Design

“Pulse of the Samurai” wins Juror’s Prize for Best Overall Game at the NYU Game Center 2013 Global Game Site

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The game I worked on in collaboration with artist Shiho Pate, and with background music by Nathaniel Chambers, was lucky enough to win not only the Juror’s Prize for Best Game, but also 2nd Place in the Audience Choice Award at this years Global Game Jam at NYU.

I had a lot of fun making the game and am really proud of it. Check out more info here.

Chip – Conception to The Public Release

Sometime in 2010 a professor recommended I look into the Flixel library for Flash when I expressed to him both my interest in making a game and my complete lack of technical skills. I had almost no programming experience whatsoever.

However, given that piece of advice I decided to dive in. Below is a quick overview of the process that ensued before I ended up with this game Chip that I recently “released.”

After installing FlashBuilder (as I work on a Mac this was my only option), I started with the Flixel Hello World tutorial. This great resource talks you through setting up your Flixel Project for the first time, which can be overly intimidating due to small annoyances such as the need for a blank Default.css file and the additional compiler arguments you need to go with it in order to get the Flixel Preloader to run. (This may be fixed in a new version, but I still use flixel 2.34).

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Global Game Jam 2012: Pursuing the Infinite

This past weekend I participated in the 2012 Global Game Jam. I worked for ~36 hours in Flash/Flixel to come up with this prototype I named “Pursuing the Infinite,” after a talk by Flixel-creator Adam Saltsman at this past year’s Indiecade. The theme of the jam was the Ouroboros, and I wanted to encapsulate that through a sense of infinity, inevitability and a blurring of the lines between helping and hurting.

I think the system of the game is fairly interesting: blue gives you points, but speeds you out of control, while red slows you down, but takes away a big chunk of life. It definitely needs something further – some overarching goal or strategy on top of this. Yet as a 2-day work, it’s not a terrible arcade-style game. Anyways, enjoy!

Click the picture to play!

PTI screen

New ‘Coral’ Demo

I’ve continued to fine tune and added some new art (art courtesy of Rachel Morris) to the game I started at (and which won!) the Parson’s x BabyCastles game jam last month, Coral. There’s a lot more I hope to do with this game, and I’ll likely update the demo as I go.

Click through the picture to give my latest demo a whirl! (I’ll host this stuff on this site directly in the future, once I finish building this site completely)

The Escort Quest wins Best Game of DC Games Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A big game I co-designed, The Escort Quest, recently won the audience and judge’s vote for Best Game of the DC Games Festival. Grant and I are super thankful to everyone at the festival and everyone who helped with this game along the way. Most of all I’d like to thank Grant for putting the game on in DC when I couldn’t make it because of work, and our original and always helpful class collaborators, Andrew and Eszter, as well as the professor in the class the game was originally conceived in, Kevin Cancienne.

Players Who Suit Social Games: Identifying, Analyzing, Expanding, and Progressing

[This was a featured blog post I wrote that was originally published on the front page of Gamasutra.com on 10/19/11]

With each passing month, social games are growing. Growing in userbase, growing in revenue, but possibly most of all, growing in ambiguity. The term “social game” is pretty vague. Most board games involve far more social interaction than games on Google+ or Facebook! However, since sites like those have become the most pervasive locations for online social interaction, “social game” has come to mean any game played on a social network. With everyone and their mom, kid brother, and next door neighboor on Facebook these days, just who is the “social gamer?”

Statistics and stories from the last few years demographically place the average social gamer as an aged 43 female. (See this Gigaom piece that references a PopCap survey.). However, this assessment is far from set in stone, and new data, research, and surveys are constantly reexamining the social game audience. One is a RockYou survey (shown below) that attempts to frame the social gamer as a younger, more male, and more achievement-oriented player; three things that go against what almost anyone whose studied the demographics before would tell you. What is unfortunate about both studies is that they establish a fairly static precedent of the current social game audience. Now, being aware what a specific community of players is currently attracted to is not at all a negative. Marketing depends on it. However, in that strategy lies the the unpleasant feeling that social games are already being designed specifically for the historic demographic of the social gamers, when instead they could be branching out into untapped demographics.

