Category Archives: Game Making

Opening Menu Design of My First Mini Game

In these last two weeks, I poured my sweats on refining the opening menu of my first mini game. It is almost finished. I only need to add two last pieces: the back button menu for exiting the game and the background music. I always aim to make my opening menu interesting, engaging and colorful. I have done simple animations for the title, start button and copyright font. If you touch/click the copyright font, it will open a window consisting information about my identity as a developer and the address of my personal website. I also have added a nice animation of the main character in the opening menu, with a simple interaction option. If you touch/click the character, it will create a new simple animation. Some of the animations are made using the tools inside the game engine while other more complex ones are made using Adobe Flash Professional. I also have added sound effects for the animation of the main character and the corresponding ‘clickable’ objects (start button, option button, copyright font, etc).

In the option menu, the player can choose to turn on/off the music and/or the sound effect. Creating this kind of options required some focus in writing the code. It might seems simple but it actually does require some mental thought in refining it. For example, to achieve a seamless effect when you choose to turn off the sound effect while it is playing require a ‘trick’. If you code it the wrong way, the sound effect will be off only after it finishes playing. But with the ‘trick’, I can turn off the sound effect instantly while it is playing and back to play immediately if I choose to turn it on again.

Making the exit button option is quite straightforward. In android, you can click the back button to open the window of this option to exit the game. Although the presence of this exit option is actually not that necessary (especially with modern phone that has a manual button to exit an application to the main/home menu), it is a standard option that exist in almost all phone applications. Regarding the background music for the opening menu, I want to create an atmosphere where you can sort of imagine the game play that I will present after you touch/click the start button. I hope the opening menu can lure the player to try the gameplay.

September 2015 Game Making Progress

This month, I have been working hard to make the art assets of my first mini game. I have completed the animation of the main character and the required background assets. I am still working on the other assets that will be used in the main gameplay. I also have done some ‘rough’ art assets for the opening menu (the title logo and other menu button assets). All of them still need some polishing in order to have a beautiful and clean opening menu. I haven’t done any art assets related to other interfaces such as option window, game end window, quit game window, etc. Although these things is unrelated to the main gameplay, I always put extra effort on it. I love a game that put attention to details and I want my games to be like that too.

During my game making work, YoYo Games, the maker of my game engine had server problem.  When I tried to update the game engine software, it suddenly become unresponsive. I tried to do a clean install twice but the problem still persists. Without the ability to download the required modules, the software is unusable. Later on, I had learned that they had a ‘bottleneck’ in their database server. I had to wait more or less one week until I can get it running again. At first, I want to make a simple prototype gameplay before doing the whole aspect of the game (opening menu, tutorial page, ending window, sound and music, etc). Since I cannot use the game engine for some time, I decide to focus entirely on making the game assets. Other than game making activity, I also still continue doing the book. I am a little bit worry whether I can finish the rough draft before I go back to Indonesia. I just have to continue working on it as much as I can.

I did not do any works related to the main game that I have been working for more than one year. I will try to work more on it in the future. The detail plan of my main game has already finished. I just need to slowly do the steps with constant perseverance. Right now, I want to focus on the mini game and the textbook only.

October 2014 to August 2015 Game Making (zero) Progress

What happened? I did not make any posts for almost a year since October 1st, 2014. There are many things happened during this long inactive periods. Let me explain everything to you.

First, my leave of absence permission is almost expired (see my Bio). In order to put good faith to the university, I try to finish this textbook that I have been working on for quite a while. The promised book could be one of the reasons that I got an extension for another year until February 2016. Actually, there are two textbook that I plan to create but I intend to focus only on one of them. What kind of textbook? Basic econometrics textbook. What is econometrics? (Err… look it up on google okay?) ^_^ I hope I can finish a rough draft before I go back to Indonesia next year. The other one is about history of economic thought. Sometimes I work on this textbook when I got bored with the econometrics subject.

