Building an XNA Game Studio XBox360 Indie Game.

[page 0067] ~ The Island of Doctor Merlot :

Updates: – Autodesk – Application Manager, Version .
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Help me Doc, your my only hope.

Well the Doctor has a low resolution mesh, which is covered by a high resolution diffuse map, where that mesh has a skeleton with the capacity to be driven by animations, because those bone joint chains are manipulatable via a control rig set attached to the timeline.  The main point here is that it has the “capacity” to be driven.  So in this case, right now, it means that it does not drive any animation.  And this is what I am working on.  You would be correct in guessing that I have never built an animation rig, start to finish, for any video game character.  My only joint chain character rig run throughs were during my SoftImage 2012 one month trial and the recent 2014 Maya one month trial, both with the help of Digital Tutors.  The only “real” practice I could get prior to that was from Autodesk Softimage Mod Tool MS XNA Version 7.5.  This was a free offering back in 2008 when getting a paid subscription of the XBox 360’s Creators Club.  That version of Softimage was very helpful for learning what a 3D asset creation program was capable of building, but the save, import and export file types were limited to accommodate only the games made for the XBox with C# using XNA.  So this Doctor animation in Maya LT 2015 will be a case study in itself.  But my big question here is, where are all of the How To’s, and the like, to help me along from this point.  Believe it or not, there are many questions that are percolating up from in-between the, “leaps of faith”, as mysteries, that are growing into a mound of cluelessness.  I try to perceive solutions to fill those gaps but I am finding that they can only be answered, slowly, case by case where I create my own entrepreneurial “trade secrets”.  And so I forge ahead.

Time is slipping by.  The Doctor might not make his flight.  The Plumber could very well perish.  The launch of this months episode, “The Island of Doctor Merlot” is beginning to look rather grim.  There are tutorials that explain what the animation interface objects are and what they do.  But as for making the transition between building a character and then animating it with key frames on a time line … no, there is nothing that is all that clear.  That simple gap is missing.  Right now, I’m trying to connect the parts of my Doctors’ rig into the timeline.  That, when hooked in, will allow them to function correctly and follow the interpolated paths between those set keys.  Afterwards, while the animation is played back using the recorded keys of those objects transforms on the Maya LT animation timeline, a behavior should become apparent.  But getting those two things hooked together, the rig and the timeline, through, I don’t quite know what, is my biggest stumbling block.  I can’t just grab everything and say “Oh magic Maya LT make this Doctor dance” by just clicking a button.  And the biggest problem I am running across is that Maya LT has no “Character Set”, like the full version of Maya does, that is able to grab all of the transforms needed to animate this Doctor, or any character of mine.

Optimally, “The result is to be that character will emulate personifications through their associated behaviors found as the given animation paths”.

But, I have built this character mesh, painted it and have given it a skeleton of joint chains, “bones”.  “Skinning” this characters mesh to it skeletal bone structure provides it some degree of articulation because those bones joints allow for deformations of the mesh, the skin.  At times, because the mesh has been attached to bones whose vertex weights are closer to moveable joints, those polygons have the possibility to deform in a way that outwardly makes the skin of the character stretch beyond what looks natural.  At other times the skinning process allows for the volume of the mesh to not deform at all because it is further away from any moveable joints and so no distortion of the polygons occur.  But, what happens next, and this is where things get a little fuzzy, is that to get those polygons to reposition and possibly deform at all, I need to, somehow, connect those bones to a series of rig controls.

Those controls are like the steering wheels of the character.  A lot of things happen when you turn a cars’ steering wheel.  Both wheels turn, the sway bars follow along and the bushings all have different pressures applied to them along with the shocks and springs, even the car wheels angle.  The same is true for the character rig.  When a hand control, a part of the character rig, is moved, the whole joint chain for the arm moves along.  But the animation rig, being also considered “connective tissue”, depends on a sequence of other mechanisms that provide other “connective tissues” that help the animators life, my life, become easier and consequently, more fun during this process.  But I’m the one that needs to figure this out.  This also means the rig needs to use a series of various constraints made of differing types, point, aim, orient, parent and new in Maya LT 2015, pole vectors.  Also, at times, IK/FK manipulators are consolidated and simplified to assist in building these poses.  In the end, that characters animation tracks out a performance showing some recognizable task repeatable over a short period of time.

