Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Week 13 (Delayed)

Friday; April 1st, 2011

So, while waiting for my patent on the domination of the planet, I decided that I should wait until the first of April to make this post so that everything would return to a monthly schedule (due to February kind of messing stuff up with its dumb, actual 4 week month. OTL). But anyway, it turns out I’m loving life lately; I have gotten quite a lot done and Project CAS is actually shaping up with gameplay. Granted, right now some things are definitely sub-par, but I’m very glad with some of the results I am getting and the systems I have been designing; more on that later though! In my personal life, I have been rather bored with school and making minor progress with parkour. It seems like my life revolves around what I want to do for a living; it’s a great feeling, but it turns out that I have a lot of spare time that I still haven’t dedicated to something. It’s more or less my lazing around and doing nothing time though. Man, I remember the days where I would just come home and immediately get to work on my games… How times change; I'm trying to get back into the habit though.

Project CAS - This week I got quite a bit done on CAS. Probably some of the most work on the engine I've gotten done in awhile. I've decided that working on only the art wasn't exactly making a game so I've decided to work on the engine again. In fact, I've actually created a small checklist that I'm going to print out with all of the engine basics and specifics that I want to get done. So far, it turns out I have a loooooot to do, but it all looks like it will be fun things to code and I have the basic ideas of how to do everything worked out in my head. This weekend I want to get some stuff coded out and maybe an few interior maps designed. I plan to design a small map where I can test out everything I need. :D Based on what I've designed on paper, I like where CAS is going as a game, but as we all know it's not what you design, it's what you make.

Acrophilia - We haven't been doing much filming honestly. On the parkour end of things, a few of us can backflip now (myself and Colin) and now we are working on things like the gainer and the webster. Sooner than later, I hope, we will have a lot of new stuff for our first decent parkour video. :D

But anyway, that's all for now. Expect greatness. Ryan Huggins~

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Week 12 - Quick Analysis

Plants vs. Zombies – Plants vs. Zombies is probably the cutest of tower defense—no, the cutest of any games involving zombies on the market. However, considering the game’s massive popularity I’m barely even going to review it; I’m just going to rant. The game has been out for quite awhile now and it has gone through a plethora of console and handheld iterations that have bolstered its popularity from, “Oh, this is cool” to, “OMG, Plants vs Zombies is teh l33tness!!1one” and has garnered it some relatively favorable reviews around the internet. My personal opinion of this game is not much different (the game is great), however the one thing I could never do was keep on playing after I got used to the game’s design and overall mood. Sure, protecting my lawn from the cute, sometimes weird, and even downright epic zombies (Michael Jackson anyone?) was fun for awhile and that made the game more than worth playing, but soon enough that urgency to protect your home dissipates and you, if you are anything like me, are left asking, “Oh, more zombies…and more plants? Fantastic! </sarcasm>”

I think that part of the problem comes from the extremely large number of plants you can unlock to play the game and the rest come from nowhere, because they probably don’t exist. Initially, when the game is still showing you the ropes and your repertoire of plants is small and concise, the game feels strategic, but doesn’t overwhelm you as a player with too much choice. Of course, some (read: most) people will argue that the large number of plants gives the game variety and replay value, I disagree; I think that too many plants gives the player something called “too much choice and too little direction” and can make it a hassle, or even a bother, to choose plants for different battles, especially because these plants aren’t organized into some kind of groups. There are just a ton of plants. This is a detriment usually exclusive to RPG and/or Adventure games, but I believe it applies to Plants vs. Zombies because every strategy games should have some sort of strategic direction. Regardless, I’m not suggesting that we take away variation from the game, but I believe that some plants should be removed, or simply, the interface should be upgraded so that the plants are organized into categories to make it easier for the player to figure out what plants they want to use to fight off the impending zombie invasion. (7.5/10)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Week 12

Monday; March 21th, 2011

It's incredible how many weeks have gone by so far! Twelve in fact; that's like...84 days and I don't really have anything to show for it; it's saddening... Regardless, I do have a lot of inspiration going for me this week. My little schedule is going to afford me massive amounts of time to actually get things done; now all that's left is actually sticking to it. I just scheduled some legitimate daily meetings with the various people I work with (Marcus - Siifour Co-Founder and Alex - Project Duo), so hopefully that will keep all of us actually active on our individual projects. It also turns out that I'm running out of time to get CAS seriously going; I need a technical demo out by Summer to show progress and I only have what, 5 level designs? Alas, I wish I was a little better at programming, so coding the engine wouldn't be so much of a drag. Ugh...I also have to actually purchase a domain name sometime soon...and design some sort of website...and make a Twitter account... Tons and tons of things to do it seems.