Second, The book about world cup and soccer in Brazil took more of my time. I finally finish it but then my friend told me since I submitted the material very very late, we lost the momentum. He plan to release the book after the event of EURO Cup and Olympics. He wants to incorporate these three big events into one book (including the world cup). I do not know whether I will have to write more on the two events that will be held next year. We will see about that. He ask me to meet him later next year to talk about this. Am I upset with this? No, totally! It is my fault to begin with. I hope it will be published one day.

I think it will be quite difficult to finish a game when you still have obligations to other works and projects. I didn’t do anything related to game making for almost a year! Will I give up? I can’t. I have already put a lot investments to it. More importantly, this is something that I want to DO in the future. Will I give up my other job for this? No, but I might be. I don’t know for sure. I just have to keep doing it in my spare time even after I get my old job back in Indonesia.

What now? I will continue to work on my mini game project this month while at the same time keep working on the textbook. I will let you know the progress at the end of this month.

September 2014 Game Making (zero) Progress

There is no game making activity during this September. I only have time to sketch some game design ideas. All I do during September is read then write and read then write and read then write…

I need to get new idea, fresh idea, fascinating idea… from my book collections…

I need to surf the internet more to find reliable information related to my books…

I need to write more and more and more….

Arghhhh… I need to get this book done ASAP…

 

August 2014 Game Making Progress

Similar to previous month, my productivity in game making is also very low during August. I got sick for almost a week in around mid August and also I haven’t finished my parts for the book I’m currently co-writing it with my friend. It turns out that I need more research for my writing parts (I was wrong in thinking that it will only be a ‘light’ research. I wrote it in this blog post) . When I read again my articles that have been published in a soccer tabloid in Indonesia, I sense that some of the sentences and ideas feel a bit ‘dry’. I made a lot of modifications and I only use about half of what I have written before. I also have added many new chapters with many new ideas. Until now, it hasn’t finished yet. Right now, I don’t want to set any strict deadlines again. I will try to finish my book parts as soon as possible.

What I’ve done related to game making are collecting some resource parts for my mini games and preparing its game design.  I have collected some sound effects (from www.freesound.org) and inspirational arts (pictures and photos) made by other artists. I made detailed game design sketches related to gameplay, arts, sound and music. Since this is the first time I plan to incorporate ads on my game, I have subscribed to many mobile advertising company such as Mopub, Admob, Adcolony, etc. I also have secured twitter and email address related to the name of my upcoming mini games. Unfortunately, I haven’t done any works in the production of my main game during this month. I hope I can finish my book parts during September so I can fully focus again in developing the games. I will write a blog post if I manage to finish it during September. Thcau!

Making Mini Games

As you already know, recently I make a short announcement that I will be making mini games. Actually, this plan has been in my head for quite some time. The reason is simple, I want to produce ‘light’ casual video games apart from the one I have been working now. I notice that there is a large demand for this kind of game (for example flappy bird). Honestly, I also need the experience in publishing a game. Even though I already pick a small project for my first main game, it turns out it needs a lot of work. Especially for a one-man developer. I intend to produce these mini games with a very short production cycle (2-3 months) with very simple gameplay. I plan to produce most of my mini games by using a one-touch or one-swipe input system. In special cases, I will use at most two touches or swipes to play the game.

Although I have some original gameplay ideas, the mini games could also be an ‘improved clone’ of other games. Actually, flappy bird has inspired the gameplay for my first two mini games. Of course it will not be exactly the same as flappy bird since I will greatly modify the gameplay and ‘tone’ of the game. I choose to do these two mini games first since it is simple to make while I also have to learn how to integrate user scores with Google leaderboards service and to incorporate ads that will not disturb the user experience. I also need to subscribe with the respective ads networks and learn how to integrate them into my mini games. All of my mini games will come with an option to remove the ads. If all goes well and I have gained sufficient knowledge in building and publishing those two mini games, I will start making other mini games with my original ideas.