But the, “What needs to be selected and therefore attached to the timeline by setting its ‘key’ …” seems to be the part that is missing.  The “What” of the rig that drives the bones that are attached to the model is the “What” I need to find and have that “What”(s’) keys’ set in the animation timeline.  Simple, but I need a “set” the proverbial “Character Set” of all of the “What’s” that make up the character that need to be keyed along the timeline.  So not only do I need to know what to set, but I will need to set them all, the whole set, each time, all of them, between every movement that is to be interpolated between the set of keys that are set.  Eeek!  This leads me to believe that the Doctor is going to be walking around like Quasimodo or Igor (Young Frankenstein) as time, for this months game, grows short.

The biggest thing missing in Maya LT is, again, “What are character sets?”  It seems that animations can be set to any length of time for which their cycle is to be played.  That is the duration of what they are doing, their behavior, and that could be anything from blocking a punch, chopping wood, taking a drink or moving from a standing position to sitting on the ground.  Each behavior needs to be scripted through a series of movements where each movement changes the position of a bone in time and space.  Furthermore, the other connected bones must follow along because of IK/FK constraints.  Those, in turn, move the vertices of the polygons, the skin, of the character.  Concerted movements become the end result, the animation, the perceived behavior of the character.  A set of animations make up all the behaviors of what that character can do.  But right now I would like my Doctor to have something that has to do with him being able to move about the Island in search of his friend, The Plumber.

True, there are no character sets, that I have found, in Maya LT.  And from what few tests I have tried, I have only been able to make my Doctor character go through a short work-out warm-up routine.  Also, I am finding that while I initially construct the character, it is best to know what elements of that character are going to have their key frames set during the animation process, because here, in my Maya LT world, there are no “Character Set”(‘s).  As it stands, I don’t just do a drag rectangle “select all” of the character in the viewport and click Animate/Set Key at the first frame on the timeline.  That sounds like it would be a great thing to be able to do, but no, it does not work, believe me.  It might grab a couple of the right transformation objects, or so it would seem, and set those in the animation timeline, but I have found that while scrubbing through the timeline there are some movements that are missing.  Those missing interpolation keys, I would assume, are the ” Mystery ‘Whats’ ” that I have yet to find.  So, at times, the hands do not reposition themselves to their respective T-Poses from their initial stance, the character does not follow on to the next set of supposedly keyed transform transitions while apparently walking, or trying to, and when further scrubbing through the timeline the character snaps to all manner of unintended positions throughout the sequence.

Yeah, a little more forethought and actual knowledge of what is to be expected is needed and will become very helpful so I can prepend just what my expectations are and be able to extrapolate the process of, “If this is selected then it’s a good thing.” formula.

So, a character set seems to be a catch-all node that grabs everything that needs to be keyed in for an animation.  That is also exactly what I have found to be missing and is what I need now in Maya LT.  To figure out how to reconstruct and consolidate that missing piece from the full version of Maya into each of my character builds now and for the foreseeable future is my only hope.  Tick, tick, tick.

I have come to the conclusion and have found reason to believe that I will not find anything of help, in specificity, about my current needs because I have a whole hodgepodge of Digital Tutors tutorials “helping” me out to get to this point.  It has all been a mash-up of what makes sense, at the time, to me, of bone chains, animation rigs, timeline, pose this, procedure that, sing-a-long for a while, sit a spell semi-coherent, get it to work on my end of the deal learning curve contrivance of my own making.  And because I am learning that some things work in older versions of Maya and other things are missing in Maya LT, and of those that are not in Maya 2011 but are in 2014 but a little of that was added to Maya LT 2015 and on and on to what-ever as I go through the vastly assorted array of Digital Tutor tutorials to make sense of my plight, …  But I grow weary to explain further.  So of course that is how I study what they have to offer and how I have Frankensteined my Doctor together and is what keeps me moving forward.  So be assured that this is me just catching my breath for now and getting ready for my last haul to the goal line.  OK, breaks over, now back to it!


June 28, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | | Leave a comment

[page 0066] ~ Doctor Do Something. :

Updates: – Windows Shutdown Updates, Skype v6.16.0.105 .
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Hey Doc.

This next little bout of, “I will be using tumblr, because I just signed up for a tumblr account”, is what I’m working on right now.  Tumblr is a recently acquired asset by Yahoo! Inc.  There is also another, plug-in, add-on called Disqus, pronounced (dis·cuss • di-skus’) like a conversation, which is a distinct social interaction API that can be used in conjunction with tumblr as a blog comment hosting service.  Besides having to figure out how Disqus hooks into tumblr, I need to rework all of my links in my website because of the major reconstruction of the Research section.

