Saturday, March 5, 2011

My first games

I actually created my first game a few years ago (around 2006) while I was attending UAT for a Masters. It was a flash game where I used a lot of the design from CutieQuake. I wasn't a design student at the time but I think it came out well.  Unfortunately I lost the playable game and I only have bits and pieces of the art lying around.

It was basically a shooter from the first-person perspective where the player was stationary. It was called Desert Critters. Little desert animals would run across the screen horizontally, like a lizard and a road runner, and you would have to shoot them for points. There where also cacti in the scene, which if you shot would deduct points. It was fun, people liked it and a monster was born. It was for a project management class where we did a website on Phoenix, AZ using a project plan we designed. I did the coding, some animation and the design for the game.

While I was at UAT (still working at IBM) I audited a game design course and really liked what I learned about the field. It wasn't till a few years later that I found the Full Sail University Online Game Design degree. I had divorced my wife and left UAT at this point but still wanted to enter the field.

I signed up and have been working my butt off ever since. 3.96 GPA atm, screwed up on a Statistics quiz, blah.

So, since my degree was online I decided to move to a market with more video game companies, Austin, TX. I signed up to get resourced at IBM and got let go a year later. Getting resourced versus quitting at IBM means a package with $. I was unemployed for six months and got my current job at Kingsisle Entertainment, Inc. Really have to thank the people there for taking a chance on me. I don't know the numbers but I doubt there are many people that leave a well paying job to pursue a dream. I was always a good employee but not very good at selling myself.

I'm skipping around but my next game was right after I moved to Austin. It was done as part of The Global Game Jam 2010 held by the IGDA. It's a worldwide event where many different people come together in many different teams to create a game in 48 hours. The trick is to make a design simple enough to finish in the time frame and with the resources you have.

The game was called Panda Commando. It can probably be described as an action puzzle game but it was hardly finished. The goal is to knock blocks into water. There are a lot of things I would change about the design in it's "finished" state. The interesting thing about Panda Commando is the space in the middle where the player runs around. The player uses oranges to knock the blocks into water but the oranges bounce back when you throw them, so it ends up making this dynamic maze the the player has to navigate to progress. I won't list the things I would change but give it a try, its on the verge of being a great game. I had a tough time that year. I was learning XNA during the event and had to deal with an overbearing team lead that took every opportunity to slam me. I'm no shrinking violet though so we fought on design points a lot. We ended up barely finishing in time, mostly because of design changes that kept coming in last minute. The rest of the guys on the team where great though.

There have been a lot of designs since then from the Full Sail degree but my latest working game is Aliens vs Bunnies from Global Game Jam 2011. Had a completely different experience for this one. We used Unity 3D. I tried to guide the guys but I have to say much of the work was shared. I focused on the design aspect and made sure we where on schedule. I did some coding but honestly I'm not too interested in that these days. The goal is to stop a population of bunnies from infesting this little island by throwing asteroids on them. Came out really solid and well polished. Incidentally the team lead from the previous year was there again and he didn't finish his game this time. No one to argue him down I guess.

And those are the playable video games I have so far...more to come.

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