I intend to try continuously make this mini games every 2-3 months, even if I get my daily job back in the future. I hope the stream of ideas for this mini games will not run dry. I have added a new section called minis on this website. You will find my mini games there, when they become available.

July 2014 Game Making Progress

This month, I practically doing almost nothing related to my game development. I only manage to tweak one game art to display better on large screen displays. On a phone, the flaw is not that noticeable but on a tablet you can see it very clear. I immediately fix the problem and after testing it on my tablet I am satisfied with the result.

Why is this month’s progress is so slow? As I already explain, I have many activities during the World Cup and also I became a correspondent for a soccer tabloid during the event. Also, After the world cup is over, my friend asked me to expand our writing into a book. I said yes immediately since making a book related to soccer is also one of my dreams. I have many thoughts related to the beautiful game that I want to share. I added many new writings to the book. Since it is a ‘light’ book it does not require a lot of research in finishing it. My goal was to make ten chapters. Each chapter contains 5 to 6 standard pages of Microsoft Word with 1.5 paragraph spacing. My friend will contribute the same amount of writing as me. Later on, he will blend our two writings and add many pictures related to our adventure here in Brazil. I promise him that I will finish at the end of this month, but it turns out I need more time. I hope I can finish all the chapters at the end of the first week in August. Until I submit my share of the book to my friend back in Indonesia, I have to halt the game development process.  Tchau!

Individual Versus Team Project

Before I begin to lay out the thoughts of this writing, let me congratulate Germany as the new World Cup Champion. They deserve it. They truly are. They manage to become the first European team to win the prestigious cup in the land of South America. Although I am disappointed with the performance of Brazil and Argentina, who I adore very very much, I have to respect Germany for their teamwork and strong mentality.

It is known throughout the world that the football style of European countries are generally different with South American countries. The European emphasised team work and tactics while the South American rely more on individual skills and instincts. Both style have its strengths and weaknesses as it is displayed throughout this World Cup held in Brazil. When Neymar got injured and Messi plays not on his top level, the team performances are heavily affected. This advantage is easily capitalised by Germany. They show a consistent team performance and strong mentality in demolishing the two great South American teams.

The story of this world cup has inspired me to write about the merits and drawbacks of developing a game individually or in a team. The amount of work I need to do in developing a game by myself is quite enormous. I am not complaining but I know that I can release a game faster if I get help from at least one or two people. Actually, I already have two friends that are interested in collaborating with me to make another game apart from the one I work individually. One of them know how to draw, which is a huge advantage for making the game art and the other one interested in making the sound effects of the game. Both of them are amateurs like me but they have passions in learning to develop a game. I also have another friend who interested in localising my games in Portuguese language.

As of right now, none of these collaborations are working out fine. It turns out, there are many problems when you work within a team. Making a sound decision on aspects related to the game is difficult and also the commitment of each team member is different from one another. All of them have primary jobs in Brasilia and often it is very difficult for them to find extra time and to focus into the game development. Although this is a discouraging experience, I do not close the door for possible future collaboration. I even still hope that this collaboration with my friends can still work out in the future. I try to learn from this experience a way to foster a better collaboration in the future. I am open to anybody who has the same passion, vision and commitment to develop a game together with me. Now, I just have to continue my solo career as a one-man indie developer.

June 2014 Game Making Progress

I can only manage to work on my game in the first week of June. After the world cup has started, my attention is fully drawn to it. I manage to make a code for the music and SFX setting options. Also, I add a code for android devices to exit the game from the main menu using the back button. This code is unnecessary for apple devices since they only have home button. I learn how to use global variables and .ini files in my game. I use it to track the setting choice of music and SFX on-off option in the game. By creating and storing global variables into an .ini file, the setting will be ‘remembered’ by your device. This technique will also be useful for other aspects of the game such as scoring, level clearance state, local highscores, etc. I manage to make a neat pop up window for the music & SFX and exit menu options. Even for this simple settings option menu, it took me quite a while to figure it out and make it right. This knowledge will be useful in the future to make a beautiful setting interface in my game. I have some ideas to add certain animations to the pop up window, but I will leave it for the next game. For this one, I decide it to use a minimal simplistic menu design.