Yes, relinking my website is time consuming but it should be well worth it.  Over the years it has become somewhat haphazardously connected, just to make deadlines and then to get it to work at all, per usual.  And so, this cleaning expedition turns into something like clearing out a bunch of old junk drawers full of knick-knacks, thing-a-ma-jiggies, doo-dads and whatch-a-ma-call-its.  If those html pages and the like are broken, not quite working, almost understood or a bunch of “I’ll get back to it later” stuff, it’s time to move on and leave all that residual detritus behind, or more appropriately and in actuality deleted.  The best reason to tidy up this old website is because holding onto the best of intentions has a funny way of becoming the bane of the next progressions accomplishments.  And this next accomplishment is reworking the Research section of my site so I can move through the next progression of programming for the XBox.

Thus far, I have been using the (C#, XNA, MSDN) programming style, where it is all done with an “in my bare hands” approach.  This next progression, although not geared directly at the XBox, will use more powerful tools to accomplish the same tasks more easily and with more consistency.  This process will use a standardized structure, My Program Pipeline, to define the who, how, what, why, where, when … aspects of game creation.  And so, the “how” part is to keep track of all these newly realized creation styles and progressions that have opened this section up to all this extra remembering.  This is the Research portion of my FarNiché site.  So up and running with a more simplistic structure of inputting will accomplish this, once again, through an easily updated interface.

Ok, that just about wraps up the refinishing and relinking of my website.  As I click around the site I still find some image files and 404 links that have not been linked back up, but as I find them they get fixed.  So in my site, the pages are back to where they were.  Outwardly they still look the same, but in my admin folder structure the site has a more clear layout.

Now its back to this months game that incorporates a Doctor.  He has been built as a low poly mesh in ZBrush, then raised to a high poly mesh to have his high density surface PolyPainted, also in ZBrush.  Seeing that this high poly count high resolution character is only used to get the texture output, the diffuse map, all I need to do is import the low res mesh and use the diffuse texture from the high res map to cover the low poly count character mesh in Maya LT.  The export from Maya LT as an .FBX file sent over to Unity is the preferred method of asset transfer, in this, my asset production pipeline.  As a side note, if the export is an .obj file, from Maya LT, it must be under 65,000 polygons, because that is the highest resolution permissible.  I have no problem with that because the files smaller size keeps the assets sent over into Unity small and manageable.

Well then, my website is now set to its best configuration yet.  Also, in my index page, on my Home Page, in the middle main section, when scrolled down to the bottom, is where I have placed my Disqus discussion service.  So instead of having Disqus hooked into my tumblr account I have placed my DISQUS-sions in the Home Page of my website.  As you could guess, this means I have figured out how to add the DISQUS code to my website so that it is embedded in the Home Page and allows it to function as the designers intended to, the facilities are up and running.  The topics covered are anything about indie video game design & video game development.  That is the scope and focus of My FarNiche DISQUS.  The depth of my discussions and the breath of my commentation and responses will be aligned with indie video games.  So storylines and their progressions, character build up, NPC usage and placement, asset creation programs, technical skills needed to use them or artistic abilities to draw with them, advanced planning with Game Design Document techniques or hindsight reworks and asset rebuilds, anything about indie game building and gameplay, successes and failures, it’s all good.  I figure the subject matter of design and development should be a large enough platform within the venue of indie video games.  These baseline ideas should provide for and allow enough leeway in the diverse discussions about the many and varied aspects needed to consolidate the build ideas that make up any indie game desired.  Now, the last important ingredient in any discussion for the “Instant party, just add people”.  But of course, any great party always starts as a party of one.


June 24, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , | Leave a comment

[page 0065] ~ The Doctor and My Titan. :

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This OGAM DOCTOR is in.

… and so is my Titan.

I have been giving my Substance Designer Contest Challenge some thought.  So with what I have accomplished thus far and the way that the storyline has taken hold of the character, I think I could use even a little more articulation to bind the Titan with the story.  This Titan is huge.  And what I am doing is personifying the concept of the Titan because this Titan, “The Titan God of Spatial Perdition”, does not have any natural human form, per se.  Like the Gods of early Mythology and more precisely, those descried by Mythopoeic Thought, my Titan is only an “idol“.  It is a fleeting glimpse of a representation that conceptualizes its power by drawing from the beings that deem themselves affected by it through relational reasoning.  The myths of this Titan are bound to those it protects only because they have become aware enough to acknowledge the powers of this Titans existence and have attributed that power to that Titan. To this end, I will attempt, in part, to form the where or how this Titan came to be.

