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.