
 
I’m sorry it took so long to get back to you. I just wanted to have everything finalized before I gave you the rundown of how everything stands.
 
So, the fact is that we were unable to complete the project. Functionality and sound elements are all there, but the art is not. I believe I am at fault for giving Justin so much animation work despite his inexperience along with not managing his progress well enough. For that, I apologize. I wanted our team to complete the project in the allotted time, but we have failed. I am immensely sorry.
 
I realize we had not decided on a contingency plan for what happens if the game is not finished. If this were paid work, my team would either return some of the investment or put in overtime to get the game finished. This is unpaid, and essentially a trial run for us all. Therefore, we’ll be staying consistent to our model and moving onto our next project after a short break. Justin is burnt out and needs to refocus.
 
As it stands, the project is essentially the same as the one you last played. I’d suggest downloading the latest version just in case. This project contains art that doesn’t fall under creative commons so a release is impossible. It IS fine for you to share this game with anyone, including to present it at the COGG meetup as a demo, if you desire. We will maintain the source code, so if you find another team who wants to continue from our work or you wish to hire us for another project, just contact me. If you’re looking to use our work for a release, we’ll discuss matters of compensation when the time arises. Know that we will not use you IP for any of our future projects without permission. This does not include the technologies we created in making this game. If you feel that we are in breach of that, please, let me know so we can rectify the problem.
 
I want to thank you for the opportunity to try to make your IP come to life. It has been a valuable learning experience not only based on your designs, but also with working for a third party. I believe that we will be able to take what we learned and apply it to future projects, enhancing our potential.
 
I hope this experience has been a positive one for you as well. You put in a lot of work creating and editing the GDD and that’s the reason we were able to work so smoothly and without having to call on you daily. I hope this experience aids you in your future endeavors.
 
*Whew* I think that’s everything! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me.
 
I wish you the best,

Peter Kirk
Studio Head, Programmer
Sketchy Games

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Video Games and Baseball: Part 2

One of many unique baseball teams/logos
Coming back up to home plate, I would like to add to what has already been said about baseball video games. Gamers have seen MLB video games been made left and right, updated every year for the hardcore MLB fan. Nothing wrong with staying true to the real game of baseball, but we can't forget about why customization and giving baseball a fun fictional spin are actually critical to positive fan reception.

The above logo of the Kokomo Jackrabbits baseball team is one example that I can use to describe how game devs can make a baseball video game fun. Just look at the logo and observe it for a little bit. Forget about the fact that human beings play on this team and rethink the logo. What do you see? What can you imagine? Cartoon jackrabbits swinging carrot themed baseball bats? Cartoon jackrabbits playing baseball on their own farm themed baseball field? Do you see where I'm going with this?

Detail or no detail, make baseball fun for gamers!
We don't need to just let Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom draw up our imaginations of a fictional baseball league. Why can't we let our imaginations run wild, create our own unique characters, and throw out a fictional baseball league for gamers to enjoy? This is the sort of thing that will get gamers talking, in my opinion. I am aware that creating a custom cartoon baseball league from scratch is a challenging endeavor, but my point is that it can be done with enough time and thorough planning. Game devs can pull it off. They just need to have the patience to see it through.

Give gamers enough things to do. Give them options such as varying tournament styles, customizable regular season formats, distinct Challenge Modes, etc. Give them the ability to unlock new character models for custom teams. Throw out as many ideas as you would like within reason. Make it up to the player to decide what he or she will include in their own fictional baseball league. Does the player want to have a bunch of forest animal species play in this league? Does the player want to see people who take up real life occupations duke it out Backyard Baseball style? Does the player want to keep the league in the United States, or does he or she want to take the league international or intergalactic?

It also helps that you give gamers a Tutorial Mode to work with so that way they won't feel lost when dealing with the game's mechanics. Never forget about the Tutorial Mode. Trust me.