The concept of “Spatial Perdition” comes from what I saw as Earth’s magnetic field.  This barrier is not only essential to complex life as we have come to understand it, but that it also protects us from even greater Titans or Gods that would befuddle the more basic concepts that lead to the evolution of evolution.  I know, recursive is the thought of evolution being a part of the process that evolves evolution into its own evolutionism, and it is, yes … , I won’t say it, “evolutionary”, but I did.  So this Magnetosphere, our squishy torus of safety, is what I am calling “The Titan God of Spatial Perdition” because it saves the lives on this Earth but it has also made us fully unaware of the deathly dangers it has been protecting us from through our sorted evolution.  And because of this “cradling in the arms of our protector” we, have instead of growing in enlightenment, have been dragged through a world of protected disillusionment.  This Titan is therefore a protector of life because it has taken residence inside a place that is another perfect balance of powers, the proverbial “Goldilocks Zone“, another Titan God.  But my Titan,  “The Titan God of Spatial Perdition” has also, by its very nature, deceived all those that it has come to protect.  But then again, maybe that’s too much to ask of a Titan that can only express itself through protection, for its leaving would produce utter annihilation.

So that is a continuance of the larger picture and is a greater storyline of “The Titan God of Spatial Perdition”, my Titan.  Although this Titan, actually the powers of this Titan, which have been at work from time beyond the time of our sorted evolution, has in some way become an integral part of every life on this Earth.  But this Titan has been locked out, as all Titans are, and will never participate with us through communication directly as we have found ourselves able to interact with each other.  But as a Titan, it will continue to communicate its mercy and fury, the whims of the gods, which will always remind us of its powers as we recall them through their Mythos.  Now, back to the picture, the drafting room, the cutting room floor.

One Game A Month continues once again with the terrain for my game being refined as a part of my pipeline process, always different, though cast of the same mold.  Each time I use my guideline schema, to format my next terrain, I find that what was previously written becomes more stable and requires less modification internally.  The guideline sheet, however, becomes slightly more lengthy because what I have accomplished will always add a few more objects to fill out and fit in what apparently is missing as each build becomes more routine. So after the terrain is up and running for this new game, I find I need a Doctor along with a Plumber.  My last games tried to incorporate the Yellow Mechanic that is a free asset from Unity to begin to understand how Unity character animation works.  But this time around, instead of using one of Unity’s starter assets as the main character as in my previous games, which was in this case The Plumber (a.k.a. the maintenance guy), I’ll be trying my hand at building my first animated character from scratch, The Doctor.

This months storyline:  The Plumber has gotten himself into a little bit of trouble and has injured himself.  Per usual, his Air-Wray island hopper craft is far away and because of some mishap,  the plumbers’ ship is further away than he can move.  Luckily his friend, The Doctor, was going to meet up with him to do some rock climbing on the old volcano in the island chain where he was sent to do some plumber maintenance.  This game will be another search the terrain for something, this time it is a , find the Plumber game.  The Doctor starts out at the Plumbers ship because they were to meet up and start their little rock climbing adventure from there.  But the Plumber was nowhere to be found.  This is highly unusual, the Plumber is usually very punctual, so the Doctor leaves behind a walky-talky at the ship and takes the other on his journey with him.  The Doctor must now run around the island chain looking for the Plumber.  That is it, that is all.  The Doctor must find the Plumber, The End.

