MyI@FarNiche

Building an XNA Game Studio XBox360 Indie Game.

[page 0078] ~ A New Video Series :

Updates: – Windows ShutDown Updates, Apex Path 2.2.1,  Inventory Pro 2.1.4, Inventory Pro 2.1.5 .
DownLoads: – NVidia GeForce driver from 352.86 to 353.06, Unity5v.0.2f1, Unity5v.1.1f1 .

What comes next:

Here it is, the first video of my next series, “PLAYTEST“.  This new playlist series will be a playtest run-through of my latest game build.  Here, I will self-critique my work to see how it plays in concern to what I have newly implemented.  The idea is to try and figure out what works well and what needs improvement.  The format for “PLAYTEST” is, waiting a while to forget what I have built, then, I play through the game a couple of times, I test those points and pick up ideas of what could come next.  Finally I make a video capture of the game, while playing.  I then talk myself through the captured video, a couple of times, to settle on, in words, what I was working on as I played the relevant implementations.  This semi-freeform process helps me realize, as I continue to build and expand, the content, context and concepts, in, of and about this ever evolving game.  So what this new playlist series is, is of what I have accomplished thus far, a milestone.  From there I realize a more clear understanding of what needs to be revisited, what is good enough for now and what new aspects of the game can now be incorporated into the build.

Holy Cripes!  Here we go again.  Yes, I was a carpenter.  So what.  What’s my point.  Well, if you’re going to build a house you need some tools, (unless you’re planning on building your house with just a pencil and a scissors).  So let’s talk saws.  Ok, what kind?  Circle saws, sawzalls, reciprocating saws, coping saws, hacksaws, miter saws, the list goes on.  Each saw does something different with differing amounts of finesse.  If you just want to rough cut some studs to length to build a wall you could use a standard handsaw or a circle saw if you’ve got some juice, (electricity).  Let’s say you want to cut some studs out of wall to put in a doorway or maybe a window, (don’t forget that loadbearing walls need to be reinforced when taking out the studs that support the upper floors weight, if that can be cut out at all, but partition walls are just fluffery to enclose otherwise open spaces), so a sawzall will do, zip-zip, done.  Then lets say it’s winter out and the “outside” season for building is coming to a close, so instead of “not working” you break out the coping saw or scroll saw to make some furniture or a miter saw to make some cabinets.  OR, if you think that you would like to work “across trades” you might help out a plumber with a hack saw as he works on some pipes in the bathroom or kitchen, inside winter work, mmm warm.  And don’t forget that to hang a toilet to a wall, it doesn’t just hang from the drywall, there are wood supports cut to fit in between the studs so there is some actual wood to screw/pound/fasten that toilet tank onto.  So yeah, find your simple screwdriver, onward, and build that house!

So what’s the point of this reflection?  Well, it’s off to see the Wizard the Wonderful Wizard of … Actually now its off to a different tool store, the Unity Asset Store, a wonderful place of wizardry.  Why?  I’ve done my time trying to build with the XNA Game Studio using only C# to put together video games.  It works, but its very wispy, too many references to classes that aren’t much more than an inheritance stub to a yet to be created, at runtime, connection needed to further something along that should be understood as to where to find what is needed next to make something else happen in some other class, as it is a dependency for, … ,whew!  So it’s do-able but too wispy or ethereal for this carpenter that is used to grabbing a circle saw and ripping a 4×8 sheet of plywood to fit in the valley of a dormer on the roof of a second story, well third story because the roof is above the second story, house.  We won’t get into talking about being buried in pea gravel outside in a ditch down by the drain tiles while water proofing a basement, (maybe another day that scary story will fit into some other part of building a video game, maybe a story arc or quest).