I guess it depends on what the game devs would consider to be fun and playful for a fictional baseball league. Maybe you want to implement themes like the Wild West, Medieval England, Pirates of the Caribbean, Samurais and Ninjas, etc.? Maybe you just want folks who come from settings like Bad News Bears, The Sandlot, The Natural or Bull Durham? Maybe you want some mixture of everything I've mentioned in this blog post? Think about it.

Now at the bottom of the 9th inning, I will walk it off with this thought. We need to keep gamers interested. We need to keep them coming back to play. That's the name of the game. That's the goal of any video game we make for our audiences. We can't just settle for cookie cutter ballparks that have almost the exact same ballpark dimensions. Nobody wants to see that. Instead gamers want to see ballparks that are quirky like the ones we know; Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Coors Field, AT&T Park - the ballparks of yesteryear that are no longer with us; Ebbets Field, Polo Grounds, Sulphur Dell,  Crosley Field - and the ballparks that you probably haven't heard about; Point Stadium in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana, Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Bringhurst Field in Alexandria, Louisiana.

I know game devs are creative and I think one day it will be time for them to step into their own batting cage and start swinging away with concepts and designs. Warm up in the bullpen and see what you got to throw out there! Play ball!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Video Games and Baseball: Part 1


I know that I have already touched on the subject of sports being implemented as video games, and yes, we all probably know by now how repetitive some of the more famous titles have become over time. I mean, let's get serious. Who really wants to put down money for a new Madden game every single year? Who really wants to buy MLB The Show every single year? The same goes for NBA and NHL games as well. When you buy one sports game in a 4-year period there's a good chance you'll just hang on to that game and play it for a little while until you feel like you have to update that virtual playing field.

When facing the task of making a new sports game that gamers will love and will want to come back to, you always have to think about this one thing. Creativity. Will your game dev team have it for a brand new baseball video game, for example? Will you guys be able to create enough unique elements for this new baseball game that will make gamers do a double take and say "Yeah! That was a refreshing experience!'

At the end of June we are at the heart of baseball season here in the United States, and yeah, not everyone across the world will be thrilled about baseball. As it is right now I have been watching the EURO 2016 Tournament for European soccer, so I understand depending where you live baseball might not interest you, but bear with me here. What makes a baseball video game obsolete? Why does a baseball video game lose its luster after a while? After a while you become so familiar with the rosters on every MLB team that you start remembering off the top of your head which player sits on the bench for the Arizona Diamondbacks, for example. I would assume that's part of the problem of maintaining interest in playing an MLB video game these days.

I just have to go back to my point about making a chess video game fun. Customization. If you don't have enough of it to keep gamers interested, then they will go away and play other video games that offer more customization options. It's really that simple, in my opinion.

What happened to the Create-A-Ballpark feature? What happened to the secret unlockable teams feature? What happened to playing in the old ballparks of yesteryear that are no longer with us? What happened to the feature of creating your own expansion team and realigning Major League Baseball as a whole? Where did all these possible ideas go? Development budgets and time have been cut. That's the short answer.

The long answer is that imagination isn't really being used all that much anymore. You want to make a baseball video game stand out and you want it to attract an audience that will stay loyal to it no matter how many new editions of MLB The Show are churned out. By making your own baseball game you make your own space in the gaming market. You make your own baseball game something that people will talk about long after it's made. I don't see many game development teams willing to do that anymore in the sports arena because either they feel like the "big boys" have already occupied the sports arena and there is no room to do anything special, or there is that fear of just becoming a "copycat" of what's already successful.

I'm sure that the Mario baseball games that have appeared on the Nintendo Gamecube, Wii and Wii U have given some devs some inspiration in the way that they view baseball. You can make baseball fun with some imagination. Nintendo and Mario have proven that. Create your own cartoon baseball league, fill it with slapstick comedy, make it family friendly, and there you go. You have a starting foundation there. Ask yourself this question. What makes baseball funny? Implement whatever baseball humor is into your new game and build it from that foundation. That's one of many ways you can get your game "over" in the Gaming Industry.

I think I will divide this into 2 parts because I want to go into more detail as to the kinds of ideas I have in mind for a custom baseball game. Stay tuned for that.