It may not seem all that much of a game, but what I am doing this month is building a new character, The Doctor, my first most complete Avatar to date, starting in ZBrush.  This process starts out using ZSpheres to form a basic biped that is turned into a PolyMesh3D object with a Unified Skin.  The initial poly count for the Doctor is around 3500 and is somewhat faceted.  So the next thing to do is to build some UV’s and then subdivide that mesh so the poly count is about 800,000.  This will set the mesh up for Poly Painting where each vertex not only retains its position in 3D space, but it is also given a color value.  The 3D mesh is directly painted on in concert with the UV’s using the Poly Paint texture map.  The ZBrush tool is saved as a .ztl file that can be reloaded back into ZBrush.  An .obj (object) file, along with a clone of the Poly Paint texture map are saved which allows me to transfer my work initiated in ZBrush to be continued in Maya LT.  These last two files are then imported into Maya LT and, after a little bit of rigamarole, are turned into a single mesh that is retextured from the previously painted map so it looks just like what was seen as the exported file from ZBrush.  But in Maya LT, the next step is to build a skeleton of IK/FK joints which are Inverse Kinematics and Forward Kinematics chains.  Building these chains produces an artificial bone system which becomes the base structure that is bound, skinned, to the model mesh.  Once the skeleton chain has its relational influences bound to the mesh vertices, a series of secondary controls are constructed to form the basis of its animation rig, for example, Beginner’s Guide to Rigging in Maya.  This is where I am right about now so I should be able to accomplish something to this effect by the end of this month and have something to submit that is, more or less, gamelike before the start of the next month.

Needless to say, I am no where near finished yet.  All of this learning and building leads me further on to my next uncharted venture, for me at least, and takes me to Creating Run Cycles in Maya.  This looks like what I will be needing to create the animations for my Doctor if he is ever to find his buddy the Plumber.  The Plumber, the freebee asset from Unity, has an idle, walk, run and jump cycle for the characters animations.  But for now, in this story line, his only animation will be a “Help, help!  I can’t move” cycle.  In this game, the Doctor is the one that needs to move around and get to the Plumber, in such a way, that it preferably resembles something similar to bipedal ambulation.  But for this to happen, I will need to figure out how to build these character animations.  Then I will need to export them so those animations that are built in Maya LT can connect up with those of my Avatar Doctor back in Unity.  And this will complete this months game cycle using assets from my previously built games of “Hide and Seek”.  From those games I can borrow the previously built logical assets, which have made them play as they do, and then add this newest asset, the yet to be built Animated Doctor.

Doing this by studying more Digital Tutors videos, continuing to build my Substance Designer Titan, working on the Research pages of my website, keeping up with this blog and figuring out what I need to keep track of additions to my month by month calendar is “The Doing” for the foreseeable future.  So …

Again, My Titan Concept.


June 8, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , | Leave a comment

[page 0064] ~ A Pipeline A Plan. :

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This months theme is DOCTOR.

It’s still early in the month and I really have no idea of how, “Doctor”, will be incorporated into this months game.  I have a vague idea, but nothing substantive.  One thing that I am aware of for what I have accomplished so far, this month, is that I have finally completed my index page, that is my Home Page, for my website.  Until now, it was just flapping in the breeze with a couple of well meant directions and ideas.  But now that it is finished, it has become my mission statement for my site and reads off what I intend to accomplish as time rolls on.  On the left hand side of my Home Page is a column that I have allocated to my previous calendar years and the months therein.  But I am not all that impressed with how well I have kept up with my progress during each month in that calendar.  In the most recent section, “Game 2014”, of my site, I have built a general structure that helps me document my ideas as I move along and to help me see what direction I am moving in for each month.  But for now, it remains just a framework that has an intent to gravitate my major milestones of what I have accomplished or am attempting to accomplish within its week/month/year calendar format.

What I am looking to do and what I would like this site of mine to become would be a registry like structure that would be akin to a 100 MB Excel spread sheet I had constructed nearly fifteen years ago.  That project, from some time ago, kept me financially on track as I squeezed every penny out of my disposable income.  The funny part about that project was the storage medium, an Iomega zip disk 100, that had only enough capacity to hold my Über-Excel formatted spread sheet construct.  Then to use it, each year, I needed to copy that 100 MB project to the hard drive so that the data it stored within that spread sheet project file could have some extra room because the file size would grow with each use.  In hindsight, the totality of my idea while building that Excel Behemoth, had nothing to do with separating the programmed application, the Excel project, from the data, my finances, that could have been stored in a different file in lieu of it filling that same application file.  This would have taken a little bit more finesse to incorporate and use MS Access, which is a database programming application that simplifies data collection where the input data is stored in a separate database structure.  From there, the Excel project could read the Access database data back into the spread sheet cells.  But, at that time, I just looked at the bright side and felt that I always had a backup copy that never had any data written to it.  And those are the major points that I am looking at right now, and, is what I will be getting at here.

