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… and that is why I love the internet

Today’s gaming news has been predominately about Phil Fish and his seemingly sudden departure from the games industry. Whether you view it to be a case of the internet trolls driving a creative talent out or a hot headed action from someone who notoriously flirted with controversy, most people will agree that no one has “won”. It has also led to great debate about the negative aspects of the internet and the hate.

However I’m not writing to talk about that. I want to take a moment to reflect on why the internet is such a wonderful thing for gamers and game developers.

internet is awesomeToday I read an article on the French site Indius about my game Invertical. Lets break down what that means. The high level design for Invertical came to me when watching a music video online, in fact a Japanese music video based on a game. Throughout the development of the game I’ve been helped by people on the internet through tutorials, getting great music for free (I owe the chap behind nosoapradio.us a pint or two!) as well as folk from other countries being able to playtest and give feedback.

Once released I got to read reviews/articles of the game in not just English but German as well. I’ve seen people play the free version and demo through Youtube in languages that I can’t speak (even if I’d rather it was the much improved full paid version :P). Take a second to think about that. In my spare time I’ve created something that a guy in France has enjoyed and then shared that experience online. I’ve been able to come home from a wretched day at work and see someone from Argentina left a positive comment about my game.

Beyond my own games because of the internet and its social aspect:

    • I’ve kept in touch with old friends through Facebook.
    • I’ve tweeted to and had responses from people behind games that I’ve adored for years.
    • I’ve heard and played cool new projects by old friends and colleagues.

I’ve laughed at the hilarious top rated comments on videos.I’ve had a chuckle at some of the bottom rated comments.

  • I’ve seen amusing images of cats and dogs.
  • I’ve discussed tactics and performances of football games, even when stuck in the flat by myself.
  • I wrote a blog about an indie game and got a reply from the developer.
  • I’ve taken part in (and probably ruined >_<) a podcast.
  • I’ve watched videos of sharks and orcas.
  • I’ve enjoyed many a good debate.
  • I’ve seen my “witty” comments pop up on the BBC’s sport site.
  • I’ve played games with two great clans for years, often chuckling my way through an online session for what you might describe as a survival horror game.

… and people want to say the internet is full of hate? I think not. Internet… you rock.

Whilst I usually disable comments due too spambots, I’ll leave them open so if you’ve any thoughts, why not share them?!

Thank you Microsoft

Just like many other gamers and developers I hurried home to watch the live stream of the Xbox reveal only to be left disappointed by the focus on TV & Sport. Then as snippets from interviews poured onto Twitter it became clear that Microsoft have abandoned indie support. However rather than having another moan, I’d like to look back and say “Thanks”.

Several years ago, just into my first full time job, I was looking to buy a console. Despite everyone telling me to go for the 360 for the indie support, I wound up going with a PS3. Despite never previously feeling the need for two consoles, I grew to learn the error of my ways and am now the proud owner of both consoles with around two dozen indie games. My Steam account also includes many great indie games, but it was the 360 that made me fully appreciate their value.

Just over 18 months ago I even started making my own games and, thanks to Microsoft, I am currently developing a game that I will be able to release on a console. Several years ago I never would have thought that I could achieve something like this but the open nature of XBLIG and ease of access to XNA has really opened doors. I have to say, Microsoft I owe you a massive thanks.

I’m not alone here. Many people do. They’ve been a vital part of helping the indie scene thrive and perhaps right now that is being forgotten.

Sadly XBLIG never hit its potential and is in decline. I also know that I’ve joined the party too late but I’m still very excited to have some part. I had hoped, perhaps expected, that this was because the new Xbox console would have even better indie support, alas that isn’t the case. I’m not sure why. They’ve created something great, potentially wonderful, then cast it aside. It is a real shame.

However Sony and even Nintendo have seen the potential and benefits of getting indie developers on board to create new, original and exciting games (as well as many rubbish ones, if I’m be honest). Rather than bemoaning the decision of Microsoft, lets thank them for opening the door for indie developers on the consoles and now go through the ones being offered by Sony & Nintendo.

Thank you Microsoft. Your Xbox 360 was and still is fantastic. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to release a game on it (due out “soon”!). Also good luck with your TV, Sports & games box. Doesn’t look like my cup of tea but I’m sure many will enjoy it.

Why I’m particularly keen on Paint It Jack

So far I’ve covered three of the eight projects that are up for consideration as my next game and I’ll be honest, I can’t say them proving to be the most popular. However the next game up for discussion, Paint It Jack, is possibly my favourite of the group. In case you’ve not tried it, the game is set in simple levels that are not too unlike Pac Man and you collect paint pickups to colour the world with various other objectives┬á (although the prototype is limited in that respect).

I don’t believe the prototype really encapsulated some of the fast, frantic fun that the game could involve, partly because it was just building up into the game. I’ve never been a fan of teaching players how to play via HUD messages or heavily scripted tutorials and especially not walls of text or video that rambles on. Instead I like to start things off very simple then just build the game up. This way you aren’t learning too much at once and you get to experience what is on offer. Unfortunately I took this approach in the prototype so by the time that you covered the mechanism that I’d developed for it, the game was over.

If, well when, I further develop this game I will first look to develop a much greater range of objectives, such as painting the markers specific colours, collecting objects and most importantly destroying those nasty sponges (and other baddies). All of this would of course have context, both within the level and story. When I say story, we’re not talking a novel and I’m not expecting to have people emotionally involved in the character’s quest. Instead it’ll be the good old fashioned “here’s your reason for the quest”, the quest starts with lots of levels then there’s a boss show down and happy ending. However it won’t be the cliched “Save the Princess” routine, I’ve something else planned.

The final notable gameplay addition to the single player is that there will be various weapon pickups. We’re not talking rocket blasters and machine guns though. I’m more interested in trap style weapons such as a mine, a big blob of paint that you get stuck in or a timed paint bomb that coats the surrounding area. Perhaps a nice bouncy grenade or some comical “Worms” style weapons could sneak in as well but one thing is for sure, I don’t want you to just face someone, press a button and win (cunning tactics aside).

But wait, single player? Does that mean there is multiplayer? Indeed it does. I plan to create a local multiplayer version of the game that would have players racing to paint say >50% of the room first. This of course would be whilst dealing with annoying sponges and your enemy setting traps to thwart you! I’ve also ideas for additional game mode such as a flagball mode where you can only follow a coloured path or battling over who is painting specific checkpoints. The one issue that I’d need to address is differentiating who painted what. From a code level that doesn’t worry me but visually it would have to be clear that Player A painted a certain area. Perhaps each player has a specific colour and paints using their colour, or they have to get the right pickups. Alternatively it could be dark vs light shades or maybe split screen, but that limits screen space.

Interesting note – when I first created the project it was called “Ultimate Killer Paint Tanks” and you played a tank that had different paint ball weapons in the form of pickups. I think I prefer Jack’s character though, the ugly little blog that he is. If I’m being honest, Jack’s design is accidental. After opting against the tanks as the game evolved I made a quick placeholder and meant to use the same design as Skwibble from Squeebles but got it laughably wrong. So much so that it stuck! I’ll maybe change him at some point, he needs a touch up anyway, but we’ll see ­čÖé

If you think this game sounds pretty awesome, why not vote for it to be the next full release from Oxygen Addict? If you are still unsure, tonight I’ll be continuing the blog spree by looking at Squeebles.

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