It also so happens that I'm incredibly broke right now. We are going to have to figure out how to pool a large sum of money together to get everything I want to do, done.

Project CAS - On the development edge of things, I've almost completed another level concept, bringing the grand total up to 5 complete concepts. I'll probably finish it tomorrow during school so I can get work started on another one after I get Page 3 of Project Duo outlined and whatnot. I'm working on the final draft of the detailed gameplay/story draft right now actually; I'm probably going to stop with the outlining when that's done and just get all the art done (at least for the first Arc (there are 4 arcs)). Other than that, I'm hoping to utilize a few pieces of paper and maybe a wiki to design/detail all of the weapons, enemies, and important locations more thoroughly. I'm going to have a ton of fun, but at the same time, I really, REALLY, want to get the gameplay coded. We'll see what happens.

Acrophilia - This weekend was extremely productive for us at Acrophilia. A few of us went to a place called Hill's Gymnastics in Gaithersburg, MD and for the first time we learned tricks in a professional environment. A few of us got slightly injured (ankles are slightly sore/damaged), but nothing serious; and on the flip side, most of us can back flip now. We are seriously making some progress, it's really great and I'm rather happy. Filming-wise, we are working on a short recycling video project to warm up for our first big project, Faction. Faction is a short-film about a transporter who questions the morality of his latest mission and decides to take matters into his own hands for the first time in a long time. The plot itself is rather simple, but hopefully, the story, and the artistic vision will pull through and we'll make something nice! We plan to start filming for that during our Spring Break in April. 

Speaking of April, my birthday is coming up. April 6th. Considering I'm still a young boy (16 going on 17), I'm hoping my mom will buy me a new camcorder since Acrophilia is in desperate need of a new one. I'm also looking forward to seeing what our documentary will be like. :p But anyway, see you next week and expect greatness. Ryan Huggins~

Monday, March 14, 2011

Week 11

Monday; March 14th, 2011

So, I'm totally back on track with CAS and just about everything else in my life. I've got a loose schedule going and it seems to be working out. Monday, Wednesday, Friday are for training with Acrophilia; Tuesday and Thursdays are dedicated rest days (during which I will be drawing pages for Project Duo (a web comic idea); Saturdays are whatever or filming; and Sunday will be another parkour/filming day. Project CAS gets worked on in whatever spare time I have and during school when I'm not doing anything; I tend to have tons of spare time on the weekends so lots of work will get done. It turns out that bringing my laptop to school everyday has been one of the greatest ideas of my known existence; I've gotten most of my recent CAS work done at school... But anyway...

If you guys have noticed, I have begun to update every few days with a "Quick Analysis", or review-style, post. I plan to get around 100 or so of these done throughout the year. I should also make note of the impending CAS reflection that I need to do during this week or the next. These are to up the post content and hopefully attract more viewers in the long run, but we will see. If you happen to stumble across this blog and like what you see, show it to some of your friends, I'm really trying to up traffic here, but I don't have the physical ability to vigorously advertise this blog. >>' Thank you!

Project CAS -- As for development, I've gotten about 60% of the underground city level design done and am going to begin prepping for another level design soon. I honestly don't like to program, so I am seriously procrastinating on actually working on the engine, but when all the art is more or less finished, I'll have no choice but to program it, so I might as well get that all out of the way as quickly as possible. I've designed the very first level of the game on paper, so I may go and make that as well, if I do finish it and program everything the way I want it, I'll upload a video in the near future. :D Oh, and sorry about the lack of pictures, I'll explain that in a second.

Acrophilia - Acrophilia has grown to 11 members and we have about 3 or 4 other people who seem interested in joining. If you are a traceur who lives in the Washington, DC area around Rockville and Germantown, leave a comment, or send me a message and we can set up a time when you can meet with Acrophilia and teach us some stuff... There ARE 11 of us and most of us know how to fight rather, so if you are like, a rapist, don't bother coming. On a brighter note, we began filming a new video this weekend with the theme: Recycling. It is a 3 part video that I hope will be rather fantastic in the end. We also have about 8 video ideas for a small series we are planning to film every Saturday. When we start that I will throw some posts up.

As for the lack of drawings and conceptual art for CAS, I've been preoccupied drawing the storyboards for Acrophilia's short film, Faction, starring yours truly, Ryan Huggins, and directed by myself and James Liu (a co-founder of Acrophilia (and our cameraman). Storyboards are a lot more time consuming to draw than I had been led to believe, but it's okay, I have about 4 weeks before we start filming that video and we have a lot of training and whatnot to do anyway. Hopefully our (nonexistent) budget will be okay by the time we have to buy assets and pay for props though. :P Oh, we actually got filmed for part of our school's IB Film class' documentary on us. It's not very flattering because today we were incredibly sore from yesterday's workout, but it'll be great if they come back for more...exciting clips of us doing what we do best (sitting and lingering).