So I think I will be using my website, in part, as a big relational index for my mass-storage backup filing cabinet, of sorts, that will allow me to look back in time and help me find my files in a general era.  From just looking at what I was involved with at the time and from there, where my mindset was drawn to as I built my games and assets, that, should help me find what I had accomplished in step with what is portrayed in my site because it was updated along with the construction of my site.  Doing this should help me locate files that I might need in the future when they are stripped from my main hard drive and bulk dumped onto my backup mass general storage place.  Then, when I need to take a sip of past endeavors to get a taste of what I had forgotten, or hopefully had previously built, I’ll be able to more easily find where that might be relative to my scrawlings that I leave behind in the yearly calendar directory that I am building, as my website.  It is a strange filing system but it is best seen as a living system, as it will grow, much like the data of my 100 MB Excel structure grew.

And that gets me on to my next little bit of housekeeping, which will be putting more time and effort into the Research part of my website.  I have done little to nothing with that part of my site since my initial start with game entries with One Game A Month, about eighteen months ago.  I was using C# and XNA along with the MSDN library to build games on my computer that I could “Port and Play” over to my XBox console.  Back then I thought I could get a smaller version of HUD-On or SpaceWar II as a submission to the Global Game Jam and One Game A Month, but that was naught to be.  So anyway, what I’m getting at is that I have grown in the use of many game asset creation applications since then. Those programs have spun me in many directions as I tried to come to some resolve in building for the XBox.  But while not being able to submit any XBox games to #1GAM because the games needed an “http://” address where they are playable on the web, and that would have involved me getting them off to Peer Review and the XBox MarketPlace as one of my marketable game submissions slots on XBox LIVE indie games.  So I had concluded that I would be turning more towards web applications using HTML5, the <canvas> object and Processing.js.  That worked well enough for a time.  But now I have found that Unity is bringing me back to a programming style that more resembles what I had become accustomed to while programming for the XBox.  I have also come to realize that incorporating game assets is much more simplified using Unity than it was working through Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone.  With that simplification I have had my time freed up to build my own game assets and to use those in my storyline as characters, props and expression driven content.  So this gets me back to what I was saying about my “Research” portion of my site that has been long neglected.  It needs some work, some worth, a reason.  This means that it needs to be redesigned.

So this month I will be looking at the internal structure of my website, the layout, the files, the hierarchy, the design, the links, image files, all of the HTML and the accompanying CSS pages, in general, all of its structure.  And all that comes back to what I found myself saying back on my Home Page, “The more I think I know, the more I find I need to know”, and is why I need to “retool” my Research section of my sight.  Back then, it was C# with XNA.  Now it is StoryBoard Pro, Unity, ZBrush, Maya LT, PhotoShop, Cakewalk and the list goes on.  Each of those asset creation “power tools” cannot just be picked up and used efficiently and effectively out of the box.  First there is the understanding of the program itself, all the ins and outs.  After that its a matter of how well because of how seasoned I have become in the creation of what the program can facilitate in building.  As a comparison, a great guitar still sounds crappy if you don’t know how to play, and a great guitarist can make the crappiest guitar sound beautiful.  Then there is, how will all of the assets of the many programs fit together, the size, the colors, the designs.  So it might do me well and be time to see how capable I am and in what proportions I am able to learn, build and grow, with each of these applications.  Somehow I think I’m doing alright right now, but I need to redesign my plan.  I’ll need to see how “beautiful” all of that, with what I am trying to accomplish, actually is and can be.

Until next time,


June 7, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | | Leave a comment

[page 0063] ~ Always Bite Off More Than You Can Chew. :

Updates: – GeForce 337.88 Driver, Java V7 U4 (build 1.7.0_45-b18) to Java V7 U60 (build 1.7.0_60-b19).
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It’s still Money month.

But I do need to expand on my grand synopsis up to this point and refresh myself of what I have yet to do.  I have about a week and a half to put together some kind of game for OGAM and will be using something from YouTube, Unity Rapid Prototyping: Flight Sim Control, Terrain Basics, Chase Cam, Skybox.  I also have about six and a half weeks to finish off my Titan, but there may be a possible extension.  This is my plan, to do this and to do it right, as I move towards the end of this month and push forward with a better concept of what I need for a real monthly “game plan“.