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My game “Stones” Won the Jury’s Grand Prize at the Parsons x Babycastles Game Jam!

This past weekend I worked on a new, random game idea at the Parsons x  Babycastles game jam. I ended up pursuing a rather odd, Bennett Foddy-  esque game, I called Stones. The game revolves around pressing odd,  interveaving combinations of keys to levitate stones into sets of sockets.  Using balance and strategy, the player must float all the stones into  position at the same time to complete the level.

I made the game in 48 hours in Flixel, and was lucky to get helpful advice  from great  designers like Charles Pratt and Naomi Clark along the way. I  feel really honored to have won the jam, and I’m going to keep working on  the game over the next week in order to slip it into the IGF Student  Competition, since this is my last year I can qualify for it.

You can play the game jam version of “Stones” here .

Next Stop: Come Out and Play San Francisco

So “The Escort Quest,” a big game I co-designed, was recently featured in the Big Games Program at Indiecade 2011. It was a remarkable experience, and I’ll be writing more on that whole weekend shortly.

However, I’m just announcing here that the next stop on the game’s tour will be Come Out and Play San Francisco. Check out the festival site here and stop on by if you’re around SF on November 4th or 5th.

Brief Notes About Level Design in “Chip”

I’m at the process now in my Flixel game, Chip (demo, trailer), where most of the content I want for this release is there. So lately, I’ve been focusing on level design and plan to delve into fine tuning all of my levels shortly. First though, I thought I’d reflect on a few things I found interesting while really experimenting with level design for my frist time. As a quick preamble – I have close to zero idea what I’m talking about. While I write this in the style of advice, it’s purely meant to be reflective and based off my own individual experience.

1.) Don’t be swayed by aesthetics…yet

My very first levels revolved around making interesting patterns or an elegant overall structure. This was a disaster and I ended up reverting to a functional perspective as much as I could. I even switched out the tilesheet I was using in my Tilemap editor (DAME) so I wouldn’t be swayed by how it looked.

Using and old tile matrix to edit my levels in DAME

A brief note on DAME. If you’re editing levels using a simple tilesheet I highly recommend it. It’s free and while at first I couldn’t stand it, I’ve grown to love it. It’s like editing film on a Steinbeck: the fact that it’s not quite so flexible makes you think harder about what you want to do.

2.) Small Changes Make a Big Difference

I found that depending on your mechanics and the interactions you’re trying to invoke in a level, making smaller changes from level to level can often have a more profound effect on how people see your mechanics. If you look at these two levels… Continue reading

Farmville: The Paper Prototype De-Make

Today at the NYU Game Center was the second day of Marc Leblanc’s “Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics” Game Design Workshop. One exercise, was to take a videogame (from a fairly randomly selected list) and distill it into a paper prototype that captured it’s essence and core mechanics as well as possible. I, along with Nicole Leffel, Lance Vikaros, Tim Szetala, and Haitham Ennasr chose to work with Farmville. We never quite got it to that perfect state, but it still managed to capture the soul of the game fairly well in the short period we worked on it, and I think it’s worth sharing just for that.

Welcome to Paper Farmville!

Generally, this is how it worked: In the middle of the table are 5 types of crops laid out, costing incrementally form 2-6$. They also each came with a different colored square of index card you took upon purchasing one. Each player sat around the table with a 6-sided die in front of them set to 1 at the start. The number on the die representing how many dollars they have. On a player’s turn, which rotated around the circle, they could advance their die by 1, or spend the number shown on their die to harvest crops. They also had to advance one other player’s die by 1. So say I’m going first, I advance my die from 1 to 2 (since no crops can be purchased for 1) and advance my neighbor’s die to 2. So now its my neighbor’s turn, his or her die is already at 2, so instead of incrementing it yet again, they choose to buy grapes for 2: resetting their die to 1 and taking a blue square representing some grapes.

It was important for the players to be able to see all the glamorous colors of plants they could buy if they saved up long enough.

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