But this is to become the justification for, and a comparison of, what I had previously used as my game engine, the Microsoft C# XNA Game Studio to the Unity 5 Personal Edition game engine.  In actuality they are able to do nearly the same thing, but with the XNA Game Studio, where everything or nearly everything, except for the *.fbx soft and rigid body things like characters and buildings that are put together using code in C# classes are all done in code.  So it’s “All code, all the time.”  Actually it was a great place to start because it sets a game creator right into the deep water.  And that is why I am going to stick with Unity 5, and the Asset Store, not quite the kiddy pool, but more visual for continuity’s sake.  In going the XNA route first, it was all about learning how code makes games work, what makes up the constituent whole, what are the complimentary parts, and the most wonderful part is that it wasn’t C++ and Direct X, (I really can’t say “been there, done that”, but I had dabbled in that “way”). All in all, C# using XNA did become a very nice departure and landing pad from scholastic C++.  But as for getting my “feet wet”, moving away from computer science school assignments to the Microsoft XNA Game Studio, well, it was still a little like walking the plank, exit stage left, here is your off-ramp, being the side of a pirate ship, SPLASH and off you go!  So the move from school into my glorified hobby of video game creation became, best of luck, send a postcard, thanks for flying Edu-University airlines, your departure time is NOW!  And from there came the first stop, the first leg of the trip, this excellent venture into the entrepreneurial deep water of game development.

And that puts me where I am now, working with the Unity 5 Game Engine.  It still is comparable to using XNA , kinda, because the Game Studio is a Game Engine.  It’s an API that consolidates assets and then compiles those assets into one useable blob of “Enter here, play, then maybe save something, but then always, exit”, done, with a feeling of immersive “That was fun!”, hopefully, if it was a good game for the genre that you like to play.  But now, using Unity 5, it’s still only offers the base underpinnings of what is needed to construct a video game, it is still “only” a main hub that reinforces the validity of the given game schema, it is an environment that encloses the useable class implementations of the base libraries of generic programming definitions.  Unity 5 may bubble up from time to time to provide for overloaded classes and game specific intrinsic types like Vector3’s and Quaternion’s with methods for enhancing their usability like normalize and so forth, but Unity 5 isn’t all of what can make for building a full game, easily.  Unity 5 is more like a stove, kettle, Dutch oven, pots and pans, knives, forks, spoons and strainers, with a built-in compiler to cook it all up.  It’s a kitchen for a chef with a plan.  At best, one could say that it is all that plus a really nice spice rack, but the meat and potatoes are missing, the napkins and refined dinnerware, lead crystal wine glasses, candlesticks, invitations and seating placards are still missing.  And that is where the Asset Store comes into play.

Yes, it’s back to the ol’ hardware store to pick up my new “Tools of the Trade” and there are a lot of choices, as always.  So I need a shopping list.  But first I’ll need to think about what I’ll be doing.  Thus far, I’ve put myself into the 3D Third Person category of gaming genre.  But even with that narrowed concept, I will have to divide what I’ll need to bridge the missing gaps in Unity 5.  My favorite games have been Age of Empires and Cesar III which are sprite based isotropic strategy games.  Then there came the Knights of the Old Republic, Tomb Raider and Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition (only the first half, the second half story seemed to be unfinished with no, or less, environmental “roughness”, too much clean shiny), so anyways those games were linear story Third Person 3D games.  Another offshoot between AoE & C-III is that of Total War and Skyrim : The Elder Scrolls V, (of which I had started a video playlist series also), Skyrim Discovered ~ The Movie.  These last two are a pick and choose your destiny from a large map using a strategy/storyline/quest arcs freeform kind of game genre.  Then there is Banished, on Steam, which is something of a simulation/survival/strategy game, a very cool game.  And with that in mind, of those games that I have found intriguing, it’s off to the store, the Unity Asset Store.  Hmm, let me see, potatoes, carrots, onions, beef and chicken stock, some salad, rice and pasta fixin’s, then for the main course, beef, pork, chicken, fish, then some sweets for dessert and of course some delectable beverages of choice for each course.  Then to set the table, but first I’ll need to get those from the store and into the kitchen to use these new potato peelers, cheese graters, blenders, mixers, slicers and dicers to whip, puree, grind and frappé.  Then there’s the bread, gotta’ raise some of that, eventually.  Sounds like a plan with a hefty amount of preparation, cooking and the like.  So for now, I’ll need to let these ideas marinate, stew and simmer in their own juices.  Carpenter, Chef, Game-Dev, it’s not all the same but they’re similar, ya’ still need the right tools to get the job done right.

Until next month …

G’day.

July 7, 2015 Posted by | 2015 [0073] to [0???], The Process | , , | Leave a comment

[page 0075] ~ Up to speed Back on track :

Updates: –  FireFox 36.0.1. , FireFox 36.0.4
DownLoads: – ZBrush 4R7, In-line FL Studio BETA3, Allegorithmic Bitmap2Material v.3 & Substance Designer 5.0.1 & Painter 1.3.2,  Unity v.5.

