Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Game Development Blog #54

Game Development Blog #54

"Brain Drain"

Been longer than I'd like since I've updated my development blog. What can I say, busy times! Unfortunately that means I will have to keep this one short, but I will also try to make it sweet. And off we go..

E3 was a blast this year. Very exhausting, tons of meetings/discussions/etc. I didn't really get too much opportunity to actually tour the convention hall, and there's quite a lot I want to say about what I did say. Here's my short response, then:

Kinect - don't care (though I am interested to see Child of Eden). Potential is still interesting, but for now they seem to (obviously) marketing this one towards the younger set.

PlayStation Move - saw this for the first time. It looks silly and glowy. Can someone out there recommend to me what is the "must-see" game for this thing?

Wii U - hate the name, but also I am feeling underwhelmed by what Nintendo is trying with this device. It reeks of "Apple is scaring us" and my only thought is "non-portable iPad with buttons." I think they need to go back to the drawing board with this thing.

3DS - what was shown at the show should have been there a year ago, and should have launched with the device this past Spring. Some good games, made me actually feel like "If I had the money I would probably buy a 3DS now" but nothing that really blew me away. Fun fact, 1st time I ever played with a 3DS was at the show this year. Man, that thing is cramped in my adult hands :/

Mobile - nothing to see here, sadly. That's why Headcase Games hosted a meeting of indie and mobile developers on the 2nd day of the exhibition - it was very successful, and I was sad that it ended so quickly before I got a chance to talk to most of the people I had wanted to. That's, of course, better than what could have been the alternative (if no one showed up and nobody to talk to).

180 - our little game has been making the rounds on Android for a couple of months now. We've recently gone live on the Amazon App Store for Android (that's.. such a mouthful) and are not far away from getting on the Nook store as well. It's been a very slow rev-up, but finally there is a little light coming at the end of what's been quite a long and dark tunnel! We are getting probably over 10,000 plays per day between all platform versions of the game, which is great - but more than that people are starting to notice it and I am getting contacted by bigger and bigger people about "what are we going to do with this thing next." In some ways it's a surprise (puzzle game, Android market is typically very unfriendly, the title is "older") but at the same time I've long stood by my beliefs that it is just a really well-assembled product, it's very fun to play for hardcore and casual gamers alike, it's well-suited for the platform. I am happy to finally be getting a real chance to bring it to the masses, but of course that road is still a long one. Developers take note: get on Android. Seriously, start putting your stuff on that market and getting familiar with how that place operates. It's not like Apple, in good and bad ways. They are hurting for even a fraction of the stuff that's up on iTunes, and if you can get some nice product on there, it is a battle but you will actually stand a chance of getting some notice. There is a huge tidal wave of Android right about to break, yes this has been said many times, but it is coming for real and you really want to be there with your surfboard when it comes. "Oh, fragmentation of the hardware.. oh, the marketplace is crappy.. oh, no one actually pays for stuff on that platform" Get over it. If you want a chance to get a piece, you had better be willing to step up; otherwise, be content to keep living under Apple's Tent forever where the competition is unbelievable, and odds are you won't get any lasting interest in your indie-developed productions any more.

Trapdoor - this is almost a fascinating story by now, in it's way, but TD has started to become a truly on-again-off-again project for me. I am still deciding what's the best plan for this title, lately I have been thinking about collaborating with another developer to produce it. An exciting proposition, I will get on it when the dust clears (otherwise it'll just be me and a programmer)

GunHead - I have referred to this project in past blogs, probably over 6 months ago, but only very rarely and never by name. Well, now it's got a working title! Those who have been listening have heard me say that this is a retro-themed side-scroller. I typed up an exhaustive document for it recently (the 1st of a few) and have some people actively helping on the pre-production. If I madk one game this year, this is the one I am most excited to release! I will tease some more info/assets soon. This is actually going to be kind of a crazy project :)

Hop Cop - Another new game, and the first idea I've had for something in awhile that I've actually sketched out a bit. This one will be a somewhat smaller project, and I'll say this.. it's a driver with puzzle elements. Or is it the other way around? This game will be entirely on the opposite end of the spectrum than GunHead in many ways, but somehow I feel the two will coexist nicely and help define what Headcase Games should mean to many people.

Biz Dev - I think I just broadly covered all that is going on, as far as I'm at liberty to talk about. It's nice to be spending a lot of time lately actually having some serious high-level talks about things, and signing some actual contracts. I will be looking forward to setting up an LLC at some point soon, finally :)

What Else is Going On - Otherwise, I am still trying to scare up some freelance work of any sort to get some hands-on money in the meantime. Hit me up if you need "things" (design, assets, etc). I am actually quite busy trying to procure some things along those lines. My personal life is interesting as usual, with the regular weirdness and constant crazy stories that comes from being a citizen in a place like Hollywood. The stuff I can actually remember, anyway.

Anyway, lest you forget, get on Android!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

E3 Day One: Hitting the Road!

E3 Day One: Hitting the Road!

Greeting sports fans! Yep it is Day One for E3 for me (1st day of exhibits, anyway) and I am not long from grabbing a subway ride across town to the Convention Center. Was skeptical of "should I go today?" since there's a bigmeetup to deal with tomorrow, but I suppose I should at least get myself somewhat 1st-person informed so I will know what everyone is talking about when that does happen. Anyway, I'll likely post a video recap of today's experiences this evening, but in the meantime here's a couple of stray pre-show thoughts to wet your whistle.

Conferences - watched these (in different degrees) from home (they are broadcasting lots of stuff here at My thoughts as follows:

• Xbox 360/Kinect I only saw the later part of this conference, so it was all their "casual Kinect-looking stuff." Can I say after 3 years I am tired of hearing MS trumpet about Natal/Kinect so much. I understand it's purpose, and yes it is fun to play for a bit. All that is being done with it is not terribly exciting however (would I love to take a crack at designing a Kinect game? Certainly!") All the kid-based casual stuff makes my stomach turn, but then I guess they really need to compete with that growing marketplace

Sony Well, they certainly came with a lot of strong 1st and 2nd party games. Everything looks solid, and.. man.. there's a lot of competition in FPS land. Not much really to get my motor roving about, however, and a surprising lack of Japanese support. Whoa. As for their Next Generation Portable, now called "Vita" - I dislike the name, and I think the device is a bit misaligned, but I think it will find it's fanbase. Too early to say. I will rant on this later.

Nintendo Just finished watching the live broadcast of this conference. I'll sum up my feelings thusly; 3DS looks rad (should have shown this all a year ago and they are paying for it now), and the new console - dubbed "Wii U" - there's a lot of reactionary posts going on right now, and this is one of them. I think it feels like a half-step, personally. This is Nintendo simultaneously trying to argue with both Microsoft and Apple. This thing looks like an iPad with buttons. It doesn't look "bad," and if they can truly come with visuals that (even somewhat significantly) trump the current-gen hardware, then the masses of graphic whores will eat it up. The big-screen as a controller however, that's another story. For so many years N has been all about "gimmick, gimmick, gimmick" and I think it's getting a little tired. The 3DS gimmick is still sort of early to call, and I do think that "personal screen system" would do well in a vacuum - but they are competing against too many successful devices with this thing. All of Apple's products are going to keep pushing, PS3 will potentiallyhave some strong Vita-console crossover, and ironically enough the Wi U could be competing with 3DS!

Anyway there's some initial thoughts to chew on. I'm out to the con right now - watch this evening for a YouTube Wrap-up, and thanks for tuning in :)