So what is this “Biting off more than you can chew”, adage.  Well, for starters, like I had mentioned, I could continue to reinvent the wheel, or, I could invest in some power tools, which I have, which also means, “Biting off more than I can chew”.  I figure that I have been contributing to One Game A Month now since it began, which is nearly a year and a half now and brings me to around eighteen games.  Previously, I had been tinkering with the idea of building games for the XBox 360 using C# and the XNA frameworks.  In doing so, I have built some games on my PC to then have them ported over to the game console where I can play them using the game pad.  Since then, I have changed my venue because I have found that it was a much easier route to showcase my mini-game creations through my website.  In doing so, I have continued work on my website by building up facilities that afford to me a platform that is conducive to the display of my creations, my games, which I had begun building using Processing.js and am most recently coalescing within Unity, which are then played through the Unity Web Player.

But this “Biting off more than I can chew” idea is taking me into a new place and is, out of necessity, showing me the ropes.  I can begin my game using StoryBoard Pro and MS PowerPoint.  After the general idea has been given some thought and a short synoptic game plan, not quite a GDD (Game Design Document), has been formulated, I can begin to come up with the “What will I use to get this done” phase.  At this point I can form some basic concept art in SketchBook Pro to then build my game assets from those sketches in ZBrush and Maya LT.  Next is the texturing of those assets, in either ZBrush or through the assistance of programmatic asset texture painting within the Substance Designer Indie Pack set of tools.  As the game build continues, the game prototypes, documents and screenshots, from the creation pipeline process, are archived in MS Word after being preprocessed in Photoshop Extended.

After the visual aspects of the game have begun to take shape, the theme and mood music, voice overs(VO) with plot and character direction, special effect sound bites and background noises begin to be incorporated, but which have yet to make a cameo appearance in most of my mini-games thus far.  So sound would need to go under the next category of “Biting off even more than I can possibly chew right now”.

But for each game, each month, I am getting a better idea of what I can build and how I like to build.  I find out more about what I am capable of doing with the tools that I have invested in and what my investments of time and effort are producing for me.  I continue to learn, from what I have previously done, and as I remember more of “How to do …”,  I find those building blocks are now the prerequisites that allow me to continue to “Bite off more than I can chew”.

Next, once I have my game concept, my primitive art constructs, general color, mood and feel for the game level and storyline plot sequences, I can begin to import all of these concepts and files into Unity, my current game engine.  Here, in Unity, all of the static pieces are given a life of their own.  They become animated to bring fluidity to the games plot which is further manipulated through the players minds eye.  This becomes the logic phase of the games building process.  It is another big chunk of “Biting off more than I can chew” and brings into play, bookwork, reading and game theory concepts that necessitate a repeated steeping in, time and time again.  Learning the different game styles like, zero-sum games and a multitude of other win/lose scenarios in game theory are needed but they also need to be refreshed as successive overlays for each game that I conceptualize and build.  Each game is slightly different and will have a different flavor of play and outcome from the different logical structures entwining the game.

But, to top all of this off, the final phase of game creation, which has eluded me completely up to this point, is going to be some kind of cross between a PodCast, VideoLog(Vlog) and some kind of help file wiki, I think.  This will bring about another completely new phase of “Biting off more than I can chew”.  Although I am somewhat comfortable, now, with the idea of Blogging on WordPress, this next step of Vlogging about something somehow using YouTube, or across Skype or possibly incorporating a Wiki platform, although a daunting foreign concept, is becoming an intriguing idea.  So not only will I be “Biting off more than I can chew”, but it will be of something that I have no idea of how it will taste nor of how I will react because of ingesting this next concept and making it my own, a part of my articulation, another essence of me.  But like the many things I have done previously, I should be able to deal with it.  I have been in and out of 5 major work Unions, been employed at about 27 different companies and businesses and have participated in scholastic wrestling, football, gymnastics, karate and yoga.  So as for something new being exceedingly intimidating, although instilling the initial scary feeling, I think it might be “plain old fun” to just get out there and muck it up for a while, big deal, sounds good to me, just another little break in the action.

But, once again, it is next month and the One Game A Month background theme for the #1GAM site has changed to reflect the next months theme.  So as the theme of Money is now in the rear view mirror and has become more of a “How do I pay me” issue and not so much a “How do others pay me” issue, (that happens as you get older, remember, no rules), I will end this month off with a better understanding of all that it takes to grow as an Indie Game Creator because it does involve being able to truly adhere to the concept of “Biting off more than you can chew” and ends up as a whole lot of payment in kind to ones-self.

Again, this months game, Air-Wray Glider and my Titan Concept.


June 1, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | | Leave a comment