I almost had a blog post for this WordPress Series earlier this month, but it turned into a Gamasutra Blog instead, Life as an Indie Game Developer.  It is a synopsis of what I’ve gone through for the past couple of months after my old computer rig failed.  I learned a lot, so any Indie Game Builder might learn a thing or two from that blog post.

But now that I’m mostly back in action, I have been trying to figure out how to use my time effectively while pressing forward in my game building expedition with One Game A Month.  A major change with this new rig came from my acceptance of an offer from Unity where I am now using Unity 5 as my preferred game engine.  Unity 5 is now free, as the Unity Personal Edition, so this is where I will be consolidating my time, effort and game assets.  With the Unity 5 game engine I will be perpetuating my own form of continued education in the field of computer science through game building.  Previously, I had been working through a Computer Major and Business Minor in which I threw my extra time and effort, when I could, at the University.  Now, I’m on my own, still no degree, with only the actual education that I have taken away.  But to move forward with these new tools, technology and knowledge recently acquired as an Indie Game Developer, I must also build my own curriculum and chart my own progress.  The entrepreneurial drive to continue building is what keeps me going.  But to keep from spinning my wheels I need a plan, and this is where my website comes into play.

I have kept my FarNiche website as simple as possible.  It has three main places of focus, Home, Research and About.  The Index page is the Home page.  This is where I start off to begin going somewhere.  The Home page holds most of my links to the ancillary accounts I use.  The connected services are found via links to the internet.  These links are representative as the icons of the providers.  When I click on an icon I’m whisked off to where my participation is within their service.  Next, the Research section of my site is slightly different.  Research is split into two major divides.  The first half consists of a main page with a list of the programs, the tools that I use.  The second half is formatted in the same way but is a collection of knowledge based concerns.  This second Production Pipeline section holds links to what I need to know and become familiar with to use the tools from the first half.  The last section, the About page, is the final section of the three main divides.  This is mostly about me, what I like, where I come from, how I got here, what I’ve been up to.  It is my memento box, for the most part and holds my mission statement of what makes me, me.

A while back, when I first started my FarNiche website it was mainly derived by my previous works which became the focus used to center my About page.  I tried to figure out what my mission statement should be from what my ideas of game building were, and from there the About section solidified.  Then, because I had previously built games for the PC and XBox360 using C# and the XNA Game Studio, the direction of the Research page was formed around that platform.  But shortly after I began building my Research section to showcase my XNA game building venture, I started in with my participation with One Game A Month.  But I had no realistic way of getting any C# XNA XBox/PC game submitted to One Game A Month.  So my initial Research section quickly faded out of sight and out of mind.

Now I have finally gotten around to my Research section again and it also has taken on a new format. It has also taken on its new shape from all of the new and varied provider directions as I branched off from a strictly XBox C# XNA game building format.  Because I signed up with many services to keep in the loop with different activities of other “Indies”, I found other ways in which participants were building games, each geared towards their own way of expressing Game Development.  Everyone there at One Game A Month was building with what suited them best, any platform, any tools, whatever was capable of making and playing a game.  So although I had some work moving along for a while, from my XNA days, once I jumped in with One Game A Month, I found many other possibilities to gamify the computer technology as a game developer.

So I have been putting a lot of time into the Research section of my website and have completely rebuilt it.  It is back and continually evolving where it has become something of a scheduler, bookmarker, thought keeper and wish list of sorts.  It has become more like a menu of searches consolidated under various game development topics.  The Production Pipeline Research section has its focus where concepts find instruction in concern to the tools that are used.  To implement the tools and facilitate their use in the construction of those concepts, the ideas must become objectified and in turn become assets built from the tools where they then make up the game.  And that is what the Research is now all about.

Lately, its been mostly testing out the new rig along with its performance issues to see what it is capable of.  From there comes learning how the different programs’ exported assets fit from one part of the production chain into the next.  Finally the record keeping of all the progress and brainstorming that is done is fitted into this WordPress blog.  Also, now, through a newly created Game Dev Series on my +Farnicheé YouTube Channel I have a Vlog.  This newest creation, my video blog, chronicles an aspect of my most relevant progress as a Video Milestone. That’s it.

G’day.

March 30, 2015 Posted by | 2015 [0073] to [0???] | , | Leave a comment