But anyway, see you next week and expect greatness. Ryan Huggins~

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Week 10 - Quick Analysis 2

Battleheart – Battleheart comes from the developers of “OMG! Ninjas”, a platform game in what I perceived as the style of the also recent Castle Crashers from Behemoth. Battleheart, unlike Mika Mobile’s former game, can be defined as an RPG, but at the same time it’s also very similar to a simple Action RTS game; you control from 1 (min) to 4 (max) characters (though, there are quite a few others than you can swap in and out of your party) who must strategically use skills and avoid or engage enemies in order to survive the waves of enemies that plague each map. The game starts off rather simple with two major characters (a cleric and a knight) and the game quickly opens up, allowing you to purchase the services of other classes: barbarians, more knights, bards, mages, and rogues. However, if all you did was fight monsters through the “story’s” 20+ levels, this app would be a rather uninteresting and boring arena romp, very similar to many other games on the Apple App Store. To remedy this, Mika Mobile’s Battleheart boasts a robust skill tree system and a very large variety of items of varying rarities to collect and equip (and sell for money).

Every class has around 10 or so skills that are unlocked as the character levels up: every five levels, the characters gain 2 new skills, but the twist is only one skill can be equipped at a time. This allows for great variety in technique and gameplay because you can focus a character on the passive end of his skills for one battle, then switch him/her to a full on attack character for another, more aggressive battle. The range of skills is rather astounding and the only thing I think the game is missing is the ability to improve your characters skills based on what skills are used in battle, of course, that is more of a personal preference than an honest-to-god problem. The items provide a fantastic incentive to keep on playing because you are consistently hoping to find or discover new items in either the unlockable arena battles/field battles or at the Market, where items change after every battle. In the end, Battleheart is a really fun RPG/RTS hybrid that hits some of the simpler aspects of the video game on the head and thus creates an experience worth buying. (8.5/10)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Week 10 - Quick Analysis

Castle Crashers – The Behemoth is one of the most loved indie studios across the indie game design-scape; mostly because of the extravagant, yet pleasing, design of their projects, and of course because of how ridiculously fun their games, and even their blog posts, are. Funded independently by Tom Fulp (owner of Newgrounds) and Dan Paladin, their games of prestige are such as Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers, and it turns out that Castle Crashers is one of my favorite games on all of the XBLA. Castle Crashers begins as an initially ordinary side scrolling, platformer, beat-‘em-up that has you playing as one of 4 knights trying to save his kingdom and ultimately the princesses along the way. The major allure of Castle Crashers comes from the smooth animations, varied environments, and crisp gameplay. The game never spends too much time in one environment and the fun of combat, though repetitive, remains fresh due to the lack of repetitive level design (all levels are hand drawn and enemies are just plain fun to kill). The game isn’t perfect obviously though and most of the problems are spawned from the repetitiveness of the genre; the game is fun as hell for the first run-through, though after you find some of the nicer weapons and unlock all of your combos the game loses some of its appeal.

In all seriousness, Castle Crashers would just be a decent game without one key augment: music. The music of Castle Crashers almost instantly became one of my most beloved soundtracks for a video game; ever. The music comes from Newground’s audio zone that allows any and all members of the community to compose and upload their own audio creations. Now, while the vast majority of these songs are ridiculously bad, there are also a ton of fantastic songs floating around; the Behemoth utilized Tom Fulp’s massive influence at Newgrounds to choose some great songs from artists like Waterflame and ParagonX9 (a personal favorite) to create a multi-style, flowing, upbeat soundtrack that literally makes the game. There were times that I was only still playing the game to listen to some of the great music and destroy waves of enemies to the amazing beats. In fact, I beat the game on the first pick-up in about 8 hours. In the end, Castle Crashers is an above average game with a ridiculous level of fun and entertainment value, and while the game lacks replay value, the first play-through will definitely leave you extremely satisfied. (8.5/10)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Week 10 (Skipped)

Tuesday; March 8th, 2011

Sorry guys, I had a busy week this week. I spent most of my time working on non-CAS related subjects, though we have made way on the first official Acrophilia video and we may start filming it soon.

No Updates this week D:

But, check out this CAS screenshot I never showed you guys. :D 

But anyway, expect greatness. Ryan Huggins~

Time Spent --> None :(