Monday, March 29, 2010

Midwest Gaming Awesome

Mmm. Delicious ice-cream
The Midwest Game Fair in Green Bay was a great success! Super Space Rogues received top honors as the Best of Show recipient at the event, and I won a speed concept art competition with the drawing above. (The theme was 'Worst Day Ever')

The game fair had less attendees this year, however, but I felt that the local game industry's representatives were great. The three professionals present were from Frozen Codebase, a small game company based in Green Bay that specializes in games made for XBLA and other downloadable platforms. Their previous titles include Screwjumper! and Elements of Destruction, and they're currently working on a Metalocolypse game based on the show as well as a game for the upcoming movie Kick Ass. They talked mainly about the state of the professional games industry, making rapid prototypes, and how to get jobs in the professional sector. The discussions felt nicely refreshing too (although 'how to get a job in the industry' stuff is always at these things, it was entertaining).

I also had the pleasure of attending the Midwest Gaming Classic on Saturday, a huge event based in Milwaukee that celebrated the love of everything games: arcade cabinets, old consoles, and even pinball. It was one of the greatest times I've ever had as well as one of the most inspiring. Later this week, I'm going to update with a more in-depth review of the events that were held (including the spoils I scored and my new-found appreciation of pinball!)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Midwest Game Fair & Play Expo

4 Games doods
ITT Tech Green Bay is hosting the 2010 Midwest Game Fair, and four of my games (Fetus, Vatn Squid, Thunder Gun, and Super Space Rogues) have been accepted as entries. The scheduled date of the event is this Sunday (March 28th), and it gives student game development programs across Wisconsin the chance to not only compete with their work, but also make connections with local game development professionals. Last year, I had the honor of receiving the Best of Show award for Mind Shock; Visit II and Descent surely weighed in as heavy support too.

This year also marks my first appearance as an entrant for the University of Whitewater's Play Expo, where the same four games have also been accepted. The 3rd annual Play Expo takes place on April 3rd; I first attended the event in 2008, (while I was still developing the original Visit game) and it was there that first I expanded my fervor to develop and create games like a madman.

After these two events, it will essentially mark the end of my 'awards season' series of endeavors for the beginning of the year. There'll be plenty to work for as the year goes on. Look forward to more information on the results of the competitions.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Starting Up

After a half week of recovery from GDC insanity, I got together with a couple of guys who were interested in working with me on Visit III. Aaron Hoffman, an amazing programmer currently acting as project manager for the Heatbees' game Existence, was very interested in helping me out. He's been working with XNA on and off since it was 2.0, and he's definitely added an edge to Visit III's development. So far, we've begun talk on a development outline as well as crafting a clever World Editor; this means I'll release some details on both as we get them going strong.

The site's been up for a couple of weeks now too, and I've gotten some questions on RSS feeds to the blog. People were wondering where to subscribe, and that's the fun part. Currently, the blog is being displayed via my Blogger account (through some craftily awesome stuff my sister did). A feed is available at this link, but the main blog that it is attached to is nowhere near as pretty as the main site. In the future, comments will be accessible through the main site, and permalinks can be made to posts on the main site (as opposed to the blogger account).

I want to let everyone reading know that I'm going to be posting at least once a week with updates on our development, or update with interesting links that I've found pertaining to game development or indie games in general.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

We're Back

GDC was a blast! We got a chance to show off all of our work from the last year, and the Heatbees team made some really awesome connections. I especially got a lot out of being able to demo my work at our booth (paid for by the school).


Squids and Fetuses are Interesting

The best compliments I received from people were for Vatn Squid and Fetus, but for completely different reasons. Vatn was awfully flashy and fresh compared to some of the other games on the expo floor, and attracted bullet hell fans and other curious people from all sides of the spectrum. Fetus on the other hand kept a lot of people intrigued; at least four people who had played Fetus played it to completion, which is saying a lot when it takes 10-15 minutes for the average person to get through it.

Controllers are Nice
Out of all of the games I showed off, most people were much more receptive to the pick up and play aspects of a controller based game; they didn't have to sit down, I could toss them the controller after a quick demonstration of the controls, and it gave a certain degree of polish in presentation that I never really expected. Many of the keyboard and mouse centric games I had weren't really played too much. Also: when I would explain the importance of the Z, X, C control scheme to players, they usually couldn't pick it up in time to become interested.

48 hour Games Shock people
One of the most common "WHAT!?" moments I got from people was explaining that Vatn Squid was made in a really short period of 2 days. It was really nice to hear too, because it's apparently something hard to do. On a side note, several people were surprised to hear that my games were done in Game Maker.


Missed out on the Fun
One of my biggest regrets coming back was the fact that I really didn't interact too much with the Indies and other people that were at GDC. I didn't hit any of the parties that went on after dark (and that's where all the real connections get made). Most of my time spent on the expo floor was at the booth, and although I had a few chances to hit the IGF pavilion, I only played a couple of them and quickly returned.

"That's Cave Story/Spelunky"
A lot of visitors to the booth thought my games were pretty indie. So much so that a guy said Descent was a Spelunky mod. That's really cool and all, but it was a bit of a reality check for me. Several of my games have a nice indie kind of flair, but I really haven't found my own voice and color as far as the way my work looks and operates.

Macs = iPhone
One of my biggest gripes about presenting at the booth was the fact that my games were operating on a Mac computer that was Boot Camped to run Windows. A majority of our visitors to the booth thought my games were iPhone Games or that we were a group of Mac developers. It always seemed a bit awkward to tell people about our misrepresentation. Also, a lot of people assumed that my games were available on the Xbox Live Indie Games service because of the 360 controller I was using.

Even with the few things that I felt I did wrong, GDC was a great experience for me, and I'm definitely going back next year!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Visit 3 - 2010

And here's the big announcement several people over the last couple of years have been waiting for:

A few months shy of Visit 2's two year anniversary, I've started work on it's sequel using XNA, meaning Visit 3 will definitely appear for PC. I would never want to jump the gun, but I'm going to see what I can do to make Visit 3 available through the XBox Live Indie Games service as well.

I'm not going to reveal any of the new features yet, but the game will certainly remain closely tied to its predecessors while expanding the dynamics of the puzzles.

The Visit games are a series of lighthearted platforming games that utilize a unique blend of Adventure and Puzzle gaming. They have featured interesting and challenging puzzles that require the player to change colors and push blocks to deactivate puzzles impeding the their progress. Very dynamic cooperative puzzles made their debut in the second game, where the player gains control of a second character to activate switches and complete puzzles that the lone protagonist could never defeat on his own. The games have also featured several interesting and familiar environments to traverse and explore.

If you're still not sure what the Visit games are truly about, feel free to play both of the games, Visit and Visit II: Dark Tower. Each of the titles were originally developed using Game Maker 7 for two separate YoYoGames competitions. Visit received an honorable mention in the Ancient Civilization themed competition, while Visit II took 2nd Prize in the Cooperation competition.

If you want to see what others have thought about the Visit series, read and watch more at these links:
Freeware Game Pick: Visit (Ted Lauterbach)
Freeware Game Pick: Visit II (Ted Lauterbach)
Bytejacker Episode 09(starts approx. 3:30 in)
Cooperation Competition Winners!