With The Colombian Fans
With The Colombian Fans

I watched two world cup games already. The first one is the match between Colombia and Ivory Coast and the second one is the match between Portugal and Ghana. My wife’s brother has come to Brazil to watch his favorite team, Italy. He has ticket for the match between Italy and Costa Rica. The match was held in Recife. One of my friend also come to stay at my place to watch the world cup games. I went with him to accompany my brother’s wife to Recife. We did not have tickets to watch the Italy vs Costa Rica game, but it was a lot of fun to gather with the fans near the stadium. They have a DJ playing Samba music. At one moment, we dance with the locals and international fans, united in the celebration of the world cup. Although Italy lost, my brother’s wife is very happy to see his heroes playing live in front of him. From Recife, we continue our journey to Rio de Janeiro. In Rio, we manage to go to Pão de Açúcar to watch the beautiful city from high ground. After that, we went to restaurant of Garota de Ipanema, where it is believed to be the place that inspire the song writer, Antonio Carlos Jobim, to write ‘Girls from Ipanema’. During our lunch, we also watch the game between Argentina and Iran. It was quite a difficult game for Lionel Messi and his team where they only manage to win 1-0.

After eating, we walk to Ipanema beach and stay there for a while. Then, we walk again through the edge of the beach to Copacabana beach. It was a perfect day, with warm sun, beautiful women, and people relaxing themselves by playing casual soccer, volleyball and frisbee. Near the sunset, we finally leave from the beach to go to the airport, waiting for our flight back to Brasilia. It was a great holiday.

One of my friends from Indonesia also asked me and my friend to write articles for a soccer tabloid where he works for. He asks us to write several small articles and one large article every weeks. We take the job with great pleasure. I did not do it for the money. I do it for my love of the game. The mobile game production has to wait. Until I know the winner of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The mecca of football…

May 2014 Game Making Progress

During may, I am able to finish some neat animations and interesting sound effects in my opening menu to attract people attention. I also have finalized the logo icon of my game for both Android and Apple devices. It just need a very small enhancement, but overall the details have been done thoroughly. I have also been able to wrap up the design of my game prologue story. I still have tons of sprite animations to do and also starting to plan a ‘rough’ short dialogue scripts for my game. No no, it is not going to be a graphic novel type of game. I just want to make some ‘small’ short voice interactions with the player whenever they fail, succeed or in the process to make an action within the game.

When I am about to make the prototype of the game, I stumble into some programming difficulties. Even for a very simple gameplay that I am trying to achieve, it still required a lot of knowledge in GML (GameMaker Language) programming. I decide it to take a step back during this june to learn some advanced GML first while keep working on creating sprites, tiles, sound and music for my game. I actually have also decided to learn Unity engine (especially for its 2D game making capabilities) along with my activity in producing my first game. After reading many many stuff on game programming books and websites, I decide it to learn only javascript and C# now. I have tried taking the C++ route before, but then realized on the amount of work I need to get done to master the language. For an aspiring amateur game developer, I strongly recommend you not to learn  C++ first. I plan to continue and finish my javascript course at Codecademy and get some pdf books to learn C#. I apply the knowledge of these two programming languages in my Unity practice sessions. Learning all these new things gave me some diversified activities to avoid a boring process of making a game.  I also take the lesson process in mastering Unity very slowly.

I almost forget to mention one thing. The world cup is going to start soon. As an avid fans of the beautiful game, I will have less focus on the game production for the next two months and put most of my attention to the event. I also have acquired tickets for five world cup games. Yay! This will become one of my best experiences ever. Tchau!